Oh, how I love a good romance novel. In the last year alone, I’ve probably read over fifty of them – no lie. I’ve even been known to develop a crush on the lead male character from time to time. And once in a blue moon I might have even imagined myself as the story’s leading lady. Is that so wrong?
Don’t answer that.
One thing that I’ve noticed while immersing myself in these stories about love and perseverance is that the hero and heroine are often portrayed as unrealistically beautiful people with insatiable sex drives. The man always has an Adonis-like physique and the woman always looks like a supermodel. And they have constant, mind-blowing sex. Putting aside the fact that I’m insanely jealous of said fictional characters, let me ask this question:
I mean, don’t average-looking peeps with cellulite and pot bellies fall in love too? Sure they do. What about couples who are too overworked and under rested to do the nasty every five minutes? Is their love any less meaningful? Of course not. So, why aren’t they portrayed more often in romance novels?
Oh, I know!
Because it kills the fantasy. Am I right?
When I’m being swept off my feet by the likes of Christian Grey or Gideon Cross (yes, I enjoy erotic fiction every now and then, so sue me!), I like to imagine myself as having flowing auburn hair, a tiny waist, and legs that go on for miles. In my fantasy I am a sexy, unending bundle of energy – a gymnast in the bedroom who is ready and willing to satisfy my man at the drop of a hat. For that moment in time, I live up to the perfect ideal of myself.
But what if tried my hand at inserting my “real” self into the story scenario? Hmm…somehow my double-chin, flabby thighs, and constant state of exhaustion don’t seem to fit the bill. I mean, let’s face it; it’s not as much fun focusing on the harsh realities of dwindling libidos and sagging body parts.
But wait! Would that really be so bad?
I wonder if the premise of the average couple, falling in love under real-life circumstances, and dealing with real-life struggles, would make for a more interesting love story. Granted, it’s not what most romance-seeking readers wanting an escape are typically drawn to, especially in the era of Fifty Shades of Grey, but I think the idea has merit.
What if we took away the stick-thin, porcelain skinned heroines and replaced them with the thicker-padded, stretch-marked women that make up a good part of the population? And what about the leading men? What if, instead of rock-star hair and six-pack abs, we switched those out for receding hairlines and spare tires with love handles?
And what if, for the sake of argument, the novelty of their relationships have worn off, causing their sex lives to take a nose dive? Would you still want to read their story, even if it didn’t feed your fantasies?
Rather than add to a genre already saturated with tales of unnaturally gorgeous nymphomaniacs, I’d like to see more writers breaking free from the typical fairytale-esque formula. It might take some getting used to, but perhaps reading love stories based on realistic, relatable characters, could make for a more meaningful literary experience.
I’m going to explore that possibility in my next novel, Log On, Get Off. I figure it’s worth a shot. We’ll see how it goes. 🙂
Thanks for reading!
S A Healey, a happily married mother of two, is and will forever remain, a sucker for romance. You can currently read her first novel, Empty Me Out, for free on Wattpad. http://www.wattpad.com/story/3361337-empty-me-out