Tea and Biscuits Book Discussion: Romance Book Elements



The topic for the week is what makes great book elements in a romance. There are so many elements that come to mind that can make a great story. I remember when I first started reading romance, I pretty much enjoyed most books I read. I think back then, it was so new to me and it was something so exciting and different. So each book I had read I pretty much really liked, there was never a DNF back then. But when I started running a book blog, books started to change for me. I started to see what made for a great story, what makes for an average story, or what even makes for a less than enjoyable book. Let me list some of the main elements that make for a great romance.

  • Characters-When I am reading a book, characters are what can win or break a story. There are different characters that can connect to the reader. We have the main hero, the main heroine, and then the supporting characters. For myself I feel like I am more picky about the heroine than the heroes that are written. In my mind, many authors focus more on the hero than the heroine–but this is not always the case. One of the best things tofind, is to have a wonderful hero and heroine that you connect with on a personal level. Through my years of reading, one of my favorite aspects I look forward to is being able to relate with the characters. 
  • Plot– When you read a romance, you want to find a story that keeps you interested and involved and that means having a plot that isn’t dull or boring, that holds you captive and give the reader the desire for more and to find out what happens next. The building of a great plot is crucial to finding that “winning” romance that curls your toes and leaves you with a satisfied smile at the end. In every sequence of the plot, it needs to transition smoothly and make sense to the reader. One of my pet peeves is a story that seems rugged in its transitions from one set of events to another.
  • Writing Style and Details-this is my biggest reason for putting aside a book, is the author’s style of writing. I still don’t know why I never had many problems with this years ago. My main policy now is if I have trouble getting into a story than I set it aside. Now I always give it 100 pages and then if I can seem to get interest in the story I set it aside. Now there are those authors that instantly grab your attention and you have that feeling of “YOU HAVE TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT”. Its always such a good feeling, to have that type of book that keeps you up all night. Even though its frustrating if you have things going on during the day and all you want to do is curl up on the sofa and read your book right?
  • Setting-I know for many readers, a certain setting will determine whether or not you read the story. Most of the time this isn’t the case for me, although sometimes it is. As long as there is a love story, I will read it. I am pickier when there are BDSM elements, I can only really do lite BDSM and that is as far as I can do. Anything more and I just have issues probably because I could never really relate with it. I can’t really do Menage much, only sometimes. Most times if I read it I just don’t like it much, only certain authors do it for me. But many other settings I am good with, whether its Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal or many others.
  • Tropes and Conflicts-These are what makes a romance add more depth to a story. I already did a feature on many different tropes, which adds conflict to the story. Having a unique or fun trope is what can bring a couple closer together as they work together to overcome what conflicts arise.
  • Love Scenes– these moments are where we see the couple build their intimacy, and I love having these put in because it really helps the story become more alive for me. Sex is part of any romantic relationship, so for me, it just makes the story have “more” realistic feel to it. I love seeing the building of sexual tension…from that yummy first kiss to the first time they make love. And if the author writes these scenes right (which I know is probably pretty challenging for most authors) then it just adds that perfect touch…the “cream” on top that completes the story.
  • Love Story-This is why I read romance novels, is I love seeing a couple fall in love. Its why I can read just about anything as long as there is a love story. I prefer a story where the love story is the main theme, but I can read stories where its not as long as we this connection. This is the most important aspect of a romance, at least it is for myself. I don’t know about many of you, but I love LOVE, and I am such a romantic at heart, and if the love story is written well, well it will have me totally hooked and more than likely I will need a tissue or two. Because I love those tender, sweet, and endearing moments that really make the romance just click into place.

There is so much that makes for a good story, but when a author can bring all these elements together and bring a sort of balance to the story, then this is where we have those special books that you can re read over and over, or just bring a smile to your face every time you think of them. Those books worth purchasing in various formats even.

Questions For My Readers: 

What do you look for in a romance? 

Do you have a preference over Plot, Characters or setting? 

What are some titles that are “the best” of the best in romance? 

11 thoughts on “Tea and Biscuits Book Discussion: Romance Book Elements

  1. I have a hard time liking heroines. I have DNF’d so many books this year because of annoying heroines. And I need a strong conflict to keep me interested in the story, and lately, I’ve found that the conflict is either minimal or just completely lacking.

    Angela @ Simply Angela

  2. A lot of bloggers are hard on heroines I’ve noticed. I just read a book where I was harder on her than I was on him. My biggest problem with that book though was a lack of communication and how that moved the plot along rather than sitting down and talking like mature adults. Argh!

    Setting is one item I’ve gotten into recently. Not so much the actual location but the feel and the accuracy. Set the story anywhere (for the most part) but make me feel like I’m there and get the details right.

    Good post!

  3. My favorite romances are almost always when the hero and heroine are committed to each other, but outside circumstances prevent them from actually being together. There are exceptions, of course, but those are my favorite. I hate when the hero is a jerk, or when the heroine is annoying.

  4. It is so hard to analyze myself and I tried to as you moved through each element that you enjoy or don’t enjoy.

    I will raise my hand as one of those that is way harder on the heroine, but the reasons can vary- engrossed in her own affairs to the exclusion of others, overbalanced with a need to prove herself, racing headlong into danger making herself a damsel in distress and getting others in dangerous situations as a result, and the big one is flinging the drama around without real communication. I actually skipped three books in series I was reading b/c I read reviews and knew that I couldn’t handle these gals.

    I don’t know if its a phase b/c I was okay with some of them at first, but New Adult Contemporary Romance seems to really get to me with their plotting and character development and biggest issue is the romance development or should I say lack there of. Hot and emotional, definitely! Believable romance is a bit harder to come by.

    I don’t mind when an author takes time to set up a story, but then I have strong expectation for the middle and ending to give the payoff. On the other hand, I’m good with an author giving me an explosive first scene to grab me and then come back to the intro and development. If pacing is an issue, I generally find that its the middle of the story or trilogy that an author loses me a bit. I don’t want conflict just to fill some pages, but I want it to organically fit into the story. The same with the romance- in that I want it to be part of a whole and not told in isolation with no story or apart from a bigger story. I think that’s why I love romances that include a large cast of characters that are family, band of brothers, friends, quirky small town neighbors, etc.

    I don’t mind super hot explicit romances, but I have lowered my expectations a great deal b/c many writers struggle to write one that really works let alone if they try to sprinkle several love scenes into a story. Whether its silly ways to describe body parts or moves or non-verbal cues or its so explicit it reads like a manual. Its tough when the high heat level ones go for ‘shock and awe’ instead of trying to really connect the reader with the romance pair. I tend to be very picky about BDSM or erotic romances as a result.

    Oh wow, I waxed rather eloquent. Haha!

  5. The setting of the story determines a lot for me because I feel like that set ups the plot and the characters. Some stories are the same, some are different…

    Definitely the writing style of the author works well for me to. It’s just so many things that can make or break a story for me. So many things to consider when you go into each story.

  6. In order for me to enjoy a romance, I have to have a couple things. First, I have to be able to root for the main characters. They don’t have to be immediately likable, but they need to have something in their personality that makes me care about their future. I also have certain tropes that I prefer such as unrequited love, marriage of convenience, and fairy tale retellings. And, finally, I have to believe in the love story itself. Insta-love is one of my biggest pet peeves because I feel like there isn’t much at stake or mystery around “will they or won’t they?”. I need there to be realistic development and something to make me believe that the couple will be together for the rest of their lives.

    Some of the romances I would categorize as “best of the best” are Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase, Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh, Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas, Match Me If You Can by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and The Viscount Who Love Me by Julia Quinn.

  7. I’m a Hero guy – just putting that out there first. Heroines I’m not so picky on – as long as they aren’t high maintenance idiots 😉

    I’m still in the newbie phase but what I find I MUST have in a romance is the chemistry between the two lovebirds. If I can’t feel and swoon at the spark, I’m closing the book. I recently read a book and it wasn’t there and no amount of dirty words or I love you’s could over come the lack of chemistry.

    psst.. fantastic discussion idea!

  8. Even though I’m generally not a character focused reader, when it comes to Romance, the characters make or break the story for me. It can have all of my favorite tropes, an awesome setting, a fun plot, but if I’m glaring daggers at either the hero or the heroine, I just can’t get into it. And I tend to be more picky and harsher on the hero. Like, in the last Romance I finished, his actions led to me not enjoying it too much. He started off great, but then it’s like all of his honor and restraint went out the window! I’m not fond of the “I must have you now!!!” type hero, unless the heroine is equally as ravenous. In this case, she wasn’t, since it was her first time and she’d recently been assaulted.

    But if I adore the characters, I can look past any issues I have with plot or other elements. If I just want to hug and squeeze them, then smoosh their faces together, I’m happy. 🙂

  9. Great topic, Renee. I love me my romance books too. I very rarely read books without at least a romantic element in it. I agree with all your points here. Aside from the characterizations, where I want to read about good and plotted trajectories, I’m really interested in the plot, particularly in the conflict/s. Because those are what would breed character developments, right? I have my favorite tropes and I also have my pet peeves. Like Jennifer, I hate insta-love romances. I’m not a fan of love triangles as well. I do love feisty, spunky, flawed heroines. And my heroes have got to be elementally good at heart. I’ll forgive almost everything except cheating in my romances. That one, I cannot stomach and it’s such a deal-breaker. One hint of it and I’m gone! Some of my the best romances I can think of at the moment are written by Laura Florand, Nalini Singh, Lauren Layne, Courtney Milan, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, among others.

  10. Great post! I agree with most of these. Just like for you characetrs can really make or break a story for me, it does depends on the other elements as well, so very good story can make up for les sinterestign characters. But overall I enjoy a book more when I like the characetrs. A good story or plot is very important as well.

    There are some authors who’s writing style I really like and that makes it easier to enjoy their book. Although there are also lots of books I enjoy where I don’t like the writing style as much. I think it helps to like the writing style.

    I like a well doen setting, where I can get a feel for the location and imagine how it looks, but it often isn’t the deciding factor in whether I want to read a book or not. There are some tropes I like, like the friends-to-lovers trope and the second chance trope and I am more likely to books up that have that trope than one I dont like, like the enemies-to-lovers one for example. The romance and how it develops and whether I feel the romance is very important for me as well. Great post!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *