I've been pondering this question for some time, wondering whether I dare raise it on my blog. Then I thought, what the heck. I'm not going to name names...
I've been writing, and hence reading, erotic romance for about three years now. I review for several official sites as well as my own. I do peer reviews. And I visit lots of my colleagues' blogs and read lots of excerpts.
I've come to the tentative conclusion that in this genre, an author's writing skill is far less important than other considerations in determining popularity and sales.
Sometimes I feel as though I'm reading the same book or the same excerpts, over and over. Same vocabulary. Same tired images. All too often I'm yawning by the second paragraph.
Then there's the head-hopping and the grammar errors and the factual inconsistencies. I find myself wondering how this author ever got published--or what her editor was doing instead of cleaning up the text!
Yet some of these authors have huge fan bases and sell many more books than I do. I'll be honest and admit that I find this annoying.
I am starting to believe that what matters in romance, more than anything else, are the characters. If the characters grab the reader, she won't care too much if the prose is of indifferent quality. The plot can be familiar, the resolution can be obvious, but this won't bother the reader at all if she really identifies with the hero and heroine. My theory is that romance readers are looking for that "love high"--the pure emotion that shoots through you when the hero and heroine (or the hero and the other hero) connect. Everything else is secondary.
Am I right about this? If so, then maybe the time I spend on crafting my sentences and searching for just the right words is wasted. I'd hate to think that's true, but maybe I've got to be realistic.
What do you think?