By Maggie Lynch
Though there are legions of fans who love contemporary romance, outside of our fans it doesn’t get a lot of cachet in the literary world. Historical romance gets all the historical detail fun—beautiful dresses, castles, horses and men who know exactly what they want, and women who are also very constrained by the roles of the period. Paranormal romance draws from the fantasy world and that helps the reader get lost in the magic or the paranormal or the creatures who live forever. Romance and fantasy seem to go together well. Romantic suspense or thrillers can cover those messy relationship moments by putting couples in constant jeopardy. I call it the I-think-I’m-going-to-die-so-let’s-get-it-on moments that help to propel the relationship forward and put their quarrels in stark relief against life and death.
But contemporary romance? It’s ALL about the relationship. It’s all about the messiness of our minds, and the stupid or crazy things we say and do in order to protect ourselves. Now that both men and women really do have more choices in their lives, long-term loving relationships are even more difficult to navigate. The power structure for decisions is not black and white.
That is why Contemporary Romance is important to me, and I believe to thousands of fans. It presents modern situations and ideas and presents ways to navigate all the messiness.
Though I love the other genres of Romance, and write in those genres, contemporary is my favorite. You see… I’m a believer. I truly believe that love conquers all. I truly believe that if we open ourselves to love, love the person for who they really are—not trying to change them—it can be so fulfilling and we grow in extraordinary ways. If we give ourselves to a relationship and COMMIT to the daily journey together that includes troubleshooting, renegotiation, forgiveness, and reconciliation, that the reward to our lives is incredible. Notice I didn’t say easy. I said incredible.
Of course, as my friend Jessa Slade says in my favorite author tagline of all time: “Love conquers all, that explains the scars.” It is those scars that I love to write about—the scars that we all carry from past relationships. Scars that happen as we travel through life and it doesn’t turn out the way we want. Some scars are from parents, others from siblings, yet others from friends. And if we have past romantic relationships, there are likely wounds there too. Every time we enter into a new relationship we walk that tightrope of wanting to trust but also protecting our heart. Each time we must decide how much of the past we will bring into this new relationship and how much we will let those scars hobble us.
Let’s face it, Love is not passive. It takes a lot of energy. Sometimes the person or people you are offering your love to don’t give any thanks for your effort. Sometimes you think you have a two-way thing going, only to find out you were doing all the giving and the other person was doing all the taking. Way too often, I’ve had to love someone when they were being a pain in the butt. It’s pretty hard to love someone who is angry, or someone who is so caught up in their own anguish that it seems no matter what you do isn’t enough.
Love is exhausting! Yet, even when we know how much love can suck, we still seek it. Even when we believe we’ve found it and it’s a mutual sharing, we find ways to screw it up. And no matter how much we say it’s just not worth it—no matter how much we might try to move through life without love—we constantly YEARN for it.
That is exactly what my stories are about. They are about the little choices we make. Those choices can make love easier or harder. They can take us away from love or running toward it, or very cautiously approach it. Even when we “fall in love” it is often difficult to make the “heroic choice” of commitment—the choice to love when faced with an imperfect person. But that is what we do to stay in relationship. Share, negotiate, forgive, reconcile, stand up for yourself, stand up for your partner, and then start all over again by remembering why you love each other. To achieve that happily ever after, every day we must recommit to make the choice to love one messy moment at a time.
Maggie Lynch is the author of 20+ published books, as well as numerous short stories and non-fiction articles. Her fiction tells stories of men and women making heroic choices one messy moment at a time. Maggie and her musician husband have settled in the beautiful Pacific Northwest where she now enjoys the luxury of writing full-time. If you are unfamiliar with Maggie’s Contemporary Romances, you can now get the first book in the Sweetwater Canyon FREE at all vendors.