Romance or Romantic Elements? Diane Scott Lewis

Romance or Romantic Elements?

Many people ask me why I don’t categorize my book as Romance, but as Historical Fiction with Romantic Elements. They don’t understand the difference. If you’re an avid romance reader, you know the genre follows a formula. The hero and heroine must meet early in the novel and live happily ever after at the end. They can’t spend too much time apart in the course of the story either. My debut novel, The False Light, doesn’t meet these criteria. My heroine, a displaced countess, meets her “love” well after chapter five, they spend lots of time apart, and there is no happy ending—until you read my sequel, Without Refuge.


Here is the blurb for The False Light: Forced from France by her devious guardian on the eve of the French Revolution, Countess Bettina Jonquiere must deliver an important package to further the royalist cause. In England, she discovers the package is full of blank papers, the address false and she’s penniless. Stranded in a Cornish village, Bettina toils in a bawdy tavern and falls in love with a man who lives under the shadow of his missing wife.   Immersed in poverty, Bettina realizes what sparked the revolution in her homeland. Her past catches up to her when desperate men hunt her down. They demand the money her deceased father embezzled from the revolutionaries and believe she hides its whereabouts. She learns the truth of her father’s death and her lover’s involvement in his wife’s murder. Once again, Bettina faces the threat of losing everything. 


When I started to write I had no idea there were specific genres, or formulas, I thought a good story would suffice. The early romances I read were spicy, and the women had multiple lovers. Now they’re usually regulated to one…the “hero” our gorgeous heroine might meet on page three, and have an instant attraction to each other. An attraction so instant to be unbelievable, but it is fiction. Still, I like a book to surprise me: who will she end up with? Your standard romance formula leaves no room for that. I also like relationships to progress at a reasonable pace…no smacked in the head with lust, heaving bosom, drooling female who can’t live without this studly, hunk of a man. I know I’m in the minority here, as many have told me they enjoy the comfort of the formula and the “perfect” protagonists.In historical fiction with romantic elements, there is more wiggle room around the formula, and that’s why I prefer to write in that sub genre. I love reading straight historical fiction, some with romantic elements, some not. I relish sensual sex scenes, and I hope I’ve written some. I also know authors who write and I have edited some wonderful romances. Of course, the ones I prefer always lean away from the strict formula. If you might enjoy delving into something a little different, I hope you will give my novel a try.

Ebook is available at: www.eternalpress.bizor at

Paperback is available at:

For direct links and an excerpt, my website:

18 Responses to Romance or Romantic Elements? Diane Scott Lewis

  1. Leah Marie Brown

    What a thrill to find you here on the web! I have been writing historical romance and fiction with romantic elements – all six of my novels have been set in Revolutionary France – for nine years now. In that time, I have won contests and amassed a mountain of rejections from editors who claimed they enjoyed my writing but did not believe the “French Revolution was a marketable time period for romance…” UGH! It makes me want to pull my hair out. So disheartened, I took a hiatus a few years ago. I am back to writing again and it feels fabulous.

    So glad to see another author out there loves the dazzling, decadent, exciting French Revolution.

    If you get a chance, you might enjoy my blog – particularly the posts entitled What is Romantic?

    Wishing you all the best.

  2. Monday Morning Stepback: Hello Goodbye edition « Read React Review

    […] Another genre meditation, this time on the difference between romance and romantic elements at the Romance Junkies Blog. […]

  3. Carole Ann Moleti

    I don’t write stories that follow formulas, and it makes it hard to sell them. A lot of agents/editors/large publishers want to line everything up together on the shelf, both virtual and brick and mortar. My books would be distributed all over the store!

    Most have romantic elements, but they’re not straight romance. My urban fantasy is dark, and often the protags don’t wind up together.

    I think for those of us who write cross-genre, and for readers who want something fresh and different, small publishers and epublishers are the way to go. They seem more willing to be flexible.

    Great post.

  4. Kelley

    I prefer stories that don’t follow a formula and that’s why I like e-publishers because the romance formula seems to be what the traditional publishers want. E-publishers like to see unusual romance or at least that’s been my experience so far.

    Great post and excerpt!

  5. Victoria Dixon

    Well, except for the part where I like to read historical fantasies instead of fantasies, I agree with you, Diane! In fact, I love a book that still has a satisfying conclusion, yet manages to blow the expected formula to mars, Manchulia or whatever fictional land you like! LOL

  6. Pam P

    I agree it’s more the publishers who push the formulas, tried and true I guess. I like a good story, no matter what, a mix of the types. I don’t mind a story with romantic elements, seeing a relationship progress slowly through a series, no problem for me at all – especially when the story is a suspense or mystery where the plot aside from any romance angle is what gets you into it. Sure I like my tried and true, but I also like out of the box, something different. LIke what I’m reading here about your book, Diane.

  7. Debra E Marvin

    I imagine the way to change things such as the rules/formula of ‘romance’ is to go around them. When readers are caught up in a beautifully told story they don’t notice the page number, and traditional publishers should keep their eyes open and see what’s going on outside their walls (read:box). Diane’s writing transports the reader. Isn’t that the point?

  8. Mary Anne Graham

    I love things outside the box — in some ways but not in others. When I originally queried Brotherly Love, I was told by some agents that it was more literary than romance and I should query those agents. The agents who handled literary said my book was too erotic and would make their readers uncomfortable.

    The thing about the formula that I absolutely need is a HEA. Whether I write it or read it, I want that happy ending. I don’t even like watching movies that end “wrong.” I guess I just believe that real life has enough unhappiness, I want a little magic in my books.

    Fortunately, I guess we all build our own “boxes” and they’re all a little different.

    Good luck with your book — I hope you sell a zillion copies and get a movie deal!!

  9. Diane Scott Lewis

    Thanks everyone for your comments. I like to see so many of us boundry breakers!

  10. Cate Masters

    Excellent post, Diane. Many of my stories are also not considered romance for those reasons. I love to add many more elements than simply the romantic one, lol. Congrats on The False Light, and wishing you continued success. And I agree, gorgeous cover!

  11. Carolyn

    Well said, Diane! And I really just wanted to comment on your cover for The False Light–it’s simply stunning!

    Best of luck to you in all your endeavors. You know I’ll be right there to help you, even as you have me. *grin*

  12. Ginger Simpson

    You and I share yet one more thing in common…writing outside that stupid little box that someone thought all books needed to fit into. 🙂 Wouldn’t it be nice if life was so neatly organized?

    Good for you for writing from your heart, and thank goodness for publishers who realize that writing outside the “formula” isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

  13. Lorrie Struiff

    Hello Diane,
    I also agree about writing outside the formula. I like surprises and twists. The same old, same old is not for me. My eyes glaze over when I read formula novels and I usually don’t finish them. Kudos for writing outside the box.

  14. Diane Scott Lewis

    I agree with all of you, my stories never fit in any mold. I also agree that it is the publishers who push the formula. Many readers I know like to be surprised, and don’t care for formula.

    Thank you for your comments.

  15. Anita Davison

    I do empathise with all three of you, I too write stories that don’t ‘fit’ the mould, especially the one where the hero and heroine must meet before page 25! I never have understood the reasoning behind that one. I too believe it is the publishers who insist on the formulaic novels rather than the readers, as they seem to want to put all books in categories for marketing purposes.
    It doesn’t help the writer though, after all, aren’t we supposed to be creative? The best of luck with ‘The False Light’, Diane, it’s a great book and is fare better for having ‘Romantic Elements’ than being a ‘Romance’

  16. margaret west

    I love Historicals and romance. So your book looks right up my alley, Diane.

  17. Sherry Dee Morris

    I love reading stories written outside of the box. The unpredictability keeps me turning pages. Historicals are hot sellers now and this one is smokin’. Bravo!

  18. Maggie Dove

    Great post, Diane! I wish that romance novels were not required to be so formulated. Angel of Windword got turned down by a few publishers because it didn’t fit their criteria and the hero and heroine didn’t meet right away. Personally, I’m tired of reading the same book over and over again. I like to be surprised.


  19. Viviane Brentanos

    Great post, Diane. You are a woman after my own heart. I write romance/ romantic fiction {as you know, being as you were my wonderful editor over at WRP}but I often find it difficult to fit the stories I pen into any pre-conceived mold. As you, when I begun, I had no idea of strict guidelines. I too believed all it took was a damn good story. I don’t believe readers are as concerned about formula as publishers would have us believe. Good fiction should reflect life, to make any story credible – even romance.

    Viviane Brentanos

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