I touched on the "bad" boy and the "bad" girl characters last week indicating that sometimes the terms are applied to an image and general lifestyle rather than to an evil persona. Oftentimes the romance when these types of characters are used turns out to be "forbidden" or difficult or the kind of stuff where "wrong side of the tracks" meets good girl/boy and love happens but not without real challenges.
Making romance real in fiction depends on the author's take on the genre and the life experiences of said author. What you or I might think is truly romantic, another author or reader will disagree. Like so many things in the arts, regardless of craftsmanship, the end result remains subjective.
I'm not a girly girl even though I won't leave home without makeup and perfume. Those are the most feminine things about me, and they don't change. So what do I think is romantic? Words. What is said to me and how it's said carry so much weight in determining how I react. When my husband "proposed" to me, I finally gave in. We didn't know Jesus at the time, and I had a failed marriage under my belt. Not wanting to fail a second time, I didn't want to try it again since we already had baggage together. No question I loved him. The words, what he said, got me.
Different things, actions, spoken words, looks, walks, touches - all part of romance. One thing will send a person over the edge and something else will move another. Writing those unique characteristics into the fictional person must come from inside the writer. Creating visceral reactions is essential to writing romance, touching the senses.
For those who don't prefer romance, there is nothing a writer can do to change that preference, but I'm willing to bet if those readers have to trudge through some of it in a non-romance novel, they have a certain opinion or limit as to what is tolerable.
General market writers tend to think raw or explicit sex scenes are romantic when really they're just a written version of pornography designed to rile up the lustful desires in readers. They have little to do with real romance.
On the other end of the spectrum, some CBA readers tend to think anything sensually written is over the top, sinful, and definitely should be outlawed in Christian fiction.
There's no question that romance novels are prolific and the bestselling of all genres. Somewhere in the middle of each extreme there are multiple types of romance novels to read. Whether or not they feature bad boys and/or bad girls or good boys and/or good girls, the fine drawings of meaningful characters and their encounters with each other will matter over all else in their stories.
Father, we matter to you. You gave us romance, the author of love and desire. Nothing is perfect in this world, but you first created it perfectly. The only way we can even experience a hint of its beauty is to go through you. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.