Men rely on magazines and videos. Women have romance novels (well, and the other sometimes). After years of reading them and some time trying to write my own, I can see a definite pattern – what you might call the ingredients of the generic fantasy written for women.
6 Parts of a Standard Romance Novel Fantasy
1. A Completely Trustworthy Man
There are two sides to this one:
Strong But Safe
Many romance novels wax poetic about a woman feeling the physical strength of a man but knowing he would never use that strength to hurt her.
Of course, that’s mainstream / more vanilla. In books for more specialized audiences, this one may not come into play.
Would Never Betray Her
Being betrayed and/or getting cheated on is extremely painful. And trying to figure out whether you can trust someone can be quite the crap shoot.
So it makes complete sense that having someone you can trust completely is a big turn on. Maybe, you can’t have it in real life (Almost certainly not as quickly as in a book!), but at least you can have it in your romance novels!
2. A Man Who Cares About His Partner’s Pleasure
In most romance novels, guys not only take the time for foreplay, they enjoy it. And if there’s little or no foreplay, they still make sure their partners come. Generally before themselves.
Clearly, women love imagining a man who cares about his partner’s pleasure.
It makes you wonder if that’s because women don’t generally find men like that. I hope that’s not the case – what a sad thought!
3. A Man Who Values His Partner’s Opinion / Intelligence
It’s a combination of wanting to be loved for your mind and wanting to be treated like an actual person.
Having a guy respect your brain gives you a warm fuzzy feeling, doesn’t it? Being wanted physically but also respected intellectually is a bit like winning the lottery (only with slightly better odds).
A partner who always dismisses or ignores your opinion is actually being abusive (look up the warning signs – this falls under two of them), so I hope it hasn’t become a fantasy because abusive relationships are common.
Unfortunately, though, every woman I’ve met has encountered some degree of this in their lives (at least from one person: family, work, acquaintances, etc.). So I like to hope that motivates the generic fantasy more than actual experience with a bad love affair.
That and a trend of women learning to value healthy relationships more (Crossed fingers!).
4. An Intelligent Man
Snarky me considers this a bit redundant to the last one, but women like their romance heroes to be smart. It could be book smart or street smart, but he’ll do just fine at reasoning. Often better than average.
The man’s overall success or talents can vary widely – mostly because the definition of success varies widely. And there’s a decent trend for the heroine to accept and love her man despite his non-traditional success or talents.
But that’s only somewhat common. His being smart is universal.
5. His Great Physique
He might be tall and broad shouldered. He might be average height and whip-chord thin. His hair color, eye color, hairiness, skin tone, and scarring may vary. He could be partially disabled or 100% able.
But there are 2 things I can practically guarantee:
- He’ll be ripped.
- He’ll be well endowed.
I have yet to read a romance novel where the man in question is not either obviously well-muscled or surprisingly well-muscled once seen naked. And every one of them has a better-than-average sized “manhood.”
Which is either communicated by the naive lover being surprised / alarmed at his size (especially in historic novels) or by the more sex-savvy lover licking her lips / lusting at the sight.
My heroines fall more in the latter category.
6. A Better-Than-Usual Sexual Relationship
The idea that sex is better with the man you love is beautiful. Sadly, it’s not necessarily true.
In a romance novel, however, it is. If not at first, then, over time – and for the man and the woman. It’s basically a romance novel trope: “It’s never been like this before. With anyone.”
And why not? As long as we don’t get our hearts set on it, why not enjoy the idea in our fantasies?
Plus Specifics to the Author
Each author adds in their own special style and details to this. Their heroes may have commonalities in their sexual technique as well as their behavior. Some even have heroes that look the same in every book (or they shuffle between 2 or 3 options). Others mix both up more.
Either way, since we keep coming back for more, obviously, we’re fine with that! As long as they have these as a start, of course. :-p
Do You Agree?
Are there any I missed? Are these the standard fantasy ingredients in the romance novels you read?