Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Cuddling in Cozies

By Deb

Back when I was a newbie writer searching for clues to the secret of perfect plots, I realized that every contemporary mystery I read had some kind of romance in it. Even if it was just a hint. Even if the person-of-interest wasn't interested at the moment. Eventually, sparks would fly.

That wasn't always true. Sherlock Holmes kept his distance (although Watson fell in love and married). Poirot and Marple kept their minds on crime.

So I'm wondering how important the romantic angle is to us. Along with solving a murder does our hero(ine) have to have at least a whisper of possibility? And can you think of any other mystery protagonists who don't have their eyes (or hearts) on someone?

Deb

31 comments:

Dru said...

I like romance in my mysteries.

Laineshots said...

Romance--the longing or at least the hint of yearning for it--rounds out the protagonist's character, as well as the plot. Makes it a better story all around.

I do prefer it, though, if a series takes a few books for the stirrings of romance to be fulfilled--unless, of course, the story begins with the protagonist already happy married or involved. Settled love is its own story, and that's very interesting, if written thoughtfully.

I really can't think of any examples except the ones you mentioned, Deb, of protags who seemed impervious to romance. Maybe that shows how important it is to us.

Heather Webber said...

I second what Laine said so perfectly. *g*

Andrea C. said...

I have to admit, I like the romance. I mean, I enjoy solving the mystery too, but I guess I am a softie. I always want the couple to get together (FYI Maggie, if you are reading this, I am totally dying at Kelly and Steve's break-up!!)
I think all the cozy chicks do a great job of keeping the focus on the mystery but tossing in the "love connection" too! :)

Wendy Lyn Watson said...

I {heart} romance!

Seriously, I read romances and I read mysteries -- put them in one book, and I'm over the moon!

Ellery Adams said...

I like the tension a little romance creates. It adds to the overall emotion involved in the story.

tonya kappes said...

Well....as a mystery writer, I forget to add that element of romance on my first round of edits. 'Oh yea...that..." is what I usually say on my second round and slip it in ever so slightly.

Mare F said...

The romance is not always important to me. In the vintage mysteries I read if it's there it's very understated. Maud Silver, Hildegard Adams, and Asey Mayo come to mind for the list of characters not engaged in a romance.

Sheila Connolly said...

Romance can be so many things in a mystery (love is a mystery...ha!). It can be a distraction to the protagonist, who really just wants to solve the murder without worrying about messy personal issues. Or the love interest can create a conflict if s/he disagrees with the protagonist's pursuit of the villain or understanding of the evidence. Or said love interest can be a great sounding board and supporter (but, please, no last-minute rescuers!).

It's all in the balance.

Anonymous said...

The love interest makes a book's character real. Unless you are a priest or nun, we are all physically attracted to other people in our lives. What I find annoying is this thing for cats. If I have to read about one more character living with a "spoiled/brilliant/special/selfish" cat I will scream.
Annette

Anonymous said...

I also agree with you Andrea C. I am so not happy to hear Kelly and Steve broke up. I haven't reached that book in the series yet.
Annette

Leann Sweeney said...

Nero Wolfe's only romance was with his orchids and food--though we did get hints of days gone by. You know, orchids and food are REALLY good options. No back talk. :-)

Heather said...

I like the romantic elements, and - unlike Annette - I like the cats.

And speaking of cats...Rebecca Hale's How to Wash a Cat did not contain a romance, or even a hint of one. Maybe that's why so many thought it "just okay."

Valerie Consoer said...

I like some romance in my mysteries as well. Even if it's a divorced couple, I like it. It gives more depth to the characters. We all want to relate to the characters in the books we read, and sometimes the only way to relate is to connect through the heart. We all have a yearning for love. Even those who are separated or divorced. I honestly can't think of any protagonists that aren't involved romantically. I'm sure if I sat and thought about it, I could. Some of the best protagonists weren't involved romantically. Does that mean we should be like that, too? Wouldn't it get lonely?

Anonymous said...

I enjoy a bit of romance in a mystery if it is going in a positive direction. I do not like a mystery with yes I like him/no I don't constantly book after book. It makes them seem foolish and immature. Also, don't have a character considering multiple marriage proposals book after book, if they can't decide they don't love either one enough to marry. Prime example is the Hannah Swenson series by Joanne Fluke.

Lisa said...

I do like some romance in my mysteries-not enough to overtake, but the hint of something there is nice. It's just more real life. I don't like when they constantly pursue someone who really isn't as into them as they are (ex.: some of the Agatha Raisin books with James).

Rural View said...

The inclusion of romance in a mystery depends entirely on the character for me. I like strong independent women who don't agonize over the lack of a love life, but occasionally find someone they're interested in. Actually romantic involvement interferes with the freedom needed to solve crimes, don't you think?

Shel said...

I disagree with Annette, I love me some cats in my mysteries. I also loved Rebecca Hale's How to Wash A Cat, and am eagerly awaiting the next one in the series. I didn't notice the lack of romance in that, I have to admit. As for romance in mysteries, I'm with Ellery with liking the tension it creates. As long as the romance doesn't detract from the mystery, I'm fine with it.

Caitlyn Henderson said...

I like romance in a mystery if it's handled well and isn't the primary focus of the book. I love a lot of the old classics that don't contain romance. I prefer a really well written mystery without romance to a mediocre one with romance. I had to give up on Joanna Fluke's books because I just couldn't stand the dragging on of the "love triangle".

Andrea said...

I like romance in a mystery especially in series when the romance is developing over more than one book. But the mystery has to be the main focus of the book.
I won't say there has to be a romance. I like a lot of mysteries without any romantic storylines.

Shel said...

I guess I must be one of the few who hasn't given up on Joanne Fluke and Hannah. I *like* the love triangle aspect. I know women who ARE really that indecisive, and to me it adds an interesting angle to those books. Will she or won't she? Or which one? Or neither?

Candice said...

I look forward to the added romance, especially cozy romance! The cozy romance is just different and I like that it transcends the usually--for example Jolene and Curt in Maggie's books!

Patricia Haddock said...

I think romance should be part of the story. After all, most of us want to share our lives--and many of us do! It's part of the package of creating a semblance of reality.

Susan C Shea said...

Sheila and Valerie point out a good reason for romance in a mystery: the protagonist's reaction to that aspect of her life tells you something about her own back story. My MURDER IN THE ABSTRACT includes a bad-boy ex-husband who just wants another chance. It gave me space for humor, distraction, and my protagonist's vulnerability. And, it was fun to write!

The Daring Novelist said...

I like romance in mysteries, but they aren't essential. You know, the screenwriting guru Blake Snyder pointed out that buddy movies and love stories often had a similar plotline. Any kind of relationship that has some give and take is fun.

But I also would point out a that even with the most detached detective, the guest characters often had romances.

One thing I DO wish, though, is that more cozies these days would actually emphasize the mystery in their plot, and not sacrifice it so much to the relationship/romance line.

Anonymous said...

I love me some romance! I prefer the meet, greet, get to know slow romance over a couple of books surrounded by witty and funny dialogue all centered around a clever mystery!

Angeline Emery said...

I don't mind if there isn't any romance at all. I'm really in it for the murder and sleuthing. Too much romance turns me off.

Christina Auret said...

I like it when the two are mixed, but I hate it when I think I am reading a mystery, only to find that the romance gets more air time and the mystery gets dues ex machina-ed in the end of the story.

If you want to write a romance, do it. I love me some romance, but don't promise me a mystery if you are only doing it for effect.

holdenj said...

Christie did have Tommy and Tuppence, though, remember!? I certainly don't mind a bit of romance, as long as it keeps progressing or ends somewhat naturally if need be.

Jan said...

I prefer a teeny little bit of romance in cozies or thrillers. Seriously, if I wanted romance that's the genre I'd read. But, I do enjoy the "blossoming" relationships as long as they don't turn into, well, "damsel-in-desperation-sex-fests" LOL

Kaye said...

I don't think Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple had a romantic dalliances going on in their lives but it sure didn't hurt Christie's book sales!