“Running on Empty” is a Stunning 5-Star Example of the new 'Romance Realism'*
But Are you ready for it?
"Running on Empty"
Ruth Logan Herne
a Kindle book -- 204 pages
Will you become a fan of the new ‘Romance Realism’ that Indie publishing is making possible?
'Romance Realism’ provides the cherished HEA (happily ever after) ending that is the hallmark of genre romance but it also deals with depressing, harsh, and unpleasant themes that almost all Traditional publishers shun.
These topics include: pedophilia, agoraphobia, spousal abuse, adultery by the hero, long prison terms for the hero who was actually guilty of his crime, abortion, hospice, breast cancer, and other topics rarely found in genre romances.
Why write about these sad topics when romance is often used as an escape from the harsh realities of the world? Well, most Traditional publishers would claim there is no reason to publish such books! The two styles run at cross purposes. After all: what does mainstream fiction exist for if not to deal with such topics?
Many fans may well agree with the Traditional romance genre publishers. But here’s why so many new fans to 'Romance Realism' are going wild over it. Just look on Amazon and see how many glowing 5-star reviews “Running on Empty” has earned. It is phenomenal!
Why is there such a powerful positive reaction to this book and others like it?
The author has written four 'Romance Realism' books at this point. Two were so well crafted that her Traditional publisher even took on chance and published them to great acclaim; “Winter’s End”, (hospice) and “The Lawman’s SecondChance,” (breast cancer affecting both the hero and heroine) -- both these books are by Love Inspired. The other two books are Indie published, “Try, Try Again” (adultery) and “Running on Empty) a theme you’d need to discover as part of the plot. I don’t want to spoil anything in this review.
'Romance Realism' Offers the Pleasure of a Romance HEA with the Emotional
Impact of a Mainstream Novel!
Readers enjoy these books because they ramp up the emotional impact of reading the story. This is in large measure because of the ‘mainstream’ topics these romances deal with. These books take the reader out of the safe and comfortable world of the typical genre romance and instead create an experience that seems literally ripped from the headlines.
Indeed, a reader might think that “Running on Empty” was taken form recent sensational headlines but it was not. The book was written long before the big stories on the subject made headlines.
What provides the greater emotional investment and impact experienced from reading a great mainstream novel is not knowing how the story is going to end. In a genre romance the reader knows in advance that all will end well. This knowledge makes the romance somewhat unreal and less powerful in its impact on the reader. Of course, the reader does not mind this. The romance HEA experience is a main reason these books are bought and read in the first place.
The new 'Romance Realism' books give the reader a mainstream reality experience usually never found in a genre romance. This bitter taste can multiply the experience of the HEA far beyond the usual felt in a typical romance. This high emotional impact, when it first occurs, is almost indelibly memorable. Readers are touched and enthusiastic. Thus there are so many great reviews.
The big question is this: will this initial heightened experience last over time? How many sad or unsavory themes can one reader endure and still feel good about the HEA experience?
That’s a big question. And it is a question that big Traditional publishers have long ruled against. I don’t expect Indie publishers to cause much of a change in Traditional publishers when it comes to accepting 'Romance Realism' novels. Traditional publishers have too much invested in their installed base of loyal fans to risk upsetting them. I’m not sure what the total market will be for 'Romance Realism'. There may be room only for the very best examples of this new subgenre of romance. Books like “Running on Empty” may have to create their own market.
It is not necessary to go into the plot of “Running on Empty”. All I need to point out that it is a 5-Star tour de force. It has exploded on the scene and it is well worth reading just to see what all this new style romance is all about.
“Running on Empty” Crosses the Finish Line a 5-Star Winner!
*The term ‘Romance Realism’ is used here because ‘Realistic Romance’ or ‘Romantic Realism’ already exists as ‘Romanticism’ and this genre already has a long established history of unrequited love and unhappy endings. The first great example of ‘Romanticism’ is the “The Sorrows of Young Werther”, by J.W. von Goethe. In this story the young hero kills himself when the heroine fails to return his love. This is not genre romance nor is it ‘Romance Realism’ which still provides an HEA.