Can you have too much angst in a romance? The same conflict, which, rehashed again and again, continues to thwart the happily-ever-after of the protagonists?
Many would say no to that question, but I would disagree.
I recently finished reading a historical romance that made me want to scream in frustration. This sprang from the fact that the hero was doing everything humanly (and romantically) possible to convince the heroine that he loved her. And he was very persuasive about it, too. Yet, after 200+ pages, she was still not convinced. I later read on the author’s blog that this book was very special to her and felt guilty about my reaction. 🙂
We’ve all heard this before: if the obstacle between two characters could be resolved by sitting down and talking it over, then it’s not believable to carry it on. With a romance, I don’t think it’s quite that simple.
If the misunderstanding goes to the heart of a relationship, it can continue, reasonably and believably, throughout the entire story. Many obstacles to the HEA cannot be easily resolved by a conversation, and that’s fine if there’s a valid, deep-seated reason. Tolerance for angst also depends on, in my opinion, other factors: plot, pacing, and characterization being the most important. And nothing defuses angst—or makes it more bearable—like an infusion of humor.
If I love the characters, I can forgive a lot. If the author develops the romance in such a sweet, sexy, provoking-yet-compelling way that I want to skip everything thing else on my agenda and keep reading, I can accept more angst. And making me laugh—well, that just makes everything better.
For writers, it’s a fine line to tread. And if I’m being honest, probably one I’ve crossed myself. If a writer isn’t aware of an excess of angst, hopefully her critique group or partner, agent, or editor will clue her in.
Tip of the hat and thanks to Longmire does Romance Novels for the featured image.