Monday, April 13, 2009

I Like Roller Coasters...right?

Having just read (and liked) Susan Elizabeth Phillips' What I Did for Love and in the midst of listening to Lisa Kleypas' newest contemporary, Smooth Talking Strangers, via audiobook, I got to thinking about emotional roller coasters. 

Emotional roller coaster books are exactly like they sound. The emotions run the gamut and takes the reader through high highs and extreme lows, usually where tears threaten to prickle the eyes and your heart clenches for these imaginary characters. Like I've mentioned before, one of my Good Read Triggers is that tightening of my gut where I don't know how the story can possibly end happily even though logically, I know that it does. So, if I base a good book on that, then I must like those emotional coaster reads, right?

Surprisingly, the answer is, not always.

I've recently come to this conclusion because I've noticed myself buying books from authors that I've read and really enjoyed in the past, but putting them aside for some reason. And then I realized why I've been doing that--those authors are known for an emotional read and I just wasn't in the mood for something that takes so much out of me to read.

Having just finished What I Did for Love and working on Smooth Talking Stranger, I realized that there are times where those flat emotional reads are much better suited to me. Both of these books take the reader on a sort of plateau in terms of emotions. It sets the bar in the beginning and doesn't deviate very far from the plan. And there are times where these reads are just plain comforting. You want a feel-good read and these deliver. 

There are good points and bad to these non-emotional reads. These tend to be the books that pick up when I'm looking for a Romance reread. But these also tend to be the ones where when I'm finished, I wonder if they are a keeper copy because they feel so...interchangable. A good portion of these books feels like they lack substance.

But there are times where those emotional reads set themselves apart from the vast category of Other Romance. By that I mean, the giant numbers of Romances that mean nothing. There's no depth of plot, no real planning of character development, and no sizzle to the chemistry. Those that set themselves apart in my opinion, are most often the emotional reads. Because of their nature to take the reader up and down, they really stand out in the sense that they have substance and depth and makes the reader care for the characters beyond the end of the book. These authors cultivate active message boards and the devoted fan base will want to know of the characters' well-being after their books are written.

While I've recently discovered that my palette for books is diverse, one is not better than the other for they balance each other out to create the beautiful range of Romances.

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