Love vs Romance with Julie Sturgeon

During a conversation on Facebook with a group of Crimson Romance authors and editors, Julie Sturgeon (Imprint Manager) spoke up on her thoughts about Love versus Romance in writing. I totally loved what she had to say and I invited her here to share her thoughts with you! Please give Julie a warm welcome!!

Love v Romance: How to Pick Your Side of the Fight

As a development editor who works with Crimson Romance as well as self-published writers, one of the most common remarks I jot in manuscripts is “no, not yet. It’s too early.”

Yes, I’m a romance editor whose mission is to delete the I love yous.

Many authors write beautiful love stories. Stories of instant attraction, soulmates willing to die for the other. They forgive, they support, they last. They make readers laugh and cry simultaneously.

Isn’t that the happily ever after we all want to read?


You see, I’m living that happily ever after. I’ve been married for 30 years to my first serious boyfriend from college. He’s my best friend. I know what it’s like to wake up in the morning on a beach vacation, ready to hit the sand while he opts to hide out in the hotel room because “it’s too hot out there.” I know I can turn to him at 3 a.m. in hysterics because I’ve crashed my WordPress site and he’ll roll out of bed to call tech support. He calls the shots on the television most nights, but during the Olympics or NCAA March Madness, that remote is mine. A few years ago I forced him to sell his sci fi collection at Half Price Books for a stupidly small sum of money. He forgave me.

When I’m driving cross country, there is no one else I want by my side in the passenger’s seat. Or the driver’s seat. We share the load like that and it’s the greatest blessing of my life.

What I’ll never experience again is that delicious sense of falling in love. When we went to the movies last week on our date night, I wasn’t on the edge of excitement, wondering if he’d put his arm around me or steal a kiss and if that would lead to more. My big curiosity was whether he’d remember to tell them to butter the popcorn.

So I, like so many readers, must turn to books to relive the uncertainty, the thrills, the tingles of romance. When the hero and heroine say, “I love you,” it’s time to move on. Oh, yes, I will read another chapter or two to find out what happened to the dog they rescued or who shot her sister. But I’ve squeezed my emotional fix from the story and am ready for the next romance book regardless of the page count. If I’m only halfway through the current story … well I know how that ends.

He’s coming through the door at 7 pm and we’re going to On the Border to use our free queso coupon.

Readers who aren’t in a solid relationship—in love, if you will—struggle to wrap their minds around living this happily ever after stage yet. The romance phase stands between them and that horizon, and they haven’t had success just yet bridging the gap. They need romance novels to assure them it is possible to work through the emotions, the drama, the bumps that accompany the excitement.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with writing love stories, of course. But if your goal is to set your published book on the romance shelves, make sure your characters aren’t Cupid’s victims dining in Mexican chain restaurants on a random Wednesday.


Thanks so much for being here, Julie!!


About the author


15 pings

  1. Elley says:

    Love this, Julie (and Heather). It’s so true.


  2. Rachel Cross says:

    Agreed! Tingles and tension.

  3. Melinda Dozier (@MelindaDozier) says:

    What a great post! Julie hits a homerun describing why we read (or write) romance! Yes!

    1. Heather says:

      I think so too! Which is why I wanted her to share it with others! Thanks for stopping by.

  4. andrearcooper says:

    Excellent post and so true. I lose interest too if the I love yous and all that goes with that happen too early in the book. Wondering how the couple gets together is what keeps me turning pages 🙂

  5. Bobbi Romans says:

    Excellent post and so very true. Love can be holding back hair when sick as a dog, or ignoring the all over blisters from Chicken Pox. Currently love is putting the clear nail polish on the redbug bites. 😉

  6. Anonymous says:

    I agree that romance readers keep reading because of the romantic tension and build up in a story. Like you, I’ve been married for a long time and the excitement of new love is long gone. But when I pick up a good romance novel, I expect to experience those tingly feelings for most of the book. Writers make a big mistake getting to the “I love you” you part too early in the story.

  7. georgeannswiger says:

    I didn’t mean to be anonymous. I hit the post comment button mistakenly. Oops…

  8. stainsofblue says:

    This is so interesting still, even though I too have been in the FB group and had some time to reflect on this. As someone who is 28 and never been in a relationship that lasted longer than a few months… I crave beautiful love stories. Those stories about people who make it, people who are flawed and stick together anyway. I want to know about the romance side, but I never feel emotionally satisfied when the story cuts out at the I love you’s. It’s quite a revelation I have been through in the last weeks and I think it’s changing the way I write, too. 🙂 Thank you Julie!

    1. Heather says:

      This is a great flip side of the coin! I can totally see where you’re coming from Stains of Blue! Of course if you’re still in the midst of finding love, the everlasting part would be more interesting to you. Makes total sense! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  9. Leslie P Garcia says:

    Great post and comments. Interesting food for thought from stainsofblue. Thanks, Julie and Heather!

  10. Carol Ritten Smith says:

    As a woman married forty years I so understand and appreciate Julie’s blog about love and romance. It takes guts and trust to make the long haul in a marriage. Thank you, ladies!

  11. Denyse Cohen says:

    I’ve been married for 12 years and I can relate to Julie’s post. And also I just found out I tend to write “Love” more than I do “Romance.” LOL. First book, the “I love yous” came half-away. Second, not even. I for one, love to read about the struggles of the relationship. Honestly, falling in love is kinda of easy, staying in love is the challenge. I guess I’m a person who likes things to happen, well… immediately. Believe me, I don’t think it’s a trait to prize most of the time. A romance or “love” story has to be engaging no matter when the “I love yous” happen. If the story is the usual cookie-cutter romance, then yes maybe I’ll put the book down too.

  12. Lynn Crandall says:

    Very cool insight about writing romance and appreciating where you’re at.

  13. Amy Leigh Mercree says:

    So well put! This piece sums up the allure of the romance novel – the feel good ending. We are all looking for that happy ending after the exciting ride of, “How does he feel?” and “Will there be a happy ever after?” Thanks, Julie & Heather!

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