Apr 30 2012 9:02am

What Rules are in the Romance Covenant?

A covenant is “an agreement, usually do or not do something specified.”

So what agreements would be in the Romance Covenant?

Please add your thoughts in comments (and of course we’ll be doing something on Breaking the Romance Covenant in future), but some rules of the Romance Covenant might be:


There must be a Happy Ever After.

Neither hero nor heroine can be with other people after they’ve become interested in the other.

The hero and heroine must be absolutely, breathtakingly in love with the other as they near their HEA.

What would you add?

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Amelia James
1. Amelia James
I understand the romance formula, so I agree with the above rules in spirit, but I like to break rules or make up my own. I think romance is more about the journey than the destination. Most of the time the journey leads to HEA, but sometimes it doesn't. And then I get to write another book. ;)

My rule: my characters have to earn their HEA.
Wendy the Super Librarian
2. SuperWendy
This one seems rather obvious, but I've read it in a "romance" novel - so here it goes.

Neither hero nor heroine can DIE at the end of the book.

I don't care if they get married and squirt out triplets in the epilogue or if it's a "hey let's date for a while and see where this thang goes" - but death is a MAJOR HUGE HONKIN' dealbreaker for me.

Paranormal writers especially seem to like to play around in this field - which A thousand times no. Death is death. 'Tis final. It means life is OVER! There is absolutely nothing "happy" about that.

And don't give me that tragically romantic bittersweet or ghosts are real crap. I read romance novels because I like the "happy."
Amelia James
3. Gina Rossi
Hero & Heroine must meet early in the story - on the 1st page is perfect. The reader must know aha! These two are made for each other...but of course it must seem impossible for them to EVER get together or hit it off. HEA in one form or another, is a must. And call me old-fashioned but let's keep things romantic by having safe sex, y'all!
Rakisha Kearns-White
4. BrooklynShoeBabe
The hero or heroine can't be carrying on an affair unless
1. they are in the process of divorcing their spouses;
2. spouses are missing & presumed dead; and
3. spouses are SUPER evil and/or crazy (i.e. Bertha Mason).

I know that is old fashioned but it makes me feel better.
Brie Clementine
5. Brie.Clem
If the hero/heroine has an identical twin, the hero/heroine must be able to tell them apart. That’s how you know it’s true love!
Amber McMichael
6. buriedbybooks
I'm with Wendy. No killing off a hero or heroine. Sounds obvious, but I've read at least 2 that were either marketed incorrectly or became UF *after* the fact because they broke this rule.

Cheating is a big dealbreaker, too. Once the main couple are "together," they need to be faithful.
Jessica O'Brien
7. JLOBrien
I am a stickler for the no one dying rule. If I read the frickin book and one of the people I am cheering for to finally have a HEA kinda ruins it for me.

I can't say I am totally behind the "once they find each other they can't be with another person" rule. Sometimes the best characters I have read (or written myself) suffer from the "grass is greener" syndrome and don't realize the hero/heroine they tossed over belongs with them. It also works the other way. If the hero or heroine is dragging their sure can light a fire under their butts when they see their potential HEA showing interest in someone else.

I have to say the one thing that ruins anything I read is a poorly edited book. The tense and character references need to match. If Mom's name is Matilda, it needs to stay Matilda throughout the book. Or if the hero has six brothers, unless one goes missing...he still has six brothers.
Amelia James
8. willaful
A happy ending and feeling the love are my only rules. Anything else is fine if it works in the story. I would rather read about a hero that has sex with someone else than a hero that is lukewarm towards the heroine throughout the book.
Claire Louise Thompson
9. Nefersitra
For me - "there must be a happily ever after" kind of rules out death of the hero or heroine. Am I alone in having taken that as a given, seeing as some of you guys are saying it as a separate clause?

Also can we put "The story must be interesting/the couple have to work through an actual issue or problem" into the Covenant? I read a story where the couple meeting and falling in love was covered in a couple of paragraphs on page 1 and then moved on to planning the wedding; the rest of the story was them bickering over the plans. Not arguing, BICKERING. Worst romance ever because- even though why the couple loved each other was clear - nothing happened. There was never any chance that the planned wedding wouldn't happen because the worst arguement was the one over the colour of the napkins. I've repressed the name of this story in self-defense because I have been known to go back to badly written stuff at a later date (even to buying it if it's cheap enough!) to see if it really was that bad.
Amelia James
10. jt
Who's writing romance books where the hero or heroine die?
Amelia James
11. jlmanime
@jt : The only author I can think of at the moment is J.R. Ward. I cried like a baby but it kind of turned out ok in the end. Depends on your sense of weird and crazy. Of course, that was more a paranormal romance rather than just romance.

I have to agree with JLOBrien that one thing that will ruin a book for me every time is if the book hasn't been edited well. I recently read a romance novel that I liked a lot until the end. When I got to the end ,I realized that even though there had been a murder in the book, the murderer was never mentioned past the hospital scene where the victim was pronounced dead. How does that happen?! Another thing I dislike is if you read a whole book about two individuals from start to finish they should be together at the end of the book and not with other people. I ended up throwing away one book because in the last chapter the two had broken up and one had found someone else and the other was alone. No, there was not a sequel. That's how it ended. So, all in all, good editing is a must and the couple should be together at the end of the book.
Amelia James
12. Shark with Lasers
Just give me a heroine I can like and root for, and I'll handwave the rest. I can take all kinds of flaws in a heroine, usually they make the heroine more likable, but one thing that drives me nuts is when the author demonizes anyone who dares dislike the heroine. Everybody has somebody in their lives with whom they just don't click. Seeing these people around the heroine, and that they are just people not demons from hell, makes her more likable, not less! Sorry, pet peeve.
Tanisha Robinson
13. sassytarheel
JR Ward has done this several times actually. Killing off the heroines (Why do none of the guys ever get killed? Aren't they the ones out there fighting every night?). *Spoiler Alert* She brought one back to life but as a kind of ghost. I was pretty ticked off about it. I figure if you kill off the heroine then kill her off (allow me and the hero to cry). Don't bring her back in such a lame way. Technically, the books were still classified as Paranormal Romance.
Amelia James
14. Shannon Trimm
"Neither hero nor heroine can be with other people after they’ve become interested in the other."

That doesn't matter to me. Hasn't anybody hate-banged the unsuitable hot guy because you or Mr Perfect couldn't make his mind up? Just me? I think being able to leave Unsuitable Hot Guy for Mr. Perfect just shows how perfect he is.
Amelia James
15. BookWorm
I don't mind death in paranormal romances as long as both characters are still with each other in the end (and i don't mean potentially in heaven, i mean the dead person is ressurected). Ressuerections are cool they create more problems.
I LOVED the j.r. ward series I just wished that the author took some of her villians (i.e. lash) and made them fall in love.
Villians should get a chance too!!!
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