Dec 9 2013 9:30am

Interactive Romances: Is it Love? Press One for Yes and Two For No

Romance Stories--Interactive Fiction Collection by Christina T. CrooksAs a romance reader, I have certain expectations. I expect a romance to be built between a compatible couple whose journey to their happily ever (or happy for now) both interests and intrigues me. I want to be swept away by the author’s skill and submerged into their imagination. I want to be entertained. I want to be stimulated and titillated.

I don’t want to have to work for it.

Lately, the buzz in the literary community is interactive romances. Interactive stories in general are not a new concept. As a child, I loved the Choose Your Own Adventures stories. By your own choices you were given numerous stories and endings. I enjoyed the ability to pick and choose my own (or the hero's) fate. The appeal of interactive stories is while you are given the beginning storyline, you are essentially put in charge of the character(s), choosing their fate using props and choices given by the author.

Dream Your Own Romance and Make Your Own Romance are two series of interactive teen romances written in the '80s. With such titles as Summer Love and Winning at Love, readers are able to make choices throughout the books that address life choices and romance.

Happily Ever Afters is an interactive story site that offers inspirational Christian fiction. In each story, in every chapter, you are given two choices, which will affect your ending.

Romance Stories—An Interactive Fiction Collection by Christina T. Crooks is a series of six interactive romances. The blurb says:

Explore the playfulness, action, and sudden mortal danger of these adventures with built-in hyperlinks where you choose the direction the stories take. Thirty-five possible endings, but only a few will be a happily ever after. Can you find them? has a choose your own adventure story where you choose your Brony Hero of Equartia. An excerpt from the website:

After being sucked into the magical land of Equestria, YOU find yourself as the legendary Brony Hero in this exciting interactive adventure. Will you find the Time Orb and restore peace to the land? Or will you marry Fluttershy? Will you defeat the evil demon king Tirek? Or will you marry Luna? With 21 endings to choose from, only you can decide your fate!

A Girl Walks into a Bar by Helena S. PaigeA Girl Walks into a Bar by Helena S. Paige is set up more like the older Choose Your Own Adventure books. As you read the book, you are presented with choices that take you to different pages and eventually lead you to the ending. Different choices will lead you to different endings. My review partner, Mandi, read this one and said she would have enjoyed more “choices” in the bedroom.

Torn Between Two Lovers is a romantic suspense trilogy by Jo Davis. It's built on the premise that readers will be presented with two books, two different heroes, and will get to vote on who the heroine ends up with. The “winner“ will be revealed in book three.

Coliloquy launched last year with the intent to bring the interactive “choose your own adventure” concept to the e-book market starting with four titles. Their title selection has increased since then and they now offer quite an array of genres to choose from. Originally developed as a Kindle Developer Program for Active Content, the titles are are now available on the entire Kindle family, NOOK Tablet, and other Android-based devices.

Even gamers are getting in on the action. A new project from the female-focused development studio Silicon Sisters promises ”an interactive guilty pleasure" for romance novel fans. Video games that center around love, sex, romance, and relationships aren’t new, but it does veer away from the mainstream. Japan has been making visual novel and dating sim games for years, but the Vancouver-based company has decided to enter the fray with a new interactive game geared towards adult women and romance. Called Everlove, the game will take the form of a an interactive narrative that plays like a romance novel brought to life. The game puts players
in the role of a young woman named Rose who is undergoing a past-life regression. Through her interactions and relationships with other characters in the dream world, the player(s) will help to make the character of Rose in the modern day. The eventual outcome of the game will depend on the paths chosen during the exploration of her past life.

So tell me, does having the ability to guide your romances towards a happily ever after appeal to you or do you just want to read a predetermined path?


Tori Benson can be found at Smexybooks and at Twitter.

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romance reader
1. bookstorecat
There is some interesting potential in the choose-your-own genre. I read Lost in Austen by Emma Campbell Webster quite a while ago, but it was a very memorable experience. Not only was it very funny, it changed my perspective on some of Jane Austen's characters in unexpected ways. Having to make choices for a character instead of just watching everything play out can also increase your self-awareness. I now know I am a completely unsuitable match for any Austen hero, for example.
2. carmenlire
Sounds like it could be interesting. I think the points bookstorecat bring up are valid and interesting as well. I don't know if I could ever get really excited about it, though. Doesn't really seem my style
3. Torifl
bookstorecat-I need to try an interative Austen. I have a feeling though that I too shall be completely unsuitable.

carmenlire- I have found I prefer interactive games opposed to interactive romances.
4. Kareni
My feelings are that in book form, I would be wasting my money if I only get to read a fraction of the story. (Call me cheap ....)

"Torn Between Two Lovers is a romantic suspense trilogy by Jo Davis.
It's built on the premise that readers will be presented with two books,
two different heroes, and will get to vote on who the heroine ends up
with. The “winner“ will be revealed in book three." This idea has potential though.
5. Torifl
Kareni-I read book one of Davis's interactive trilogy and it was very good. Lots of action, suspsense, and a good romantic build up between h/H. Only one thing chafed at little for me at the end but... ce sont des choses qui arrivent.
6. willaful
My gut reaction is to dislike the idea that things could play out differently. I guess I like my romances to feel destined. If a character could be equally happy with someone else, it loses something. The last game you mention sounds potentially interesting, though.
Julia Broadbooks
7. juliabroadbooks
I'm with willaful. In my heart the hero and heroine are always better together than with anyone else. The idea that there is alternative - as much as I believe that in real life - is likely to dampen my enthusiasm.
romance reader
8. bookstorecat
Part of the fun of any choose-your-own-adventure book is going back and seeing what might have played out differently, had you made different choices. Thinking about the books I read in this genre when I was in grade school is making me nostalgic. Now I may have to find some more grown-up examples to try out.
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