And Romance Rule #5 - Adventure, Action, and a Satisfying Ending

Thrills and Chills, and Romance Too.
My final rule for great romance novels has to do with the plot. I love reading (and writing) romance stories with plenty of action and adventure to carry the love story along, giving it excitement and depth. Ideally the plot is active and adventurous enough that it could stand alone (without the romance per se) and still make a great novel.

When I wrote Caribbean Jewel, I wove in escapes, battles, intrigues, and as many dangerous situations and near-misses as I could. It's pirates - there should be swashbuckling [Word Reference definition: "swaggering, dashing, full of adventure."] Swords and pistols and rum and cannon fire. That novel starts with the heroine jumping out of a second-story window, and I did my best to keep the pace relatively breathless after that. (In more ways than one, heh heh.)

Here's a sample from Caribbean Jewel:

Several loud, forceful explosions from the gun deck below fired off in response to the enemy’s blast. The captain scrambled to his feet, dragging her up against the length of his body.
She tried again. “Captain, I have to tell you—”
“I said go!” He pushed her firmly toward the staircase, then shouted more instructions to his men in Spanish.
Jolie screamed at the top of her lungs. “Gabriel Marcano, listen to me!”
That got his attention. He whirled around, his face a mask of fury. The men standing near him backed away, keeping their heads low. Before he could open his mouth, she pointed to portside. “Two men are sneaking up on you from a rowboat over there!”
He took a step toward her, eyes narrowing as he processed this information. He rushed to the port side of the forecastle, followed by a handful of his men. They peered down the length of the brigantine. An empty boat floated along in the choppy black waves, hitched to the balustrade of the Amatista by two grappling hooks.
Captain Marcano turned back to Jolie, his eyes darkening to a glittering royal blue. “Get back to the cabin now!”

In Kiss of the Assassin, there's practically nothing but fleeing, fighting, and kissing:

Around the next corner, they were not so lucky. A guard was seated at a desk in front of the door blocking the way into the prison cell area, slumped forward in his chair, dozing. There was nothing to do but approach him, and just as Yavi raised the hilt of his scimitar to strike, the man awoke.
Yavi dealt him a blow to the head, and he fell to the side of the desk, unconscious. Yavi took the man’s keys, unlocked and carefully swung open the door. The unpleasant aroma of mildew, sweat, and urine wafted over them, and Jiandra cringed at the thought of Yajna being trapped down there. No guards were in sight, so they pulled their hoods low over their faces and hurried along the long row of bars until they came to Yajna’s cell. Yajna swung open his door when he saw them and stepped out, smiling. It pained her to see his handsome face purpled with bruises and streaked with dry, crusted blood, but before she could say or do anything, a guard appeared at the entrance to the long passageway.
“Help, help! We have invaders!”
“Give Yajna his bow,” Yavi ordered Jiandra, then ran to silence the shouting guard.
Jiandra removed the bow and arrows from her back and Yajna slung them over his shoulder with a quick, practiced movement, surveying her leather attire with an appreciative grin. “I didn’t know if I would ever see you again.”
“Hold still.” She reached up and touched his face, focusing Healing.
When she was done, he swept her into his powerful arms, lifting her in his embrace, and she planted three quick, eager kisses on his chiseled jaw. He released her, smiling, then grabbed her hand and pulled her with him toward the reception desk where Yavi was waiting.

Once I've got the action and adventure plot going strong, it has to build and build to a breaking point, an "all is lost" and "how will they ever survive this" moment, and then...ahh, the Satisfying Ending. The Happy Ever After that we romance readers love with every fiber of our beings.

So, that wraps up my Romance Rules. I do my best to obey them when I write, because I'm telling myself the story while I'm writing it for you, and I want it to be great.