I read a lot, as I am sure you all do to and when I read a romance, I really want to buy into the romance that goes on between the hero and heroine and if I'm sucked in, then you've got my vote.
The reader of romance novels (me being one of them!) wants to feel satisfied by the hero - not in any kind of pervy way - but knowing that he will fill the hole in the heroine's life, will make her whole and will be the kind of man that she's hoping for.
The reader of romance novels wants to fall ever so slightly in love with the hero - after all, these are men who have flaws but who can overcome then and be a better man.
The reader of romance novels will feel ever so slightly jealous of the heroine - not envying her problems or hang ups, but the fact, that by sheer determination, by real honest dialogue and by the deepest soul searching, she always gets the man of her dreams.
I got to thinking about what got me reading romance as a youngster. Was it just following on from my mum's example? She used to go down the library once every couple of weeks and choose as many Mills and Boon books as she was allowed (can't remember what the allowance was in the early 1980's) - once I got old enough, she used to send me down to pick them for her. Whilst I'm sure she had her own preferences, when I picked for her, I went on the names of the hero and heroine (something I'm still very drawn to now!) and by the picture on the cover.
Even younger than that, my aunty gave me a book which she had been given as a child - 'Little Women' by Louisa M. Alcott. I treasure that book - I still have it to this day, and it's 55 years old. Even at the age of 7 or 8, the relationships between Jo and Laurie, and subsequently Amy and Laurie and also Meg and Mr Brooke left an impression on me that has followed me through into adult life.
As a teenager, I read Judy Bloom - I still have have some of her books and like to dip back in to them every now and then and 'Forever' formed part of my sex education! I also liked the 'Caitlin' series (has anyone else read the books?) by Francine Pascale and made valiant efforts to get the three trilogies again (gotta love the Internet) but I am still missing a couple.
Then Black Lace books came out when I was in my late teens, early twenties and that was also a bit of an eye opener - who knew?!!!!
But all through that, I've always maintained a picture of how true romance should be - it wasn't all moonlight and roses - and it seemed to happen to other girls, but not me. To this day (although I'd die of mortification), I am still hopeful that my other half (or some stranger who has admired me from afar) will have flowers delivered to me at work. I will still check the post every Valentine's Day for a card (just in case that stranger who has admired me from afar has stalked me and found out where I live). I still (on the odd occasion I go out with the girls) cast a hopeful eye around the bar to see if I catch someone's eye (by this stage, I've discovered that the stranger who has admired me from afar is actually someone who has had a few too many and thinks that adding a MILF to his list is on his 'things to do before I'm 30' list).
My romantic hero is tall (hopefully near six foot, but five feet 11 and spiked hair might do it) , has blonde hair ( or brown or black or grey, but definitely some hair), will be approximately two to five years older than me (might push it to ten), have a great sense of humour (possibly tells a lot of jokes that I've heard before but still makes me laugh), want kids (at least one), works hard (most of the time), likes to read (what's on the Sky TV Guide), likes to go for long walks (why did God invent wheels if he wanted us to walk everywhere), communicates (prefers to talk on the phone, sends one word texts (Yes, No) possibly stretches to two (Eff Off), and finally makes me laugh (especially when the puppy is lying on his chest of a night and the dog passes wind).
My romantic education started fairly young and it's taken me a fair proportion of my adult life to realise that whilst it's fabulous to be able to escape and day dream when reading a romance novel or better still to be able to bring a hero to life with your own words, I have my own hero indoors - I hope you've found yours too.