I've read my fair share of romance books. However, most of these seem to be by Victoria Alexander, a brand name of mine.
I mentioned the Grand Romance Joke before, however, I did not explain it.
The Grand Romance Joke is the theme. The point. The inside joke. It's also characterization.
The Wedding Bargain was my first favorite romance book. It's typical battle-of-the-sexes, and one of the funniest books I've ever read.
Picture it: 1816, London, England. Pandora Effington is on her seventh season, and still hasn't wed. Her parents were a love match. She wants the same.
Pandora meets Maximillian Wells, a former soldier. He fought with Duke of Wellington. They start to talk about what they each wold like in a spouse. After Pandora names off all of hers, Max suggests that she wants a hero. He wants to be that hero. After all, she's the most unattainable woman in all the ton. And she met all of his requirements. He wants a test to prove he's a hero. Wanting to devise a test he can never hope to win, Pandora gathers up some information and gives him a very hard test.
She gives him the Twelve Labors of Hercules.
The Grand Joke: Heroism. What it means to be a hero. What heroes do and don't do. Some stuff on Greek mythos, of course. Naturally, the characters make some jokes in the book. You laugh along with them, because, if you're like me, you know a little bit about mythology, so you get the jokes. Extremely dorky jokes, but I'll laugh at anything.
Is it making sense?
Another example is The Pursuit of Marriage. It's very similar to The Wedding Bargain. Cassie Effington and Reggie Berkeley make a bet too. Cassie can find Reggie's Miss Wonderful and Reggie will find Cassie's Lord Perfect.
The Grand Romance Joke: Of course, there's talk and jokes in the book about what wonderful and what perfect mean.
Okay, the Grand Romance Joke is a cheesy thing. Really cheesy. But you understand right?
Some other time, I'll post a grand romance cliche list, but not tonight.