Guest – Rachel Brimble – What makes for a great romance?

Welcome our newest author to Let’s Talk Romance. Incidentally, Rachel Brimble is a fellow finalist for the Golden Acorn, though she has finalled in contemporary series romance. Please take a moment to congratulate her.


What makes for a great romance?

Can any of us really answer this question without a lot of thought? As a romance writer with five published novels (number six due out in September, yay!), I still can’t say I know for sure. Does that sound awful? Even as a reader, I don’t know there is one particular aspect of a great romance that makes me shut the book and then aggressively seek the author’s back list. Which I do A LOT and my husband cannot stand, by the way.

Is it the characters? The setting? The plot? The voice?

How are we supposed to pinpoint one thing – I know I can’t. My favorite romance author is Nora Roberts as she is for millions of other romance writers, but try as I might I could not tell another person what it is that makes me chose Nora’s books over the masses of others out there.

Even as I am typing this I am ‘seeing’ certain books of hers in my head. Montana Sky never left me because of the story, the setting, the ‘feeling’ of the book. Maybe that’s what it is – the feeling of the book.

When I wrote my first Victorian historical ‘The Arrival of Lily Curtis’ I was fearful that readers would reject it as unauthentic or too modern sounding after writing four contemporary novels. Did I have the voice for historical? Could I really write a story set in an era that has always fascinated me but I only know a limited amount about – or at least did at the time I starting planning the book!

But I pushed ahead and wrote the Victorian story in my heart, letting the characters I could hear in my head when I went to sleep at night have their voice. The result? My best selling book to date. I am thrilled with its success and am happy to say my second historical was the book that landed me an agent just this March.

I am one of those authors who write across the sub-genres from historical to contemporary to romantic suspense. For example, my latest release ‘Getting It Right This Time’ is a contemporary romance set in a bustling UK city. Nothing could be more different than my historical romances. I do not chose the genre of my next book, the characters do and who am I to argue where and when they want their story told?

So after all my rambling, am I any closer to answering my initial question? Maybe. It’s everything that’s between the pages. From characters to setting, to the feeling and the all important author voice.

I just hope and pray one day I’ll be one of those authors where a reader discovers one of my books and just HAS to read the rest…

Here’s the blurb for ‘The Arrival of Lily Curtis’ – Book Boost’s book of the month.

At the mention of an arranged marriage, Elizabeth Caughley feels her life is over at the age of three and twenty….so she hatches an escape plan. She will reinvent herself as a housemaid. Overnight, Elizabeth becomes Lily…

Viscount Westrop wants nothing more than his legacy to be passed to his own son one day. Even though he feels insurmountable pity for the unborn child already, he knows how much pain a broken promise can cause and will do what is right. But with the arrival of his new housemaid, his plans are thrown into disarray. Lily is funny, feisty and the most beautiful creature on earth – Andrew is thunderstruck. But if anyone suspects how much he wants to ravish her and endlessly love her, Andrew’s lineage will be in peril. And he cannot let that happen…

Buy her book here.
You can visit Rachel at:


6 responses to “Guest – Rachel Brimble – What makes for a great romance?

  1. Rachel-

    Great post! I think what makes a romance great is a combination of things: character, setting,etc. However, in the end, it’s voice. If I don’t like the author’s voice, then no matter how strong the characters, how emotional the conflict, I’m just not going to connect well with the story.


  2. Rachel,
    That’s a question I ask myself every day as well. I guess what makes me go for the backlist are unforgetable characters and the ability of the author to make me laugh, cry, or feel the heartache of the characters. I don’t care if the writing follows all the ‘rules’ if I become lost in the story and the characters. Of course good writing makes that happen.

  3. Hi Rachel!

    Congrats on your Golden Acorn final! Good luck!

    I think the question of what makes a good romance is a good one, and as you’ve mentioned, one that is difficult to answer. It’s definitely a combination of the characters, setting, and plot, but individual stories speak to individual readers in different ways. A romance (or any other book) that I find wonderful and enchanting and I can’t put down, someone else might hate.

    I totally agree that a book ‘speaks’ to you in certain ways. And I think every reader understands a book in his/her own way. Isn’t it great to have so many choices for so many people out there?!

  4. Hey Rachel! You know, I was going to say that I know what *I* like in a book, but I have to agree. I think you’re right. I think it isn’t any one thing, but a whole slew of them that make up the book itself. It’s how the author chooses to tell the story.

  5. Rachel, besides being entertained by the book, I love it when a romance makes my chest squeeze. I can’t describe it, but it’s a feeling I get when I feel the h/h conflict and it grabs my heart. When the author makes me believe that all is lost for them, and there is no way they’ll ever get it together, and then somehow pulls it off and brings them back together, that’s a good romance. You know?

    Very best wishes on your foray into historical romance, and with all of your contemporary novels.

  6. Hi Rachel, congrats on the success of your books. For me it’s settling into the world the characters inhabit, and the author’s voice.

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