Are You a Romance or Love Stories Girl? by Shana Figueroa – Guest Blog and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Shana Figueroa who is visiting with us today. Comment on any of her Character Portrait blog posts for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

Are You a Romance or Love Stories Girl?

Do you believe there’s a difference between a romance and a love story? I do – but do you? And, more importantly, are you a romance girl or a love story girl?

The Romance Writers of America can help us out here! Their definition of a romance is a story with “a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.” It follows that any story which doesn’t conform to these two elements is not a romance. “Love story” implies the primary plot is focused on love, so the difference is the HEA.

So: central love story plus HEA = romance; central love story with no HEA = love story.

Or does it?

What about the first 50 Shades of Grey? That one doesn’t have an HEA. It follows the same couple, Christian and Ana, through two more books of their romantic misadventures. In fact, some would argue there’s no love story, either, as Christian displays what many consider stalking and abusive behavior throughout the series. Is it a romance, a love story, or neither?

What about Out of Africa, a movie adaption of a book starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep as two ill-fated lovers in the early 1900s and described on Wikipedia as an “epic romantic drama?” That story doesn’t have an HEA, either. You could also argue it’s more about a woman’s voyage of self-discovery than a love story.

How about Me before You? Romeo and Juliet? Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? Casablanca? Gone with the Wind? All centered on love, but none of them fit the definition of romance.

The first novel in my Valentine Shepherd series, Vengeance, ends with a major plot twist that pushes the two main characters apart after they fought so hard for love. It was hard to write! But like the 50 Shades series, it follows the same couple through two more books, and (spoiler?) they eventually get their HEA in the final story, Reckoning. Does this mean Vengeance isn’t technically a romance, but the whole series is?

In the end, it comes down to what you, the reader, believe a “romance” should be. I think the RWA’s definition of romance says more about the people making the definition than it does about the actual genre.

Personally, I don’t like the idea of being characterized as “not romantic” because I can be satisfied with ambiguous endings more complicated than “And then they lived happily ever after.” I think if a couple is blissfully married for fifty years, and then one of them gets hit by a car and dies, that shouldn’t discount the previous romance they experienced together. Everybody dies. Everything ends. Hell, one day the sun will swell into a red giant and swallow the earth. Why should these facts of life mean that romance isn’t possible for any of us in the real world?

I guess this means I’m a love story girl – it’s more about the journey than the HEA for me. Which is it for you?

Hell hath no fury like Valentine…

Five years. It’s been five years of blissful peace for private eye Valentine Shepherd and her hot-ass husband, Max Carressa. Five years of watching their twins grow up healthy and happy, even as Val waits for Hell to unleash its fury. Her enemies have been planning, and Val knows she doesn’t have nearly enough weapons to protect her family…

Yet Val and Max have one advantage—their insatiable desire for each other allows them to see into the future, and the visions they share may just give them a chance. But as events are set into motion that endanger everyone Val’s ever loved, she’ll do whatever it takes to stop the horror she’s already seen.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Val sat at the foot of the bed, sipping coffee and watching Max futz with a tie in front of the bedroom mirror. From the first floor, Lydia’s laughter reached them through their closed door. Hopefully that meant the kids were already warming up to Jamal.

“You’ve never heard of a group of guys who go to a secret smoking room or possible sex club after work, have you?” she asked.

Max’s hands stopped. He looked at her through the mirror, an eyebrow cocked. “You’re kidding, right?”

“Is that a no?”

“Yes, that’s a no.”

Thank God. She probably wasn’t dealing with an evil sex-slash-faith-healing cult again. Chances seemed slim, anyway.

He continued knotting the purple silk around his neck. “Is this related to Lacy Zephyr’s visit a couple days ago?”

“Maybe. Yes.” She’d told him Lacy came by, but had kept the details to herself out of respect for her first client in about half a decade. Now she realized she couldn’t get Max’s help without bringing him fully on board. She’d tried keeping him in the dark once before, during her investigation into Blue Serpent; it had turned out disastrously for them both. The specter of Lacy’s disapproval could take comfort that Max was good at keeping secrets. “How well do you know her husband?”

“Aaron? Not well. I see him at meetings sometimes.”

“So you don’t know what he does in his spare time, say after work?”

“No idea.”

She regarded him over the rim of her mug, drumming her fingers on the sides of the ceramic.

Max straightened his tie, glanced at her in the mirror, and frowned. “Don’t even ask.”


“No. Aaron and I aren’t friends.”

“But you could be.” Lord knows he could use more friends. Of course he could say the same thing about her, especially since Stacey took off five years ago for destinations unknown, but this wasn’t about her.

“I’m not palling up with someone I barely know just to find out what he does after work.”

“Okay, fine.” She took another slurp of her coffee. “Could you at least find out what his schedule looks like over the next week or so?”

Shoving the end of the tie under his vest, he turned to face her and shook his head.

“Then I’ll have to spend all day and night staking him out. Don’t know how long that’ll go on for. When my mom comes to visit in a couple days, you’ve got it covered, right?”

Max’s gorgeous hazel eyes drilled into her, his lips tightened in a half-smile. Hot damn, never had bemused frustration looked so sexy. She loved twisting his screws just to get that look.

“To state the obvious, you are manipulative,” he said as he snatched his suit coat off a loveseat in the corner and slipped it on. “I’ll see what I can do, alright?”

She jumped up and kissed him, careful not to slop coffee on his suit. “Thanks. You can punish me later.”

“You bet I will.” He slapped her ass and seized her lips with his, kissing her with such force she thought he might throw her on the bed and make love to her right then. When his kiss turned her insides to liquid and she started pulling at his belt buckle, a feverish desperation for him burning in her belly, he pulled away, stepped past her, and bounced down the stairs.

She gasped, the void where he used to be like a splash of cold water to her face. “Tease,” she called after him.

He snickered the rest of the way to the first floor. Yeah, real fucking funny. She’d make him pay for that. He wouldn’t be getting any sleep tonight, that’s for damn sure.

About the Author:Shana Figueroa is a published author who specializes in unique romance and humor, with occasional sojourns into horror, sci-fi, and literary fiction.

She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, two young daughters, and two old pugs. By day, she serves her country in the US Air Force. By night, she hunkers down in a corner and cranks out the crazy stories lurking in her head.


Buy the book at Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, or Barnes and Noble.

Giveaway! Comment on any Character Portrait blog post on my website to enter to win a $10 Amazon gift card!



  1. I enjoyed the excerpt. Adding this one to my TBR list.

Speak Your Mind