All the great romances have them. Bogey and Bacall, Jane and Mr. Rochester, Romeo and Juliet. That one person the other can’t live without. It doesn’t matter if they’re with someone else, if they’re forbidden to be with each other or if a conflict separates them. They belong together and ultimately, they will be.
In the movies, smoldering looks between Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall fueled that chemistry and made audiences clamor to see them together, despite an age difference of 25 years. Jane Eyre started out as a helpless governess, subject to the whims of Mr. Rochester. But slowly, desire builds between them and by the time she leaps to his rescue, the reader is hooked. Shakespeare creates the ultimate tragedy with Romeo and Juliet. The young lovers are so devoted to each other that when Romeo thinks Juliet is dead, he kills himself. Faced with the death of her lover, Juliet also kills herself.
The desire to see the guy get the girl (or vice versa) is why we read and write romances. Getting the reader to root for our hero’s and heroine’s happily ever after is the author’s job. We do that by creating chemistry between them—making the glances they give each other sizzle; creating witty repartee; showing one’s vulnerability and how the other protects it. Not only that, we need to make the reader believe that our heroine is the ONLY one for our hero and that our heroine can’t possibly live without our hero.
We create conflicts that tear our hero and heroine apart, only to find a miraculous, but believable, way to get them back together. We want our situations to be realistic to an extent, but fantastical enough to carry us away. We want that kick-up-your-heels kind of kiss, that take-your-breath-away moment. That’s what makes us unable to put down the book. Isn’t it?