The obvious difference between Adult and Teen romance novels is the level of graphic sexuality--although the steaminess level of YA books has gone up considerably. Teen readers are curious. They want to know what real relationships are and what to expect when they find one. I know when I was a teenager, I thought a lot about boys, kissing, etc. I was consumed with fantasizing about that hunky hockey player or what it might be like to kiss that cute kid collecting movie tickets at the local theatre. Like most girls, I obsessed on romance--though I didn't know the first thing about what romance was outside of Happily Ever After fairy tales.
Needless to say, I had unrealistic expectations and no frame of reference based on the rocky relationships I viewed all around me. It didn't seem to me like couples were very happy. My parents, after seven children, barely spoke to each other about anything other than dinner, money, or who's turn it was to clean the toilet. I was exposed to the dating rituals of four older sisters, but this wasn't all that helpful either since I was sent to my room every time someone started smooching. So like most young women, I had to figure it out on my own, and I have to say--it was disasterous.
I won't get into the gorey details, but I had many bad experiences, a severely broken heart, and still no idea what a happy relationship involved. It took me twenty years or so, but I finally figured it out, got lucky with the right guy, and discovered what romance is all about--RESPECT, TRUST, AND CONSIDERATION. Oh, and let me tell you now, that the Happily Ever After is an illusive little bugger, because nothing is perfect and if that is what you are expecting, you will eventually be disappointed.
I prefer to believe in Hopefully Ever After. This is how all of my stories end--with a positive outlook on life and the promise of a hopeful future. This is the best we can expect from any romance.
What do you think Romance is?