At one time I thought I knew the answer to that question.
Two blog posts ago, I wrote about trying to read a romance. I had always thought that "romance novel" = "dismally bad writing, and even worse storytelling," the kind of writing that made your stomach turn over. The book I tried to read a couple of weeks ago was like that: really horrendously bad writing and a thin story line. I couldn't finish it, even though the author is a New York Times bestseller. (I'm still shaking my head about that one.)
Lene, bless her heart, thought I was lumping all romances into that bad, dominant male/wimpy female category. And I was. She suggested that I read Jennifer Crusie's Fast Women. So I did.
Well... Jennifer Crusie can write. I enjoyed Fast Women immensely. It had good prose, lots of action, believable romance, mystery, danger, conflict, and character growth. I think the key for me was the believable romance.
If Fast Women is an example of good romance writing, then I've been reading quite a bit of it lately. I just thought I was reading good books.
I have some more thinking to do.
Whatever you do, I'd recommend NOT reading that author I mentioned in the other blog post. She might be a very nice person and she might live in my mother-in-law's hometown, but I don't think I'll be looking her up the next time I go there.