BUT one can argue that there are vital ingredients for the recipe to a good category or series romance novel.
1. The hero and heroine should meet (or meet again after a long separation) within the first few pages of the novel. This should be at a point of change – when something life-changing is happening to one of them. There is no time for setting up the story – editors want the hero and heroine to meet up as soon as possible and let us see the sparks fly – the sizzling romance sparks NOT arguments!
2. The most important parts of your crafting techniques are the Emotional Obstacles (Past Conflicts) that make it seem absolutely impossible that the hero and heroine could ever be together. Romantic conflict is about emotion, not the situation. The conflict must stem from the characters themselves because of who they are and what they have lived through. If the hero and heroine have a past, this conflict must not be based on coincidence that could be resolved over a cup of coffee. e.g. the hero didn’t get the messages that heroine left for him.
3. Physical obstacles (present conflict) push the hero and heroine together so that they are always in each other’s face. The hero and heroine don’t want to fall in love – especially not with each other – but they are forced to spend time together. e.g. Heroine lives in Smalltown and loves it. Hero left and lives in Bigtown. Their brother and sister die in car accident, their son survives. The hero and heroine have joint custody. Both want to look after the child but neither wants to move.
4. After many trials, the hero and heroine will realize that they are in love with the other, they will arrive at the Black Moment, when everything seems lost and nothing can save the day. One or both characters will make a sacrifice for the other and/or change in some major way that proves their love.
5. After the last big crisis is resolved the hero and heroine admit their love to each other and will then enter into a committed relationship.
So a formula we could extrapolate is:hero + heroine + love conflicts + present conflicts + personal growth = Happy Ever After
The magic formula for writing romance can be summarized: Take one sympathetic heroine and one yummy hero. Add in some past conflicts with reasons they should never ever fall in love. Give them reasons to be in each other’s face all the time. Let them grow as people and maybe make a sacrifice that really hurts. Stir it together and give them a Happy Ever After.