Romance Elements to Consider

Some reviews might turn into a rambling train of thought, but I want these to be pretty thoroughly graded/rated.  By what criteria?  What (critical) elements?

Here's what I'm thinking of so far: (And I'm sure as I continue into "Romancelandia" this criterion is subject to change.)  Update as of 10/11/2012 - after reading SBTB's Beyond Heaving Bosoms, I need to rework these rating standards.  But for the sake of keeping these original thoughts "organic" I'll let these standards remain in case they cross my mind during future reads:

1 - Does this have a Happily Ever After (aka "the HEA": two characters find love and happiness after a conflict)?  What about it?  Is the main central plot line about the developing relationship of these two characters?

2 - Is the phrase "I love you" expressed/spoken by both characters?  (This is my own issue.  Some readers don't care.  I do.  This part is important to me, but I'm unsure if it should be a "critical" element in the evaluation.)

3 - For more of a "Sarah Wendell-ian" approach, Is the heroine a place-holder for female readers? Or does this book ONLY focus on the male(s)/hero(es)?  Discuss/Expand.

4 - Intensity.  Passion.  Heat.  Intimacy.  Enough said.

Still much more reading to do, and I didn't read as much this week as I should have!  Busy busy work week.  I've been reading Nora Roberts' Bride Quartet #3 Savor the Moment on my nook during the commute/ride to work, and oh my hell is it ever   p a i n f u l l y   slow.  Not sure if balancing the contemporary of the Nora Roberts with the Paranormal of the Sherrilyn Kenyon Fantasy Lover is such a good idea.  I think the Eloisa James during last week was like the "Brazilian Barbecue" of romances... you feel sooooo full and satisfied at the end of the meal, you couldn't possibly take another bite.  You'd have to wait and let it digest for quite a while...

Per Alicia's recommendation, I downloaded J.R. Ward's Father Mine and at only 90-something pages, it was "just right" for a busy week.

I don't think I'm going to continue with the Vaginal Fantasy Bookclub/Hangout only because I'm getting the hunch that they'll move away from romances (paranormal/sci-fi/fantasy or otherwise)...

OK. More reading and catching up on the SBTB podcasts.

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