With Valentines Day quickly approaching, and being a writer of romances, I stopped to think about the different types of novels out there for the romance reader. Jane Austen is often considered the quintessence of the genre, but today it’s really a wide spectrum featuring strong, smart, savvy women. And why wouldn’t it? It used to be considered reading romances were for the witless; something to be hidden as a guilty pleasure, because smart girls don’t read romances. Well, they do! Most romance novels today feature strong-willed, smart, and savvy characters reflective of their readership and it’s become the largest and best-selling fiction genre in North America.
Some readers stay within one romance sub-genre and others read across the spectrum. Sub-genre’s can, and sometimes do, cross over into other genres where the romance is just part of a story in a different, larger genre. Romance novels sub-genre’s range from chick lit, contemporary, paranormal, inspirational, historical, time travel, romantic suspense and erotica.
And not all romance novels are full of sex – although I’ve heard some people say “I hear romance novel and I think soft porn.” Not true – some romance novels might have just a chaste kiss or allude to sex, where others can describe the act and get quite hot! Here is a look at just a few romance sub-genres across the rating spectrum – keeping in mind this is just a generalization of their hotness rating:
- Chick Lit books are usually called beach reads – lighthearted, breezy romances that can be a madcap romp or the lives of jet setters, and can involve a lot of shopping and shoes.
- Contemporary Romances – can run closely to women’s literature and contain more complex plotting and more realistic characters with a strong female character dealing with challenges of this day and age, and usually involves strong supportive female friendships. Can be fun and humorous but typically have some heartfelt issues in the storyline.
- Romantic Suspense novels involves an intrigue or mystery that the main characters work together to overcome, more of a drama, where you are rooting for the couple to be together because you can tell this is, or will be, a Great Love.
- Historical Romances kick it up a notch with dramatic challenges for the couple that fall into a lustier, can’t live without the other person, and clandestine relationships. Alpha-male heroes and heroines. Think castles, cowboys, pirates . . .
- And past that, we get into erotica . . . well, I don’t need to explain that one.
Now, this is an over simplification, but in general it gives you an idea that not all romance novels are created the same. The one constant you will find is that its two people that fall in love and have a happy ending. And the one similarity that you will find with the vast majority of readers is that they love them because they themselves are romanceaholics. And there is nothing wrong with that!
Romance is great every day of the year but Valentines Day is THE DAY for romanceaholics and closet romanceaholics alike. So open that box of chocolate, bottle of bubbly, romance novel and indulge! Add a little more romance to your life – try a new romance genre – because you can never have enough romance!
This infographic shows demographics of your typical romance reader.