The Appeal of Romance for Non-Romance Readers
Have you ever wondered what draws readers to the Romance Genre? Do you think Romance is not for you, as it often gets a bad rap? Are you sitting on the fence about picking up a romance novel? Today I bring you an informative and inspiring guest post from Renee Gendron.
Renée is a multi-genre romance writer and structural editor. She lives in Ottawa,
Ontario, Canada. She enjoys listening to books while walking. 'Star Crossed', a romantic sci-fi anthology was published in April 2021. In November 2020, she released a collection of
romantic crime short stories and novellas Heartened by Crime. She’s contributed to and edited 'Beneath the Twin Suns' and 'In the Red Room'. She discusses writing on her blog, B Plot. She is a regular contributor to A Muse Bouche Review’s newsletter and YouTube channel. Releases for 2021 are listed on her website.
What to tell someone who believes that romances are drivel? Well, first of all, respect their choice not to read the genre. I don’t read certain genres because they aren’t my cup of tea. If you don’t want to read romance, then don’t.
However, for those of you sitting on the fence about romances, let me highlight some points.
Romance is a broad genre with many subgenres, degrees of heat (the degree to which sex is
explicit), humour, and bleakness (dark fiction). If you like reading mysteries, there are wonderful romantic mysteries, romantic cozy mysteries, romantic detective mysteries, and every other combination of mystery you can think of. If you haven’t found a romance subgenre that you like, keep looking. If you need help navigating the millions of books and degrees of heat, consult some book bloggers such as Robert Baker’s site or ask me directly. We’ll be able to find a book that’s likely to interest you.
Romance’s bad reputation is very much like the sci-fi d-movies from the 1950s with flying
saucers swinging on strings across the screen. For the longest time, sci-fi wasn’t taken seriously, until it was. Writing, production value, and devoted fans brought sci-fi from the fringes to the mainstream. The romance genre is at the cusp. There’s been a significant evolution in the genre since the 1960s-1980s bodice rippers. Women characters have much more agency, and the plots are more involved. If you take the time to look (and ask around), there’s going to be at least one romance writer that you’ll enjoy reading.
Romances explore the human condition. To varying degrees of depth, romances are about
personal transformation. The main characters need to have an insight or growth that puts them in the right headspace for a healthy relationship. Throughout the book, each character is tested, presented challenges, and experiences change. Seeing their transformation can be uplifting and inspiring.
Most romances are written with a deep point of view. I find it easier to identify with a deep POV. I also find the emotional element adds depth, often lacking (in my view) in other genres. Human beings are emotional beings. We have rich internal worlds that most don’t share with others. A glimpse into that emotional world creates a certain intimacy with the characters.
The romance genre lends well to explore topics often ignored in other genres. Stories about
fertility issues, marital conflict (explored in a serious way, not as a tertiary plot or a few snap exchanges to increase a character’s headaches), familial conflicts, social obligations and perceptions, and injustice are often drivers in romances.
A common aspect of historical romances is the social constraints placed on women. Each
heroine faces these constraints in her way and presses onwards. I’m not arguing that romances are always historically accurate. Instead, I’m suggesting that we can learn and identify with strong characters that endure, persevere, and overcome through fiction.
Some romances are light-hearted and humorous. Others are serious and contemplative and offer deep reflections on both individual aspirations, society, and systems. As in every other genre, there’s a broad range of romances to suit different market segments.
I listen to most of the books I consume to stack my time. I’ve heard zingers and great
exchanges in many non-romance books. But in my view, the wit and humour in romance are unparalleled. The combination of sexual tension and banter creates a fantastic combination.
There’s a pleasant predictability of the genre. As I’ve mentioned before, romances must have a happy-for-now or a happily-ever-after ending, or they don’t qualify as romances. They are love stories or tragedies. As a reader, I know the characters will end up together, but I don’t know how they will. Sure, romances get chided for writing to trope. Well, as someone who has written 34 books with many more planned, let me assure you writing to trope isn’t a bad thing.
Writing to a trope helps situate your reader and sets out certain expectations you can meet or break. Tropes are great tools to ensure the story unfolds properly. Tropes help readers contrast between books, similar problems but with different resolutions. Tropes cause writers to stretch their imagination and writing skills to strive for unique stories that touch the reader’s heart.
Romance is like every other genre. There are brilliant writers and average writers. Like with
everything else, it’s good to do your homework before buying a book.
What made you start reading the genre you are currently reading? Did someone recommend a book? Did other members of your family read that genre, and you picked up one of the books lying around? Reach out to me on Twitter to continue the conversation.
Thank you to Renee for sharing her insights with us. Renee can also be found via the following links below.
“When you fall in love, it is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake, and then it subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots are to become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the desire to mate every second of the day. It is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every part of your body. No … don’t blush. I am telling you some truths. For that is just being in love; which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over, when being in love has burned away. Doesn’t sound very exciting, does it? But it is!”
'Captain Corelli’s Mandolin' by Louis de Bernières