What is Romance? Is it simply a love story? While all romances contain a love story, not all love stories are romances. Romances are a genre of fiction. As any other genre, it has conventions, just as mysteries, science fiction or westerns do.
I love reading good romance novels. Why? How? With a grateful nod to poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Let me count the ways….
1 Romances have no boundaries.
Romance novels can go back centuries, spanning right through the decades to the present, and into the future. Why? Because love hasn’t changed over the years, plots and genres from historical, to young adult, to paranormal, to romantic drama, comedy. adventure, to western to suspense. All genres live inside romance.
Nowadays we can read much more about the varieties of love thanks to the LGBTQ community and erotic fiction. At the end of the day: love is love.
2 Romances can teach
I know a few things about women’s roles in the first and second World Wars, how women got away with posing as male soldiers in the Civil War…Also how to run a b&b and catch a thief. Would I pick up a non-ficton book or manual on these subjects? Maybe not. But through my love of romance novels, I am now far better informed on many subjects. If well-written, the product of the author’s research is in a romance fiction. If a book is set in the 1940s, for example, you’ll find out the news, slang, what type of clothes people were in fashion, what technology people used to travel and communicate. And it’s all delivered painlessly, as part of a great story. I always value a well researched, informative style of writing, in any genre.
3 Romances feature strong women
Do you like to read about shrinking violets? With women strictly in the background getting coffee? About women with no voice or opinions? Well, romance is not your cup of tea. A good romance novel will show the strengths of a woman, even against adversity. Women will never be stereotyped as weak or “arm candy” or insignificant in romance novels. They are HER journey’s story.
4 Oh, there’s….the sex
Yes, except for in the sweet, close-the-curtain variety, there is, as in life, sex in romance novels. And, as in life, when it comes with consent, and in the right moments, it pulses with joy and wonderful variety!
5 Also relationships
What makes a good relationship? That is a complex question with many answers that are right for different people. By reading romance novels we can compare to our life relationships. That’s why it’s always puzzled me why men who keep loudly wondering “what do women want?” don’t read romance novels. The answer lies within, fellas.
6 And always, hope.
Anything wrong with a little daydreaming of the perfect mate? How else do we to know what to look for in life?
7 Romances make us laugh, cry…and wait!
That is Charles Dickens’ prescription for good storytelling. We all like a laugh. There is often humor in romance. The laugh out loud kind, the clever wit, the sharp one-liners. And who doesn’t like a good cry? Sadness and setbacks get our emotions stirring. And mixing in in a good galloping plot full of conflict, make us wait for ….
8. Oh, those happy endings
Finally there is that much-derided guaranteed “happy ever after. “ Yes, you’ll find happy endings in romances as sure as the murder will be solved in mysteries and the cattle delivered in westerns. If the romance is good, that happy ending will be well-earned and worth the wait!