I admit it, I am a huge fan of romance novels. It doesn’t matter what type they are — awesomely cheesy bodice rippers from the '80s, contemporary billionaire romances, sexy vampires — I love all of it. Yet, when someone asks me what kind of books I like, I often hesitate to be truly honest with them. Sure, I love a lot of different genres, but I often hesitate to admit to this one. Like it or not, being a fan of romance carries a bit of a stigma. There’s the implication that the books aren’t “real literature,” the fact that they build up unrealistic expectations in the reader (as though those who read fantasy are convinced that elves are real), and the fact that frankly… romance can be a bit old-fashioned.
Those who say such things don’t fully understand the wonders of the romance genre. Sure, these books can be light and fluffy, but that does not necessarily mean that it’s a bad thing. So, using my limited experience both reading and writing romance novels, I’ve compiled a short list of reasons as to why you as a reader should not write off the romance genre. So sit back relax, and let me persuade you to give this genre a bit of a try. You may be surprised.
1. You Know What You're Getting In A Romance Novel, And That Can Be Comforting
I've said this before, and for most of you it won't come as a surprise, but the romance genre comes with a lot of rules. For some, the hero and the heroine aren't supposed to consummate their attraction until at least halfway through the novel, the characters are generally supposed to be good people (or good at heart, at least!) and there must always be a happy ending. While for some readers these tried-and-true formulas are a little tiring, there's something to be said about the comfort of knowing what you're getting. How many times have you read a book, desperately wanted a pair to get together, and then it doesn't happen? With a romance novel you don't need to worry about that, you can just sit back and enjoy that bumpy road to love while knowing that the end of it, you're going to watch those two crazy kids ride off to their own happily ever after.
2. The List of Subgenres Is Endless
The romance genre has a little something for everyone. In fact, it's so diverse that the only thing that keeps them all under the umbrella is the fact that the central story is devoted to romance. One of my favorite romance subgenres is "Regency Romance." Set during the beginning of the 1800s, it usually features a gaggle of fancy ladies stuck in marriages of convenience. There's also urban rantasy, where sexy vampires, werewolves, and faeries often come together to fall in love. From science fiction to westerns to billionaires falling in love, the possibilities within the genre itself are endless. And it's not only about men and women falling for each other either. Why is this so great? There's something to be said about having a little something for everyone, and if you get bored of one thing, you can always move on to another. How great is that?
3. The Twists and Turns Are Addictive
Since we already know how things are going to end up: hero and heroine ride off happily into the sunset together and in love, but sometimes that path doesn't run smooth. To keep interest, romance novels often have to have twists and turns, sometimes spanning for many books at the time. Of course by very nature it is addictive, and what's better than that? We all knew in our hearts that Bella and Edward were going to get together, but the path that they took was a bumpy one full of vampires, other love interests, and werewolves — some of those things overlapping. There's something so utterly terrific about an addictive read, and romance novels are some of the best of them.
4. Romance Helps Women Embrace Their Sexual Agency
Even in our "over-sexed" world, there still is a backlash against women openly enjoying it, though the tide seems to be changing. However, for those who aren't fully open to sexting or sex toys, the romance novel has always existed to inspire and excite even in times when that sort of thing was frowned upon. One of my first forays into the world of sexual exploration came from the guiding hand of a romance novel, and the more I read of them the more in control I feel of my own sexual destiny. This is more than just about me though, look at the boom in sexual agency that came from the overwhelming popularity of Fifty Shades of Gray. Women all over were openly declaring their love for the trilogy, spawning themed parties and sex toys. How awesome is it for a book to do that?
5. Because It's OK to Feel Our Feelings
If there's one thing that romance novels have, it's an abundance of feelings. Heartbreak, elation, desire, jealousy, romances definitely run the gamut of all of these and more. By nature, romance novels are novels about feelings, so doesn't that mean that the enjoyment of them of an enjoyment of feelings? How often are we told that feeling the way we feel can be wrong or inappropriate? I know that it's happened to me far too many times, and that can be exhausting. In the world of romance novels, people are allowed to feeling whatever and however they want, and often those emotions are dialed up to 11. Isn't it nice sometimes to crack open a book and bask in the glow of pure emotion? Sometimes we all have a lot of feelings, and we aren't always able to feel them out loud, but the romance novel embraces that and tells us that it's okay.
Image: South_agency/E+/Getty Images, Giphy (6)