If you love romance novels, chances are you’ve felt like you had to defend the genre at some point. Popular as the books are, there are plenty of people out there who like to look down on them. Fortunately, that hasn’t stopped romance readers. The genre remains one of the most popular in publishing. And it’s for good reason: As any reader of the genre will tell you, romance novels are awesome.
What makes the genre so great? Since its readers are such a huge and varied group, there isn’t just one answer. Some appreciate that the books guarantee a happy ending, while others appreciate the chance to decompress. The list of reasons to read romance is endless, which explains readers’ devotion. (Nearly half of romance fans read the genre once a week at least, according to Nielsen data from 2015.)
While I personally can’t resist the promise of a sweet story with a happy ending, I wanted to hear from fellow romance readers. I reached out to friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers alike to gather responses that tap into what makes reading romance novels so great. If you’ve never picked up a romance novel, these 11 responses from readers may just sway you.
1. Angeline, 29
I started reading romance novels as an English major in college. I needed something to balance out the Shakespeare and Chaucer. I was surprised to find these books weren’t just fluff. I found multi-faceted, relatable characters just trying to connect with one another... and yes, also trying to get in each other’s pants. But the best part of romance novels is that you’re always guaranteed a happy ending!
It’s the thrill of a character’s longing turned into reality and ultimately the hope that someday you may find a love like the ones you read about.
3. Dao, 38
I read to live a thousand lifetimes in the span of one and through romance novels, I get to experience the What Ifs? from the safety of my own bed, lights out, snuggled under the covers with the love of my life snoring gently beside me. It’s always lovely to step into someone else’s shoes for a few hundred pages and even lovelier to step back into my own romance when the journey is done. I live those thousand lives with the turn of a page in order to appreciate the one before me all the more.
I like romance novels because they’re simple, breezy, and don’t take up a lot of brain power or time to enjoy. I usually read them between books that are heavier and have more substance, to give my brain a break.
5. Stephanie, 26
I’ve always loved reading the genre (and writing it!) because it satisfies the part of me that was never able to let go of childhood fairy tales; that fluttery and innocent feeling that makes you all warm and fuzzy. Reading it gives you something you can’t get elsewhere; the ability to see into a relationship and almost live through the characters’ experiences, not in a creepy “This character is my boyfriend” way but in the sense that you can feel a bit of the fluttery feeling that the characters are feeling.
6. Thien-Kim, 37
Romances with sassy heroines and smoking hot sex are my way to wind down after a long day. I love it when the couple’s chemistry sizzles on the page and how their passion can become inspiration for real life bedroom fun! Since I’m not the only romance reader who enjoys happy endings inspired by the books I read, I founded Bawdy Bookworms, where I pair steamy romances with sensual toys.
7. Megan, 29
I like them because they are completely different than my life — they take me out of my head into a dream world.
8. Heather, 41
I listen to romance books in the car while driving because they require less attention to follow, but usually have a great story. The historical romances I read usually have good story lines (mainly historical — can’t get enough of Regency England) that allow a bit of mental escape from the stresses of everyday life. Romance books always have conflict but it is always resolved in a super happy way that makes me smile.
For me, the modern romance novel isn’t your mother’s bodice-ripping-heaving-bosom romance novel — while the fluff is certainly out there, the novels I read are well written books, first and foremost, with intriguing plot, developed characters, and — of course — a healthy dose of the naughty. My favorite authors write strong women with intelligence and convictions, who are in full control of their own lives, and who embrace their sexuality. It’s empowering. The best part, though, is you’re guaranteed a happy resolution by the end of the book. They’re risk-free escapes from reality, and perfect for a couple of hours of relaxing.
10. Laura Bradbury (Author, Grape Series)
Total escapism, romance, [and] humour. Plus the search for one’s very own Jamie!
11. Molly, 29
To me, romance novels are all about hope, hope for two people to find each other and fall madly in love and all will be OK, life will be amazing as long as you have someone to love and love you, that you can handle any “crisis” as long as you have someone by your side. Even though I know how they are going to end (’cause they almost always end the same!), I still like the hope/dream that a happily ever after is possible. Also, they are super easy reads!