10 Romance Novel Authors Explain Why This Genre Is As Important As Ever
August is Romance Awareness Month. That isn't to say that romance shouldn't always be celebrated, but the month-long dedication represents an acknowledgment of how important it is to be aware of it and to hold onto it in relationships and the world alike. Believing in romance and love and the connection it provides fosters a sense of hope, and romance novels are a great conduit through which that message comes across.
It's easy to join the bandwagon and make the generalization that all romance books are alike and that they care only about physical intimacy. But what many fail to see is how empowering they are for both men and women, and the emphasis they place on their wants and needs, something that particularly strikes a chord in the wake of everything that has been going on in the news.
Romance novels show different forms of love, and offer a judgment-free space for readers intrigued by different concepts and practices. Its authors are also not afraid to weave in political, social, and economic issues within the love stories they craft. Christina Lauren's Dating You/Hating You, for instance, is an enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy on the surface, but at its heart, tackles the double standards that plague women in the workplace.
These novels also offer wonderful escapism. As obsessed as we find ourselves with the news lately, it's nice to step back and into a world that makes us feel hopeful with stories that show that happily-ever-afters exist even after hardships and extenuating circumstances.
In honor of Romance Awareness Month, 10 romance authors tell Bustle what romance books mean to them and the value of reading them today, driving home the point that while August may come and go, romance is here to stay.
"Romance is important to me because it is about seeing women at the center of the story, and knowing that they're not there to lose and die, but to triumph and win. As the genre evolves, readers have access to more and more characters triumphing who are too - often used in literature for tragedy - women, queer characters, characters of color, disabled characters, plus-sized characters and more. This is why I love romance; because love shouldn't be tragic...it should be triumph. And we need that now, more than ever."
Sarah MacLean is author of The Day of the Duchess.
"Other than being a hopeful community, writing hopeful books that assume good people find other good people, romance is important as it is consistently on the leading edge of society. From broadly opening minds to kink, to breaking heteronormative assumptions - cultural evolution is often first seen in romance novels."
"Romance books bring me inspiration, offer an escape into another world, and also transport me back to the time and feels of falling in love with my husband.
I think it’s important to read romance because these books can offer so much more than “just a love story.” Some romance novels touch on very important issues like mental health, domestic violence, rape, sexual abuse and similar related situations a reader might face themselves. Oftentimes, these books can be a guide to help a reader with situations in his/her own life. Seeing how a character copes with such tragedies can be inspiring to the reader or can bring a new understanding to a reader who doesn’t know much about these issues. So to me, romance novels are more than just a love story; I’ve seen these books change and save lives."
Colleen Hoover is author of the upcoming Without Merit.
"Romance is hope. It's a ray of sunlight on a rainy day. Most of all, it's a guarantee of a happy ending. Is it escapism for me? You bet it is. But now more than ever, I think we could all use a little escape. For me, reading romance is self-care when the outside is harsh, aggressive, and anxiety-inducing. And for me, writing romance is almost like a super power because I can potentially create that feeling for somebody else."
Santino Hassell is author of Illegal Contact.
"Romance novels have changed my life as a reader and an author. They are so important to the world, now more than ever, with the chaos surrounding us. This genre gives us hope - for the future, for love - and teaches us empathy in a way that only these books can. "
"I read romance novels for the dark moment, that part of the book where it feels like everything has gone wrong and the characters can't possibly overcome the obstacles facing them. But then they do. Especially right now, I think it's important for people to see and internalize that message: that dark moments are just moments that can be fought and vanquished, and that a happy ending is within reach of everyone."
Alisha Rai is author of Hate to Want You.
"Romance novels are about consideration for someone you love, opening up your heart, and listening carefully to another person's needs. All my characters start a little selfish and grow in compassion. There's nothing more important! Romances are not just about sex, they're about personal growth and relationships. "
C.D. Reiss is author of the upcoming King of Code.
"Romance novels are my escape. Especially in today's heated political and social environment, I often need a distraction. Romance novels are a place where I can disappear for a few hours, and experience a world of fantasy and seduction - one without social media, news, negativity, or violence."
Alessandra Torre is author of Hollywood Dirt, which has been adapted into a movie by Passionflix and releases on September 20.
"Especially when things in our lives or on the news are making us feel helpless, we want something to bring us a sense of normalcy, and romance novels provide the perfect escape. More importantly, they focus on something we all innately crave - love. We want to love and be loved, and what better way to explore that notion over and over again than reading a good romance novel? "
Claire Contreras is author of The Player.
"To me, romance books mean joy - a dependable, fun, sweet, escape from the hardships and struggles that are just a part of everyday life. These stories are smart and interesting, they are emotional and in the end they leave readers feeling happy and satisfied. It’s easy for some people to look down on romance, because many books (but not all) are light and quick and humorous. But these stories shouldn’t be discounted - they are important - especially now. Because it’s our moments of rest and respite that allow us to come back the next day stronger, refreshed and better able to handle whatever life decides to send our way."
Emma Chase is author of The Royally series.