Especially When I'm Single, These Romance Novels Are The Ones I Love The Most

by Kerri Jarema
Peter Bernik/Stocksy

We see it play out in movies and on television so often it has become a trope: A woman has just broken up with a longterm love or finds herself perpetually single. She is crying along to a love song while she drowns her sorrows in a pint of ice cream and reads a well-worn copy of her favorite romance novel. This woman has become completely disillusioned with the idea of a "fairy-tale" romance, and she really doesn't want to be bombarded with images of those love-at-first-sight, swept away by a soul mate, meet-cute romances right now. And, well, there are definitely times when I can relate.

I have spent a significant amount of my early adult life uncoupled. Now, before we get too far, let me preface this conversation by saying that no, I do not believe that being single is some sort of a curse, or a death sentence. Most of the time, being single is actually a lot of fun, and it's been incredibly freeing to spend a lot of my early adulthood figuring out who I am and what I want as an individual, rather than as one half of a pair. But we all have our down moments, right?

There are certainly days when being single in a society that perpetuates the ideal of coupledom can be a tough pill to swallow. Maybe your best friend was able to find a great person on Bumble on their first try when you've just spent months going on one bad date after another. Perhaps it's Valentine's Day, and you've let all those public declarations of romantic love get to you. Or you've just donned your 27th dress as a bridesmaid and you are drunkenly singing "Benny and the Jets" on top of a bar, I don't know.

But when those downtimes rear their ugly head in my life, I have a few tried and true methods for snapping myself out of it. And the most fun one of all? Diving into a slow burn romance novel. Now, I know what you're probably thinking: "Why would you want to read a book about two people falling in love when you're feeling bad about your love life?" Well, I also love a good romance, no matter the state of my personal life.

And slow burn romances are my personal favorite. A "slow burn" is basically a romance novel that focuses on a character-driven love story where that relationship takes some time to develop. There has to be a significant amount of development both for the individuals and for the pair throughout the novel, with romantic tension that builds and builds.

And it can go one of two ways: the duo have an immediate attraction, but bury those feelings throughout the plot until they finally boil over; Or they don't consciously realize their attraction to each other at all, giving the reader nothing more than context clues along the way (perhaps a few intense glances or lingering touches), and their feelings for each other grow as they actually get to know one another. It is the latter trope that I find not only endlessly, deliciously entertaining, but comforting, too.

Within these books, you don't see two people who are undeniably soulmates, brought together through some romantic twist of fate, insta-falling in love, and living happily ever after. While there is certainly nothing wrong with those romances, and I enjoy reading them, too, it can be disheartening to wonder why this serendipitous love story hasn't yet happened to me.

In a slow burn romance, two people meet, they talk, they learn more about each other, they begin to share their thoughts, their feelings, their lives, and they find love through that effort. They write their own romance — it doesn't just happen to them. And that is the sort of love story I will always believe in.