Romance Novels

Romance novels are a popular reading genre featuring love stories.

Just The Facts

  1. Romance novels are an extremely popular form of fiction aimed at women.
  2. They usually follow a set format, but there are many different formats to choose from.
  3. The usual plot of the novels involves a man and a woman falling in love and living happily ever after.

Development of the Romance Novel

Some claim Jane Austen as the first romance novelist, and one the largest publishers of romance novels, Mills and Boon, has been around since the early 20th Century. However, the genre in its current format only rose to prominence in the last 40 years. Today, romance novels make up over half of all paperback books sold in North America.

Keep this in mind, budding writers. You might want to start looking up synonyms for 'tumultuous'.

We really don't want to know what the 'beast' is.

History of the Romance Novel: Yes, they too went through a hippy period. We are too afraid to open this book for fear of descriptions of 'sensuous bodily hair'.

Romance Novel Plots

The basic plot of a romance novel involves a man and a woman fall in love and live happily ever after. Typically, the two don't get along at first and face many obstacles, but these are always resolved by the last page. Romance novels gain their variety by different types of characters and settings. Some of the more popular varities are:

Historical Romance

A man and a woman living in the past meet and do it*. No one dies of dysentry.

Paranormal Romance

A woman falls in love with a vampire. They do it.

Sci-fi Romance

A man and a woman do it. In space.

*Although it is always hinted at, actual portrayal of sex is usually limited to the erotic romance novels genre. This type contains more graphic sex scenes, although they are really not that graphic. Most of the other types just have kissing, though.

Romance Novel Characters

The Man

The male lead character of a romance novel is either a cowboy, a pirate, a member of the military, a vampire, or all of the above. He is usually experienced in the ways of females, which is okay because herpes does not exist in the romance novel universe. He has a reckless and dashing personality that the strong and flighty heroine finds highly irritating, until she doesn't.

He is unfailing tall and handsome. Despite his highly masculine pursuits that in real life would involve going unwashed for several days or weeks, he always has impeccable grooming. This grooming occurs naturally, of course, because waxing your chest isn't manly.

The Woman

The woman is extraordinarily beautiful, although no one really appreciates how beautiful she is except for the hero. She is usually a virgin, by choice, because she is far too strong to fall for a man. Except, of course, for the one man who captures her heart. Her initial irritation at this man is of course just a disguise for the fact that she is wildly in love with him.

Romance Novel Controversies

The innocence and optimism of romance novel plots makes them the subject of much scorn among many, who argue that they create unrealistic expectations in women by implying complete fulfillment in love.

We think that the idea that romance novels could be bad for women is itself unrealistic, because what young woman wouldn't want to be ravished by pirates?

Another common complaint is that the plots glorify authoritarian males and quasi-rape. This theme can apparently be seen in titles like Captive Bride and Bargained Into Her Boss's Bed.

Traded by the Sheikh. Part of the 'Desert Brides' series.

A feminist romance publisher founded in response to such claims, which released such titles as Domestic Partnership with the Yoga Teacher Who Quit Work To Be A Stay At Home Dad and The Man Who Followed All Of The Workplace Sexual Harrassment Guidelines, was less than successful.

How Not To Imitate A Romance Novel

Since romance novels presumably provide a view into the psyches of millions of female readers, you may be tempted, if so inclined, to look into them for tips for pursuing women. If you do so, please keep the following in mind:

  • If a woman is irritated by your presence, it might because she is a repressed, lonely dreamer yearning for the true love she feels for you but denies. But it is far more likely that she isn't amused by your psoriasis and extensive quoting of Family Guy.
  • "Bodice rippers" is another popular title for romance novels, but in real life you should hold off on ripping women's bodices. Not only is it illegal, those things are very expensive.
  • Long hair is a common feature on romance novel covers, but she probably won't be impressed unless you have actually washed it in the last six months. Similarly, open shirts are not that attractive if you haven't done anything about the Dorito pieces in your chest hair.
  • Although pirates are a common theme, shouting 'Yarr! I'm a pirate!' will probably not make many young women swoon with desire.