The Many Faces of Romance
By Mary Winter
most people think of romance novels an image of the traditional clinch
cover, where the hero sweeps the half-dressed heroine off her feet, comes to
mind. After all, for most people those covers embody the romance genre.
However, looking past the packaging, romance novels come in a wide variety
of tastes. From inspirational romances where the focus is on God and
family, to erotic romances and everything in between, love can now be found
in more places than ever before.
the past romance was broken down into only a few categories, contemporary,
historical, and maybe paranormal. However, as reader’s interests have
changed these groups have diversified into the many subgenres we have
today. Let’s take a look at them.
recent years Chick-Lit romance has blossomed. These sharp, sassy books
about twenty-somethings in a modern, urban environment are the kind of hip
romances young women today seek. Spawned in part by the success of Sex
and the City, Chick-Lit romance has even created new genres within
itself such as Mom-Lot, covering young mothers, and Lad-Lit, covering hip
young men on the search for love.
and Aragorn from the Lord of the Rings. Talia and Dirk from Mercedes
Lackey’s Arrows of the Queen. Fantasy romance takes a couple and places
them in a rich fantasy world. The problems they face are not those of
modern-day life. Instead, magic is real and a heroine can find a knight in
shining armor. With its Luna line, Silhouette has brought fantasy romances
back with a vengeance.
you enjoy Catherine Asaro’s science fiction novels, then you enjoy
futuristic romances. These sweeping romances feature a strong hero and
heroine in a far away galaxy or Earth, a few decades or centuries from now.
Probably the most recognizable futuristic romance is Han Solo and Princess
Leia. Just like the fantasy romance, think well-written, strong science
fiction with a good dose of romance
staple of the romance market, historical romances have been around a long
time. Traditionally these romances are set before 1900 and four main
categories are regency romances (set during the regency period in England),
westerns (American West), Civil War era, or medieval.
of historical romances have been sluggish in the last few years, but there
are signs that this market is starting to gain momentum.
Inspirational romances are Christian-focused books. These books feature
religious heroes and heroines and adhere to the doctrines of their
religions. Frequently a belief in God plays a strong role in these books.
Harlequin’s Steeple Hill lines fall under this category, as does many
romances published by Christian publishers like Bethany house or Deseret
Lindsay McKenna is considered the “mother” of military romance. These
romances take our men and women in uniform and tell not only their stories,
but also the stories of the individuals who fall in love with them. These
romances aren’t limited to current times, and can also feature either World
War or Vietnam.
things go bump in the night and two people fall in love finding out the
truth about it, it’s a paranormal romance. Paranormal romances deal with
“otherworldly” elements such as ghosts, witches, or even psychic powers.
They can also deal with fairies, or other creatures not covered by the
“vampire” or “shape shifter” labels. With the popularity of paranormal
shows and movies, these books are gaining in popularity.
Murder. Espionage. Missing Persons. If you can find it in the news, it’ll
be in a romantic suspense novel. These novels tend to be evenly plotted
between the romance and the mystery. Harlequin has their Harlequin Intrigue
line, and Silhouette publishes their “Bombshell” books, which feature
powerful heroines in dangerous jobs. Romantic suspense novels appeal to
both the romance reader and the mystery fan.
Werewolves. What’s more dangerous than a man who is both wolf and man? The
majority of shape shifter romances feature werewolves, but they also can
feature those who shift into a cat-form as well. Basically any form of
changing shape would fall under the heading of “shape shifter romance.” In
many books it’s the hero who has this ability, but we’re also seeing books
about heroines with the shape changing ability as well.
Whether they follow the traditional Bella Lougosi model or eat cheeseburgers
and venture out in the daytime, if it’s a vampire and it falls in love, then
it’s a vampire romance. In movies and television vampires have been
romanticized. Whether it’s Buffy in love with Angel, or Buffy in love with
Spike, we see images of loving vampires in many modern television shows.
This carries over into books as well.
at least ten different sub-genres of romance from which to choose, it’s a
veritable smorgasbord for both reader and writer. Whether you want a Wild
West cowboy, an alien from outer space, a vampire, a werewolf, or even just
the guy next door, there is a romance novel for everyone. Why don’t you
discover the many faces of romance today?