February has arrived! We are in the month of Valentine’s Day, which is apparently also the most popular month to malign romance novels, readers and writers.
Romance is a literal billion-dollar industry that outperforms all other genres. But it is a genre written mainly by women for women and minorities, and therefore the perfect target for the patriarchy to teardown. Well, we are here to tell you why that’s WRONG, and maybe even convince you to try your first romance novel.
Many people have hidden their love of romance novels. Why? Because they were teased, told those weren’t real literature, heard them referred to as trashy romances. But after listening to romance writers like Sarah MacLean, Eloisa James, Alyssa Cole, Jenny Holiday and Farah Heron, to name a few, I’ve stopped hiding and started promoting. Everyone should have the opportunity to read these books! In fact, many of the thoughts in this piece come from points I’ve heard romance authors make about the romance genre.
Romance is a genre that has something for everyone. There are countless sub-genres, and self-publishing has led to even more variety. But what makes romance truly special is that, unlike other genres, romance focuses on the protagonist, who is a woman or a minority – succeeding and getting everything they deserve. It is a story of triumph that you rarely find in other genres.
Romance teaches people that they have value – that they deserve to be treated with respect and they deserve a HAPPILY EVER AFTER. As a woman, seeing this over and over again fills me with hope and happiness. You can’t help but feel happy when you see others overcoming obstacles and succeeding.
Romance is criticized as being formulaic – but it’s the formula that makes us love it! We know that a romance novel will take us on a journey, there will be ups and downs BUT we are guaranteed a happily ever after or a happily for now ending. That provides a sense of comfort in a world full of unknowns. It’s interesting how romance is criticized for its formula but mysteries are not.
Many of these articles that criticize the genre tend to examine one book – how is that fair, to judge an entire genre by one book? Everyone has their own tastes – meaning no one likes all romance novels.
Let’s now tackle the elephant in the room, shall we – whether romance novels are porn. Is there sex in romance novels? Frequently, but not always. What’s wrong with that? Nothing. I read romance novels with sex in them all the time, but what those who mock the genre for the sex fail to see is that it moves the story forward – there is a point to the sex. And the sex, unlike like other genres – is typically from a female (or other minorities) point of view. People in romance novels get to discover pleasure.
Which is absolutely wonderful! Why are you knocking that?
Romance novels also tend to be character-driven and there are some truly amazing, complex characters out there. We love the strong feminist heroines we see on the pages of romance novels! Thankfully, romance is becoming more diverse and we are seeing more own voices books out there. This is so important. More people will be able to see themselves in the book, and we all get to learn more.
Romance is always growing and changing with the times. Yes, it started with the bodice ripper (many believe that they didn’t want to show female desire on the page), but thank goodness we are over that! The sex-positivity now seen in romance novels is truly a wonderful thing.
Romance novels make people feel included, worthy and valued. You get to see someone like you on the page succeeding, doing great things – and it makes you feel like you can too. These aren’t fairy tales. It’s not wrong or unrealistic for people to want to love and be loved in return.
Above all else, romance novels provide hope and joy to countless people and for that reason and the many I listed above, they are worthy of your respect.
Now, don’t you want to read a romance novel? Fangirlish has reviewed many, so take a look at our books section.