I suspect a lot of women got their start reading romance novels during their impressionistic, teen-aged years. There is a genuine concern that reading such novels, at any age, may set expectations for romance waaaaay too high. After all, how many men are millionaire dukes, smokin’ hot, with the heart of a warrior, but he’s also sensitive and kind and loves small children?
I think we under-estimate girls and women if we assume that reading such books is going to make them expect the guy they are dating to morph into such a superhero. Our children read about “the old lady who lived in a shoe, she had so many children she didn’t know what to do,” but we don’t jump to the conclusion that they will start believing little people live in their shoes. Children are perfectly capable of setting aside that fairy tale and flip back into real life the moment the book closes.
And yet…..some of the themes and morals learned in fairytales and romance novels WILL linger after the book is over.
The themes women learn in romance novels are perseverance, self-respect, and fighting for a cause. The heroine may face a bumpy road as she locks horns with the hero and fights for a respectful, loving relationship, but she’ll get it by the end. The trappings in a romance novel (the castles, the clothes, the dramatic storylines) make the novel more fun to delve into…..but that’s all they are….trappings. What we take away from a novel are the themes of life-affirming, optimistic values that we can apply in real life. And that’s a good thing!