It is a sad fact that the romance genre tends to generate snickers and raised eyebrows. Some women who adore reading romance novels use fabric book covers while on the subway. Authors of the genre are asked when they will write a “real novel.” The knee-jerk assumption by critics of the romance genre relate to unrealistic storylines and overly idealized relationships. Yes, romance novels offer a huge dose of larger-than-life escapism, but so do westerns, sci-fi and mysteries, and yet those genres are not subjected to the skepticism and scorn of the romance novel.
Critics of romance novels often assume the women who devour those novels are seeking the fantasy of a dashing man or a fulfilling career. Guess what? I already have those things! And so do most of the women who chose to read romance novels.
The genre is also slammed for its predictability. It is true that almost all romance novels have a happily-ever-after ending, but this does not detract from its appeal for its fans. A mystery novel would be ruined if the reader can spot the ending resolution, but this isn’t the case in romance. In a genre romance novel, the appeal is based on becoming emotionally engaged with the characters. The plot is not nearly as important as the growth of the characters and their response to challenges. Most romances feature a good deal of storm and stress (Jane Eyre, anyone?) and a romance novel allows a reader to explore that journey from a safe environment.
According to statistics gathered by the Romance Writers of America, 29% of adult women read a romance novel last year. I hope they all found wonderful, life-affirming and inspiring stories!