What Is A Romance Novel by Joan Reeves

Scents and Sensuality by Joan Reeves

Scents and Sensuality by Joan Reeves — Available Now!

What is a romance novel?

As a reader, you may be surprised that the answer to that question frequently is under discussion by romance authors and the main organization of romance authors.

Sure, you know that the romance novel is a literary genre, and that the primary focus in this genre is the relationship – the love – between two people. Once, publishers of romance novels demanded writers end the story with a happily ever after. Now, publishers often ask for writers to end stories with an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.

To me, there’s a huge difference between happily ever after and emotionally satisfying and optimistic. I suppose the new romance novel standard is supposed to reflect the cynicism of contemporary times.

A Teensy History

In 1740, Samuel Richardson penned Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded. Considered the first romantic novel, Pamela had two surprising elements that were different from other novels. First, it focused almost entirely on courtship. Second, the novel was told from the viewpoint of a female protagonist.

In the next century, the remarkable Jane Austen, whose Pride and Prejudice is often considered the pinnacle of the genre, came along. She inspired Georgette Heyer – I always think of her as the twentieth century Jane Austen – who introduced historical romances in 1921.

About 10 years later, a small British company called Mills and Boon began publishing what were called category romance novels – short books with a set number of pages and standard elements. The Mills and Boon romances were resold for a North American market by Harlequin Enterprises Ltd. Harlequin marketed directly to readers and allowed mass-market merchandisers to sell the books too and the genre was off and running.

Then, in 1972, Avon published The Flame and The Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss, the first single title romance novel to be published as a paperback original, and the modern romance genre was born.

My How You’ve Grown

From then until now, there have been a lot of romance novels published. The genre has grown and given birth to sub-genres of every possible variation. It has become the most popular genre in North America where it accounts for more than half of all paperback books sold.

Romance isn’t just a North America phenomenon. The genre is also popular in Europe, the UK, and Australia. In fact, romance novels are published in more than 90 languages.

Hey, Girls! Guess What?

For years, the romance novel was decried as being lowbrow and read by women who were out of touch with reality. We’re not out of touch with reality. We just know what we want. Sadly, many women don’t get that overwhelming love and romanticism from the men in their lives, but many women do have that.

I sometimes think a good romance novel sets the standard for the kind of love and romance a woman wants in a relationship. If a man really wants to know what a woman wants, he should read a good romance novel.

I find it heartwarming — and a bit ironic — that our beloved genre is now the most popular, best selling genre of all time. Tell that to your romance-dissing acquaintances the next time they start talking about how romance novels aren’t “real” books!

With all the changes and growth in the romance genre, I guess it’s not surprising that the happily ever after morphed into the optimistic and satisfying. But, I’m not willing to give up my happily ever after – in real life or fiction.

Maybe, it’s because the traditional ending is all about love — lasting love. Today, in the wake of so much death and destruction in the news, I find myself thinking about the importance of love. In the end, it’s the most important thing in anyone’s world.

With the romance novels I write, like my latest novel, SCENTS and SENSUALITY, I aim high. I want that happily ever after for my characters, not just an optimistic, satisfying ending.

After all, I always say my motto is: “It’s never too late to live happily ever after.” And I believe that.

Post Script

What’s your favorite kind of ending for a romance novel?

(Joan Reeves writes sassy, sexy Romance Novels. Her latest novel, indeed all her ebooks, are available at most ebook sellers, with audio editions available at Audible and iTunes. Joan publishes Writing Hacks, a free subscription newsletter for writers, and Wordplay, a free subscription newsletter for readers. Visit SlingWords, Joan’s Blog, or her Website.)

Advertisements

About JoanReeves

Joan Reeves is a bestselling ebook author of Contemporary Romance. She is multi-published in print and ebooks and is published all over the web under her own name, various pseudonyms, and as a ghost.
This entry was posted in Joan's Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to What Is A Romance Novel by Joan Reeves

  1. leighmorgan1 says:

    Joan, I love a HEA ending. If I’m buying romance ~ and I am ~ I’m doing it for the love story and the HEA. If it’s “satisfying” that’s okay for a secondary character plot that continues, but the main event better end with more than that or you have one very “unsatisfied” reader in this chick. 🙂 Great post.

    Like

  2. JoanReeves says:

    Good morning, Leigh. Thanks for commenting. Glad you liked the post. I totally agree. If it’s billed as romance, I want that HEA. I demand it.

    Like

  3. Hi, Joan, I definitely go for the HEA, both in reading and writing. I want completion, knowing those characters will have a happy life when I close that book. The Flame and the Flower…Ah, I still remember that book, and was one of my favorites when I began reading romance, and Kathleen E. Woodiwiss was my favorite author for a long time. I enjoyed reading this post.

    Like

  4. Jill James says:

    I want a gooey, romantic, over-the-top, happily ever after. That’s what I aim for in my own stories. When I finish a book I want happy tears rolling down my face that two people went from strangers to being everything to each other.

    Like

  5. Anonymous says:

    Life really can be too nitty and gritty! That’s the comfort and promise of a good romance, for a few hours we can escape real life disappointments and find true, lasting love. AHHH.

    Side note. I saw the PBS version of Richardson’s Clarissa and that tragedy has haunted me for years. When I pick up a book, I want a pick me up. If a story can renew my faith in love, then that’s a story I want to read. I have enough to haunt me already.

    Like

  6. JoanReeves says:

    A hearty amen to you Anon. I think if we live long enough, we all have too many unhappy moments. I don’t want to pay hard-earned money for a book or movie that’s going to make me feel sad and blue. I get enough of that in real life!!

    Like

  7. susanrhughes says:

    Years ago a writer friend of mine told me she had no respect for authors of romance novels. Meanwhile, she had a box full of Christian romances in her closet!

    Like

  8. Pingback: Book Review: What She Wants by Shelia Roberts | Ramblings of a Lost Dancer

  9. I also love a book with a HEA ending. There are too many unhappy endings in real life. I want a book to be challenging and one I can lose myself in the characters. Great post!

    Like

  10. Your style is so unique compared to other people I’ve read stuff from. I appreciate you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just bookmark this site.

    Like

  11. Vimax Diet says:

    Hey I am so grateful I found your blog page, I really found you by mistake,
    while I was researching on Yahoo for something else, Regardless I am
    here now and would just like to say thanks for a fantastic post and a all round interesting blog
    (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to read it all
    at the moment but I have bookmarked it and also added your RSS feeds,
    so when I have time I will be back to read much more,
    Please do keep up the awesome work.

    Like

Please Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s