8 Myths About Romance Novels

Today, I'm tackling a touchy subject: the myths people have about romance novels.

Of course, those people are the ones who don't read romance. They're the readers who judge other readers based on what genre is reade.

They're the readers who eagerly take free romance novels, read the whole thing, then post reviews that are like left-handed compliments.

"Pretty good for a romance."

"Better than I expected."

"Good for reading while sunning at the pool."

Then there are those who get free or KU reads of overtly sexy romance novels. The book cover, blurb, and/or sample that can be read is an accurate presentation of what kind of romance the book will be.

The book will be read cover to cover, and the reader will leave a review that begins, "I don't usually read this kind of story, but I got it free. I don't know why there has to be so much sex in a story." Or something pretty much the same.

If you're an author who writes romance, you know what I mean. You've probably rceived some of those reviews too.

These are some of the most common myths about romance novels.

1. Romance novels are all the same. If you've read one, you've read them all.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Within the romance genre, there are many sub-genres such as the broad categories of contemporary and historical.

Beneath those two umbrellas, you'll find general romance, romantic comedy, romanctic suspense, and under those you'll find clean, wholesome romance, steamy romance, paranormal with vampires, ghosts, angels, demons, zombies, witches, and just about anything you can think of.

2. Romance novels are all fluff with no deeper meaning.

No matter what kind of romance novel you choose, it will have a theme or an underlying message or lesson to impart to the reader. In all of my fiction, there's one underlying theme: "It's never too late to live happily ever after."

Beyond that, each book has a more personal theme too. In The Key To Kristina, my latest romance, I actually had more than one message. The main message for the heroine was "You have to trust another's love." That didn't necessarily mean love from a lover. In my free ebook LuvU4Ever, the theme is "It's not what it seems." Or, you could say, "Eavesdroppers never hear anything good about themselves."

3. Anyone can write a romance because no research is needed.

Again, a myth. Most romance novels have an information plot as well as a romance plot.

I've read accurate descriptions of putting up a barbed wire fence, trekking through a tropical rain forest, and setting an explosive charge.

One can read about saddling a horse, following a suspect, mkaing biscuits, milking a cow, developing a perfume, loading a semi-automatic handgun, the procedure of sending an SOS signal, and so much more.

Then there's the research needed to make sure a character seems "real" in his/her occupation and in all aspects of his/her background. 

4. The characters in romance novels are fantasies because men and women as described in  romance novels don't exist in real life.

I've known men and women who, in real life, have the occupations I read about in romance novels. Not only that but I've known men and women who have faithful, committed relationships just like in romance novels. Not only that, but the men are romantic and know how to make their women feel special.

5. Romance novels are ridiculous because there's no such thing as love at first sight or second chances at love or friends who become lovers or any of the other popular stories you see in those books.

I personally know a dozen or more married couples who claim love at first sight—like my grandparents.

They grew up as neighbors in the country. They and their siblings played together. Time and distance parted them when they were young people, but they never married. 

Fortune gave them another chance when they were in their forties. They married and had one child, my mother. So that was love at first sight, friends to lovers, and second chance at love.

One of my best friends has a second chance at love story. Divorced, then remarried each other a couple of years later, and now they're happily ever after. Then there are several who were in love in high school, married other people, but years later, they ended up together. 

6. Romance novels are fantasies that mislead women because there's no happily ever after in real life.

Wow, is that one wrong! See #5 above, Most romance novelists have long-term relationships, and by longterm I mean 20, 30, 40, or more years. Darling Hubby and I have been married 43 years. The only regret we have is that there's only 1 lifetime to share.

Perhaps my author friends and I write romance because we live it. 

Romance novels don't mislead readers who are mostly, but not exclusively, women. 

They offer hope to women who want the kind of relationships they've seen in person.

Maybe it's the reader's parents who had that kind of relationship, or a sibling, a best friend, or a client who is living happily ever after. 

People read romance because they want that kind of relationship, and a good romance makes one believe it's possible.

7. Romance novels attract women who aren't very smart or educated.

Nope. Who's reading romance? Men and women. People from every educational background from high school to college professors, PhD's, lawyers, judges, military enlisted and officerss, and every career one can imagine. Writers of romance also come from those same backgrounds. 

8. Men don't read romance.

Wrong again. See #7 above. Ebooks have been a boon for men who like to read romance. No one to judge what they're reading as they commute to work or lying in a hammock in the backyard.

I get email from men who read my books. Nope, not pervy stuff but real fan mail. A lot of retired couples read my books together. (I've always said if a man wants to know what a woman wants, he should read a good romance.)

A good book is a good book—whether it's mystery, romance, science fiiction, western, or whatever.

Takeaway Truth

The old saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover," should be rephrased to say, "Don't judge a book by its genre."

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  1. I hate to hear people refer to them as "bodice rippers". They are so much more than that. Good post.

  2. Your list is spot on. I would say it's really hard to write a romance, because so much of it is real life. You're dealing with the kind of pain, grief, hope, etc. that people grapple with always. And it can bring up your own personal struggles as you develop those difficult scenes. I read everything. My TBR list goes from books written by football coaches, to Anne Rice, to Jane Austen, to Mary Higgins Clark, to my favorite romance authors. The books I've chosen to write are romances, because they ALWAYS, no matter the time period or world, make me happy.