Contemporary romance

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Contemporary romance is a subgenre of romance novels, generally set contemporaneously with the time of its writing.[1] The largest of the romance novel subgenres, contemporary romance novels usually reflect the mores of their time. Heroines in the contemporary romances written prior to 1970 usually quit working when they married or had children, while those novels written after 1970 usually have, and keep, a career.[2] As contemporary romance novels have grown to contain more complex plotting and more realistic characters, the line between this subgenre and the genre of women's fiction has blurred.[3]

Most contemporary romance novels contain elements that date the books, and the majority of them eventually become irrelevant to more modern readers and go out of print.[3] Those that survive the test of time, such as the works of Jane Austen are often reclassified as historical romances.[2] In a 2014 survey of romance readers, contemporary romance made up 41% of print and 44% of ebook sales compared to other romance subgenres.[4]


Contemporary romance novels may, in turn, be categorized into several subgenres, sometimes mixing with other main subgenres of romance novels.

Subgenres include:

  • General contemporary romance
  • Contemporary romantic suspense
  • Baby love
  • Medical romance
  • Cowboy contemporary romance
  • Glamour and jet set
  • Humorous contemporary romance
  • International lovers
  • Love in the workplace
  • Vacation love
  • Lesbian romance
  • Amnesia, that is memory loss, often including some former relationship[5]
  • "Bonkbusters", a subgenre of commercial romance novels from the 1970s and 1980s.

Baby love[edit]

This subgenre includes pregnancy, babies or children. One obstacle for making plots in this sense is to adapt to an ongoing increase in women who independently raise their children without any partner.[6][better source needed]

Nobody's Baby But Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips is an example of this subgenre.[citation needed]

Medical romance[edit]

Medical romance novels may generally be regarded as a subcategory of contemporary romance, as well as of medical fiction, but has its own type of setting and characters, although it yet can be as multifarious as any other subgenre. The setting usually involves a medical workplace, often the emergency department, but also airborne medicine, family medicine and obstetrics and gynaecology.

Regarding characters, the central male protagonists (heroes) are almost always medical doctors, mostly emergency physicians, primary care physicians or surgeons, and sometimes obstetricians/neonatologists or pediatricians. The female protagonists (heroines) are mostly medical doctors but also often nurses, working in primary care, obstetrics/neonatology, training or residency programs, surgery, anesthesiology or emergency medicine. The doctors are almost always ingenious, the men usually tallish, husky and chiseled, while nurses are strong but caring.

Patients bring a lot of potential for subplots. They mostly get completely recovered, regardless of the severity of their injury or disease. Almost no plot, however, includes a doctor-patient or nurse-patient relationship, since it is a code for professional health care workers to avoid intimate relationships with patients, as a part of a professional doctor-patient relationship.[7]

The plot often includes pregnancy[6] and children.

Lesbian romance[edit]

This subgenre[8] is an important part of literature and has been prevalent since the mid 1700s[citation needed]. The lesbian romance genre is often a subgenre of broader genres such as BDSM romance, paranormal romance, coming-of-age romance, fantasy romance, and inspirational romance.

Critical reception[edit]

Contemporary romance novels have twice been chosen by Kelly Ripa to be featured in her Reading with Ripa book club.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Romance Novels--Subgenres". Romance Writers of America. Archived from the original on 2017-12-31. Retrieved 2015-06-24.
  2. ^ a b Ramsdell (1999), p. 43.
  3. ^ a b Ramsdell (1999), p. 44.
  4. ^ "Romance Reader Statistics". Romance Writers of America. 2014. Archived from the original on 2013-08-06. Retrieved 2015-06-24.
  5. ^ Dig, We Really. "Contemporary Romance Books at We Really Dig Romance Novels".
  6. ^ a b The Unexplained Popularity Of Pregnant Protagonists - via internet archive by Lynne Marshall
  7. ^ The Seductive Patient American Family Physician, Sept 1, 2000 by Cheryl Winchell
  8. ^ Betz, Phyllis M. (24 June 2009). Lesbian Romance Novels: A History and Critical Analysis. McFarland. ISBN 9780786454389 – via Google Books.
  9. ^ "The Year in Books 2003: Mass Market". Publishers Weekly via internet archive. November 17, 2003. Archived from the original on November 13, 2007. Retrieved 2015-06-24.