Talk:Romance novel

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Tagged for Cleanup[edit]

This article is a little confusing - it has no introduction and kind of just jumps into some bulleted points. I'd clean it up myself but I'm not really qualified to write a good introduction to an established article in this area - CredoFromStart 20:18, 24 January 2007 (UTC)

Categories and lines[edit]

Aren't they the same thing? - 14:01, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

The statement created 21 April 2004 about books having "appeared during the 18th century" that were actually published in 1813, 1848 and 1908 is nonsense, as is calling Anne of Green Gables, a children's book, a romance novel. I do note that another user undertook on 22 April to add content "separate from Romantic fiction", but we're still waiting. I'm reverting to last version by Deb, i. e., making this page again a redirect to Romantic fiction. Bishonen 22:08, 14 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Does the love have to be between a man and a woman? Not man/man or woman/woman?

Also, does it have to end happily? I would classify it as romance as long as it focused on the relationship of the main characters.

If you go to the section labelled 'Romance' in bookshops (which is what this article about), all of the books will be about heterosexual relationships. One or two gay or romances might creep in, but that's very, very rare: if a reader says that he/she reads romance, he'she means that they read books about heterosexual relationships. Some readers of Romances are willing to read about non-heterosexual relationships, but they're a small minority.
As for the happy ending, that is an absolute criteria. Again, I'm talking about the books that have 'Romance' written on the spine, the ones you find in the 'Romance' section of bookshops. If you gave a longtime reader of Romances a book published by Avon (probably the top publisher of Romances at the moment) by a well-known author like, say, Lisa Kleypas and it did not end happily, there would be a huge outcry in the Romance community. And a large part of that outcry would be people saying, this book is not a Romance. I cannot emphasise enough how important the happy ending is - a Romance novel without a happy ending would be like an action film with no action.
For other fiction that has romantic content - but that does not fit the strict criteria of current Romances, there's the Romantic fiction article.
- Katherine Shaw 12:02, Mar 18, 2005 (UTC)

Actually there is not the romantic fiction article. That's a DAB page that gives you a choice of this page, men's romantic fiction, and the medieval Romance genre; it does not address many other forms of romantic fiction (which is odd, I admit). So I think some of these subtle disctinctions need to be acknowledged here. I've added maybe two sentences at the beginning of this one to acknowledge these possibilities while still retaining the "classic" romance definition, I hope this will suit (I also acknowledged the existence of anime and manga romance, while making it clear they are NOT a subgenre of romance; this gives the anime/manga infobox genre of "romance" something to link to). Bookgrrl 15:51, 22 July 2006 (UTC)

According to Romance Writers of America, the definition is 'between two people' not 'between a man and a woman.' They also say that the story must have an 'emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.' You can find this definition here [[1]] The fact that only a small number of romance readers want to read about same-sex couples doesn't mean a romance is not a romance, just as the fact that only a small number want to read futuristic romances disqualifies that subgenre. --Valereee 12:36, 4 August 2006 (UTC)

Differentiation romance / novel[edit]

Books are either "romances," including types, unrealistic coincidences, and stories in which the characters are controlled by the action, whereas "novels" have round characters which determine the plot. I disagree with calling these types of books "romance novels," and furthermore disagree with the inclusion of Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights in this category. Both stories include "romance" but also Romantic as well as Victorian elements. Did the writer of this article therefore mean books in which a love story is included? And/or did they confuse "romance" with late 18th / early 19th century "Romantic" literature?

In addition, under "origins" Romantic literature is mentioned, although one might also include Richardson's Pamela (1740), if we restrict ourselves to prose. If not, then we would be forced to include especially plays as an inspiration. What about those beautiful Shakespearean tragedies?? And poetry also played an important role.

I am not agree with 'happy ending' but the 'optimistic ending' is acceptable.

In this context, "romance" is an abbreviation of "romance novel" and is not to be confused with the romance that was the precursor of the novel. In much the same way, books are called "mysteries" as an abbreviation of "mystery novel." Maybe this could be made clearer in the article.
If you think that all romances contain flat characters and are plot-driven rather than character-driven, then I would suggest you haven't read a romance novel lately.
One way that might be useful to help define the romance novel is to say, it's a novel where if you took the love story arc away, the rest of the novel wouldn't stand alone. This definition is often used to define whether a novel that contains elements of another genre is romance or not. For example, if you have a romantic thriller, and you take the love story out, if the novel still stands, it's a thriller with a romantic subplot. But if you take the love story out and the novel falls flat, it's a romance novel with a thriller subplot. Crymerci 04:54, 7 November 2007 (UTC)

Article To-Dos[edit]

I would like to clean up this article and make it a tad more useful to people who are not fans of the genre. I am planning to work on it a little at a time for the next few weeks and welcome any help. Here are some of the issues I think need to be addressed:

  • Add Sources!
  • We need to have a good History section
  • We should further describe the various subgenres, and possibly create separate articles for some of these
  • Possibly remove the genre slang section. If not, at least turn it into prose
  • Take another look at what is included in the See Also and External Links sections and see if any of them should be removed
  • Include more information about romance novels and the romance industry in other countries. Most of the articles I have found are US-centric, but I know that romance is a big industry in other countries as well.

Karanacs 15:06, 24 April 2007 (UTC)

One of the Few?[edit]

The romance genre is one of the few to have a "cultural stigma," I'd say "of the few" is untrue. Many other genres also have a stigma attached, where nonreaders are contemptuous of readers of the genre. Science fiction, superhero comics, and fantasy, for example, as well as adults who read YA novels and men who read poetry. 13:37, 2 July 2007 (UTC)

yep. i tried to address this --lquilter 17:40, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

For Women by Women? / TV equivalents?[edit]

The article says that part of the "stigma" associated with the romance genre is due to these novels being written "by women for women." I've heard it claimed, however, that many of the authors are men writing under female pseudonyms. Does anyone wish to comment on whether this is the case? Is there an element of male manipulation of women in this genre? Are not a large number of the "Don Juans" of the world not in fact a bunch of cynical bums who pretend to be "romantic" in this sense, in order to take advantage of women?

For most fiction genres there are corresponding genres of TV series. I suppose some examples of "daytime TV" or "soap opera" might qualify in this category. And one cannot help thinking of the 1983 series Beauty and the Beast. All the elements would seem to be there: lovers talking in flowery, quasi-religious, rather exaggeratedly poetic style about their relationship, an atmosphere of extreme solemnity with a total lack of humor, and a good deal of what an unsympathetic person could not possibly avoid calling mush. Interesting that this series, with its heavy dose of romance, lasted only three seasons, and according to all accounts its audience was heavily female, and that it still has a cult following, also heavily female. I wonder whether another attempt at a "romance"-oriented TV show, outside the "Soaps" category, will be made? Tom129.93.17.135 00:36, 13 August 2007 (UTC)

There are some men who have written under female pseudonyms (Jennifer Wilde was quite popular), and there are also instances of husband-and-wife pairs writing under a single pen name (Emma Darcy is the most prolific). However, the vast majority of the authors are women. The romantic comedy would be the closest film genre, although occasionally a soap opera plot line could be considered (not the whole soap opera though). I recommend you read a few romance novels to rid yourself of the negative (and inaccurate) view you have of the genre. Karanacs 13:57, 13 August 2007 (UTC)
Are there any men who write under their own names or male pseudonyms? Nil Einne 09:20, 19 August 2007 (UTC)
Some of Nicholas Sparks's books are considered romance novels, but they are not marketed that way. I don't know of any men writing under their own names who have their books marketed specifically as romance novels. Usually books by male authors are marketed more as general fiction. Karanacs 20:22, 19 August 2007 (UTC)

NovelsWikiProject Header[edit]

Is this header supposed to be some sort of guideline for editing the page? To me it seems like a very subjective rant about e-publishing that has little to nothing to do with the main article. Crymerci 05:00, 7 November 2007 (UTC)

Those are the comments of whoever originally rated the article. At some point we should probably ask the project to rerate the article. Karanacs 14:39, 7 November 2007 (UTC)
The rating comment wasn't by the person who rated the article as start, it was by User:WisAuthor, whose only contribution thus far is to rate this page. I know I must assume good faith, but it seems strange. Anyway, I think you should consider applying for Good Article status, as the article seems fairly well written and cited. Even if the article doesn't make it, you'd still get some feedback out of the procedure to improve things even further. -Malkinann 02:35, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for the encouragement! I've been planning to take this to peer review soon, in an effort to get it ready to go straight to GA (I got distracted working on the Georgette Heyer article, though). I have a few more books I want to look through to see if there is any additional useful information, and then I'm planning to move forward. Any feedback is welcome here, too! -- Karanacs (talk) 16:57, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
I looked up bodice ripper some months ago, and what's here now is a *lot* better than it was. The main issue with the article that I see is that it seems USA-centric in some ways... I know Mills and Boon/Harlequin are huge players, and the fact that there is a RWA is important, but it seemed like the first mention of the British romance novel was in the history bit. It kind of gave me the impression that Britain's given up on romance novels and it's become an American phenomenon. Also, perhaps the summary style might be a bit off in places. (too much in here, not enough in the daughter genre articles). -- Malkinann (talk) 21:51, 16 November 2007 (UTC)

Older romance novels[edit]

The changes that have been made to the beginning of the history section, newly named Precursors to the romance novel, have changed the meaning of the section. The source that is cited actually says that Pamela was among the first romance novels, and genuinely mean that Austen's Pride and Prejudice is considered the best romance novel ever written. I've reverted the changes to the article again because they are portraying the source inaccurately. If you can find other sources that dispute the one cited, then we can rewrite the section to present both sides, but for now the article cannot make claims that are not supported by the citations. Karanacs (talk) 15:28, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

Three issues[edit]

Hi, I would like to change the following:

In the first place, I think an essential or at least vital characteristic of the genre is the fact that it is written mainly or entirely for a female audience. The article does say that, but not very explicitly. The German article, by comparision, opens as follows: "Der Liebes- und Familienroman bezeichnet ein umfangreiches Genre der Trivialliteratur, das sich vorwiegend an das weibliche Lesepublikum wendet und in seinem Aufbau meist einfachen Grundmustern folgt." That seems to me a good definition, can't the English article open the same way?

Secondly, it is claimed that the genre flourishes mainly in the English-speaking world. Which may be true, but on mainland Europe we also have a flourishing tradition of romance novels, for example by the famous Hedwig Courths-Mahler, whose novels just have everything what we find typical of those novels today: a romantic story with a trivial plot. In my granny's days, she was extremely successful, selling ten of millions of books. Is she mentioned in the article at all?

Thirdly, the roots of the genre are sought with books like Pamela or Pride and Prejudice. While these novel do describe romances and have happy endings, and are likely to have influenced the genre, they are not nearly as trivial as romance novels like we know them today. Again, the German article comes up with ancestors that seem more probable. On the other hand, these sources are predominantly German. Perhaps this article could be greatly improved by describing both the German and the Anglo-Saxon traditions. Steinbach (fka Caesarion) 13:02, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

Hi, unfortunately I can't read German, so I am not sure what that means above. Can you please translate? The information in the article right now reflects what I have found in English-language sources.

I also take issue with your description of romance novels as being "trivial" with "trivial plots". Yes, some romance novels are really bad and could easily be classified as trivial, but that is not one of the defining characteristics of the genre. To be a romance novel, a book has to focus on a romance and have an optimistic ending. Scholars who have studied romance novels call Pride and Prejudice the epitome of a romance novel; when Jane Austen wrote the novel, she did not intend it to be great literature. She was just so good that literary critics later came to really like the novel and call it great literature. At heart, however, it is a genre novel.

I do agree that the article should reflect more perspectives from other parts of the world if they can be found. I can only read English and French, though. If you have quality German sources and would be willing to translate them, please let me know (either on my talk page or via email). Karanacs (talk) 15:36, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

Hi Karanacs, thanks for your quick reply! First of all, I admittedly used the word "trivial" quite a lot here. This may sound a little elitaristic, but that's not how it is intended. Romance novels, like detective novels, thillers, science fiction novels and fantasy novels, are just a literary genre that is usually grouped under the nomer "trivial literature". At least, so it is in Dutch and German. The German term "Trivialliteratur" is related to fromula fiction and genre fiction. That is: any book to which you can attach a certain genre other than just "literature" is traditionally considered "trivial". On the other hand, as the German article already admits, the name is controversial and inaccurate for the finest examples of all of these genres: Barbara Cartland, Agatha Cristie, Stephen King, Douglas Adams and J.K. Rowling can hardly be said to be trivial authors. The bulk of each of these genres, however, is. In case of the romance novels, think about category romance: published in endless series of similarly lay-outed dime novels. Anyway, on closer inspection I share your opinion about Jane Austen's novels being early examples of romance fiction.
Sorry for citing a German text which you couldn't read. Of course, German is no use in the US, so it isn't thought there. I will translate the opening of the German article for you: "Romance novels are a comprehensive genre in formula fiction ('Trivialliteratur', see above), which are predominantly intended for a female audience and mostly follow fixed patterns in their composition ('Aufbau', can also be translated as "scheme" or "plot"). It often appears in the form of dime novels." I can send you a translation of the entire article by e-mail, if you wish - translating from one foreign language into another is tough, however. Of course, you can just try to read something of the German article; it's not that hard :-).
Finally, let me say that I have nothing against the genre of romance novels. I don't read them, just because I am a man, but I know bunches of girls who do, some of which are literature students :-). Regards, Steinbach (fka Caesarion) 19:55, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

covers as key to contents?[edit]

I have heard that the picture on the cover is a key to the contents: if the couple depicted on the cover is in some state of undress, for example, it is a key to the erotic nature of the book in hand. The idea here is that when one is perusing the selection available at a store, one can easily select the type of romance one is interested and avoid ones which might either offend or prove to tame. Is there any truth to this and if so, perhaps some description of the key would be helpful. Wschart (talk) 12:36, 5 May 2008 (UTC)

I believe that the "cover" is irrelevant to the subject matter of the book. I have purchased a large number of "erotic romance" books from Black Lace publishing that are reprints with new covers. the RARELY show ANYTHING related to the actual story. The last one I read, "Wild by Nature" was about a fiesty brunette, however the woman on the cover was red-headed. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:05, 10 August 2008 (UTC)

also- the Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by Anne Rice (under a pseudonym) have very conservation, and even artistic covers. Their subject matter, however, is quite the opposite (including rape, pedophilia, & beastiality). Which seems to be contradictory to the statement made that these topics are taboo. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:10, 10 August 2008 (UTC)

Medical Romance[edit]

I've removed the section on Medical Romance, as I think this is really a type of Contemporary romance. To me, going down to the subgenres of the subgenres might be a little too detailed for this article. Karanacs (talk) 13:39, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

Well, better move it to the proper section then, if it should be classified as contemporary. Daughter of Mímir (talk) 16:04, 7 August 2008 (UTC)
However, I agree that it might be a little too detailed with such subgenres in this article. Better have an own article for it. After all, it is the biggest subgenre of romantic romance. Daughter of Mímir (talk) 16:07, 7 August 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for creating the new article! Karanacs (talk) 18:39, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

Potential sources[edit]

Karanacs (talk) 20:38, 26 November 2008 (UTC)

Fantasy Romance[edit]

Brief mention is made of Fantasy Romance in the subsection on Science Fiction Romance. I think Fantasy Romance should receive it's own subsection. In the long turn both should receive their own articles, like Paranormal Romance. If consensus can be reached on the first point at least - about adding a subsection for Fantasy Romance, somebody should write it. Debresser (talk) 17:12, 11 January 2009 (UTC)

There is this article on Romantic Fantasy, but

  1. As it mentions over there, there is discussion as to whether that's the same as Fantasy Romance.
  2. No link to that article appears here. Debresser (talk) 17:15, 11 January 2009 (UTC)

In the mean time I created a page Fantasy Romance that redirects to Romantic Fantasy. Until this article gets its Fantasy Romance subsection, at least. Debresser (talk) 18:17, 11 January 2009 (UTC)

It seems that
  • The Romance (genre) article's focus is history of the genre. Interestingly, it started out as what we call "Fantasy Romance."
  • The Romance novel article's focus is modern romance genre which started in 1972. The also explains the genre is broken into sub-genre. For the most part it is in a consistent format of "Genre romance" starting with Contemporary romance.
  • With that in mind I added a new section Romance novel#Fantasy Romance though linked it directly to the Romance fantasy page so that I could show both Fantasy Romance (the header) and then "Romance Fantasy" immediately after than and the summary is about the two versions and how they are different. I did not see a good way to use the Fantasy romance page you added other than it exists as the alternate name for Romantic fantasy. --Marc Kupper|talk 10:45, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
A great start. This is the beginning of what I was hoping for. Debresser (talk) 11:08, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
Marc, please see my commentary on the talk page of the article on Romantic Fantasy. I intend to seriously change the lead of that article, including and formost the definition of "Romantic fantasy", and it's relation to "Fantasy Romance". In fact, it's going to be more like what you wrote here. Could you give me a source for the third opinion you mentioned here?Debresser (talk) 22:45, 17 January 2009 (UTC)
re: the third option. I'll reply on Talk:Romantic fantasy as the reply is about that article. This article only has a summary of what's over there. --Marc Kupper|talk 02:31, 18 January 2009 (UTC)
Since you so courteously suggested to "whack at it" a little, so I did, making a nice synthesis of your wording and the quotes on that page. Hope you like it. Debresser (talk) 09:50, 18 January 2009 (UTC)
That looks good! --Marc Kupper|talk 00:00, 19 January 2009 (UTC)

Other potential sources[edit]

[3] - Cover changes Karanacs (talk) 18:05, 3 June 2009 (UTC)

"Bodice ripper" should have its own article[edit]

Re-directing it here is really, really wrong since not all or even most romance novels are bodice rippers, and using the terms interchangeably is highly inaccurate. (talk) 12:44, 21 December 2011 (UTC)

Gay romance[edit]

Someone should mention something about LGBT romance novels. Those are big sub genres.

Mrld (talk) 18:38, 19 February 2012 (UTC)

WorldCat Genres[edit]

Hello, I'm working with OCLC, and we are algorithmically generating data about different Genres, like notable Authors, Book, Movies, Subjects, Characters and Places. We have determined that this Wikipedia page has a close affintity to our detected Genere of love-stories. It might be useful to look at [4] for more information. Thanks. Maximilianklein (talk) 23:40, 5 December 2012 (UTC)

Category romance, etc[edit]

I noticed, when I tried to find out what the term "category romance" means (never heard it in the UK) that this article is heavily skewed towards US publishing. All the references seem to be American ones. It's not a problem to describe US practices and genres, but an effort should be made to find out the global equivalents and mention them. Deb (talk) 19:17, 17 March 2013 (UTC)

Contradictory statements in Birth of modern romance section[edit]

The "Birth of modern romance" section seems to have 2 contradictory sentences:

"The success of these novels prompted a new style of writing romance, concentrating primarily on historical fiction tracking the monogamous relationship between a helpless heroine and the hero who rescued her..."

"In this new style of historical romance, heroines were independent and strong-willed and were often paired with heroes who evolved into caring and compassionate men who truly admired the women they loved."

They are cited to two difference sources, so I guess the sources just don't agree with each other. Regardless, we need to resolve these two statements into some sort of explanation that isn't contradictory. The heroines cannot be simultaneously "helpless" and "independent". Kaldari (talk) 19:25, 17 March 2013 (UTC)

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Genre: Novels and romances[edit]

I find this article confusing. Romance novels are a sub-genre of the Romance, or what is described, at the head of the article, as the "classical Romance novel". I've never seen this term before and it's an odd one, given the roots of the Romance form of novel in the Romantic Movement (and the Gothic novel), and that it is a continuing tradition. I presume "classical" is used here as a synonym for literary fiction. There is a need to clarify the difference between Romances like Ivanhoe, Wuthering Heights, The Scarlet Letter, Moby Dick, A Glastonbury Romance, etc., and the popular genre fiction "involving love and lust", which are the concern of this article. The disambiguous link to the classical Romance novel, just isn't sufficient. Rwood128 (talk) 16:48, 9 March 2014 (UTC) I think LGBT romance should also be listed as a sub-genre. LGBT issues are becoming more and more relevant and so should their position in works of art.-Rainbowofpeace (talk) 21:38, 9 March 2014 (UTC)

While both Samuel Richardson and Jane Austen wrote novels that explore relationships between men and women, did they write romance novels? Don't most novels do this, especially 19th century novels? If Jane Austen wrote romance novels isn't Lady Chatterley equally a romance novel? Who are the real historical ancestors of this form of genre fiction?Rwood128 (talk) 23:00, 9 March 2014 (UTC)


I had read that India published (or will publish) the most books in English in the world. And that 50% of them were Romance. This doesn't seem unlikely in a country supporting Bollywood, and deserves mention here, if substantiated. Student7 (talk) 19:01, 18 May 2014 (UTC)


This article is extremely heterosexist in not only its defintion of romance novels but there is only really one sentence that addresses LGBT romance.- (talk) 04:15, 16 October 2014 (UTC)

Potential other sources[edit]