February 8, 2019

Romance 101

What is a romance novel?

A novel with a central love story and an emotionally satisfying ending (either happily-ever-after or happy-for-now).


A romance novel may also fit into a subgenre or two. To properly belong to a subgenre, the elements unique to the subgenre must be present and integral to the plot. In other words, the story would not work if those elements are removed.
  • Contemporary - novels set from the 1950s to present day
  • Erotic - novels that include explicit sexual interaction
  • Historical - novels set prior to the 1950s
  • Paranormal - novels that include aspects of fantasy or science fiction
  • Inspirational - novels that include religious or spiritual beliefs
  • Suspense - novels that include aspects of suspense, mystery or thriller
  • Youth Adult - novels that feature young adults


The subgenres can be further subdivided into themes. Contemporary romance includes chick lit, cowboys, medical, and sports. A historical romance covers themes like Highlander, medieval, regency, time-travel, and frontier. Paranormal romances feature ghosts, magic, shapeshifters, time-travel, and vampires.


A romance trope is a plot device used to bring lovers together in a story.

According to Romance Writers of America (in a 2014 survey), the top ten most popular romance tropes are:

  • Friends to lovers
  • Soul Mate / Fate
  • Second chance at love
  • Secret romance
  • First love
  • Strong hero / heroine
  • Reunited lovers
  • Love triangle
  • Sexy Billionaire / Millionaire
  • Sassy heroine

Romance is vast literary genre. You can find novels written in every imaginable niche, from 'a secret baby, billionaire, contemporary romance' to 'a time-travel, vampire, paranormal romance'. Romance novels have come a long way since the "bodice rippers" of the '70s and '80s. I am proud to be an avid reader and writer of romance.

What is your favorite type of romance novel?

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