What do you Have Against Romance? 

I READ ROMANCE NOVELS! There, I said it. To an infinite internet audience that I will most likely never meet. But to admit this to people I know? Honestly, it is terrifying. Can you believe that whenever someone asks me what book I’m reading, 9 times out of 10 I will lie because I don’t want them to know I’m reading romance? And to say I have dedicated a blog to the genre? It’s embarrassing. Now isn’t that silly? To be afraid of judgement for something that I love doing. But alas, you can’t ignore the stigma which seems to surround this entire genre.

Disassociate

“I’ll read anything but romance.”

“Romance novels are porn for bored housewives.”

“The writing is terrible.”

If I had a nickel for every time a blogger sent me a comment like this, well I’d have a shit ton of nickels. Most people out there try to disassociate themselves from this genre completely. But what’s wrong with a little romance? The most common criticism I hear from people is that the writing is terrible. I have read some amazing novels in this genre, with some of the best writing I’ve ever come across in my 25 years. The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons, Both Sides of Love by Kimberly Wenzler, The Edge of Never by J.A. Redmerski, the list goes on and on.

Another common thing I see is that people are basing this “terrible writing” off of one romance novel they read. One book. That would be like me going into the mystery section of the bookstore, picking a book at random, and basing every book in that genre on this one book. Doesn’t seem very fair, does it? I talked about this with someone at BookExpo America, and she put it so much more eloquently than I could: you shouldn’t judge a book by its genre. Believe me, just because it’s a romance doesn’t mean the writing is awful.

heart

Visitors to my blog will often tell me that they don’t read romance, but they want me to recommend a romance novel for them. I’m happy to, but it’s not that easy people. Romance is such a varied genre, and incorporates so many other genres that it really depends on what you personally like to read. Do you prefer historical? Contemporary? Fantasy, sci-fi, war, paranormal, young adult, mystery, suspense? You might actually have to do a little research to find a plot which interests you before you pick a book at random.

Sex on the Brain

sex

Yes, most romance novels feature sex. But guess what? Sex is actually a big part of life. You and I wouldn’t be here if our parents hadn’t gotten down and jiggy with it. But I get it, some of you don’t like reading about the more intimate and descriptive details of sex. Here’s a little secret: not all romance novels have detailed sex scenes. Just look at Pride and Prejudice. One of the greatest romance novels of all time, and not a lick of sex in the whole thing. Or any licking between Elizabeth and Darcy for that matter. There are also romance novels from this century which don’t feature any sex scenes. Again, it might take a little research, but you can definitely find them.

And now I have another little confession to make: I am an immature adult. For example, I think South Park is hilarious, and I watch The Simpsons about 5 days a week. I tell inappropriate jokes, and some of them even revolve around sex. Anything to make people laugh. I live off of people’s giggles. I probably have the maturity level of a 12-year-old, but I have been this way ever since I was 12!

cartman

However, can you believe that ever since I started this blog I have to monitor the number of sexual innuendos I might say in a given week? I can maybe get away with 1 or 2, but any more than that, and my family and friends will chastise me, “Oh Lauren, ever since you started that blog you’ve got sex on the brain.” Uh…no, I don’t. I’m not a sex addict. It’s not like I look at a banana and see a penis instead. I’m just an immature smart mouth. Again though, I’ve been that way for over a decade, before I even started reading romance novels, and this blog is not the sudden light bulb explanation for my immaturity. It’s not like people who read crime novels are constantly thinking about killing people, or the best ways to hide a body. Right?

banana

Unrealistic Expectations

“You know that you won’t meet a guy like in one of your books, right? That’s not how it happens.” Wait a minute! You mean I won’t fall in love with my neighbor who will also happen to be a sex god billionaire? Well shit! I might as well dedicate the rest of my life to celibacy and just give up on meeting my prince charming right now! My neighbor is a 65-year-old Vietnamese woman named Alma. I wasn’t really holding out hope there.

zac

Yes, I am 25 and single, and someone cautioned me with that statement above. This is another one of those things which really irks me, mainly because it’s questioning my intelligence. Do you also have heart-to-hearts with Twilight fans to warn them that vampires don’t exist? Do you boycott mystery novels because they imply that bad guys will always be brought to justice?  You wanna know what expectations I get when I read a romance novel? It makes me think that two people can care about each other enough where love is actually possible. That sex can be enjoyable. That a man can think you’re beautiful even if you aren’t stick-model thin. So, are you telling me that those things aren’t actually possible? That I should settle for a guy who is just into sex rather than getting to know me as a person? Because if that’s the expectation you’re trying to give me, I think I’ll stick with being single for just a little bit longer.

no thank

Conclusion

So what exactly am I trying to say here? That you are required to love romance novels as much as I, otherwise you’re dead to me? No. Here is what I’m trying to say. Don’t write off romance, and don’t laugh at those of us who like it. And if you do like reading romance novels, try not to feel ashamed that you do. You’re not alone. I also get if it’s not the genre for you. Hell, I don’t read thrillers because they make me nervous. But if you’re judging it just off of one romance book you read years ago, then maybe it’s time to give it another try. Not every romance novel is like 50 Shades of Grey, and Fabio doesn’t grace every cover. August is National Romance Awareness Month, so I’m here to let you know that there are some great romance books out there, and there are some great people out there who read them. Not that I’m one of them or anything. Don’t forget, I’m an immature smart mouth. But I’m proud of that fact 🙂

wink

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53 thoughts on “What do you Have Against Romance? 

  1. Back in a previous lifetime I worked for a bookstore chain that no longer exists and when I announced my intention to the staff to write my first romance novel they were 100% behind me. I had people asking me daily how it was going. The employees more than the customers. Several of my regular customers were horrified that I wanted to write “trash” while the people who actually worked with the books were impressed that I was writing romance. So I guess the more you know about the genre, the less likely you are to make ignorant comments.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That is so true. I think creating that special bond/link between two people in a romance novel has to be one of the most difficult things to do as a writer. It takes skill, talent, and is no way “trash”.

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  2. Most people who find out that I write romance are squeamish. And some of the people I know are shocked by the language in my books. I don’t really understand that. I don’t think people go up to actors and tell them they have a potty mouth because of a character they portrayed, but maybe I’m wrong. Maybe actors get that too.

    You’re right that people seem to think that romance reading/writing is a sign of immaturity like video game playing as an adult (which I like to do too) but I’m happier than most people I know, so I think I’m winning 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • There definitely is that stigma out there regarding romance readers/writers, but I think what you said at the end of your comment plays an important role, which is the attitude you take towards the whole thing. If it makes you happy, that’s the most important thing.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this post! I started reading romance novels when I was in high school and I used to be ashamed of what I was reading. However, the older I got, the less embarrassed I became. I once had a college professor ask me what I was reading before class started and I held up Gena Showalter’s The Darkest Seduction. Look up the cover, it’s racy. And smiled while my professor floundered for what to say. I honestly think that people who judge romances are the people who haven’t read a good one. They often judge romances by outdated stereotypes, like bodice rippers and Fabio covers, and ignore the well-written, well-researched books that address serious issues about society, gender roles, and sexuality.

    Liked by 1 person

    • OMG I love that you showed your professor that cover! I applaud you for your spunk. And I totally agree with what you said about the outdated stereotypes of Fabio covers, which now seems to be combined with the modern-day stereotype of romance=50 shades of Grey, which also isn’t true. As for well-written romance novels usually addressing serious issues about society, gender roles, etc. I couldn’t agree more! You said it perfectly.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you! I’m reading Maya Rodale’s Dangerous Books for Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels Explained. It deals with why romance novels have been so stereotyped.

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  4. This post made me laugh, largely because you are so right! I wrote a similar one on my blog: https://loveserially.wordpress.com/2015/07/09/embarrased-to-be-a-romantic/

    The one that I love the most is the assumption that something is wrong with you if you enjoy reading romance novels that have sex in them. I mean, talk about double standard. Hello porn? Ever heard of it? It’s crazy that because I am a female, I’m suppose to be ashamed and unable to talk about, think about, or heaven forbid, WANT SEX! And I’m married!! Geesh.

    In any case, keep on keepin’ on. Your blog rocks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I must say it sucks to be a single female who reads romance. I feel like others put a label on me of an eventual spinster who will own 7 cats. It’s so weird when you think about it for people to view a particular genre as reflective of the personality of the reader.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, you know it’s weird how everyone associates sex with romance as a genre, but they don’t necessarily take into account all of the sex in genres like science fiction and mystery. I remember reading Clan of the Cave Bears when I was young (maybe middle school) and being like, what? what?? what?! sex?! And the whole reason I read that series was because my parents read it and had it in our home library. But if I told people that was one of my favorite series, no one would bat an eye at me. Ugh, stereotypes. Ugh, stereotypes about single women especially. They never make any sense to me. And it’s also like people have something against being a romantic. Like you are a silly fool if you believe in romance. Why? Sorry, I can really wax on about this subject. In summary, I feel you sister.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Ha ha. A great read. As good as one of your reviews.
    When I see a review of yours in my Reader, I just Have to read it. They are that good. Do I read romance novels? I , like a lot of your readers would say no. 😀 (don’t take us on our word, though) Why not? Because I would rather be caught reading more serious and Intellectual stuff.
    I recently read ‘Twilight’ and loved it. (I don’t qualify to be a young adult). ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is just too good and i read it every year, at least. I think the greatest romance novel is ‘Lorna Doone’.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I like romance novels, and chicklit (doesn’t always have to be a romance, right?) too. And this sentence is right on!: Do you also have heart-to-hearts with Twilight fans to warn them that vampires don’t exist? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chicklit rocks! Have you read “I’ve Got Your Number” by Sophie Kinsella? Loved it! Happy you liked the Twilight comment. I was just trying to find a scenario to express how ridiculous it was for people to assume that I believe romance novels could all happen in real life. That’s why it’s fiction people!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Great post! I had absolutely no idea that August is National Romance Awareness Month!
    I like to read a bit of everything (as my blog probably shows) and I hate it when people tell each other what it is and isn’t acceptable to read! I choose a book to read based on my mood, and sometimes a light hearted boy-meets-girl love story is perfect! (P.S. I adore your posts! They always make me giggle and this is no exception!)

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Thank you for writing this. Now I don’t have to! I don’t know a lot of people personally who read what I write, and that’s okay. If a reader wants to read a book but won’t because there are love scenes in it, do what my daughter does when she reads mine: skip over the love scenes. (I’m her mother and I’m not supposed to know about sex much less write about it.) Those scenes aren’t required reading! Naysayers to the popularity of romance novels need to do some research about what share of the market they encompass (the largest). Romance Writers of America’s web site used to give out stats (and maybe they still do) about romance readers: most are college-educated, professional women.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s so true! It’s pretty easy to skip over those scenes if they’re not your cup of tea. When I was first writing this post I saw those stats on the Romance Writers of America website, and it was actually really comforting for me to see that there were so many people out there like me who love the genre. Just because I’m a college graduate doesn’t mean I have to read the Wall Street Journal every day. Bring on the romance!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. People always give me a hard time for reading as well…and even more so for writing romances. You should see the looks I get when I tell them. One person went so far as saying, “I thought you were smarter than that.” Uggggh

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve actually been thinking about writing this blog post for over a year. It took me such a long time to finally write something because it was really hard to organize my thoughts on why comments like that frustrate me so much. I still don’t understand why romance is seen as a lesser genre, and the readers of romance as, well let’s face it, of lesser intelligence. However, it’s awesome to have an outlet like this blog, and read comments from readers like you to see that I’m not the only one experiencing this frustration!

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  10. As always, I love your post!! There are millions of romance readers in the world. If it makes us happy, then that’s what it’s all about. Who cares what the genre is? So many people don’t even read. What do people say about them?
    And enjoy your single-hood while it lasts. Your partner will be lucky to find you. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Such brilliant and honest post! I can relate to everything you said. Apart from me, there’s not a single person in my circles who reads romance novels and you won’t believe the looks I get when I tell them what I’m reading. It’s disgusting and I truly feel bad for them because they are missing the best of the novels.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Good point about not all Romance’s having sex scenes, Lynn Kurland writes lovely historical/time travel romances without a lick of sex! And i don’t think some people realize there is a difference between Romance and Erotica

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: Reasons to Read Romance Novels | Whimsy Journals

  14. Great post! I love romance also, im stuck now at 50 shades and the crossfire series, i just wanted to ask you if you know some similar books, because i am searching and searching but couldnt find something that full of interesting and sentimental stuff. Also i just started a blog myself feel free to check it sometime. (I dont really know yet how this world of blogging works)

    Liked by 1 person

  15. If you think it’s bad coming out and admitting you read romance novels, imagine how it feels to come out and admit you WRITE them!!! It’s hard to explain to folks that yes, you write in the romance genre, but you also write good literature, not the trash they associate with Romance novels.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Pingback: 2015 in Review | Romance Novels for the Beach

  17. I hear you. Years ago, maybe 25 (yeah, I’m that old), I read a couple of romance novels written by African American authors, and I have to admit I didn’t like them. My fellow romance lovers swore they were great, but those authors just didn’t do it for me. Then I discovered Brenda Jackson, when she offered readers a free ebook. My expectations were low, but then something happened, I found her stories engaging, her heroes sexy, and the women career minded, funny, sexy, and strong. They are a bit cookie cutter characters, but she warns you upfront that she only writes about these type of people. I’ve probably bought most of her books. I know I’ve read everything she’s written (eNYPL became my go to for all things Brenda Jackson). If a book was unavailable at the library, I bought the novel, and sometimes bought ones I really loved after my loan was up. If you don’t want to read about beautiful wealthy African American characters, then move on. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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