Sunday, July 31, 2011

My rebuttal to romance genre bias

Sometimes you just can't keep your thoughts to yourself. Read my comments if you're interested.  I encourage you to add a comment if you're moved to.

Writing a good romance is about so much more than adding sex to a story.

As the author of "Maid for the Billionaire", I thought I should chime in on this discussion.

Lumping the romance genre into one "sex sells" clump is a mistake. People read romances for as many different reasons as they read other fiction. As in with any other genre, it would be better to suggest that the writer has a firm understanding of their targeted readers rather than suggesting that the trend is asking for authors to spice it up.

I love category romances. I've been reading them since I was in my mid teens. Presents. Desire. Sheiks. Secret babies. To dismiss my love for the genre as a love of "soft porn" reveals a genre bias. Don't get me wrong, reading soft porn is delicious, but it's not what draws me to these books.

There is an unspoken promise made between a category romance author and the readers. It sounds something like this: I will take you on a fun, emotionally charged adventure with a hero you will enjoy being with and a heroine you can imagine yourself in the place of. You will laugh and probably cry, but nothing too awful will happen. We will escape into a place so wonderful that the stress of your day will dissolve. The background will be exotic. The dialogue will be captivating. There will be sexual tension. All you have to do is let go and enjoy. Does it have to be realistic? Hell no. This is escapism. Bubble bath, glass of wine, relaxation after a tough day at work brain candy.

Erotic writers make different -- and just as legitimate -- promises to their readers.

So, please don't jump on the "sex sells" simplistic train. Not if you want to discuss the romance genre intelligently. Not all romance novels are the same. Not all romance writers are the same.

Keep an open mind and engage some of us in craft discourse. You might be surprised to discover that it's not as easy as it looks.


  1. Agree, there are so many sub-genres of romance that it's impossible to lump them into one genre. Crafting a romance novel is much more complex than simply writing about sex.

  2. You said it very well, Ruth, but I have a few things to add.

    First of all, if sex sells, what is the big attraction in the Inspirational Romance Novel? Sex isn't allowed in it, and yet they sell in big numbers. So big the "Big Boys" are jumping on the bandwagon and adding their own "Inspirational" lines.

    Second, I have been reading romance novels for decades. I read them for the stories and the escapism. I have been known to skip over the sex scenes. (It is more difficult to do that now since writers include dialog that moves along the story.)During the some of the darkest times of my life romance novels showed me there was hope, made me laugh, and gave me the escapism I needed to survive.

    Thank you for your defense of the romance novel. The people who denigrate the genre do so because they don't have the audience or the market share romance enjoys.