Genre Index

Romance is found in all literary genres. But the romance genre has certain criteria which set it apart from mystery, science fiction or other genres. In turn the romance genre has spawned multiple sub-genres. When it comes to favorite stories, readers have definite preferences. When buying a novel marketed specifically as a “romance”, readers can choose from a wide range of story styles:

  • Adventure Romance: Books in this sub-genre are often categorized as romantic suspense, but are more akin to action-adventure films than to traditional romantic suspense. Adventure romance features strong heroines, equally strong heroes, and fast-moving plots. They can be set in any time and place.
  • African-American: romances tend to focus exclusively on relationships between African-American or black heroes and heroines, and are commonly set in urban areas. The stories are often written by African-American authors.
  • Category Romance also known as “Series” titles. (In my world these are the “drugstore” romances) The term “category romance” derives from the fact that the books are published in clearly delineated categories, with a certain number of books being published in each category every month. Their alternative name, series romances, came from the sequential numbers sometimes printed on the books’ spines. Category romances are short (usually no more than 250 pages), and have a low purchase price compared to other fiction books. These series or category books are also often considered to be one of the many romance genres.
  • Chick-lit: Is a cousin of romance — while the romance structure requires a happy ending, the more flexible chick-lit structure allows for ambiguity. Though these books often focus on young women entering the adult, professional world for the first time, the subject matter can range from frothy to weighty. Just as there are many sub-genres of romance, Chick-lit easily adapts to fit other genres. Chick-lit Mystery features heroines involved in crime-solving with attitude.
  • Contemporary: Books in this sub-genre set in present time. The hero and heroine live and work in a world most readers can understand, with modern conveniences and current social mores.
  • Dark Fantasy: It combines elements of paranormal abilities, shapeshifting, vampires, werebeasts, and fantasy creatures such as dragons. In general, the stories border on sword and sorcery adventure, other/outer world travels as well as the lighter elements of horror.  The hero in dark fantasy works, as a rule, is a brawny and strong-willed Alpha-male. The heroine is self-possessed and competent. Intricate world building is primary to dark fantasy tales and the story may or may not have an H.E.A. (Happy Ever After) ending
  • Erotic Romance: Erotic romance is about the development of a romantic relationship through sexual interaction. The sex is an inherent part of the story, character growth, and relationship development, and couldn’t be removed without damaging the storyline. Happily Ever After is a REQUIREMENT to be an erotic romance. Erotic romance novels can range from short story to single title length. All publishers currently have some form of erotic romance or erotica imprint. The subgenre’s novels take the reader beyond the bedroom door where more traditional romance does not breach that barrier. The sex scenes, while explicit, are there for the purpose of character development. Erotic romance should not be confused with pornography/erotica. Works of pornography consist of sexual acts without a plot line. Erotic romance however includes well-developed characters and at least one primary plot with the possibility of subplots. The primary and/or subplots can stand alone without the explicit sex, but the characterizations in the story will suffer dramatically if the sexual content is removed.
  • Erotica: It focuses heavily on the sexual relationships between the characters. While erotica often features a romance at the core of the novel, today’s erotica also pushes boundaries including multiple partners (sometimes simultaneously) and kinky situations. Language can be graphic and sexual fantasies — often not considered politically correct in today’s romance novels — are enacted. There is some debate about whether erotica should be considered a sub-genre of romance, and what such books should be called. Erotic content can be found in books categorized as “Erotic Romance” and as “Erotica.”
  • Fantasy:These books take place in all different settings and time periods. The focus of the plot is primarily on the effect of magical elements on the characters’ lives, often while the characters are on a quest. Some popular themes are historical fantasy, mythical creatures and magical abilities.
  • Futuristic:
  • Historical: Historical romances can include any romance not set in contemporary times. But there are lots of historical time periods which are popular settings for romance novels. Eras with their general time periods:
    • Medieval 938 – 1485 AD.
    • Georgian 1714-1811, but usually refers to the period of George III reign from 1760-1811
    • Regency 1811-1820, but usually covers the period of 1795-1837
    • Victorian 1837-1901
  • Inspirational: These books take place across many different time periods and genres. Most contain strong religious themes and are overwhelmingly Christian. Rarely are sex scenes included in these stories. However, some novels in the subcategories of suspense and thriller may contain some scenes of violence.
  • Interracial Romance: Romances between a hero and heroine of different ethnic background.
  • LGBT: (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered) is a sub-genre of the romance genre.LGBT romances focus mainly on the relationships of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and/or transgendered people, but the setting of the story can vary.The majority ofLGBT romancesare consideredto be erotica, but not allLGBT romances center aroundthe sexuality of the characters. Typically the authors and their stories center around one of the four different relationships:
    • Lesbian Romance: a story focusing around the relationship of two or more females.
    • Gay Romance: a story focusing around the relationship of two or more males.
    • Ménage Romance: a story focusing around the relationship of three or more people of different genders.
    • Transgender Romance: a story focusing on a relationship where at least one character is transgendered
  • Mainstream: Features deep characterization along with social issues or themes. The writing style is emphasized and it may veer from category romance by adding subplots and wandering into thoughts of the character(s) and making statements about our culture or society of the time. Along with this is always a strong romance or burgeoning romance in the main story line, and possibly more than one. The romance is described subtly instead of vividly, with much detail left to the reader’s imagination.
  • Medical: The romance novel involving characters in the medical profession originally focused on nurses, and these books were called “nurse novels.” Though there were hundreds of novels about nurses, a few books centered on women doctors. These books reached their heyday in the 1960s, and though they faded in popularity as women began to have meaningful careers outside of education, nursing, and the secretarial pool, they remain a popular genre in modern romance.
  • Military: Hero is usually a member of the armed forces or a former member. These can include suspense or mistery but it is not mandatory.
  • M/M-Romance: Contains romantic relationships between males, and male-on-male action
  • Mystery/Thriller: In addition to the romance, the storyline will contain elements of danger to the hero or heroine and generally exhibits graphic sexual situations. This is a darker version of the romantic suspense novels and may or may not have an H.E.A. (Happy Ever After) ending as with traditional romances.
  • New Adult: A developing genre of fiction with protagonists in the 18-25 age bracket. The term was first coined by St. Martin’s Press in 2009 when they held a special call for “…fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an ‘older YA’ or ‘new adult’.” New Adult fiction tends to focus on issues such as leaving home, developing sexuality, and negotiating education and career choices.
  • Paranormal: The term paranormal means: psychic or mental phenomena outside the range of the normal. The paranormal genre covers a lot of ground — as with many romance genres, there are many sub-categories, each with their own appeal.
  • Regency Romance: title given to the sub-genre of traditional romance novels that are not just set in Regency times, but also have their own rules. The books concentrate on traditional story lines, e.g., marriages of convenience, arranged marriages, nanny and/or governess romances. Although there is sexual attraction and tension, there is usually no sex between the unmarried hero and heroine. Often the writing is more formal or stylized. The books are usually shorter and distinctive from other “full-length” historical books which are also set in the Regency period.
  • Science Fiction: These books take place in all different settings and time periods. The focus of the plot is primarily on the effect of science innovations, or imagined scientific principles, on the characters’ lives. Some popular themes are space travel, alternative history and technical inventions. They feature a romance as the main plotline and have the HEA.
  • Single Title: Romance novels are any romances not published as part of a category romance publisher’s series line. They are longer than ‘category’ romances and average around 350 to 400 pages. Single Title romances exploded in popularity in the early 1980’s and continue to attract a large readership. Unlike Category romances, there are no rules in Single Title. Though authors may write a series of related titles, each single title stands alone in terms of packaging. The publishers do try to brand their books in such a way that readers can readily identify an Avon book when scanning shelves. Romance novels are often categorized by word count, and Single Title romances generally fall into the 100,000 plus word count range.
  • Suspense: In addition to the romance, the storyline will contain elements of danger to the hero or heroine and generally exhibits graphic sexual situations. This is a darker version of the romantic suspense novels and may or may not have an H.E.A. (Happy Ever After) ending as with traditional romances.
  • Urban Fantasy: In it, fantastic elements are incorporated into a modern-day, urban setting. Often protagonists must navigate a fantasy world that coexists with the ‘real world’, and includes elements of magic, or magical/paranormal creatures such as werewolves, fairies, vampires, or witches.
  • Yaoi:  Yaoi presents a purely fantasized and highly romanticized take on m/m fiction…Traditionally, one lover will assume a dominant role in the relationship, becoming the “seme” (seh-meh), while the partner receiving theamourous ‘attentions’ is the “uke” (oo-keh).Yaoi is in a word: intense. The relationships might have complicated, angst-filled story-lines, but the action is graphic and designed to get the reader’s pulse pounding…The action doesn’t necessarily haveto be as gritty and realistic as possible—it’s just done to entertain ina attractive and very erotically stirring way.Keeping with the tradition of Japanese yaoi, English writers are trying to capture the gripping erotic action in book format. Visually descriptive and fast-paced, yaoi-themed novels strive to maintain the flavor of their counterparts across the Pacific.
  • Young Adult: These books generally focus on teenage heroes and heroines and can be part of any subgenre. They are often broken down into the “mainstream” and “paranormal” categories. Usually they are intended for readers in their teenage years. There is also Young Adult books for readers under 15 years of age which only include kissing scenes.

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