It’s February, dear readers, and you know what that means. Romance, romance everywhere. Even sources that wouldn’t touch romance with a ten foot pole during the eleven other months of the year have been known to come out with think pieces on their view of romance fiction, but are they looking through the right lens?
This isn’t a post about hating on the haters, because that would not only bring us down to their level, but most of those so-called haters don’t actually hate romance. How can they, when they, in many cases, haven’t even read any of the current romance offerings? Not that the romance genre is without flaws, or that there isn’t room to improve. Come to think of it, romance has a lot of room. An endless supply, actually. Since there are only two requirements -that the love story be central, and have an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending- there really are no boundaries.
With scope like that, how can anyone say that all romances are the same? Well, sure, in the sense that all mysteries present a puzzle, all fantasy fiction deals with the impossible, and science fiction deals with what could be possible. Every genre has its conventions; to ignore those would be like trying to bake chocolate cake, without any chocolate. What’s the point? The chocolate is what we’re there for in the first place.
So what is it that draws us to romance novels, if the genre is that wide? The answers, understandably, are going to vary, and I’d love to see your reasons in the comment section, but, at the heart of it all (pun most definitely intended) it’s all about the love. No matter what the world (or underworld, or afterlife, or, well, you get the picture) throws at our couple, they are going to come out of it all not only on top, not only together, but happy to be there, and looking forward to a long, and good, future together.
That hope for the future holds true across all genres, even if the historical setting leaves the lovers only months or even weeks away from the outbreak of war. It holds, even if these two lovers finding each other was the one good thing in a post-apocalyptic wasteland It holds even in modern suburbia, back on the ranch, on the mean streets of a big city, or hallways of a public high school. The lovers may be teenagers in the first flush of new love, they may find the love of a lifetime in the middle of their golden years, or anywhere in between. For that matter, the lovers may be the same or different ages, sexes, gender expressions, social classes, or even planets. When we cross into paranormal romance, we open even more possibilities, as either lover may or may not be mortal, have special abilities, know of the existence of said creatures or abilities, and on and on and on.
The possibilities are literally endless. Where some articles will refer to all romance fiction as “Harlequin,” those of us who actually read the books know that Harlequin is but one of the many publishers, both traditional and electronic, who know what their readers want, and deliver it on a regular basis. That’s not even counting the independently published authors who market directly to readers. Talk about supply and demand. In romance, there really is something for everybody.
Romance fiction is the genre where the woman always wins. Every time. She gets what she wanted at the beginning of the book (unless she lays it down, herself, in pursuit of something better) by the end, and she gets the love of her life to share it with her. What about the man? Well, he wins, too. Same thing. He finds his healing, his completeness, the same as his lover does, and he gets the love of his life to share it with him. That holds true when the lovers are of the same gender, as well, or if the color of their skin, their ethnic origin, religious faith, political views, or any combination of the above, set them apart from the majority of society in their world.
The best thing about romance fiction is that romance always wins. Those who choose love above all are rewarded with affirmation, companionship, vision, and a path to move forward. Living happily ever after doesn’t always mean they will never have any problems ever again, but it does mean that they will see the days, months, and years to come, through a different lens, and they will have their beloved by their side when they get there, and every step along the way. What’s not to love about that?
So, dear readers, I turn it now over to you. What do you love most about reading romance fiction? If you could tell authors of February romance-themed think pieces one thing about the genre, what would that be? Do you read these pieces? Why or why not? If you do read, do you respond, or do you find there are better things to do with your time, like read more romance novels? Pull up a chair in the comment section and tell us all about it. If you’re totally over the whole idea of reading romance fiction, you’re probably not reading this post anyway, but there’s room for everybody at this table.