How many times have you hidden the cover of the romance novel you are reading from your friends, family, boyfriend and/or husband because you were embarrassed by the shirtless male or couple embracing on the cover of your book? E-books have taken that embarrassment away a bit, but still there’s that stigma. No one has ever said to me, you read romance novels? Me too! Even though I know I am not alone in loving this genre.
When I started my blog 2 1/2 years ago, I’ll admit that I had to have a conversation with my inner romance novel lover and decide to hell with it. My friends, husband, co-workers, mother, and for gods sake – my brother all subscribe to my blog. Get over your inhibitions and just read what you want to read and write what you want to write, right?!! Exactly! Even having come to grips with it myself, there is still a stigma attached that makes me slightly embarrassed still. So let’s discuss what exactly bothers me, you or any man or woman that likes to read romances but remains slightly ashamed.
- The covers- This is the biggest reason why people make fun of romance novels and I believe, also the biggest reason for the stigma. Throughout the years there have been trends in romance covers. If you read historical novels, you may remember Fabio being famous for gracing the cover of too too many of them. When romance books are mentioned I think this is the first image in everyone’s minds. Regardless of the fact that you may be reading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, which is also a romance novel. Why is it so horrible to have period couture on couples or a naked male chest on a cover? I know publishers are trying to catch a readers eye and some readers LOVE seeing a handsome man on the cover. There seems to be a trend away from these types of covers. I know a lot of historical romance novels now only have a woman alone on the cover, or a man. I read an interview with a popular contemporary author who says she doesn’t like to use cover models because she wants people to use their imagination. I like that!
- Let’s address the fluff factor. Just as there are many different types of people in this world, there are also many different types of authors. We have various competency levels from horrible to excellent. This goes for any genre. I have read my share of great lighthearted romances as well as very realistic historically accurate romance novels. Yes, some can be cheesy, but those same cheesy romances do their job. What’s their purpose? To create a fantasy for the reader to leave their life behind them and enjoy someone else’s happily ever after. Let’s face it. Life can be really hard and well, sometimes it really sucks! I think there is nothing better than curling up in bed at the end of a tough day with a romance novel. If it’s one of the better authors out there I may even learn something! (get your minds out of the gutter!) Diana Gabaldon has a Ph.D. in Science. Do you really think she didn’t use her knowledge and research skills when writing Outlander? Yes, she is the supreme example, but I’m sure the wonderful Lisa Kleypas puts just as much thought and research into one of her own novels. She just doesn’t give us chapters of descriptive prose and gets to the story pretty quickly. My point is that romance novels gives their reader a break from a reality that involves things like school shootings. Give me a romance novel ANY day over a news story like that…
- Do women need a man to save them? Can we not save ourselves? Why yes we can Hillary Clinton! I mention Hillary because she said in an interview that ‘men and women gather abusive attitudes from reading romance novels about “women being grabbed and thrown on a horse and ridden off into the distance.”’ Hillary, you are THE woman! But, in this case you are also missing the point, big time! In my everyday life where I am the breadwinner in my family and in the past have managed a team of people with the goal of hitting budgets I need to relieve some stress! So, yes, I do love to read about an Alpha male who takes charge, wants to protect his woman from harm, and not let her pay for anything. That is my fantasy to not be the responsible person. There is no harm in reading about that type of man. Has reading about these types of men made me think I can’t go on without having someone else take charge? Nope.
- Sex or no Sex? Yes, romance novels typically have an abundance of sex. Sometimes, when the mood is right, the sex is good. LOL. Other times, I skim the sex scenes because what I need is to read about a relationship that works. Some authors cater to readers who just want to read the sex scenes. That’s fine, but those aren’t the types of novels I prefer. I love great characters who fall in love. I love the build up of a relationship whether they are enemies and become lovers, or friends to lovers, or strangers to lovers. I like all the tropes that give me great characters who fall in love. Why? It solidifies what I already know. A great relationship brings happiness and fulfillment to your life. The End.
So there you have it. My reasons for reading romance novels. I bet they don’t differ that much from your own!
Do you agree with what I said above? Have your own reasons for reading romance novels that you’d like to share with me? I’d love to hear it!
Until next Sunday,
Deb (but I also read Fantasy, Mysteries, YA, etc…)