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Why Many Women Love Reading Romance Novels

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If you are one of those women who love to read romance novels during your lunch hour, at the beach, or while waiting in traffic or a movie line, then you’re probably a romance junky. You may wonder if this a good thing or a bad thing. Definitely, a good thing! It’s fun, it’s entertaining, it cures boredom and it’s a great escape. Let’s face it: romance books allow women the vicarious thrill of experiencing a full range of emotions without reality stepping in.

According to Romance Writers of America, more than 25% of all books sold today are romance novels. Sales in romantic fiction hover around $1.35 billion each year. Obviously, women love what romance novels have to offer.

Contemporary romance novels are the largest subgenre of the romance novel. They are full length novels, set in modern times (generally taking place after World War II), and are almost entirely focused on a love story. Over time, just as the social and political attitudes about women have evolved, so has the contemporary romance novel become more complex, realistic and varied. Because of this trend, there has been a blurring between this subgenre and the women’s fiction genre. (Women’s fiction is a blanket term for books marketed to female readers, including many mainstream novels, “chick lit,” and romantic fiction.)

Contemporary romance novels include categories such as Love in the Workplace, Amnesia (often including a former relationship), Medical Romance, Baby Love, Contemporary Romantic Suspense, Cowboy Contemporary Romance, and Vacation Love. Contemporary romance novels do not include historical romance, romantic suspense or paranormal romance.

Romance novels are meant to spark feelings of passion, longing and love. If you have any question about this, then just look at some of the trashy cover art. Some of the covers might make a sailor blush. But then, a good trashy sailor story wouldn’t be so bad either. Come to think of it, any sailor story about a guy with bulging muscles, a crooked rascal grin and a good set of, well, okay, teeth, wouldn’t be so bad either.

And what’s wrong with remembering and reliving that first love or worst love or the best new love, over and over again? Hey, if it was good once, it’s got to be good the 10th or 11th or 50th time. But this time, after finishing the book, we can toss it behind the couch instead of tossing the boyfriend — like we did in high school, when Dad peaked in, suspicious and searching. “Everything okay?” he asked, glancing about. “I thought I heard something.”

I have always wanted to be a heroine. I mean, a real heroine, not just the heroine I am to Harry, my cat, who thinks I’m super woman. Romance novels allow me to drop into an alternate universe where I’m smart, sassy, forceful and the best lover he ever met. I can control the best looking hunk or the dry, intellectual, cold-hearted millionaire, who is ready to give me his millions by the end of the story, if I’ll just marry him and live happily ever after.

… And they lived happily ever after. This is what I want at the end of any romance novel, no matter how many problems, bad relationships, cheating or challenges there were. When everything does work out in the end and just before I close the book, I imagine the hero lying beside me all close and breathless. I shut my eyes and forget that I have laundry or dirty dishes to do or supper to cook or emails to answer. “Not now,” I say, breathless. Then I turn to my book lover. “Kiss me…just one more time, darling.”

Elyse Douglas contemporary romance novel entitled The Astrologer’s Daughter is about the 25 year-old secret affair between a professional astrologer and a politician, and how their illegitimate daughter seeks revenge on her father during the last weeks of his presidential campaign.


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  • Posted On May 9, 2012
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