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Whatever Happened to Romance?

Updated: Jul 24, 2023

Whatever Happened to Romance?

Heaving bosoms, smart-talking boss ladies, long-suffering virgins, bodice-ripping damsels, brainiacs, curvy vixens, neurotic late-bloomers and self-assured divorcées…

Throbbing members, garment-rending swashbucklers, alpha beasts, enticing step-brothers, shape-shifting dragons, misunderstood damaged souls with chiseled jaws, Adonis belts and early evening scruff…

These are a few of the characters you’ll run across if you dive into the stacks of romance novels found on shelves, both virtual and real.

I used to associate romance novels with grocery store check-out lanes, airport terminal bookshops, bored housewives and giggling adolescent girls. I considered them perfect for short flights, afternoons at the beach and ultimately, the recycling bin. In short, I didn’t give them much thought.

Fast forward to my early forties. Plagued with insomnia, erratic libido, brain fade, and a lack of free time due to work, children and a marriage teetering into crisis (it has since recovered). It was becoming increasingly difficult for me to get through the thicker tomes I’d enjoyed in the past and frankly, my brain couldn’t handle any extra weight.

As I stumbled through the kindle store one miserable night, bleary-eyed and wishing for sleep, I came across Jasinda Wilder’s “Falling Into You.” It was fast read. It was full of wrought, emotional tension. Lost loves. Tragedy. Beauty. Youth. Smut. Yes, smut. This is not the “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret” type smut. This is bonafide (see what I did there), erotica. There were explicit blow-by-blow (couldn’t help it) descriptions of who was doing what to whom and just oh so much detail.

I was hooked. My heart was racing, my mind was alert and I wasn’t lamenting the failure to complete another reputable novel. In fact, I was now tearing through two or three books a week. I discovered the gentle, winsome tales of second chance romances. I was drawn into heady, erotically dark BDSM. Yes, I even suffered through the Fifty Shades series. I can truly say that those are literary garbage. I can also say, I’ve read worse. I now have authors whose work I love and now receive more ARCs than I can possibly wade through.

The overwhelming majority of authors in the genre are women. Books for women, written by women, often edited by women…a feminist’s dream. Of course, there are the writers grinding out one variation on the same theme book after book. There are self-publishers who are clearly struggling to find their footing, dictionaries and thesauruses. There are also authors who manage to tell stories full of texture, fully formed characters and artfully constructed plots.

I am officially a Romance novel fanatic. I throw in occasional high brow literature to keep it fresh and find I can enjoy the elevated, gutturally low and everything in between. I am grateful to the genre. It brought me back to reading.

I now have Kindle Unlimited, peruse the local bookstores and purchase books online. No, they’re not all Pulitzer prize worthy titles, but many are. More importantly, I always have something on had to see me through those wretched “white nights” of peri-menopausal insomnia. I also have a security code on my Kindle!

A few titles to get you started: (Available on Bookshop via Reparations Club)

The Man I Love by Suanne Laqueur

“The Man I Love” by Suanne Laqueur

One of the few told from the male protagonist’s point of view. Breathtaking and beautiful. (2015 Gold Medalist Readers' Favorite Book Awards, Best Debut - Feathered Quill Book Awards)

Magpie by M.A. Reyes

“Magpie” by M.A. Reyes

Grown up woman dealing with grown up problems and online dating.

Falling Into You by Jasinda Wilder

“Falling Into You” by Jasinda Wilder

Moody, broody and a wee bit dark and dirty.

(New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestseller)

Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park

“Flat Out Love” by Jessica Park

Tender, heartbreaking young love with tragedy and quirks. Lots of quirks. (New York Times Bestseller, Flume Award)

The Stranger I Married by Sylvia Day

“The Stranger I Married” by Sylvia Day

Historical fiction. It’s a period piece with enough intrigue and twists to be fun and surprising. Plus, bodices! (Amazon 2014 "Best Books," CAPA Award winner, bestseller)

The Air He Breathes by Brittainy C. Cherry

“The Air He Breathes” by Brittainy C. Cherry

She’s got enough to deal with. Whatever doesn’t break you makes you stronger…right? Angsty.

Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid

“Neanderthal Seeks Human” by Penny Reid

Brilliant mind with less than optimal people skills looking for love. RomCom with an expanded vocabulary. First in the “Knitting in the City” series. Reid has another great series ,“The Winston Brothers” among others.

(New York Times Bestseller)

Wallbanger by Alice Clayton
The Unidentified Redhead by Alice Clayton

“Wallbanger” &

“The Unidentified Redhead” by Alice Clayton

Snappy dialogue, light, breezy and with plentiful laugh out loud moments. Clayton also has the Hudson Valley series that’s equally enjoyable.

Vicious by L.J. Shen

“Vicious” by L.J. Shen

If you’re looking for love/hate and Alpha males, this is the one. It’s sharp and dark and surprisingly well written. Shen has stacks of titles and a distinct style. (Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, and #1 Amazon bestseller)

Six of Hearts by L.H. Cosway

“Six of Hearts” by L.H. Cosway

Magic and mystery with fascinating twists. First in the Hearts series. (Bestseller)

Other authors to check out:


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