Why I Read Romance Novels

renoir20I’ll be the first to admit that I have a propensity towards criticism and pessimism.  Take romance novels, for example – I could go on for hours about the general Decline and Fall of the Romance Civilization.  But you know what?  I still read romance novels.  I still love them.  And I still defend them to the death, despite all the weird looks I know I get from my friends.  (Yes, LKY, I’m looking at you.)

I’m tired of whinging, and while I’m in the mood, I want to focus on the positive.  With that in mind, here are the top five reasons I read – and love – romance novels:

5. I get to spend hours – literally – tootling with my reading records.  Yup.  I’m a nerd.

4. I get to travel the world from my sofa.  When you get down to it, small-town Shropshire could be as foreign to some readers as the Alaskan wilds, and a romance novel can get to either for under eight bucks, often less.  This leads to the fact that…

3. They’re a cheap and durable form of entertainment.  Um, cost of movies these days?  Not to mention the cost of a frickin’ frappucino, which disappears from your system in two hours unless it translates into fat, which then sits in your you-know-where for months??  Yeah, romance novels are cheap.  Not least because…

2. I get semi-instant, renewable gratification.  Warm fuzzy feeling.  It’s worth it.

But the number one reason I read romance novels is that…

1. Romance novels are good.  Full stop. And that’s the most important thing.  Romance novels have given me Annique Villiers, Lord St. Vincent, Eve & Roarke, and innumerable excellent authors.  It’s about the characters and the occasional plot twist, and it’s also about some damn good writing out there.  Before I finished this blog I updated my statistics, and you know what?  I’ve given out more As and Bs than Cs, Ds and Fs combined.  I love them.  I really, really love them.

So tell us why you read romance novels, and let’s celebrate the positive.  Long live romance novels!

- Jean AAR

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18 Responses to Why I Read Romance Novels

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  2. Gail says:

    I read them first and foremost because they’re fun and relaxing. Occasional side benefits include:
    -increased recognition of cognate words (I can firmly attribute some of the French cognates I recognize that some of my fellow students don’t to historical romances)
    -the ability to weird out friends over cover art
    -being able to look at the spreadsheet that tracks my reading and find it dominated by female authors (which doesn’t happen with my assigned reading)
    -the occasional happy memory, like the day I was sitting in restaurant with my dad waiting for lunch and the waitress realized we were reading books in the same series and said “I hope I can do that with my daughter someday”

  3. Magdalen says:

    I read the good ones because they transport me to another person’s world of hope, angst, and love.

    I read the bad ones to remind me just how good the good ones are.

  4. Lea AAR says:

    Ten years ago, I started reading romance for the happily ever afters and the fantasy of it all.

    I’m still reading romance ten years later because I now know the genre so well that I now rarely read a total loser. Primarily, AAR is my “go to” place for everything romance and through reviews, discussions, and lists I am aware of the latest offering or those jewels from twenty years ago. I now have read so many romances that I know what scenarios I most enjoy and what to avoid. I know the authors that work for me as well as other readers who have similar tastes to my own whose recommendations I can rely upon. I know that romance can deliver diverse, deep, light, hilarious, moving, historically accurate, and, yes, truly romantic stories. I don’t get bored with romance because I know the genre so well.

    And it still delivers that HEA – still my number one criteria. I read non-fiction to inform. I read fiction to have a guaranteed good time.

  5. JML says:

    For over 4 decades -yes, I am O.L.D.- romance books have been my most loved choice of entertainment. I’m proud of the authors I support and I’m grateful for their talent and ambition and hard work. I wish only the best for new authors coming down the road.

    Of course I have my preferred tropes and authors but it’s the unexpected story – the occasional one that takes my breath away – that makes me happy to be a romance reader.

    I think that the genre itself has expanded, and continues to expand, to include and make way for every type of romance reader and writer. Hallelujah! It will take time but it will happen and then what will readers complain about? Never mind, there is always something.

    I just wish that those who want to make romance books more: more important, more intellectual, more accepted, would just enjoy what is. Great entertainment.

    From Betty Neels to Kathleen Woodiwiss to Nora Roberts to Nalini Singh to Shelly Laurenston and hundreds more- – there are so many reasons to keep reading.

    Great topic.

  6. Elysa says:

    First and foremost, I read for the happy ending. I live in a world where those happy endings are few and far between. I am often cynical and pessimistic and these stories generally keep me from being entirely jaded and preserve what little faith I have in the world.

    Another bonus is that they keep me learning. I am such an obsessive nerd that after reading a book – whether historical or contemporary – I feel compelled to research the specific environment or millieu the author created. So even if he or she got it wrong, I still benefit.

  7. Karenmc says:

    I started seriously reading historical romances in the spring of 2007 when I needed filler for free shipping at Amazon. I had read a Madeline Hunter a few years earlier and was surprised at the historical and political detail, as well as the emotional depth of the book. I ordered another Hunter book, discovered the first was no fluke and started scouring the internets to see what else was out there.

    Three years later, I’ve read close to four hundred books and have a small TBR mountain. I’ve found wonderful, strong authors and some beautiful books. Most importantly, I’ve found the intelligent, thought-provoking and sometimes hilarious world of the online romance community. What a bunch of swell, smart, generous women. The blogs keep me up-to-date with reviews and commentary, and the authors themselves have proven to be warm, funny responders to email.

    Are all the books good? Of course not, but sometimes skimming through a bad one lets me appreciate the next really good book all the more. And the really great ones, the keepers, the re-readable treasures, convey something that is at times elusive in the real world; they convey hope.

  8. Lynda X says:

    Reading a great romance is the closest thing available to falling in love in real life.

  9. Ann says:

    I read for the happy ending.

    It is inexpensive form of entertainment

    Enjoy the hunt for an older published romance at my local HP books :-)
    (thanks to this site – there is always a search to be had)

    Husband passed away @ 6 years ago and I found myself with lots of lonely time on my hands – returning to the ‘romance’ world helped bring joy back into my life. I’m never lonely when reading a good romance

    List could go on and on – but I’ll stop here and once again – a BIG THANKS to this site.

  10. Lynn AAR says:

    A lot of this is exactly why I love romance. I love to travel around the world in my books and to learn about different times and places. Also, the good authors out there cover so many different moods and styles. I love my dark and angsty reads, and the big, epic historical sagas. Sometimes I’m in the mood to push boundaries and read those off-the-beaten-path books that aren’t sitting in every Walmart/grocery store reading rack. And some days, when I’ve been working on particularly grim stuff at my office, I might even want something that’s either silly and goofy or so sweet it makes your teeth hurt.

  11. D) All of the above. I really believe the best romance novels are among the best novels, period. I love the HEA, especially when it’s won by complex characters who go through believable conflict and grow as a result. (That is, believable for the H/H, whether dukes, SEALs, or vampires!)

  12. Fay says:

    As a student, history was my least favorite subject – too much memorization of dates and events! As a romance reader, I can enjoy different historical periods in a more natural way, i.e, through relationships and personal events.

  13. jftee says:

    I read romance because of the richness and breadth of what is available. There is superb writing and imaginative and courageous stories. There is everything from fluff, if that is your mood, to deep, soul-searching, tearful self-discovery if that is your mood, and everything inbetween. Memorable characters that live long after the book has been closed. I’ve fallen in love so many times I can’t remember, and for many different reasons, and all from the safe understanding arms of my husband. I savored the Fallen Angels series by Putney, the travels of Jamie and Clare, the humanity of Carla Kelly, the marvelous Wallflower series by Kleypas, the emotional rollercoaster of Kinsale, the always entertaining Bedwyns by Balogh, the charm of Sharon and Tom Curtis, the soul-stretching Barbara Howatch, the agony of Linda Howard’s Son of the Morning, the rich and lyrical prose of Penelope Williamson, the down-home wonder of LaVryle Spencer; my husband read Karen Ranny’s My Beloved with tears in his eyes. These, and so many more, have brought hours of pure entertainment and it doesn’t get any better than when I read a new book that I enjoyed enough to add to my “keeper” shelf. Characters that live long after you close the book are a result of good writing. Reading romance continues to enrich my life.

  14. jftee says:

    Correction. I meant to say Susan Howatch, if someone wants a most unusual and thought-provoking read that draws you in and won’t let you go, then pick up Glittering Images.

  15. Pat H says:

    I reviewed mystery fiction for around 30 years and got tired of dead bodies, and more and more horrific descriptions of murder. (In fact, I stopped reading mysteries when I read a prologue that described inch by gory inch the flaying of a young woman. Eeeew!)

    Romances give me the same happy ending with two people I’ve come to love. I’m happy for them–and for me for knowing them.

    (As a side light, I seem to find bits of history that my husband, the history major, doesn’t know. This English major likes sharing history with him. Hehehehehe!)

  16. Regina says:

    I read romance novels because I love LOVE. The hunger , the want, the need and all the emotion that goes with it. To escape to a different country and time. That’s why I read Historicals. I want to experience the way of life back then.

    Love is great. What more can I say.

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