A Romance writer’s musings on life and love in today’s world.
Okay, let’s cut to the chase. The answer is both. Blog done. Now it’s time to watch that new show on Discovery Plus. Well, not so fast. When we do take a deeper look at what is behind the question, the answer may not be so clear
I can remember when I read my first romance novel. It was a Harlequin Romance. The specifics are a little fuzzy after the decades since I first read it. But the story line focused on a young pretty, attractive secretary, and her boss who I’ll name, “Mr. Successful Businessman.” Over time, a good working relationship bloomed into love and the happily-ever-after ending. In today’s world this would be called a “Clean and Wholesome” romance. A lovely Cinderella story where the heroine gets her own prince charming, easy on the sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll elements.
Harlequin is brilliant. I mean that honestly, absolutely no sarcasm implied in that sentence. They keep a pulse on the market and work hard to make sure that they have a wide array of books to choose from regardless of your preferred sub-genre of romance for reading. You want historical, they’ve got it. Cowboys, Clean and Wholesome with or without a faith element interwoven into the story, they have that too. Paranormal, Romantic Suspense? Yep. And if you want your romance with lush love scenes, look no further.
Over the decades romance has steadily marched in step with the changes in culture and adapted. There are times when a book or sub-genre enjoys an explosion of sales, think Fifty Shades of Grey and erotic romance. But over time, as a rule, Romance sub-genres ebb and flow. But in recent years, despite the wide array of choices, a subtle change that has been steadily happening before our eyes.
And that change is… wait for it…. The popularity of what I call traditional romance. I define traditional as the romances your mom and grandmother used to read. In fact, Clean and Wholesome romance is emerging from the niche zone of romance novels to a vibrant sub-genre that continues to grow year over year.
As a writer who’s work inhabits this sub-genre, these stores are not always easy to write. You would think it would be, but to be successful, you must write a story that is relevant in today’s time, emotionally satisfying, and yet not be so “soft” (regarding the challenges the hero and heroine must overcome) that the reader “doesn’t feel it” and places your story in the “didn’t finish it” category.
There is a lot of clean and wholesome romance sub-sub-genres (no that was not a typo) to choose from. Ranging from historical romances, mystery and suspense, contemporary, and romantic comedy. They also come with or with out elements of faith in God woven into the story. Yes, there is a lot to choose from!
Even the Cinderella themed stories are as popular as ever. The young secretary of decades ago, is now the hard-working, advertising executive, manager, or business-owner. “Mr. Successful Businessman” also has changed. Today, he is most likely to be a billionaire. I guess a million dollars isn’t what it used to be.
So, is romance traditional or trendsetting? Both, but “traditional” romance sales are a growing trend and shows no sign of slowing down.