For every woman who has hidden the cover of her book…
Despite their popularity and profitability, romance novels have long been scorned and ridiculed as trashy literature. Is it the covers? Is it because the audience and authors are largely comprised of women? Or is it something else?
Perhaps the bad reputation of romance has to do with surprising dictionary definitions, women, window taxes, the poor, the cost of a ream of paper in the nineteenth century, the rise of the love match marriage, the social status quo, the industrial revolution, and the ongoing tension between high and low art. Discover the origins of the stigma against popular romance novels, those who read it and those who wrote it. It has nothing to do with the covers. These books were scorned because they were dangerous.
I can admit that I was one of those people who used to look down my nose at romance novels (and romance readers) until I realized I wrote romances (which I tried to deny for a long time). Now that I’ve finally embraced my role as writer and editor of romance novels, I wanted to read more about the genre as a whole.
Maya Rodale’s book provides some fascinating statistics about the genre, including everything from sales numbers to assumptions to reader opinions. It also inspired me to look at the genre from a new angle (i.e. yes the men are unrealistic — it’s a fantasy!). It’s also pretty entertaining.
Rodale does look at the WHOLE genre — I normally read/review either Christian romance or clean romance, so be prepared that this book talks about sex and there’s some swearing — but in a thought-provoking yet romance-supporting way. If you’re interested in the history and impact of the genre, I highly recommend this book.