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Rated: 13+ · Essay · Educational · #1633759
shaking the stigma of romance novels

Romance fiction has to be the most underrated genre, especially as it constantly has the highest sales. Why? Misunderstandings and misinformation, both accidental and intentional.

If you've followed the book market at all, you'll know that sales are down, that publishers are struggling, that most fiction writers barely make money on their books if they make anything. That's all true. However, like movie theater attendance, romance fiction sales have risen in recent times. Why? People are looking for uplifting escapism.

I have an admission. I haven't read a whole lot of genre romance. I didn't read it much as a teen and I haven't much during my adult years. Why? Perception. I see those steamy covers showing a male's full bare chest or a female's buxom-centered image or a couple locked in a sensual embrace and I figure I'm getting a bunch of steam and descriptive detail I don't want and so walk farther down to a different aisle. I understand why publishers create those covers. They do tend to sell books. Understood. Who can fight against the almighty dollar (or pound or peso or lira, etc)? However, they also lose readers that way. They lose those of us who love actual romance but who don't love minute description of sex scenes. Romance and sex are not the same and do not have to be put in the same bin! Yes, I say that a lot. I'll keep saying it. Why? Because I write romantic fiction and I enjoy reading romantic fiction, but I do not write or read porn (aka erotica). If you do, that's all well and fine. I don't. Many others don't, either, both readers and writers.

Real romance is beautiful. It's elegant. It's psychological. It's physical. It's necessary. And it's everywhere.

My husband still gives me flowers and chocolate for Valentine's Day, after 22 years of marriage. I see eye-rolling as I type this. Valentine's Day is nothing but commercial. Everyone says so now. I say it's not. I say it depends how you treat it. I say celebrating love is important. It's not corny. It's not childish. It's not selling out. It's real. And it's needed. And we can't be happy without it.

So yes, I do read romance. I've read more romance in the last couple of years since meeting so many romance writers who believe the way I do that romance is romance and sex should be tasteful and optional. There are tons of us out there who believe this whole-heartedly, which by the way is the only correct way to love -- whole-heartedly. And yes, I write romance. I write about the beauty of it, the pain of it, the longing and confusion and elation of it. I write struggles and fear and misconceptions. I write the "why" of it. I write down to the depths of it. In the end, though, the only real answer I ever find truly is love.

Love may not be all we need (with my apologies to the Beatles), but it should be involved in everything else we need.

If you don't want to carry books with "those" kinds of covers, get them in Ebook format and carry them on some kind of reader others won't see. Or order them from your local independent bookstore and read those at home. Or pick up one of those book sox kids use for school books. We can't make publishers stop printing them that way, at least not all publishers. Authors often don't have a choice with their covers. But some really good stuff lies within. The saying is true: you can't always judge a book by its cover. Really. Look deeper.

And look for "classic romance" if you want to read actual romance without erotica. We're making it a comeback.

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