Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Sunday Salon: Why I Don't Care for Romance Novels

Yesterday I reviewed a book of paranormal romance short stories. The reviews I had read stated they were light on romance and I thought it was a good way to find new paranormal authors. For me, the stories were the epitome of the romance genre and I was wholly unimpressed.

Which brought up the question: what do you have against romance novels?

Well, I'll tell you.

As a genre, romance tends to focus on perfection. The perfectly beautiful woman meets the perfectly handsome man and they have a perfect relationship and live happily ever after. Yes, I know, there is usually some rockiness in the courtship, but in the end, it's the dream come true romance.

I say, from experience with various friends, that this genre teaches unrealistic expectations to the naive and vulnerable. When he isn't Prince Charming, they won't date him, never realizing that there really isn't a Prince Charming. Life just isn't like that. PEOPLE aren't like that.

When the romance fades, when the sex stops being earth shattering, they assume that this wasn't real love after all, because in the movies and books it lasts forever.

Do they actually voice those thoughts? Not always. But the standards these women (my experience has only been with women friends; I'm sure there are men out there that feel the same way) base their relationships on are created from the unrealistic and unobtainable standards they read about in the romance genre.

So, that's one reason I don't care for the genre. Oh, it's not the fault of the authors. They're writing what people want to read, rarely (if ever) knowing that they are setting up relationships to fail by showing these so-called perfect lives. They can't help that the vulnerable and naive see it as truth. No, I don't think that everyone that reads romance fiction falls victim to that. But I have seen it, more than once, and I have seen the damage it does.

The other reason I don't like the romance genre is, well, I don't like it. I don't like a perfect heroine or a perfect hero. I don't like a blatantly contrived meeting or love at first sight. To me, it's just hokey. This genre doesn't fill any emotional needs for me. I prefer a different kind of fantasy.

~the Sunday Salon~


  1. Agreed. Romance, unless it's Austen or another author from an earlier period, is often unrealistic. My biggest problem is that the women tend to have major issues and chips on their shoulders. I can't sympathize with a main character if I want to slap her. Where are the regular, normal women who like nice guys? I guess that's not much of a story!
    Have a great week!

  2. Glad there's at least someone who agrees!

    Austen is fantastic, but her books are as much character studies as they are romances, don't you think? And you're right, it's the 18th and 19th century romances that are still good reading.

  3. That is exactly what went on with 'Rafferty's Wife', a lightweight book I read recently. There was nothing to that book but gorgeous, talented and heroic people loving other gorgeous, talented and heroic people because they were gorgeous, talented and heroic!! Haha!

    I do see your point about the perfection in some stories, but I also believe that fiction is where anything can happen--perfect or not...


  4. Definitely well said! I agree with you on romance, I don't read much of it myself, but the little bit that I do read is some sort of historical fiction, which is somewhat different that just straight romance.

  5. I've read one 'historical romance' (for a book group last year), and felt it was more of a fantasy about perfection than a slice of an era.

    My review is here:

    I talk some about the bait-and-switch of the cover, too. The outside cover has an elegant manor house; turn the page and there's a picture of a buxom woman in a passionate (?) embrace with the hero.