What is a Romance Novel?

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According to the Romance Writers of America, RWA, the estimated sales of romance novels, in 2013, was $1.08 billion. There is a substantial interest in these pieces that continually draws in new people and has long-term dedicated fans who keep returning for more stories. So, it is worth knowing, what the romance genre is.

Pamela Regis defines romance novels as “a work of prose fiction that tells the story of a courtship and betrothal of one or more heroines" (Regis 2013). Romances are centered around a relationship. This can be a hero/heroine, hero/hero, or a heroine/heroine...(or a group relationship of some kind, but that's another article for another day). Readers pick up a romance novel wanting to read about a relationship. There needs to be a relationship (slow-burn, first-love, second-chance, etc.) for the story to be considered a romance genre story. Writers can choose any number of options to include in their story, but characters will fall in love. 

Today, the romantic relationship culminates in a Happily Ever After (HEA) or a Happy For Now (HFN) ending. Previously, the couple needed to end up married, but that is no longer necessary in the current romance genre publishing industry.

In her book, Romancing the Beat: Story Structure for Romance, Gwen Hayes wrote, “If love doesn’t conquer all at the end of your story, you didn’t write a romance…if your characters don’t have a happy resolution, then you need to find a different shelf for your finished book to live on" (Hayes 2016). Romance novels need to end with a happily ever after of some kind.

The two main components a romance novel has is a romance centric narrative and a happily ever after. If the story lacks one of these two things, it is not a romance genre book. This is a very brief overview, so if you would like any additional information, please let me know. 

Thank you so much for reading. What are your favorite romance novels?


“Romance Statistics.” Romance Writers of America, www.rwa.org/p/cm/ld/fid=580.

Hayes, Gwen. Romancing the Beat: Story Structure for Romance Novels (How to Write Kissing Books Book 1). N.p.: Gwen Hayes, 2016. Print.

Regis, Pamela. A Natural History of the Romance Novel. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania, 2013. Print.