My love / hate relationship with romance


I just finished listening to the first three books in The Selection series (The SelectionThe Elite, and The One) by Kiera Cass. It has some action. It has intrigue. It all takes place in a dystopian futuristic setting. But it is undeniably, above all else, a very sappy romance.

And I enjoyed it… perhaps much more than I’m willing to admit.

I’ve known for years that I enjoy romance stories. Even in high school, most of my favorite books had a strong romantic component to them. I’ve never been completely comfortable with this preference, though.

Several years ago, I was able to admit to myself that I enjoy stories with an element of romance in them much more than I enjoy stories without any romance. I still wasn’t willing to concede that I liked romances, though. I liked science fiction stories with romance in them. I liked fantasy stories with romance in them. I liked action stories with romance in them. I didn’t like romance stories.

Over the past few years, my reading and listening preferences have been slowly shifting towards more romance, and less sci-fi, fantasy, action, etc. This year I have read more than 10 books that fall very squarely in the Romance category:

  • The Selection (et al) – Romance and dystopian future
  • The Gifting – Another romance in a dystopian future
  • Loki’s Daughters – Romance and vikings
  • Between Love and Honor -Romance and history
  • The Sorcery Code – Romance and sorcerers
  • Lady of Devices – Romance and steampunk
  • Beauty – It’s the book Disney’s Beauty and the Beast was based on
  • A Lasting Impression – Romance in the Civil War era
  • How to Dance With a Duke – Regency romance
  • Blood Wager – Romance and vampires and werewolves… Oh my!

I don’t read only romance, not even mostly romance. I estimate that I read / listened to around 75-100 books this year, and of those, only the aforementioned list would be categorized as romances. Given that I read books from a very large variety of genres, though, I’d have to admit that Romance is probably one of my most frequented categories. And the ratios of romances that I read is still growing as I become more comfortable with (resigned to?) my preference.

So am I a fan of romance novels? I don’t think I’m willing to concede that just yet. Of the books listed above, only a few of them could be labeled as a typical, boy-meets-girl romance novel. Most of them fall under the category of “Romance with a twist.” For now, that’s where I’m comfortable.

Who knows. Maybe next year I’ll be reading mostly books by authors like Judith McNaught, Jude Deveraux, and Nora Roberts. (Disclosure: I already have a Nora Roberts book in my Audible queue.) I don’t think so, though. I’m pretty happy with my reading habits right now.

How much of my current reading preferences are actually my reading preferences, and how much is my preferences about my reading preferences? I wonder…

– danBhentschel