Haliburton County Living: Romance

Bessie’s Books and Other Things

pride and prejudiceI’m going to let you in on little secret, I like romance novels.  I’ve only just been able to admit this to myself.  The fact that Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is my favourite book of all time should have been a clue.  I always just thought it was literature, which it is, but it is also a romance.  With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, this article is dedicated to the romance.  There are two basic elements that comprise a romance novel, a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.  These novels can have any style or tone, be set in any place or time, and have varying levels of sensuality ranging from sweet to extremely hot.  These differences are what create subgenres in romance.

Historical romances are categorized as any romance taking place before 1945.  This subgenre includes the regency period (late 1700s to early 1800s).   Julianne Donaldson is a writer from Utah who writes what are called “clean” romances meaning there is no sexual activity.  The more traditional “bodice ripper” can be found by searching our catalogue using the key words “regency” and “romance”  Lisa Kleypas and Mary Balogh are two prolific writers in this category.

Inspirational Romance including American Karen Kingsbury and Canadian Janette Oke are faith based romances.  Beverly Lewis and Cindy Woodsmall write Amish romances known as “bonnet rippers.”  All these writers can be categorized as writing “clean” fiction.

spellboundThe exact opposite of “clean” fiction is erotic romance.  E.L. James, Sylvia Day and Maya Banks are some examples of writers from this subgenre; this is where you find books described as “steamy” or “smutty”.

Paranormal Romance feature romances between humans and other beings such as vampires or werewolves, Charlaine Harris, J.R Ward, and Sherrilyn Kenyon are all writers of this type of romance.

There are other subgenres of romance such as mystery, suspense, science fiction as well as young adult romance.  The list is probably endless and of course there is some cross over, for example Stephanie Myers writes books that are both young adult and paranormal.

I don’t only read romances but I find I turn to them when I’m anxious or particularly stressed.  They soothe me and I choose my titles in such a way that I don’t have to think too hard about what I’m reading.  One library patron I knew well called them “mind sorbet”.  She thought of romances as the cleansing light serving between courses of a heavy and intricate meal.  I have read relationship help articles that feel that romance novels do real relationships a disservice as women expect their lives to mirror what they read about in books.  I guess we all have to remember that reading novels is escapism and shouldn’t be confused with our lives.  I can assure you however, that the Haliburton County Public Library really does have the books mentioned in all sorts of formats including large print and ebook depending on the book.

*originally published in Haliburton County Living on January 30th, 2014.


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