The romance novel swept onto the publishing scene like a tornado back in the 1970's and early 1980's, capturing readers, mostly women, across the country in it's deluge. Back then, the romance novel contained mysterious handsome sheiks, hunky bad-boy pirates, and wealthy rogue noblemen, all of whom were the sum total of the reader's secret fantasies.
In the early days, romance readers feared exposure of their need to read these small paperbacks. They read alone at night or they purchased cloth book covers disguising the steamy images on the front cover. In short, they were embarrassed to be seen with a romance novel.
The nay-sayers in the industry cried, "Nothing but trash! Little worthless paperbacks full of smut and sex! Ignore them and they will go away!”
So these paperbacks were ignored by book critics, from newspapers to literary magazines. Readers across the globe went into hiding, devouring these love stories secretly. To admit to reading romance novels back then was akin to slipping down dark allies in search of opium dens! The romance genre soon earned the moniker, "Bodice-rippers." Romance novels became the joke of the literary world.
That was then. Romance novels endured the storm, and are now a multi-million dollar industry, comprising roughly 80% of book sales in today's market. Readers don't hide these paperbacks as much as they once did, but some remain cautious about owning their love for this genre.
The genre has grown from "bodice-rippers" to modern day takes on love and romance for all audiences, in a variety of settings, couplings, and levels of intimacy. Subgenres within romance include historical, erotic, inspirational, paranormal, and mystery/thriller, to name a few.
Love it, or not, romance novels are here to stay. Share the love and read one today!