Monday, July 24, 2006

Ranting About Romance

Here’s a question based on a lively discussion that’s come up on Romance Divas today.

Do romance readers like most of the books they read?

It seems like a silly question. Why would they spend so much money on romance novels if they didn’t enjoy them? Why would romance have the largest slice of the publishing pie if no one really liked to read romance novels?

The poser of this question, or rather the person who made the statement that most romance readers don’t like most of the books they read, is gauging her opinion on the abundance of bad reviews out there, such as those posted on and on the many review sites. Granted there are reviewers who in essence make a living or make a name for themselves by trashing books. Some writers avoid submitting their work to these sites for fear of getting ripped to shreds [raises hand!] and other, braver souls do so with trepidation that is sometimes rewarded with the rare good review for outstanding work.

You’d almost think there were a lot of romance-hating romance readers out there.

But I just don’t think that’s the case. Readers love romance. Romance fans are loyal, joyful people who see the merit in reading a story about love that has a happy ending and ultimately makes them feel good. Romance readers [I was practically born a romance reader, btw] keep going back to the book store not to weed through tons of crappy, mediocre stories that are churned out by hack writers, but to find those gems from the writers they’ve grown to love. They come back to be reminded that we can imagine, if not create, a wonderful world where love does conquer all and two people can ride off into the sunset toward a rosy future.

Sappy? Okay, maybe a little. But the world is full of violence, hatred, war, anger, pollution, crime. We need a little sap as the balm to our emotional wounds sometimes. Romance heals, in my opinion. It serves a purpose. It gives people hope that they can forge a lasting relationship under less than ideal conditions. People read romance because they need that hope once in a while.

The publishing industry is full of hopeful writers who want to give readers that hope. What’s wrong with that? Some do it well. Some don’t. Some do it with a level of finesse that very few can hope to achieve, but we all try. Why?

Because we love romance novels. Period.


loonigrrl said...

I'm a total die hard romance fan. I enjoy other genres, but the first section I always look through in the bookstore is the romance section. I'm one of those people who don't enjoy all romances out there, but I certainly open the book and turn to the first page with every intention of enjoying it. Otherwise, why spend the money, right? I love some, I dislike some and some don't make much of an impression, but each book I've picked up I have had every intention of really enjoying. And I agree with you that reading romance gives people a kind of escape from the harsher realities of our own, something to look for, to hope for, in our own lives. :)

Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

Hi Lunigrrl! Thanks for stopping by. I agree that not every book I buy curls my toes either, but I enjoy the majority of them or I wouldn't keep filling up my wish list and my shopping cart at Amazon!

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