Genre Exploration: Romance and its subgenres

Today is the second installment of my Genre Exploration series, where I discuss genres I don’t normally pick up, define them, talk about their classics and new releases, recommend books and authors, and much more.

This time I’ll be talking about Romance, which is probably the genre I avoid the most. It’s not that I hate it, but I’m usually disappointed at how the relationships are portrayed or I’m not really in the mood for it. I want to read more of it because I think that I’m missing some nice stories, so I’ll start really small by defining it and talking about some of its sub-genres. Let’s go!

In a few words

Romance is a pretty straightforward genre that focuses on stories that revolve around love and romantic relationships. And I learned something quite interesting: they must end on an optimistic note, that is, have a happy ending. Romance novels that end tragically tend to be controversial because they break the rules of the genre! If you think of a romance novel that ends on a sad note, then romance is probably considered a subgenre of such book, and not the main genre.


As with every genre, Romance was many subgenres that determine in what time period they’re set, the general tone of the novel,  the age of the people involved, and so on. Let’s look at some of them:

  • Contemporary Romance: Set after 1945, which is marked by the end of the Second World War.


  • Historical Romance: Set before 1945. It’s common to find this subgenre renamed after the specific period where the story is set, such as Medieval Romance or Victorian Romance.


  • Erotic Romance: Not to be confused with Erotica, which is something all by itself and doesn’t necessarily include romance or a happy ending. Erotic romance refers to the romantic stories that explicitly include the sexual relationship between the characters, without it being the focus. Considering that, I think the Fifty Shades trilogy and the likes are Erotica, but there’s a thin line between both genres.


  • Young Adult Romance: Stories where the characters are teenagers.


  • Paranormal Romance: Novels where there are elements beyond scientific explanation, like ghosts, werewolves, vampires, angels, demons, etc. These type of creatures can be part of the romantic relationship or simply part of the plot.


From all these books, I’ve just read Outlander and Twilight and… I didn’t like either. I didn’t like the romance at all, so you see why I might be hesitant to pick any of these other books up. I think the best thing for me, and for anyone who doesn’t enjoy romance as a genre, is to start reading books of different genres that have romance as a subgenre. The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater is a perfect example. The books are not centered around that and I enjoyed them very much, including the romance bits.

Do you have any recommendations for Romance beginners? What do you think about the Erotica/Erotic Romance distinction? 

17 thoughts on “Genre Exploration: Romance and its subgenres

  1. I’ve read every CoHo book, and I would usually recommend her books, but for a beginner, I wouldn’t recommend Ugly Love. It might be a turn off for a new reader with how Tate and Miles’ relationship is portrayed through 90% of the book. The ending was super cute though. And I like that he was a pilot. That was different. I started with her first novel, Slammed, which I loved. The second and third novels in that series dragged though. You have to read the second one to see how their story ends, but the third one is a retelling of the previous novels and completely unnecessary. I’d also recommend Maybe Someday. November 9 I flew through in a few hours. I liked all of her novels except for the free one on Wattpad. I read about two pages before I gave up on that one. I read a lot of NA and adult romance and my favorite authors are Jamie McGuire, Teresa Mummert, C.D. Reiss, Elle Kennedy, Sawyer Bennett, and Helena Hunting.

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      1. You’re welcome! I’d probably start with Jamie McGuire and CoHo. They have the most tame sex scenes of all the authors I read. As far as your question about erotica and erotic romance, I think there’s a big difference. Erotic doesn’t usually have a real love story. It’s all about sex. I’m not a fan of erotica. I like the romance.


    1. It really is a hit or a miss for most people. My mom loves it, so I want to read more books of it to be able to recommend some to her 🙂


      1. When I read, I like to be taken out of reality, that’s why I don’t read romance, especially contemporary romance. If a book has some romance in it I’m fine with it as long as it isn’t the whole book.


  2. From all the books you’ve mentioned I’ve only read Twilight and Vision in White. 😅 Twilight was… okay for me but with Vision in White I really liked it. Maybe cause I’m a sucker for contemporary romance (or any romance) so I really enjoyed reading this quartet (the 2nd book is my fave).

    I think I understand why you’re hesitant cause I also experienced that with high fantasy books. I can read fantasy books but it has to have romance in it. I don’t know why I can’t read a straight on high fantasy book.. it just bores me. But now I can read any fantasy books with or without romance. It took A LOT of time and persuading from my childhood friend but I think it was worth it. 😊

    For this you might want to try with YA romance books. Either Rainbow Rowell or Stephanie Perkins books would be a good start. You can just check out their books and see if any of them appeal to you. 😄

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    1. If you could do it with fantasy, I can totally do it with romance too I guess 😀
      I totally forgot to mention Rainbow Rowell, oops, I have read some of her books and only really liked Fangirl (which has the least romance in it… I’m failing already hahaha). Stephanie Perkins is also a good idea, I see the covers everywhere!
      Thanks for the suggestions 🙂

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  3. I haven’t read any of these (except Twilight, but that was nearly ten years ago and my obsession only lasted 2 months) 😅 I am definitely not a straight up romance fan. I find it so hard to connect to the characters and being aromantic it’s just not something I can relate to. I find a lot of the romances are really problematic too – especially in New Adult. I really don’t like reading about relationships that are borderline abusive. And YA romances tend to be plagued with instalove which is also a huge no for me, haha. I love that you mentioned The Raven Cycle because the romance in that was handled PERFECTLY. It was so beautiful subtle, but also had the right amount of emotion and intensity. I wish more books were like that!

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    1. I’m completely with on this. There are a lot of problematic relationships portrayed out there. My challenge will be to find a book that doesn’t have one!
      And beware, becase apparently I will now name The Raven Cycle everywhere because it was amazing in many different ways lol
      I loved how all romances were handled there, aghh I miss them.


      1. Haha! Good luck! And make sure to let me know if you find one because I’d love to read it.

        You don’t need to warn me because I do the exact same thing 😅 I could be making a post about non fiction and I’d find a way to include The Raven Cycle 😂

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  4. Woah I am totally shookt with the fact that romance must end with a happy ending! Haha, I thought that as long as the story is about love, regardless of the ending, it’s Romance. This genre is actually one of my favorites, but I agree that there are a lot of books out there that are disappointing. I totally agree that people who don’t like romance that much should start with books that have it as a minor theme. (And oh my gosh, The Raven Cycle!!!)

    I especially like books that have absolutely no romantic themes, but as a reader, you can’t help but ship the characters! A perfect example for this would be This Savage Song by VE Schwab.

    As for actual romance books, I definitely recommend Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland and I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. (Okay, I’m not totally sure if romance is just a subgenre for these books? But they are among the best ones I’ve read!)

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