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The Complete Guide to Romance Genre

Once upon a time, a girl meets a boy in high school, college, or maybe at her workplace. They fall in love and get married. That’s what Romance Book at its basic level is.

But that’s the surface-level story. This genre is so much more than that! I have always enjoyed reading the Happily-ever-afters that seem elusive in the actual world. Every couple’s journey is different in every romance story! The setting, characters, and plot are so diverse depending on the tropes that the story follows.

I started reading at the age of 13, and I began with Enid Blyton’s books, which were magical, and written for children. Then, my tastes expanded – from Young Adult to New Adult (I witnessed developing), Historical and Contemporary. Eventually, I found the darker side of Romance, which I can’t believe I love reading.

Most of these genres overlap with each other, and to be honest, I love the variety in them.

This post is a guide to all things Romance Books Genre. I’m going to list down all the Romance Genres that are popular. This will help you figure out if there’s any genre you haven’t tried yet, or understand and define the genre you love reading.

What is Romance Genre?

A Romance book follows the romantic story of two protagonists, with a Happily-Ever-After ending. The main focus of romance books is the romance or the love story between the main characters, the hurdles they overcome, and achieving their happy ending.

Characteristics of Romance Genre

Here are the two basic elements you’ll always find in a Romance book as defined by Romance Writers of America

A Central Love Story: The main plot centers around individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work

An Emotionally Satisfying and Optimistic Ending: The lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love.

Types of Romance Genre

Here is the list of popular sub-categories in the Romance Genre:

  • Young Adult Romance
  • New Adult Romance
  • Contemporary Romance
  • Historical Romance
  • Dark Romance
  • Reverse Harem Romance (Why Choose Romance)
  • Erotic Romance
  • Paranormal Romance
    • Sci-Fi Romance
  • Fantasy Romance
    • Urban Fantasy Romance
  • Romantic Suspense

Young Adult Romance

YA Romance is more of a High School Romance focused on Young Adults from the ages 13 to 18. The plot focuses on Teenage Romance. The teen couple navigates their high school life, usually being a part of cliques like the cheerleader, nerd, or jock (those are the cliches I’ve found in most of the YA books) and their family (could be divorced parents or a deceased parent).

Some of my recommended reads:

New Adult Romance

NA Romance is like the older version of Young Adult Romance.

What differentiates this genre from Young Adult is the age and the content. NA Romance can have teenagers in school or college who are usually over 18 although not necessarily. The steamy content is more detailed in New Adult as it’s written for a more mature group of people (Aged 18 to 29).

NA Romance bridges the gap between Young Adult and Adult Romances. It became all the rage in the 2010s as many of the bestselling authors like Jamie McGuire and Jennifer L Armentrout released books in this genre.

Some of my recommended reads:

The Deal (Off-Campus Book 1)
Wait for You by Jennifer Armentrout

Check out my review of my favorite New Adults:

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Twisted Love by Ana Huang

Contemporary Romance

Contemporary Romance is a Romance story set in the contemporary time of the author’s writing. The characters are older than 18, either studying at college or working. The stories are usually realistic, focused primarily on the romantic development between the characters.

It is the most popular Romance Genre that people read. There are many sub-categories in this genre. I enjoy flitting from one book to the next.

Some popular sub-categories in this include:

Sports Romance – In this trope, one or both of the characters play some sport. Although the romance takes the front seat, sports form a major part of the story.

Billionaire Romance – You will typically see the hero as the billionaire in this trope. He is a person who is at the top of the ladder and wields a great amount of power in society. The heroine, however, will have a simpler background. The financial bit plays an important role, but romance is at the forefront.

Some of my recommended reads:

The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas
On Dublin Street by Samantha Young
Kulti by Mariana Zapata

Check out my review of my favorite Contemporaries:

Bared to You by Sylvia Day

Wall Street Titan by Anna Zaires

Historical Romance

Historical Romance is set in the period prior to 1950. It is similar to Contemporary Romance in terms of the romantic development between the characters, but the behavior, dialect, and attire might be different or traditional. It reflects the lives of people in that time period. It is interesting to see how we have evolved… then, wearing bikinis would have made any female faint in horror.

Historical was probably Contemporary for the readers back then, and usually, you differentiate them from Contemporary by the lack of technological usage/developments and the history that reflects that time period.

One of the popular sub-categories in this genre is Regency Romance. This romance specifically refers to the Regency era of England.

Some of my recommended reads:

The Paid Companion by Amanda Quick
The Wedding Bargain by Victoria Alexander

Check out my review of my favorite book:

Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas

Dark Romance

Dark romance deals with the darker elements of life. It coincides with the other sub-genre of Romance and can be differentiated by the darker themes that you wouldn’t find in a regular contemporary romance.

The romance element is tinged with darker tones and despite the conflicts and obstructions, the couple gets their HEA.

The themes include Captivity, Non-Con or Dub-Con, stalking, kidnapping, and slavery, to name a few. They can include brutal violence or torture scenes.

Dark Romances can get gritty, angsty, and sometimes heartbreaking to read. If you haven’t tried this genre before, I recommend starting with something milder, or reading the trigger warnings before you start.

Some of my recommended reads:

The Mindf*ck Series by ST Abby
Vow of Deception by Rina Kent
Notice by K Webster

Check out my review of my favorite Dark Romances:

Untouchable by Sam Mariano

Tormentor Mine by Anna Zaires

Deviant King by Rina Kent

Reverse Harem Romance (Why Choose)

Reverse Harem has become popular in recent years. In a harem, you see a male having multiple female partners. So, in the Reverse Harem, it’s the female having multiple love interests (usually males). RH/Why Choose will have one female heroine with more than two heroes as her boyfriends. If there are only three people, it’s considered Menage, and not Reverse Harem.

This sub-genre is also called ‘Why Choose’, as the heroine doesn’t have to choose any one of the guys she likes, and can get the HEA with all of them together.

The popular themes in this romance genre are Bully Romance and High School/Academy Romance in Contemporary or Paranormal settings.

Some of my recommended reads:

Gypsy Blood (All The Pretty Monsters)
Spark: A Reverse Harem Series
Dark Fae (Ruthless Boys of the Zodiac)

Check out my review of my favorite RH Romances:

Trickery Jaymin Eve & Jane Washington (Curse of the Gods series)

Erotic Romance

A mix of Erotica and Romance, this romance genre has explicit sexual content. Here, the romance between the main characters develops via their sexual interactions. Erotica as a standalone might focus more on sex, but by blending it with romance, it also focuses on a well-thought-out plot, character development, and a Happily ever after. They are fast-paced and usually deal with kinks like BDSM etc.

Some of my recommended reads:

Release Me (The Stark Series #1)
Fixed on You by Laurelin Paige

Check out my review of my favorite Erotic Romances:

Bared to You by Sylvia Day

Wall Street Titan by Anna Zaires

Paranormal Romance

Paranormal Romance features otherworldly creatures like vampires, werewolves, faeries, etc. that reside in our world i.e. Earth. This genre consists of Paranormal elements that cannot be defined by science. The books have a plot with good character development. The paranormal takes the central stage with the romance bit developing gradually.

Sci-Fi Romance

Science Fiction Romance may be considered a separate sub-genre. It is similar to Paranormal Romance but this time, the science elements take the central role. The story can take place in a futuristic world, or on some distant planet in the universe.

Some of my recommended reads:

Halfway to the Grave
Close Liaisons (The Krinar Chronicles Book 1)
Burn by Suzanne Wright

Check out my review of my favorite Paranormal Romances:

Rejected by Jaymin Eve

Fantasy Romance

Fantasy Romance takes place in a different world and consists of magical elements. The fictional world has its own history, politics, culture, and attires. The romance takes the central point whereas the fantastical elements form the story.

There are two categories in this genre:

High Fantasy takes place completely in the fictional world and is probably driven by fantasy more than romance.

Low Fantasy can take place either in the fictional world or in our world, and romance takes the primary role.

Urban Fantasy Romance

Urban Fantasy Romance is a blend of Paranormal and Fantasy Romance. As the name suggests, it takes place in the modern world and has fantastical elements. Human beings might be aware of supernatural creatures and they might have also been affected by magic. The story can also take place in a dystopian/post-apocalyptic world where the government rule has been thrown out.

Some of my recommended reads:

A Court of Thorns and Roses
Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, Book 1)

Check out my review of my favorite Fantasy Romances:

Rhapsodic Laura Thalassa

From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L Armentrout

Romantic Suspense

A plot that is driven by suspense and mystery. The romance between the characters revolves around the suspense or mystery that they are trying to solve. The theme could be solving a crime, a mysterious past of a character, a serial killer stalking the character and so on.

Some of my recommended reads:

Denial (Careless Whispers Book 1)
Trust Me by Jayne Ann Krentz

According to these statistics, romance is the highest-earning genre of fiction.

If you have never read a romance before, I hope this guide helped you figure out a genre you would like to try!

Here are some frequently asked questions about the Romance Books Genre:

What is the difference between Romance Genres and Romance Tropes?

Romance Genre defines the overall theme of the book. The genre defines the book at a broader level and gives the reader an idea of how the story might go. Romance Tropes on the other hand are the plot devices that move the story forward. For example, The Spanish Love Deception is a Contemporary Romance and Enemies to Lovers is one of the tropes that define the initial relationship of the main characters.

Why Romance is the best genre?

I can answer this for myself, but other than the pleasant feeling it leaves you with, it helps you become much more understanding, and empathize with people around you. It encourages you to open up emotionally and can help you navigate relationships.

Are Romance Novels bad for you?

I believe reading romance novels is good for you. They give you a respite from the real world and make you feel good in general. They reduce stress and anxiety. Romance books also encourage you to explore yourself.

Which Romance Genre is most popular?

Contemporary Romance is the most popular sub-category in the Romance Genre.

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