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Glossary: Romance Novel Terms & Acronyms

The Romance Community has a slang and terminologies of its own. If you’re new to the Romance community, or have been a part of it for some time, you must have seen terms like HEA or M/F/M thrown round quite a lot to describe books. 

If you’re wondering what those mean – you’ve landed on the right post, my friend. 

I have researched and put together all the Romance Novel terms and acronyms that you’ll often see in book reviews. 

Here we go!

Alpha Hero: A hero who takes charge, a natural leader, knows what he wants and pursues it relentlessly.

Alphahole: A combination of Alpha Hero + Asshole. He has all the characteristics of an Alpha and flexes his Toxic Masculinity.

Alpharoll: A combination of Alpha Hero + Cinnamon roll. He is an alpha in all ways but also a softie – gentle and kind that most alphas are not.

ARC: Advance Reader Copies. Early copies (paperback or e-book) given by the authors to bloggers or readers for honest reviews. 

Autobuy/One-Click: An author you’ll buy without reading the reviews or blurbs as you’ve liked their work before and trust them to deliver their best.

Backlist: List of all the books that have been previously published by the author.

BBW: Big Beautiful Woman. The book features a curvy heroine.

BDSM: An erotic practice/roleplay involving Bondage and Discipline (B&D), Dominance and Submission (D&S) and Sadism & Masochism (S&M)

Behind Closed Door/Fade to Black: When the sexual instances between the main characters in a Romance book happens off the page, or the scene fades to black – hinting at the scene but not showcasing it.

Beta Hero: A tier below the Alpha. Unlike an alpha hero, a Beta Hero is approachable, fun guy who is not dominant and quite easy-going.

Beta Reader: A reader who reads the book in its early stages (before it’s ready to be read by ARC readers). They’ll figure out any inconsistencies in the plot or characters, the grammar, etc.

BIPoC: Black, Indigenous, People of Color.

Black Moment: The moment at the end of the book when everything goes wrong. 

Blurb: The short description of the book. 

Bodice Ripper: Books set in the 70s/80s and featuring the classic Fabio cover. Consent can be an issue in these books.

Book Birthday: The release day of the book.

Book Boyfriend: A fictional hero that you would love to date. He is your favorite male character.

Book Girlfriend: A fictional heroine you would like to date.

Book Hangover: After finishing a book, you’re unable to get over the story and cannot start a new book.

Book Slump: When you’re just not in the mood to read.

Bookstagram: The book community on Instagram. A combination of Book + Instagram.

Follow me @forevershereads if you’re on Bookstagram!

Category / Series Romance: A shorter romance book with around 50K word count typically published in a series of books by a publisher. 

Cinnamon Roll Hero: A hero who is sweet, gentle, and kind. He is the opposite of Alpha.

Clean: A romance book that doesn’t contain sex, or foul language. The term is controversial as books that do contain sex seems ‘unclean’ which sounds judgmental.

Cliffhanger: A book that ends with no conclusion, or at a really intense moment that leaves you questioning about the next book. Usually, cliffhangers happen in a series.

CNC: Consensual Non-Consent. A trope where the partners consent to roleplaying a non-consensual scene. 

CW: Content Warning. Used by authors to alert the readers about the content that can be potentially offensive or disturbing, including violence, sexually explicit or strong language. 

DDLG or DD/LG: Daddy Dom / Little Girl. A sexual relationship where the dominant is the daddy figure and a woman plays the role of a young girl.

DNF: Did Not Finish. You decide not to finish the book after a certain point.

DP: Double Penetration. When, while having sex, a character is penetrated twice at the same time by one or more person.

Dub Con: Dubious Consent. Where it’s vague whether the character gave their consent to having sex. 

F/F: Female Female. Where both the main characters are female. 

FMC: Female Main Character. 

FWB: Friends with Benefits. 

H/h: H is the Hero and h is the heroine.

HEA: Happily Ever After.

Heat Level/Spice Level: The level of steam/sex scenes in the book.

HFN: Happy For Now. Usually, the book will end on a mild cliffhanger: The characters are happy for now, but their story is not yet finished. 

Indie Author: Independent/Self-Published Author

JP or J/P: Jealous / Possessive (Typically a hero)

KU: Kindle Unlimited. 

Wondering how does kindle unlimited work? Click on the link for my complete guide!

LI: Love Interest.

Mass Market (Paperback): Smaller in size as compared to Trade paperbacks. They are cheaper and of low quality. 

MC: Main Character.

MC Romance: Motorcycle Club Romance.

MFM or M/F/M: Male Female Male Pairing or Menage a Trois. The female is in the center of the relationship. 

MM or M/M: Male Male. Both the main characters are male. 

MMC: Male Main Character. The hero (or the villain lol)

MMF or M/M/F: Male Male Female. A male is in the center of the relationship.

NA: New Adult, featuring characters between the ages of 17 to 24. 

Nanowrimo: National Novel Writing Month. It happens in the month of November and runs for a month.

Novella: A shorter book, between 10K to 40K Words.

Non-Con: Non Consensual. The character has not given their consent for sex/

NSFW: Not safe for work.

OTP: One True Pairing. Main Characters that are meant to be together.

Pantser: An author who writes by the seat of their pants. No planning or plotting the story.

Plotter: An author who writes a book with a firm plot in mind. They have the story all planned out. 

POD: Print on Demand. When someone purchases a book, it is then printed. No physical stock of books.

POV: Point of View. Books are usually written in the First Person or Third Person POV.

PWF: Paranormal Women’s Fiction. A sub-genre of Women’s Fiction. Focuses more on the protagonist and will not have romance in the forefront. 

RH: Reverse Harem Romance. Also known as ‘Why Choose’ Romance. A heroine has more than two love interests. 

Romance Tropes: They are the plot devices that move the story forward

Romancelandia: The Romance reader community. 

RTC: Review to Come. When you’ve finished reading a book but don’t have a review ready/or haven’t written one. 

RWA: Romance Writer’s of America. A nonprofit trade association whose mission is to advance the professional and common business interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy and by increasing public awareness of the romance genre.

Self-Published: An author who independently publishes their book (Also – Indie Author). They control the marketing, promotion, book cover, price, etc.

Single Title Romance: It is a standalone book, not a part of any series. 

Stepback: Refers to a decorative illustration or image printed on the backside of the dust jacket or cover of a hardcover book or after the main book cover. It is a visually appealing element often found in historical romance novels.

TBC: To be continued. 

TBR: To be read. It’s a sort of shelf that you place books that you want to read, but don’t own yet.

Trade Paperback: A popular format of book, larger in size as compared to Mass Market Paperbacks. Less expensive than a Hardcover. 

Traditional Publishing: A book published from a publishing house. They acquire the rights to publish the author’s book, are responsible for the promotion and marketing of the book. Authors usually earn royalties from the sales. 

TSTL: Too Stupid to Live. Basically, a character that makes all the wrong decisions.

TW: Trigger Warning. Used to alert readers about content that may trigger a strong emotional response or cause someone to relive a traumatic experience. They are more specific than Content Warnings and will include the information on trauma mentioned in the book.

Wallbanger: When a book frustrates you so much, you want to throw it against the wall. 

WIP: Work in Progress. Used by authors when they talk about the books they’re writing.

WLW: Woman Loving Women Romance. Similar to F/F.

YA: Young Adult. Typically teens between 12 to 18.

Start using these Romance Book Acronyms in your reviews!

Hope you found this list useful.

Have I missed any Romance book terms from this list? Let me know!

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