Why Romance is Popular

Two beautiful women in vintage dress

Contrary to what a lot of people seem to think, romance readers don’t read romance because they like trashy novels.  They aren’t sex-crazed bored housewives who desperately need something useful to do with their lives.  I don’t know who started this stereotype, but it doesn’t play out in real life.  Just like people who like horror novels aren’t secretly keeping dead bodies in their basement or performing sacrificial rituals in their backyard.  But I’m not talking about horror novels.  I’m talking about romances and why romances are popular.

The reason why they’re popular is because they guarantee a happy ending.  You can rest assured going in that you are investing your time into characters who won’t die on you or end up unhappy.  You don’t have to go to the end of the book to look at the last page wondering if everything will end up okay before you get started.  You know the hero and heroine labeled in the description will end up together.

Some of you may wonder what’s the point if you already know how things will end.  It’s simple.  The key isn’t how the book is going to end.  The key is the journey.  It’s how the hero and heroine will find their happy ending.  The safety net in reading a romance is knowing that no matter how bad things get for our main characters, you know everything will work out for them in the end.  It’s about hope.

I think romance readers are some of the happiest and most optimistic people I’ve come across.  They’re supportive and caring.  They tend to be happy in their marriages, and they tend to spread happiness wherever they go.  I think that’s why they enjoy romances.  Romances are about giving two people a happy ending, and when those characters get that happy ending, the readers (in turn) share in that happy ending.

This all goes to the post I wrote on creating an emotionally engaging character.  There is a connection between the character and the reader.  The reader wants to escape into the character’s world.  (The same is true for the writer.)  Romances allow the reader to escape into the journey of the heart.  But this doesn’t detract from the reader’s real life.  I’d say it enhances it.  Since most romance readers I know are happily married, they aren’t looking to put a hero into their husband’s shoes.  They just want to enjoy someone else’s journey of the heart.

I don’t know how else to explain it.  Since there seems to be so many people who have a hard time understanding what makes romances so popular, I’m hoping this post will help explain it.  I’ve been married for fourteen years, and while my husband and I have had our ups and downs, we’re happy together.  In fact, I’d say the longer we’ve been married, the better things get because we understand and accept each other (faults and all) a lot easier.  So when I read romances, it’s not because I’m a bored and lonely housewife.  It’s because I know how wonderful romance is and enjoy watching two characters discover this for themselves.

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to contemporaries romances and other genres (such as science fiction thrillers). For more information, please go to www.ruthannnordin.com or check out https://ruthannnordinauthorblog.wordpress.com.
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12 Responses to Why Romance is Popular

  1. Entertainment Weekly did an article on the romance industry a few weeks back, and I think they had a similar conclusion. It’s actually one of the biggest genres in literature, with over a billion dollars spent each year on romance titles. And not everyone who reads romance is a bored housewife or love-desperate woman (I think that stereotype was started by Fifty Shades of Grey readers). They just like good, happy ending.

    And you’re also right about the horror readers not having bodies in the basement or sacrifices in the backyard. I don’t have a basement or a backyard, so it’s hard for me to do either of those.

    • LOL 😀

      I think the appeal of horror is the fun of being scared but also knowing you’re safe from actual danger. I grew up on scary movies (not gory, just scary), so for me, part of the appeal stems into childhood when I watched TV with my mom. But sometimes, I’m in the mood for a good frightening tale, even if it does make it hard to sleep at night. I think another appeal to horror is the twist that usually pops up somewhere.

      By the way, I’m 200 pages into Battle Royale and am really enjoying it! I’ll be writing a post on it when I’m done.

      • Ooh, I can’t wait to read that post! I hope the names aren’t too confusing though. I had a bit of trouble memorizing who was who and I read manga 70% of the time! 😀

        I do think that is part of the appeal of horror, being scared while knowing you’re still safe. I certainly enjoy scaring people, so that’s part of why I write in that genre. Whether or not anyone’s scared though you’ll have to ask my readers.

        • The names threw me off, too. It’s only because I’m not used to them. At least there’s the main storyline one character that is helping me along. I got to say, some of it is heartbreaking, but then, it would have to be since the goal is for only one person to survive the program. So I was prepared going in.

          It’s fun to be scared. I love it. One of my friends calls it a “fun scary”. I’m looking forward to reading Snake.

      • Ruth, you need to fix your blog to allow more comment threads. LOL. I can’t reply to Rami’s comment.

        So, Rami, you write horror??? I must check this out!

        • Lauralynn,

          I went to the dashboard and tried to allow more comments beneath a thread, but I’m not sure I did it right. There was a thing to allow up to 10 comments somewhere in the thread, and think that was it. I guess we’ll see what happens. 🙂

          • I think that’s it. I’ve been meaning to ask you if you would change it because since I like to talk a lot (LOL) I’ve tried to reply, but the thread has run out. I don’t know why they don’t use the maximum comments as the default. 🙂

  2. This is so true! Sometimes romance readers and writers are ridiculed in the very ways you’re talking about. Bored housewives, unhappy marriages, etc. I’ve been married for 32 years, and I’m definitely happy! 🙂 And I like romance because of the happy endings.

    I had to kind of laugh about the part where you said horror readers didn’t have dead bodies in the basement. I LOVE horror, and I’m about as mild and normal as they come. But some people don’t understand why normal people like horror novels.

    • I love horror, too. I’ve been experimenting with writing some flash fiction that’s horror. I don’t know if I’ll ever do a novel or anything, but it’s fun to experiment and expand my horizons. It’s ridiculous what stereotypes are associated with people who read certain kinds of books.

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