If you want to know the definition of a romance novel, its origins, and its main characteristics, this article is for you.
In addition, you will find some of the most famous romance authors, including some of their most important works.
Romance is one of the best-selling types of fiction literature in the world.
Its popularity is due to its simplicity: a love story between two characters, who face different challenges and situations to make the relationship work.
People choose to read romance novels because they want to evoke and experience all the emotions associated with love without facing the risk and vulnerability involved.
The authors of these novels seek to produce an emotional response in the reader. To achieve this, they appeal to the conventions and characteristic elements of the genre.
What is a romance novel?
The romantic novel, also known as the romance novel, is a genre of fiction whose focus is based on a romantic relationship between two people.
Generally, this type of long story involves an optimistic or “happy” ending, and love is usually the main concept throughout.
It is important to note that the romance novel is not the same as romanticism, a literary movement that originated in Germany and the United Kingdom at the end of the 18th century.
While romanticism may have influenced the romantic novel, the latter does not possess the characteristic elements that give life to the literature of the romantic era.
There are numerous romance novels, from historical romances to erotic stories. The suspense novel does not fall into this category, even though it may involve a romantic plot.
Often, romance novels are classified into subgenres, such as paranormal romance, historical romance, and contemporary romance.
It is important to keep in mind that although there is no specific rule for constructing romance stories, there are certain elements that arouse the reader’s interest. Some of them are:
- Heroes and heroines.
- A challenge that threatens the love story.
- The protagonists struggle to make the relationship work.
- The engagement or marriage at the end of the story.
Origins of the romance novel
Works of fiction written in prose and dealing with a love story between two people have their origins in Ancient Greece and Rome. However, most of the works produced in this era are incomplete.
Some of the most important are Chareas and Callirhoe, Daphnis and Cloe, and Leucippe and Clitophon, among others.
The romance became a popular tale during the medieval period, while its development takes place in English-speaking countries.
Other precursors of the romance novel include Samuel Richardson’s Pamela (1740). This was the first romance novel in which the love story is told from the heroine’s point of view.
Jane Austen is another influential author of the genre, especially after the publication of Pride and Prejudice in 1813. In the case of historical romance, Walter Scott was the main promoter of the subgenre during the 19th century.
During the 20th century, the genre continued to develop and became especially popular after the First World War.
Essential characteristics of the romance novel
These are the main characteristics and conventions of the genre of romance literature:
The figure of the heroine
The heroine is the key character in a romance novel. This character almost always exudes sympathy and is loved by all.
Because people who read romance books are generally women, the heroine figure allows writers to connect with the audience and make each reader identify with the story.
The strength of the hero
The heroine of a love story almost always has a strong hero. However, this is not an authority figure, but rather an irresistible character with great strength.
He also has a dose of vulnerability that ties him emotionally to the heroine and her physical and psychological attributes.
A lot of emotional stress
A love story always speaks of emotions. It is the heart of the plot and is usually accompanied by a sentimental conflict that challenges the union between the hero and heroine or prevents them from being together.
Tension in a romance novel must be interesting and believable, and it stems from the relationship between the two protagonists.
Characters as the central axis of the love story
Characters are the most important element of the love story. In a romance novel, the plot usually follows an optimistic and predictable route.
Characters become more prominent and each of them must possess unique attributes.
A romance writer should not worry about applying a good use of language in his or her lover’s story.
However, most authors of the genre are people with full command of language and different literary devices.
A happy ending
Although the conventions of the romance novel usually give freedom to the authors, the truth is that happy endings are a constant in this type of story.
The couple must make a permanent commitment, either informally or through marriage. Happiness is also part of that commitment and the end cannot disappoint.
Most famous romance authors
Corín Tellado (Viavélez, 1927 – Gijón, 2009) was a Spanish author of romantic novels. Her work includes the publication of at least 5000 novels and stories between 1946 and 2009.
She has sold close to 400 million books, which earned her a place in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1994.
In 1962, Tellado was declared by Unesco as the most acclaimed and read writer of Spanish nationality in the world after Cervantes. Today, her works continue to be published in digital and physical formats.
Some of the most important are Atrevida apuesta, Era del amor, Tristeza de amar y Desde el corazón: 4 grandes novelas.
Danielle Dominique (New York, 1947), better known as Danielle Steel, is one of America’s leading best-selling authors.
Her romantic stories have sold more than 530 million copies, and have been adapted more than 20 times for television.
From a very young age, she was interested in poetry, but her connection with narrative would lead her to publish her first novel at the age of 18.
As a result of her family experience, the author has also created multiple stories that address the everyday lives of children. Some of her most popular books are The Duchess, Fall from Grace, A Gift of Hope, and Silent Honor.
Jayne Ann Castle Krentz
Jayne Castle (California, 1948) is an American writer of romance novels, known for using different pseudonyms to write her works, each with a different writing style so that the reader can identify the story before reading it.
Jane Taylor, Amanda Quick, and Jayne Ann Krentz are some of the most popular among her fans.
Her novels have become best-sellers on at least 30 occasions, while the number of published works amounts to 150.
Some of the author’s most important novels are Seduction, Second Sight, Affair, and Crystal Gardens.
Eleanor Marie Robertson
Eleanor Marie Robertson (Sliver Spring, 1950) is an American author of bestselling romance novels, known for using different pseudonyms for each style of literature she produces.
For romantic and suspense literature, she writes under the name Nora Roberts, while J. D. Robb is the name for writing fantasy literature.
Robertson was also the first author to be inducted into the Romance Writers of America Walk of Fame. By 1996, the author had surpassed 100 published novels.
Critics credit the author with transforming the vision of the heroine in the romance novel from a more vulnerable female character to a stronger, more dignified one.
Among her most notable works are Naked in Death, Brazen Virtue, The Obsession, Northern Lights, Vision in White, Dark Witch, Legacy, Hideaway, Sacred Sins, Key of Light, Public Secrets, Glory in Death, and True Betrayals, among many more.
Barbara Andrews (1982) is an American author of the romance genre, known for her more than 20 novels written under her own name, and her current work with her daughter under the pen name Jennifer Drew.
She studied journalism and worked as a reporter before getting married and starting her family.
Some of the author’s most notable works include Love Trap, Shady Business, Passionate Deceiver, Shady Business, My Kind of Love, A Novel Affair, and This Bittersweet Love, among others.
Diana Gabaldon (Scottdale, 1952) is an American author, known for her bestselling Outlander saga, whose novels flirt with historical fiction, adventure, fantasy, mystery, and, of course, romance.
The Outlander saga is one of his most successful, as is the spin-off, known as Lord John.
Some of her most important novels are Dragonfly in Amber, The Fiery Cross, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, Voyager, Virgins, and the most recent, Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone, among others.
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