Pink Heart Society editor, Ali Williams, typed in "Romance Novels Are" into Google, and is talking about the results...
Today, when I sat down to write this, I felt like I needed to talk about something that matters, and yet still make sure that I'm checking my privilege. I think it's important to talk about strong romance heroines, about intersectional romances that include POC (people of colour) and LGBTQ individuals as main characters, but I don't always feel like I'm qualified to talk about these issues, or at least not continually.
So I took to Google and typed in "Romance novels are". And these were the top three results:
And there it was, today's post.
I'm going to take each of these different #InsertExpletiveHere "opinions" and break them down. And potentially destroy them. Bloody cheek.
Romance novels are "bad for relationships"
I know what the people in support of this statement would say: "It gives you unrealistic expectations of love!"
Firstly, on finishing reading The Lord of the Rings (both as a child and as an adult) I did not expect elves, hobbits and wizards to descend upon the wilds of Surrey. Similarly, I did not finish reading my first Mills & Boon novel and decide that what I wanted was for a billionaire businessman to cajole me into marrying him.
Unrealistic expectations my backside.
Secondly, why would a genre that champions love that is equal and emotionally supportive, be bad for a relationship? The qualities that embody love in romance novels, are qualities that'd make for a good relationship.
Romance novels are "trash"
Writers of romance novels range from doctors to literature professors, from nurses to lawyers. And they're predominantly well written - they have to be in a genre that makes up almost 13% of the adult fiction publishing market.
That's a lot of books.
If you're badly written, or continually cliched, it's highly unlikely that you'll break through in a market that releases hundreds of new books every month.
Plus, they often deal with dark and complex issues. I've read category romance novels that have dealt with bereavement, addiction, eating disorders and social anxiety. Not trash. In fact, I'd even go so far as to argue that the integration of these issues into popular literature is a vital part of opening up discussion.
Romance novels are "stupid"
How would you finish the statement: Romance novels are...? Join my outrage at Google's autocomplete in the comments!
Ali Williams grew up in Croydon and spent her teenage years in a convent girls’ school. She then fled to university where she discovered champagne cocktails, a capella singing and erotica.
These days she blogs about perceptions of romance, chick lit and women in society and spends the rest of her time promoting #StrongRomanceHeroines on Twitter, and cracking on with her first novel, Breakfast in Tunford.