In Defense of the Romance Genre

28 Apr

By June Hur

At university, when surrounded by fellow English majors who, for example, have a book by Virginia Woolf in hand, and perhaps have a stack of books by Faulkner in their backpack, and have a small book of poetry by Keats tucked inside their purse, I could not help but blush when asked what my book was about. I told them it was a “historical” which sounds much more literary than admitting that I wrote a historical ROMANCE. After this incident I began asking myself why I was so embarrassed of being a romance writer. It was then that I recalled the documentary I watched a while back and shared on my personal blog. I wanted to share this BBC documentary (focused on the romance novel and its industry) with you all, knowing that among you there are those who write in the romance genre, which, unfortunately, is one of the most despised genres in literature. Ever wondered why? Spare an hour or so of your time to learn some VERY interesting facts about the romance industry. And it will most definitely give romance writers a confidence boost—IF you need it at all, that is.

Happily Ever After
Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6


June Hur is the author of The Runaway Courtesan. She is currently awaiting the response of an agent who requested her full manuscript. When she is not working on her next book, she can usually be found at a book shop, searching for a Great Love Story to read and analyze. You can follow her on Twitter or through her blog.

17 Responses to “In Defense of the Romance Genre”

  1. Savannah J. Foley April 28, 2010 at 10:10 AM #

    I too was embarassed to admit that Antebellum has a strong theme of romance in it. In recent days I’ve been able to say it, but I also throw the words ‘adventure’ and ‘revolution’ in there. I think that romance writers get a bad name because of the stereotype of ‘bodice-rippers’ or purely hedonistic dime novles our mothers pick up in line at the grocery store.

    Personally, my tastes run more towards moral dillemas, action, and ruination, but not romance. I’d rather have a book that makes me feel vast and dramatic, not one that makes me long for a relationship.

    • junebugger April 29, 2010 at 11:54 PM #

      I too prefer love stories that focus more on the moral dillemas, action and ruination. But I guess, for me, it comes down to what I’m in the mood for. Sometimes I want a book of pure romance.

      But the one thing I don’t like about romance novels is that, like you saidi it makes me long for a relationship. And when I’m in a relationship it’s now how I imagined it to be as in the romance novels. So, if a woman can discern between reality and fiction, it does rather screw up their perception of what a relationship should be like.

  2. Becca April 28, 2010 at 1:35 PM #

    I look forward to watching this. The timing of your entry, June couldn’t be more–timely! I too struggle with feeling embarrassed that I both enjoy reading and writing romance. What is difficult is that romance, like Savannah says, makes us long for relationships and satisfaction in another human being instead of ourselves and who we are. Something that daily gives me pause and conviction.

    • junebugger April 29, 2010 at 11:55 PM #

      Tell me what you think of the doc when you watch it. It’s amazingggg

  3. Julie Eshbaugh April 28, 2010 at 7:51 PM #

    I look at it this way – fiction should be a reflection of what it means to be alive, and romance is a BIG PART of life.

    • junebugger April 29, 2010 at 11:55 PM #

      BINGO! It IS a big part of life.

  4. priscillashay April 28, 2010 at 9:30 PM #

    🙂 ..I found this link a while back and you might like it:

    the link kinda tells you what it’s about.

    • junebugger April 29, 2010 at 11:55 PM #


  5. Angela April 29, 2010 at 8:10 AM #

    I used to be ashamed that I read and enjoy “bodice-rippers”. Now, I’m proud of it, and I have no problems admitting it to a shocked friend or teacher.

    It`s hard to explain my love for the genre. Most of the novels I`ve read were pretty bad, and I even joked about how some of the male characters showed signs of being an abusive boyfriend. I guess I like it because it allows me to escape from normal, stressful life.

    Nevertheless, I still defend the genre whenever someone says that romance is garbage.

    I also think that romance isn` t the only genre looked down on. I`ve met many people who thought that fantasy was crap, which isn`t!

    • priscillashay April 29, 2010 at 10:12 PM #

      haha, so I’m taking an online course right now and the prof had asked us what kind of books we read. I mentioned Historical Romances/Regencies…apparently she reads them too! And we ended up having a 30 comment discussion that sort of left the rest of the class out (by accident)

      • junebugger April 30, 2010 at 12:01 AM #

        @Priscilla: That is AWESOME!!! And the prof wasn’t even ashamed to say so… I salute her. It must have been an entertaining discussion. I’m surprised no one else popped into the discussion? I bet you there are closet romance readers there

        • priscillashay May 1, 2010 at 12:34 AM #

          probably, but she was basically trying to show that a lot of people assume all profs/teachers read are academic journals, textbooks, critiques, etc. Actually, a lot of the people in the class mentioned they preferred inspirational novels *hint hint* or classics (dickens, austen, bronte)

    • junebugger April 30, 2010 at 12:00 AM #

      Oh man. I’ve read so prettyyyy bad romance novels. I, too, trace a lot of the ‘abusive bf’ characteristics in many of the heroes I read about. But it’s sort of pushed aside as I read on.

      The only reason why I know as a fact that romance novels are THE most looked down upon is by looking through my university courses. There’s a course on horror, fantasy, detective/mystery, children, graphic fiction. But no romance…. *sobs* It would have been awesome to study a romance novel. One could look into how such fiction might affect a woman’s life…etc.,

  6. Rowenna April 29, 2010 at 9:43 AM #

    There’s merit and value in any kind of book–sure, most romance novels aren’t Faulkner, but then again, Faulkner can never be a romance novel. There’s something to be said for escapism and enjoying a good story. Not everyone needs to like everything–I’ll never be into thrillers, and some folks will never be into romances, and some people will only read “literary” and some people won’t touch it. Why do people think bookstores are so big? It isn’t just the coffee shop that’s serving a variety for consumers with different tastes!

    • junebugger April 30, 2010 at 12:03 AM #

      Right on, Rowenna. And I wish people would acknowledge that fact that tastes vary, according to people and according to what mood one is in. Instead the genre is looked down upon. I know this one author who was invited to a radio talk show only to be snubbed for being a romance writer

  7. cristinaguarino April 29, 2010 at 10:25 AM #

    Awesome article, June. I’m at work, so I can’t watch the videos yet, but I know EXACTLY what you mean! Aside from the fact that my current MS is a mess and not even I know what it’s technically “about” yet, I’m pretty embarrassed about it because it’s fantasy (not to mention the protagonist is a sexaholic. Yup) so… whenever I’m asked about my novel, I tend to sputter, sigh in exasperation, and offer some lame response that goes something like this: “I, uh, I don’t want to talk about it yet. It’s not ready. Yeah…”

    So I think this will help me… and I totally feel your pain!

    • junebugger April 30, 2010 at 12:04 AM #

      My face totally burns up whenever I’m asked the question of what I write, haha! I

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