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What Are the Different Types of Romantic Fiction?

Lainie Petersen
Updated May 23, 2024
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Romantic fiction novels are available in a variety of sub-genres, including historical romance, science fiction, and science fiction. Other divisions in this genre include romance books geared toward teenagers, fiction written for certain ethnic markets, and books that contain religious themes. These sub-genres often have their own sub sub-genres, such as American Western or Regency period novels as a subset of historical romance. Some publishing houses specialize in one type of romantic fiction, while other publishers choose to offer several different sub-genres to their customer base.

In some cases, romantic fiction may incorporate other fiction genres, such as mystery, fantasy, or science fiction. For example, one genre of fiction that has been popular in the 21st century so far has been the fusion of vampire fiction with romantic stories. In other cases, the romantic story may be paired with stories of ghosts or other supernatural beings in fantasy novels. Romantic novels may also contain erotic writing, though many sharply limit description of intimate contact between characters.

Some romantic fiction is distinguished by being set in a particular historical period. While contemporary romantic fiction is set at the time in which it is published, many authors choose to focus on writing stories that take place during a particular point in history. In many cases, these authors also keep their stories set in a particular geographical region. One particularly popular sub-genre is that of Regency romances, which are typically set in Great Britain during the Regency period. In these books, the authors typically take great pains to describe the customs and etiquette of that period, and in some cases the characters may bear titles of nobility or even royalty. The historical accuracy of these novels is sometimes questionable, though some historical romance writers make a point of depicting the social concerns of the period.

Romantic fiction may also be geared toward particular age groups and religious affiliations. For example, teen romance novels are very popular in many places, and many of romantic fiction sub-genres have their own teen version sub sub-genres. Similarly, romantic fiction may also be written in a way that reflects a particular set of religious values, with so-called inspirational romance books carrying a an explicitly religious theme even as the books belong to typical romance sub-genres such as historical romance or mystery/suspense. Another popular twist on the religious sub sub-genre involves the situation of a story within a secure religious community, such as the Amish.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Lainie Petersen
By Lainie Petersen , Former Writer
Lainie Petersen, a talented writer, copywriter, and content creator, brings her diverse skill set to her role as an editor. With a unique educational background, she crafts engaging content and hosts podcasts and radio shows, showcasing her versatility as a media and communication professional. Her ability to understand and connect with audiences makes her a valuable asset to any media organization.

Discussion Comments

By whiteplane — On Jan 25, 2012

Does anyone know how many Harlequin romance novels have been published in history? It has to be a huge number.

By chivebasil — On Jan 25, 2012

Maybe you guys can help me out with this. What is the difference between romance novels and erotic fiction? I have read both and there seems to be a lot of similarities.

I know that romance novels usually have more of a relationship focus and the sex scenes are cloaked in metaphors, innuendos and clever synonyms. But there is still a lot of sex,

Conversely, I have read some erotic fiction that is surprisingly romantic and not completely focused on physicality. Some of this writing also dances around the details of sex as elusively as romance fiction does.

So is there an actual line between the two or do they have as much overlap as I seem to be seeing?

By ZsaZsa56 — On Jan 24, 2012

@jonrss - I have also tried to write romance fiction stories before. And like you I have never had any success in getting them published. I once had a publishing company that was interested in one but the deal fell through.

People see how many romance novels there are and they think that anyone can write one and that there is a limitless demand. But the simple truth is that lots of people write romance in their spare time and a select few ever see their work in print. Also, many are so formulaic that their authors are able to pump them out at incredible speeds, sometimes a book in a month or less.

So I would tell you to keep writing and keep submitting your writing but don't have unrealistic expectations. Publishing a novel is a goal that a lot of people shoot for but few people actually achieve.

By jonrss — On Jan 23, 2012

I have been reading romance fiction of one sort of or another for almost 40 years now. I've even tried my hand at writing it but nothing has ever been published.

I love lots of the different sub genres but for me the best series are the ones set in the Renaissance.

A lot of these take place in Italy or France and they feature powerful nobles or passionate artists.

It's not so much that these kinds of romance fiction books are better written, I am just attracted to the setting and the kinds of characters that come out of it.

Lainie Petersen

Lainie Petersen

Former Writer

Lainie Petersen, a talented writer, copywriter, and content creator, brings her diverse skill set to her role as an...
Learn more
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