Romance books and their subgenres
The romance genre is one that focuses on the relationship and emotional connection between two or more people, and often includes elements of love, passion, and attraction. Romance books can have any setting, with popular books in the genre being set (or even written) far in the past (such as "Price and Prejudice" by Jane Austin), they could be more contemporary (such as "The Notebook" by Nicholas Sparks), and can even contain fantastical elements such as the super-popular "Twilight" series by Stephanie Meyer.
We discuss in our article on book genres the importance of choosing the genre you're writing in, and this goes double for the sub-genre! Here we've listed an extensive list of romance sub-genres, many of which come from Amazon's list of featured romance categories. Each one has its own audience with their own expectations, so be sure to look through them and find the best home for your romance novel.
- Historical romance
- Contemporary romance
- Paranormal romance
- Romantic suspense
- Regency romance
- New Adult & College romance
- Romantic comedy
- Gothic romance
- Biker romance
- Billionaire romance
- Science Fiction
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Historical romance novels are set in a past time period, often with a strong emphasis on historical accuracy and detail. These novels may be set in a variety of time periods, from ancient civilizations to the medieval era to the 19th century. And while the characters and/or events could be entirely fictional, some romance novels feature or follow real historical figures and events.
Some examples of historical romance novels include:
- "Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon
- "The Bronze Horseman" by Paullina Simons
- "The Rose and the Sword" by Marsha Canham
Historical Romance Subgenres
Within the historical romance genre, there are several further subgenres you can specialise in. As with all subgenres, it pays to pay attention to the latest trends when deciding what to write, especially if you're trying to self-publish. These subgenres might mostly define a time or location of when/where your romance book is set, but it might also focus the types of things you're writing about (such as royal court intrigue, war, class, etc.).
Contemporary romance novels are set in the present day and often feature characters and situations that are relatable to modern readers. These novels may be set in a variety of locations and may focus on a wide range of relationship dynamics.
Some examples of contemporary romance novels include:
- "The Hating Game" by Sally Thorne
- "Red, White & Royal Blue" by Casey McQuiston
- "Love, Unscripted" by Owen Nicholls
Paranormal romance novels focus on the relationship between human characters and supernatural beings, such as vampires, werewolves, and angels. These novels may include elements of fantasy and science fiction, and often involve themes of magic and otherworldly powers. At their heart, though, they still stay focussed on the relationships.
Some examples of paranormal romance novels include:
- "Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer
- "The Vampire Diaries" by L.J. Smith
- "Shadowfever" by Karen Marie Moning
Paranormal Romance Subgenres
Here is a list of subgenres within the paranormal romance genre. There's a clear pattern of focussing on different types of paranormal creatures, and you might want to check the latest trends to figure out which subgenre to write in. And while you might be tempted to add several different paranormal creatures into your story, keep in mind that fans of each type (say, fans of werewolf stories and fans of vampire romance) expect different things. It would be like a sci-fi story about robots also including an alien invasion.
- Werewolves and Shifters
- Ghosts and Spirits
Romantic suspense novels combine elements of romance and suspense to create a thrilling and emotional reading experience. These novels often feature a strong mystery or crime element, and may include elements of action and adventure. There's always the focus on interpersonal relationships, though (and, quite possibly, their break-down).
Some examples of romantic suspense novels include:
- "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn
- "Into the Water" by Paula Hawkins
- "Thorn in My Side" by Karin Slaughter
Erotic romance novels focus on the sexual relationships between characters and may include explicit sexual content. These novels often explore themes of sexuality and may include elements of BDSM and other forms of alternative sexual practices. These are also very popular in the self-publishing arena.
Some examples of erotic romance novels include:
- "Fifty Shades of Grey" by E.L. James
- "The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty" by Anne Rice
- "Bared to You" by Sylvia Day
Within erotica, there are several further subgenres (especially as defined by Amazon). As you can see, they are a bit self-referential, but your choices should help balance out the different aspects you're trying to include in your books.
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Regency romance novels are set during the Regency era of British history, which lasted from 1811 to 1820. These novels often feature aristocratic characters and elaborate societal rules and customs. The stories often center around the courtship and marriage of the main characters, and may include elements of drama and intrigue.
Some examples of Regency romance novels include:
- "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen
- "The Duke and I" by Julia Quinn
- "The Viscount Who Loved Me" by Julia Quinn
New Adult & College romance
New Adult romance novels are similar to contemporary romance novels, but they often feature younger adult characters who are navigating the challenges of adulthood for the first time. These novels may explore themes of independence, identity, and the transition from adolescence to adulthood.
Examples of New Adult & College romance novels include:
- "Easy" by Tammara Webber
- "The Sea of Tranquility" by Katja Millay
Romantic comedy novels focus on the humorous aspects of romance and relationships. These novels often feature lighthearted and comedic situations and may include elements of satire and parody.
Examples of romantic comedy novels include:
- "Bridget Jones's Diary" by Helen Fielding
- "The Rosie Project" by Graeme Simsion
Gothic romance novels are dark and atmospheric, often featuring brooding and mysterious characters and a sense of impending danger. These novels may include elements of horror and the supernatural, and may explore themes of madness and obsession.
Examples of gothic romance novels include:
- "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte
- "Rebecca" by Daphne du Maurier
Biker romance novels focus on the romantic relationships between characters who are members of biker gangs or who are otherwise involved in the biker subculture. These novels often feature rugged and rebellious characters and may include elements of adventure and danger.
Examples of biker romance novels include:
- "Breathless" by Laura Kaye
- "Rough Ride" by Kristen Ashley
Billionaire romance novels focus on the relationships between wealthy, powerful characters and the people they fall in love with. These novels often explore themes of wealth, power dynamics, and the challenges of maintaining a relationship in the face of extreme wealth.
Examples of billionaire romance novels include:
- "The Marriage Bargain" by Jennifer Probst
- "Beautiful Bastard" by Christina Lauren
Science Fiction Romance
Science fiction romance novels are a subgenre of romance that combines elements of science fiction and romance. These novels typically take place in a futuristic or imaginary world and often involve technology and other scientific elements. They often explore the relationship between human and non-human characters, and may include elements of adventure and exploration.
Some examples of science fiction romance novels include:
- "Frost Burn" by Megan Derr
- "Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time" by Hope Nicholson
- "The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet" by Becky Chambers
Fantasy romance novels are a subgenre of romance that combines elements of fantasy and romance. These novels often take place in imaginary worlds and may include elements of magic and the supernatural. They may focus on relationships between human and non-human characters, and may include epic quests and other elements of adventure.
Some examples of fantasy romance novels include:
- "The Goblin Emperor" by Katherine Addison
- "Crown of Midnight" by Sarah J. Maas
- "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" by Seth Gra Grahame-Smith
Holiday romance novels are a subgenre of romance that take place during a specific holiday or holiday season. These novels may focus on the romantic relationships between characters as they celebrate and enjoy the holiday, and may include elements of family, friendship, and traditions. They often have a festive and lighthearted tone and may include elements of mystery or adventure.
Some examples of holiday romance novels include:
- "The Christmas Wedding" by James Patterson
- "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens
- "The Christmas Secret" by Donna VanLiere
LGBTQ+ romance novels are a subgenre of romance that focuses on the romantic relationships between LGBTQ+ characters. These novels often explore the challenges and obstacles faced by LGBTQ+ individuals in a society that may not always be accepting of their relationships. They may include elements of coming out, self-discovery, and acceptance, and may focus on a wide range of relationship dynamics. It's also common to find LGBTQ+ romance novels with elements from other genres, such as fantasy or historical settings.
Some examples of LGBTQ+ romance novels include:
- "The Miseducation of Cameron Post" by Emily M. Danforth
- "The Gravity Between Us" by Kristen Zimmer
- "Love, Creekwood" by Becky Albertalli