Smart Girls Read Romance -- so do the bestselling and award-winning Authors who write this blog.
Join them as they dish about Books, Romance, Love, and Life.

Saturday, January 24, 2015


Romance readers and writers of a certain age (ahem) are experiencing a slight shock at the variety of romance books being published.

In the 1970's there wasn't much to choose from. The only fiction appealing to women were gothic mysteries or Mills & Boon romances. Gothics heroines were usually governesses and M&B girls were nurses or governesses.  They were all silly and the heroes fabulously wealthy, widowed and aloof.

Then, Kathleen Woodiwiss published The Flame And The Flower in 1972. No one had read a historical quit like this one. The hero still dominated the heroine, but she was no shrinking violet. Mostly. The problem with these stories often involved the heroine being kidnapped and her virginity taken by a drunken or addled hero.

The covers generally had Fabio standing over a swooning virgin. Her long hair blowing in the breeze (his too) and both barely covered.

More of these books followed until some young women stopped burning their bras long enough to point out that they didn't care for the rape scenes. Some writers were horrified. Their hero merely swept her off her feet. Nope, the younger women replied. It's rape.

Hmm, well, the times were changing and women started taking charge of their lives. No more secretaries or nurses hoping to snag a super rich brooding hero.  Enter, educated, career oriented women and Women's Fiction.

While light on romance, there was sex, but on the woman's terms and she delighted in her independence.

Harlequin and Mills & Boon still pump out the dark, billionaire love interest, but the heroines are usually promoted to office assistants or models. Generally, the hero is Greek or Italian.

Women's Fiction is still around, but no longer quite as popular. It seems publishing is all over the place. Erotica, romantic suspense, historical, multi-cultural, M/M and fantasy, you name it.

Love and romance are still the main themes, just encompassing a wider audience.

What does the future hold? Who knows? Romance has come a long way.


  1. Brenda, what a wonderful overview of romance writing! We've come a long way, Baby! I MUCH prefer the modern day romance writings! Current day authors deserve a big pat on the back!

  2. A lot of what used to be ridiculed in romance writing is gone today. Good overlook at the genre :)

  3. Very interesting summary. I've enjoyed the evolution. Although romantic stories have changed over the years, they seem to be here to stay.

  4. I still have my original copy of The Flame and The Flower, but I never liked the book that much. I kept it after having bought each of her other books as they were published. The Wolf and The Dove, Shana, Ashes in the Wind, and A Rose in Winter were triumphs. Those stories hold up even by today's standards.

  5. I really enjoyed this overlook at romance. Thanks. I have no idea what the future holds.

  6. I really enjoyed this overlook at romance. Thanks. I have no idea what the future holds.


Thank you for commenting on Smart Girls Read Romance. We love readers and love their comments. We apologize that due to a few unethical spammers we've had to institute comment moderation. Please be patient with us... we DO want your genuine comments!