A Lady Geek’s Guide to Romance Novels

By April Flowers

Hello. My name is April and I like romance novels. Scratch that. I LOVE romance novels. Heck, you could even call me an addict.

Romance novels have been around since the 18th century and in the past women read these novels in secret and hid them from the world. With romance novels being a billion dollar industry though (RWA), the world has had to acknowledge the genre and most of the stigma associated has dissipated. The genre is no longer limited to ‘bodice rippers’ but now incorporates other genres I love like: action, sci-fi, fantasy, urban fantasy and paranormal fiction to name a few.

What makes romance novels so special you might ask? Some readers love the steamy sex scenes in romance novels. However, what makes romance novels interesting to me are the relationships between the characters. There is a story of conflict, emotional struggle, and of course romance in all types of romance novels. It’s that story that keeps me reading so many romance novels. The addition of sex varies by author and novel series. Some novels have little or no sex. While others have sex scenes so graphic I ‘lady blush’ just remembering them.  While I enjoy those parts too, it’s still the relationships and drama between characters I find most fascinating.

If you’re already a fan of the genre they you’ve probably figured out the type of romance novels you enjoy the most and can skip to my recommendation list to see if there’s anything new you’d like to read.

However, if you’ve never read a romance novel or are just dipping your toes into this type of fiction you may feel a certain uncomfortableness or bewilderment at all your choices. I encourage you to take a look at some of the things I learned for myself when I first started reading romance novels.

1.  Know yourself. Understand what you’re comfortable with and what you enjoy. There is a wide range of types of romance novels with a variety of levels of sex scenes. There are novels that emphasize relationships with little or no sex. There are also novels where graphic sex is in every chapter and some very kinky themes. In my recommendation list I try to let you know upfront exactly how much sex is in the novel so you know before you read what you’re in for. The main thing is that you know what you’re comfortable with.

2.  Go slow at first. If you’re not sure how much sex or romance you’re comfortable with take it slow. Start off with stories with little to no sex and see how you like them just for the romance. Then as you get comfortable with that level read novels with slightly more adult scenes. You’ll soon find out what level of sex and romance works for you.

My first forays into romance novels did not have graphic sex scenes. I enjoy reading novels with a strong female lead. So when I picked up Moon Called by Patricia Briggs I liked when it got romantic but not sexual. The story wasn’t just romance either. There was an urban fantasy story with a mystery, shapeshifting, and magic. The main character, Mercy Thompson, kicks ass and saves the day. Later in the series though things definitely get steamy but the first few novels ease you into it all.

3.  E-Books and Audiobooks are your friends. When I first started reading romance novels I was way too embarrassed to go in a book store to look for more books. Thank the romance gods for e-books and audiobooks. I can explore and download any type of e-book I want without fear of judgment by the cashier. I especially like Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program that lets me download tons of books for a flat monthly fee. Plus they let me try it for free for a month.

Audiobooks are also a great way to enjoy romance novels if you just don’t like reading. I travel a lot for work and can’t tell you how much more enjoyable it is when I can just put in headphones and binge on a good, steamy romance novel.

4.  Mix up your genres. My first forays into romance novels came from other types of fiction. I enjoy reading urban fantasy novels with a strong female lead. I was drawn to novels series like Mercy Thompson that combine urban fantasy and romance. There are romance novels that are also action stories, sci-fi, billionaire dramas, and detective novels. If you like some other type of genre I can almost guarantee there is a romance novel version of it.

If you’re looking for a specific fandom romance mix also check out fan fiction sites. Fans write some really good stories. Just do a search for romance and whatever you’re a fan of. I like the Sherlock romance stories.

5.  Get advice from the internet or a good friend. Once you’ve figured out the type of romance novel that works for you talk to friends that also like those types to get recommendations. No friends that like romance novels? The internet has plenty of reviews of romance novels for you to peruse. I have a list of my recommendations below. I’d also recommend the YouTube romance book club vaginal fantasy. They are a group of funny lady geeks that read and talk about romance novels, just like me.

Some entry level romance novels you might want to start with include:

The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires (Half Moon Hollow series Book 1)

My Bluegrass Baby (Bluegrass Series Book 1)

Love in a Nutshell (Culhane Family Book 1)

Back to the Bedroom

One for the Money (Stephanie Plum, No. 1) (Stephanie Plum Novels)

 

For some spicier recommendations check out my full recommendation list.

 

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