If I have to tell what my secret indulgence is, I would say it is romance novels. If you take a look at my Goodreads bookshelf then you will know it is full of romance books.
I believe this has something to do with fairy tales that we used to read during childhood. Who doesn’t know those happily ever after stories of Cinderella, Snow White, or Sleeping Beauty? Those enchanting love stories of princesses and a princes who fell in love, evil step mothers and witches, and happy endings for everybody. Even some traditional folklores such as Lutung Kasarung, Ande-Ande Lumut, and Joko Kendil also have this romance element in their plots, in which the main characters finally meet their soulmate.
Apparently, our fashion for romance don’t end by the time we grew up, and this fact is well exploited by book publishers. Do you know that in 1990s, romance genre comprised 46% of paperback being sold in United States and by 2000s it became the most popular genre in modern literature. It doesn’t matter if we are teenager, young adult or (fully) adult, the publishers seem to provide us suitable romances for our age groups.
Usually, in an ordinary romance story, there are at least two main characters, the hero and heroine. The plot revolves around those two: what their backgrounds are, how they meet, how they fall in love to each other, how their relationship develops and what problems and difficulties are encountered before they at last find happiness together. Those are the basic formula but the writers can go creative with the backgrounds, settings, and how the story goes.
I started reading romance during high school when Mira W.’s novels and Gone With The Wind (even though I can hardly say that those have happy endings) were available in school’s library, then during college one of my friends introduced me to Harlequin novels. After that I couldn’t seem to be able to stop. I subscribed to several book rental places to read new novels every week (I still couldn’t afford to buy a new ones then). I have read hundreds (or maybe thousand?) novels with many types of characters with various backgrounds, timelines, professions and personalities, and found many fabulous writers but more terrible ones. Rich male and poor female are quite popular pair, exotic places such as Italy or Greece, and even middle east land are explored widely. Some writers might add mystery or supernatural twist in their books. In romance novel we can find numerous dashing filthy-rich ruthless guys from Italian royal family fell in love with their maids, or maybe a time traveler who went back to medieval time and met her soulmate there.
Even though certain people (and I, too, sometimes) consider romance novels as stupid and tasteless (I think it has something to do with the horrible titles and book covers–somebody even made a blog about it, LOL), for me they are serious business and I am being picky (and often b*tchy) about it. I personally prefer when the plot are somewhat believable and the main characters are ordinary people. Relationship between a middle class or self-employed freelance writer with dark past and a hardworking rancher for example are far more enjoyable for me than a playboy sheikh and his last captive who happen to be American (ha!). Consistent personalities and how the characters dealt with the problems are important. I don’t really like a way too independent woman who persistently acted as if she didn’t need a man, and I love it when the characters did stupid things and be silly sometimes. Writers’ ability to make the readers fall in love and relate with the characters is necessary, and when they fail to do so then the whole story is practically a trash.
Anyways, I don’t know how and why I started writing this post in the first place, but I guess this won’t be the last time I write something about romance books here.