A Question of Romance

I’ve been thinking — often a scary idea for those who know and love me — about romance in fiction lately. What is romance? What is romantic? Where’s the line between erotic and romantic?
Several things sent me down this rabbit hole.
A. One of my critique group members noted that she reads romance novels, but doesn’t like love scenes that mention the, ahem, ‘dangly bits’. (Guys, you know what I’m talking about.)
B. A recent blog post by a very well-published romance author in which she said most readers skip love scenes.
C. The ongoing genre question I have for my own books. (ie. What genre do I write? Lately, I’m leaning toward Romantic Paranormal and Romantic Dystopian)
So, questions: What do you think is the difference between Romantic Paranormal and Paranormal Romance? And do you skip or read love scenes? Are you pro or anti dangly bits?
My opinions are, for the record: Romantic Paranormal has more story, Paranormal Romance has more ogling and groping. I’m pro-love. (No surprise there.) As for dangly bits, I expect them in erotica, but find they take me out of the story in ParaRomance/RomanticPara.

  • Not being a huge reader of either Romantic Paranormal or Paranormal Romance, I may not be the best person to answer the question, but to me Paranormal Romance would have the emphasis on the romance part (i.e. the ogling & groping) and I would expect the story to primarily focus on that aspect with paranormal elements. Romantic Paranormal would be the reverse where the emphasis would be on the paranormal aspects of the story with romance elements. And most fiction (outside of young children’s books) have romantic elements, but that doesn’t make them romance. And for the record, I think you write (RD) Romantic Paranormal & not Romantic Dystopian (I really feel that dystopian is used almost as a buzz word at the moment and a lot which are classified as dystopian are not.) *watches as you firmly note Romantic Dystopian against RD* 🙂

    Do I skip or read love scenes? It depends on a couple of things. One is how they are written (yours I read) and the second thing is whether they are too similar in nature and to prevalent throughout the book. A well-written love scene should keep me in the moment, continue to pull me in, living vicariously through the character. Repetitive, unimaginative, and overdone love scenes I skip (as in “not again”). I think I’m more of a fan of the “leave something (not everything) to the imagination” club because I’ve got a great imagination and hate it when my scene is going one way & the author intrudes.

    Dangly bits have their place & usually in erotica. If well-written & essential, then I don’t mind outside erotica, but those instances are rare.

    • Monica Enderle Pierce

      Thanks for the reply, LK. The whole genre question keeps me up at night though, in the case of dystopian, I was thinking of Girl Under Glass, not my Matilde books. I think a lot of readers feel the same way you do, but when I pick up ParaRom books, I see a lot of scenes that fall under the ‘I’m gonna skim or skip’ category. Interesting to mull.