Link: The Washington Post Reports: How the Romance Genre Found Its Happily Ever After

The Flame and the Flower, Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, Avon, 1972, Robert McGinnis cover art

How Has the Romance Genre Changed Over the Years?

We love discussing the history of romance novels. For that reason, an article we discovered regarding the genre was very intriguing to us.

Journalist Angela Haupt from The Washington Post spoke with a dozen major players in the romance industry. She then wrote this engaging article about the evolution of the romance novel. TWP published it on April 15, 2021. The link follows below:

How the Romance Genre Found Its Happily Ever After

Haupt’s article on romance novels highlights the significant points of the genre’s history. It covers the roots in bodice rippers, like Kathleen E. Woodiwiss’ Flame and the Flower, to the softer, sweeter writings of LaVyrle Spencer. She discusses Harlequin Ltd’s dominance in publishing, the mania over Fabio, and the state of the romance industry today,

There are two constants in this ever-changing field. One is the requirement for a happy, satisfactory ending for the protagonists. The other is the universal nature of the people who read and write romance.

I think Beverly Jenkins did an excellent job summing it all up.

There’s so many different women writing romance. You’ve got marine scientists, you’ve got biologists, you’ve got physicists, you’ve got waitresses. You’ve got stay-at-home moms. So, you know, everybody writes romance, and everybody reads romance, and all of that together generates billions of dollars a year. We’re the people that keep the lights on in publishing.


My Thoughts About The Washington Post’s Article

After reading the article, I found points I both agreed and disagreed with. I made the following comment at Historical-Romances.Com: Romance Novels are Big Business:

That’s a fascinating article that brings up a lot of interesting points. However, I have to disagree with the assessment the early clinch covers were directed solely at the male gaze. Certainly there were covers that had women practically bursting out of their dresses, but how can they forget the Robert McGinnis naked man phase that began in 1980 with Johanna Lindsey’s Fires of Winter? Each Lindsey cover was more graphic than the next. The original A Gentle Feuding cover had the hero’s backside completely nude (that version was never published in America). Tender is the Storm was so controversial that bookstores were supplied with stickers to cover the hero’s behind and groin area.

Let’s face it, romance covers have always been a bit salacious, from the very beginning to the naked men’s torso phase of today. Covers have always been controversial. That’s why some readers prefer step-covers or the privacy of their e-readers. Personally, I love the variety of it all: from painted to digital, step-backs or clinch, with a couple or with the hero or the heroine alone. The only ones I’m not fond of in the historical genre are the newer illustrated types, which, in my estimation, are better suited for contemporaries or light hearted rom-coms.


Your Opinion

Have you read The Washington Post’s story? If so, what do you think of what they wrote? What are your feelings on the history of romance novels?

Please drop a comment, and let’s talk romance.

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