10 Romance Sub-Genre Categories

Romance writers don’t always know what sub-genre their work fits into. A search on the Internet can help, but I found it lacking in clarity, so I’ve tried to put it down as succinctly as I could here.

1.      CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
According to Romance Writers of America, this includes anything set in the time period after 1945. I’m not sure if that is really contemporary—I’m no spring chicken and I wasn’t even born in 1945… Anyhow, contemporary romance takes place in modern times, with realistic, every day people.
Contemporary Series Romance—a series of romance novels set after 1945.
Contemporary Single Title Romance—they are also post 1945, basically any romantic 
 love story with a modern setting.
Chick-Lit—romantic adventures that may be humorous, geared toward single working young women. (Sex and the City comes to mind.)
2.      HISTORICAL OR PERIOD ROMANCE
Historical Romance—can be set in any historical period prior to 1945
Regency Romance—the majority of the story is set in the British Regency period.
Arthurian romance—the story is worked around King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table
Steampunk Romance—characters are set in Victorian England with 20thcentury technology—also known as Victorian Futurism.
American Western Romance—those cowboys were pretty hot stuff!
3.      CHASTE ROMANCE
Religious Romance—a chaste courtship with no sex before marriage and religion plays an important role in the lives of the lovers.
Sweet Romance—the heroine is a virgin and the story does not include sex
Young Adult Romance—geared toward young adult readers with minimal sexual content.
4.      ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
Romantic suspense, which is what I write, can include any of the following, as long as the romance is central to the story:
Adventure, Crime Story, Murder Mystery, Espionage Adventure, Forensic Thriller, Legal Thriller, Medical Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Technological Thriller, Detective Story, Eco-Thriller or Natural Disaster.
My novel Way Out of Line falls into this category and “The Bodyguard” comes to mind to give you an idea of what makes romantic suspense.
5.      ROMANTIC SCIENCE FICTION
Paranormal romance—can include time travel, the supernatural, fantasy, dragons and fairies  
Cyberpunk, Post-Apocalyptic or Dystopian romance—set in the near future where computers have taken over society
New Age Romance—deals with astrology, spiritual healing, psychic abilities and mysticism
Vampire Romance—usually a human falls in love with a vampire
Romantic Urban Fantasy—characters live in a modern day city setting but have supernatural powers
6.      HORROR ROMANCE
Dark Fantasy Romance—includes monsters, aliens, werewolves and zombies
Gothic Horror Romance—is set in the middle-ages with castles and dungeons, imprisonment, persecution and decay
Dark Mystery/Noir Romance—includes a detective element set in an urban underworld of crime and moral degradation
Erotic Vampire Horror—very dark romance with graphic sex, violence and terrifying scenes.
7.      ROMANTIC HUMOR
Romantic comedy—The characters find themselves in awkward situations and do crazy things that make you laugh.  My novel Redneck P.I. is classed as romantic suspense, but it could also fit into this category.
“Romancing the Stone” is classified as an adventure romantic comedy.
8.      GLITZ AND GLAMOR ROMANCE
The romantic couple live in the world of extreme wealth, drive expensive cars and socialize with celebrities
9.      MULTICULTURAL ROMANCE
This is usually about non-Caucasian characters, mainly African-American or Hispanic

 EROTICA
Also known as romantica, this type of romance leaves little room for the imagination and describes sexual scenes in detail.
So many variations are possible—this definitely does not cover them all—but I hope it will help readers have a better idea of what to look for when shopping for their next story. I also think romance writers who are unsure of their sub-genre may benefit from this list.
I hope so. Peace and love.

6 thoughts on “10 Romance Sub-Genre Categories

  1. I write historical western romance. I did notice you don't have vintage romance on your list. I believe that encompasses WWI through through the Vietnam era, and seems to be gaining popularity.

  2. Thanks for posting this. I'm currently working on a romantic suspense/mystery novel that I wrote during NANOWRIMO last November. Wrote 50,000 words in a month but it will probably take a year to finish it at the rate I'm going! Rita Kuehn

  3. Trying to classify my writing is one of the most frustrating things for me. I have labeled my writing as historical fantasy, but I don't write in the normal historical time periods like regencies or victorian romances. Mine are set in ancient and Dark Age time periods.

  4. I usually like reading romance novels instead of writing them. But after reading a few of your posts, I am tempted to try a create something.
    Found your blog from LinkedIn and glad that I did.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s