But the truth is that romantic fiction is a billion-dollar industry in the United States and grabs the lion’s share of the consumer book market each year. Comprised of smart, educated, savvy authors – and readers – romance fiction is a blockbuster industry whose time has clearly come.
“Romance sells, and if it ain’t broke, why fix it?” said romance author and Brentwood resident Karin Tabke. “I grew up reading those stories and I loved it. You can’t go wrong with happily ever after.”
On March 6, writers and fans of romance will get a real-life opportunity to discuss happily ever after during a book-signing event at Caps Oak Street Bar & Grill in Brentwood. Hosted by the Black Diamond chapter of the Romance Writers of America, the signing begins at 3 p.m. and features Tabke as well as other East Bay authors, including Tawny Weber, Sophie Littlefield and Rachael Herron.
“This (book signing) is a nice opportunity for writers to get together and also to give some of the published authors a little extra exposure,” said Tabke, who writes for Simon and Schuster. “For me, any chance to get together with this group is a good thing. It’s a wonderful group.”
For the uninitiated, the world of romance fiction has a variety of sub-genres, including historical and romantic fiction, paranormal, erotic, young adult and mystery romance, to name a few. But while the categories vary, a true romantic novel is one in which the love relationship serves as the predominant storyline, and the hero and heroine ride off into the sunset together.
“Romance (novels) are always happily ever after,” said Tabke. “You know when you pick up the book you are not going to get mad or disappointed that the relationship doesn’t work out. In a romance book, they (the relationships) always work out.”
Antioch novelist Sarah Sundin writes under yet another sub-genre – Christian romance, but admits she has struggled with the stereotype of the romance novel.
“I have a hard time with the term “romance” because there is so much more going on than just the romance,” said Sundin, whose debut historical novel “A Distant Melody” hits the bookstores next month. “I consider myself on the border (of romance writing) because in my stories there is so much research and detail.
“But I am a Christian writer and what that means is the stories usually end with a kiss or a wedding. We don’t cross any boundaries; things are left a little more to the imagination and that’s what most women want to read. They don’t need an anatomy lesson.”
And just as the variety and scope of the romance novel has changed in recent years, so has its audience.
“These are bright, educated women who are reading – and writing – them,” said Tabke. “I hesitate to say the main audience is middle-aged women, although that is a large percentage, because a lot of young women – and men – are reading us. Our writers are gals with master’s and doctoral degrees. Our chapter president (of BDRWA), for example, is a federal prosecutor. This is a world in which the readers and writers are very much in control of what they love to read.”
The BDRWA book signing will be held on Saturday, March 6 at 3 p.m. at Caps, 144 Oak St. in Brentwood. For more information, visit the BDRWA Web site at www.bdrwa.com.