Are Romance Novels Bad For You?

Hello, everyone!

Summer is here! I’m busy writing my third novel and a second installment of my short story to add to The Art of Getting Away.

I hope everyone is having a fantastic time during these months of vacations, swimming pools, BBQ’s and great summer reads!

I love summer romances. All the books I've written, though technically not of the romance genre, contain strong romance and relationship elements. Boy, do I love reading a good bodice ripper.

Love these hilarious fake book covers? For more, see The Wonderful World of Longmire 

Reading? Who has time for reading? you ask. I hope you do, because summer and romance go together like... Well, like Romeo and Juliet. Can’t have one without the other.

But... But... you ask, aren’t they a bad influence? Those naughty tales of billionaires or motorcycle bad boys whose heroes are unrealistically handsome, rich, and emotionally supportive? Don’t they taint our expectations of realistic relationships?

In other words, can smart women read romance novels?

The answer is a resounding, Absolutely!

First of all, romance novels are different than they were decades ago. The role of women has changed in our society, and romance novels have transformed right along with them. Yes, you can still find stories where the hero rescues the damsel. But more likely, the female protagonist is the one rescuing herself, and sometimes the hero, too. Or, they rescue each other. The couple today helps each other grow personally and professionally, battle demons of their pasts, and encourage and celebrate the achievement of the other’s goals.

So, why do we still ask: are romance novels bad for you?

Could it be the sex? BINGO.

A conservative element in our society still holds the view that women should not initiate, enjoy or receive satisfaction from sex, have access to the means to prevent conception, or control what goes on with our own bodies. And (ahem!) romance novels expose women’s sexuality. Even praise it. The stories portray how love and sex help two consenting partners achieve physical and emotional fulfillment. The power lies not with one person, but in the partnership. (See Why Smart Women Read Romance Novels by Anne Browning Walker)

As for smart women enjoying the romance genre, a study by Katrina Fong, Justin B. Mullin, and Raymond A. Mar revealed a positive relationship between reading fiction and interpersonal sensitivity. The study states, “In particular, Romance was the only fiction genre that predicted greater interpersonal sensitivity... Perhaps Romance is a genre of fiction where the plot, goals, and characters in the narrative might primarily be driven by the navigation and resolution of interpersonal interactions and relationships.”

So, how do you like them apples?

Go ahead, grab that romance book and be secure in the fact you are improving your interpersonal sensitivity skills through fictional social experiences.  

But all that psychology stuff isn’t the reason you’ll find me reading them. I just think they’re entertaining.