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The category of fiction encompasses a wide variety of books. Many people tend to read in just one of these genres, without exploring the different possibilities available. This section will take a closer look at the various fiction categories. We will try to define each genre, explain a little bit about it, and cover some of the popular authors. We hope that you will try at least one book in each category.

Romance

With Valentine’s Day approaching, this seems like a good time to talk about romance novels. Unfortunately, this genre can be very polarizing, as readers tend to have very strong feelings about romance books one way or the other. But love them or hate them, romance novels are very popular with a great number of readers of all ages.

The central theme of any romance is the man/woman relationship; everything else that is going on around the two central characters is secondary to this relationship. And romance novels will vary on how much of a plot there is beyond this relationship. Romances appeal to many readers because they usually cover the most exciting aspect of a relationship—the courtship.

Romance novels cover a wide spectrum, but can generally be divided into four categories; contemporary or modern romances, historical romances, romantic suspense, and paranormal romances. Contemporary romances are set in modern times and deal with modern themes and issues, while historical romances, much like historical fiction, are set in earlier time periods (i.e. regency romances, etc.). Romantic suspense novels, which have evolved from gothic novels, contain elements of mystery and suspense along with the romance. Romantic suspense often contains explicit violence, and so may not appeal to fans of gentler romances. Lastly, paranormal romances, like Kay Hooper’s Bishop/Special Crimes Unit series, contain some element or elements of the paranormal; the degree varies.

Even within the categories discussed above, not all romance novels are the same as various authors have different styles and quirks. Some romances include more humor than others; for example Jennifer Crusie or Catherine Coulter. And of course, the level of explicit sex in the story can vary greatly, ranging from non-existent in the more gentle reads to steamy on the other end. If you have a strong preference on this subject one way or the other, the website All About Romance rates romance novels according to a Sensuality Rating System (http://www.likesbooks.com/kissburn.html) which is quite useful. For example, Janette Oke’s Love Comes Softly (Christian romance) gets a rating of kisses (which means it contains kisses only), while Dangerous Lover by Lisa Marie Rice gets a rating of burning, which is probably self-explanatory. Some authors tend to set all their books in the same geographic area; for example, Joan Johnston usually sets her stories, past and present, in Texas and other ranching areas of the American West, while Luanne Rice writes about the coastal areas along the east coast of the United States. Some authors write series that feature various characters from the same family or families, sometimes set over hundreds of years, like Jude Deveraux’s Montgomery and Taggert family series.

Nora Roberts is the author that is most representative of this genre. She is an extremely prolific author, and writes in many different sub-genres, including the Lieutenant Eve Dallas series, which is set in a futuristic New York City, under the name J.D. Robb. Her books revolve around strong women and the equally strong men who love and accept them. Jayne Ann Krentz, another prolific author, also writes in several different sub-genres; contemporary romances set in the Pacific Northwest as Jayne Ann Krentz, historical romances as Amanda Quick, and paranormal romances set in the future as Jayne Castle.

As with any genre, there is quite a bit of crossover into other genres. For example, there are an increasing number of futuristic romances, which include a lot of science fiction elements. These have enjoyed a surge of popularity recently, and those romance readers that also enjoy science fiction might want to try authors like Eve Kenin, Susan Grant, Liz Maverick, Jayne Castle, Robin Owens, or Linnea Sinclair. Readers who are looking for a crossover into fantasy might want to start with Lois McMaster Bujold’s Sharing Knife series. These kind of crossover books are a good way to explore new genres will still remaining somewhat within your comfort zone.

Christian romances also fall into this category. It’s a toss up as to whether they should be discussed as a sub-genre of Christian fiction or be included here. But you might want to try books in this category if you are looking for gentler romances, since they are likely to contain little or no explicit sex. Some Christian romance authors to consider include Tracey Bateman, Lori Copeland, Karen Kingsbury, Beverly Lewis, Janette Oke, Catherine Palmer, and Lori Wick.

Romance Authors

Contemporary

  • Elizabeth Adler
  • Catherine Anderson
  • Mary Kay Andrews
  • Barbara Bickmore
  • Sandra Brown
  • Kimberly Cates
  • Jennifer Crusie
  • Janet Dailey
  • Marissa de los Santos
  • Jude Deveraux
  • Jane Fallon
  • Katie Fforde
  • Rebecca Flowers
  • Lori Foster
  • Karen Joy Fowler
  • Rachel Gibson
  • Olivia Goldsmith
  • Jane Heller
  • Lisa Kleypas
  • Jayne Ann Krentz
  • Julia London
  • Debbie Macomber
  • Susan Mallery
  • Fern Michaels
  • Linda Lael Miller
  • Diana Palmer
  • Carly Phillips
  • Susan Elizabeth Phillips
  • Luanne Rice
  • Lani Diane Rich
  • Emilie Richards
  • Nora Roberts
  • Danielle Steel
  • Katherine Stone
  • Sarah Strohmeyer
  • Janelle Taylor
  • Joanna Trollope
  • Susan Wiggs

Historical Romance

  • Mary Balogh
  • Jo Beverley
  • Stella Cameron
  • Candace Camp
  • Liz Carlyle
  • Kimberly Cates
  • Catherine Coulter
  • Jude Deveraux
  • Christina Dodd
  • Jane Feather
  • Dorothy Garlock
  • Julie Garwood
  • Karen Hawkins
  • Eloisa James
  • Jill Marie Landis
  • Stephanie Laurens
  • Johanna Lindsey
  • Julia London
  • Linda Lael Miller
  • Mary Jo Putney
  • Amanda Quick
  • Julia Quinn
  • Nora Roberts
  • Janelle Taylor
  • Lauren Willig
  • Kathleen Woodiwiss

Paranormal

  • Shana Abe
  • Jayne Castle
  • Kay Hooper
  • Heather Graham
  • Karen Marie Moning
  • Lani Diane Rich
  • Nora Roberts

Romantic Suspense

  • Elizabeth Adler
  • Beverly Barton
  • Suzanne Brockmann
  • Sandra Brown
  • Stella Cameron
  • Catherine Coulter
  • Christina Dodd
  • Joy Fielding
  • Julie Garwood
  • Heather Graham
  • Tami Hoag
  • Kay Hooper
  • Linda Howard
  • Lisa Jackson
  • Iris Johansen
  • Jill Marie Landis
  • Elizabeth Lowell
  • Karen Robards
  • Nora Roberts
  • Christina Skye
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