Romance Subgenres: An Overview

by | November 30, 2015 |

My quest as a writer is to mine the riches of as many romance subgenres of this wide-ranging art form as I possibly can.

The major division is between historical and contemporary:

Historical Romance Subgenres

Location and century organize this, one of the largest romance subgenres. The following time-periods qualify as romance subgenres of their own, because they are ones some writers specialize in and some readers read exclusively:

Medievals. 11th – 14th-century Europe, usually England, Scotland, or France.

Regencies. The Prince Regent reigned from 1811-1820 when crazy George III died, and Prinny (as he was known) became George IV.

Westerns. The 19th-century American West.

CatherineOfYorkMy Medievals are My Lord Roland (affiliate) (13th-century castle life), Catherine of York (affiliate) (13th-century town life), and Simon’s Lady (affiliate) (12th-century court life).

My Regencies are Lord Laxton’s Will (affiliate), The Temporary Bride (affiliate), and French Lessons (affiliate).


My Western is Heart’s Wilderness. It is the fourth book in my Americana series, which features westward movement: Dawn’s Early Light (affiliate)(Maryland), Unexpected Company (affiliate)(Maryland), Carolina Sonnet (affiliate)(North Carolina), and then Heart’s Wilderness (affiliate), which takes place on the Oregon Trail.

Other historical time-periods I’ve explored include:

Seventeenth-century: And Heaven Too (affiliate)(England), Swept Away (affiliate)(Caribbean)

tangleddreams1989Eighteenth-century: Suspicious Hearts (affiliate)(England), Tangled Dreams  (affiliate)(England), The Handfast (affiliate)(Scotland)

Mid-twentieth century: Drawn to Love (affiliate)(England)

. This time-period is becoming a recognizable subgenre. (Queen Victoria reigned from 1837-1876.) These stories often feature a theme of science or technology, making them the romance version of science fiction steampunk. Or they may delve into a social or political issue of the day, say, urban poverty or the suffragette movement.

I’m currently reading Love Engineered by Jenna Dawlish. As the title suggests, engineering is the theme. The hero is a bridge designer and builder, while the heroine has a great interest in engineering. I’m at the point where I’ve learned her estate has drainage problems, so I’m guessing the hero will be recruited to build a bridge or two.

Contemporary Romance Subgenres

These romance subgenres are made in terms of the social world of the story. Many of them overlap. I admit my list is a mish-mash, and the only organization is alphabetical.

  1. BDSM. The most well known series in Bondage & Discipline / Dominance & Submission / Sadism & Masochism (BDSM) are those by Cherise Sinclair and Sierra Cartwright.

KNOCKED OUT COVERMy contribution is Tied Up (affiliate).

  1. Chick Lit (Romcom). These are breezy beach reads with easy-to-relate-to heroines, sassy sidekicks, and pop culture references.

My contribution is DeMarco’s Café (affiliate). I’m currently finishing Love Ever After.

  1. Cowboys. They never go out of style.
  1. Erotica. This category is the opposite of clean, which is reviewer code for no sex. Erotica overlaps with a lot of the other categories. (Do Spanking novels fit here? Do they make their own category? Are they even erotic? Depends, I suppose, on the spanker and spankee.)
  1. Military/Paramilitary. Marines, SEALS, and other security forces.
  1. Mixed Martial Arts. Bad boys, angry and physical and in great shape.

My contribution, Knocked Out, features a bad girl.

  1. Motorcycle Club. Joanna Wilde’s Reapers MC novels are fun.

capturedMy contribution is Captured (affiliate).

  1. New Adult. NA novelists grew up reading YA (Young Adult fiction). The stories tend to be angst-y and have lines of dialogue like “Do you get me?” “Yeah, I get” They dominate the top of the romance lists at Amazon.
  2. Paranormal

i.  Mostly werewolves and werebears. 

Here’s an inventory of authors I’ve read into lately: Jennifer Ashley, Dana Marie Bell, Zoe Chant, T.A. Grey, T.S. Joyce, A.T. Mitchell, Lynn Red, Katie Reus, Viola Rivard, Georgette St. Clair, Milly Taiden, Tawny Taylor, Bonnie Vanak, Nikki Winter.

And I’m still looking.

blue-hourii.  Time Travel/Time Slip

Time Slip can also be thought of as reincarnation. My contributions are The Blue Hour (affiliate), The Crimson Hour (affiliate), and The Emerald Hour (affiliate).

iii. Vampires

iv.  Zombies

  1. Rock Stars. Kristen Ashley has an entertaining Rock Chick series.

I’m clearly reading up on Shapeshifters. It looks like I’m headed there next, or is there a Victorian or Cowboy story inside me just dying to get out?

So many subgenres, so little time!

Note: Tied Up (affiliate), Captured (affiliate), and Knocked Out  (affiliate) are the three novels in my Forest Breeze Series. Instead of making a separate series for each subgenre, I put them in conversation.

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This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen

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