Every now and then, well-meaning friends congratulate me on having broken out of category romance. I love the image this evokes--the sirens, the lights raking the sky, my desperate plunge toward the wall, Birgit and Malle holding onto my ankles--but the truth is, I didn't break out of category, I was evicted. I love category romance. I think it's an outstanding although very difficult form of fiction. "Oh, come on," I can hear some of you saying. "Those little books?"I assumed that maybe these friends were people who didn't really know much about romance, or that they were thinking of the advantages of 'breaking out' such as having one's work available on the shelves of bookshops for longer. But now I'm beginning to wonder. I know there are some websites which review more category romances than others, such as The Romance Reader and CataRomance (which, as its name suggests, only reviews category romances), but is it the case that category romances are less likely to get reviewed than single-titles? Is it just because of the speed at which they're removed from the shelves? Or is it because people feel that they're of inferior quality to single-titles?
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Do category romances (i.e mostly the ones published by Harlequin/Mills & Boon) get less respect than single titles? In the UK Mills & Boon are pretty much the only well-known publisher printing romances, so I assumed that when Mills & Boon novels came in for criticism, that was because they were the romances with the highest profile, and it just reflected the way that the genre as a whole is denigrated. But as I've spent more time on US-based romance boards and blogs, I've got the impression that even within the romance genre some romances are perhaps 'more equal than others'. I read Jennifer Crusie's article on category romance, in which she comments that