Many people see the line “and they lived happily ever after” as the definitive characteristic of romancenovels. While this is true for some stories, it is considered to be just one element in romantic stories. Still the debate continues, and many experts on romance fiction still define romance novels to have two specific elements.
Romance books combine a vast pool of character types, time eras, and plots, but one element makes all of these stories fall under one umbrella. Romance novels focus on the romantic relationship of two characters within the story. The central love story in the romance novel is highly important because this is where the subplots will branch from. Therefore, romance novels should feature two characters who share a relationship that is based on love.
The romance novel industry has matured and developed in the last decade by not limiting characters who are involved in a romantic relationship to be just male and female. Now, there are published romance books about same gender, and different cultures in romantic relationships. This just proves that the framework and structure with which a story is built upon does not always define a genre; it is up to the author to put his creativity to use to release a moving story.
The next element that makes up a romance novel is an emotionally satisfying ending for the reader. This may sound very ambiguous for some, as it this could mean both positive and negative endings for a story. For many years, many experts in literature have wondered if the romance books, even erotic books, fall under the category romance novel, if they only have the “happily ever after” ending. However, some romance stories enthusiasts would say that romance novels can have a positive or a negative ending, as the “happily ever after” is just a conventional ending that many are used to. Just like in other genres, the endings can vary, but the ending must bring emotional satisfaction to the reader when the story is complete.
Of course, experts in fiction, specifically romantic fiction, argue that the happy ending is a critical component in romance novels. Publishers often are attracted to stories that have happy endings as these are the ones that are proven to be most sellable to the public. Here we can see that the formulaic ending of the “and they lived happily ever after” still proves to be a powerful aspect of romance stories, but one must note that there are now romance books being produced that do not always feature this “happily ever after” aspect.