A ‘romance’ is defined by the presence of two basic elements: a love-story that is central to the story, and an emotionally-satisfying and optimistic ending.

Most novels, whatever the genre, have some sort of romantic encounter/relationship in them somewhere, as do most films. Pair-bonding is such an integral part of human life and without it, the human race would become extinct. Perhaps that’s why over half the mass market paperbacks sold every year are romances of one sort or another.

The following explanations may help in understanding the genre.

1. “A romantic fantasy between a man and a woman with a happy ending”
(Senior Editor, Mills & Boon)

2. A process novel, like ‘whodunits’ – the ending is fairly certain, how one gets there provides the interest.

3. A story about characters who come-of-age emotionally.

4. A genre where women play the heroic role, do things and succeed.

5. A type of book no different to any other genre – in that there are excellent, good and bad novels produced.


United Kingdom: 

  • 10 million books sold each year in the UK, of which over seven million are romance novels
  • A Mills & Boon book is sold in the UK every 3 seconds

United States: 

Source: Business of Consumer Book Publishing 2009:

  • Romance fiction generated $1.37 billion in sales in 2008
  • 7,311 new romance titles were released in 2008
  • In 2008, romance was the top performing category on the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly best-seller lists
  • Romance fiction sales are estimated at $1.36 billion for 2009
  • 74.8 million people read at least one romance novel in 2008 (source: RWA Reader Survey)
  • Romance fiction was the largest share of the consumer market in 2008 at 13.5 percent (source: Business of Consumer Book Publishing 2009 )
  • A readership survey conduct by RWA (Romance Writers of America) indicates that 50% of readers are married, 8% widowed, 4% divorced and 1% separated. Also, 75% are under the age of 54. And 22% of romance readers are men. 23% of readers reported having a high school diploma, while 42% have a bachelor’s degree or higher.