Hi again, friends! Yes, I have been gone for a month. Am I going to even try to give my excuses? Nope. Life happens. We’re just going to accept the fact that I’m back and move on!
Anywho, what exactly am I here to talk about today? Well, we all know by now how much I love a good romance. It makes up about 90-95% of my reading at any point in time. So, my question for you all today is the following. Does my love and reading of romance make me a romance expert?
I’m actually going to answer this question pretty quickly and certainly. Nope. I’m not a romance expert. Not in the slightest. But am I a traditionally published, rom-com expert? Possibly!
You see, I’ve come to realize that I have a very particular brand of book that I enjoy. Within each genre, I reach for a very specific subset of books, and it’s no different for romance. Do I occasionally branch out a bit? Sure. But my area of expertise in the romance genre is actually pretty niche.
Honestly, I think I spent a long time thinking I was a romance expert because of how many traditionally published, contemporary romances, with the illustrated covers that you see pop up everywhere on social media that I read. Obviously, if I’m reading a good chunk of the “popular” books, I must be an expert! Right?
But that’s not quite true. Just because everyone I was following at the time was reading similar kinds of romance to me, doesn’t make me an expert. Firstly, I mainly read traditionally published romances. Berkley, St Martin’s Press, Avon, Forever, those are some of my go-to publishing imprints. Traditionally published romances get a ton of marketing, which means that I’m not picking up niche titles. A lot of the books I’m reading are by well known, established authors.
Now, you might be wondering how reading traditionally published romances makes me less of an expert on the genre. And the fact is, it doesn’t. However, the fact that I don’t read much indie romance does complicate matters. Indie romances make up a large subset of available romances out there. There are many authors that either started out or fully remain indie authors that have massive followings, and I’m simply unfamiliar with most of them. For many diverse authors, indie publishing was the only way they could publish romances about people like them for so very long. With that gap in my reading, how can I be an expert?
But let’s take it a step further. After all, I have read a handful of indie authors. I’m now more familiar with some popular indie romance titles. That doesn’t change the fact that I tend to reach for the same storyline. Not only that, I straight up won’t read certain kinds of stories. Dark romance? Not interested. Second chance love story? It’s rare that I’ll pick up one of my least favorite plot devices. Fantasy romance? Not really my thing. Truly, all I really read are happy, cute, fluffy stories. That’s only a subset of what romance has to offer though! If you came to me asking for a recommendation for a romance book, that better be what you’re looking for! I’m an expert on happy, fluffy romances only!
Me when I come across a romance that isn’t happy and fluffy
There’s one last factor that makes me feel as though I cannot claim myself to be a romance expert. And that’s the fact that I don’t know the history of the genre. I cannot tell you the staple romances from 10 years ago. I cannot explain to you why certain imprints came and went and what they each specialized in. This was made abundantly clear to me when I read Black Love Matters, and realized how little I knew about the history of Black romance in publishing. Different romances were mentioned left and right that I was completely unfamiliar with. I know the romances that were popular from when I started paying attention to romance. But before that? I know nothing.
Now, I want to be clear. These are factors that I find disqualify me from being a romance expert. However, no one person ever can encompass all knowledge. I think of myself as a specialist in the field of Romance. Within the subfield of Contemporary, I have a PhD in Fluff and Happiness. And that makes me extremely qualified to recommend the kind of romances I love. If you need a happy story, I can supply you with a recommendation.
The job of recommending fluff, that is
In fact, I shall issue a challenge! In the comments, I’d love to recommend you a romance to your tastes! (As long as your taste leans towards the fluffy side, that is.) And if you don’t want to leave a comment for whatever reason, I’m going to share my affiliate list from Bookshop.org that I call “Best Romances of 2022 By Far & Those On My 2023 TBR“. (Yes, thank you, I am quite proud of that wordy title!) Feel free to browse and see if anything catches your eye!
But truly, what I’m most interested in hearing from all of you, is what you think makes you an “expert” in a particular genre. What are the qualifications one must have? I’d love to know whether you find yourself to be a genre expert or a niche subgenre specialist, like myself!
6 thoughts on “Am I a Romance Expert?”
I wouldn’t say I’m an expert, but I’m decently well versed in vampire media. I also read a fair amount of urban fantasy—including paranormal romance 🥰
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Ooooh! Vampire media! I’ve dabbled in vampire books, but I’m definitely not well versed. But there are two graphic novels featuring vampires that I adore. Have you read Fangs by Sarah Anderson or Fake Blood by Sarah Anderson?
And like I said, for all the romance I read, I have not picked up much paranormal romance!
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I have read Fangs but not Fake Blood yet! I really liked Fangs, it’s so sweet ♥️
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I don’t think I’m an expert on any particular genre, but if I was going to work towards becoming one it would probably be in Urban Fantasy. I love plenty of series in the genre, and if I could get through every series on my Want to Read list I’m almost certain that would qualify me as an expert, but it would probably also take me a decade 😂
As for romance, I am here for all the recommendations please! I didn’t read much romance before 2022, but I’m definitely getting more into it now and finding it very addictive. I’ll take anything cute and fluffy, but my particular prompt is: books with no third act breakup. I really hate how almost every romance book has to have some silly conflict before the end! It makes me sad every time but seems to feature in nearly every book. So if you have any good recs that avoid that then you’ll be a romance expert to me 😄
I definitely wouldn’t consider myself a romance expert – I tend to only reach for it when I’m very stressed and need something fun and relaxing to take my mind off things! So, in the absence of my own expertise, I’d love to take advantage of yours and get a recommendation 🤗 Feel free to give me all the fluff you want! (Although if you really want me to fall in love, a bit of depth in addition to cozy vibes or smut probably wouldn’t hurt… 😉)
As for me, I don’t think I’m an expert at anything judging by the size of my TBR 😂 I feel like there is an infinite number of books I still need to read to get to expert level! But genre-wise, my fantasy knowledge is probably the most solid.