The romance genre is one of many literary genres.
To be considered in the romance genre, a novel should adhere to the following criteria:
- the story must contain a relationship and romantic love between two people
- the story must have an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending
Some romance readers would claim that the genre has additional restrictions, from plot considerations such as the protagonists meeting early on in the story, to avoiding possible themes, such as neither hero nor heroine committing adultery while their relationship is developing. However, these are not hard-and-fast rules, and some writers deliberately write stories that may put off some readers in order to push the genre's boundaries.
Disagreements have surfaced regarding the firm requirement for a happy ending, or the place of same-sex relationships within the genre. Some readers admit stories without a happy ending, if the focus of the story is on the romantic love between the two main characters (e.g. Romeo and Juliet). Although classic romance novels always have a heterosexual pairing, with the growing acceptance of same-sex relationships in mainstream culture, same-sex romance has become another subgenre.
Romance is a sprawling genre which has spawned multiple sub-genres. Sub-genres of romance frequently draw on other genres. Romantic suspense draws on detective fiction, mysteries, crime fiction and thrillers, and paranormal romances use elements popular in science fiction and fantasy. See sub-genres for a more complete list of sub-genres.