Galentine’s and Valentine’s Day are coming up and romance has become one of my favorite genres. I love that it doesn’t shy away from topics like consent, healthy/unhealthy relationships, and body and sex positivity. And I love seeing non-male characters getting equal “page time” and having their feelings, experiences, desires, and pleasures explored and valued.
From what I’ve seen in my own romance book querying journey is there appears to be a huge push from agents and publishers to get manuscripts about characters who are PoC, LGBTQ+, neurodiverse, or other #OwnVoices groups not typically represented in fiction. And they are not just looking for characters, but authors who identify as such, as well.
Despite these positive attributes, and the fact that romance is a prominent force in the fiction market, the genre is often dismissed.
Romance is a billion-dollar industry. In 2016 these novels made up 23% of the overall fiction market, and they consistently outperform all other genres. But while we’ve reclaimed the rom-com in film, these books are still often relegated to being “guilty pleasures,” or considered “mommy porn,” Kamrun Nesa, In These Books, Happily Ever After Is Just the Beginning
To show the romance genre some love, I’d like to recommend a few fun podcasts featuring co-hosts and authors who are countering the negativity and showing readers and potential readers an unapologetic passion that’s really inspiring.
1. Heaving Bosoms. This is the podcast that got me hooked me on romance in the first place. Co-hosts Melody and Erin CRACK ME UP. They are two best friends who live thousands of miles apart and stay connected by reading and reviewing a new romance each week. There’s a lot of giggling and snorting and fun and hilarious bantering that I absolutely adore. I have listened to every single episode. It’s a real treat.
New episodes release on Mondays.
2. Wicked Wallflowers Club. One of the co-hosts did a stint in L.A. as a Dominatrix. Both hosts were archaeologists. They don’t shy away from talking about either. Each episode features guests who range from the biggest bestselling authors to publicists, reviewers, readers, and other industry professionals. It’s awesome, and there’s A TON of episodes to satisfy your binging needs. I’m trying to put a dent in them…
Wicked Wallflowers Club, as said by Entertainment Weekly, “takes the guilt out of ‘guilty pleasure’ with author interviews and deep dives into new releases. It’s a compelling reminder of why the oft-dismissed genre is a real force in cultural conversations about consent and desire.”
New episodes release on Wednesdays.
3. Shelf Love. I’ve only just started listening to this one, but so far so good 🙂
“Shelf Love is a weekly podcast that uses romance novels as the text to explore identity, relationships, and the society that we live in. Each episode, the host and a guest discuss a different romance novel, and also share crowdsourced contributions from other romance readers.”
New episodes release weekly.
4. Fated Mates. This one has been referenced by the other romance podcasts I’ve listened to. While I have only listened to an episode or two, it’s high on my continue-to-listen-to list.
“Fated Mates is a romance novel podcast co-hosted by author Sarah MacLean and romance critic Jen Prokop. Weekly episodes include romance novel read-alongs and discussions of the work of the genre, highlighting the romance novel as a powerful tool in fighting patriarchy…with absolutely no kink shaming.”
5. Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. This community in Romancelandia has been around for 15 years. The podcast, Smart Podcast, Trashy Books, is just one piece of what they do. I have not listened to any of their episodes yet but one of the members made a guest-appearance on Shelf Love, which I thoroughly enjoyed. So I am optimistic that I will like it and that you will, too.
“Each Friday on Smart Podcast, Trashy Books, the host talks with authors, readers, reviewers, bloggers, publishing professionals, editors, and librarians, or combinations thereof, and share the fun and mayhem with listeners. Frequent topics include romance fiction, the brilliant and interesting people who read, write, and produce it, and issues common among romance readers, along with a hefty side order of silliness.”
Readers, if you are new to the genre, and aren’t sure what books to start with, all of these podcasts are a fantastic way to discover what books will suit your fancy! There’s no better time to start reading romance than on Gal/Valentine’s Day(s).
But regardless of how much or how little you’ve read romance, what’s your all time favorite love story? It can be the subplot of a book in another genre. A film. A TV show. Real life. Whichever. Let me know and let’s spread the love!