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The Single Title Romance Genre
What is the Single Title Romance Genre?
Essentially there are two main categories of romance out there: category and single title. The main difference is the length of the novel. Category romance length is strictly prescribed by the publishing house which is distributing it, often down to the word. Single title romance novels do not have a prescribed length, although they are/should be longer than the category romances since they tend to cost more and the readers don’t want to feel cheated. The e-publishing world has changed this dynamic a bit since there is no actual book thickness to worry about, although the length guidelines/restrictions do seem to hold true even online.
Single title romance novels are also stand-alone, meaning that although there may be other books which are related, they are independent novels which can be read without necessarily having to read the other novels in the series. There are, however, some exceptions to this; for example, the Twilight series, the Divergent series, etc. – if a reader didn’t read the first book in the series, they would have a hard time knowing what was going on in subsequent novels.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that aside from the fact that most of these novels are/can be stand-alone novels, there is literally NOTHING else that these novels would have in common. Subsequently, ALL other elements are dependent on the choices made by the writer.
What to Expect in the Single Title Romance Genre
- More likely to feature additional, well-developed characters
- More likely to feature multiple points of view
- More likely to feature additional storylines apart from the main hero/heroine
- Released individually and are not necessarily part of a numbered series
Single Title Romance Characteristics
- Level of Angst
The novels in this genre vary wildly in this area. Some novels have a lot, some have a little. It is purely up to the discretion of the writer.
- Character Development
The characters in these novels tend to be more fully developed than in the category romances, and there are certainly more characters, which some believe leads to a more well-rounded story. We also tend to learn a lot more about the characters’ pasts, both central and supporting, which allows the reader to better understand their various motivations and interactions.
- Plot Strength
Similar to character development, the plots in this genre tend to be more fully developed and explored. In addition to the plots involving the main characters, we get some insight into the lives and experiences of the supporting characters, as well.
- Romantic Tension
Ditto my comments in the level of angst above, it is dependent on the individual writer and the direction in which they want to take their story. That said, some people have complained that they read a romance novel for the romance between the hero and heroine, and they think that the focus on “extra” supporting characters and situations takes away from the overall tension that is developed. Some agree, some disagree; it truly depends on individual reader preference and their goals when reading these novels.
- Level of Eros
Again, it is 100% dependent on the approach that the individual writer prefers to take.
- Prose Quality
There is a lot of variation in the quality of writing in this subgenre – some of them are entertaining and well-written, and others kind of plod along – it is all dependent on the individual author. However, unlike category romance, this genre is not especially formulaic, so the impact of the writers’ writing skills are pretty significant in the enjoyment of the story.
Related Romance Subgenres
Every single subgenre could be related to this genre – it is simply a matter of length of novel and a stand-alone story, and could take any storyline preference the author desires.
Single Title Romance isn't for you if
You like romance which (quickly) gets to the point. You get distracted by supporting characters and situations. You prefer the more formulaic category approach
Single Title Romance is totally for you if
You like fully developed characters and situations. You also like seeing how relationships develop. You really want to understand the motivations of the characters in the novel
- 1 Pride and Prejudice (1813 – and numerous re-printings)
By Jane Austen. Is often credited as being the first official romance novel. Not surprisingly, the story still stands up well today, and takes the classic Regency approach to storytelling, featuring witty dialogue, laugh out loud situations, and a splendid courtship for the ages.
- 2 Love Story (1970)
By Erich Segal. Is one of the most moving love stories of all time, raising the bar for all relationships everywhere. Telling the story of a hot shot wealthy jock headed to Harvard and a brilliant working class musician on her way to Radcliffe, this is the novel that proved that love really does change everything.
- 3 Remembrance (1981)
By Danielle Steel. Tells the story of a woman caught up with the devastation which followed World War II in Italy and the American soldier she falls for. Even their love, however, is not enough to protect her from his calculating family, and she learns that the price of true love is a high one to pay. Steele always does a great job with her settings, and post-war Italy and the fashion halls of New York are the ones featured in this novel.
- 4 Splendid (2003)
By Julia Quinn. Is a novel which tells the story of an English Duke who doesn’t want to marry and an American heiress who wants one last chance for freedom and disguises herself as a maid. When she is put into the position of having to save the Duke’s young nephew, he quickly finds himself wishing for what he cannot have…unless she isn’t what she seems (and she isn’t).
- 5 The Guardian (2003)
By Nicholas Sparks. Tells the sweet story of a woman who is madly in love. When her husband dies at a young age, leaving her alone with a Great Dane puppy, she feels as if her world has collapsed. However, with time she starts to heal, and has two men vying for her affection, although one of them seems to be trying to kill her.
- 6 Perfect (2002)
By Judith McNaught. Focuses on a young woman who was raised by an adoptive family and was showered with love. Determined to live her life as a proud reflection for her family, she is a pillar of her community, giving of herself to all around her. When she is kidnapped by an escaped convict – who happens to be an Academy Award winning actor who claims to have been wrongly convicted of murder – her carefully planned life is about to take a turn she never expected.
- 7 The Liar (2015)
By Nora Roberts. Tells the story of a woman who lost her husband only to discover that he had been living a double, triple, maybe even a quadruple life. Finding his safety deposit box full of fake ids, and left with a mountain of debt she never knew about, she escapes down South with her young daughter to try to rebuild her life. She meets a man there, but her husband’s troubles threaten to topple every effort she makes at creating a new life for herself and her child.
- 8 Me before you (2012)
By Jojo Moyes. Is probably the most-reviewed romance novel on amazon.com, with over 10,600 reviews (73% of them are 5 stars). The novel is about a billionaire playboy who is paralyzed in an accident and the woman who is hired to nurse him back to health. He is moody and she is engaged to someone else, but – of course – they find their way to one another and create a relationship where they are both willing to sacrifice everything for one another.
- 9 Temptation (2002)
By Jude Deveraux. Is the story of a woman who is ahead of her time in terms of knowing who she is and what she wants. Set in New York in 1909, the heroine wants to work, volunteer, and enjoy her life as a young single woman. But times being what they are, that is not an option, and she is sent off by her stepfather to Scotland (the base of many of Deveraux’s novels) to find another man a wife. If she succeeds, she will be allowed to return to America and live life as she wishes. Despite his fancy title, what she finds is little more than a hut, and an unwilling and very opinionated man living there. Needless to say, the job is much bigger than she expected…
- 10 Wicked Games (1994)
By Barbara Boswell. Tells the story of a girl from the “bad” side of the tracks and a boy from the “best” side of the tracks. They came together once but then he left. Now he’s back, and she’s worried about what that might mean for everything she has worked so hard to conceal.
Publicly Ranked Version of the List21 items >>
- Persuasion (Jane Austen)
- Emma (Jane Austen)
- Katherine (Anya Seton)
- Ravished (Amanda Quick)
- Saving Grace (Julie Garwood)