“Romance reader” is such a broad term, and one that is often mistaken and misused. To those not au fait with the many subgenera that exist within the wide and wonderful playground in which we so gleefully spend our time, too often a “romance novel” is considered synonymous with a “trashy novel.”
Category lines like those of Harlequin and its ilk are held up as exemplars of the field, and—if we’re lucky—best-selling tearjerkers from the likes of Nicholas Sparks are considered romance—and are then subsequently dismissed as “mere” romance.
This ignores the rich history of romantic fiction. From myths of Greek heroes to Arthurian legends, from Sir Walter Scott and Lord Byron to Anna Karenina, The Scarlet Letter, and almost anything involving the French Revolution, timeless romances have repeatedly played out across the spectrum of Classic Literature. And what was Shakespeare if not a writer of romance? Although they may have been regarded as such as the time, these were certainly not cheap tales of Happily Ever After or Doomed Love; they were not simplistic wish-fulfillments of an average girl becoming a princess, or lust-fuelled accounts of unbearably hot vampires and their destined life mates. (Not that there’s anything wrong with any of that—at all.)