Romances are reputedly the most widely read novels, but are they the most reviewed?

How do you define a “romance”?

One way is to say the story is predominantly about courtship: the tale of a relationship between two beings which either ends “happily ever after” or “happily for now”. The sex of the beings isn’t important: they may be male/female, female/female, male/male, non-binary gender (or any other variation you can think of — fans of Ursula Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness will know what I mean). Their nature isn’t important either – human, alien, angel, demon, vampire or werewolf. The world and time they inhabit may be equally fluid: contemporary, past or imaginary. Books which have courtship as a subplot, however, are perhaps better described as having “romantic elements”.

If books with “romantic elements” are included among the tally of romances, the number of 2012 releases reviewed for the AWW challenge during January to June is marginally more than for other genres tallied so far. If the popular genre of “rural fiction” — or “chook lit” as Twitter wags have dubbed it — is included, the number swells even further.

When canvassed on Twitter, some authors of “rural fiction” objected to having their books labelled as romance, preferring instead to be included among a broader category of “popular”, “contemporary” or “women’s fiction”. With that in mind, only rural fiction books which appear to solely focus on courtship, or were identified by the reviewer(s) as being a romance, have been tallied here.

Otherwise, both straight — or “category” — romances and cross-genre books with “romantic elements”, including historical romances, have been listed. (If mistakes have been made — and books have been included which shouldn’t have been, or haven’t been included and should — please let me know.)

What of Young Adult (YA) and Speculative Fiction titles? Are any of those also courtship stories or books with romantic elements? Should erotica — like Lexxie Couper’s Love’s Rhythm — be included?*

Have there been romances — or novels with romantic elements — of literary merit published in 2012 that are not listed here?

Tally: 23 books, 16 reviewers, 44 reviews

2012 Romance: Contemporary, Historical, Erotica, Crime, Fantasy, Romantic Comedy

Love's Rhythm by Lexxie Couper* As Kylie Scott points out in the comments below, Love’s Rhythm is more Erotic Romance than Erotica. Are there other 2012 releases in this genre that have yet to be reviewed for the challenge?