Let’s Talk Bookish: Romance as a Subplot

Hello, lovelies!

I’m back this Friday participating in another Let’s Talk Bookish post, as always hosted by the amazing Rukky @ Eternity Books and awesome Dani @ The Literary Lion! For this week, our topic is:

Romance as a Subplot

This might be a controversial take (I have no idea, because I feel like romance gets a bad wrap sometimes?), but I fucking love romance.

I’m not sure what about it automatically elevates a story for me, but, if I’m reading a fantasy or sci-fi novel that isn’t marketed as a romance and then I discover there is a romance? My interest in the book is set to automatically increase, no questions asked. Perhaps it’s because I’ve always been such a hopeless romantic and was single for most of my life, so reading was the only way I got that kind of connection. Perhaps it’s because the romance helps me connect with characters more and helps raise the stakes by giving them something additional to lose. Perhaps I just enjoy really well written chemistry and seeing characters navigate love? Perhaps all three.

But, I enjoy it–which is a good thing, since it seems like it’s a popular thing to include. I’m not sure really why it’s something that’s more common than a platonic friendship, for example. I would like to see a wider array of relationships (platonic friendships, rivalries, more misfit friendships!!) in books, of course. But I’m never going to complain when romance is added, too.

Now, something I will say about romance within the genres that I like to read (fantasy and sci-fi) is that I HATE when a book is marketed as a romance simply because a woman wrote it, so the assumption is that there must be romance, for that’s all women can write.

i just threw up in my mouth a little bit GIF by chuber channel

Obviously, women can write so much more than “just” romance (and there’s nothing “just” about writing romance, either!!). So that really bothers me. If you’re marketing something as a romance, that gives me different expectations and I’ll be frustrated, as a reader who likes romance, if this mistake is made and there actually isn’t any romance for a book marketed as such! And that’s on top of already being upset that an assumption was made on a woman’s behalf.

Now, does every book have to have romance? No, absolutely not! Of course there are fantastic books that have no elements of romance whatsoever. Yet, as someone who just really loves reading well-written romance, if a book happens to chose to have that, I’m going to be more interested. *shrugs*

I am so curious to see what everyone else thinks about this topic! Do you enjoy reading romance or is it something you’d rather avoid? What are some of your favorite romances you’ve read as subplots? Let me know in the comments and thanks for reading!


15 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Bookish: Romance as a Subplot”

    1. That’s fair! I love certain genres of romance novels (I love regency, steampunk and fantasy/sci-fi romance, but I can’t stand contemporary). Each person has their own preferences!

  1. I’m really picky about romance. If I know that romance is a big part of the book, I have high expectations but they’re often met. However, if I feel like it comes out of nowhere and I’m not expecting it (ie; that one part in 1984) I hate it and I often DNF. I was burned out on romance early since it was all my Mom read and all my friends wanted to watch were chick-flicks. I know not all romance is like that, but when I hear ‘romance’ that’s all I can think of.

    1. Honestly, that makes sense how you view it, with how you were introduced and sounds like oversaturated with it. I do agree that I don’t really like it when it comes from left field in the middle of a book. I want a clear set up that romance will be included and, if it’s in a book that’s correctly not marketed as a romance, then I want the plot to still withstand regardless!

  2. As someone who still swoons over Pride & Prejudice, I’m absolutely hear for romance! I think I prefer it as the subplot as opposed to the plot – I’ve read a couple fantasy books where it was romance first, magical stuff second, and it just didn’t work as well for me personally. But absolutely, give me those feels!!

    1. That’s totally fair! I definitely have different expectations for if it’s the main plot over the subplot, but there is just something about adding that subplot into a story for me that just, if done right…*chef’s kiss*

  3. I am a romance avoider ^^; I don’t mind if it’s a small subplot, but I am the opposite when I find out a book has unadvertised romance – I am not excited, haha. However, even I come across, every now and then, a romantic storyline that I find very sweet and lovely (or heartbreaking, depending on the type of story) so I can’t discredit romance entirely ;P

  4. I really enjoy a romantic subplot in my fantasy stories, and I’ve enjoyed my share of romantic fantasy as well (though I tend to prefer the former. I enjoy people falling in love in the midst of other plot things). I do prefer romance that is personality first rather than founded on mutual sexual attraction — slow burn romances are my absolute favourite. I’m ace though so I just find it more relatable when people don’t see each other, desire each other, and THEN get to know each other. Need more ace fantasy romance …

    I don’t tend to like it when the romantic relationship is the only important relationship in the book though. Seeing friendships being forged, grow, and be maintained, is one of my favourite things, as are the changes of familial relationships with siblings and parents. I want there to be romance but I want to see all other kinds of relationships too I guess!

    1. I DEFINITELY want to see more ace fantasy romance, for sure. While I do like the sexual attraction, I also would love to see more ace representation and ace romance!!!

      YES, 100% yes. It’s a bit unrealistic that romance is the other type of relationship to show and I definitely want to see it in the throes of what you described above! Show me multiple, varied types of relationships!!!

  5. I’m glad you love romance so much! I do think that a well written romance can add quite a nice touch to any novel, it’s just that so many stories I’ve read recently haven’t really managed to balance the story and the romance with each other and then both suffer.

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