Celebrity News

Your Romance Novel Glossary: A-to-Z Terms You Need to Know

Mary Sue: A goody-two-shoes. A character who’s absolutely perfect, with no flaws. She’s beautiful, good at everything, probably a philanthropist—but is super boring and not always fun to read about.

Marriage of Convenience: It’s just until this date or that event, and then we’ll go our separate ways because this is a marriage in name only. Spoiler: it never works out like that.

Mighty Wang: Shorthand for how the story’s heroine will describe the sexual prowess of what romance novelists often call a male’s “throbbing member.”

Mommy Porn: A derogatory term people outside of the romance community will use to describe the genre. It perpetuates the stereotype that romance novels are only for lonely, horny housewives.

M/M: A subgenre of romance novels, that follows the love story between two men. Popular examples include Red, White and Royal Blue and Call Me By Your Name.

Paranormal Romance: Novels set in a fantasy world where science fiction elements are essential to the story.

Regency Romance: A popular subgenre set in England during the early 19th century.

Second Chance at Love: A heroine finds love after loss (or a divorce), like in Eat, Pray, Love or How Stella Got Her Groove Back.

Secret Romance: For whatever reason, the heroine’s relationship needs to be kept under lock and key.

Sexy Billionaire: A Christian Grey-type businessman, who falls in love with an unassuming—and often naive—younger woman, and sweeps her off her feet. These stories have fallen out of popularity post-Me Too.

Slow Burn: How romance fans will describe a story where it takes a while for things to get steamy. The build up is there, and the payoff is great. Or to put it in terms of heat levels: it goes from clean to spicy.

Taboo Romance: A love affair between two people who really shouldn’t be sleeping together. Whether it’s because of their age, prior relationships, or other extenuating circumstances. The hot priest romance in Fleabag is just about as representative of this type of entanglement as you can get.

Samantha Leach is the associate culture editor at Glamour. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @_sleach.

Previous ArticleNext Article

Send this to a friend