While romance novels may be the target of elitist scorn, they also have plenty of fans. Over 40 million people read a romance novel in the past year, according to a survey on reading habits in America. And not all of them were girls and women. Men accounted for nine percent of those who admitted to picking up a romance book last year. So what's the big draw? Well, a happy ending for one. By definition, a romance novel is a love story with an optimistic and emotionally satisfying ending. It helps if the hero is tortured and the heroine a virgin. But once the central love theme and happy ending criteria are met, a romance novel can be set anywhere and involve any number of subplots. Critics pan such sentimental techniques and scoff at the genre's literary merits.
Join NPR’s Juan Williams for a discussion with two popular romance writers about why romance novels are so popular, who reads these books, and why the authors feel romance novels are misunderstood, on the next Talk of the Nation, from NPR news.