2014 #LoveRomance campaign (Designed by Jennifer Wu)

Welcome to the wonderful world of romance fiction!

Facts about the genre | Postcard campaign | Romance and feminism | Recommended books | Who we are

This page is part of a reader-led campaign to champion romance fiction and highlight their exclusion from major literary events. We have three goals:

1. That romance authors are represented at literary events;

2. That romance books be recognised as a valuable part of literary culture; and

3. To challenge the stereotypes and stigma attached to the romance genre and its readers.

We urge you to read the essays that inspired this campaign:

‘Take a look at some of the amazing talent you have in your backyard — the dozens (even hundreds) of authors eager to speak to readers and future writers about their craft and the genre that they love so much.’ — An open letter to the Sydney Writers’ Festival by Gabby

‘Romance as a genre performs interesting, unusual, unique work. It can tell us fascinating things about culture and the way we read, and it is one of the few genres that is truly centred about women.’ — Why the romance genre is interesting, relevant and important — even if you think it’s bad by Jodi McAlister

‘I’d like to know: why is romance fiction the punching bag of the literary world? Why are romance readers the laughing-stock of feminist commentators? Why can’t people just let women read sexy things without telling us we’re doing something wrong?’ — Dear columnists, romance fiction is not your bitch by Kat Mayo

Some facts about romance books

Sales figures:

Australian publishers with a dedicated romance imprint:

Other Australian publishers who publish romance books:

Postcard campaign

The concept for this campaign was developed by Kat Mayo, Jennifer Wu and Gabby. The idea took shape with the help of other romance readers on Twitter (you can read the thread via Storify). All artwork for the postcards and banners were designed by Jennifer Wu. (And I think you’ll agree—she’s amazing.) You can read more about Jen’s creative process here.

All quotes in the postcards are used with permission.

‘To belittle romance fiction is to belittle women. To read romance fiction is to confront the strength of women, the variety of their experience, and the validity of their aspirations and accomplishments.’ - Judith Arnold This postcard was created by readers who love romance books. We know that many readers share our love for romance fiction. We hope to see our authors represented at literary events. We believe that our books are a valuable part of literary culture. Find out why: bookthingo.com.au/romance Tweet a photo of this card and show your support. #loveromance Design: Jennifer Wu Concept: Jennifer Wu, Gabby Maait, Kat Mayo#LoveRomance - My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin cover remix designed by Jennifer Wu#LoveRomance - Quote from Untamed by Anna Cowan, designed by Jennifer Wu#LoveRomance - The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde cover remix designed by Jennifer Wu#LoveRomance - Quote from Fair Game by Patricia Briggs, designed by Jennifer Wu#LoveRomance - Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy cover remix designed by Jennifer Wu

Here are the romance books and quotes that we used. We encourage you to try these books, as we believe they are some of the best that the genre has to offer.


Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women edited by Jayne Anne Krentz‘To belittle romance fiction is to belittle women. To read romance fiction is to confront the strength of women, the variety of their experience, and the validity of their aspirations and accomplishments.’ – Judith Arnold

University of Pennsylvania Press | Excerpt

In Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women, Jayne Ann Krentz and the contributors to this volume—all best-selling romance writers—explode myths and biases that haunt both the writers and readers of romances.

In this seamless, ultimately fascinating, and controversial book, the authors dispute some of the notions that plague their profession, including the time-worn theory that the romance genre contains only one single, monolithic story, which is cranked out over and over again. The authors discuss positive life-affirming values inherent in all romances: the celebration of female power, courage, intelligence, and gentleness; the inversion of the power structure of a patriarchal society; and the integration of male and female. Several of the essays also discuss the issue of reader identification with the characters, a relationship that is far more complex than most critics realise.

Booktopia | Amazon | Book Depository | Library

UNTAMED by Anna Cowan

Untamed by Anna Cowan‘And because he had chosen to be exposed, when his instinct was to be cruel, she chose to wrap her violence in tenderness.’

Michael Joseph | Excerpt

Outspoken and opinionated, Katherine Sutherland is ill at ease amongst the fine ladies of Regency London. She is more familiar with farmers, and her blunt opinions and rough manners offend polite society. Yet when she hears the scandalous rumours involving her sister and the seductive Duke of Darlington, the fiercely loyal Katherine vows to save her sister’s marriage—whatever the cost.

Intrigued by Katherine’s interference in his affairs, the manipulative Duke is soon fascinated. He engages in a daring deception and follows her back to her country home. Here, their intense connection shocks them both. But the Duke’s games have dangerous consequences, and the potential to throw both their lives into chaos…

Booktopia | Bookworld | Amazon US | Book Depository | iTunes | Kobo | Library

FAIR GAME by Patricia Briggs

Fair Game by Patricia Briggs (Alpha and Omega, Book 3) - Australian edition‘It is the way of mortals. They fling themselves at life and emerge broken.’

Orbit | Excerpt

When the FBI request a pack consultant on a serial killer case they’re following in Boston, Anna and Charles are sent in. They quickly realise that not only the last two victims were werewolves—all of them were.

Someone is targeting their kind. And if Charles and Anna can’t get to the bottom of this mystery, they may be next…

(This is the third book of the Alpha and Omega series. Click here for an ordered list of books in the series. We recommend reading it in conjunction with the Mercy Thompson series, which intersects with this book.)

Booktopia | Bookworld | Amazon US | Book Depository | iTunes | Kobo | Nook | Library

Romance and feminism

‘The potential for a romance novel to be feminist exists each time an author sits down to write one.’ — Beyond bodice-rippers: How romance novels came to embrace feminism by Jessica Luther, The Atlantic

‘But the main thing I do as a feminist concerns sexuality: Anything you’re doing for somebody, they should damn well be doing for you. Sex is a two-way street.’ — Eloisa James on Feminism, sexuality, and why romance novels are more than worthy of respect by Rachel Kramer Bussel, Vulture

‘…romance fiction challenges the traditional patriarchal beliefs by saying that women are equal to men and that they should be as sexually knowledgeable as men, and then compounds that sin by showing that love is a powerful force that should be taken seriously.’ — Defeating the critics: What we can do about the anti romance bias by Jennifer Crusie

‘Feminists need not tremble for the reader—she does not identify with, admire, or internalize the characteristics of either a stupidly submissive or an irksomely independent heroine…What reading a romance becomes…[is] a courtship carried on entirely between myself and myself. This heroine is holding my place…and I am the hero. That is why romance readers are not, and never have been, intimidated by…the “retrograde, old-fashioned, macho, hard-edged man”–because the alpha male hero is themselves.’ — The Androgynous Reader: Point of view in the romance by Laura Kinsale, Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women

‘The oft-derided happy ending is no infantile regressive daydream; it is a dramatisation of the integration of the inner self, an integration that goes on day by day, moment by moment, in the lives of women and men all over the world.’ — The Androgynous Reader: Point of view in the romance by Laura Kinsale, Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women

‘To me, the key is that the reader — particularly the female reader — has the power and the agency to choose. She is in charge and she decides whether to consent to what is going on or to withhold her consent. IMO no reader should ever feel the pressure to consent, because that is antithetical to the whole notion of female sexual freedom and agency. But by the same token, I would argue that those readers who do consent are not in any way consenting to violent criminal rape. I don’t know any other way to resolve the difference among readers for these scenarios without condemning either readers or the genre as a whole.’ — Sexual force and reader consent in romance by Robin Reader, Dear Author

‘…romance isn’t obliged to be feminist, and the most feminist thing about it is the critical discourse surrounding it.’ —  Feminist is one side of a shape by Anna Cowan, diary of a(n accidental) housewife

‘…the personal is political. And that part of the work of feminism involves asserting the worth and dignity of those things that have historically been discounted and trivialized as belonging to the women’s sphere.’ — Some (further) thoughts on feminism and romance by Cecilia Grant

‘Even if the structures of equality are present, while women are objects in a male narrative, it has not been achieved. Women…are still fighting to tell their stories in first person.’ — Reactions to Anna Goldsworthy’s Quarterly Essay: Women are still fighting to tell their stories in first person by Jodi McAlister, Book Thingo

‘…genre fiction, in my opinion, is the most faithful keeper of those virtues Faulkner championed. And because hopelessness, meaninglessness, and human suffering are not only the backdrop against which romance exists; they’re the very compost out of which our genre grows.’ — And still, we fall in love by Cecilia Grant, diary of a(n accidental) housewife

‘Romance novels are remarkable for having a primarily female gaze. They invite us to *look* at the male protagonists and to do so intensely. They linger over lengthy, rich descriptions of men’s physical appearance. They use words and invoke images that appeal strongly to their readers.’ — The Gaze by Joanna Chambers, Read React Review

Recommended books

These are some of our favourite romance books, and we recommend them to readers who are new to the genre. Please try a few titles, and tell us what you think—yes, even if they don’t quite work for you!


Contemporary romance

Historical romance

If you’re looking for books that challenge romance stereotypes:

If you’re looking for strong heroines:

If you’re looking for something fun:

If you’re looking for something intense:

Paranormal and fantasy romance

If you’re looking for strong heroines:

If you’re looking for something intense:

If you’re looking for books that challenge romance stereotypes:

Romantic suspense

Category romance

Erotic romance

Who we are

Jennifer Wu is a Melbourne-based graphic designer and illustrator with a particular interest in popular culture. She has worked with romance authors and organisations, designing web sites and promotional material. You can find her portfolio at jenniferwu.com.au or check out more of her cover remixes at cover-remix.me, where she parodies the visual language of genre.

Portfolio | Cover Remix | Book Thingo@dumblydore

Gabby is a Sydney-based romance scholar and a passionate advocate for genre fiction. She works in the publishing industry and is a regular contributor to the Momentum Moonlight blog.

Orchid and Peach Cocktails | Momentum Moonlight | Book Thingo

Kat Mayo is a Sydney-based book blogger and freelance writer. She is the editor of Booktopia’s Romance Buzz and hosts the Heart to Heart podcast for Destiny Romance. Her reviews and articles have appeared in Books+Publishing and The Drum, and she has been a panelist for events run by the Romance Writers of Australia, the Australian Romance Readers Association, and the City of Sydney Library. She loves to talk about romance and has been interviewed on 2SER and for articles appearing in The Big Issue and the (sydney) magazine.

Portfolio | Heart to HeartRomance BuzzBook Thingo | @BookThingo

If you have any feedback or comments about the #loveromance campaign, please contact Kat at kat@bookthingo.com.au.

GoalsFacts about the genre | Postcard campaign | Romance and feminism | Recommended books