If you’re new to reading romantic fiction, you might have come across the terms “category romance” or “series romance” while buying books and wonder what they mean.
Romance Writers of America define category romance as “books issued under a common imprint/series name that are usually numbered sequentially and released at regular intervals, usually monthly, with the same number of releases each time.” In other words, category romances are released every month. The print copies have a shorter shelf life than other books and are removed from stores after four weeks to make room for the new books in the line.
A category romance offers a compact love story and ranges from 45,000 to 70,000 words. That’s roughly 180 to 280 pages. Because of the shorter page count, the pacing of the story is quick, the focus is tightly on the romance, and the main characters are usually in every scene.
But what defines a category romance isn’t just page count and availability. A category romance offers a very specific reading experience. A line or imprint might promise a tone, heat level or story element. For example, if the reader picks up a Harlequin Medical Romance, she is expecting a love story in a contemporary medical setting. If she downloads an Entangled Bliss, she has an expectation that the romance will contain closed-door love scenes (meaning it’s not shown or described on the page) or no sex scenes.
Almost all category lines publish contemporary romances and while you can find a hot and romantic read in quite a few imprints, there are a select few that guarantees every book is a sensual romance. When looking for category romances that promise sexy contemporary love stories, browse through the book lists of these four imprints:
Tone: fun and sexy
Heat level: red-hot sexual attraction and explicit love scenes
Popular romantic tropes: friends-to-lovers, one-night stands and wrong bed
Readers enjoy: the heroes! They are usually protectors, athletes or anti-heroes
Heat level: lust and graphic sex scenes
Popular tropes: sexual awakenings, forbidden fantasies, sexual bargains
Readers enjoy: the heroines! They are empowered and fearless women who boldly pursue their dreams.
Tone: dramatic and scandalous
Heat level: sizzling sexual tension and romantic (but not explicit) love scenes
Popular tropes: amnesia, second chance and unexpected pregnancy
Readers enjoy: the soap opera-style storylines! They are filled with family sagas and high-stakes drama
Tone: emotional intensity
Heat level: fierce sexual attraction and passionate (but not explicit) love scenes
Popular tropes: marriage of convenience, revenge and secret baby
Readers enjoy: the romantic fantasy! The seductive and powerful alpha hero sweeps the heroine into a glamorous and sophisticated world
There are also a few sexy contemporary romance imprints that are no longer releasing new books but have fan-favorite stories available in digital formats. If you enjoy sensual love stories with a fun and flirty tone, try Harlequin Blaze, Harlequin Kiss or Harlequin Temptation.
Want to read category romance novels but don’t know where to start? Follow this guide!