The members of your book club will only read celebrity picks.
Your friend was unprepared for the heat level of the last romance novel she read and is hesitant to pick up another love story.
Your co-workers think they have outgrown romance fiction and now read women’s fiction.
What do you do when your friends and acquaintances won’t read romance novels?
First, get new friends.
I’m kidding! I’m sure the general awesomeness of the people in your life make up for their reading choices.
What’s the best way to introduce romantic fiction to reluctant readers?
Forget about pushing your favorite book or your comfort read. That’s more about you than about them. You need to find a gateway book to romance fiction. Find a book in their favorite genre that has romantic elements.
Let’s look at women’s commercial fiction. These book club selections might be more about friendships, family drama or workplace dynamics, but some stories also include a love interest.
If you want to introduce romance fiction to your women’s fiction-only acquaintances, it’s best if the book offers a happy-for-now conclusion. That way, your friends get a reading experience similar to romance fiction.
Once they read a book that a) shows how a romance enhances the storyline and b) proves a love story doesn’t have to be tragic to be good, then they might explore romance fiction.
There are many women’s fiction releases out there that are labeled as romance (but aren’t) or marketed as romance (but shouldn’t be) that the cautiously romantic reader might enjoy. Here are some examples:
If your friend is reluctant to read romance because of the heat levels:
Have them try Loathe at First Sight by Suzanne Park. The heroine of this story is a young woman of color working in the male-dominated and cutthroat video game industry. And, not unlike a video game, Melody finds her allies, cultivates her power, and slays the dragons.
There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, especially from Melody’s parents. As for the heat level, the romantic storyline is chaste and there are no love scenes.
Also, while some media outlets included this book in romance roundups, I don’t consider it a romance novel because that relationship is not the central part of the story.
If your friends loved this book, what should they read next? I would suggest Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey. It’s a witty and heart-warming romance novel about a rom-com-aholic who gets to work on the film set of a romantic comedy. The hero and heroine do have sex, but it’s behind closed doors, so the love scene is not described or shown on the page.
If the members of your book club don’t identify as romance readers:
They should try The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman. In this story, Nina has gone through great lengths to find her comfort zone. But when her carefully planned world begins to unravel, she needs to stop hiding from life. Bookworms will empathize with the introverted and socially awkward heroine!
While the romantic relationship with her rival/nemesis from Trivia Night is an important part of the book, it’s not the whole story. It’s really about Nina finding her family, both biological and chosen. The catalyst of change is when she discovers that the father she never knew has died. Not only does she want to learn more about the man who lived nearby yet never met, but she also needs to figure out her place in the big family he left behind.
Once your book club finishes this book, what should they read next? I recommend Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert. It’s a sexy contemporary romance that’s witty and insightful. It shows the impact chronic illness and emotional abuse have on a person’s life and romantic relationships.
If you know someone who only reads women’s fiction:
I would suggest romantic women’s fiction, such as A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan. Maggie and her daughters, Katie and Rosie, meet in Colorado for Rosie’s Christmas wedding. It should be a joyful occasion but each woman is hiding a secret. Maggie is on the verge of divorce, Katie is questioning the path she’s chosen in life, and Rosie is having second thoughts about the wedding. This family drama explores relationships and how it’s hard to change the roles we pick in our family.
This book is promoted as a romance—in fact, the word romance is on several versions of the book cover. I’m sure it’s because there are three love stories in the book, but the plot revolves around other relationships and life issues.
Once your friend finishes this book and wants more, what should they read next? Sarah Morgan has written quite a few romantic women’s fiction and romance novels. Her website offers suggestions for readers new to work.
Want to know more about the difference between romance fiction and women’s fiction? Find out here.