Some romance stories are advertised as novellas but they seem to have as many pages as a full-length book. Other love stories are sold as novellas but definitely fall in the short story category. And then there are those authors who think a novella is the equivalent of a book teaser. So, what can a romance reader expect from a novella?
What is a novella?
While most agree that a novella is a short form of fiction, the word count varies depending on the genre. MasterClass.com says a novella can be as short as 10,000 words while Writer’s Digest says novellas run from 30,000 to 50,000.
What is a romance novella?
In the romance genre, a novella is a completed story told in approximately 20,000 to 40,000 words. That’s 80 to 160 pages. By comparison, the word count for a category romance (such as Entangled, Harlequin, and Tule books) starts at 45,000 words or 180 pages.
What ISN’T a romance novella?
A romance novella is not a sample or a long prologue to a book that is packaged or sold separately. It’s supposed to offer readers a whole love story. And, since it’s a romance, it must have an emotionally satisfying conclusion. It doesn’t have to end with declarations of everlasting love, but the novella shouldn’t be a prequel that requires the reader to continue to next book. The story must stand on its own.
Why read a romance novella?
If you want instant gratification or you’re a reader who won’t return to a book once you’ve put it down, read a romance novella. The characters are just as fully-developed as those you’d find in a full-length romance novel, but the journey to happily-ever-after is more linear. There are not as many plot twists or obstacles.
Novellas are also a great way to try a new author or subgenre without investing too much time or money. For example, if you’re not sure about the gritty anti-hero trend, grab a novella by the top Mafia or MC (Motorcycle Club) romance author and see if it matches your idea of a romance hero.
Don’t forget: many writers will offer a free novella that introduces readers to their long-running series. This bonus story also gives fans a chance to revisit their favorite fictional worlds. Just make sure the description says it’s a standalone story.
Why don’t you like romance novellas?
If you think a romance novella is too short, you may have read stories that didn’t have a tight focus on the romance couple. A lot of world-building details and characters who didn’t have an impact on the main relationship can make the reading experience unsatisfactory.
Did the last romance novella you read feel rushed? A love story told in under 100 pages is all about the moment of change or the moment of action in the relationship. This is often why the main characters in a romance novella already know each other. Usually one main character is already in love at the beginning and the novella shows the other character’s journey of falling in love.
What romance novella should I read?
Here’s a mix of vintage, award-winning and fan favorite novellas. While a few run longer than 40,000 words, they are advertised as romance novellas and offer an emotionally satisfying and complete story.
RECOMMENDED READING LIST
- All He Wants for Christmas by Jill Shalvis: In this hot and romantic Christmas novella, Dustin wants more than a holiday hookup with his grumpy co-worker Cristina.
- Bad Blood by M. Malone: After her brother’s best friend helped her escape her wedding, the runaway bride wants to indulge in some revenge sex with him. This sexy, romantic and hard to put down story won the 2019 RITA for Best Novella.
- The Best Thing by Jaci Burton: In this workplace romance, readers will find a playboy hero reevaluating what he wants in his life, a cast of lovable but interfering relatives and a sizzling love story.
- Butterfly in Frost by Sylvia Day: Two people meet and are broken in their own way, but are they strong enough for each other when life knocks them down?
- Can’t Escape Love by Alyssa Cole: A steamy friends-to-lovers romance. The two nerds had only communicated online until now. Will they continue to support each other or will they try to “fix” each other’s disabilities?
- Eat Your Heart Out by Jill Shalvis: A breezy and sensual story about a woman who needs to add some heat and humor to her no-nonsense persona.
- A Fake Girlfriend for Chinese New Year by Jackie Lau: In order to avoid his family’s disastrous matchmaking for Chinese New Year, Zach asks his friend Jo to pretend that they’re dating.
- Holiday Wishes by Jill Shalvis: In this fun and steamy Christmas novella, a reformed bad boy wants a do-over with the teenage sweetheart he allowed to get away.
- In Skates Trouble by Kate Meader: After an anonymous and erotic encounter over a shared balcony, the hero has to find the woman who rocked his world. This super sexy novella packs an emotional punch!
- It’s a Wonderful Fireman by Jennifer Bernard: A firefighter is breaking up with his girlfriend because he thinks she deserves someone better. But when he’s injured and trapped in a burning building, he wrestles with hallucinations and memories that force him to look at his life differently.
- Must Love Coffee by Sarah Mayberry: The hero and heroine battle it out to win the best customer status at their favorite coffee shop. The story has a kick of heat but it’s all about the meet cute in this romantic comedy.
- Overload by Linda Howard: The heroine and her ex-boyfriend are stuck together in an empty office building during a blackout. A hot and sexy second chance romance!
- Perfect Match by Pat White: This novella a fun and romantic read. Set in the pro-wrestling world, the sexy love story is about a very protective hero and a woman who needs to prove she can take care of herself.
- Rekindle the Flame by Kate Meader: In this scorching hot romance, a firefighter reconnects with the childhood sweetheart he had cast aside for her own good.
- Tikka Chance on Me by Suleikha Snyder: A scorching hot love story set in a small town. The hero and heroine are weighed down by duty but feel alive when they’re together.
- Under His Kilt by Melissa Blue: A woman about to turn thirty decides she wants to do everything she was too scared to try before her birthday. That includes her Scottish colleague.