I have a confession: I love cheap romance novels.
This is a secret obsession I have inherited from my mom and that I have to keep secret and separate from my study of more serious literature, but I have decided to share this with you all today.
There is just so much to like about cheap romance novels. I think of them as low-engagement fanfictions because you get all the fun of reading fanfiction without the involvement in the fandom and any disagreements with the author’s characterization (see: me yelling at my computer “Draco would never say that!”). You can get all the same tropes as fanfic–friends to lovers, enemies to lovers, magical tattoos (probably)–but they don’t carry the same overused feeling as, say, a Merlin coffee shop AU.
(Let’s be real I’ll still read all the Merlin coffee shop AUs.)
In a cheap romance novel you can enjoy the ridiculous set-up and often ridiculous conflict with the comfortable knowledge that in the end everyone will be loved and happy. There is some comfort in that. I also secretly take a lot of comfort in the idea that no matter what your glaring character flaws might be, there is someone who will love you.
I am very cynical about my own love life, but my cynical exterior is covering a milk chocolately center that will quickly melt for any sappy love story. Cheap romance novels allow me to soften my gooey center without anyone knowing that my gooey center exists.
I know that most of the time the cheap romance novels are not well-written. Hell, most of the time they aren’t even good stories, but at the end of the day I think romance novels are there to remind us that even in a world full of terrible things, there is 1) always someone more dramatic than you, and 2) always someone who will love you.
(Whether or not #2 is true is a subject for another blog post where you will be able to see my cycnical hard candy coating.)