Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews is not a romance novel. It’s horror. Let’s get that straight right away. Still, it’s an influential book for many romance readers.
Here’s the plot: Chris, Cathy, Cory and Carrie Dollenganger start out as part of the perfect family. So blond and lovely are these charmed four and their picture-perfect parents, Corrine and Christopher, Senior, that they acquire a collective nickname, the Dresden Dollengangers. They’re living the suburban dream until Christopher Senior perishes in a tragic auto accident on his birthday. Older kids Chris and Cathy soon learn that their perfect life was all an illusion, and the family is deep in debt. Not only does Corrine have to sell off most of their possessions to satisfy creditors, but the family must leave their home and go begging to Corrinne’s wealthy parents. So far, this could work in a romance, providing tragic background material for four future heroes and heroines (five, if mom Corrine gets her own romance in a companion novella) but things soon take a very different turn.