Aug 14 2013 1:30pm

Peanut Butter in My Chocolate?: Non-Romance Books Romance Readers Love

Hot Six by Janet EvanovichIn a Morning Coffee of about a year ago, we asked our readers What's the Last Non-Romance Novel You Read?, and our commenters chimed in with many book and even genre answers.

We already know romance readers like to read genres other than romance; after all, if could be argued (and has been, by me) that ALL books with a conflict involve the love of something—or else why do it? In non-romance books, that love could be of power, or the truth, or resolving a family issue, or anything, but there is a deeply strong emotion involved.

When we talk about non-romance books that romance fans love, a few titles recur over and over again:

George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series

Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series

Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series

Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games series

So what makes these books in particular so appealing to romance fans? First of all, it's noticeable that three out of these four have a different world than ours, a fantasy, if you will, spun by the author.

Outlander by Diana GabaldonThey all have strong female characters and the actions of those characters affect everyone in the book. In all but Martin's series, the lead character is female.

There are also required romantic choices in those same authors' books—Ranger or Morelli, Peeta or Gale, Jamie or Frank—that imbue the story with romance, even though romance is not the primary genre.

While many of these series haven't been finished yet (curse you, George R.R.!), the romantic entanglements remain a critical part of the story.

What other books do non-romance fans like? Why do you think these books and series are so popular with romance readers?

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
1. Megaera
I know Gabaldon is famous for saying her books aren't genre romance, but they obviously are, so I don't think they count.
Jennifer Proffitt
2. JenniferProffitt
I was always a big fan of the Arrows of the Queen series by Mercedes Lackey. It was the series that got me thinking that what I liked about those books was the romance, but they're still firmly stocked in the Sci-fi/Fantasy section.
Jennifer Proffitt
3. JenniferProffitt
P.S. thank god for the paperback section of my local library (where I worked) otherwise I might never have found romance...okay that's a lie but I would have read fantasy books for a lot longer than I did.
4. Scarlettleigh
I don't read too many mystery books, but I love David Rosenfelt's Andy Carpenter series. With the second book, he added a bit of romance - which make them perfect. A wise cracking hero, a sweet romance and a dog - - what more could you ask for?
5. JacquiC
I read books that could probably be described as "women's fiction" rather than romance. I am also an avid mystery reader (I am currently listening to Elizabeth George's latest in audio form). I used to read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy novels, but haven't read as much of those recently.

I guess I just like to read -- though I think the highest percentage of books that I read qualify as romances.
6. jsmom2
I love, love, love the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne. And the Dresden Files, of course.
Carmen Pinzon
7. bungluna
Is UF written by men not considered romance? It always confuses me when series such as Sookie or The Hollows are included in romance lists but the Dresden Files is not.

I read a lot of sci-fi, but usuall y when it includes some romance in the story. I like Louise MacMaster Bujold, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller (Liaden Universe) and Mercedes Lackey, though the latter is fantasy (love 500 Kingdoms).

I've read all of Charlaine Harris' mystery series too, and all of them include some romance. I've learned to be wary of her though. She'll kill anybody at any given time!
Rae Alley
8. rszalley
Robin McKinley is one I enjoy - it's often is it romance or is fantasy. GRRM & Lackey have already been mentioned. I thoroughly enjoyed some of Sue Grafton's books, but they got a little drawn out and I lost interest(it's kinda like a tv series where you lose the thread of the overarching story).
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