The romance genre is broad and interesting, with stories taking place in different time periods, blending with other genres, and often tackling challenging themes and social issues. Perhaps what’s most captivating is the focus on the aspect of love and happy endings.
Here are some of the most successful, well regarded, and prolific romance authors.
Dame Barbara Cartland is in the Guinness Book of Records for selling more than 1 billion books during her 98 years of life. She is best known for her 675 romance novels, most of which focus on plots set in the 19-century Victorian era. These stories featured traditional relationships between men and women, but importantly the women were independent and bold, confidently rebuffing ideas or people that she deemed wrong.
Outside of writing, she made many contributions to alternative medicine, aviation, and advocated for the wellbeing of working women and children unable to attend school. She is also known for her television and media appearance where she dawned bright pink attire. In Cartland’s later years, she would write a novel in around two weeks. She also wrote biographies, cookbooks, stage plays, and even recorded an album.
Danielle Steel has written 192 books, of which 163 are novels, and she has sold more than 650 million books. Most notably, all of her books are bestsellers. Even though she has enjoyed much success, she is not known for receiving much critical praise for her stories. Despite this, her popularity endures.
Her novels often feature wealthy families in crisis and include themes of imprisonment, blackmail, and suicide. In contrast to the dark themes of her novels, she has founded two foundations: The Nick Traina Foundation works with organizations that help with mental illness, child abuse, and suicide prevention; the second aids the homeless.
Jane Austen is not known for writing many novels, but the few novels she did write became the focus of scholars, critics, popular culture, and aspiring writers. The focus of her stories, while revolving around romance, are known for their realism and social commentary. During her life, she saw the publication of Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, and Emma. Two more completed novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, were published posthumously. Sanditon and The Watsons were unfinished but published later in their incomplete form.
Jane Austin did not receive much attention while she was alive. By the 1940s, nearly 100 years after her death, her work had reached a larger audience. Many of her works have been adapted to television and film. Her fame has endured through the Janeite fan culture and the Austen scholarship.
Nicholas Sparks is a popular contemporary romance novelist, having sold more than 100 millions copies worldwide. There have been several movie adaptations of his books, including The Choice, The Longest Ride, The Best of Me, Safe Haven, The Lucky One, Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember, The Notebook, Nights in Rodanthe, Dear John, and The Last Song.
Outside of writing, Sparks contributes to local and national charities, including the Creative Writing Program at the University of Notre Dame that funds scholarships, internships, and annual fellowships. The Nicholas Sparks Foundation, of which he is a founding member, has donated more than $15 million to charities, scholarship programs, and other projects. He also helped to start a private school, The Epiphany School of Global Studies.
There are so many other great romance authors to discover. If you are a fan of the genre, then you already have your favorites. For those new to the genre or readers who avoid it because of their assumptions about these stories, give the writers outlined above a chance and see if they serve as a gateway to the vast selection of romance authors and novels available today.