The romance genre is the strictest of genres allowing no deviation from the rules. Although romance can be considered a sub-category in almost every genre, for a novel to be considered a romance, the story must be about a woman and a man and developing a romantic love relationship between them.
The point of view can only be from these two characters, and the conflict is what tries to keep them apart. Both characters must be introduced in the first two chapters.
Also, a romance has to have a happy ending where the two characters get together. Many Christian romances end with marriage or a marriage proposal.
If any of these criteria aren’t met, the story isn’t considered a romance but instead a story with romantic elements. In a romance, the romance is the main story. If you take away the relationship between the two main characters, there is no story.
Romance is one of the most popular genres in Christian fiction as well as secular fiction. Secular romances are likely to have scenes where the characters get together physically. Usually such scenes are absent in Christian fiction.
A stand alone romance is usually between 80,000 and 100,000 words. A category romance (i.e.: Harlequin Romance) is usually between 50,000 and 60,000 words.
Here are some sub-categories for the romance genre:
Contemporary Romance: This is any romance that takes place in the present time.
Fantasy Romance: This is any romance taking place in another world or using magic or fantasy as elements of the story.
Futuristic Romance: Any romance taking place in the distant future.
Glitz/Glamour Romance: These romances take place among the elite and the rich and famous.
Historical Romance: This is a romance taking place in the past. It has sub-genres within itself that include these: American West, American Colonial, American Civil War, American Revolution, American Reconstruction, Native American, Australian Colonial, European Dark Ages, Early European Renaissance, French Revolution, Celtic, Medieval England, Middle Ages England, Victorian England and Regency England.
Medieval Romance: Knights in shining armor rescue damsels in distress in medieval settings.
Pirate Romance: This is a romance that involves swash-buckling pirate captains and feisty heroines willing to risk all to be with them.
Regency Romance: These romance stories set in England in the early 1800s. They usual focus on society of that day.
Romantic Comedy: These are romances that involve comedy.
Romantic Suspense: These are romances involving an element of suspense or mystery. Even in these, the romance is the main story.
Time-travel romance: Romance takes place across two different time periods, with one or more characters “time-traveling” between both.
Viking Romance: Viking Romances center around characters from early Nordic cultures.
Western Romance: These are romances set in the American ‘old west’.
Young Adult: Romances with teenagers as the main characters.