Embracing My Adult Romance Era

I think it’s time to fully embrace my adult romance era.

MY READING BACKGROUND

For most of my life, I have been drawn to YA books. I read age-appropriate books throughout my primary school experience, with the occasional adult book (non-romance). My reading was mixed, but it was primarily MG chapter books and child-friendly classic books like Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. This was also when my love of Animorphs started.

In high school I remember devouring Anne McCaffrey’s Dragons of Pern books alongside KA Applegate’s Everworld series (and continuing the Animorphs series). My reading in high school was more varied than in primary school, and there was a lot more adult sci-fi that wasn’t romantic. YA wasn’t the juggernaut it is today, but there were a few good books available in Australia dedicated to teen audiences, and I really enjoyed them.

At University I did a Literature degree, so my reading was mostly dictated by school texts, including history, classics, and other literary books, as well as the occasional pop culture book. In my free reading, I found myself being draw to memoirs and celebrity autobiographies as well, and this niche interest still stands.

After University, I fully embraced YA. I have been a dedicated YA reader ever since, primary drawn to stories about upper teens written for upper teens. Romance, sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, thriller, Western: I am not very picky when it comes to the specific genre in YA (except horror). I would always go to the YA section of the bookshop first, and often ignore every other section. I was purchasing almost exclusively traditionally-published YA, with the occasional non-YA book if it was a memoir or a particular good-sounding adult spec fic book.

I had a Kindle to primarily read ARCs (Advanced Review Copies). I downloaded A LOT of free ebooks as well, most of them indie published. I found myself being drawn to spec fic and romance books, and a couple of years ago I started buying indie romance books, mostly because the ebooks were cheaper than paperbacks and easier to store on my Kindle.

So my book collection was pretty much split down the middle with YA trad pub books on my bookshelves, indie published romance on my kindle, and handful of non-fiction or otherwise  miscellaneous taking up a few spaces.

Recently

Recently I’ve started being drawn to new adult and adult romance books. I know which tropes I like:

  • forced/arranged marriage/marriage of convenience
  • fake dating
  • forced proximity
  • enemies to lovers
  • only one bed
  • Grumpy/sunshine or ‘reverse’ grumpy/sunshine

With spending time online, I’m finding lots of good indie adult romance recs. I like fluffy romance, dark romance, and everything in between.

I think I consciously bought my first trad published adult romance in 2020 (Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade) because it just sounded so good.

Over the past couple of years I’ve been collecting adult indie romance ebooks, mostly sci-fi romance (I think it’s to do with the male lead’s hyper masculinity). Since early 2023 I’ve also listened to almost all of indie author Tate James’ Shadow Grove audiobooks, so I suspect this has had something to do with my gradual embrace of adult romance, especially indies, who tend to push the boundaries more than trad pub.

But recently I’ve been drawn to some trad adult romances as well.

NOW

I recently read The Fake Mate by Lana Ferguson and Role Playing by Cathie Yardley, and loved them both, despite them being about characters much older than I’m usually drawn to. I’ve also read adult romances The Dead Romantics and The Seven Year Slip by Ashley Poston, and enjoyed them immensely. I also requested an ARC of Assistant to the Villain by Hannah Nicole Maehrer, though at the time I thought it was YA – nope, turns out that’s adult too, and I really enjoyed it.

Basically, I’ve read so few trad published adult romances that I can recall them with ease. They’re the anomaly among my reading experiences, which is normally YA. They also mostly have bright colourful covers, so that’s an interesting observation. Slowly but surely, I’ve been drawn into adult romance, wanting something more complicated and messy than innocent first time coming of age stories.

And now, I’ve started branching out even further and have purchased my next trad published adult romances in Ana Huang’s Kings of Sin series. Ana Huang was originally an indie author whose books were acquired by traditional publishers after taking off, due to the clock app.

And as time goes on, I’ll probably be buying more traditionally published adult romance, especially if they were originally indie, and trad publishers picked them up due to the power of social media (largely the clock app). It means that trad published romance is being influenced by indies, who can expand what trad pub audiences normally devour. It feels more democratic to me: instead of publishers gatekeeping what is being published, they’re desperate to acquire those indie, boundary-pushing books that readers are passionate about, and spread them even further than just indie readers.

I think that’s fantastic.

Nemo
Nemo

About Nemo

A lover of kittens and all things sparkly, Nemo has a degree in English Literature and specialises in reviewing contemporary, paranormal, mystery/thriller, historical, sci-fi and fantasy Young Adult fiction. She is especially drawn to novels about princesses, strong female friendships, magical powers, and assassins.

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