The Bizarre World of Romance’s Niche Market

Written by Amy Smolcic


Romance publishing is big business to authors and publishers — in the US alone, romance sales equated to $1.08 billion dollars in 2013, which also made up 13 per cent of their adult fiction market. Forget chick-lit or adult contemporary romance, there’s a whole realm of branches within the romance genre. There’s a market for everybody and romance caters to every quirk no matter how crazy you think it may be. Here’s your guide to the areas in romance you may have never heard about:

Disclaimer: be prepared for some serious cringing.

Amish Romance — The Amish can get sexy too

Yes, even the Amish — who only find sex acceptable within marriage and as a way to honor God — have their own sub-genre. Amish romance is typically written by evangelical Christian women and are referred to in the industry as ‘bonnet rippers’ (you can get the idea why they call them this). Because these novels are read by women of faith, you’re not going to get any intense whip action — you’ll be relieved to know that whips are strictly for horses. The protagonist of these novels are on the search for that everlasting love and sex is only implied, but babies seem to randomly appear in the story. If you want to read about characters who have a roll in the hay without the explicit details, Amish romances may be for you.

Centaurs — yes, it’s as creepy as it sounds

I find this one a little disturbing, but I’m not going to judge — if you find half horse and half man creatures sexy, well I’ve found the perfect sub-genre for you. When I mentioned earlier that there is a market for everybody, I meant it. After romance readers lusted for vampires, wizards and werewolves, publishers of paranormal romance novels were left searching for their next angle, somehow they decided that men who were part horse were it. There isn’t much to add as I don’t need to go into detail of the specifics of this kind of erotica, I’ll leave it to your imagination (or not).

NASCAR — get your engines revving

NASCAR and Harlequin linked up in an unusual partnership that saw the top romance publisher agree to publish three dozen novels. Apparently the genre has been popular with men too, who probably get turned on by the poetic descriptions of the mechanical problems and racing maneuvers. It seems like an odd partnership, but NASCAR does have over 75 million fans, 30 million of them are women. Because NASCAR promotes itself as family friendly, don’t expect these books to get too racy. But, as I mentioned earlier, nothing is stopping you from getting turned on from the cars if that is your thing.

Gargoyles — sexy statues that come to life

Just when you thought you have heard it all, there’s a market for readers who see the sex appeal in gargoyles. Gargoyle romance stories tend to come under the urban romance and paranormal romance umbrella. Instead of researching the details into relations between humans and gargoyle men, I’m going to leave this one here. I don’t think any of us want to know how it works.

Demons – the real bad boys of romance

Many read romance novels as they crave for a bad boy romance. Did you know there is a market for women who take this to another level and lust for demons? No? Well, now you do. As you have probably realised, the paranormal romance sector of the romance genre tends to be the most creative with their characters. Not only do some women aspire to turn a bad boy good, some also strive to stop their love interest from working with Satan.

Romance is a broad genre that can appeal to so much different interests. Publishers of romance novels are constantly on the search for books that cater to the desires of their readers – as I mentioned earlier, there’s a market for everybody in romance. You name the creature and setting and there’s probably a gripping romance novel about it and an audience who is craving for more.