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Guest blogger: Rachael Johns

8 November 2020

Romantic women’s fiction

Today I want to get something off my chest!! Over the past few years I’ve seen a lot of authors calling their romance novels women’s fiction or vice versa and I think this is a disservice to both genres and the readers who favour one of the other.

First, let me say that I believe both genres are AWESOME. I read and write in both of them. Sometimes I want to read a book where the focus is on a central love story and it has an emotionally and satisfying ending (ROMANCE) and sometimes I’m in the mood for a book that focuses much more on a woman’s (or a group of women’s) emotional journey as they navigate the issues and challenges in everyday life. You know—conflicts with siblings, children, parents, work colleagues—that kind of stuff. I believe that both romance and women’s fiction are, at their core, stories about relationships, but the latter doesn’t have to be about romantic relationships at all.

So, there are romance novels (AWESOME) and women’s fiction novels (AWESOME) but then there are ALSO books that Avery Cove describes as a marriage between the two. These books are women’s fiction novels with strong romantic elements (romantic women’s fiction). The focus is on the woman’s (or women’s) journey as they navigate some particular life issue, but there will also be a gorgeous hero who comes along and plays an important role in the story. Whereas in a romance novel, the romance IS the main plot, in romantic women’s fiction the romance is usually a subplot.

I have written books that sit firmly in the romance category (my rural romances) and others that sit in the category of women’s fiction (The Art of Keeping Secrets, The Greatest Gift, Lost Without You) but my favourite women’s fiction books that I have read and written have been those with strong romance elements (The Patterson Girls, Just One Wish and my latest book Flying the Nest), where you get the best of BOTH genres.

For example, in Flying the Nest, the protagonist (Ashling) is confronting major issues in her marriage and has to face the possibility of becoming a single mum and sharing equal custody with her husband. This book is about Ashling working out whether her marriage is worth fighting for, supporting her children through not only the emotional turmoil of parental separation but also other issues faced by today’s teens AND trying to work out what she wants for herself and who she wants to be going forward. The fact she meets a handsome fisherman on this journey and happens to hit it off and find a fantastic emotional and physical connection is a big bonus (of course it also brings its own complications), but it’s not the main thrust of the book.

Having thought a while about this, I believe that rather than only thinking in terms of romance OR women’s fiction, we need to embrace this hybrid genre of romantic women’s fiction and recognise that it is different to romance and different to women’s fiction. This genre is catnip for readers who love both romance AND women’s fiction and want it all in one book.

Some of my favourite authors who write romantic women’s fiction are Kristan Higgins and Katherine Center, and I also adored Maisey Yate’s debut in this genre, Secrets from a Happy Marriage (out in US already, but not available in Australia till next year).

I’d love to hear any recommendations for fabulous books in the genre of romantic women’s fiction. Do you have a fave? Do you like this genre? Or do you prefer books that are either romance OR women’s fiction?

You can find Rachael here: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Flying the Nest

They say a change is as good as a holiday…but what if you don’t want either?

Is her family’s happiness more important than her own?

The first time Ashling Wood realises her marriage is on the rocks is when her husband, Adrian, suggests they try nest parenting. Heartbroken, Ash suddenly finds herself living a double life – one week with her children, the next cohabiting with her happily single sister-in-law. Her friends think the modern custody solution is an exciting opportunity for her to spread her wings, but all Ash wants is her family back together.

An offer to renovate a seaside cottage seems like the perfect distraction for Ash while waiting for Adrian to come to his senses. She’s determined to fix her marriage as well as the cottage, but life gets even more complicated when she meets local fisherman Dan Emerson.

Soon, each home-stay becomes more dysfunctional, while for the other week Ash enjoys the peaceful life of the beachside community. The more time Ash spends in Ragged Point, the more she questions what she really wants. Is a sea-change the fresh start she needs to move on?

When tragedy calls Ash back to the city, she’s torn between the needs of her family and her future. Can her family life fit in with a permanent move to the beach or could Ash’s new-found independence attract Adrian back to the nest?

  1. 9 November 2020 6:42 am

    Great post, Rachael. You make excellent points.

    • Rachael Johns permalink
      9 November 2020 11:49 am

      Thanks Sandy!!! I’ve pre-ordered a print copy of your Christmas book and can’t wait to read it. x

  2. 8 November 2020 1:05 pm

    Hi Rachael

    I totally agree with on this and I read across all three genres and love them, I have read many yours of course and there are so many more 🙂

    have Fun


    • Rachael Johns permalink
      8 November 2020 1:22 pm

      Thanks so much Helen – you are such a great support of romance, women’s fiction and romantic women’s fiction 😉 Really appreciate you. xx

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