"His muscles were strong... their love was stronger" bad romance novel cover

The Weirdest Romance Sub-genres You’ve Never Heard Of

You’ve heard of paranormal romance—now get ready for single dad romance. While researching December book releases for another article, I had no idea that I was about to discover something that would change my life forever: a bizarre collection of niche romance genres so incredibly specific that they sounded more like book titles than categories. (That’s not to say that I think Office Romance – Enemies to Lovers is the next bestseller.) I foolishly had thought that there were two main types of romance: love and not love. But I was wrong—I forgot cowboy romance.


Sports Romance


'Erik' by Sawyer Bennett


The most shocking thing about sports romance is that there’s also a category called “sexy sports romance,” which begs the question—what’s so unsexy about regular sports romance? (Besides, you know, the everything.) A recent sports romance release, Erik by Sawyer Bennett (a.k.a. Pseudonym Pseudonym) doesn’t seem to be the most conservative: “working as a flight attendant on the team plane, Blue Gardner just wants to do her job well. She certainly wants nothing to do with Erik as her plans don’t include a sexy but arrogant hockey player in her life.” You might notice that it says SEXY in the blurb. Apparently, it’s just not sexy enough.


Sexy Sports Romance


'Squeeze Play' by Kate Angell


Squeeze Play by Kate Angell is far sexier than Erik if its genre adds any significance… possibly because it involves an entire team of sexy but arrogant athletes instead of just the one? Angell describes her novel as “the first in a steamy new series of romances featuring a hunky baseball team and the sirens who challenge the players in the game of love.” You might notice it says STEAMY, not SEXY. I would have thought Steamy Sports Romance would be its own category.


Sexy Romance


'Once Upon a Cowboy' by Stina Lindenblatt


Nothing is particularly confusing about the words “sexy” or “romance.” What is confusing is the exact middle ground between “romance” and “erotica.” It seems reasonable to assume that, for a sex scene, erotica zooms in where romance fades to black. Romance readers say there’s a broad range of what content is appropriate for regular romance—some novels are chaste while others are more graphic. My hot take? Sexy romance is the same as regular romance but with more phrases like: “her most secret, womanly place.” Stina Lindenblatt‘s sexy romance novel Once Upon a Cowboy blurb reads:

She’s tired of being single. She’s ready to find her soul mate—or at least a nice man. The issue? She’s socially awkward around guys she’s interested in. The solution? Recruit Jake to be her “fairy godfather” and help her be more confident, especially around the new veterinarian who just moved into town.

Let’s just note that this description is not particularly sexy, as it doesn’t say the word SEXY even once. It also manages not to say the word COWBOY, which, given the title, is more confusing than it is relieving.


Erotic Romance


'A Price to Pay' by Alice Raine


We have a new category along the all—inclusive spectrum that is book porn-erotic romance. Neither sexy romance nor full-on erotica, erotic romance is apparently too pornographic to be just sexy and not pornographic enough to be actual porn. It’s important to note that these are not different descriptions of the same phenomena—each of these descriptions is from the same website. As for erotic romance specifically, Alice Raine‘s A Price to Pay  gives us an example:

Robyn Scott is a struggling writer living in London. The romantic comedies she writes just aren’t cutting it anymore when all readers seem to want these days are hot, erotic stories..Tall, dark and with a wicked twinkle in his eye, Oliver agrees to help her with her research, but from the way he looks at her like a lone wolf stalking its prey Robyn may end up getting a whole lot more than she bargained for…

It’s not erotica, it’s not sexy romance, and it’s probably not that plot-heavy.


Rock Star Romance

'Close' by Laurelin Paige


Close by Laurelin Paige details the story of a fling with a rockstar, which is sexy, but not sexy enough to be sexy romance—either that, or it’s too specific. Sexy romance is, of course, not too specific at all. Paige writes: “I’m America’s Sweetheart. I have a reputation. He’s a boy-band icon turned rock god. I’m vanilla. He’s every flavor of bad. And he’s much, much too young for me. If I end up in Nick Ryder’s bed, my career and I will both be screwed….”


Sexy Musical Romance

'Player' by Staci Hart

Image Via Sultrysirensbookblog.com


This, apparently, is what happens when the musician in question is not successful enough to become a rockstar. While this genre sounds like a description of what happens backstage or at a cast party, it’s apparently what happens when sexy musicians aren’t famous but are still sexy. The blurb for Player by Staci Hart demonstrates sexiness, music, and some really cutting-edge prose: “He’s a player. He plays the bass with expert fingers. He plays women with intoxicating charm. And he’ll play me with the ease of a virtuoso. Who better to teach me to play than the master himself?” If he was really such a master, maybe he could have been the protagonist of a rock star romance novel.

Doctor-Patient Forbidden Romance


'Temperance' by Cassia Leo


This genre, also known as ‘medical malpractice,’ gives a whole new meaning to playing doctor. Temperance author Cassia Leo writes:

Mr. C’s sex addiction is threatening to take over his life. The only thing keeping it from consuming him is his twice-weekly one-hour video chat session with Dr. Grayson. Though his webcam is pointed at a nondescript area of his study, her webcam is always pointed at those succulent lips and her long, lithe legs, which he can’t stop fantasizing about. He must have her. Will Leah and Mr. C submit to their forbidden passion?

Will we ever know the difference between romance, sexy romance, and erotica? Someone must.


'Up My Chimney' by Johnny Dangerous and Emily Sweetly


Of course, these categories are not the same as niche types of erotica, which have subcategories within their subcategories. Mythical creature erotica is one such subcategory—and under that, creatures like Santa Claus, the protagonist of Up My Chimney by Johnny Dangerous. Johnny, probably is not the only dangerous thing about this story.


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