Our blogstress friend Bookworm Room has posted in the past about the well-crafted, well-researched historical romances that filled women’s reading lists in the recent past (Georgette Heyer, the doyenne of British Regency novels who died in 1974, is a particular favorite of Bookworm Room) that have been supplanted by today’s generally thin, poorly written, insufficiently plotted “chick lit”.

Now Bookworm Room has another terrific post on romance novels. She points out that the genre, if largely dead in its native Britain, is actually alive and well here in America. And in American romance novels–in contrast to chick lit but very similarly to the classic British romances–we can find a staunch old-fashioned morality that has all but died out elsewhere in literature. American romance heroines are genuine heroines, who make mistake–don’t we all?–but in the end stand up for the right and good things.

Bookworm Room writes:

“In these books, the women want to have children with the book’s romantic hero.  If they get pregnant accidentally, the thought of an abortion is anathema to them. Indeed, you can instantly distinguish the bounder from the hero in these books by the fact that the bounder urges the woman to have an abortion, while the hero is excited by the pregnancy and the thought of a child – even if the child isn’t his own.

“The second major difference (again, limited to the authors I read) is that the heroines in American romances are admirable people. They do not drink, smoke or do drugs.  They believe in ethical behavior.  They are attracted to the hero because he too is an ethical creature.  Indeed, it’s often the case that the hero’s attraction is the fact that, in an immoral world, he bucks the trend and consistently does the right thing.  To the extent these heroines have failings, something that makes them more readily identifiable with the reader, they’re friendly failings – she may be too impetutous, she may get in trouble for refusing to back down from a legitimate fight, she drinks too much coffee, her hair frizzes.”

And in case your interest is piqued in exploring this rich genre, which outsells any other kind of fiction in America, Bookworm Room provides a handy list of romance authors to try.