Romance Novels For Men?

I was chatting with a non-writer friend of mine this morning and she said she’d heard on a radio show somewhere a discussion about ebooks being on the rise and how many people are reading things they wouldn’t read before because they aren’t being judged by the cover.  And one of the genres mentioned was growing was romance novels for men.

Say what?

This was a Christian radio show, so I guarantee they weren’t talking about the growing popularity of m/m romance (which is still apparently predominantly written by women, for women–I don’t get that, but we’re moving on).

I’ve heard of men writing romance under a female pseudonym.  But I’ve never heard of an actual romance genre for men.  A quick google search didn’t do me any good, so I put the question to you, dear readers:

Have you heard of a romance genre for men?

I’m very curious about this.  What would romance for men look like compared to the genre conventions we are accustomed to for women?  Given the different psychological wiring, I would expect that men reading romance would have some different expectations.  What does a man’s man in a romance novel written for men look like compared to our alpha heroes with heroine tunnel vision?  Would romance novels for men still focus on the equality and partnership of the hero and heroine?

What do you think?

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31 comments

  1. My husband is kind of awesome… He’s read two romance novels that I know of. Now the first one he read was purely because of the title. (“Truly Madly Viking” if you were curious.) The other was because… Honestly, I don’t know why he read that one. I might have made him? Or was it “historical” reference for era?

    Anyways, both times he told me “I would have read both those books without the sex.” In his opinion the sex and romance messed up rather interesting plots. So you have me curious as well.

  2. Hmmm…that is an interesting question. Speaking from a man’s perspective, I would think the focus would be more on the physical aspects of the relationship, maybe less equality, more support of the male by the female? A female being accepting of the male and his “weaknesses”? I honestly don’t know. That’s a really good question. I’m not sure there is an answer. Part of me wonders if there would even be a difference. Yes, men and women are wired differently, but at the same time…eh…I think I just melted my brain.

    Good post! Very thought provoking.

    Ah, this just popped into my head. The “alpha” male wouldn’t be “alpha” so much as someone who would be unlikely to be considered “sexy” or “hot” or “alpha”. A guy who would be sensitive and maybe a little unsure of himself. Guys want reassurance that they are good enough for the beautiful, sexy, “alpha” class woman. The guy wouldn’t be ugly, but he wouldn’t be someone that had women drooling over him. His insecurities and lack of Alpha status would mean he would generally be eclipsed by the alphas around him. Grr…now you got me thinking of it and I’m starting to formulate an idea.

    Hopefully that answers your question, Kait. :D

  3. I haven’t heard of it but I think Andrew hit on one possible appeal. I think Roni Loren mentioned it somewhere, or maybe she paraphrased something her hubby said. Anyway, what it boiled down to was: The reason romance books have Mr Perfect and Ms Average is so the reader (predominately female) relates. It makes sense, if there is a male romance genre out there, the reverse would hold, Ms Perfect and Mr Average.

    Come to think of it, that might be fun to explore :)

  4. Hey! Here’s an other male POV on the topic for you. ;) I should warn though that I read SF and fantasy (mostly), and read those genres *even if they happen to be in the romance category*. In other words, if you’ve got a romance novel which is also science fiction, with a gripping plot and a lot going on, odds are decent I’ll like it. So yeah, I scan the romance lists periodically too. I’ve made an extra habit of it because I’ve enjoyed them enough that I’d like to try writing some, at some point (once I’ve read more).

    I don’t think there’s really a lot of difference. There’s a great deal of scientific survey data demonstrating that on average, men consider themselves romantic in their relationships (men show up as more romantic than women in most studies). Granted, said research was probably designed by men – which means it is potentially slanted toward male ideas of romance! But the point is that men DO obviously consider themselves romantic creatures.

    Tell an engrossing story about two people falling in love, and odds are good you can hook guys as well as women.

    I’m not quite so sure Andrew is correct, as a result. Romance novels today have Ms. Perfect and Mr. Perfect. The women are generally gorgeous, independent, strong willed, and either confident or learn confidence through the story. That’s wish fulfillment for the women readers, who *want to be like that*. Likewise, men get the same thing when reading about strong, confident, handsome, males who are also in touch with their emotions (or become so) in a successful manner: i.e. everything men are told they *ought* to be, in the modern world.

    Romance books seem to me to be about wish fulfillment, in a lot of ways. I think hitting that for both genders doesn’t really require changing much of anything. It just requires both characters be written deeply and well enough that the reader can attach to them emotionally.

    I have to say, I suspect ereaders will help, too. For all that men consider themselves romantic, it’s not really socially acceptable for men to read romance in the US today, in most circles. But ereaders do provide that nice mask, not revealing what you’re reading. I think it’s a little silly to be ashamed of what you want to read, but I know it’s not an uncommon feeling among men.

  5. I’ve tried to read some pieces that my wife thought I’d like. Typically, the normal romance novels that she reads are just too high in the sex and unrealistic body shapes. Even with the sex, it often isn’t true to real life. It’s like guys watching porn. It just doesn’t happen that way in real life. The drama is off the charts too. For me, I don’t mind stories that have a romance element to them but if they’re jumping in the sack more than once, there’s too much sex. I want to see the relationship between them and I want to see real conflicts. I want to see them overcoming their own issues. I don’t care how “hot” it is.

    1. If I wanted to read about sex I’d go read porn. I want to read about the characters emotional attachments towards one another. I want to read about pain and heartache and the kind of eventual never ending love that are only attributed to fairy tales. I want to read about women who rescue a guy on a self destruct course, and eventually fall in love with him. I want to read about hard core guys that fall for the girl who is so innocent that they have to protect her even from them-self. Louis L’Amour used to do that. Rough and tumble cowboy comes into rescue a town and there was always some pretty gal caught up with the bad guys that he’d have to rescue.

  6. When Jonathan Eli wrote his SciFi book, The Last Cabbandeum, he added some romance. There was a relationship between two characters, and it never got very physical. It was mostly emotional. So I wonder if some men are just AFRAID to read something that might strike an emotional nerve. LOL

    Btw, my husband would rather be beaten than to read a romance. He told me he might read The Gnome, but he won’t read my romances.

    1. Nah, I’m with Ryan on this one. I find (personally, at least) that the romance novels with more appeal are the ones with *less* sex but *more* emotional charge. I don’t think Ryan and I are atypical, either. If a book has more than one sex scene, my eyes are probably going to start glazing over… ;) It’s the emotional voyage that is key.

  7. Very interesting post Kait. And based on personal experience I have to agree, it seems romance for men is a genre on the rise: I received about 3-4 review requests in the past 2 weeks by male authors who have penned romance novels “not like your usual romance novel”, one of them was Third Rate Romance (Whispers Publishing) “a first-of-its-kind romance novel for men”. I don’t know yet how these are different from female romance novels, but I’m curious! :-)

  8. I’ve had an idea for a romance story in the back of my head for awhile (and it’ll be awhile before I get to it). I can’t say that I’m writing it as a romance novel for men; my intention was for it to be a romance novel for everyone. All I have are vague ideas now but: deffinately told from the male POV, the main character isn’t an ‘ALPHA’ male, he’s a quiet but confident person, wasn’t planning on a lot of sex scenes but I figured the story would tell me what to do when I get there, the idea mostly focuses on two people’s growing love for each other and what happens when that is challenged. He changes, softens emotionally and she loves him for all his faults. There’s a few scenes I have down and a few that contradict each other so I can’t say how it’ll exactly end up. It’s the journey that makes it so much fun.

  9. I don’t think there is a romance for men market – rather it’s really that there is (and probably always has existed) a market where men get to be the hero but the woman can be a strong counter-part. Think Princess Lea or Susan Silverman from Spenser for Hire. Even Lee Childs Reacher series – which is about as traditional action-hero book there is – the women generally hold their own.

    And this has been growing for years – like I mentioned – Princess Lea was no slouch (much more gutsy than what Lucas came up with Amadala). In comics – some of the most powerful characters have been women – going well beyond Wonder Woman.

  10. I heard a theory years ago that westerns were romance novels for men. I thought it was crazy at first, but there are certainly stories that have components of romance, and as Mark says above, it’s a genre where men are heroes and women are strong counterparts.

  11. I like Kevin’s perspective here. My husband has a similar perspective. He doesn’t really care to read a lot of sex scenes, but if the story is gripping and appealing on multiple levels, he’ll put up with it. He mostly reads military thrillers, but he loves George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. He tells me he could do without all the brutal sex in ASOIAF, but he loves the storylines. He reads my stuff, which always seems to end up with at least one romantic storyline, and even though he says he thinks it’s probably more appealing to women, he does like it. But there has to be some kind of other story going on for him to read the romance.

    Now, this is not to say he’s not romantic. If you figure that romance is really, at its core, finding that one thing that matters to your love interest and then meeting that need, he’s managed to completely overwhelm me with romantic gestures several times. They aren’t always the most conventional romantic gestures–i.e., not always flowers and chocolate and gemstones–but they’ve met some need or desire, even if it wasn’t one I recognized. That’s paying attention. That’s romance.

  12. Maybe this explains the adult male fans for my YA fantasy. Though there are romantic elements, the romance is very, um, organic? It’s not the focus, though it’s a strong one. It’s tied in with everything else. Like the character flaws.

    I mean, the male lead in one story actually slaps a girl across the face. Nobody’s protested that, yet. In fact, I usually get folks commenting on how “sweet” the guy is. (To be fair, the female lead of that story probably has a worse temper than he does. She’s just usually too frightened to blow her top.)

    However, a lot of the “romance” in my stories actually is “finding that one thing that matters to your love interest and then meeting that need” (to quote Amy). So maybe that explains why guys like my stories. ^_^

  13. Romance books are an interesting genre. As a guy I would read any novel with a little bit of romance such as Chris Ryan’s stories that involve just a little bit of sex which is not too descriptive or common. I toook a glance at my girlfriend’s romance book and almost broke her tablet due to the graphic and overdescriptive sex scenes (honestly, who needs to know that “he shook and trembled inside her”? I think a romance novel for guys should focus on the emotions that goes on, not the amount of sex characters have. That and another storyline with some action ;)

  14. I agree with Dean,today romantic novels lack romantic sense and are full of stupid sex fables. Those novels are so happy-happy tales that are void of any mention of practical troubles.

  15. My wife just started reading her first romance novel. Which is why I found your blogg. I was wondering myself if there was such a thing as romance for men. After reading a few of the post I am a bit surprised how many have a negative reaction to these types of books. I am a romantic, maybe this is why she has never read these books before. However, so many people talking about the same book had her intrigued and now she simply can not put the book down. She is not much of a reader so to see her devour so many chapters I had to seek a peak at the read. Which, again leads me here and to a question I have to ask. The romance and sex scenes written about in many of these books (assuming they are much the same) would you say these derive from what a man would want a women to do, or what a women would want to have done? Because within that question you would have the answer to who the books are written for. If my wife was to write a journal on her fantasy, I would sell everything or borrow against my life to fulfil it! So now I am at a cross road. After twenty five years of spoiling her with all that I have, can there be yet a new level I could take her, and if so, by all means write it out!!

    1. Romance is typically very much written for women. The love scenes in most of these books focus on the emotional side–not to the exclusion of the physical, but usually MORE than the physical, because psychologically, it’s what women are typically wired to respond to. As to our fantasies–that varies from woman to woman, just as it would from man to man. But I think romance love scenes provide a safe way to explore things on that level and perhaps a means of sharing our desires with a partner that we’re too shy to say outright ourselves.

      1. Kait,
        So what you are saying is that there is typically a difference between fantasies and the “hot” button that is wired into all women. Since this to may differ from person to person, they may or may not respond to individual scenes. However, I noticed in some of the posts that not all people are ok with some of the explicit scenes (if you will). But as my wife and I talked about this very thing, your going to get that when you are talking about a book. Since the author must explain in more detail than say a movie scene where visual and body language is implied. You as an author have to “paint” the picture. Not an area I have explored before, with this type of reading, but I have to admit, I am interested in what a romance series for men would look/sound like.

  16. I know I am a little late to this conversation, but I wanted to ask two questions. One, does anyone know of any authors at there who are writing romance or romance-like books from the man’s perspective? That is, instead of the big hunky guy whisking the woman away (as his muscles rippled), are there books about a normal guy who meets the woman of his dreams. Maybe she whisks him away (minus the rippling).

    Secondly, in some way man have had their own “romance novels” for years. We just call them “action novels.” Prime example, just about everyone of the James Bond books (men want to be him, women want to be with him). How many times has Bond saved the woman only to start to care for her, and by the end it looks like he may just settle down with this one. Then he turns his communicator watch off to kiss her. Hell Bond was even married once.

    Anyway, I know it’s a stretch, that’s why I wanted to see of there were any romance novels from his point of view that don’t require a jetpack.

    1. Sure. Think about the film “Die Hard” (the first one). Very clearly a romance. =)

      You have an estranged couple who still love each other; you have another man wooing the woman. There are problems and dangers keeping them apart, but the hero overcomes those to win back the woman’s affection, while her other suitor proves he is unworthy. The hero beats the bad guys who threaten the heroine. And then there’s even a “happily ever after” ending.

      Seriously, think about it. Write it as a book, and it could sit on a romance shelf. ;)

  17. My wife has been telling me lately, after reading 50 shades, that she wants to read romance from a male perspective, written by males even. I must admit i am curious about this genre but for me it would have to be in the same idea as Bourne 1. The story with him and Franka Potente was awesome. I think its all about desire for men more than romance. We want her to desire us as we are playing John Maclane, then we notice this desire and the sex is more visually described than “This Feels, That Feels”. That’s My 2 cents anyway.

  18. Personally, I’d consider myself a quite romantic guy. Some years ago I noticed that in most cases, if there isn’t a romance in a given story, I won’t like it as much.
    I also picked up a Harlequin book about a year ago (via a manga adaptation of it), and have read quite a lot of them since. What I like about them is that romance is there and I don’t have to wonder whether there will be any in the first place (and if there is, whether anything will come of it). What I don’t like as much about them though, is that they rarely include the male perspective (and if they do include the male perspective, then those scenes are still in the minority) and that the male main character never is anything that could be called normal. Either he’s a millionaire, an aristocrat, or just an unrealistic hunk, most of the time a combination of those. (There were exceptions though, tbh, especially among the “Love Inspired” category, particularily its historical section. Those books had more normal people in it and usually don’t contain any sex; and if they do, it’s nowhere near as graphic as in other Harlequin books.).
    So I started looking for romance novels aimed at men just recently, which is how I ended up on this webpage.
    PS: It doesn’t matter if the girl isn’t Ms Perfect. It’s actually better if she’s a normal human too.

    1. If you get out of the category length romance and into the more mainstream, longer romance, you’ll find that the male perspective is more common and equal, and it tends to steer away from the tropes like the millionaire oil tycoon or whatever.

    2. I’ve looked around some more and have found Matt Dunn. So far read two of his sadly only seven books. I enjoyed the entirely male perspective in those books, though I couldn’t really identify with the respective protagonist’s commitment phobias.

      1. My wife has read paranormal romance for years. But just recently I’ve discovered an interest in contemporary set romance novels. Initially I read some of the F/F romances and thrillers by Gerri Hill, but I skipped the sex scenes and enjoyed the emotional content far more. Most recently I read Watch Over Me by Daniela Sacerdoti, a m/f romance with no sex scenes, but lots of deep emotional resonance.

  19. As an author of romance fiction, and a guy, and as a guy who wrote it from the male POV. I didn’t really write it with a male audience in mind although I’m sure there’s some male readers out there who would like it. What I found when trawling back through it (where I wrote it when i Was 18-19) was that my male character was pretty much not a macho hero, in fact, he was a very socially inept person but with a kind heart and was sensitive. He was pretty much a ‘dweeb’ but after falling in love he seemed to have come out of this shell and was more willing to do more dangerous things. Although because of the epic fantasy setting and that he loved a Soul Gazer (more on my site about what that is,) it was different than contemporary straight played romance. He was loved because he was sweet, kind and a nice person and they were both flawed in their own right. He felt like he had to earn her love I guess but it was written as I experienced love as a teenager.
    I think there are obviously going to be some ‘trueisms’ about romance, where regardless of POV, they’ll both be attracted physically to that person, and looks play a part. Psychologically, as well, I don’t think they’re too far apart, I wonder if you can replace the genders in a romance book and it still feel like the speaker is that person and doesn’t feel ungrounded.

    Thanks for the post, as someone interested in this kinda thing, it’s great to read and find a blog I want to follow.

  20. I took a chance on a kindle freebie the other day and…wow! I think this story might fit what you’re talking about. The book is called Gink by Jay J. Obee. I’ve never heard of the author. Clearly he’s self published. The story was shocking, but I couldn’t stop reading. I haven’t laughed that hard reading in quite a while. Definitely broke rules in the romance genre, but wouldn’t a romance marketed to men do that I guess?

    1. I think if it became a recognized thing there would ultimately be their own rules developed…and some rules like HEA or HFN would be standard across both because that simply is a rule of romance, period.

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