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The romance novel or romantic novel is a literary genre. Novels of this type of genre fiction place their primary focus on the relationship and romantic love between two people, and must have an "emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending." There are many subgenres of the romance novel including fantasy, historical, science fiction and paranormal.
Some scholars see precursors to the genre fiction romance novels in literary fiction of the 18th and 19th centuries, including Samuel Richardson's sentimental novel Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded (1740) and the novels of Jane Austen. Austen inspired Georgette Heyer, the British author of historical romance set around the time Austen lived, as well as detective fiction. Heyer's first romance novel The Black Moth, set in 1751, was published in 1921.
The British company Mills and Boon began releasing escapist fiction for women in the 1930s. Their books were sold in North America by Harlequin Enterprises Ltd, which began direct marketing to readers and allowing mass-market merchandisers to carry the books.
It is often claimed that the first truly American popular love romance was published in 1972, with Avon's publication of American author Kathleen Woodiwiss's The Flame and the Flower, which was the first single-title romance novel to be published as an original paperback in the US, though in the UK the romance genre was long established through the works of Georgette Heyer, and from the 1950s Catherine Cookson, as well as others. Nancy Coffey was the senior editor who negotiated a multi-book deal with Woodiwiss. The genre boomed in the 1980s, with the addition of many different categories of romance and an increased number of single-title romances, but popular authors started pushing the boundaries of the both genre and plot, as well as creating more contemporary characters.
In North America, romance novels are the most popular literary genre, comprising almost 55% of all paperback books sold in 2004. The genre is also popular in Europe and Australia, and romance novels appear in 90 languages. Most of the books, however, are written by authors from English-speaking countries, leading to an Anglo-Saxon perspective in the fiction. Despite the popularity and widespread sales of romance novels, the genre has attracted significant derision, skepticism and criticism. Romance erotica seems to be on the rise as more women explore this new subgenre. Erotica is a term used to describe scenes in the novel that are risqué but not pornographic.
Based on the bestselling novel by master storyteller Nicholas Sparks, The Longest Ride centers on the star-crossed love affair between Luke, a former champion bull rider looking to make a comeback, and Sophia, a college student who is about to embark upon her dream job in New York City’s art world. As conflicting paths and ideals test their relationship, Sophia and Luke make an unexpected and fateful connection with Ira, whose memories of his own decades-long romance with his beloved wife deeply inspire the young couple. Spanning generations and two intertwining love stories, The Longest Ride explores the challenges and infinite rewards of enduring love.