Contemporary Romance: Book Genre Explained – Ultimate Guide

Contemporary romance is a sub-genre of romance that primarily focuses on the romantic relationships between characters set in the current time period. As a genre, it explores the complexities of modern love, the dynamics of contemporary relationships, and the trials and tribulations that couples face in today’s world.

Contemporary Romance: Book Genre Explained - Ultimate Guide

This genre is characterized by its realistic settings, relatable characters, and plots that often mirror the challenges and issues faced in real-life relationships. From office romances to second-chance love stories, contemporary romance offers a wide range of narratives that cater to diverse reader interests.

Defining Contemporary Romance

Contemporary romance, as a genre, is defined by its setting and the time period in which the story takes place. Unlike historical romance, which is set in the past, or futuristic romance, which is set in the future, contemporary romance is set in the present day.

While the setting and time period are crucial elements in defining the genre, the focus of contemporary romance is on the romantic relationship between the characters. The development of this relationship, its challenges, and its resolution form the core of the narrative.

Elements of Contemporary Romance

The primary elements of contemporary romance include a modern setting, believable characters, a focus on the romantic relationship, and a satisfying and optimistic ending. The setting is typically realistic and could be anywhere in the world, reflecting the global nature of today’s society.

Characters in contemporary romance are often relatable and face issues and challenges that readers can identify with. The romantic relationship is central to the plot, and the story usually ends with the characters achieving a happy or satisfying resolution to their relationship.

Sub-genres of Contemporary Romance

Contemporary romance is a broad genre that encompasses several sub-genres. These sub-genres include romantic suspense, romantic comedy, military romance, sports romance, and new adult romance, among others. Each sub-genre has its own unique characteristics and themes, but all fall under the umbrella of contemporary romance.

Romantic suspense combines elements of suspense or mystery with a romantic storyline. Romantic comedy, or rom-com, infuses humor into the romantic narrative. Military romance focuses on characters who are in the military or have a military background. Sports romance revolves around characters who are athletes or involved in the sports industry. New adult romance typically features characters in their early twenties and deals with issues relevant to this age group.

Characteristics of Contemporary Romance Novels

Contemporary romance novels are characterized by their focus on the romantic relationship, their realistic settings, and their relatable characters. The narrative is driven by the romantic relationship and its development, with the characters’ emotional growth being a key aspect of the story.

The settings in contemporary romance novels are realistic and reflect the world as it is today. This can include urban settings, small towns, or even exotic locations. The characters are often ordinary people facing real-life challenges, making them relatable to readers.

Plot Structure

The plot structure of a contemporary romance novel typically follows the development of the romantic relationship. The story usually begins with the characters meeting or reconnecting, followed by the development of their relationship, the conflict or challenge they face, and finally, the resolution of their relationship.

The conflict in the story often arises from external factors, such as career challenges or family issues, or internal factors, such as emotional baggage or personal insecurities. The resolution usually involves the characters overcoming their challenges and achieving a satisfying or happy ending to their relationship.


Contemporary romance novels explore a wide range of themes that reflect the complexities of modern relationships. These can include themes of self-discovery, personal growth, forgiveness, and the power of love. The exploration of these themes adds depth to the narrative and allows readers to connect with the characters on a deeper level.

Other common themes include second chances, where characters get a chance to rekindle a past relationship, and opposites attract, where characters who are polar opposites fall in love. The exploration of these themes adds an element of unpredictability to the narrative and keeps readers engaged.

Popular Contemporary Romance Authors

There are numerous authors who have made significant contributions to the contemporary romance genre. These authors have created memorable characters, crafted engaging narratives, and explored diverse themes, contributing to the popularity and evolution of the genre.

Some of the most notable contemporary romance authors include Nora Roberts, Nicholas Sparks, Danielle Steel, and Susan Mallery. These authors have a large following and have written numerous bestsellers, cementing their place in the contemporary romance genre.

Nora Roberts

The Witness

Nora Roberts is a prolific author who has written over 200 novels, many of which are contemporary romance. Her novels are known for their engaging narratives, relatable characters, and exploration of diverse themes. Some of her most popular contemporary romance novels include “The Witness“, “The Search“, and “Public Secrets“.

Roberts’ writing style is characterized by its emotional depth, vivid descriptions, and engaging dialogues. Her characters are well-developed and relatable, and her stories often explore themes of family, community, and the power of love.

Nicholas Sparks

The Notebook

Nicholas Sparks is a bestselling author known for his emotional and poignant contemporary romance novels. His novels often explore themes of love, loss, and redemption, and are known for their emotional depth and compelling narratives. Some of his most popular novels include “The Notebook“, “A Walk to Remember“, and “Dear John“.

Sparks’ writing style is characterized by its emotional intensity, vivid descriptions, and compelling characters. His stories often feature ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances, and his exploration of the complexities of love and relationships resonates with readers.


Contemporary romance is a popular and diverse genre that explores the complexities of modern relationships. With its realistic settings, relatable characters, and focus on the romantic relationship, it offers readers a chance to experience the joys, challenges, and complexities of love in today’s world.

Whether it’s a heartwarming story of second chances, a humorous rom-com, or a suspenseful romance filled with intrigue, contemporary romance offers something for everyone. It’s a genre that continues to evolve and grow, reflecting the changing dynamics of relationships in the modern world.

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Kathryn Taylor