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Romance on my mind

Valentine's Day is coming up, which makes me think about the meaning of the word romance. According to the Wikipedia entry for romance as a genre, the word started life with a capital R, and meant a secular work, written in a Romance language rather than serious a religious, scientific, or philosophical work, written in Latin.

Now, of course, when people hear "romance", they think bodice ripper—a bare-chested hunk on the cover holding a babe in a low-cut dress. But a recent article in the Guardian about a British author who won the award for (British) Romantic Novel of the Year, suggests making the word back into an adjective. Freya North, author of Pillow Talk, wants to call her work "romantic fiction" instead of either romance or chick lit. Her award-winning plot involves a sleepwalker and an insomniac. The two protagonists are long-lost childhood sweethearts who run into each other after 17 years apart.

As a proponent of the broad term "speculative fiction," I can hardly disagree with North. I am all for broads in fiction.

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