Contemporary has always been my favorite genre and although there are lots of different directions a Contemporary story can take, the two that come to my mind most often are the tough issues (which I prefer) and romance. I'm going to admit right now that I've been a bit... prejudiced against the romantic fiction my whole life. I've never been terribly interested in reading a story where the only thing that really happens is a love story and the challenges thrown up to thwart them so we can all cheer and be happy when they get past them.
Don't get me wrong, I like a love interest as much as the next girl, but I like it to be a part of the story, not the story. And for a long time, I just didn't read anything if it seemed like the main (or only real) plotline was a romance. But after I started blogging, and I got to talking to more and more people, reading more and more reviews, I started thinking that maybe I should give them more of a chance. I mean, I hadn't even wanted to read a Sarah Dessen book, because I wrote it off as romantic fluff.
So I did. And it's still not my favorite book to read, but I admit to liking them a lot more than I thought I would. Books like this are just a lot of fluffy fun. And, I've discovered that some of them are super enjoyable and just tons and tons of fun, even if they are a bit fluffier than my normal read. And, I've been surprised more than once by a book I thought was nothing but fluff having a lot of hidden depth and emotional reality to it.
I so most definitely still prefer the romance in my books to be a part of the story. Books like Jellicoe Road don't rely on the romance, but its inclusion enriches the story and the characters. Or The Piper's Son, also by Melina Marchetta. The love interest in this book is more the remembrance of a girl he loved in his past, before his life went to hell and he needs to get his life together before he can turn around and pursue her again, or he'll just end up hurting her all over again. That is the way I prefer my romance. As something the enhances the story, encourages growth between characters but isn't the focal point of the story. I prefer books where the romance could be taken out of the story and the plot itself would still essentially be whole. Obviously, the romance is important, because there are things that other people can teach us that we simply cannot learn on our own. But when the story completely and totally falls apart at the removal of the romance, I do find that I have to try harder to maintain my interest.
But through recommendations from other bloggers and giving myself a chance to read outside my comfort zone, I've discovered that these romances that I had previously written off as little more than the literary equivalent to cotton candy are often full of a surprising amount of depth.
Contemporary Romance is never going to be my favorite genre. But after reading books by authors like Sarah Dessen, Elizabeth Scott and Stephanie Perkins, I'm no longer so quick to brush it aside and I actually look forward to reading even more.
So if you have some Contemporary Romance recommendations for me, let me know! This subgenre isn't an easy sell for me, but I'm trying to branch out more and one can never have too many recommendations.