Thank you Kelly Hashway for reminding me of some ‘newer’ sub-genres. Yes these genres have been around for awhile but they are still more on the emerging side of romance. Steampunk and Dystopian Romance.
Remember what makes a romance, a romance. The additional plot points that would ruin the book if removed. That being said here are the best definitions that I can think of at the moment. Please feel free to add your opinions or questions.
Steampunk Is actually a sub-genre of science fiction. It is an alternate history generally falling in the Victorian era. Combine the themes of the era like corsets, social protocol, and cravats with technology that is generally steam powered. Add in the romantic elements which are usually a strong female and male character that typically challenge the ideology of the times and ta-da you have a Steampunk Romance… well sort of.
Dystopian Romance Is generally a romance that takes place post a major world altering event. There actually might be a split here from post-apocalyptic but I am not going to dissect this at the moment. The characteristics that build these books are human suffering and or misery, marred by oppression, squalor, disease, and/or overcrowding. Add your romantic elements and somehow these books might not be super depressing. There is a MAJOR box office hit that started as a book that fits this category. Can you guess it’s title.
One more genre that I thought of which could be sometimes confused with Steampunk, but separates itself on a different level by what emotions it tries to invoke is, Gaslight Romance. Gaslight Romance can also be called Gaslamp Fantasy.
Gaslight Romance Although these stories can be composed of strong romantic elements they also try to bring about fear, apprehensions and an array of intense emotions in the reader. The time period is usually Victorian/Edwardian era. Gothic literature might be the strongest influence for these stories. According to Wikipedia this is an old genre but I’d never come across it until recently. So think old world mystery with paranormal and supernatural elements and few to no inventions.
Is anyone else seeing why it can be so hard to find what genre you really fit into. The sad thing is so many good books fit a number of elements that cross genres and sub-genres, yet you have to pick one to be marketable. I am working on where I fit how about you?