Complicating Romances and their Readers: Barrier and Point of Ritual Death in Nora Roberts's Category Fiction

Publication year
Para.doxa: Studies in World Literary Genres

Regis criticises previous academics who've written about romance fiction: "Because they expect to find similarities that amount to a formula, critics are content to cite a very few titles to support their conclusions about romances" (145) and

To demonstrate that even category romances transcend formula, that they are not interchangeable, that their readers are not entrapped in patriarchy, that through barrier and point of ritual death (among other elements) even category romances put at risk more than the heroine's marriage to the hero, and finally, that even these modest novels end not in the bondage of patriarchy but in the freedom to choose, nine of Roberts's category romances will be examined. Three sets of core issues define three groups of texts. In the first group - composed of Irish Thoroughbred (1981), Roberts' first published romance, and Heart's Victory (1982) - the barriers and points of ritual death imperil the heroine's security. At risk in the second group - From this Day (1983), Lessons Learned (1986), and The Playboy Prince (1987) - is the heroine's career. In the final group - Loving Jack (1986), Convincing Alex (1994), The Return of Rafe MacKade (1995), and The Fall of Shane MacKade (1996) - the hero's future is at stake. (148)