Click on the links below to find out more about each genre. You’ll find our book reviews, latest recommendations, genre and reading guides and even book lists for each!
This post contains affiliate links. That means we receive a small commission at no cost to you from any purchases you make through these links
What genre is it?
This seems like an obvious thing, but a lot of times while in conversation about books and genres we often see people have issues with classifying books in certain genres and usually getting them in the wrong ones. A few genres are repeat offenders. And because sometimes TROPES get confused with GENRES, here’s a quick guide on how to differentiate between those, check out our Book Tropes page.
Contemporary Romance is a love story that occurs in a Contemporary setting, which means takes place in our current world now. It must play by our societal rules.
Erotic Romance is a subgenre of Romance that focuses on or emphasizes sex. There’s an age-old question of how does an erotic romance differ from a contemporary romance. Many readers have different parameters by which they measure this. For some is a certain sexual act, if included, crosses over to erotic romance. Others feel is the amount of sex. But the rule of thumb is if the sex is integral enough to the plot and that if it is taken out, the story loses some of its allure, then it’s an erotic romance.
Side Note: There can be various sub genres of Erotic Romance such as Sci Fi Erotic Romance and Paranormal Erotic Romance, etc.
The Fantasy genre consists of the most mythology than any other genre and we find this is the one most commonly mistaken. Books from one of the two previous genres we mentioned often end up classified as Fantasy. Fantasy novels are typically long and highly descriptive. They are also (but not always) set in an alternate time or universe that are governed by their own rules. They don’t necessarily feature paranormal creatures of any kind. For a specific difference between High, Low and Epic Fantasy – here’s a video guide.
This is different from Historical Romance in that the focus of this story is not romance. There may not even be any. It is set in the past and it doesn’t have to follow history accurately but it often has a base there.
As you can guess, Historical Romance is set in the past. You’ll find lots of Victorian or Highlander fiction in this genre.
New Adult is the newest genre from this list and it’s most telling characteristic is the age range. Consider this the gap between Young Adult and Adult Fiction. It is often angsty (but not always) and typically features first person point of view, and often set during college. It’s all about the coming of age, first experiences such as first love, first time living alone, first time going through heartbreak, etc.
Paranormal Romance can be, but not limited to, urban settings. This means that there is such a thing as Historical Paranormal Romance but the most popular ones you read about are usually set in present time. They feature paranormal beings ranging from vampires, fae, werewolves, etc or perhaps a hybrid of all. Paranormal Romance typically features a different couple in each book and the focus is the HEA and connection between the two characters.
Romantic Suspense has an emphasis on the action and suspense in the plot. Military books often fit under this category. Fast paced and lethal are words that typically describe this genre.
Sci Fi Romance
Sci Fi Romance is often bunched together with Fantasy (and if you see the description above they’re quite different) but the most telling characteristic of Sci Fi is that it often deals with futuristic science, space, parallel universes or extraterrestrial life.
Steampunk is a sub genre of science fiction that blends together technology and history. It’s most popular characteristic is its steam-powered machinery.
Urban Fantasy is very similar to Paranormal Romance in that it also features paranormal creatures. However, this has a bigger emphasis on the urban setting. The best indicator of an Urban Fantasy book is when the series follows one or one set of characters throughout the entire series and the focus of the books is not as much on the romance. Romance is usually a small element of these books but takes a secondary place to the world development and overall story arc.
Side Note: There are some series out there that are a hybrid of both Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance like Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series and Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress.
Young Adult and Teen Fiction are synonymous with one another. These books feature young teens from the age fifteen to eighteen or nineteen. While they are mostly targeted for young readers, you can definitely read them even if you’re older. Again, Young Adult can have many subgenres such as Contemporary or Paranormal.
Detailed genre guides
Want to go into more detail about book genres and get all the book recommendations? Click on the icons below to see our series genre pages where you can find our latest reviews, recommendations, book lists and reading guides.