Encyclopedia of Romance Fiction. Edited by Kristin Ramsdell. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2018. 466 p. Acid-free $94 (ISBN 978-0-313-33572-3). E-book Available (978-0-313-05405-1), call for pricing.

Part reference book, part readers’ advisory, and completely entertaining to browse, the Encyclopedia of Romance Fiction’s selective set of entries illustrates the breadth of the romance genre while acknowledging its reach, from early literature to today’s publishing industry. The market share of popular romance indicates the public’s enduring interest and demonstrates a need for supplementary resources for general readers or those beginning research in romance-related topics. Academic study of this popular reading material is increasing, with special issues and at least one peer-reviewed journal devoted to the topic and recognition within disciplines including literature, women’s and gender studies, and popular culture.

Ramsdell, an established authority on romance fiction, gathered researched contributions from scholars, publishers, and librarians to show the range of interest in romance fiction. Rather than attempting a comprehensive look at the genre or focusing primarily on individual authors or texts, the majority of the content focuses on basics such as characteristics, subgenres, common plots, and issues associated with romance fiction. The work’s scope includes the influence of Gothic novelists and looks forward to modern developments such as the increased access to erotica brought about by technology. References to additional resources accompany each entry.

Users will enjoy either browsing or going directly to the index to identify specific entries. The “List of Entries” and “Guide to Related Topics” function as a dual table of contents, appealing to users with different reasons for using the title. It is worth noting that the index does not consistently reference every author or title mentioned within every entry. Authors referenced within the entry for “Fantasy Romance,” for example, are found in the index, while entire series developed by popular contemporary authors who did not merit individual entries are only identified within the entry for “Linked Books.”

Those seeking to build romance collections, provide more readers’ advisory, or focus on individual authors and texts would be better served by other titles, including Ramsdell’s Romance Fiction: A Guide to the Genre (Libraries Unlimited, 2012) or the Brackett’s Classic Love & Romance Literature (ABC-CLIO, 1999). This encyclopedia bridges the popular and the emerging academic interest in this popular fiction genre.

Recommended for libraries with romance collections, general interest in the subject, and supporting programs in women’s studies or popular culture.—Amy F. Fyn, Coordinator of Library Instruction, Kimbel Library, Coastal Carolina University, Conway, South Carolina


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