People often talk about the "sub-genres" of Romance books. Fantasy Romance, Contemporary Romance, Sci-Fi Romance, Historical Romance... and as you know I write Dystopian Romance.
But here's the thing. Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller - these are all genres in their own right. When I first started writing I had to get this all figured out. I had a hard time defining "Romance."
In the end I learned that there is no list of qualifications or characteristics that define a genre. Rather, the term is used to describe any body of literature that can be grouped by shared traits. Some of the traits are like setting, plot points, character tropes, structure, etc. And in a way it appears to me to be completely arbitrary.
Now Romance as a genre is defined by its narrative structure. Romance novels focus on the developing romantic relationship between two (or more) people, and the central tension of the story is whether they will get together and stay together. However, other genres are defined by things like aspects of the setting, such as time period (Historical, Contemporary) and speculative elements (Fantasy, Sci-Fi). Here would be where Dystopian would come in.
So, a novel can be Romance and also Historical Fiction or Contemporary Fiction because the time period and the plot structure are separate things. But a Historical Fiction book can't simultaneously be Contemporary Fiction because these settings contradict each other.
And then it gets a little more complicated. Mystery/Thriller, like Romance, is defined by a plot type - solving a puzzle or escaping a web of intrigue. Shouldn't it be incompatible with Romance, then?
Well, unlike Contemporary and Historical settings, romance plots and mystery plots don't directly contradict one another. A story can have multiple plots going at once, including a budding romance and a mystery. Integrating two different narrative structures does pose different writing challenges, however. Romantic Thriller authors typically have to be clear on which plot is the primary one. That ends up being the source of the central tension - in order for the novel to be effective.
I always stick to Romance as being the main theme. I might have some things for the characters to solve, or do, or chase, but in the end, love is what I write.
If you like that, you are in the correct place.
Our Ice Era Chronicles in Order:
All future dates are subject to change.