Let’s Talk Bookish: Romance as a Sub-Plot

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, hosted by Rukky @Eternity Books  & Dani @ Literary Lion, where we get to discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts! I’ve listed the upcoming topics in brief at the end of my post, but check out these pages for more information on November 2020 prompts & a list of past prompts!

Now without further ado… This week’s topic asks us about:


Examples: Why do you think romance is the most common subplot? Do you think romance subplots take away from the main story, or add to it? Do you prefer stories without any romance in them? Is romance better as a subplot or as a main plot?

I love love. I might come off as a little bit cynical or jaded when it comes to love in real life, but deep down I’m truly a hopeless romantic 😂 It’s pretty obvious how much I love the romance genre because when you take a peek at my Goodreads, my read list is full of it! I feel like when it comes to romance though there are a lot of people that seem to take issue with it and don’t like it in their stories, especially when it comes to YA, but perhaps that’s because it’s always there whether it’s “needed” or not.

Why is the romance sub-plot so popular?

I never gave it much thought before and I’m not really sure why… But perhaps it’s because at one point or another romance is something that many readers can relate to whether they’ve experienced it themselves, or they’ve seen others go through that experience. Or maybe it’s also those happy and heartwarming feelings that romance brings? I think it’s also probably the easiest device for authors to use to endear readers more to their characters and to make them more realistic–although whether its well done or not is another thing!

does a romance sub-plot take away from the main story, or add to it?

As I mentioned at the start, I’m all about the love and while before I would’ve said “romance makes everything better” *cough* I now think that it really depends on the story and how well the romance is written. If written well, the romance doesn’t take away from the main story but successfully adds to the character arcs and increases the stakes (in a good way). Maybe it’s because I read a lot of YA fantasy and contemporary but I feel like, more often than not, they always have a romance sub-plot that often doesn’t feel needed. It doesn’t necessarily take away from the main story, but it also doesn’t add anything. I think it’s really easy for romance to over-take the main story though, and I’ve seen it happen quite a few times. It gets tedious when the MC ends up constantly thinking about romancing their love interest, then they start making ridiculous non-sensical decisions, the love drama gets too intense, and then it basically ends up not being fun anymore. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Do you prefer stories without any romance in them?

There are times that I feel the author throws in romance because it’s expected and that’s when I find myself getting frustrated with the romance sub-plot. This is especially the case when the romance feels forced or when the romance exists ‘for the sake of having romance’. So I never thought I’d say it but I’m starting to prefer stories without the romance sub-plot in them! *Gasp! I know…* That’s not to say I won’t read fantasies or other genres without romance in them, but it’s also okay for those stories to just be fantasy or historical without romance. That said…

romance as the main plot for the win!

Let’s be real, I’m still all about the romance. I love the feel-good and heartwarming vibes that romance brings to a story. I love to swoon and giggle at the romantic (and steamy) gestures between our love interests, and I don’t think any of that’s gonna change anytime soon. But if I do go looking for romance, I’m going to seek it out in stories where romance is the main plot, whether it’s historical romance, contemporary romance, or romantic fantasy, because too often lately the romance sub-plot leaves me feeling more than a little “meh”.

So, what do you think? Is the romance sub-plot a yay or nay for you? Do you think it takes away from the main story? Do you prefer your stories without romance in them? Keen to hear your thoughts!

11 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Bookish: Romance as a Sub-Plot

  1. Interesting thoughts! I’m all about the romance and a HEA. lol but I hear what you’re saying about romance as a sub-plot sometimes feeling forced. It has to be done well and enhance the rest of the story, or why bother?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I’m finding that a lot more in YA these days, whether it’s fantasy or contemporary. I almost feel as if it’s expected for the sorry to have romance, and it’s offputting because lately I’ve found that the romance just seems to be in there “for the sake of it” and it doesn’t do anything for or to the story. But other than that I’m definitely all for the love 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, you know I’m going to agree with you. 😉 Another hopeless romantic here! It’s my favorite genre to read, and it’s what I generally seek out. BUT I do agree sometimes a romance sub-plot seems forced and unnecessary. The only example my tired brain can think of right now is The Grace Year. I actually like the romance part of that book–I know I’m in the minority–but it’s because I wasn’t a fan of the rest of the book. And the romantic aspect didn’t make sense with the rest of the story, to me. It almost felt like two different books. If that makes sense. 😉 Great discussion!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I definitely enjoy a nice romance plot or subplot, but it’s also nice to find a book that doesn’t feel the need to throw in an unnecessary romance! I think you make great points in your post – when it’s done well, it can be such a good subplot, but if it isn’t … it can really take away from my enjoyment of the book. Awesome post. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been finding that I love contemporary romance novels lately, so just romance as the main plot. But again it has to be well written or something with some characters of color, right? But yeah, I’m like you where I’d rather not have the romance as the sub-plot unless it’s written well. Like you were saying, it just always seems to be in YA novels, like almost ALL of them and it’s like – bruh, not everyone has to fall in love, okay? I don’t know if it’s just getting played out or what but I’m like okay enough with the lovey dovey stuff! hahah Great post as always, Dini!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I definitely agree! I started off loving love but now…sometimes I wish authors didn’t feel like they had to shove a romance subplot into every single story. You can write stories about other things too! Romance isn’t the only important thing in the world!

    Liked by 1 person

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