Can Men Really Write Romance?

Barbara Vey -- November 20th, 2007

A friend and I were talking last night, as we usually do, about books.  We were going on and on about our favorite authors and I noticed there were no men authors being talked about.  When I asked her who her favorite male author was who wrote romance she immediately said Nicolas Sparks, "If you can get past the tragic endings."  Well, I knew that was the reason I didn’t read his books.  I need my HEA (happily ever after).

So for my turn I threw out Paul Levine who writes the great Solomon vs Lord series (think Moonlighting meets Boston Legal).  I love the romance in his books, along with the humor, memorable characters and mystery.  

My friend came back with Leigh Greenwood who writes westerns.  Now I was curious about Leigh, so I googled him.  Leigh’s first book came out in 1987 and he blames his wife because she left her romance books all over the house.  He’s since written 35 books and has served as president of RWA (Romance Writers of America).  

Next for me was Tim Dorsey.  Now even though Tim really doesn’t write romance in the truest sense of the word, he has a character, Serge Storms, who is described as a "serial killer with a heart of gold" (trust me, these books are hilarious).  I heard him speak once on how he was encouraged to add more romance to his books.  Tim read a romantic passage from one of his books and had every one in tears….from laughter.  And couldn’t we all use a good laugh sometimes from our romances. 

The ball was now in my friend’s court and she lobbed Ken Casper.  Time out for a google.  Ken was writing a mystery when his critique partners (3 romance writers) encouraged him to try romance.  He started winning contests and in 1998 A Man Called Jesse was published.  Ken has since written a dozen more romances.

Since I started this blog in March, it has truly been a learning experience for me and this is one more example.  I’m sure there’s a lot more romance writers of the male gender that I don’t know about.   So, help me out.  Which male romance writers have you read?  Which books of their’s would you recommend?  Or do you feel men can’t write romance (just playing devil’s advocate)?

Bottom Line:  To do list:  Find friends who argue with me less and agree with me more. 

If you have a problem posting to this blog, please send your comments to me and I will post for you.

53 thoughts on “Can Men Really Write Romance?

  1. Marilyn AKA Playground Monitor

    Nicholas Sparks does NOT write romance — at least not according to RWA’s definition of romance. Like you, I want my HEA. And don’t you mean Wayne Jordan, Mel? His books are about the Knight family. I remember being amazed when I discovered that K.N. Casper was a man. I’d judged a book by this person for a reader-judged contest and afterward I googled the name. Color me pleasantly surprised. I’ve read several of his books. A man finaled in the Golden Heart a few years back. His wife writes romance and he sat at our lunch table this past summer. The gaggle of women firing questions at him never fazed him a bit. I can’t remember his name — Rob Something. It’ll come to me at two in the morning. LOL!

  2. Barbara Vey

    Marilyn, I’ve heard the definition of romance by RWA before, but if you just ask readers on the street (and that’s what my friend is), Nicolas Sparks writes romance. I’ll have to check where his books are in the book store, but in the grand scheme of things, I guess that definition is in the eye of the reader. :) Mel, here I thought you were friends with Wayne Knight, the actor and Newman from Seinfeld. I was really impressed!!

  3. Deborah Macgillivray

    Sparks doesn’t write romance…they are trying to suck up romance dollars by claiming he does…big difference. Many males write romance. Chris Holmes just did a Scottish Historical Romance for Highland Press (he has done suspense before). Tony Karayanni is half of Tori Carrington, best-selling, teamed with his wife, Lori. I did an article on males writing romance and was surprised just how many there are! Wayne Jordon. He used to be editor of the monthly newsletter for RIO Reviewers International Organization.

  4. Jennifer St. Giles

    Good Morning! Barbara! Did you know that in the latest issue of PW You’re mentioned. It is under Sherrilyn Kenyon’s notation about her NYT Bestseller and talks about PW’s own Barbara Vey Attended Sherrilyn’s K-Con in New Orleans! Whoo HOO! As for men writing romance. Yes, I think they can and should be encouraged to do more of it. But I also think that men need to write about satisfying relationships with the character growth that enables them to have a Happily Ever after instead of coping out with the easy road of having someone die or letting them walk off into the sunset. All of us can manipulate a readers emotions and bring them to a point of tragedy for them to cry at the loss of a character. It’s harder to bring characters to the point that the reader really believes there is a happily ever after for two people. Considering how much of life really is tragic and painful, it takes a lot of talent to suspend disbelief and make your reader satisfied in the happy department. Well that’s my two and half cents worth.

  5. Liz Kreger

    Yep, Jean Barrett is the only one that comes to mind. I think his real name is Bob … something. Other than his books, I don’t believe I’ve read any other male romance writers. It would be interesting to check a couple out, though. I don’t see why a man cannot write about relationships since he’s basically half of the equation. LOL

  6. Darren E. Laws

    I think the question should be ‘do men really understand the concept of romance? It is a concept they know of, but not partaking in, apart from the occasional dalliance in real life, know little of. Some of the great classical authors have written some of the finest romance stories (in the truest sense of the word)and many of our great poets Byron, Keates, John Donne etc could rip the heart of of the world with a string of finely collected prose.

  7. Lynda/LighthouseLady

    I know there are male authors out there writing romance…or their take on it. As for Nicholas Sparks, I have read and will continue to read every book he puts out. I enjoy his writing style and there are times that I don’t need a HEA ending…hey life doesn’t always have one, why not write about it. Many of his books have come from his own experiences.

  8. Stephanie

    I think we are so conditioned to expect women to write the romance, that if a man’s name pops up, it can’t be romance. Which would explain the alias’ used or just initials. I look forward to reading some of these male authors.


    I can’t read Nicholas Sparks–life is difficult enough without reading a story that leaves me depressed for days! I love that HEA, but there are definitely male romance authors who get it right. Sheila mentioned Rod Casteel–another male author of erotic romance is S.L. Carpenter. Scott writes terrific romances and they’re definitely hot!

  10. ladymime

    Good evening! I haven’t read any romances written by male authors. I have read a few short stories in anthologies – I wasn’t really impressed with the level of detail. I think that female authors speak to female readers on a more intimate level that the male-written romances I have read just did not meet. In all fairness, I do read the classics, of course…and if you ask me it doesn’t get much better than Camille: The Lady of the Camillas, by Alexandre Dumas. The only male author I read today who is still kicking is Jasper Fforde, who doesn’t write romance, but a crazy type of literary science fiction. For book buffs, I think that his work is top of the line. I am always open to new authors, though…who knows? Maybe the next book I read will be a romance written by a male author. :)

  11. violet s

    Good morning Barbara–you’d think men who love to “show us romance” would be good at writing about it, but they are doers not writers! Keep up the good work & Happy Turkey Day!

  12. Leanne

    Chris Holmes, better known for his suspense writing, recently branched out into the romance market and wrote a Scottish Historical about the Highland clearances. The book is published by Highland Press Publishing.

  13. Jacquie Rogers

    Leigh Greenwood wrote many of the first romance novels I read, and I had no idea he was a man until about 7 years ago. :) He’s my daughter’s absolute favorite western romance writer. We’ve both thoroughly enjoyed his Cowboys series.

  14. Edie Ramer

    Barbara, I’m catching up on your posts. I’ll be at the library today and will see if they have books by Paul Levine and Tim Dorsey. Thanks for the heads up! Like you, I’m not crazy about Nicholas Sparks’ un-HEA.

  15. Virginia DeMarce

    The better question might be why men no longer dominate the romance field (which they did from the 1890s (Anthony Hope) through the 1940s (Frank Yerby and Thomas B. Costain, 2 million copies of The Black Rose in 1945). Hope (The Prisoner of Zenda) provided noble renunciation a la Sydney Carton and Cyrano de Bergerac rather than an HEA, but George Barr McCutcheon’s Graustark novels sold better and guaranteed an HEA in every volume.

  16. huemei7

    i’ve recently read a book by bob meyar and jenifer crusie Don’t Look Down, it was quite good and i understand that he wrote most of the romantic parts. Sparks by the way is awsome no matter what his books are classified as.

  17. Winben

    Marius Gabriel Cipolla, whose pen name is Madeleine Ker writes for Harlequin Presents; he is also a mystery writer. I love his books. You notice the difference between him and the female writers the minute you open his book.

  18. John Ross Harvey

    Currently my self-published works are comedy, yes they live at Amazon but at page 16-17 because of a namesake who writes crime novels. I enjoy a good romantic comedy so I tried my hand at it. My female reviewer called it “The Next Notebook”. I did edit with help of her perspective and have used that perspective to write more, problem being I want a real publisher, and most of the ones I’m finding turn into scam artists. The companies I know don’t accept submissions, and because noone knows me yet, they likely never will. I’m not stopping my search to get published in this genre, my name will likely change to something like Nahtan Hoj. I need to write, it keeps me sane from my work as a draftsman for a large contractor. Hoping someone takes me on soon. I’m also a past nominee in Stephen Leacock Humour Award.

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