Coastal Romance: The New Wave of Rural Romance

wavesWhen Harlequin used the term Coastal Romance (or CoRo) at the Romance Writers of Australia Conference in August (see my notes here), it was a lightbulb moment for me.

Rural Romance is huge in Australia. It’s triggered discussions on the Australian Romance Readers Association loop and we all have our favourites.

I recommend Kelly Hunter’s Wish, Cathryn Hein’s Heart of the Valley, Rachael Johns’ Man Drought, Jennie Jones’ House on Burra Burra Lane and the romantic suspense of Helene Young and Bronwyn Parry, among others. So many great books.

The appeal of Rural Romance is its:

  • SETTING  The Australian outback is gorgeous, varied and dramatic. All by itself, it is romance.
  • HUMOUR  Often this is understated, but it is real. Aussie heroes and heroines can laugh at themselves, and underlying that laughter is hope. No matter how tough things are, they’ll survive and things will get better.
  • CHARACTERS  Determination, resilience and honour.
  • COMMUNITY  This is the big one. Against the sense of society fragmenting, of loneliness, Rural Romance celebrates the spirit of community. There is love — not just between the hero and heroine, but in giving them a place to belong, a web of relationships to support them.

To this, Coastal Romance adds two important elements:

  1. It taps our happy memories of seaside holidays.
  2. The sea has always meant freedom.

I remember the success of the TV series, Seachange. Coastal Romance doesn’t ask us to imagine a radically different life (most Australian cities and towns cluster on the coast), but to embrace the chance to be free, to be who we really are. When you stand on a beach and look at an endless horizon, anything is possible.

Do you have any favourite Coastal Romance novels? I enjoy the many books Jayne Ann Krentz sets on America’s north west coast, and can’t wait for River Road. And yeah, Coastal Romance isn’t just Australian 🙂

***Update: There is a new Coastal Romance group on Facebook. All welcome!

It's Love Dude cover

16 Replies to “Coastal Romance: The New Wave of Rural Romance”

  1. That's my focus, Jenny. I use my love for the coast in my books. Both Holiday Affair and Dangerous Desire are set in the beautiful Whitsunday islands! Italian Affair is on an Italy of course. Tangling with the CEO on the Californian coast!
    And Outback Affair is set near the Kimberley Coast at the fictional Cockatoo Springs resort.

  2. It was a lightbulb moment for me too. When I heard it I thought, "Aha! Well, that's what I'm writing!" …Among other things 😉

    I'm looking forward to seeing how the trend goes, especially as I have my first coastal/small town releasing in January!

    1. I'm already waiting to read it!

      Honestly, the whole RWAus conference was flashlit for me. But Coastal Romance has helped me redefine my personal brand … and I feel really weird saying that, even if it's true.