All romances have a central love story and an emotionally satisfying ending. Beyond that, however, romance novels may have any tone or style, be set in any place or time, and have varying levels of sensuality—ranging from sweet to extremely hot. Romance fiction may be classified into various subgenres depending on setting and plot elements. These subgenres include:
- Contemporary Romance: Romance novels that are set from 1950 to the present that focus primarily on the romantic relationship.
- Erotic Romance: Novels in which strong, often explicit, sexual interaction is an inherent part of the love story, character growth and relationship development and could not be removed without damaging the storyline. These novels may contain elements of other romance subgenres (such as paranormal, historical, etc.).
- Historical Romance: Romance novels that are set prior to 1950.
- Inspirational Romance: Romance novels in which religious or spiritual beliefs (in the context of any religious or spiritual belief system) are an integral part of the plot.
- Paranormal Romance: Romance novels in which fantasy worlds or paranormal or science fiction elements are an integral part of the plot.
- Romantic Suspense: Romance novels in which suspense, mystery, or thriller elements constitute an integral part of the plot.
- Young Adult Romance: Romance novels in which young adult life is an integral part of the plot.