8 Unusual Romance Novel Genres

Amazon
Amazon

For all the turned-up noses offered by the literary community, the romance novel genre tends to move a lot more volume than your latest John Updike reprint. Sales reached $1.08 billion in 2013, and at least a third of devoted readers buy a minimum of two books every month.

With the rise of self-publishing and e-books, romance readers now have more genres than ever to choose from—some so niche and specific that they’ve created a loyal audience all their own. Take a look at eight categories of romance we promise truly exist.

1. AMISH VAMPIRES


Amazon

At first glance, a culture that prohibits flashes of flesh and unmarried coupling seems like a poor clothesline for the bodice-ripping prose romance has relied on for decades. But that demure, conservative approach is part of the appeal for Amish romance titles. Books like Amish Redemption and Harvest Blessings feature couples who practice chaste courtships and delay their first kiss for weeks.

To help differentiate the sea of Amish titles released monthly, some authors have taken to amalgamating the genre with vampires. Amish Vampires by Kerry Neitz details a harrowing mission to rescue a space colony of farming Amish from an onboard vampire. In Chosen, book one of The Amish Bloodsuckers Trilogy by Barbara Ellen Brink, an Amish girl named Jael discovers she’s been selected to protect her community against a parasitic threat. While some might perceive the titles to be more in the vein of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, they’re successful. In 2013, The Living and the Undead became one of Amazon’s top 100 e-book titles.

2. NASCAR


Amazon

Meet Lance Cooper. A former star of the NASCAR auto racing circuit, he gets into a fender bender with ex-kindergarten teacher Sara Tingle. Sparks ignite. That’s the premise of In the Groove, the first title published under a licensing deal between the Harlequin book group and NASCAR in 2006. Research by the race league found that roughly half their fans were female—and of those, 26 percent were more likely to pick up a romance novel than someone who didn’t follow the sport. To promote the launch of the partnership, NASCAR even hosted some speed dating events at races in Daytona Beach in 2007.

3. MERMAIDS


Amazon

They may flirt uncomfortably with bestiality overtones, but mermaids have long been a source of literal fish-out-of-water romances. Among the standouts: A Mermaid’s Kiss, in which an angel falls into the sea and convalesces under the care of a mermaid named Anna, and Lies Beneath, about a mer-man who falls for the woman his evil mermaid sisters have ordered him to kill.

4. GARGOYLES


Amazon

The success of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series opened the floodgates for supernatural romance, which has touched on forbidden love among centaurs, satyrs, and occasionally dinosaurs. Gargoyles were perfectly suited for this kind of template, and titles like Stone Guardian and Rock of Love examined their role as a protector of humans—particularly single women—in the face of otherworldly evil. 

5. CAVEMEN SUITORS


Amazon

Time-travel and some very suspect science sets the premise for many of these books, which feature contemporary women drawn to the simple, dominant brains of Neanderthals. Lust of the Caveman goes the sci-fi route, with a female scientist loading the brain of an ancient man into a modern body. Critics believe the appeal of the books resides in the caveman’s general disregard for both their own appearance and modern societal gender roles—the Tarzan template.

6. ALIEN ABDUCTIONS


Amazon

For some, being spirited away by orifice-probing extraterrestrials is a nightmare. For some romance readers, it’s a source of relaxation. Titles like Captured and The Survival Race blend sci-fi with distressed-damsel scenarios, as the heroine finds herself on strange planets and in the middle of hostile alien relations.

7. BREWERY OWNER INTRIGUE


Amazon

Heroines in Love, Chocolate, and Beer and Paradise Hops own and operate breweries when love interests come calling. The dramatic potential of breweries (financial woes, murder, industry sabotage) can also support ongoing series, as in the case of Enemies on Tap, part of the Sweet Salvation Brewery saga. Liz Crowe, author of Paradise Hops, said that focusing on craft beer as a backdrop makes her stories more relatable. The Beer Necessities blog dubbed the emerging trend “50 Shades of Grain.”

8. PARANORMAL PREGNANCIES


Amazon

A paranormal sub-genre of the paranormal sub-genre is paranormal pregnancy, where the protagonist is expecting some variation of a werewolf, vampire, alien, or other creature. For completists, the WereBabies 10-volume set explores the romantic entanglements for expectant mothers of were-lions and dragon-man hybrids. 

The 10 Best Movies of 2018, According to Rotten Tomatoes

The Weinstein Company
The Weinstein Company

We're a few weeks into the new year, but it's not too late to catch up on the best movies of 2018. If you're looking for a place to start, why not check out the top 10 films most widely loved by critics last year, according to Rotten Tomatoes.

The list, reported by Cinema Blend, includes a mix of family flicks, action-packed blockbusters, and art house films. Marvel's Black Panther—which was a hit with both critics and moviegoers, and just became the first superhero movie to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Picture—tops the list as Rotten Tomatoes's best-reviewed movie of 2018 with a wide release. It's accompanied by two other superheroes movies: Incredibles 2 and Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse (both of which earned Oscar nominations for Best Animated Film).

Last year proved that critics aren't prejudiced against sequels if they're well made, with Paddington 2 and Mission: Impossible - Fallout making the list along with the second Incredibles film. This list is limited to movies that had a wide release in 2018 (600 theaters or more), so some awards darlings like Netflix's Roma didn't make the cut. But there were a few indie hits that received wider showings and earned critical acclaim, including Bo Burnham's Eighth Grade and the Mister Rogers documentary Won't You Be My Neighbor?.

After checking out the full list below, you can start getting excited about the highly-anticipated films coming out in 2019.

1. Black Panther
2. Mission: Impossible - Fallout
3. BlacKkKlansman
4. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
5. A Star is Born
6. A Quiet Place
7. Paddington 2
8. Incredibles 2
9. Eighth Grade
10. Won't You Be My Neighbor

[h/t Cinema Blend]

11 Fascinating Facts About Sam Elliott

Christopher Polk, Getty Images For Critics' Choice Television Awards
Christopher Polk, Getty Images For Critics' Choice Television Awards

Hirsute. Rugged. Laconic. For more than four decades, actor Sam Elliott has practically trademarked the persona of a latter-day cowboy. When Patrick Swayze needed a mentor for his philosopher-bouncer in 1989’s Road House, producers called Elliott. When the Coen Brothers needed a wise baritone narrator for 1998’s The Big Lebowski, they cast Elliott. When Bradley Cooper needed a foil for his remake of A Star is Born, he wisely got Elliott, who just earned his first-ever Oscar nomination (for Best Supporting Actor) for the role.

Check out some facts we’ve wrangled up about the performer’s life, his time on the casting couch, and one strange coincidence involving Smokey Bear.

1. His dad didn't want him to become an actor.

Sam Elliott and Bradley Cooper in 'A Star Is Born' (2018)
WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. AND METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER PICTURES INC.

Born in Sacramento in 1944, a 13-year-old Sam Elliott moved with his family to Oregon, where both he and his father pursued their love of the outdoors. (His dad worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in charge of “predatory and rodent control.”) While they bonded over nature, their relationship grew divisive when Elliott told his father he wanted to become an actor. They were never able to resolve the matter before his father died of a heart attack when Elliott was just 18. “He died thinking, 'Man, this kid is going to go down the wrong path,” Elliott said. "And I think on some levels that was either hard on me or made me more focused in my resolve to have a career.”

2. He played Evel Knievel in an unsold TV pilot.

After moving to Hollywood in the late 1960s, Elliott scored a small role in a big film: 1969’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. (He’s glimpsed only fleetingly during a card game.) In 1974, he had the opportunity to be the featured star, portraying daredevil legend Evel Knievel in a CBS television pilot. The series never went into production but wound up airing as a one-off special that March. Elliott went on to guest star in several series, including Hawaii Five-0 and Gunsmoke, before landing a lead role in a feature, 1976’s Lifeguard.

3. He got himself in some hot water with a studio.

Lifeguard looked to be Elliott’s breakout role: It’s a tale of a man approaching middle age who wonders if being a first responder is what he wants to continue doing with his life. Paramount, the studio behind the film, marketed it differently—as a sun-soaked teenage melodrama. Elliott chafed at the ads and made his thoughts known. “The one sheet [poster] for that film was an animated piece, and it had me in a pair of Speedos and a big busted girl on either arm,” he told NPR in 2017. “And it said, 'Every girl's summer dream' over the top of it. And I was like, wow.” Elliott complained in press interviews, a move he speculated led to Paramount cooling their heels on hiring him again.

4. He was the voice of Smokey Bear.

Early in his career, Elliott was advised by people in the industry to hone his smooth drawl into something more in the leading-man mode. “They wanted me to speed up and enunciate,” he told The Saturday Evening Post earlier this year. “I went through trying to do that for a time, but I’m glad it didn’t work out.” Elliott’s voice become one of his hallmarks and was eventually put to use as the voice of forest fire mascot Smokey Bear in 2007.

The message hit home for Elliott, whose wife of nearly 35 years—actress Katharine Ross, who earned a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for playing Elaine Robinson in The Graduate—saw her home burned down in 1978 after a camp fire spread. He and the spokesbear even share the exact same birthday: August 9, 1944.

5. He got propositioned. A lot.

Going from audition to audition early in his career, Elliott told syndicated columnist Rex Reed in 1980 that the proverbial casting couch was real. “You cannot believe the casting couch stories I could tell you, man,” he said. “The clichés are all true. I’ve had propositions from men and women, and I’ve turned them all down. It’s probably hurt me, but I’m the one who has to live with that guilt. My conscience is clear, even though my career is still not setting the world on fire.”

6. The Coen brothers kept him working just because they liked hearing him talk.


Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Shooting 1998’s The Big Lebowski, Elliott has a climactic meeting of sorts with The Dude (Jeff Bridges), whose adventures he’s been narrating throughout the film. Shooting the scenes, Elliott was beginning to get exasperated at the Coen brothers's insistence he keep doing it. When they clocked 15 takes, Elliott insisted they tell him what they want. It turns out take six was perfect. They made him do it nine more times just because they liked watching him deliver his lines.

7. He's got a "big three" resume.

Elliott has dozens of acting roles to his credit, but he believes he’s best-known for just three roles: The Big Lebowski, Road House, and 1992’s Tombstone. “That’s the big three,” he told Vulture in 2015. “And it’s really because they repeat that sh*t all the time. None of them had great box office, and I wasn’t so good in any of them. You just can’t escape them. They keep showing up.”

8. He doesn't like social media.

Elliott is not one to broadcast his thoughts on Facebook or Twitter. In 2015, the actor told AARP Magazine that social media is of little interest to him. “Everywhere you look, people are looking at their hands,” he said. “In restaurants, it's like you're sitting in a patch of jack-o'-lanterns because everyone's face is lit up by their phone. Nobody's relating to each other.”

9. He doesn't really get the fascination with his mustache.

Sam Elliott, Garret Dillahunt, and Timothy Olyphant in 'Justified'
PRASHANT GUPTA, FX Networks

For most of his roles, Elliott sports a soup strainer of a mustache: Thick, plush, well-weathered. When he goes without—as in his turn as a villain on FX’s Justified—it can be a little disarming, in the same way Superman looks a little odd without his cape. But Elliott doesn’t quite understand the cult of hair around his facial style choices. “The whole mustache thing is a mystery to me,” he told Vanity Fair in 2017. “I’m working on this thing now, A Star is Born—somebody showed me on their cell phone one day that there was this contest online between me and [Tom] Selleck about who had the best mustache. It’s so bizarre.” (For the record, Elliott won't comment on who has the better lip warmer.)

10. He's an Oregon local.

Elliott and his wife spend a month out of the year near Eugene, Oregon. The sight of Elliott visiting hardware stores, restaurants, and other local haunts is common, and Elliott has become a beacon for people seeking a selfie with the actor. (He usually complies.) Eventually, Elliott hopes to move to Oregon full-time.

11. He's got a secret to staying grounded.

Elliott doesn’t appear to be too invested in the trappings of celebrity. “We stay out of town, and we don’t get in too deep,” he told Vulture in 2015. “We don’t believe all the sh*t in the rags. And we work hard. Katharine and I have a lot in common. We’ve got a 30-year-old daughter [Cleo] that we’re deeply in love with and still incredibly close to. Life’s good. We live in Malibu and have horses and dogs and cats and chickens. We shovel sh*t, man. That keeps you humble."

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