Romance Novels 101: Romance Terminology

Posted February 2, 2018 by JoyNoel in Novel Thoughts / 2 Comments

It’s time to get back to the basics baby! Either you know this or you are lost and confused about a few terms you’ve seen around the romance community and that’s what I’m here for, I’m about to take your hand and walk you through the basics.  We are starting with ROMANCE TERMS and we will build from there.  Are you ready to dive in?

Some of these you will know without me telling you, and some you might never have heard of, (some I haven’t even heard of, but after researching this topic to make sure I didn’t miss any terms I decided to go ahead and include them as well.)

Romance terms


H.E.A. = Happily Ever After/center>
This is my personal favorite and pretty self explanatory, I mean we’ve all pretty much watched fairy tales since we were tiny babies.

H.F.N. = Happy For Now
This one I’m like meh if the characters are adults, but this is where the couple is together and happy at the end of the story, but not married or engaged. But. Happy. For now.

H/h = H (Hero) and h (heroine)
This is one that had me stumped for a second, but once you realize what it is you are be like oh… duh. At least that’s how I felt.

Book Boyfriend
I know that for most of we figured this out plenty of times, but I have honestly had people in real life give me the puppy dog head tilt and look at me like this term was utterly baffling. I mean… how do you not get it?  But if you need to send someone here for explanation it is this… a fictional character that we wish to be our boyfriend or in some extreme cases we claim them as they are ours and battle other women for the right to him, but the best part is we can share all the book boyfriends!

Alpha Male
I admit… I was a little confused on this for a bit because I didn’t start in romance and I’m really not that impressed with the alphas.  An alpha is confident, strong and takes charge in all aspects.  In our novels they often are only week for the h and I think that’s why women love them so much.

TBR = To Be Read
This is in most cases endless but it’s a list of all the books we want to read.  You can organize your TBR on Goodreads, and if you sign up for my newsletter you will receive my three favorite hacks.

DNF = Did Not Finish
Remember that endless TBR? Yeah, this is when you want to get to it and read only the good ones.  There are too many books out that we will love to waste our time on a book that we don’t care for and this is when we would DNF it

ARC = Advanced Reader/Review Copy
I’ve heard it both ways, either way, if you receive an advanced copy because you are a blogger/review or just a reader it is highly encouraged the you review the book on Amazon.  I didn’t know this prior to blogging, but it’s free for you so take the time to write a review. (We will get into this more in a few weeks)

M/M, M/F/M, F/F
There are tons of other combinations to this, but M= Male and F = Female and you will find a ton of different combinations of these… you have a fantasy? I’m sure any of these combos will fill it *wink wink*

love story terms
Pin me for reference!

A trope is a plot that brings two characters together, and there are a TON of them and we will be addressing them in the next few weeks, i.e. Enemies to Lovers

Not to be confused with a trope, a sub-genre is breaking down the genre in smaller categories, i.e. Romantic Comedy

This is simple, and one that will go more in depth in a few weeks as well, it is simply a picture of a book on Instagram.

Beta Reader
A beta reader is the second set of eyes on a book that searches for any inconsistencies in a book, when a book is beta read is dependent upon each author.  Are you curious about beta reading? I have a wonderful post on it here.

KU = Kindle Unlimited
Kindle Unlimited is a way to borrow ebooks from Amazon, for about $10 a month!  Find out if Kindle Unlimited is right for you. 

The others I found on the web that I thought were interesting:

TSTL = Too Stupid to Live
This is pretty much the character you watch in horror movies that runs right toward the killer

Mary Sue/Gary Sue
These are those characters that are just too… perfect. No flaws and just annoyingly perfect.

The Big Misunderstanding
I’m not really sure how I’d never heard this term, probably because if I read then I will see spoilers, and I stay far away from them when possible, but this is what causes a rift between characters.

I read this and thought of the Alice Clayton novel, but apparently when you are really frustrated with a novel and want to throw your book or kindle against the wall, this is a wallbanger.

Sequel Bait
This is when it is so glaringly obvious that there will a be a second book, not a cliffhanger because the story is complete but they will bait you into reading a book for another couple and create a series of books.


Are there any terms or acronyms that I missed? Are there any that you use that need to be added?  I’ll be happy to update this list!!  

2 responses to “Romance Novels 101: Romance Terminology

    • JoyNoel

      I thought about including that and shipping, but I wasn’t sure if those were ‘romance terms’ or fandom terms. What do you think?

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