I write contemporary romance. Only contemporary romance. As a matter of fact, I had a release this week of a sexy and sassy beach fling book, Love at High Tide (which I do encourage you to read!). I adore contemporary romance and gobble it down like ice cream. But, just like you wouldn’t eat ice cream for every meal, you shouldn’t limit your reading to contemporary romance. Gasp. Is that heresy? I don’t think so.
Joss Whedon recently did an interview about how to be more prolific. One of his suggestions was to read/watch outside of your normal genre. And if it is good enough for the brilliant Mr. Whedon, it is good enough for me!
My favorite genre to read is paranormal/urban fantasy. How, you may ask, does that possibly relate to contemporary romance? How do I not read it and sign and wish that I had the excuse of a big magical war as a way to give my characters conflict? Well, I do. But aside from that, there is terrific pacing in that genre. So much happens so quickly that the story zips along. That sort of craft is terrific for me to study and apply to my own books.
Although not fully classified as romantic suspense, many contemporary stories do contain sub-plots that have a suspense element. Which means reading suspense, thrillers and mysteries are great training. Historicals are fantastic, too. If you want to see some awesome flirting, then read a historical (or an historical). A century ago, when it was the height of sluttery to show an ankle, all they had to snare the opposite sex was word play. A regency romance is like a master class in flirting.
Last but not least, it is just, flat-out fun to read everything. Celebrate all books, all genres. Be a well-rounded reader, and you’ll become a more well-rounded writer…which your readers will then thank you for, I promise!