I recently added the following entry to the Romance Wiki bibliography
- Blouin, Michael J., 2018.
- Mass-Market Fiction and the Crisis of American Liberalism, 1972–2017. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan. [See Chapter 3 on 'Danielle Steel and the New Home Economics' because Blouin refers to romance scholarship and describes Steel as "the undisputed master of the mass-market romance" (75). This is, however, disputed, both by many romance readers (thanks to everyone who responded to my tweets about this!) and by Steel herself, who has "insisted that her books aren't romantic fiction. 'They're not really about romance ... I really write more about the human condition,' she said. '[Romance] is an element in life but I think of romance novels as more of a category and I write about the situations we all deal with – loss and war and illness and jobs and careers, good things, bad things, crimes, whatever'." (The Guardian) ]
Just in case that wasn't definitive enough, here's a quote from Rita Clay Estrada and Rita Gallagher's You Can Write a Romance (1999) on the issue:
Danielle Steel-types of books aren't romances. They're known as soaps. Why? Because they're problematic - one heart-kicking dilemma after another. One life-threatening quandary after another. One tear-jerking, emotional death and divorce after another. The romance is secondary to the problems, growth and tears of the heroine. That's a soap. Danielle Steele [sic] created the written form and made it her genre. Many have followed, but few have had the success she has. (3)
Clay Estrada, Rita and Rita Gallagher. You Can Write a Romance. Cincinnati, Ohio: Writer’s Digest Books, 1999.