Romance novels have a tendency to be dismissed as "trashy," which makes readers feel like they need to hide the fact that they read them or otherwise feel embarrassed that they enjoy reading them. The romance genre, however, as well as the kinds of books that readers think of as romance novels, has changed a lot over the years. It's no longer all books with covers of shirtless men, women with ripped bodices or explicit sex scenes (though, of course, those books still exist). There are some "trashy" romance novels with a cult-following that are actually brilliant so you can read for the romance as well as for the character and plot development.
The definition of a romance novel has changed. While some still write off the entire genre as trashy and not worth reading, some of those so-called "trashy" books are, in fact, worth reading, even if romance isn't normally your thing. Plus, it's hard to deny the fact that people are, in fact, reading lots and lots of romance novels. According to the BBC, romance novels outsell science fiction, mystery, and literary books. The genre is so successful that, as the BBC article mentioned, there's now a romance-only bookstore in Los Angeles called The Ripped Bodice. Whether you're new to the genre entirely, or are a seasoned romance reader looking for things you may have overlooked, there are plenty of books that fall under the romance umbrella that are worth a read.