Why must this uniquely successful genre keep enduring slights and insults? After all, snobs dismiss all kinds of pop culture — from hip-hop to sitcoms — but romance novels elicit a special degree of fervent condescension. That denigration fits a larger historical pattern that regards any of the particular interests of women — from midwifery to knitting to “old wives’ tales” — as inferior to the particular interests of men. Are romance novels any more formulaic or unrealistic than the spy novels and thrillers that attract a male readership? Is there any reason — besides stale misogyny — to question the intelligence of romance authors and their fans?