This dissertation explores the narrative and ideological development which unfolds in the contemporary popular romance novels of American writers Jayne Ann Krentz and Barbara Delinsky over a period of time of 25 years. As in the first 10 years of their writing careers, these two authors were writers for the restrictive uniformity of the romance genre, predominantly published by Harlequin Enterprises. The book addresses the industry of romance writing that targets women as an audience and uses women writers for the task. One main objective of the book is to verify that this section of literature - represented partly in both authors' novels - mirrors specific contemporary American concerns and beliefs, transports social and ethical values in the narratives, and adapts to changes of taste and values in American society, giving the Zeitgeist its due in order to stay marketable. The book contains an in-depth analysis of three of each authors' novels. Moreover, the book proposes the hypothesis, that, by reading romance novels, a reader reenacts the mythic rite of the old oriental myth of the 'Sacred Marriage.' Dissertation. *** "...this fascinating comparative study provides an in-depth account of the evolution not merely of these important writers but also of the very genre of romance itself. Of special interest is the shift Künne tracks in the careers of both authors from the highly circmscribed industrial category romance to the more complex and individualized narratives that characterize Krentz's and Delinsky's recent work." William Gleason, Professor of English, Princeton U.