December 5, 2012

Genre Wants that I Hope Become Gots: A Christmas List of Tropes, Stories and Characters



Source

Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, we can all agree that December is the perfect time to do two somewhat related things: ask for stuff and complain. So today I made a list of all the things I wish to see in Romance, especially after a year that’s been quite naughty, but not in a good way. 

The first thing I want to see is readers demanding quality and being more critical of poorly written and edited books. I understand that sometimes books are so entertaining and engaging that we’re willing to overlook their technical issues, especially if they were self-published. But here’s the thing: forgiving mistakes because the book was self-published is offensive, because it means that we equal poor quality to self-publishing. And that is most definitely not the case, or it doesn't have to be. And when we give those books free passes, we create a vicious cycle. So now we have a bunch of poorly written books experiencing huge success in detriment of everyone. It lowers the standards as evidenced by the fact that the big publishers purchasing those books don’t see the need to improve and refine them. So is up to us to demand the quality we deserve. 


I would love to see stories featuring real people. I believe that fantasy can be grounded in reality, and as much as I enjoy reading about millionaires and beautiful women, I would love to see people like me falling in love and getting HEAs. I know that some read for escapism and don’t wish to see stories about characters with economic struggles (or any type of non-glamorous struggles), but I do, and I think the genre would benefit from it. 

And while we’re on the subject of regular people, when did the alpha-male become the default?  I guess it always has been, and yet I see a deterioration of the alpha-male into a more basic, almost shallow portrayal of how those heroes are. The problem isn't the alpha-male, the problem is when their alpha-ness is all there is to them. Protectiveness and strength are good qualities, but not when they get amplified to ridiculous proportions and take over the whole character. These heroes are not going away, I don’t want them to, but I would love to see a more nuanced, complex portrayal. And please, no more borderline abusive heroes. 

More bad sex, please! Sometimes the hero and heroine only connect on a sexual level (at least at first), and that’s fine, one of my favorite books of the year was like that. But sex is a huge part of the genre, yet there’s almost no innovation or variety. The book hits the middle mark, you know the sex is coming, and that it’s going to be awesome. And I always wonder, wouldn't it be great if the sex also got its own story-arc? Maybe things aren't as great at first, or their personal issues have repercussions on their sex lives. Cecilia Grant and Stephanie Doyle are writing about it, but we need more. And if bad sex isn't possible because, let’s face it, all those mighty peens need employment, then make it messy and real. 

Going back to the rich alphas -- how about a book about a millionaire tycoon and the virgin secretary, where the tycoon is the heroine and the secretary the hero? Or the heroine doctor who falls for the male nurse? Any type of role reversals would be great. I’ll take any opportunity to explore different relationship dynamics, especially if the heroine is the one who holds the power in the relationship.

Overall I would love to see more diversity and unique stories. It took years for me to read a book about a hero with erectile dysfunction, and it was a welcome book. There’s nothing wrong with traditional stories, I enjoy them all the time, but let’s spice things up a bit. The romance community is huge, and there are all types of readers, so it would be great so see that diversity reflected on the novels. 

How about you? What’s on your wants list? Is there a trope, story or type of character you would like to see more of, or maybe less?

Don't forget to read Cara Mckenna's list. That post is the reason why I made mine, and I’m not the only one who got some inspiration, Natalie also wrote her own list

ETA: I made a sad peen button (see comments). Feel free to use!

Sad peen is sad

32 comments:

  1. Yes! More bad sex!

    And I'll admit it: about the only self-pub author whose books are auto-buy for me is Courtney Milan--because her standards are so high. I'm really, really, really reluctant to buy self-pub (that isn't a reissue of an OOP backlist title) without it being recommended by someone I trust to not lead me astray.

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    1. Heh! I bet that's a phrase you never thought you would say, right? LOL

      This year I read a lot of self-published books, some very good, some awful. And yes, there is a lot of crap out there, but there's also quality, and I think it's unfair to write them off based on generalizations that not always match reality.

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  2. Oh yes, I think more real people books are needed in the world.. At least that is something majority of can relate to..

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    1. Exactly, I would love to see more characters that look like me(perfect and gorgeous! *grins*)

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  3. Fun post! I know you read SuperRomances, and I've found a number of not-rich heroes there. Not only not rich, but strapped for cash, even. Jeannie Watt has a recent one with that background (I really need to write a review).

    And one of the recent Medicals I read (I think in the St. Piran's series) has a male nurse and a female doctor as the couple. It's clear in the novel that he wanted to be a nurse and there's a good reason for it. So the books are out there, we just need to find them and publicize them to our friends when we do. ;)

    I'm not sure I really want to read bad sex (although it worked plot-wise in the Doyle, of course). I would like to read more *normal* sex, though.

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    1. I'll have to check her books, because, yes, the SR line isn't like the Presents line, filled with millionaires and rich people, but there aren't struggling characters either. I liked the latest Sarah Mayberry because the characters were regular people, and the heroine in particular had a lot of financial problems, but the hero was very comfortable and in the end I felt like he was going to solve all her problems. So as much as I love those books, the regular people on them, are still quite fantastical.

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  4. Echoing Sunita here - but yeah, that's pretty much 95% of the reason why I enjoy the SuperRomance line so much. Rich guys can happen in that line, but you're more likely to get someone with a resume that doesn't have "tycoon" on it.

    I would KILL for more role reversal stories, especially in erotic romance. One of my biggest disappoints this year was a short story involving the boss heroine and the PA hero. Boss/secretary where the roles are reversed? Huzzah! - or so I thought. It turned out to be a BDSM story where he dominates her outside of the workplace. There was nothing technically wrong with the story, but my disappoint was massive. I was hoping for original spin and instead got same ol', same ol'....

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    1. As I told Sunita, it's true that there are no Tycoons on the SR line, but there are plenty of rich, or comfortable people on them.

      Did you read The Other Side of Us? One of the reasons I loved that book was because the heroine has more money than the hero, and at one point he feels really uncomfortable and insecure about it. He deals with it in a very mature way, and I was blown away by it. That whole book was just amazing.

      What a bummer about the BDSM book, like there's no way for the heroine to have the power, he has to dominate her outside the workplace and on a sexual level, something that gives him even more power over her. Ugh. Have you read Charlotte Stein? I'm thinking you would love Control and Restraint.

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    2. I just read Restraint recently and ZOMG! Loved it! Loved it so much I wanted to have babies with it! I need to buy up her backlist - Control is one I don't have yet.

      Will look for The Other Side Of Us. I am woefully behind on my HSR reading. I mean, woefully. I keep getting distracted by HP and HR, which means HSR and HH have fallen a bit off the cliff....

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    3. Restraint is on my list of favorites of 2012, which I should be writing now...

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  5. I pretty much agree with all you said Brie. Especiallly the uber Alpha male. It can be much more effective when a usually non Alpha male has alpha moments - hubby has them occasionally (usually if he perceives a threat to me or child) and it does give me a little thrill I admit. But he's not like that all the time (which is a good thing).

    I wouldn't mind the sex getting its own story arc - sometimes it takes time to connect on a physical level or it can reflect where the couple is emotionally.

    But you're right, we do have to keep the mighty peens employed. Perhaps we can start a campaing: "Give The Mighty Peen a Job."

    Yes?:D

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    1. Ha! They already have all the jobs, they are job-hoarders. Let's give the sad peen jobs instead ;-)

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    2. Yes! That is even better.

      GIVE A SAD PEEN A JOB.

      Can you make me a button?

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  6. More bad sex. Yes please. No, really. I would LOVE to read those scenes and see how they evolve.

    More regular heroes. PLEASE. I'm begging authors.

    And more Charlotte Stein just in general. One of my favorite voices.

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    1. And it's such an interesting source of conflict, right?

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  7. Love and agree with your entire list. Even some of the traditional published books I've read this year can do with some extra editing and fine tuning. The amount of flat characters and awkward and unrealistic dialogue I came across this year was astounding.

    And the super Alpha males who embody nothing but their Alphaness, and who are pretty much abusive and controlling is not cute and that ish needs to stop. I'm really surprised at how many women love these guys and fangirl for them.

    There were a few things I noticed in books (mostly the YA I read) that worked my nerves and I may just write out my own list Brie! Great post and thanks for the idea!

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    1. Yes! Do it, I would love to read your list because your taste is so eclectic. I wan't to know what's going on in other genres ;-)

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  8. Your post is a great idea but then a post with a pic of Fassy is always a good one! :D

    I so have to agree with you and all the comments! I would love to see more "normal" heroes. I still like to read about these über-alpha heroes but the-guy-next-door would be nice from time to time, too.
    I've recently read One Night Rodeo by Lorelei James and it had the nice twist that the heroine knew everything about ranching and the hero (still very alpha) next to nothing and he absolutely needed her to show him how everything is getting done. I thought that was pretty rare and I really liked the book.
    And I would love to see more heroes with an everyday profession, too. Not everyone is a high-profile actor or tycoon or a SEAL.

    I can't think of a "bad" sex scene off the top of my head, tbh. Makes me a bit sad. Wouldn't it be a good way to show that it can get better? I think I need to read more SuperRomances, the Stephanie Doyle sounds intriguing.

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    1. Was that the Harlequin freebie from last week or so? I forgot to download it, but I'll have to buy it.

      And yes for the everyday profession, and as Kara McKenna pointed out, more heroes that have traditionally feminine jobs. That would be so interesting.

      You have to jump on the Superromance bandwagon! You're missing out big time.

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    2. Lorelei James writes for Samhain and NAL, so no Harlequin freebie.
      I have to catch up on Sarah Mayberry's books. Got them all but no time to read them yet.

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    3. Oh, right! I got confused there.

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  9. Really, really great post, Brie! Especially the paragraph about quality standard. I'm like Natalie, I rarely buy self-published books. It has to be by one of my favorite authors for me to make the plunge.

    I totally agree about the uber-Alphaness. It's unfortunate that it has become the norm. I can understand in paranormal and urban fantasy books to a certain extent, especially if they are others... but in contemporary or historical romance, I'd like their alphaness to be more nuanced.

    What do I want... more stand-alones books, more depth to them. In the age of the series, it feels like authors are forced to generate more books... and I don't know, the characters developments seem to suffer from it. You just change the characters details and voila. Which is weird because since the world is already established, there should be more time to develop the characters and romance. Anyway. I'm tired of no-string flings turned into love romances. Can't we vary a little?

    I'm also tired of small-town romances and would like more contemporary romance set in big cities. I also want more romantic suspense books!! With good, suspenseful mysteries! That genre seems to have almost disappeared this year :(

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    1. I'm with you 100% on the series and standalone books. Never ending, repetitive series must stop, because it's getting ridiculous. And yes for the big city romance! I must make yet another button ;-)

      I don't know what's going on with RS. I think it doesn't sell. RS is what Contemporary Romance was a few years back, remember? There was even the save the contemporary campaign. Although I did read a few good RS this year, but not enough.

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  10. Brie and Wendy - I want to read any book you guys consider so amazing. Who is the author of Restraint? I want to check it out.

    And I can't promise bad sex in my next Super Brie... but the heroine does decide to fake an orgasm... how's that for real :)

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    1. Charlotte Stein. I really liked Restraint, Control and Deep Desires. All very different stories. She uses deep POV, so it takes some getting used to, but it's worth it. And if you're in the mood for an awesome erotic story (not a romance), read The Waiting Room by Remittance Girl. TWR isn't a 2012 book, which sucks because it can't be on my top 10 list of the year. Deep Desires and Restraint did make the list, though.

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    2. Oh, I like the faking of the orgasm. It makes me happy!

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  11. Okay - I see it. Charlotte Stein wrote Restraint. I'll have to check it out.

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  12. Maybe... and I hate to say this, because it smacks of self-promotion, you might like to check out my publisher, Choc Lit? A lot of our books are about very ordinary heroines (speaking for myself, my heroines usually worry more about paying the electric bill than finding a man). Maybe because it's British, and therefore there is less pressure on us to write 'perfect, alpha-male' and 'gorgeous, successful heroine'. Can't speak for the rubbish sex though...

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    1. Thanks for the rec! I'll check it out ;-)

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  13. "It took years for me to read a book about a hero with erectile dysfunction, and it was a welcome book."

    Wait wha? But... How did I not know of this book? Name and author if you please.

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    1. It's technically a spoiler:

      SPOILER
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      . It's the Stephanie Doyle book, One Final Step.

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The books reviewed here were purchased by us. If the book was provided by the author or publisher for review, it will be noted on the post. We do not get any type of monetary compensation from publishers or authors.