My Obsession with Whip-Smart, Sexy, Enormously Satisfying Rom-Coms By Jessica Peterson

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[Note from Frolic: We are so excited to have author Jessica Peterson guest post on the site today. Take it away Jessica!]

I’ve been on a romantic comedy kick lately. Ever since I laughed and cried and clapped during my first viewing of Crazy Rich Asians, I’ve been addicted to the stuff. Books, TV, movies—if it’s rom-com, I’m in.

Luckily, it feels like we’re just at the beginning of a juicy rom-com renaissance, and there’s a lot of goodness out there to be had. Don’t get me wrong—I’ve been a fan of the genre for as long as I can remember. Growing up, VHS tapes of classics like The Princess Bride, The Holiday, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding were watched, and rewinded and watched again, so many times my siblings and I could repeat verbatim speeches about land wars in Asia and Greek words for fruit.

But I also love the fresh twist new voices are putting on the genre. Books and movies like Crazy Rich Asians, Ayesha At Last, and Always Be My Maybe feel refreshingly modern in their diversity and their clever takes on classic tropes. Characters are complex and less than perfect (SO great to see in heroines especially). Dialogue is witty, subtle, and laugh-out-loud funny. And most of all, the emotions are genuine, and genuinely moving. Which makes the romance incredibly, deliciously satisfying.

You see, I’m all about the feels. It’s what made me a romance fan in the first place—that yummy ache you get in your chest and stomach reading an especially real and raw and, hopefully, raunchy novel (I usually, though not always, prefer my romance scorching hot). I recently devoured Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, and my God did I get a serious case of the feels. It made me realize just how swoony that combo of laugh-out-loud/cry-your-eyes-out can be. And the distinct sizzle that Tessa Bailey brought to Fix Her Up definitely upped the ante. Throw thoughtful, explicit sex into the mix, and y’all—I am a total goner.

Not only did these books and movies turn me into a mushy, swoony, teary mess. They also made me think. They opened my eyes to the possibilities of what a romance could—and should—be. As a writer myself, it’s sometimes painful to inhale such exquisitely done goodness. The ache it gives me is delicious, yes, but it can also hurt. I want to write like that, I can’t help but think. I want to be brave and honest and take chances in my work, because look! Look how amazing, how moving, how important this stuff is!

I love how books and movies like the ones I mentioned are pushing the genre, and the entertainment industry as a whole, forward. We need more like them! And I hope to see more romance novels turned into TV shows or movies. I can’t help but think they’ll be an essential part of continuing this rom-com renaissance.

Because, I’ll be honest—if I have to see one more super-hero movie, I just might scream. Of course there are exceptions (Black Panther, Wonder Woman, and Captain Marvel, I’m looking at you).  But having movies in theaters that actually speak to me, to my experience and the craving I have for smart, sexy, self-aware content, is awesome. I’m very much hoping the movie/TV adaptations of The Kiss Quotient and The Hating Game happen. I will be the very first to stream Mindy Kaling’s new take on Four Weddings And a Funeral. And don’t even get me started on Shonda Rhimes’s upcoming Bridgertons series (technically not a rom-com, but as a lifelong Shonda and Julia Quinn fan, I had to mention it!).

Needless to say, I’m besides myself with excitement. I hope that by supporting (more like devouring) these romances, I’m helping pave the way for more like them to be written and produced. Romance, and romantic comedies, can be inclusive, thought-provoking, and hugely, hilariously intelligent. They are important. They change lives.

They’re powerful and empowering.

Now that I think about it, my rom-com kick is less a phase, and more of a life-long love affair. Not a guilty pleasure. Not something I “indulge” in. But something I absolutely, whole-heartedly love. I hope audiences also continue to embrace the breath of fresh air this new crop of writers has injected into the genre.

I, for one, can’t wait to see what awesomeness comes next.

Rom-Com Recs (Books Only):
Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

This book went down as one of my all-time, desert-island-keeper favorites. It’s rare that a book makes me laugh out loud, much less tear up, over and over again. But this one did. It’s exactly what I didn’t know I was looking for in my romance: brainy, a little weird, subtle and sexy and thrillingly real.

Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Love, love, loved this modern Pride And Prejudice retelling. Satisfying in every way, from the humor, to the characters, to the author’s meditations on families and our roles in them. Devoured it in a single day, then spent a week with one of the worst book hangovers in recent memory.

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey

I’ve been a Tessa Bailey ever since I read, and re-read, Indecent Exposure last year. She writes some of the best, most well done sex scenes ever—the kind of sex that’s hot but still moves plot and character forward, which is not an easy feat!

Rock Bottom Girl by Lucy Score 

I want to see this book made into a movie. It’s a classic rom-com set up: a woman returns to her hometown, broken and defeated, and gets into a tangle with the cute high school teacher down the street. Only Lucy’s take on this trope is delightfully different and satisfying.

Faking Ms. Right by Claire Kingsley

A boss/employee, fake relationship romance that hits all the high notes. I loved how the heroine had a supportive group of smart, non-judgmental girlfriends. I also loved how Claire wrote about the power of vulnerability. And yeah, the super hot sex scenes didn’t hurt.

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Jessica Peterson
About the Author:

Jessica Peterson writes smart, sexy romance set in her favorite cities around the world. She grew up on a steady diet of Mr. Darcy, Jamie Frasier, and Edward Cullen, and it wasn’t long before she started creating irresistible heroes of her own. She loves strong coffee, stronger heroines, and heroes with hot accents.

She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband Ben and her smelly Goldendoodle Martha Bean.

Connect with Jessica:

Website: www.jessicapeterson.com

The City Girls, Jessica’s Facebook Reader Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/PetersonsPupils/

Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/jessicapetersonauthor

Instagram: @JessicaPAuthor (https://www.instagram.com/jessicapauthor/)

Southern Gentleman by Jessica Peterson, out now!

I know two things when I meet my new boss, Greyson Parker Montgomery III.

One, he’s an egomaniac.

And two, we’re going to get naked.

Something I didn’t know? That I’d end up pregnant.

No one is more surprised by our off-the-charts chemistry than me. I’m a free spirit with a passion for design and a taste for the bohemian. Greyson is a cocky venture capitalist who’s as pretentious as his sharply cut power suits.

He owns half of Charleston, and has the other half at his beck and call. But the only place he owns me is in bed…or in the backseat of his car, boneless and begging for mercy.

We argue over contracts and costs all day long. Behind closed doors, however, we engage in a different kind of business. The kind that has me surrendering to his unique brand of dominance.

Our no-strings attached arrangement suits me just fine. Until I wake up one morning with what I think is a wicked hangover. Only it’s not a hangover.

I thought Greyson was a typical “greed is good” grump. But when he demands to be involved in the life we accidentally created, I start to see a different side of him. One that’s more gentleman than jerk.

Am I crazy to think we could be a family together? Or is making me fall for him just another one of his power plays?

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