[Note from Frolic: We are honored to host guest author Jenny Holiday on the site today! Be sure to check out her Bridesmaids Behaving Badly series!]
Everyone in the rock band/group of heartless dukes/motorcycle club band of brothers falls in love in an orderly yet unstoppable fashion one at a time like dominoes.
thank u, next.
Try: The WAGs series by Naima Simone. Football players on the same team get struck by cupid’s arrow in quick succession.
Everyone in the aforementioned rock band/group of heartless dukes/motorcycle club band of brothers happens to be queer.
I don’t care how statistically unlikely this is. I objectively don’t care. (But also, it’s kind of a nice correction to all those years we read about the rock band/group of heartless dukes/motorcycle club band of brothers and in which every member all happened to be straight.)
Try: The Twisted Wishes series by Anna Zabo. This is your statistically unlikely band.
Not everyone in this small town/1816 London/spaceship is white.
This may be the one instance I require realism in my romance.
Try: The Old West series by Beverly Jenkins. Or anything by Jenkins, the Queen of Romancelandia, really!
People finding true love or dates for high-stress events on airplanes.
The golden age of air travel endures in Romancelandia.
Try: Beautiful Secret by Christina Lauren. It’s amazing how the bad lighting on planes can suddenly make you see a person in a whole new light.
Massive snowstorms that defeat modern meteorological prediction techniques and also removal technology.
If Trump can deny climate change, I can deny the existence of snow plows.
Try: Let It Snow by Heidi Cullinan. Snowed in for days. (But with roommates… it works, somehow!)
Walmart-immune small towns with mysteriously vibrant economies that can support competing cupcake shops.
I don’t know why the baked goods sector is so vibrant in small town romance novels, but I am here for it.
Try: Beard Science by Penny Reid. A genius mastermind is felled by “the banana cake queen.”
Wills with legally dubious clauses regarding the marital status and personal conduct of heirs.
But actually, Adele Buck told me on Twitter that this kind of thing can really happen, so no worries here.
Try: The Billionaire Bachelor by Jessica Lemmon. This is the “boards of directors get really fussed about what CEOs do in their off time” variation on the above.
Cunnilingus comes standard in m/f romance. Nobody grossed out by lady parts in general.
All parts are good parts.
Try: Playing Dirty by Amy Andrews. The heroine is a baker, and there is frosting involved. (I’m not sure how there weren’t also yeast infections involved but whatever—live fast, die hard.)
Birth control discussed and/or employed on the page.
If not, there’d better be a secret baby in book 2.
Try: One and Only by moi (shameless self-plug!). The alpha dude does not happen to have a condom in his wallet, so they have to get creative with parts that don’t need condoms.
Someone recently tagged me in a review that called the heroine of my book Three Little Words “bitchy, immature, childish, ungrateful and selfish.” I was like, “Yes, and?”
Try: Burn Down the Night by M. O’Keefe. You want unlikeable? She takes him hostage in the first chapter.
Enthusiastic, explicit consent
Done well, this isn’t just checking a box in the #MeToo era; it can genuinely ratchet up the sexy factor of a book.
Try: Big Bad Cowboy by Carly Bloom. Consent baked in to so many scenes!
I don’t care if it’s lawyering or underwater basket weaving. If your characters are effortlessly good at it, my eyeballs will turn into hearts.
Try: Earth Bound by Emma Barry and Genevieve Turner. They both work at the NASA-esque organization that’s central to this series, and they’re both really, really good at their jobs.
On a more serious note, this post was prompted by someone asking me the old “Isn’t romance unrealistic, though?” question. I don’t really care if it is. I think maybe it’s aspirational—and that “aspirational” can trump “realistic.” You have to aspire to things before you can get them. You have to see them modeled and know they’re possible. And by “you” I mean both individuals and society.
Some of the “things” in romance (the snowstorms, the entire rock band falling in love) are not “realistic” in a literal way. Yes, they are devices. But they are devices we can use to reveal a deeper human truth. That’s why I mixed some of my favorite bonkers tropes with “preachy things” (like birth control) in the thread above.
The truth our fiction can reveal—even our “unrealistic” fiction, even our most bonkers trope-tastic fiction—is that everyone is worthy of love and respect and the kind of sexual relationship they want (if they want one). That love and friendship and community are important if you want to be a whole, well person. This is the number one thing I am here for in romance. (But also I just really, really enjoy cupcake wars.)
*This post began its life as a Twitter thread.
About Jenny Holiday:
Jenny Holiday is a USA Today bestselling author who started writing at age nine when her awesome fourth-grade teacher gave her a notebook and told her to start writing some stories. After a detour to get a PhD in geography, she worked as a professional writer, producing everything from speeches to magazine articles. Later, her tastes having evolved from alien invasions to happily-ever-afters, she tried her hand at romance. She lives in London, Ontario, with her family.
For more on Jenny and her books, visit JennyHoliday.com
Jenny Holiday’s newest Bridesmaids Behaving Badly novel Three Little Words, out today!
Gia Gallo is officially in bridesmaid hell. Stranded in New York with her best friend’s wedding dress, Gia has six days to make it to Florida in time for the ceremony. And oh-so-charming best man Bennett Buchanan has taken the last available rental car. Looks like she’s in for one long road trip with the sexiest – and most irritating – Southern gentleman she’s ever met…
Bennett’s pretty sure that if there was ever a woman to break his “no flings” rule, Gia would be it. Sure, she’s stubborn. She’s also funny, smart, and the attraction between them is getting hotter with every state line they cross. While Bennett doesn’t do casual, Gia doesn’t do “relationships.” But if they break the rules, this unlikely pair might discover that their impromptu road trip could turn out to be the best ride of their lives.