Everyone wants to be liked, right? If you get down […]
Everyone wants to be liked, right? If you get down to the nitty gritty of hard truths, life is easier if people like you. If you doubt me, just think about how hard it was walking into a classroom when you were the new kid in town. It’s easier to be liked. We don’t have to devote any time or effort questioning our actions or our words if the room is smiling and hanging on your every quip and anecdote. Being liked greases the wheels in work, at social events, and in some instances, at Thanksgiving dinner when you’re around relatives that only remember you as that kid who screamed and ran around the table as they were trying to relax after too much pumpkin pie last year…or was that twenty years ago?
It’s easy to relegate likability to a weakness, something people lean on when they don’t have the courage of their conviction, when being liked is the end, rather than the means of achieving goals…be they as simple as wheedling the car keys from a nervous parent, or that promotion you really aren’t positive you can handle, but, what the hell? Likability is something everyone barters with daily, hour to hour, giving it up here if it holds you back, retaining it here just in case you’ll need it later. Sometimes we get it right and everyone likes us, allowing us to relax. Sometimes we’re not successful and we acquire enemies, or fall out of favor, then life becomes hard. The currency of human interaction is power, money and beauty, but for most of us, all we’ve got to work with is likeability.
Is it any wonder readers want their characters to be likable?
This one goes out to anyone who’s having a Tuesday that feels like a Thursday! I dare you to get through this excerpt of Cynthia Breeding‘s Rogue of the Moors without smiling. (I absolutely could not.) Love the excerpt? You’re in luck, because Rogue of Moors is out today!
Bridget noticed that all four of the MacDonald men were seated at the table for supper. None of them appeared bruised or battered, so they must have taken their mother’s warning not to exchange blows seriously. Bridget knew men thought fighting was the solution to most arguments, but she had never understood why they would enjoy brawling simply for the sake of it. Looking at the granite set to Alasdair’s jaw made her wonder if a skirmish might not still take place.
“We serve ourselves here,” Joanna said as she brought in a dish of vegetables and smiled at Bridget as she sat down. “Doona skimp on your servings.” She glanced at her sons. “I am used to big appetites, so there is always plenty of food.”
“Thank ye,” Bridget said. “The boar smells delicious.”
“Allow me to carve ye some,” Niall said, flourishing a knife with enough skill that Bridget had no doubt he’d be deadly with a dagger.
Alasdair gave him a sharp look but said nothing.
Oddly enough, the other brothers were quiet and subdued this evening. Even though she’d only met them briefly when they’d come to Glenfinnan, she didn’t think the reserved behavior fit any of them. Rowdy, boisterous, rambunctious, yes. Quiet, no. Had the retelling this afternoon of the fate of that poor girl affected them so much?
Bridget glanced at Alasdair. He hadn’t been in the room, but the memories were probably crystal clear. She wished she could say something to him, but she caught the glimpse he gave her. His eyes were like emerald shards. She’d seen that look on her brothers’ faces, warning anyone with any sense not to broach them. Now was not the time to comment.
A clamoring near the back of the house broke the silence. Bridget heard shouting and several heavy thuds. It sounded like an altercation taking place, although none of the men seated seemed to be overly concerned.
The kitchen door banged, followed by the trampling of boots coming down the hall. The yelling hadn’t stopped either. Three lads in shirts, breeches, and tartan caps burst into the room, one of them dripping wet.
“’Tis nae my fault ye fell into the burn,” one said.
“Ye pushed me, ye fool,” the wet one answered.
Millionaires are my guilty pleasure. As you can probably tell since, y’know, I keep writing about them. There are just so many kinds of ‘em! Broody, manwhore, mysterious, cold, rebellious, Your-Wife-is-Hot-I’ll-Pay-You-One-Million-Dollars-for-a-Night-with-Her ones… See? A plethora of millionaires to choose from! But it’s not just me who has a fascination with them. Movies and television shows are full of them. One of the richest and most ruthless men ever to grace day time TV? Victor Newman. We loooove to hate him. The guy from Slum Dog Millionaire… Never seen the movie, but it has “millionaire” in the title. Oliver Queen from Arrow (Ooh. Wait. Didn’t he lose his money?) There’s just something about them that is powerful, captivating and sexy… And if we were honest, more of that has to do with their charisma than their bucks. But like The Highlander, there can be only one…or my case five. Favorites, that is. Aw, cut me some slack. I thought that segue was pretty clever. snicker
Anyhoo, my top five millionaires. I guess you can sum them up with the beginning of a dirty joke: Two superheroes, a vampire, a Dom and a john walk into a bar…
My name is Megan Derr. I am an author of queer romance. I am also co-owner of Less Than Three Press, in the interests of full disclosure since some of my recs are from there. But they are honestly among my favorites – that’s why I contracted them!
But I did pull recs from all over the place. I tried to keep things short and failed miserably, but if you are looking for some LGBT spins on some classic romance tropes, here are some excellent places to start (I actually have many, many more, but nobody wants to read a fifty-page post). I tried to keep to just 3-4 per trope, but some get bonuses.
I will likely be doing more of these in the future, on my own blog so as not to plague Ever After, if you should need more recs down the road.
In no particular order:
Just a Bit Ruthless by Alessandra Hazard (M/M, Gay, Bisexual, Contemporary) is about a young man who is kidnapped by his father’s enemy. My favorite part of this book is that the MC has always had to suppress who he is because he lives in such a macho world, where even his friends unintentionally say hurtful things, and this big, brusque man who kidnaps him is the first to understand and accept all that the MC wants, needs, and is.
A Boy Called Cin by Cecil Wilde (Genderqueer, Trans, Bisexual, Contemporary) – one of the books I published, about a business tycoon billionaire and a college student, so two tropes! It’s a lot of fun and #ownvoices
Room at the Top by Jane Davitt and Alexa Snow (M/M/M, Gay, Bisexual, Contemporary) – This book is one of my comfort reads. I’ve read it 500 times at least, as well as its sequel. The only thing I hate is that they’re not in print so I can put them on my bookcase of favorites. It is BDSM, if that’s of interest/not interest, and done well by people who know what they’re talking about.
Breakaway by Avon Gale (M/M, Bisexual, Contemporary)
Return on Investment by Aleksandr Voinov (M/M, Gay, Contemporary)
On the Trail to Moonlight Gulch by Shelter Sommerset (MM, Gay, Historical)
(I am supremely frustrated I apparently have not read any F/F May/December, if YOU have recs, I would appreciate them. This is one of my fav tropes)
1. The magic. Okay, I know you were expecting me to say the kilts, the man chest, or the abs and those are a bonus, but it’s really about the feel of the story. I started out writing paranormal romance filled with magic in a fictional world I created, so the move into Scottish Historicals was an easy one. The magic and mystery of Scotland is real and touchable, you can smell it, you can see it.
2. Alpha males. In seventeenth century Scotland, with all its political upheaval and the clan system, it was imperative for men to take the leading role in the safety of their people. I, like many other women, am one of those ladies that have too many responsibilities and the pressure of having to make so many daily decisions. I don’t like overbearing men, but I do like ones that have my best interests at heart and that will say, “Lay back, you need a break and I’ll take care of everything for you.” In today’s society, most men and women run a household evenly and it’s not fair to ask for the man to take on every worry, but it’s nice to be able to fantasize about being treated like a queen.
3. The scenery. I’ve seen a small slice of the Highlands, but the majesty of the mountains, the fresh feelings all the lush greens imbue and the beautiful waters of the land will never be adequately put into words. I do my best, but until you’ve seen the beauty for yourself, we just have to dream about it, read it, or write it and pretend we are there. Once you’ve been there, you want to hold on to those vistas in your mind until you can return. I hope I’m able to bring a little bit of that to my writing.
Since my teens, I’ve loved reading romance laced with adventure and suspense. Historical, paranormal, contemporary…if a story has great characters I can relate to, a heart-racing quest, and a happily-ever-after, I’ll devour it. My bookshelves are filled, and I carry my e-reader almost everywhere. I also love romance and adventure in film. There are some movies that I have seen so many times, I’ve lost count. What brings me back time and again? My best-loved films have a sense of adventure, a sigh-worthy hero, and a heroine with a mind of her own.
One of my all-time favorites fits those characteristics perfectly: Sherlock Holmes, the 2009 release starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Rachel McAdams. Sherlock Holmes and the alluring female criminal Irene Adler are one of my most memorable cinema couples. It’s such a pleasure to watch Holmes match wits with Irene, a woman who can hold her own with the brilliant Sherlock. Their chemistry is magnetic, and one can only imagine the passion that will erupt between this couple behind closed doors. The verbal interplay, determination, and sensual tension between Sherlock and Irene provided inspiration for the hero and heroine of my new release, When A Lady Deceives.
In addition to Sherlock and Irene Adler, there are many other movie pairings that I could watch again and again—strong, well-matched characters who face danger and adversity while falling in love. Of course, Sherlock and Irene occupy the top spot in my five favorite movie couples. Rounding out the list:
My name is Melissa, and I’m addicted to YA romance. Make that a forbidden YA romance, and I’ll see you when I’m done reading. So, of course I had to write one.
In my new novel, The Summer Before Forever, Chloe goes to Florida to live with her estranged father who is getting married at the end of the summer. Her heart goes gooey when she sees her future stepbrother who’s hotter than a steering wheel on a hundred degree Florida day. Chloe intrigues Landon in ways he’s never known and seems to know just the right thing to say when he drops his guard and lets her in. But in addition to the fact that they shouldn’t be together because they are getting ready to be family, the two each hold secrets that will change the way the other sees them, and neither one thinks they can handle that.
So in honor of Chloe and Landon, I present you with my top five forbidden YA romances.
1 – Anna and St. Clair in Anna and the French Kiss: Hands down my favorite YA romance. St. Clair may be the best-written YA romance hero ever, and as someone who is 5’10, I adore the fact that he is shorter than Anna! They are forbidden because he has a girlfriend. Why St. Clair, when Anna is wonderful and beautiful and you have chemistry more explosive than a Die Hard movie?
2 – Simon and Blue in Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda: Oh, how I fell in love with this book and these two heroes. Both boys are closeted, but have found each other. Problem is, neither boy knows who the other one is! Their relationship grows through email (Blue is afraid to give Simon his phone number), and they fall deeply and passionately for each other before they ever even see what the other person looks like. It’s exciting and scary and so freaking sweet. Oh, and if you are going to read this one for the first time, be sure to have a package of Oreos handy. You’ll thank me later.
Hello, my name is Chris Cannon, and I have a Harry Potter Romance-Fandom confession. I desperately wanted Ginny Weasley and Draco Malfoy to end up together. Yes, I know Harry was the hero, but he could’ve married any number of girls. Draco was the spoiled rich brat who was raised believing his father was brilliant and that Ginny’s father was an eccentric fool. Her family was dirt poor, and it would have been beneath him to even consider dating a Weasley. Think of all the wonderful conflict that would’ve caused.
Ginny could’ve taught Draco that everything he’d been raised to believe was wrong. She could’ve redeemed him. She had six older brothers who hated him and everything his family believed. Six! He would’ve had to fight his way through all six and convince them that he loved their little sister. Draco and Ginny would have been a match made in hell, and it would have been awesome.
I think that’s where my fascination with the normal-girl-dating-the-wealthy-boy and the little-sister-dating-her-brother’s-enemy tropes started, and it’s why I’ve written two romantic comedies featuring these tropes.
A couple of weeks ago, I saw author Dahlia Adler tweet about how important it is that diverse books are finally putting more faces on some of the “same old” stories, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. From many people, especially those who have been able to see themselves represented in media thousands of times, there comes this assumption that we should all be happy with the white cishet versions of stories. But what Adler said — and I agree with — was that the creation of diverse stories within these established frameworks is incredibly important.
When I tell someone about a court intrigue fantasy I’m reading, where the princess starts falling for her betrothed prince’s sister, I get so many unenthusiastic responses of “oh that sounds like [insert one of a dozen court intrigue fantasies here], but just with two girls.” While I tamper down my initial response of, “heck yeah, it does!” and move right past my mind asking, “What do you mean just with two girls??” I wonder why that person doesn’t also object to the twelve-thousandth* YA court intrigue fantasy where a white cishet princess is engaged to a white cishet prince and ends up falling for the white cishet gardener/stable boy/musician/other prince/soldier/etc. (*12,000 might be an exaggeration. Maybe.)
Given that there are only seven basic plots (according to Christopher Booker), most books can be described as “just another ____ but with _____,” but that’s only a problem if the main characters are diverse. Even if a concept or hook is similar to another book (which, again, it always will be), the story isn’t the same. The background of the characters informs the characters’ actions in both overt and subtle ways.
The love started when I was a young adult (once upon a time). I’m going to totally age myself with the following: I remember going to the mall and visiting the B. Dalton bookstore (RIP). They had an end cap featuring various young adult romances, including those published by Silhouette. I started in on those books and fell head over heels, eventually devouring a TON of them. They set my young teen heart aflutter.
What’s funny is I read a bunch of them, but could never remember their titles, the authors, etc. Except for one. My absolute favorite book from that line was Love at First Sight by Elaine Harper. Oh, MAN I loved that book. It was so swoony and sweet and full of teen angst and featured the most popular boy in school. I eventually lost my original copy but a couple of years ago I found it on Amazon. I one clicked that sucker (I think I got it for around a dollar) and will cherish it forever. The cover is faded and it’s been abused but it reminds me of the one I owned, so it’s perfect.