No matter what side of the aisle you sit on politically – and I really really don’t care FYI—I think we can all agree that 2016 was a bloody dumpster fire of a year. David Bowie set the tone by dying and leaving us with the album Dark Star (that he recorded knowing it was his final love letter to the world) at the beginning of the year; Carrie Fisher died and left us with a final image of her in Rogue One at the end of the year; and in between, a whole raft of talented people left the world a darker place with their passing. The election seemed like it was never going to end. The weather was crazy. People were shot in churches and nightclubs and medical facilities and schools. A politician was stabbed on the street in England. A child was killed by an alligator at Disney World. The papers were filled with pictures of Syria. Freaky clowns kept appearing in playgrounds because we aren’t all scarred enough by clowns already. 2016 was literally a highlight reel of tragedy porn.
But I’m lucky, because I had people that I could go to who looked at the dumpster fire that was 2016 and could make me laugh about it. My girlfriends and I have a tradition, we always try to get together in January. Some years we all fly to the same place and spend a long weekend together. Sometimes we do a large conference call kvetch. This year we were all feeling pretty battered and bruised so we actually decided that it was worth it to spend the money and get together in person—away from our families. And every one of us made the comment that we didn’t go out New Year’s Eve. Partly because we’ve gotten old enough that being drunk young people puking on our feet just isn’t fun anymore, but the other part was that we were all essentially hunkered down, waiting for the dumpster fire that was 2016 to finally end. We didn’t want to risk setting foot outside until it was over.
Well, I told you all that to give you the background on the tradition where my friends and I sit down over coffee and they start telling me what sort of things they want to see in romance fiction this year, and by this point in the conversation, much wine has been drank and we’ve all gotten a little wacky with each other. And this year? This year was definitely not an exception.
So here it is – our long wined out weekend list of things we want to see in romance novels to get us past the nightmare that was 2016 and into something (hopefully) better in 2017.
- Instead of another dark alpha-hero with a troubled past biker romance we’ve decided we need to see Sons of Anarchy—the Sit-Com. A series of books about a group of guys who are all Harley enthusiasts that run a mechanic’s shop and play pranks on each other and do toy runs and raise money for the local hospital. They don’t do bad stuff. They’re just regular guys who happen to have bikes. Meanwhile, the town sheriff is a Gomer Pyle type who’s watched too much cable TV and is determined to catch them doing wrong. Bonus points are apparently to be awarded if the Sheriff wrecks his car doing something stupid to catch the bad guys and has to be towed to their garage in each book.
- A Full House series except that it’s three women trying to raise a baby together who have no idea what they’re doing. I know this sounds like Fuller House but to quote my friend Simone – “Fuller House but you know actually funny instead of making you want to stab yourself in the eye with a dulled spork. So, you know a story where not everyone is rich and white with a fabulously glamourous job please. You know some POC, some gay people, an angry cat that likes to yak up hairballs in shoes. You know ”
- More women friends. In all books. Not just women friends to listen to the heroine talk about the hero. Not future book heroines. Actual women just loving and supporting each other.
- More geeks. Less helicopter rides and billionaires and fancy French meals in Paris that you fly to on a private jet. More picnics at the planetarium where he works so you can stargaze during lunch. More bookstores and less boardrooms. More nice guys and less reformed assholes.
- More #sorrynotsorry female rage. As my friend, Cheryl mentioned you can find truly angry women in mystery novels, and she wants to see that in novels that don’t involve a dead body. Her exact comment in an email follow up she sent me when I asked if I could include her suggestion was “just once I want a woman to get truly pissed off and not decide to be nice and kind and willing to work things out. I want to see someone slam a door and throw plates and not apologize for it. I want her to be unapologetically, capital letters ANGRY and not get over it. I want the hero (or the guy she pushes off a bridge to be with the hero) to be honestly afraid that this time…this time he might have gone way too far.”
And the one trope that they unanimously agreed needed to die:
The Ugly Duckling/Makeover.
In the same email, Cheryl wrote “Just once, I want to read a novel where at the end of it the hero looks at the heroine and says ‘You’re weird and frustrating and nerdy and you talk too much when you’re nervous and you always say the exact wrong thing and you have terrible taste in jokes and your entire closet is full of sweat pants and you could probably lose ten pounds and I think you might actually have a leaf in your hair RIGHT. THIS. SECOND. and I don’t know why you have an entire room dedicated to Sailor Moon, but those are the reasons I love you. And I don’t want you to change.’”
So, that’s it. The heartwarming romance novels we want to fill our in 2017. Oh, and more cocoa. I was roundly assured that book bundles that come with a large cup of cocoa and some mini marshmallows are what was needed this year.
No matter what you read this year, I hope that your 2017 turns out to be a good one.
Patricia Eimer is a suburban mom who has days where she feels like she’s barely hanging on. She currently lives in eastern Pennsylvania with her two wonderful kids and a husband that learned the gourmet art of frozen pizzas to give her more time to write. When she’s not writing—or shuttling her children to a hundred different places a day– she can be found trying to cook (and sometimes blowing up hard boiled eggs), reading and arguing with her dogs about plot points. Most days the Beagle wins but the Dalmatian is in close second and her mastiff puppy is making a break for the inside. Patricia meanwhile is a longshot fourth. When she’s not writing she can be found on Facebook, at her website (PatriciaEimer.com) or on Twitter. She is also a connoseiur of really bad science jokes.