On being a reader of romance

I’m a reader of romance. I also love crime novels, and for a while I read every book I could find that had vampires in it, I even had a spreadsheet (if you want gritty killing machine vampires, I recommend the David Wellington series, 13 Bullets). But really, when I do have time to read these days, more often than not I’ll be picking up a romance. I’m a sucker for a love story with lots of sex and a happy ending.

I started reading Mills & Boon/Harlequin romances when I was 15, much to my mother’s despair (because ‘trashy’ romance novels are not ‘real’ books apparently). I never really stopped reading them, but over the years I have developed a taste for the raunchier ones, as one does (Desire series, anyone?). In the same way my taste for them has evolved, so have my views on gender roles and feminism. I remember starting a Mills & Boon book a couple of years ago that I could not keep reading, the emotionally abusive undercurrent in that book was too strong for me.

I’ve also grown tired of the usual tropes. Here are a couple that really get my goat:

  • The powerful billionaire with tragic past falls for a woman with a menial job and makes her see that he is the one for her, no matter how many times she refuses him. He knows her better than she knows herself and usually coerces her into a relationship/sex/marriage under threat. I once read one where the guy, who’d just found the woman again, 6 years after walking out on her, and finding out she’d had twins, threatened to get full custody (fully expecting to get it too, because of who he was and his inflated bank account) if she didn’t marry him on the spot.
  • The whole first time sex thing, especially the ones where the man can feel that the woman is a virgin, or he’s already half inside her when he feels a barrier that he has to push through… Basic human biology, people, the hymen is NOT halfway up the vaginal canal!!

The trend at the moment seems to be tattooed bikers who are in a motorcycle gang. Or cowboys. I have nothing against either, in fact, I just read 2 Mills & Boon Dare books by 2 different authors featuring a tattooed guy who’s in a MC and enjoyed both of them immensely. And I guess it’s a good idea to be writing to the market, because then you’ll get sales.

And as much as I love a good sexy romance with graphic sex scenes that make the reader all hot and bother, I can still enjoy a fun romance with no graphic sex (I aim to own (and read) every book Trisha Ashley has ever written, and I’m getting there).

I’ve been writing and I’ve been thinking about getting an actual book out so I went looking at the specs for submission for Mills & Boon/Harlequin Dare and this is what they’re after:

Sexy. Passionate. Bold.

Harlequin Dare stories push the boundaries of sexual explicitness while keeping the focus on the developing romantic relationship. Come meet the sexiest men alive!

Key Elements

  • The heat level is explicit and graphic. The hero and heroine have a powerful sexual and emotional connection.
  •  We’re looking for authors who have a distinct, memorable voice and write stories with a high level of sexual tension as well as graphic sex. 
  •  We want to read the ultimate alpha hero of all of your sexual fantasies! While billionaires, CEOs and other successful, affluent men are welcome, we are also open to grittier heroes and anti-heroes.
  •  Heroines are empowered, fun and fearless women who don’t necessarily need a man in their lives—having a man is her choice…and her pleasure! Bold heroines are a key hook for this series and their independence is as important as the character traits of the alpha heroes.
  •  Stories must be contemporary. Readers should be swept away by sexual fantasy, even as the characters deal with real world obstacles and challenges in the face of their love.
  •  The setting can either be metropolitan (Paris, London, New York, L.A., Sydney, Rome) or exotic (the Amalfi Coast, Hawaii, the Caribbean). The setting alone doesn’t make the story sexy but it certainly helps!
  •  We are open to 3rd person or 1st person point of view. There should be a balance of POV between the hero and heroine.
  •  A word count of 50,000 means stories must be fast-paced and plot-driven.

We are open to many different story types, though we are not currently considering law enforcement (police, FBI, etc.), western-themed, military, sports, small-town romances, paranormal or historicals.

These are sexy contemporary romances and we’re not accepting erotica or erotic romance. We are not interested in BDSM (light bondage is acceptable), ménage, age play, bestiality, incest or rape. Each manuscript will be evaluated on how the subject matter is handled.

I read it a few times and I don’t feel that anything I write fits their bill. Here’s the bit that comes after the story types bit. While I absolutely cannot get behind bestiality or incest or rape, I have written stuff with polyamorous characters and I understand that is a different, more specialised market.

However I’m still confused by the sexy contemporary romance vs erotica/erotic romance part. Where does one draw the line? How much hot monkey sex must the characters have to put you in the erotica category as opposed to the sexy romance one? I guess it’s one of those things I could just google. But you know what? I am pretty sure I already have and I read an article or two and left as confused as I was before I’d read them.

Oh well.

I’ll just keep writing what I write, if I ever get my mojo back (it’s been a stressful term with lots of school work and the next 2 weeks are going to be the worst).

 

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Being a responsible adult sucks (Blast from the Past 16)

OMG this took so long!!

Well, not this one, but the one after this one.

The one I needed to have finished before I could post this one.

You finally get to know what happens… after, yanno, Maddie bring Emily to Richie’s house and leaves her there.

In case you needed a refresher, they reconnect in a very intimate way

***

Emily gasped when Richie slammed inside her. She could hardly believe that it was actually happening. She felt overwhelmed but then he started moving against her, the pressure building up in her clit with every delicious deep thrust. She tightened her legs around him, her arms holding him tightly to her. She became aware of the tears running down of her face but she felt properly alive again for the first time in over a year so she was past caring. He noticed the tears, of course, and stopped moving, his cock staying sheathed all the way inside her.
“Are you OK?” The concern in his voice warmed her mending heart. This man she had hurt do much was worried about her because she was crying. “Do you want me to stop?” her asked her softly and Emily shook her head no, arms and legs making sure he couldn’t move away from her. Continue reading

An unexpected reunion goes an unexpected way… (Blast from the Past part 15)

I’ve been working on the chapter after this one for a while. It proved tricky to finish but I think it’s done.

This one, on the other hand, was rather easy.

In the last chapter, Maddie took Emily to her friend Tamara’s house then left her there. Emily was rather shocked when she realised whose house it actually was, while Maddie ran off, taking TamTam to the zoo.

Best friends… gotta love them!

***

“You know where I live now so I guess we’re even,” Richie joked because the silence between them was stretching and Emily was staring at him with a look on her face he couldn’t quite decipher. Part terrified, part relieved, part… longing? Surely that was wishful thinking, no matter what Maddie thought she knew. Continue reading

Easy like Saturday morning (Blast from the Past part 14)

It’s Saturday and Maddie might just have had enough of waiting for her friend to make a move…

Sometimes all one needs is a little push in the right direction.

Enjoy!

***

Emily got out of the shower and checked her phone to see if Maddie had replied to her text but it showed nothing. Maddie had rung her the night before to tell her that she’d be picking her up at 10am but wouldn’t say where they were going. Emily had become a tad weary of Maddie’s surprises, too many of them over the years had ended up with Emily having to be the sober driver while Maddie made out in the back seat with some girl she’d just met at whatever club they’d been at.
When Emily had broken up with Richie she’d stayed with Maddie for a couple of months and it was at one of her events that Maddie had met Harriet. The two women had instantly clicked and realised they were in love with each other after about two weeks. Harriet was quite the cook and Maddie and Emily had been all too willing to try any of the delicious dishes she’d tried. Harriet’s job as a stewardess meant she was away a lot for work so it had made sense for her to sell her house and move in with Maddie. Continue reading

Told you she was the best! (Blast from the Past part 13)

A short-ish chapter today, to finish off the day at the zoo.

Isn’t funny how fast kids make friends sometime? Then the parents have to have this awkward conversation, playing catch up.

I hope I managed to surprise you with the previous chapter. We all knew Richie and Eve needed to talk… and now they have.

***

“Why is Uncle Ricky talking to Eve?” asked a sleepy voice and Maddie looked down at Tamara who was wiping the sleep off her face.
“She showed up with your friend Connor when he came to say goodbye but you were asleep,” Maddie explained and the little girl jumped off her lap and looked around.
“I want to say goodbye. Where is he?”
Maddie stood and offered a hand. “He’s over there with his mum and baby sister. Shall we go over until your uncle is done?”
“Yes, please,” Tamara said, taking her hand and following her through the crowd. Continue reading

A zoo encounter of a different kind (Blast from the Past part 12)

Maddie is spending a lovely day at the zoo with Richie and his niece Tamara. They managed to discuss the Emily situation a little, once the little girl went down for a nap in her uncle’s arms. 

Are you ready for more?

Here goes…

***

“I need to say goodbye to my friend!”
“Connor, wait!!” Eve called out but it was too late, the four-year-old boy had run off to find his new best friend. They’d spent an hour playing together on the playground at the zoo and Eve had been glad for the break, after a full-on day walking around. Connor’s mum, Eve’s best friend Katie, was sitting on the bench next to her feeding four-month-old Alice. Continue reading

I’m going to the zoo, how about you? (Blast from the Past part 11)

“Where’s Maddie, Uncle Ricky? She said she’d be here.”
Richie looked down at Tamara and didn’t know what to answer to the four-year-old. When they’d left the takeaways restaurant the night before Maddie had said she’d see them at 10am at the entrance of the zoo. It was now 10:13 and no sign of Maddie. He was about to tell Tamara that sometime things come up and grown ups can’t make it when he heard his text alert. He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw it was Maddie.
“Sorry, couldn’t find a park anywhere! Now I have to walk about 500 miles to the entrance! See you soon x”
“TamTam, that was Maddie. She just parked her car so she should be here soon. Do you want to have a look in the shop while we wait? I bet they have lots of elephants in there.”
Having sufficiently piqued the little girl’s interest Richie lead them into the gift shop where they went on a hunt to find every elephant they could. Richie took a photo of Tamara with each elephant she found, so she could have a look later and decide which one was her absolute favourite to take home. Continue reading