I’m going to confess something to you today: I would rather re-read The Hunt for Red October than just about anything on the romance best-seller lists. (It’s why you’ll often find a action/mystery/suspense element in my stories.)
Since I write gay romance for a living, it may surprise you to hear (or read) that I never really liked reading romances. While my friends were all devouring their Harlequins and bodice rippers, I was drawn to stories of espionage, whodunits, action/adventure, and the typical Book of the Month. My parents were voracious readers and my dad was a huge fan of spies and mysteries, so I tended to pull books off the shelves in our “library” – the basement had floor-to-ceiling built-in bookcases that were overflowing.
I didn’t much enjoy the few romances I read and generally looked down on the entire genre. The only romances I read were the ones written by Karen Harper because she was my high-school English teacher. We all read them for the smutty parts so we could see what we thought Mrs. Harper liked. (BTW, this is one reason I won’t write female sex scenes!)
But looking back as a writer, I realize it wasn’t the stories I didn’t like, it was the characters. I simply couldn’t identify with most of the heroines. It wasn’t until a friend turned me on to gay romances, that I started enjoying them. While I might not identify with either main character, I could enjoy reading about their attempts to find love.
Of course, there are certain types of stories I enjoy more than others. There have been discussions about how m/f romances differ from m/m romances, and I’m not going to enter that discussion directly. But looking at lists of the most popular romance tropes, there are some that we don’t often see in stories with gay characters.
But as times are changing, the marriage-of-convenience stories will start to feel more realistic. I happen to love that trope. I enjoy anything that throws people together, especially when they don’t like each other or they are opposites in many ways (affluence, job type, etc.).
Enemies-to-lovers gets my attention far more quickly than friends-to-lovers, as a reader and as a writer. It’s fun for me to create characters who might belong together at an emotional level, but external forces make them enemies or adversaries. Peeling away the layers to get to the heart and soul is a delicate process, bur rewarding for the characters, and me as a reader or writer.
I also adore kidnapping stories like pirates or harems. If you can rec me some good ones, I’d be very happy!
Reflecting on these issues made me curious about what tropes you enjoy reading in gay romance.
I realized that I’ve actually combined several into one book, without any conscious decision to do so!
Snow Job is geek+jock and stranded together (at Christmas!)
Hostile Takeover is friends to lovers to enemies to lovers, and business rivals
Rarer Than Rubies is enemies-to-lovers with some mistaken identity (plus action and suspense!)
Out of the Gate has job differences and out for you.
And for fans of childhood-friends to lovers and reunions you’ll love Lighting the Way Home, which I co-wrote with Shira Anthony!
I know there are more from my own titles, but those leap out at me.
- Vote in the polls
- Comment about which tropes you would like to see more in gay romances
- Rec me a good m/m kidnapping/pirate/harem story
- I’ll give away an e-book from my backlist to a randomly selected commenter on Friday 5 September.
Which tropes do you least enjoy?