Amnesia, kidnapping and Cinderella stories: Romance Tropes We Love & Hate #amreading #gayromance

a518246007f3659f7abe15dda670d583I’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!)

I particularly love his name: McMullet. Very appropriate.

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.).


This was my high-school English teacher’s first novel. We all read it!

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.

Your Turn


  • 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?


What influences you to buy a book? #amreading #poll

Forgive me cheating a bit with a poll today. I’m deep into a major rewrite of Sex, Lies & Wedding Bells, and haven’t had time to be online much. I will be back this weekend, with news, excerpts and maybe a sneak peek or two.


What influences you to buy a book?

This is the magic question for authors and publishers. We try so many different ways to tell readers about our books, but which ones really work? That’s what I’m trying to figure out. Whether you are a reader or an author, please let me know what influences you. I will compile the results into a later post with some discussion.

I would love to see a lot of reader comments on the topic. What’s the best way for us to give you the information you need to make a decision? Or would you rather get information from friends, peers and “neutral” sources?

Leave a comment about any of these issues for a chance to win an e-book from my backlist.

For the most important factor, I’m trying to go beyond cover, blurb, and except, since we know those are important. Which of these social and external factors most affect your decision?

[BTW, “other” in the following poll stems from people combining several items into one, so it doesn’t reflect a true most important factor. I’ve disabled the option to add your own answer, but if there is one specific thing I haven’t mentioned here, please leave a comment.]

Which is the most important influence for you?


What keeps you from buying a book?

There are plenty of books we don’t want to buy, for a variety of reasons. Why might you decide not to buy a book, besides the obvious that you aren’t interested in the subject matter? Please add your own answer if it’s not listed and feel free to add comments, rants, raves, etc. I’m even more interested in this topic!

What turns you off about a book? (choose all that apply)


Same-sex Marriage and Gay Romance Discussion/ #poll

Should legalizing same-sex marriage affect readers and writers of gay romance?

Gay Marriages NYCAs of today, lawsuits have been filed to lift bans on same-sex marriage in every state where such bans exist and have not yet been declared unconstitutional. Nearly half the states allow same-sex marriage, and another dozen or so recognize out-of-state marriages. It’s an amazing turn of events in the past year or two, with approval by the general population at well over 50%, according to polls.

Statistics aside, the world is changing dramatically for same-sex couples. With that change, there are new pressures and expectations on men and women in relationships. When the idea of marriage seemed impossible, many couples never even considered it. I expect in some couples there are disagreements now that they can get married.

The shift in options for gay couples is something I think should be incorporated into the stories we write about gay couples. Until recently, many stories focused on getting couples together for sex, or for HFN, without much thought to what that future might look like.

In traditional romance, the heroine’s goal was finding a husband, because writers thought that was what women wanted and thus wanted to read about. That has changed quite a bit over the years, but there is still a lot of emphasis on finding the right man to settle down with in one fashion or another. In our gay romances, for the most part, the characters rarely seem to have such goals in mind. To be honest, a lot of stories center on guys hooking up in different ways, with little thought to a relationship beyond the physical.

So, now that marriage is a very real option for almost every couple in the US, I wonder how authors will incorporate it into their stories. And what do readers want or expect in this regard.

I think it will be interesting and exciting to explore how each man in a couple might have differing views on marriage, and how those will affect a relationship, both long and short term. Not all gay romance stories try to depict the lives and issues of real gay men, and not all readers want realistic depictions.


What do you want to see? Please join the discussion with your comments.


Same-sex Marriage & Gay Romance