It’s R day on the AZ Challenge, so I’m tackling one of my favorite topics: Romance novels. I personally discovered the Romance genre in my mid-twenties, and boy, did I wish I had gotten off my high horse and dived in earlier! Thanks a lot, college, for making me read fucking classics and, like, textbooks for four years. I REALLY APPRECIATE IT (heavy sarcasm).
Ahem. Anyways, for six years or so I’ve read anywhere from one to ten romance novels a month depending on my workload and willingness to sleep, so I think I know what I’m talking about. Therefore, I’m going to do you all a favor and share 10 ways to guarantee my readership of your Romance Novel(TM) to all romance writers (and aspiring writers) out there:
10. Regency setting: Set your novel in Regency England, complete with references to Almack’s, people being good or bad ton, shining Hessian boots, and muslin gowns, and I am fucking THERE. Bonus points if there’s a makeover scene where the heroine goes to a famous modiste for a new wardrobe of ravishing gowns which highlight her elegant figure FAR BETTER than the “plain round gowns” she was wearing before.
9. Dukes: I will read anything with a Duke in it, and I am not alone. If there were actually as many Dukes in England in the 18th and 19th centuries as there are depicted in period romance novels, there would have been more Dukes than bakers and chimney sweepers combined, but who gives a shit? Dukes are DA BOMB. Extra credit if the Duke is only marrying to beget an heir, but then falls in love with his betrothed/marriage of convenience bride and has to discover who he really is as an emotional being before professing his love to her.
8. Cinderella story: Every fourth romance novel is a Cinderella story, where the heroine is an under-appreciated governess/poor relation/companion and is rescued from poverty and/or abuse by a rich lord (lol usually a Duke) and then she becomes the most celebrated hostess in London due to her unique charm, personality, and style, and the bitchy old shrew who treated her like crap in her old life is left to rot in the country. And you know what? I FUCKING LOVE IT. There’s a reason Cinderella has been retold a thousand times: it’s a classic, it works, and if you add a Duke it’s somehow even better than a prince charming.
7. Mistaken identity: OH MAN I GET SO EXCITED AT THIS. The mistaken identity usually happens when the heroine, who is set on a good match in order to save herself/her family from penury, falls in love with the rich, handsome hero, but mistakes him for (or is fooled into believing him to be) a gardener, highwayman, rake, poor soldier, or some other unsuitable dude. Ultimately, she decides to FUCK SOCIETY and run off with her gardener for TRUE LOVE, only to discover that he was the mysterious or cold Earl/Lord/Marquess/probably Duke all along. And the hero is thrilled because he knows that his girl loves him for HIM, not just because of his money and rank, and they ARE SO HAPPY OMG CRYING.
6. Dowager Duchess/Countess Plays Cupid: If you include an older female relation who is funny and bucks convention to maneuver her lucky-in-rank-and-fortune but unlucky-in-love son into a marriage with the right girl, I will def read your book. If you describe her in such a way that makes me able to imagine Maggie Smith or Judi Dench playing her in a movie, I will read EVERYTHING YOU EVER WROTE NO MATTER HOW SHITTY.
5. Your book is basically Pride & Prejudice: If your book is a hate-turns-to-love story where the stuffy rich guy (again, usually a Duke) proposes to the unconventional heroine and is turned down only to win her heart later on by proving how great he is underneath, I will read it, because it is basically Pride and Prejudice and I will read every version of that book ever, no matter how cheesy it is.
4. You are Mary Balogh: If you are Mary Balogh, I will never stop reading your books. Or loving you…er, your books. It’s your books that I love, not you, Mary. I’m not sleeping in a tree with a view into your bedroom window or anything. Nope, not doing that.
3. There is a sexy Scotsman in your book: If there is a sexy Scotsman in your book, I will read your book. It is one of the few departures from Regency that I allow; COUNT YOUR LUCKY STARS, DIANA GABALDON!
2. The heroine is a secret heiress: Oh, am I sucker for the secret heiress! She is usually over twenty-two, and therefore on the shelf, but she has an inheritance of MINIMUM 50,000 pounds comin’ her way and doesn’t even KNOW it! And everyone treats her like crap EXCEPT the hero who loves her even though she’s poor (or so he thinks), AND the libertine gold-digger who is somehow aware of her secret inheritance and is planning to kidnap her for it. Oh, man, everyone is SO SURPRISED by her secret fortune, but it doesn’t matter because at the end she has LOVE and LOVE IS SO MUCH MORE IMPORTANT THAN MONEY.
1. The Marriage of Convenience: YASSSSS QUEEEN! There is nothing better than the marriage of convenience; nothing. It is the best trope in all of romance, and I will defend it until my dying day. Guy meets girl; guy needs wife, girl needs to get away from her shitty existence. They become friends…AND THEN SO MUCH MORE. And then there’s a misunderstanding where they both think the other one hates them, and then there’s usually a duel, and then they live happily ever after. SIGH. I COULD LIVE ON THIS, YOU GUYS.
Ok, gtg, I have a queue of like 30 marriage of convenience Duke novels on my Goodreads rn. Ttyl, and remember, ladies, ONLY MARRY HIM IF HE IS OF GOOD TON!
Please let me know what you think in the comments, especially if you are a Duke…and if you are a Duke, call me. ❤