Tag Archives: Rom Com

Tropes Are Made to be Broken (A Little): a Guest Post by Jilted Author Lilah Suzanne

I am so thrilled to have Lilah Suzanne on the site today with a guest post celebrating the release of Jilted, a fake-marriage rom com starring a bisexual cis male MC and a nonbinary LI! Before we get to the post about breaking down tropes, here’s a little more on the book:

Carter’s fiancé is in love with someone else. Link has just been left at the altar. After bonding over mutual heartbreak at the would-be reception’s open bar, Link and Carter pass out in the honeymoon suite—and are mistaken for the happy newlywed couple the next morning. Reluctant to deal with the fallout from their breakups, they embark on an exciting two weeks of fake honeymooning, during which Carter starts to have real feelings for Link. Against the eclectic and electric backdrop of New Orleans, Carter and Link have to decide if a second chance at love is in the cards, or if they’re only meant to be sidelined in someone else’s story.

Buy it: Amazon

And here’s the post!

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Tropes are important in romance novels; they serve as guiding light for readers who like certain things and want to know what they’re getting into, and also beneficial for writers as tropes are the pillars on which a story is built. But that doesn’t mean they should be sacrosanct.

I have a few random talents that are not only mostly useless, but also very unlikely to impress anyone at a party. I have great free throw form, which would be useful if I weren’t just a smidge over five feet tall. I have a knack for finding things—unless I’m the one who lost them in the first place. I’m also particularly skilled at untying knots. I remember sitting it front of my mom’s jewelry box as a kid, methodically working all the tiny knots out her necklace chains, finding all of the intricate ways the strands wound over around and through, eventually tugging them free. The key, I’ve discovered, is taking the time to understand the knots, the structure of them; you can’t pull at them too hard nor can you blindly yank at the tangled stands hoping something will come loose. Finesse. Respect. Patience. Also, yes this is how children entertained themselves pre-smartphones.

To go with the obvious metaphor here, I treat tropes in my writing the same way I did with those knotted necklace chains. I’m not looking to break beloved tropes apart completely or discard them in frustration. I’m more interested in pulling at the strands, seeing what I can untangle from the knot and make a trope my own. This is not because I think there’s something wrong with them, in fact, I love tropes. I find them fascinating. And I spend so much time taking them apart because I don’t have a smart phone. Kidding! I totally have one. I do it because it’s interesting and satisfying and, I think, forces me to be more thoughtful about my stories and characters as I’m creating them.

For the uninitiated: tropes are essentially commonly seen themes or devices in any given media  type, or as TV Tropes, a wealth of delicious tropeyness, puts it: a storytelling shortcut of situations the audience will presumably recognize. In other words, a thing you see so often that it becomes A Thing. In romance novels, we love our forbidden love, enemies to lovers and friends to lovers. We’re crazy about our sexy billionaires, royal romances, sports romances, historical romance, bad boys/girls, opposites attract, love triangles, and fake relationships. And since I cut my proverbial writing teeth in fan-fiction, I’m also partial to tropes like coffeeshop/bakery romances, forced bed sharing (oh no there’s only one bed what will happen?) soulmates, and mutual pining, and I am sucker for a good domestic PWP fluff story. Now, who’s gonna find me a fluffy historical friends-to-lovers coffeeshop story? I’m waiting…

Of course, as much as we love tropes, they can be overdone. There has to be some suspense in a story. So, yes, there is bed sharing, but they didn’t get together after that? What if it was the opening salvo of two characters realizing they had work to do on themselves instead of on a relationship? What if it was just a desperate, momentary craving for companionship and not the beginning of something? What if it was? There’s space to play within a trope. Not dismantling it, just looking closely and tugging a few strands loose. Maybe it’s because of my time in fandom, where the entire point is to play within someone else’s boundaries, or maybe it’s because of my few useless talents (I’m also pretty okay at baking!) but whatever the reason I’m glad it’s made me stretch a bit as a writer.

We all love tropes because they’re comforting—which is probably the same reason I liked to go through my mom’s jewelry box—and in romance novels that’s doubly true. Romances themselves are comforting; full of swoony love interests and happy endings for all, and in fan fiction, too, where we can imagine a thousand different ways for the same two people to fall in love. And these days especially we can all use a little more warm and fuzzy—or hot and sexy—comfort.

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Lilah Suzanne is the author of Amazon bestseller Broken Records, part of the Spotlight series along with Burning Tracks and Blended Notes. Lilah also authored Spice, the novellas Pivot & Slip and After the Sunset, and the short story “Halfway Home,” which was featured in the holiday anthology If the Fates Allow. A writer from a young age, Lilah resides in North Carolina and mostly enjoys staying indoors, though sometimes ventures out for concerts, museum visits, and quiet walks in the woods.

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Backlist Book of the Month: Dating Sarah Cooper by Siera Maley

I’ve had the joy of recommending this book probably at least once a week since I read it, because fluffy f/f YA can be super hard to come by (as is also a running joke in this delightful rom com) and this is one of the cutest, sweetest, most fun ones you will ever read. Dating Sarah Cooper was written before the MTV show Faking It, but imagine that show had had an HEA for the characters instead and you’d basically have this book. Sound fabulous? It is. Best friends-to-lovers at its finest! (And as a bonus, you definitely want to get to know this author, who’s one of the best YA self-pubbers on the market and has a nice and affordable backlist!)

Katie Hammontree and Sarah Cooper have been best friends since the 2nd grade. Katie’s welcoming, tight-knit family is a convenient substitute for Sarah when her distant parents aren’t around, and Sarah’s abrasive, goal-oriented personality gels well with Katie’s more laid-back approach to life.

But when a misunderstanding leads to the two of them being mistaken for a couple and Sarah uses the situation to her advantage, Katie finds herself on a roller coaster ride of ambiguous sexuality and confusing feelings. How far will Sarah go to keep up the charade, and why does kissing her make Katie feel more alive than kissing her ex-boyfriend Austin ever did? And how will their new circle of gay friends react when the truth comes out?

Buy it: Amazon (ebook and paperback) * B&N (paperback only)

Cover Reveal (+Excerpt): Perfect Ten by L. Philips !

This whole thing is so freaking cute I am not even gonna talk about it because I can’t do it a fraction of the justice the cover/blurb/excerpt can, so without further ado, here’s a little more info on gay YA Perfect Ten by L. Philips, coming June 6, 2017!

Who is Sam Raines’s Perfect Ten?

It’s been two years since Sam broke up with the only other eligible gay guy in his high school, so to say he’s been going through a romantic drought is the understatement of the decade. But when Meg, his ex-Catholic-turned-Wiccan best friend, suggests performing a love spell, Sam is just desperate enough to try. He crafts a list of ten traits he wants in a boyfriend and burns it in a cemetery at midnight on Friday the 13th.

Enter three seemingly perfect guys, all in pursuit of Sam. There’s Gus, the suave French exchange student; Jamie, the sweet and shy artist; and Travis, the guitar-playing tattooed enigma. Even Sam’s ex-boyfriend Landon might want another chance.

But does a Perfect Ten even exist? Find out in this delectable coming-of-age romcom with just a touch of magic.

And now…the afreakingdorable cover!

Perfect_Ten_ CVR

But wait, there’s more! Excerpt FTW!

“Come on, Sam,” Meg prods. “What’s so bad about Michael?”

“You mean besides the smoking and the horrible cliché of losing your virginity in a hotel?”

“I’ve already owned up to the cliché, Samson . . .”

“You just caught him texting another girl a few weeks ago.”

She pouts prettily. “He explained that. It was nothing.”

“And the time before?” She opens her mouth to protest, but I go on before she can. “I’m just saying, why would you want to with him?”

She unlinks her arm from mine and gives me a shove that has a little more force than I expect. “I don’t know. Why did you want to with Landon?”

At the mention of my ex-boyfriend–slash–other best friend, I feel myself tense. “I was in love with Landon.”

“And I love Michael.”

“But Landon and I were different.”

She crosses her arms over her chest and kicks hard at an innocent pebble in her path. “Oh yes, and you and Landon were the exception to every rule. Michael and I couldn’t possibly be that perfect. No one can live up to the Sam and Landon standard of epic and tragic romance.”

“That’s not what I’m saying. And we weren’t that tragic.”

“Darling, you two were practically Brontë characters. You broke his heart and now here you are, two years later, and you haven’t even had a crush on someone since, have you, Sam?” I don’t answer, and there’s a tense pause between us before she adds, “Exactly two years, actually.”

“You know, I could have gone through the whole day without thinking of it, but thanks for that reminder,” I say acidly.

“I’m sorry,” she says, and I know she means it. “He brought it up to me at lunch. He’s the one who remembered. Not me.”

I don’t know how any of us could have forgotten it, least of all me. October tenth, two years ago, I ended my relationship with Landon. He didn’t speak to me for almost six months. Meg didn’t speak to me for three days, the longest we’d gone without talking since I accidentally decapitated one of her Barbies when we were seven. Hell, I wouldn’t have spoken to myself if I could have gotten away with it. I absolutely loathed Samson Raines for a long time afterward. But now Landon is my friend again. We worked everything out. He and I are fine. All three of us are fine.

Fine, fine, fine.

“I wish he didn’t remember,” I say, and Meg shifts our arms so she can squeeze my hand. I sigh. “Bygones. Anyway, we were talking about you and Michael, and not my love life, which is totally unfair to bring up by the way, because I don’t exactly have any options, do I?”

“There’s always Archie,” she says, smirking. Archie Meyers is the only other gay boy besides Landon and me at Athens High, but he’s not even a blip on my radar. It’s not that I’m shallow, but there is absolutely nothing attractive about Archie. Between the buck teeth, the acne, and the IQ that must top out in the double digits, I would have to be drunk out of my mind to even consider it. Even then it would be a stretch.

But then her smirk droops thoughtfully. “No. Wait. I heard the other day that Archie’s dating some guy he met at a Dungeons and Dragons meeting over the summer . . .”

I turn my head slowly to Meg. “Seriously? Even Archie Meyers has a boyfriend?”

Meg makes a clicking sound with her tongue. “There’s a whole big world of boys out there, Sam. Someone perfect for everyone, I think, even the D and D playing sort with buck teeth.”

“Then I’m sure there’s someone out there for you who isn’t a total douche like Michael.”

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L. Philips went to Ohio University for a degree in Music Education, decided that job was entirely too noisy, and became a librarian instead. When she’s not working, she enjoys belting show tunes when she thinks no one is listening and watching the same episodes of Thomas the Tank Engine over and over (or at least that’s what she tells her toddler son). She lives in Ohio.

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Love this cover and excerpt as much as I do? You can add Perfect Ten on Goodreads now, and, even better, preorder it at B&N and Amazon!