5 Hot Trends in Romance by Rebecca Rivard
In July, I attended RWA 2015, the annual conference hosted by Romance Writers of America. In between fan-girl moments—I met paranormal and fantasy romance goddesses Nalini Singh and C.L. Wilson—and hanging with my fellow romance authors, I attended some great workshops. So what’s hot in romance right now?
This hashtag was created by author K.M. Jackson to highlight lack of diversity in the romance genre. This was something I’d been thinking about myself. My Fada Shapeshifter Series is set in a multicultural world—because that’s the world we live in.
So how, as a white American, can I write authentic characters from other cultures? Keeping It Real, a workshop headed by Jackson, Alyssa Cole, Lena Hart and Falguni Kothari, provided some answers. For example:
- DO read a range of multicultural romance books, especially by authors of color. Frankly, this is advice when writing in any sub-genre—read what’s already out there. Learn the conventions and tropes of your particular genre. You don’t have to follow them to the letter, but you do need to know what they are.
- DON’T stereotype. Falguni Kothari pointed out that South Asians, for instance, aren’t all “incredibly nerdy and straight-laced.” Nor are they all “Gandhi or Mother Theresa.” And while we’re on the subject of people from other countries—or even sub-cultures within the United States—DON’T overdo the accents.
- DO keep in mind that it’s okay for a white author to write characters of color. As Alyssa Cole put it, “Imagine if a guy was like, ‘I want to write women characters, but I’m scared.’” Just do your research—and not just on Wikipedia. The authors suggested Twitter as a great resource for writers looking to learn more.
- DON’T always describe skin colors in terms of food (coffee au lait, anyone?). They suggested that for fresh ways to describe skin color, visit a makeup counter.
2) But diversity doesn’t stop with multicultural romance…
According to Bette-Lee Fox, Managing Editor of the Library Journal, other sorts of diverse characters are hot in romance as well. She’s seeing stories featuring:
- People with disabilities—everything from autism to the differently-abled.
- Romance between the more *ahem* mature: anywhere from forty years old—think Jennifer Crusie—on up. Because we’re not all twenty and in the throes of our first love (although those novels are fun to read, too!).
- Romance featuring LGBT characters.
3) Small town contemporaries are still hot, while historical romance and romantic suspense are making a comeback.
- Bette-Lee Fox reports that small town contemporaries are still wildly popular, especially series with connections between the main characters such as families or long-time friendships.
- Historical romances, which were declared all but dead a few years ago, are on the upswing again.
- Romantic suspense is also on the upswing.
4) Digital books are selling like hotcakes. Audio books are also big and so are novellas.
- Digital books continue to increase market share. But audio books are growing in leaps and bounds as well. Long commute, anyone?
- Readers also love novellas—that short bite of romance can be just the ticket sometimes.
5) We love our alpha males, rock stars, bikers and tattoos. Even better is a rock star alpha biker with a hot tattoo…
- And for many romance readers, there’s a decided preference for alpha males, bikers, rock stars, and my personal favorite—men with tattoos.
- Speaking of alpha males, IMHO, one of the strangest trends to emerge recently is the organized crime hero. (Confession: I’ve been known to fall in love with these heroes myself.) But it makes sense—they’re often alpha males, they’re clannish and protective of their women and families—things we gravitate to in other genres such as paranormals or historicals.
- But don’t discount the beta hero. Sarah Wendell, author and co-founder of SmartBitchesTrashyBooks.com, gave a shout out to these lovable men. Because hey, we may swoon over alphas—but we marry the betas.
What about you? What pushes your buttons in a romance? What do you hate?
Rebecca Rivard writes spicy paranormal romance. Her Fada Shapeshifter Series features sexy alpha male shifters (some with motorcycles and tattoos) and their fae rivals. She loves alphas but is happily married to a good-natured, family-centered beta.
Claiming Valeria by Rebecca Rivard (released on 8/1/15)
Rui had it all. He was second to the Rock Run alpha and he’d found his mate, the sexy Portuguese shifter, Valeria. Then it all fell apart.
But now he’s back—and he wants a second chance…
Rui turned and there she was, coming across the meadow.
Alone, that dark and primitive part of him noted with satisfaction.
Valeria strolled toward the dance floor, clothed in a simple green dress that flowed like water over her lush curves. The late afternoon sun touched her rich brown hair with golden highlights. She’d left it unbound so that it swayed to and fro over her breasts.
He stared at her, mesmerized, his chest tight. All around the dance floor, unmated males did the same. Spines straightened and stomachs sucked in. A dozen hungry gazes ran over her voluptuous body.
Rui rumbled a warning. Those fada close enough to hear shot him a look, then dropped their eyes. Even the sun fae men glanced around uneasily.
Valeria appeared not to notice. She wound her way through the crowd, smiling and greeting her friends.
Merry spotted her and sped across the grass, calling her name.
“Hello, baby.” Valeria swung her up for a kiss and then set her back down. Her eyes met Rui’s over Merry’s head. Her smile faded, but she gave him a brief nod before turning back to the little girl, who was explaining something with great passion and much waving of hands, probably about the soccer game.
Rui’s fingers tightened on his glass. He hated that he could no longer read Valeria. He hated that she acted as if they were mere acquaintances, as if she’d never lain under him, hot and needy and begging him to take her.
Okeanos appeared, striding across the grass with two other men. Seeing Valeria, he said goodbye to his friends and fell in beside her and Merry. They kissed and then stayed where they were to watch the dancers, Okeanos’s hand on her ass.
Rui took a slow breath. The Greek fada shot him a look and deliberately drew Valeria closer. She glanced over her shoulder at Rui. Their eyes met and for a long moment, she stared at him. Then she raised her chin and turned back to Okeanos.
Rui’s whole body went taut. He wanted to tear the other man limb from limb for daring to touch his woman. He wanted to pull Valeria into his arms and give her a deep, claiming kiss of the sort Dion had given Cleia. And then he’d take her home and pleasure her long and hard until she admitted she belonged to Rui—and no one else.
But he didn’t have the right.
Claiming Valeria excerpt ©2015 Rebecca Rivard
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