Pregnant, Midget, Vampire Brides? Hmmm…
So, what trips my trigger when it comes to romantic story lines, you ask? Really?
No. Really. Yes. Reality. For me to totally immerse myself into a story, I’ve got to find it believable, like it could actually happen. To me. I’m on board for the author to take me anywhere if it can truly happen. But if you offer me a story line about a secret baby who has amnesia (and got amnesia because she’s also a fairy who fell from the sky), well… Not so much.
Please don’t throw rocks. I know there are readers out there who like that sort of thing. Heck, I have author friends who write that sort of thing. And they have lots of readers who love to read that sort of novel. But you asked me, “…what trips my trigger…?” so I answered honestly.
Give me a “boss/employee” story, or an “opposites attract” tale, or a “friends to lovers” book, and I will give that author many hours of my time to entertain me. My time is an investment, and I want a payoff that I can believe. I love to read how ordinary people with ordinary lives can end up happy and fulfilled. I can substitute myself for the heroine and imagine that I, too, can experience a love like that.
Not so much when an author tries to feed me a line about a handsome, ripped billionaire tycoon who falls for an ugly duckling who snorts when she laughs and dribbles Coke out the side of her mouth when she drinks. The author can try—if she’s really good at storytelling, but the moment my little brain says, “Really?” I’m done. It’s that “jump the shark” moment. I mean, have you seen photos of attractive billionaire tycoons’ wives? Seriously. They are freaking gorgeous! All of them. Well, almost. At least they started out cute, and they might end up average after some road miles, but for a billionaire tycoon—who could have his pick of almost any woman out there—to fall for Cruella Deville? It could happen…but it’s probably not going to.
That brings me to my next point. Connectivity and probability. Again, I am discussing what I like, not what my neighbor likes. Connectivity and probability play a big role in what I read and in what I write. Take the whole “royalty” or “sheik” story line. I’ve never met—or have even seen in person—one of these types of people. And the probability of a prince falling for me… Well, let’s just say, it’s not going to happen. That’s why I don’t read or write a “royalty” trope. And do you know how many Navy SEALs there actually are out there? Not that many. The Navy doesn’t just train anyone who signs up, so the probability of running into one of them and him falling for little ol’ me is slim to never going to happen.
So, what are the kinds of story lines do I write, you ask? (Or maybe you didn’t ask, and I’m going to tell you anyway—if you don’t mind.) My first book in the Summerbrook Series (a series about girlfriends from a small, Southern town) is Bikers and Pearls. It’s a healthy opposites attract story, with a prissy Southern belle as a heroine and a biker hero. They both grow from learning about each other’s very different worlds. The next in the series (probably a May 2014 release) is Sweet Tea and the Enemy and has a strong enemies to lovers trope. It’s kind of a “two dogs/one bone” story. Somebody is going to lose everything, and then, how can there be love? The third in the Summerbrook series is Fireflies and Lies (coming winter 2014), a story about the heroine overcoming her emotional problems, only to find a forbidden love (and then doing what is necessary to hold on to him). The last in the series is Swamps and Soirees (coming spring 2015), which is an across the tracks story. It’s about a Southern guy with a blue blood name and a girl whose family heritage is tainted and sketchy—at best.
Yes, I acknowledge the fact that some readers like to be completely taken away by werewolves and vampires, and some want the fantasy about their uber-wealthy playboys, but I want something grounded in reality. I want to realistically place myself in the character’s shoes and believe that “happily ever after” could actually happen for her—and for me.