Looking for love in all the wrong places

I knew I wouldn’t be good at writing a contemporary romance story but I didn’t know I would fail to even do it.  I guess that spambot had the last laugh eh?

I think I started out firmly in the con-rom sphere, which is a term I’m coining unless it already exists (con-rom rom-coms are next) but then it became a normal Grace story.  The supposed love interest doesn’t even appear again.  I didn’t know what else to do.  Shockingly I don’t read a lot of contemporary romance. 

Story structure is story structure so there has to be some kind of turn in the middle of a con-rom story?  Something that makes the plot happen.  In a contemporary romance it’s probably supposed to something about the romance eh?  I thought at one point “it can’t just be a whole story about a relationship can it?!”  Of course it can, that’s the whole point right?  RIGHT?!

I looked up some contemporary romance novels to find out what’s going on out there. 

One of the first things that came up was Friends with The Monsters which blurbs as follows – Gather round close, for I have a secret to tell.  Late at night, while everyone is sleeping, dreaming of white knights and fairytales. I’m making friends with the monsters. They call to me, like finds like, right? My biggest secret, I’m the scariest monster I know. I think I’m the bad guy. MFMM Reverse Harem novel with adult themes not recommended for those under 18.

Reverse harem!  Remember when WordPress used to really think I was into reverse harems?  I kind of miss that.  I remember reading one lady writing about how she wanted MFMMMM novel recommendations only and don’t waste her GD time with less Ms than that!

Here’s an excerpt – “I want you to tell the Berserker that I know the pact has been broken. Without the covenant in place, all deals are off.” Grim takes a step closer to the man. “He broke the decree, and now he will deal with the consequences.”

Monsters and crazy shit are allowed by the literary police in contemporary romance so I wasn’t completely off-base. 

Another one that came up a lot was Thrust, which the Washington Post named best book of the year.  Blurb – As rising waters—and an encroaching police state—endanger her life and family, a girl with the gifts of a “carrier” travels through water and time to rescue vulnerable figures from the margins of history. 

Superpowers?  Time travel?  I don’t even see anything in the description about romance but based on the reviews it’s in there.  Perhaps the con-rom genre isn’t as “baseline” as I think.  Or maybe like every genre that exists it’s been so thoroughly explored that it’s the stuff that goes outside the box that people like now.  Dunno.

Dead Inside, Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls, Tastes Like Candy: A Slasher Novel, Madness, the Hollow Gods, You Shouldn’t Have Come Here, these all seem like con-roms on the fringe of the genre.  This is probably the algorithm trying to feed me what it thinks I want. 

What is contemporary romance?  Contemporary romance is broadly described as the time period for romance set after World War II, and is sometimes referred to as “modern romance”.

That is pretty broad, so it’s all about timing.  I guess I should have known that.  Goodreads, free of knowing what I might be into has a list more of what I expected from contemporary romance. 

Love Theoretically – The many lives of theoretical physicist Elsie Hannaway have finally caught up with her. By day, she’s an adjunct professor, toiling away at grading labs and teaching thermodynamics in the hopes of landing tenure. By other day, Elsie makes up for her non-existent paycheck by offering her services as a fake girlfriend, tapping into her expertly honed people pleasing skills to embody whichever version of herself the client needs.

Con-rom paydirt!  A double life and fake girlfriend stuff?  Now we’re talking.  I forgot about fake girlfriend gag, that’s fertile ground for contemporary romance.  If I wanted to do an AG fake girlfriend story, which I don’t, it would be the classic tale of a dude needing a lady to pretend to be his fiancé for Christmas with the family or whatever and them BOOM he finds out she’s a pro wrestler?  What a twist.  Like the family could turn on the TV at Christmas and there she is nailing someone with a chair.  That’s solid gold.  The dad is outraged!  How unladylike!  The mom loves it, too much you know?  A jealous ex-GF tries to get Grace a job wrestling in Japan so she can get her man back.  There’s a subplot where a promoter with mob ties threatens the dude.  It practically writes itself.  Oh, and they fall in love of course as all fake girlfriend stories do. 

Unfortunately Yours – A down-on-her-luck Napa heiress suggests a mutually beneficial marriage of convenience to a man she can’t stand… only to discover there’s a fine line between love and hate.

Ha-ha even more con-rom action!  A poor rich lady and a sham wedding?  We’re in the thick of it now.  I don’t know why exactly but I watched the Proposal a while back.  I enjoyed it even though I’m a super-aggro manly man.  I did think though, are we still doing this?  Fake marriages to get a promotion?  Granted that movie was made 14 years ago.  Regardless that’s some pure con-rom action.

Will They Or Won’t They – On screen, they’re in love. Off screen, they can’t stand each other. Two co-stars with a complex history reunite to film the final season of a beloved paranormal drama in this tension-filled will they won’t they romance from the author of How to Fake It in Hollywood.

Another staple!  Thanks Goodreads.  I forgot about the American’s Sweethearts of it all.  It happens all the time in wrestling for real, you put two people together as an on-screen couple and then the sparks fly.  Lines between reality and fantasy are blurred!  Remember when Lita and Edge hooked up in real life and Matt Hardy got fired because he was mad about it?  But then they brought back Matt Hardy to do an angle about it and you thought for half a second that it a real event when he came out of the crowd and attacked Edge?  I do.  It was one of the few times in the modern era that wrestling “got” me.  I didn’t even know it was still possible! 

Then there’s a bunch of time travel stuff, I forgot how big time travel is in romance.  Your magic mailboxes and Outlanders and whatnot. 

Anyway, that’s enough of whatever this is.  If I ever decide to write a “real” contemporary romance, which I won’t, I’ll do some better research on how it all works. 


  1. “A down-on-her-luck Napa heiress….”

    It’s like this sentence was engineered in a lab to perfectly irritate me.

    I think I would have an equally tough time writing romance. Most of what I’ve read is the genre-bending stuff I stumble into, like “This is How You Lose the Time War” (which, I will note, I read well before Trigun made it popular.)

    Turns out it’s hard to write in a genre without having a pretty solid understanding of genre conventions. And probably even harder to mix genres, because you need to know both.

  2. Why bother? AI is probably already churning out the next 3 years of that stuff and the readers won’t even be able to tell. Whether because it is all crap or because they are stupid is a question I’m not willing to answer on someone else’s blog 😀

    1. I’m not worried about AI replacing me because machines can’t have their feelings hurt. I provide an online service that can’t be replaced.

      1. Now you, sir, are a forward thinking man. Finding a niche market before it even exists and exploiting it ruthlessly. My hats off to you!

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