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Jane’s List of Things She’d Like to See in 2012 from...

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Maili suggested I do a prediction of the 2012 romance genre, but those books have already been bought, mostly.  Here’s what I would like to see:

  1. More diversity, not just in the characters, but in the settings.
  2. I’m iffy on wanting more steampunk. Too many people slap an iron bustle in a book and throw in a few mechanical devices and an airship and think that is a steampunk but a steam powered manufacturing creates an entirely different societal construction with political, class and gender differences.  Successful steampunk books recognize this but I don’t see too much of it.  I’d much rather see more fantasy romance ala Elizabeth Vaughn’s Warlord series or CJ Wilson.
  3. Longer narrative books.  I am very tired, particularly in erotic romance, of reading 15K, 25K, 40K word stories. I want in depth romance and sexy times with exploration of the internal machinations of the characters and not just insta lust followed by a dozen of club scenes. ENOUGH WITH THE CLUB SCENES.
  4. Straight up contemporaries.  I’ve been asking for this for a long time but I want to see more straight up contemporaries with no attendant mystery or suspense plot line.  With Harlequin Superromances moving to 85,000 words, one might think my contemporary jones would be satisfied but there is a stunning lack of sexual tension in the HSR line except for a few authors.  These are adults who are supposed to be attracted to each other, not siblings.
  5. More courtship.  I am not sure whether it is paranormals and the fated mates that have led to the slow devolution of the courtship, but whatever is the reason, we need to put a stop to it. I love the courtship. Dating is so rife with opportunity and conflict.  Where is the slow build of attraction?  One of the reasons I think Jenny Crusie’s books are so entertaining because many of the stories are about the courtship and I think you can still have plenty of sexy times and have courtship.  See, e.g., Liberating Lacey by Anne Calhoun. I also think courtship, the drawn out tension, the will they or won’t they get together is one of the reasons adults read YA.
  6. Creativity in worldbuilding.  I think people are looking at steampunk because it is new and shiny and creative and it’s not just one lonely demon/angel/vampire/werewolf who searches for his mate so he can a) not go mad and b) settle down to knit booties in his spare time.
  7. Less series books.  I don’t mind if a couple shows up in a later book, kind of like an easter egg, but I am tired of every book out there being a series.  I would like the occasional stand alone book now and again so that when I start to read an author I don’t have to read 9 books to get a sense of what book 10 is going to be about.
  8. Fewer cliffhangers.  This is more of a paranormal thing, but can’t anyone write a UF or PNR or YA Dystopian book without a friggin’ cliffhanger?  Tell the story in one book, please. Just sometimes? Like 1/34 of the time.  *cries*
  9. Not everything has to be serious business.  I know that humor is hard to write because everyone has their own definition of what is funny (I’m not a fan of slapstick or physical humor) but leavening a little emo agnsty tragedy with humor is a good thing.
  10. More middle-class characters in the Victorian period. Not everyone needs to be a Lord or Lady.  Landed gentry and wealthy merchants can still provide all the trappings of the historical such as the pretty dresses and the parties. I think that we are all tired of the ghastly Almack’s lemonade scenes.

And just because I want the above doesn’t mean I want to eliminate what people are doing well these days. I just want more variety, more choice.  Why write the thing that everyone else and their cousin is writing?  (I know, to sell, but still).  What about the rest of you?  What do you want to see in 2012 and beyond?

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

111 Comments

  1. Asia M
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 04:26:23

    *claps*

    I second all these, especially 1. (more diversity), 4. (more straight-up contemporaries), 5. (more courtship), 7. (less series) and 10. (more middle class characters in historicals)!!

    Something I’m interested in exploring as a writer, and would see other authors write more of as well: a hero who is less wealthy/powerful than the heroine, or less experienced. I looove lower-class heroes, but it can seem artificial if there’s too big an emphasis on the fortune he’s accumulated as a self-made man… Successful examples of what I mean are First Lady, by SEP, or The Girl with the Golden Gun, by Ann Major.

  2. Mikaela
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 04:30:59

    This. All of it. For starters, I am tired of long, never ending series. It doesn’t matter if the books are good, if you have to re-read the whole series before the next release the series are too long. And yes, a series that is never ending is much more likely to slide off my autobuy list than an series that have a story arc that ends at 7-9 books. Longer than that? It better be mostly stand alone novels.
    Which reflects my auto buy list. A lot of series, but only one that is neverending… ( In fact, most of them are within the last three books. *sob*)

    As for the humor.. I agree that it is hard to find, which is why I treasure the books that are funny.

  3. Margaret
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 04:44:13

    You’ve written my list for me! I agree with all the above – especially settings, middle class protagonists and series. I don’t know many authors capable of sustaining a series for 12 books without it getting ludicrous.

  4. SHZ
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 04:46:04

    Superromances are moving to 85000 words?! How did I not know this?! It is good, but what I’d love to see is someone like Sarah Mayberry branching out into longer, non-category romance. Then I’d be in Heaven! The covers wouldn’t be as hideous and embarrassing then either.

    The thing with diversity in romance is that heroes can be ANYONE from ANYWHERE, but heroines are always American (I know they’re predominantly white, but as a non-American, the America-centric stories really get to me). No matter where in the world the romances take place, the heroines are from the USA. I always think of Christine Feehan’s Carpathians, where all these American women turn up in rural Romania for no particular reason!
    Of course, this isn’t so much the case in historical romance, but I rarely read HR.
    I’ve noticed even Australian and Kiwi and British authors are writing American heroines these days, it seems because they know they’re more likely to get the publishers’ notice.

    I used to be hugely into paranormal books, but there’re only so many times you can read the same thing – and then catch up with the heroes in later books where they’re doting on their mates, who are in the process of breeding the next generation of superheroes!
    Maybe I’m getting old (in my early thirties!) but paranormals rarely work for me these days. Not everything has to be HEA followed by retirement and babies.

  5. Ros
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 05:30:11

    Oh, yes to courtship!!! Will they/won’t they is SO MUCH FUN. I would like to add to straight-up contemps, straight-up historicals. They all seem to have attendant mystery plots as well.

  6. Meri
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 05:47:11

    Of the things Jane listed, I would particularly appreciate more diversity, more courtship and more middle class characters in historicals.

    I also agree about more contemporaries, and I’d add – especially ones in which the main conflict is not “h/h spend 90% of the book insisting that all they want is a casual hookup and it was never meant to be a serious relationship”. I realize it’s harder to come up with a believable conflict in a contemporary, but I’m tired of this one already, and I don’t even read that many contemps. This is one more reason why greater diversity in the characters’ backgrounds is good: it’s a great source of tension and conflict. Also on my wish list for contemporaries: a broader age range for the main characters. Not everyone meets their partner between the age of 26 and 33.

    I would like fewer romantic suspense titles with super-secret alpha agent heroes (I will not name names) and more in which the h/h seem like actual people (such as Jill Sorenson’s books).

    I’d love to see more 20th-century set historicals. I can’t keep re-reading the Bronze Horseman books.

  7. Jia
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 06:19:03

    These are great. I hear you on more diversity, more fantasy romance, more creative worldbuilding, more courtship, and fewer series and cliffhangers.

    I also personally can do with less club scenes in general paranormal or fantasy series, not just the club scenes you find in erotic romance.

  8. Selene
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 06:22:05

    “Gritty” romance. Does it even exist? Books where the world (historical or modern, I’m not picky) is a harder place, where some people act like assholes, good people lose their jobs, money is a real concern, people die, and what not. But with a romance and a happy ending. Joe Abercrombie meets Laura Kinsale, anyone?

    Also:
    Better copy-editing.

    Different heroines, especially with real flaws.

    Characters who make real mistakes.

    Selene

  9. Kaetrin
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 06:26:22

    Yes to all of the above! The only series I’m happy about having no end date is JD Robb’s in death series as I still love them, some more than others it’s true, but they are a reliable read for me. As each book has a definite story and a definite end, I have no issue with it keeping on.

    I love straight up contemporaries – Shannon Stacey has, I think, 3 more Kowalski novels coming out this year and she has become a reliably good read in this sub genre for me. (the Kowalskis is, in general terms, one exception to my ‘complaint’ below.)

    I don’t know if its just me though but the series’ where there are a group of friends/siblings and they all eventually get their own books are getting a bit tired for me. By the time the last ones are getting their stories it seems all a bit too contrived/happy family and not “organic”. Nora Roberts’ the bride quartet comes to mind. The last 2 books in the series had, to me, almost no tension in them and the established couples were teeth achingly happy, it just stretched my credulity a little too much. I don’t mind a trilogy or a quartet, but can we have some established couples having problems in there or leave some characters single so that it’s not so obvious?

  10. Eileen
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 06:39:35

    I could not agree with you more on wanting less series books. I was just browsing in a B&N and it seemed like I couldn’t find a single book that interested me that wasn’t part of a series. I hate to read a series book out of order. I was all set to pay full price and try a new-to-me author, but I ended up not buying anything.

  11. Mary Anne Graham
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 07:07:54

    I especially agree about the need for longer narratives with “exploration of the internal machinations of the characters.” If we want the who, what and how of a romance we get a better view on TV or at the movies. Only romance novels can show us the WHY. We need more ‘why time’.

    Also agree about contemporaries. Let’s see more happy endings for characters from our era.

  12. Lynne Connolly
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 07:22:29

    I’ve noticed that my contemporaries are starting to do really well, although most of them are erotic. It’s nice to see that confirmed, since my voice is moving that way at the moment.

    Middle class. If you read Trollope, you know that in the Victorian era (post 1837) the middle class was where it was at. They set the laws of society, made all the money, and while the aristocrats were bleeding money after restrictive laws limited farming profits and several agricultural disasters bankrupted many property owners, the middle class were going from factory to factory, building more extravagant offices and so on. Pre Victorian, not so much, although there were definitely some interesting things going on, but the aristos had society in their hands until Victoria came to the throne.

    I’d add more historicals based somewhere other than London or a vague country setting. If you’re writing Victorian, look at Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow, which is where it was happenin’ (sorry, been watching the new Abfabs!)

    Me, I want fewer bland wallpaper settings and “standard” situations in historicals, and more detail and individualism.

    And if you want longer books, be prepared to pay for them. While I don’t think prices should go up, because that would be just an excuse, a longer book should cost more than a shorter one.

  13. library addict
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 07:43:24

    Jumping on the bandwagon for #1.More diversity, not just in the characters, but in the settings.

    I don’t really mind limited series and trilogies. What I do dislike about them is so much time in the early books being diverted from the h/h of that story to set up the later books in the series. I often feel we barely get to know the couple in the first book of a trilogy.

    I wouldn’t mind more in-depth stories, but only if the added length is actually used for character building and not just padding/repeating the same thing ten different ways.

    I won’t knowingly read books with cliffhangers or love triangles, so tend to avoid most UF and YA Dystopian books. And I don’t read vampires, so that leaves out 75% of paranormals. I do enjoy “psychic-lite” books such as JAK’s Arcane series or Feehan’s Drake Sisters, so I wouldn’t mind more paranormals of that type.

    I would also like to see more action-orientated romances like Feehan’s Ghostwalkers or Shannon Stacey’s Devlin Group series. Books that aren’t so much romantic suspense as action-adventure romance (as Shannon Stacey describes her Devlin Group). I would describe Maya Banks KGI series this way and am leery of her introduction of a paranormal element in book 4 (though I am behind in that series and still have to read book 3). Not saying it won’t work in this case, but it makes me apprehensive.

    Okay, that’s another pet-peeve of mine about series, ones that start out being one thing and veer off into some strange direction. I am all for authors following their muse and whatnot, but do it with new characters. There’s really no need to change direction radically in the middle or at the end of a series (ie like Kathleen Korbel did with the last Kendall family book).

    As has been discussed before I read romance for the HEA. But just because I want a happy ending doesn’t mean I don’t want the journey from point A to point to B to be interesting. As @Mary Anne Graham: says give me the WHY.

  14. MarieC
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 07:46:58

    Bravo! You’ve summed up a whole lot of things so concisely, I’m throwing my list out.

    Big fat ditto on world building and courtship. So many romances have the ‘love at first’ that just doesn’t seem to cut it, no matter how great the writing is.

  15. Darlene Marshall
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 07:50:42

    This is a great list. The one I especially applaud is putting the brakes on series. I am so over these things dragging out forever. I would much rather see a tight story arc in a stand-alone or a trilogy, where I can close the last novel with satisfaction and say “Wow, that was a fun ride!” and move on with my life.

  16. Beth
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 08:10:41

    Great List!!!! I agree whole heartedly, especially about the steam punk. And the middle classes. I just finished Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt and Temperence was such a breath of fresh air.

    And I agree about the YA novels and courtship. I would just like to see more YA in the 3rd person. PLEASE!

  17. Cindy
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 08:24:03

    In the Steampunk I’m writing, I didn’t go into a lot of detail (yet) about the classes etc. but I’ve already been scolded by people who can’t tell the time period or for me blowing off historical fact. I’m like hello? Alternate history? Hello? I will say there is nary a bustle, iron or otherwise, or airship. Lots of gadgets and inventions though.

    I’ll second the desire for action-adventure romance and more Victorian period stories.

    I’m heading the opposite direction with length of books- 30,000-50,000 words is perfect for me only because I’m sick of overdone description. I quit reading Mercedes Lackey after three chapters because of the multiple pages describing The Ice Queen’s throne and how it kept her warm. Or as I always joke…I could care less about that orange vase in the corner. Now if it’s taut with action or character building, that’s fine.

    I’ve always enjoyed the courtship more than the sex scenes, and I’m even prone to skipping the sex scenes when reading erotica, but I’ve seen many a conversation online lately that the story is not a romance without a sex scene. To me, romance is not about the sex, it’s about the connection and the relationship building. Which ultimately might be why my steampunk ends up as young adult if publishers agree that it’s not a romance without sex. Or it ends up inspirational. Hmm. Inspirational steampunk.

  18. Jess
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 08:30:47

    Totally agree about the steampunk thoughts. The one and only “steampunk” series I read had so much potential but it became about the fashion instead of the fashion+other things from the time period. Don’t get me wrong, I thought some of the “new” inventions (for example, glasses) had their place and added to the story, but I wanted to see more about the world than what everyone was wearing.

    Also, very much in favor of less series. I prefer other genres for their lack of needing a (long) series or that each novel in a series can stand alone. My favorite series work it so through the x-number of books there’s a common thread (usually the same main character in the same world) but each book has an ending that closes that book and you can choose to continue or not. Even better, if you don’t like one of the books but you want to revisit the series when it sounds good again, you haven’t missed much.

  19. Berinn Rae
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 08:31:05

    Great list, Jane. You really nailed what I’d love to see, especially 1 (more diversity), 6 (more creativity), and especially 7 (less series) in paranormals and fantasy. I’m iffy on 9 (more humor) just because so much of humor I read in romance comes across as forced or too snarky.

  20. Julie
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 08:31:24

    With Dowton Abbey being so popular, I’d like to see more historicals set in the earlier part of the 20th century.

  21. Evangeline Holland
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 08:34:35

    @Meri: I also agree about more contemporaries, and I’d add – especially ones in which the main conflict is not “h/h spend 90% of the book insisting that all they want is a casual hookup and it was never meant to be a serious relationship”.

    Hear, Hear. It is more than tiresome to rarely see any romance (or courtship as Jane says) in contemporary romance–as though hooking up-to-HEA is the only believable conflict and plot in a contemporary setting! I’ve made it a New Year’s resolution to up my ratio of contemps vs historicals and paranormals, but when all blurbs promise are stories where the h/h fall into bed within the first fifty pages and then angst over whether it can be anything more, it doesn’t make me eager to try them.

    @Lynne Connolly: I agree about the middle-classes in Victorian England. They were also the first to jump into the civil services, which aristocratic second, third, and fourth sons belatedly realized would keep them in brandies and sodas. And middle-class women were the ones founding and attending girl’s schools and women’s colleges, and becoming secretaries, doctors, and business owners! And double yes on Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, et al. My current historical romance series revolves around Edwardian Manchester, and though it’s been a bear tracking down sources about the city, its people, and its industries, it’s so worth it as Manchester is a pretty amazing place.

  22. Sherry Thomas
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 08:42:06

    I’d like to see better pacing. Or just more unputdownable-ness.

    I don’t really care too much about settings or the ethnicity/class/origin of characters. But unputdownable is really hard to find.

  23. Rei
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 09:03:40

    I just really, really want to see more books that can describe a man and a woman falling in love without once mentioning how she’s so feminine and he’s so masculine. Really. That’s all I want. I know this isn’t a problem for a lot of people, but it just – it jerks me right out of the story.

  24. Jennifer Estep
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 09:07:10

    I’d also like to see more straight contemporaries, more humor, and more fantasy romance.

    I just want to find more books where everything works — the characters, the romance, the plot, the writing. Books where everything gels into a wonderful story that leaves me smiling at the end. Just more great reads.

  25. Mikaela
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 09:07:52

    @Sherry Thomas:

    This. Oh yes. I find the Unputdownableness sometimes, but most of the time it isn’t in pure romance novels, but in Suspense and Fantasy ( both with and with out romance).

  26. RunRabbit
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 09:07:52

    That’s a great list, and I agree with all of it. I would also say erotic romance is going to have to raise the bar as far as quality of writing goes. I think the days when you could put anything together that was hot even if it lacked a plot, are ending or have ended. I read a lot, and there are some phrases and cliched situations I’m so sick of. “The sound of flesh slapping flesh” – ugh, read that all the time. Stupid romance words like lave and nubbin need to go. And please, no more demon/vampire hunters, especially if they’re wearing black leather trenchcoats and/or corsets and high boots. And no more “mate” stories! What I would love to see more of is creative historicals, futuristics with great characters and storylines, alternate reality/alternate history (steampunk would fit under there, but I’m not a big steampunk fan).

  27. Jane
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 09:13:52

    @RunRabbit Your postMade me laugh out loud. The flesh slapping is seriously unsexy and if we remove lave we won’t get so many authors using lathe instead.

  28. Dabney Grinnan
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 09:14:56

    I’d like to see fewer “must haves” in historical romance. I read far too many books this year where 1) the couple has sex in a carriage, 2) the couple waltzes and it is significant to their relationship, 3) the couple suffers (as does the reader) through a big misunderstanding, 4) the heroine has red hair shot through with gold, 5) the couple accidentally meet late at night in the library, and 6) the book has an epilogue in which the lovers’ future is spelled out leaving no doubt the two married, procreated, and continued to have hot sex.

  29. Tabitha
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 09:22:39

    Great list, Jane. I love to see more of #3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9 especially #8 and 9.

    I am just sick and tired of cliffhangers. It’s not just PNR anymore but other sub genres as well. For instance, in Shiloh Walker’s Ash series (Romantic Suspense), it’s not so much a cliffhanger but the revealing of the villain continues throughout the trilogy. Had I known that, I would not have wasted my time with the first book. When a reader enjoys your writing, h/she would continue following your work without having to add the cliffhanger at the end. For me, the cliffhanger doesn’t always work because 1 -I’d be so disgusted with the author’s ploy to get the reader to buy their next book that it turn my interest the opposite of what they wanted or 2- half the time I don’t recall what happened in the previous book since books are often release too far apart and my enjoyment with the subsequent book is reduced.

    I’m all for humor in a straight contemporary. I read to forget the problems in my life and a little humor goes a long way to enhance that enjoyment. Summer at a Seaside Cove by Jacquie D’Alessandro is a great example. I wish there were more gems like that.

    I would also like to have more great romantic suspense novels. All too often now, authors are mixing romantic suspense with paranormal. Really? Can’t a story of intrigue, murder and mayhem be solved by the more traditional means without the added affect of psychic powers or some paranormal elements? Karen Rose writes some awesome romantic suspense stories and I wish there were more authors who writes RS like she does.

  30. Beth
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 09:23:15

    @RunRabbit:

    No trenchcoat? how will they look cool???? ;-) smirk

  31. Kate R
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 09:25:58

    Hey! What a coincidence! Look at that– you want more Victorian historicals with middle-class (or even working class) heroes and heroines. That’s my favorite genre to write!

    Kate Rothwell/Summer Devon.

  32. LG
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 09:31:18

    I love steampunk when it’s done well – by which I mean, when the little steampunk details are part of a larger, well-thought out world where all the little steampunk details make sense. I don’t think I’ve read much steampunk in which this has been done well (Meljean Brook’s series is the first that comes to mind), but I keep buying them in the hopes of finding more.

    “Yes” to the “less series books.” I’ve read quite a few series I’ve enjoyed over the last few years, and the nice part about a romance series is that you can see the relationship develop over the course of several books. Unfortunately, the flip side is that 1) the series can drag on long enough that it outstays its welcome and 2) a long series can be daunting to those new to the series. Plus, sometimes I just want my HEA, and a series might give me a “there’s likely an HEA, but you have to wait until later to get it, ha ha!” Argh.

    #5, “more courtship” – courtship in romance can be a lot of fun, although my “yes” is a qualified one, because I still adore well done soulmate books. I also think that the soulmate trope doesn’t necessarily mean that courtship (or possibly something very similar?) is out of the picture.

  33. LG
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 09:37:16

    @Rei: I’ve been noticing mentions of “womanliness” and “manliness” a lot in the books I’ve been reading lately, although they haven’t necessarily been recently published ones. The annoying part was that, in one of them, the heroine spent some time pretending to be a young man. Tell me, how, exactly could she have so many womanly qualities and yet dress as a man and go to a men’s club without a single person realizing she wasn’t a man? The only feature of hers that she deemed womanly enough to get herself caught was her hands, so she kept those hidden and somehow passed effortlessly as a man because of this. Oh, please.

  34. Phillipa Ashley
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 09:41:33

    Jane – I am so happy that you are looking for more 1, 3, 4 and 9. :)

    I’d love to write an American heroine but no matter how appealing that might be, I don’t think I could. I’m terribly sorry but I’m British (which means I’m not terribly sorry at all, just being self deprecating and ironic at the same time.) Seriously, I love reading about US heroines from US authors – and I credit American readers of my books with being able to enjoy a British heroine just the same.

    PS I hope you are watching Downton Abbey in the US for your historical drama fix – if not, you must!

  35. Elyssa Papa
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 09:43:15

    Love this list, and I agree with everything. What I’d love to see more of? Contemps that aren’t just set in small towns. Give me the suburbs or big cities or just something else besides a small town that feels like a Twilight episode of Cheers.

  36. reader
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 09:46:03

    This is a post to make a writer weep.

    I think you must be the rare reader who wants these things, because I know writers who do write longer books full of courtship and romance in different settings, but they don’t sell well. Maybe they need their own review site, so readers who want them can find them. But it seems most readers really do want the short, fast reads, even if they’re open to a fresher setting.

  37. Lisa J
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 09:55:28

    I’m seconding the call to ditch the club scenes. They are old and tired.

    Definitely more courtship and relationships, not just a quick “Hi. Let’s do it and then we’ll live a perfect life.”

  38. DS
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 10:01:05

    Regretsy has a catagory for “Not Remotely Steampunk:” items. I feel that way about most up to a vast majority of Steampunk romances. Sometimes I quite enjoy the books– they just aren’t Steampunk.

    I also hate sequel bait.

    In the past comments were made about how posters on line are only a small section of the book buying public and there is a raving demand for family series, etc. May be true but I think the on line market is ahead of the demand curve. Nimble authors and publishers who aren’t working on a two year or more schedule would benefit from taking note of what vocal readers want and provide it in increasing amounts. Don’t just point all of your lemming authors at the same cliff and yell jump though.. That’s a sure way to burn out.

  39. dick
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 10:06:27

    Change is good, but like an earlier poster, I’d just like to see authors give a little more attention to words on the page, to developing a style that doesn’t bore me so greatly that I stop reading at page 30 or so. “Well-told” is what I want, regardless of anything else.

  40. cecilia
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 10:08:30

    Amen, sister on almost all of these. Except, what are “club scenes”? Are we talking “spanky hell-fire”, Whites/Brooks, or pulsing-music-underage-drinkers?

  41. Sophia (FV)
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 10:22:21

    “ENOUGH WITH THE CLUB SCENES.” <–Yes, this. I'm so over it.

    I also totally agree with you on more diversity, and more straight up contemps. Great list!

  42. Tina
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 10:33:19

    Just chiming in to say I love this list. It is like my own personal romance wish list.

    I’d expand #10 to include middle and working class to contemporary romances as well. One of my absolute favorite books i read a couple of years ago was Don’t Forget to Smile by Kahtleen Gilles Seidel because it was set a blue collar industrial working town and the here being promoted to become a union rep was a big deal.

    I especially love the idea of #4. I am a hard-core fan of the contemporary. It is my absolute favorite of the genre. But I lament the state of it when it is difficult to find a book where the heroine isn’t in some sort of life-endangering jeopardy.

    I have actually been gravitating to Women’s Fiction that contains a heaping dose of romance more and more because that is normally where I find #s1,4,5, &7..

  43. RunRabbit
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 10:36:50

    –Contemps that aren’t just set in small towns. –
    I agree with Elyssa! I’m also tired of the stock “small town” characters, including the eccentric old woman/women (usually some old grandma who nevertheless has a perverted sense of humor or wears big flowery hats, etc), the grumpy old man, the nosy neighbors. It has been done and done!

  44. Jia
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 10:46:13

    @Beth: Ha! The same thought crossed my mind. If they’re not wearing trenchcoats, how will they look dramatic and mysterious as they walk down a hall or run around corner during a chase scene? ;)

  45. Courtship!
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 10:53:51

    Ah, courtship. I live for it. That’s why I won’t read anything under 60K words…there just isn’t time for an adequate, convincing chase. 80K words is better.

    I really reviled the move to insta-love and shorts and novellas that seemed to be spawned by the digital first publishers and digital authors who wanted to build up a lengthy “backlist”, even if all the titles are 20K word pieces of crap. Like that author who signed a 75 book deal with Ellora’s Cave or whatever. Not that I would have read her, but her and Ellora’s Cave both got added to my never-buy list anyway. It’s like a publisher version of a puppy mill.

    I don’t understand why authors can’t just take six months or a year and really craft a wonderful, complex, original work, rather than putting out six or eight derivative, formulaic books a year. Well, I understand why, but I wish that would change about the publishing industry. I wish publishers urged their authors to better quality rather than quantity–and rewarded authors who placed quality over quantity. We always wonder, why did “Popular Author Name Here” books get so crappy all of a sudden? I think that’s why. Pressure to churn out books just to meet demand. So if I had to choose one thing I wanted in 2012, it would be more emphasis on craft and quality and less puppy mill lit.

    And yes, more romance and courtship and MUCH LESS insta-love, club scenes, sex-by-the-second-chapter, etc.

  46. Dani Alexander
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 10:54:56

    Humor is so subjective. I write humor but it causes a different sort of reaction in everyone. My beta readers have LOL’d, my editor only laughed a few times, my very first beta reader didn’t get the humor and my husband only smiled at parts (although I forgive him because he loves slapstick humor and it’s the only time I’ve heard him laugh). So humor, I guess, is very subjective. And for me, it’s also different for each book/character.

    My first novel is about dialog humor and it’s in the character’s voice. But my second one (which I”m in the middle of) will have much more scene humor and probably some physical humor as well – because that’s the character.

    Just so I’m clear, is it sexxoring in the clubs that’s out, or just a visit to clubs in general? *eyes her club scene and slowly reaches out to press delete*.

    For me, what I’d like to see is better written m/m a la Josh Lanyon and Jordan Castillo Price. With lots of mystery suspense and hot menz who don’t need to bone while a killer is literally knocking on their door,. And no more magical semen of lurve which cures all ails including mental illness, trauma, as well as heterosexuality.

    Listen, authors, I like semen too, but if it can’t cure a yeast infection, in can’t cure your h/h from childhood trauma. Okay?

  47. Lynne Connolly
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 11:01:12

    Evangeline – get in touch if you like, and I’ll see if I can help you. I went to Manchester University, still live close to the city. It depends what you want to know, really.
    Went to the Historical Novelists’ Society conference at the newly restored Mechanics’ Institute a couple of years ago. That was a treat.

  48. Cristal Ryder
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 11:24:29

    What a great post Jane! You’ve inspired me to carry on with my goal. Thanks!
    Cristal

  49. becca
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 11:48:31

    All it takes to send me running away, far away, is to see “book 1 of a series” in a book title or description. Give me stand-alone stories that don’t end on cliff=hangers, and I’m a happy puppy.

    I’m also getting pretty sick – well, thoroughly sick – of PRN, UF, and dystopias, too.

  50. Athena Grayson
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 11:51:47

    @Meri:
    I’d add – especially ones in which the main conflict is not “h/h spend 90% of the book insisting that all they want is a casual hookup and it was never meant to be a serious relationship”. I realize it’s harder to come up with a believable conflict in a contemporary, but I’m tired of this one already, and I don’t even read that many contemps. This is one more reason why greater diversity in the characters’ backgrounds is good: it’s a great source of tension and conflict.

    I agree with you, but this is a hard line to walk, because if you’re talking straightup romance, then the romance (loves me/loves me just for hookup purposes) should be the main conflict. Other conflicts will be secondary, so if the main conflict isn’t the romance, it’s a “with romantic elements” book about two people in love who have to overcome the external obstacles to HEA and the story drifts away from the two mains overcoming their own internal obstacles to become worthy of love. These aren’t stone-writ commandments, but stories like this may be shelved outside the romance section. :)

    Having said that, there are still some pretty heavy conflicts that are solely relationship-driven: relationships versus career, starting over, etc.

    I am all for the rom-com to come back (says the author who wrote a straightup rom-com with no vampires or serial killers). I think with the demise of the HQ short contemp comedy line/s, there was just no home for cat-length rom-coms until recent events opened up some possibilities.

    One thing about the Diversity thing…in the golden ages of SF and Fantasy, questions of diversity were addressed in allegory. Alien cultures and fantasy races had a purpose. I think it’d be nice to continue to see more PNRs that feature otherworldly critters with some deeper themes in mind.

    Athena
    PS: @Dani Alexander:
    Listen, authors, I like semen too, but if it can’t cure a yeast infection, in can’t cure your h/h from childhood trauma. Okay?
    ::splort::
    You win an internet for that one! And with that internet you owe me a new keyboard. And a truss because I think I blew a gut laughing at that one.

  51. Donna
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 11:58:58

    I agree elyssa. More big city contemps would be nice instead of all the small town ones.

  52. farmwifetwo
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 12:01:01

    Yes, but I do happen to like the variety of genres including steampunk.

    Diversity, better sex scenes (mentioned above some of the “not to do’s”), better place/time, less “woe is me’s”, less “I’m not lovable”, less whining in general.

    Shorter series’. Someone mentioned 3 books in length above… I think that’s lots. Or atleast that to an arc/thread/etc.

    Cliffhangers… hate them. Will not buy nor read the next book.

    Longer stories… YES, YES, YES!!!

  53. RunRabbit
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 12:01:05

    Re: mysterious trenchcoats

    Are we also tired of tattoos yet, or is the tattoo train still rolling?

  54. Lana
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 12:27:26

    Straight up contemporaries!!! I am one of those bad people who isn’t a huge historical fan and I get so excited to find a contemporary. I read a lot of the monthly harlequins for that reason. Also, I want courtship! I want a relationship that builds in more than a week.
    And less series! I don’t want to pick up a book and find out its 4 of a planned zillion. I am all for a nice tie-in, but if you are doing a series, you can’t just make up new family members to keep it going. Write something new and have the loved family show up in a line or two. That will make me smile!

  55. Loosheesh
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 13:16:18

    Hear, hear! Especially “more courtship” (I want emotion; I want angst! lol) and “straight up contemporaries”. I generally like romantic suspense but I’m getting more and more put off by it nowadays. The romance is usually so lacking in chemistry that I just end up concentrating on the mystery/thriller element.

    And, yes, less series! Please, please, less series – I can’t keep up :-(

  56. Maili
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 13:26:03

    I love the list.

    I want fewer reunions, too. It seems that 1 in 2 features a reunion of h/h. How boring. I think that’s probably why the courtship isn’t featured much lately.

  57. JL
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 13:34:14

    Great list. I’m definitely looking for more diversity in characters and places. I’ve basically made a rule to no longer read any paranormal or UF set in New York. I hate club scenes, too, in any genre.

    However, I’m going to play devil’s advocate for a moment and say I love series! I love complex story arcs that can’t be easily resolved, where mysteries keep building, and I love getting to know characters better, watching them evolve. I hope for more good series – but with an important caveat. I want series with a definitive end in sight. I like trilogies, which are common in YA, but rare in adult UF. So many series have no end in sight and I end up feeling betrayed by the authors. I’ve given up on quite a few favourites once it starts to feel like a cash grab. Maybe I’m weird (probably…) but I take it quite personally once the main story arc is done and the books keep coming with no coherence. I think that’s why I liked the cliffhangers in the Fever series, when most hated them. I knew the story was going somewhere and was going to be wrapped up. I also hate when characters stay flat for every additional book.

    Series that you can wander in and out of, like a lot of contemps, are fine by me, as long as they are truly stand-alone and previous characters don’t haunt the current storyline.

  58. Jane Lovering
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 13:34:47

    I’d like to read more of the kind of thing I write – angsty rom com (what I call ‘psychological romance with jokes’). It seems that humour has become divorced from ‘real life’ in romance; that ‘funny’ has to come from either huge slapstick set-ups or it being somehow amusing to have insufficient funds to buy the latest designer handbag. I want to read about how surviving trauma can lead to a sense of humour – not insta-healing by the first big penis in the room.

  59. Lynne Connolly
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 13:37:42

    I can’t stand it any more. Just can’t, sorry!
    It’s not “less” series, it’s “fewer.”
    I feel better now. I’ll get my coat.

  60. L.S.
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 13:39:43

    I have a specific request: in paranormal romances for 2012, can we get a little more creative with the openings? I’ve noticed at least 6 books from different writers within the past year with stories opening in a dark and dingy urban club or on a city roof top, or start on a roof top and end up in a dark and dingy urban club. It’s like the authors all watched movies The Matrix and Underworld and took notes. When I see this in the opening, I instantly close the book. Trite, trite, trite.

  61. evie byrne
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 13:40:02

    @Courtship: LOL “puppy mill lit”!

  62. j3nny
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 13:55:08

    I agree with all those points you listed. I especially agree with 5, 7 and 8. I read too many paranormals where couples are together because it screams MATE MATE MATE MINE MINE MINE. I’m so tired of that. I like series books but nowadays I’m iffy on starting new books or if it hints into a series, I read the reviews to see how it’ll turn out. I hate cliffhangers (who doesn’t?) and a long series with cliffhangers at the end of each book kills me. I love the fever series but when I found out about it, I waited till Shadowfever came out and then read the whole thing. It took a lot of willpower on my part.

  63. Jane
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 13:58:02

    @Tina Love don’t forget to smile. Love it.

  64. Jane
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 13:58:28

    @cecilia spanky hell fire mostly.

  65. Jane
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 13:59:16

    @LG I like the soulmate thing. It is just that there is so much of it.

  66. Jane
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 13:59:55

    @Tabitha I’ll have to give that d’alessandro book a try. I think I might have a copy here….somewhere

  67. Emily
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 14:14:36

    Okay so a lot of things agree with most of the things Jane said. Here’s my list:

    Jane wants more middle class Victorians. I would also like more upper middle class Regency. The aunt of the most famous regency hero in the world had a title but he was just plain Mr. Darcy. Even if he were the grandson of an earl with no shot at the title (Arabella) I would consider it an improvement over “Dukes, Dukes, Dukes”.

    I agree with Dabney Grinnian mostly but particularly about waltzing. I am also tired of modern sensibilities about dancing tranferred into historicals. I think dancing was very different when it was so structured. One reason modern people often don’t like to dance is they don’t know how or what to do. More heroines who like to dance would be appreciated. I guess I want More Regency Club scenes :P. (Don’t disagree with Jane about modern erotica.)

    Possibly the most important items on my list, less isolated heroes and heroines. I was surprised by how many of the books I read last year seemed to completely cut the heroine and/or hero from anybody who would offer real emotional support and camaraderie. No seriously I get so sick of the heroine is completely miserable and utterly alone. I would like to secondary relationships that are important to heroine and hero and play off in ways that are real and true and fun. I don’t like the manipulative small town type love but I would love to see real support systems in place

    Here’s a small issue but a real one. I like seeing an older heroine but why is the mother of every thirty something woman about 50? I know that most people had their kids younger a long time ago but people also had children when they were older. This is particularly true when our new 30somethings were born in the 80s. I am not saying that sometimes the heroine’s mother can’t be 50 when she’s 30 but I have yet to see an older heroine with an older mother.

    On the small towns thing I liked to see someone try to write a romance in the Suburbs. Not a big city, or a small town, they pop in young adult novels all the time.

    Finally romances where people commute and travel and enjoy it or at least the benefits of it. People in small town romances seem to grumble when they have to drive for more than fifteen minutes. Yes traffic can be pain but is complaining about driving for an hour sexy?

  68. LG
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 14:24:00

    @Emily: I haven’t seen any grumbling in small town romances about longer commutes, or, if I have, it didn’t stick in my mind. Your comment did make me think of something that came up in a webcomic (I think Questionable Content, but I could be wrong). One of the characters was moving to a new place, which I think was maybe a 30 minute drive away, and all her friends were as deeply upset as if she were moving to another state. Another character does some eye rolling and makes a comment about this being “small state” mentality (now that I live in a small town in a big state, I get the joke). Maybe what you’ve been reading is “small town in a small state” romance?

  69. Michelle
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 14:36:49

    I am odd also, I like series, as others have said, more depth, longer story arcs. Must be why I tend more towards fantasy. Also love details-must be why I love Mercedes Lackey. I do hate love triangles though.

  70. GrowlyCub
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 15:04:15

    I’d definitely like to see longer books with better pacing. Pretty much all the books – even the ones I really enjoyed – in the last two years suffered from tacked on/rushed endings. I like series, but yes, please cap them at 3 or 5. It gets boring after that.

    One thing that struck me while looking at the back matter in a very old trad Regency last night was the diversity of story lines, times and places in the 12 titles listed. While many of those were not of interest to me, it did strike me how much narrower the choices have become.

    I have zero interest in middle class characters and will happily read Regency set stories, if they hit my sweet spot, but I find it sad that there is no choice.

    Everything seems to be fads, the next hot trend, rather than a steady diet of something for every taste which would be much more sustainable over the long run. But it seems that most decisions in publishing these days are made for the short term rather than with a vision for the future.

    On my list of (mostly likely unfulfilled) wishes for 2012 are also:

    the death of agency pricing
    the disappearance of the ubiquitous mistoricals that flooded the market last year
    better copy editing and more respect for the readers

  71. Amy Andrews
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 15:16:41

    SHZ it’s not that they’re more likely to get the publishers notice with an American heroine – they definitely will. In my experience and those of a lot of my colleagues, authors are constantly told by US editors they’re not interested in non American heroines, because they don’t sell. Apparently American readers don’t like to read non American heroines because they’re way too parochial. Personally I’ve always thought this massively insulting to American readers who I assume are just as intelligent and thirsty for knowledge as a reader from another country but if you’re wondering why then you can probably start there. It’s like having one of your books being “Americanised” because we’re told American readers are confused if you say ‘lolly’ instead of “candy” or “going to the toilet” instead of ” using the restroom” . Again, insulting much? I call this dumbing it down and publishers do it all the time. Why? Do they not credit us all with enough brains to figure this stuff out? Isn’t that one of the reasons why we read so we can peek into someone else’s world?

    Yes please to contemp and rom com.

  72. wendy
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 15:32:58

    @Lynne Connolly: Hahahahahahaha!

  73. John
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 15:47:48

    I love this list because it’s exactly why I’m reading more older romances than newer ones. As a new reader, this isn’t the stuff that grabs me.

    Historicals alone have become eh for me. I’m willing to read about Dukes and Earls, but all the time? Really? It takes something exotic or unique to get me to read with fervor. A lot of that is unfortunately found in older romances. Everything just has this unneeded sameness to it in sound and such. That’s why I really enjoyed Jeannie Lin coming onto the scene.

    Suspense plots can also go die. I’m not a romantic suspense person. Sometimes I enjoy it, but when I read a contemporary or historical or paranormal – I don’t WANT suddenly stupid attempts at suspense. I just read THE HEIR and enjoyed the voice, but the attempt at suspense was just bad. Most writers seem to be trying to do it, and I care about the hero and heroine. Stop artificially extending their romance (or lack of romance – suspense and issues caused by it seem to take the place of relationship development anymore) to the point where I want to stop because the couple has no real growth and are being chased by a random antagonist.

    Straight contemporaries with humor and less small-town settings. I like the sound of that. And courtship. Actual romance for the romance. It sounds lovely. It sounds like what I expect a romance novel to be.

    Series, cliffhangers, ect. also get old. YA series I’m semi-okay with, but we need less of them. I can’t keep up anymore, and coupling them with cliffhangers makes me angry. Oh so very angry. Romance is even worse with it, almost, because the series just ends up become this character-orgy of like, twenty different couples from previous books and novellas. I enjoy interrelated books, but it ends up becoming about the easter eggs, and it feels like some authors just degrade the romantic development with each book in favor of pointless scenes. Frustrates me to no end.

  74. Lada
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 15:47:49

    @Lynne Connolly: Ahhhh….thank you, thank you, thank you!! That was driving me bonkers, too!!

    Great list, Jane and all good points but I especially miss the courtship. It’s like the romance in romance is missing more and more. I don’t enjoy erotica because I miss that slow, sexy sizzle. I will stop reading a book if the mental lusting begins as soon as the h/h see each other. Attraction is one thing but losing your train of thought because you’re so hot to get into someone’s pants turns me off instead of on.

  75. Emily
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 15:55:49

    @LG
    Your example about the heroine moving 30 mins away is perfect.
    As someone who lives in a small state the “small state” thing doesn’t ring true to me. I have no fears, qualms or hang-ups about 30 min drive. That would drive me crazy if I read it in a book.

  76. Jean
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 16:31:56

    Have you read any of Kay Springsteen’s books? They will answer most of these wants and she’s’ written quite a few but none in long series. I love her writing, among the best books I’ve read.

  77. Ava Glass
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 16:35:55

    I’m also going to throw in my support for series, although I do prefer when they are of predetermined length.

    I like multi-story arcs. I like long courtships. I like it when the main characters don’t get together in the first story. I end up gravitating toward series in other genres with romance subplots as a result.

    Interestingly, St. Martin’s will publish a six-episode e-serial, The Honourables by Allison Rushby. S. Jae-Jones of St. Martin’s says she’s excited to try something “analogous to a one hour drama, one installment of a season of dramas.”

    http://sjaejones.com/blog/2011/the-honourables/

    I’m excited too, as both a writer and a reader. The series isn’t in the romance genre, but I would like to see the idea catch on. I know not everyone will find it appealing though.

  78. Paula Martin
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 17:29:38

    I love all this – and all the comments too. Part way through last year, I was wondering whether everyone these days wanted paranormal/fantasy/vampire/zombie/steampunk stories, and whether I was wasting my time writing stand-alone contemporary romances with courtship and romance combined with growing sexual tension (and British characters and settings too).
    This has given me renewed confidence that many people DO still want my kind of story – so many thanks!

  79. Courtship
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 17:51:42

    Speaking of spanky hell fire clubs, can we have less ranches and campgrounds too? Just saw another big book coming out that takes place at a “BDSM ranch”. Uh, no. At least a BDSM club is realistic. Now we have ranches, campgrounds, compounds, manors out in the country….same club set up, different venue.

    How about kinky couples getting busy at home after a romantic dinner? In the bedroom, in the bathtub, heck, tied to the chandelier if they like. Surely they have this capability without some dungeon master or dungeon cowboy holding their hand.

  80. cecilia
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 18:28:18

    @Courtship!: “It’s like a publisher version of a puppy mill.”

    I’m literally laughing out loud.

  81. Karen Nichols
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 18:33:27

    I work to keep my mysteries light and spread out – I like the contemp romances with lots of tension and lead up. The family issues are wacky and emotional. But mostly, I like throwing fun into the romances. Not everyone is a lord or lady – some are even gamers! Careers vary from seamstresses, to artists, to doctors, to HR personnel and even a mid-wife with a personality like Luna Lovegood!

    Thanks for the useful goals!!

    k

  82. Sherry Thomas
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 18:42:48

    @Maili: But I’m a reunion specialist. Courtship, what’s that? :-)

    That said, I’ve three books coming out this year and none are reunions. You CAN teach old dogs new tricks.

  83. Lynz
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 20:41:51

    Please, can couples in contemps (I’m especially looking at you, category romance, but single-titles are far from exempt here) stop having kids the second they meet? I would love to see more couples who decide to wait a few years before procreating. What I actually really, really want is to see couples choosing not to have kids, or at least seriously considering it, but I’m so sick of the couples who get pregnant a month after they fall in love and are thrillllllllled!!! about it. All but one of the couples I know, the ones who actually live in this century, and who decided to have kids all wanted a couple of years to themselves first.

    Oh, and the heroes who won’t let their wives so much as pick up the heavy, heavy TV remote because they’re four months pregnant, and oh isn’t it charming how he’s so ridiculously overprotective? No, it isn’t charming at all. Please, authors, stop writing them. (Especially if you’re setting your book in the present and have informed me that the heroine’s obstetrician is happy with the progress of her pregnancy.)

    And speaking of contemps, huzzah for ones not set in small towns! I get that some readers enjoy them – they obviously must sell, because they keep coming out by the bucketful – but I spent time in both a small town and a big city as I was growing up, and I would pick the big city for my HEA any day. It’s not that I’ve never enjoyed a small-town romance, but why do there have to be so many of them?

    @Rei: It’s a problem for me, too, and it jerks me right out of just about every single scene it pops up in. Which means that I’m jerked out of most of the books I read, at some point or another.

  84. cleo
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 21:31:24

    I love these lists. I agree with most of Jane’s list, especially more diversity and more courtship. I love reading about people as they fall in love. That’s why I read romance.

    This time last year (on a similar thread at SBTB) I said I wanted fewer alpha males and more easy going heroes and lo and behold, this year I discovered Shannon Stacy and Yours to Keep and her other Kowalski books. I love her heroes – they’re confident and sexy and not testosterone poisoned at all. Yay, the decent heroes weren’t all devoured by ceo werewolves after all.

    So based on that success (because I’m sure Shannon Stacey was influenced by my passionate plea), this year I’d like to see more authentically diverse characters and settings.

  85. Ros
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 21:38:03

    @Emily: Mr Darcy is not upper middle class. He’s not aristocracy, but he’s definitely upper class. His money is not from trade.

  86. Ros
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 21:44:01

    The middle-class Victorian stories would be fabulous! So many of the great Victorian novels are set among the middle-classes (I’m thinking especially of Mrs Gaskell and George Eliot) and the era is rife with potential conflicts. I’d love to see some romances making use of this setting.

  87. carly m.
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 23:54:34

    I’m guarded on #1 with diversity. I give authors kudos for breaking with the status quo, but so often it falls flat and stereotypical. The author who comes to mind as trying (really, really) hard is Susan Fox/Susan Lyons. In almost all of her books the hero or heroine is non-white/non-Canadian (her books are mostly set in Vancouver). But it comes across as false or layered on a bit too thick when the Native Canadian grew up on a rez and had an alcoholic dad or the Asian girl has live in aunties who make sure she’s home by midnight. I love that she’s trying, but I’ve also been known to shut her books in a huff when the minorities fit nicely into the black people must love jazz and jamaican food cupboard.

    I’d also love more straight up contemporaries and courtship. There’s something to be said for just watching two people fall in love without all the whiz-bang. I love the exploration of new emotions, changed circumstances, etc.

  88. SR
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 00:45:07

    So agree on the bit about series. Especially if you’re not from the US and there’s going to be a really long wait for the next book. Like Nora Roberts bride quartet – the last one came out in Oct and it wasn’t available here till Feb. Also, enough with the secret babies. Its really not that complicated “I’m pregnant” See? If all the conflict is because a dumb woman couldn’t open her mouth, I’m not going to read it.

    And the paranormals, especially the fated mates. “OMG I want you! Wait, you mean this is a mate syndrome? I cant control it? Suddenly my feminist side emerges outraged. You dare take over my free will? I will be a pain in the a** because I can, regardless of how awesome you are and how much I love you” UGH. Its fatiguing after a bit. I love vampires and werewolves – please don’t ruin them for me.

  89. SR
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 00:49:15

    I forgot to mention rich gazillionaires who are dynamite in bed who ‘ruin the h for every other man’. How about an inexperienced gazillionnaire?

  90. Marguerite Kaye
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 02:08:56

    @Lynne Connolly: Having lived and worked in Glasgow and Edinburgh for some years I would love to include both in historicals. I have paid fleeting visits to both cities in a couple of my books, but the impression I get is that more would be off-putting because of the industrial assocations. I’m interested, do people want to read historical romances that aren’t steam punk but are industrial – because I’d really like to write them.

    And I second all that everyone has said about more middle-class (or dare I say it working class) heroes and heroines. Plus, I’d like to see more real history and politics in stories too.

  91. Marguerite Kaye
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 02:15:14

    And can I also put in a word for older heroines please, complete with a few little floppy flappy bits that don’t defy gravity.

  92. Maili
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 06:34:44

    @SR:

    How about an inexperienced gazillionnaire?

    *a flash image of Bill Gates* How about no?

    /joking. There used to be quite a few inexperienced/nerdy/socially awkward billionaire heroes in HQN Temptation. Wonder where they all went?

  93. eggs
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 06:38:50

    I like series, but whatever happened to the good old trilogy? You get the longer story arc without having to roll your eyes every time a new character appears with ‘series bait’ written on his forehead. It’s incredibly rare for a series to get any better after book 3, and incredibly common for them to get boring and repetitive. I try to make myself stop after 3 now, even when I’m itching to read on.

  94. Junne
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 06:57:42

    I don’t want more courtship. It’s boring, I want the book to be about the relationship, not what leads to it. That’s why I love marriage in trouble books, because you don’t have all these awkwards meetings.
    Also, less icky December/May romances. I mean, I like romances with older heroine/younger hero but the whole “he’s young enough to be my son” reflexion is not a turn-on. I recently read a book where the h hooked up with her friend’s son, how off-putting is that??

  95. Lizabeth S. Tucker
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 07:49:13

    It is like you went into my mind and read what my gripe list was regarding romances. Everyone of these hit my spot. I actually do like steampunk, but as you stated, it is rarely done well.

    I am so tired of easy hookups, sex scenes that pad the book, lack of relationship building. I want respect for the characters, building their relationships so that they aren’t just easy hookups.

    So thank you for airing my Romance Dreamlist.

  96. Kristie (J)
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 09:21:06

    Here, here to #10!! I think I’d go back to reading more historicals if there were fewer titled heroes. I’d also love to see more blue collar heroes in contemporaries too. I much prefer a blue collar type, whether in historical or modern times than your titled, white collar type

  97. Laura Florand
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 09:48:45

    I think you will be seeing more contemporaries set in places other than small towns, starting this year and increasing in 2013. When my current editor at Kensington picked up my books set in Paris, she mentioned that this type of thing was something for which she had been on the lookout. I assume she is still on the lookout, as are other houses, although I suppose it’s possible my house might experiment with me first to see how well it works. Branching out from the traditional set-ups is always an experiment for publishers, and they keep an eye on sales and sometimes make pretty early calls (unfortunately, sometimes before books are even released, based on pre-orders from distributors) as to whether readers are interested or they need to go back to “what works”. They get cold feet, too. :) One of my books two books out from now (but finished and with my house already, since that’s the way publishing timelines work) had a non-American heroine and hero both, but my editor called halfway through it to ask me to change one of those, because she had started worrying about whether an American audience would accept two main characters from another country. I know most people on this blog would, but remember the publishing houses are thinking about the greatest number of sales.

    I’ve found more resistance to non-traditional historical settings than to big-town contemporaries right now, but I keep my hopes up, because I love non-Regency, non-Society historicals. The rise in self-publishing is going to open a lot of doors for less traditional settings, as well. More authors will choose to try out that “different” idea they had on their own, rather than bend it to suit a house (or tuck it in a drawer when it gets rejected).

  98. Ros
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 09:53:34

    @Marguerite Kaye: I don’t know about ‘people’, but I would like to read more of those stories with an industrial setting please. Especially if they feature Richard Armitage…

  99. library addict
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 13:46:20

    @Marguerite Kaye:

    I’m interested, do people want to read historical romances that aren’t steam punk but are industrial – because I’d really like to write them.

    I would, too.

  100. KZoeT
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 16:31:27

    Oh, these wish lists are awesome! Jane, I’ll 100% cosign your entire list.

    I’ll add:

    * Historicals other than Victorian or Regency, settings other than England. Let’s have something deliciously Medieval. Or how about 1950s? The roaring 20s are ripe for exploration. Let’s try Colonial US or WWII Hawaii. French Revolution? C’mon!
    * Contemporaries with working class couples instead of high-powered execs, doctors, billionaires.
    * Military romances without Navy Seals, Army Rangers, Green Berets and Recon Marines.

  101. JMM
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 17:49:04

    Less small towns with quirky characters who arrange the heroine’s life to suit them.
    Heroines who don’t want kids – no, they really don’t want them; not because they’re damaged or hurt, but because they just don’t want kids!
    Less Alpha Gazillionaires.

  102. Nonny
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 20:14:53

    I agree with most of these but slightly disagree on series… though, I suppose it depends on how “series” is defined.

    I am getting annoyed with the plethora of “family/brotherhood/whatever and everyone gets their own book” series, and I’m getting tired of series that follow characters, don’t stand alone, and seem to have no end in sight. The thing I liked about, say, early Anita Blake was that you didn’t have to read every single book because the stories were episodic. Most series now are incredibly long, have cliffhangers (GRRR), and aren’t self-contained.

    I want more series like Ilona Andrews’ Edge books, which have a fantastic setting, are loosely tied together, and I get to read more about the setting. Because there is nothing that annoys me more than reading a book about this absolutely amazing setting, but the author writes nothing else in it. This used to be pretty common in SF/F; a lot of authors would do one-offs, and it annoyed me so much. I read as much for setting in some ways as I do for characters, and I’d rather take the neverending series in the same setting than authors creating these wonderful worlds that are left unexplored except for that one book.

  103. Deb Kinnard
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 20:56:40

    So if all you avid readers want all these cool stories (and my Visa and I are right there with you), why are the publishers/agents telling us: 1. no medievals; 2. no stories set in the ‘burbs; 3. series, not stand-alone; 4. historical heroes must be upper class, not middle class or below…

    Why?

    If you readers want well-written contemp stand alones, check out the e-books of Desert Breeze Publishing. Michelle Sutton, Michelle Levigne, Janet Butler, and a host of others write such stories for this house.

  104. Owen Kennedy
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 21:15:49

    “ENOUGH OF THE CLUB SCENES” I actually laughed out loud at this. Totally agree with a lot on the list.

    As far as the cliff-hangers go: Couldn’t agree more. I won’t even read a book if I know there is a Cliffhanger. That ticks me off. ESPECIALLY when it is a series or cliffhanger and the author doesn’t have another book for over a year.

  105. Brian
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 22:12:06

    @Nonny:

    I am getting annoyed with the plethora of “family/brotherhood/whatever and everyone gets their own book” series, and I’m getting tired of series that follow characters, don’t stand alone, and seem to have no end in sight.

    Right there with you. I like series quite a lot [it's a sickness ;-)], but the above is really starting to get on my nerves.

    I’m really getting tired of series started by digital first type pubs too where we see one or maybe two promising books and then the author falls off the face of the earth. I know it happens with the traditional pubs too, but it seems like I’ve had a lot of bad luck with the digi firsts in this respect lately.

  106. Jaclyn M
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 22:23:14

    So many of your points are exactly what I’ve been looking for in Romance! Here’s hoping authors are taking note. Especially about the courtship issue. When did the romance leave Romance books?

  107. Brian
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 22:40:14

    3.Longer narrative books. I am very tired, particularly in erotic romance, of reading 15K, 25K, 40K word stories.

    This, definately.

  108. Rebecca
    Jan 05, 2012 @ 00:41:05

    I don’t even read much romance anymore (mostly YA historical fiction) because I don’t want almost every book I read to have the exact same setting. I’m tired of 95% of romances being Regency or Victorian. I’d love to read some other time periods that I find much more interesting – Medieval, Renaissance, Tudor England, French Revolution, Colonial North America.

  109. Marguerite Kaye
    Jan 05, 2012 @ 03:34:08

    @library addict: (And Ros too) I have had an idea in my mind for a while now which has no aristocrats and an industrial/war setting as well as an older heroine. In the early stages yet, but it’s definitely on my to write list for this year.

  110. Joanna K.
    Jan 06, 2012 @ 23:44:07

    EXCELLENT WANT LIST! I couldn’t agree more with your list, Jane!

    You’ve listed everything I would love to see more often in future romance novels that I can’t even come one with any other suggestions.

  111. This should be fun | Bethanni Porter
    Jan 09, 2012 @ 18:10:14

    [...] at Dear Author put together a list of things she’d like to see this year from the romance genre. Of particular interest to me [...]

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