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Made to Order: what’s not being published that you want to...

made to order

When self publishing took off, I thought I would see a greater variety of stories because the common theme was that traditional publishing was holding everyone back from writing fresh and different stories.  (This refrain hasn’t abated despite the growth in author freedom).

But authors are far more pragmatic than I ever gave them credit for and often you see them employing their talents by writing to the market (particularly if the author has any ability to write with speed) which means we see a lot of books with similar story lines. Because of the speed to market with self publishing, I think certain tropes burn out faster exhausting readers and/or making them look for something slightly different. But I’ve also heard authors lament that they don’t really know what readers want.

During the podcast with Lisa Renee Jones, we asked this marketing savvy author who was able to capitalize on both the 50 Shades success with her NYT Bestselling trilogy (If I Were You) and the New Adult craze with bestselling trilogy what was going to be next hot thing in romance. Jones suspects it will be light hearted contemporary romances to counter all the angsty dark romances. She admits that she can’t write those types of books but looks forward to reading them.

On Twitter I saw a few people discussing that they’d like to see darker, grittier romantic suspense books where the angst, edgy contemporaries are married to a thrilling suspense plot.

While blog watching, I see a number of readers praising books that are fresh and different whether it’s a criminal hero or a mute one, readers seem to be one and done and looking for that new fresh storyline.

So I got to thinking about the stories I wish I had available to read. Now it goes without saying that all readers want a good story but in reviewing the books that really engage me, I realize that I have a thing for detailed worldbuilding and intense political conflicts.

The one author that really stood out for me last year writing extraordinarily different stories was RL Smith. I can’t tell you the number of people who wrote to me and said that Smith’s work was encouraging them to write braver. Cool.

RL Smith published an epic long novel romance featuring a lizard warrior priest hero and a mouthy, overweight heroine. I’d like more of that please. Not necessarily the lizard warrior priest or all the bad things that happen to the heroine but I loved the otherworld aspect to it and how the two diametrically opposite characters changed each other and their world view.

I had similar love for Warlord by Elizabeth Vaughn and Tairen Soul series  by CL Wilson, although those stories were quite different in emotional tone the integration of political structure, setting and romance were similar. Ditto with the Psy/Changeling series from Nalini Singh or her Archangel series. 

So I want more of that. I want different settings. One of the things I love about Meljean Brook’s steampunk series is that each story takes me some place different. If I had a virtual passport, traveling on the Meljean Brook story train would take me to nearly every continent except Antarctica.

I want to read about unusual people. Elizabeth Hoyt’s historical series is set primarily in Whitechapel, the slums of London, and for the most part her protagonists are wealthy Dukes and Earls and there are few balls.

I love shapeshifter stories, particularly those featuring a wolf pack and their social and political interactions within the pack and with neighboring packs. My favorite is the Alpha & Omega series with Charles and Anna. Love the blend of mystery, pack politics, mythology, and romance.  That was what made me fall in love with Kelley Armstrong’s writing with Bitten and Stolen.

So I could order up a good book, I’d love it if was paranormal / fantasy romance with a larger than life hero, awesome heroine, intriguing political conflict along with detailed world building. I’d be thrilled if the series comprised of two or three books but focused on the main couple.

If you could place an order at the book restaurant what would you order? And if you read an order, do you have a recommendation for that reader? In other words, what would you like to read that’s not being published today?  Let’s be specific!

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and 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


  1. library addict
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 04:31:19

    I’d like to see some contemporaries set in Japan, China, Switzerland, Poland, and other countries with local protagonists. I’ve been reading some of the books from Destiny and Escape and quite enjoying the Australian settings.

    I’d also like to see more blue-collar or just non-billionaire/millionaire heroes and heroines (à la Shannon Stacey or Jill Shalvis) in straight contemporaries (no suspense).

    And as much as I love series books, I would love to see some stand-alone contemporaries and romantic suspense.

    Also, holiday-themed novellas other than Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day. Where are the Hanukkah novellas?

  2. kt grant
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 05:07:56

    I want more rom-coms or chick lit. So many contemporary books, which happen to be so called New Adult or so heavy and dark. If New Adult is so big, why not some comedic New Adult? I also want some light and fluffy read that will make me laugh and feel good, with witty dialogue. I also miss the kinder, gentler hero. So tired of the angsty, emo hero who has so many issues he really needs therapy. No more billionaires. Why not a hero who is a teacher or a unique type of profession. Same for the heroine.

    One author I recommend who I’ve been reading recently is Julie Brannagh. She writes contemporary romance with heroes in sports and independent and smart heroines. Her characters are also more mature and older and not too cliche or using over the top annoying tropes.

  3. Zara Keane
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 06:08:14

    Oh, wow. I have a long list of stories I’d love to read. To an extent, the indie revolution has helped me find some unique voices and settings (Karina Halle, for example), but I’m still on the look out for well-written historical romances set in unusual settings and time periods. Jeannie Lin can’t write fast enough for me.

    In no particular order, here’s a list of stories I’m waiting for someone to publish:

    1.) Historical romance set in Australia and New Zealand.
    2.) A WWII romance with a spy heroine and a Nazi hero (he changes his mind, of course, or he’s secretly a spy himself).
    3.) A historical romance along the lines of the British drama series ‘North & South’.
    4.) Comedy. I know what one person finds hilarious leaves another cold, but I’d like to see more lighthearted contemporaries and romantic mysteries.
    5.) What Katiebabs said above about comedic New Adult. The concept of the genre (subgenre?) appeals to me, but I’m not a fan of overly emo protagonists.
    6.) More witty SciFi romance. Think Linnea Sinclair. The only SciFi roms I’ve found in recent years have been heavy on the erotic with less emphasis on worldbuilding and characterization.
    7.) Adventure romance. I love Elisabeth Naughton’s Stolen series, for example.
    8.) More variety in Romantic Fantasy/Fantasy Romance.

  4. Alex
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 06:25:54

    I’d really love some decent contemporaries set in the UK. I don’t know if it’s a publishing/marketing thing over here or I’m not looking in the right places but I’m struggling to find them. I prefer something a bit more intense and hotter than chick lit but there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground between that and Mills & Boon over here. I think Sarra Manning is the only recent discovery that I’ve really loved.

    I guess I just like a very specific voice and when I’ve found it, I glom it. So in various romance sub genres that can be Rainbow Rowell, Laura Florand, Eva Ibbotson, Charlotte Stein, Jenny Colgan, Kristen Ashley… No real connecting link between any of them, which makes it much harder to find new authors that I’ll love.

  5. Ros
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 07:54:54

    @Zara Keane: There is a book very like the BBC series North and South. It’s North and South by Mrs Gaskell. I recommend it heartily.

  6. cleo
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 08:24:16

    More good guy, everyday heroes, a la Shannon Stacey and Sarah Mayberry.

    I’d love to read an m/f where the woman makes more than the man, or has a more high powered job, and it’s not a big deal – like a contemporary version of Archimedes Fox in the Iron Seas series. I’d also like to read an m/f where the hero stays home to take care of their kids.

    I’m always a little cautious about these lists – be careful what you ask for and all that. I wanted more romances with MCs with PTSD or recovering from serious trauma and I got it in m/m – but a lot of it isn’t as thoughtful or realistic as I wanted. And I have Rebecca Rogers Mahers’ (sp?) recovery series, but I haven’t worked up to reading it yet.

  7. Dustin
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 08:37:20

    The type of story I like can be summed up with one word: bildungsroman. Add in world building and I am sold. The coming of age doesn’t even have to be that of a teenager growing up. It’s the characters learning new things about themselves and their world that I enjoy. This includes Tim Akers’ The Horns of Ruin, Hannu Rajanemmi’s The Quantum Thief, Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name: Verity, Kate Bornstein’s A Queer and Pleasant Danger, Veronica Roth’s Divergent, and Pratchet and Gaiman’s Good Omens.

  8. Laura
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 08:37:27

    I want to read books with mixed-race heroes or heroines that are actually about the experience of being mixed race. Identity issues, that sort of thing. Not mixed-race characters who are just a way to add diversity without really adding diversity. Also, contemporaries with Asian heroes or heroines.

    I remember the podcast with Lisa Renee Jones, and as a writer, I was pleased when she said she thought romantic comedies were the next big thing because I write more light-hearted romances.

  9. hapax
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 08:40:50

    @Zara Keane: You stole my list!
    If I had to be *really* specific, more short heros, more beta heros, more heros AND heroines who bring the sexy with their brains instead of their bodies.

    Oh, and caper romances. Love love love those.

  10. Jill Sorenson
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 08:49:02

    Great post, Jane. I think the books I want to read are being published, for the most part. My problem is *finding* the books among a sea of others, getting time to read, and enjoying what I’m reading enough to continue. I dnf early and often. I sample widely and don’t buy. Maybe sampling doesn’t work for me but blind buying doesn’t either.

    I’d like to read more post-apocalyptic romance. I haven’t had much luck so far. There’s a new release by Lauren Dane and Megan Hart that looks good.

    I love Victoria Dahl’s books and she writes at a pace I can keep up with. I like the female camaraderie, blue collar heroes, humor, maturity. For me it’s a nice antidote to the slut shaming, jerk heroes and lack of power balance I see across the genre. Those qualities seem more exaggerated in NA and popular SP books than NY ones.

    I’m always on the lookout for romantic f/f/m. I think I’m the only one? These are so hard to find.

    The discovery problem for me is 1. I already have lots of books to read by authors I like 2. I’m wary of unknown self-pub 3. I take recs and reviews with a grain of salt. Even when I know and trust the reviewer, tastes vary, and I’m extremely picky about writing quality.

  11. Lozza
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 09:02:11

    @Jill Sorenson:

    I’d also love to find some romantic FFM- I don’t think I know of any other than “La Bonne,” which I didn’t enjoy at all. Have you found any good ones? (Or even decent. I’d take decent!)

    I also want more insecure beta heroes along the lines of Fletcher from Tamara Morgan’s In the Clear, or nice guy heroes that lean more towards goofy and awkward rather than suave.

  12. cleo
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 09:07:33

    @Jill Sorenson: I think discovery is the biggest issue for me too. Even as I was writing my list, I was thinking that most of what I described are probably out there – it’s just finding them.

  13. Isobel Carr
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 09:10:27

    There are things I’d LOVE to see or see more of:

    Romantic Mysteries. I love C.S. Harris and Tracy/Teresa Grant, so I’d be all over romances with serious mystery elements (romantic suspense tends to get a little violent/dark for me). This might also fit in with hapax’s desire for “caper” rom, which sounds great to me!

    HISTORICAL historicals. I know the market has spoken and it likes fairytale/lite historicals, but they just don’t hit the sweet spot for me as a reader. I want more like Pam Rosenthal, Julia Ross, and Jeannie Lin (since she’s my new go-to for immersive historical world building).

    Contemps with heroines that feel like real people and scenarios that seem realistic (no billionaires). I have a few authors I autobuy in this category (Victoria Dahl, Julie James, Sarah Mayberry, Farah Rochon), but I’d like to have MOAR!

    And in everything I’d love to see a wider diversity of setting and character (though I disagree with Laura in that I do *not* want the books to be about race or the experience of being mixed-race; but maybe that’s because I’m biracial myself and I’m resistant to the idea that it’s an “issue”).

  14. Jessica
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 09:15:07

    I want…*different*. Helpful, right? I want the heroine to be in the military. Or be the detective that saves the day and vanquishes the bad guy. I want to see real life characters who have financial debts or live in crappy apartments and have real (boring) office jobs. I’m sick of bajillionaires and characters who started their own small business – which is doing stupendously well, thank you – due to fate or the “right” timing or an author being lazy. I want a recovered (recovering?) addict as the hero, a heroine who went to prison because she made a mistake, not because she was framed. How about a heroine who doesn’t want children, ever? I want military characters to not all be diagnosed with PTSD or TBI. I want heroines who are completely and utterly happy with their lives before they meet the hero, and he enhances rather than fixes her life.

    I love Victoria Dahl and Cara McKenna, and their characters are the type of “different” I’d like to see more of.

  15. Kim
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 09:16:17

    Older heroines and good guy heroes. I really only like straight contemporary and I don’t like a lot of angst–I’ve been raising teenagers for the past 10 years and I still have a ways to go with 20something boys and I don’t need anymore conflict in my life. So I’m putting an order in for Happy, Peppy and Bursting with Love with a more “mature” heroine (and you really have to be old to get that reference).

  16. Erin Satie
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 09:23:06

    Jane — if you’re looking for a book with intricate worldbuilding, intense political conflict, and a strong romance with a single couple that stretches over multiple books, I’d suggest the MIND FUCK series by Manna Francis. I read LAST HOUR OF GANN last year & loved it, but I think I loved MIND FUCK more–it’s intense, m/m, not for everyone (one of the heroes is a government torturer), but aside from the awesome romance, I think it’s the most terrifyingly realistic and believable dystopian I’ve read. Would make my top 10 of the year list. (I think all the books are still online for free, but they’re also available at Amazon)

    Other than that, though, I have to agree with Jill Sorenson. For the most part, whenever a mood strikes me I can find something to fit it. There are more books I want to read than I have time to read.

    But I think that my sense of contentment/endless possibility has to do with the fact that I haven’t been sucked into the big, current trends–New Adult just isn’t my thing. I was a complete maniac for urban fantasy for a long time, and I was constantly looking for the next UF series to blow me away. I ended up reading a lot of books that didn’t work for me, feeling exhausted by the search to find something that satisfy my very specific craving, and just generally putting on blinkers where other genres/types were concerned.

    Now that I’m off-trend, I’m roaming about from genre to genre, & the influx of variety has really improved my overall enjoyment.

  17. Jill Sorenson
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 09:27:50

    @Lozza: Well, I loved La Bonne, so maybe I’m not the right person to ask! I have no other super strong recs. I liked Dom with a Safeword by Cari Silverwood (?), His and Hers and Hers by Nona Raines, and Bound by Steel by Kirsten Saell. I gave them 3-4 stars, and they have happy endings for all.

    Now that I’m on this topic, more lesbian and bisexual female characters would be nice. Romance is full of gay best friends, gay brothers, gay male subplots, gay male main plots, etc. Gay men only.

  18. Erin Satie
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 09:28:26

    Ugh, sorry for two quick posts in a row but: when I say Mind Fuck I mean the whole series, not just the first book in the series, which is also called Mind Fuck. The first book is good–but both the romance & the political conflict build perfectly from book to book, and it’s the totality that blew me a way.

  19. EmilyD
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 09:44:13

    Agh – I feel like there is so much I want and I am having trouble articulating it so will do my best.

    I love the concept of Romantic Mysteries as suggested by Isobel Carr (and now will check out the authors she listed). While I enjoy RomSuspense, sometimes it gets to be too much, too intense. When I saw the phrase “Romantic Mysteries” above it was an “AHA – that’s what I’m looking for” moment. A cleverly-crafted mystery with a romance sounds lovely.

    I want world-building. And character-building. I think this is why I’m drawn to the Psy-Changelings and to the Darkest London world.

    I want to see what the H/h do for a living and how that shapes who they are – and how who they are shapes their career. No billionaires, thank you. I’d love more diversity in backgrounds – racial/religious/class – but not thrown in as afterthoughts or sticking to stereotypes or as a teaching tool, just an inherent part of the character – not ignored but not exploited.

    Light-hearted romance and rom-coms sound appealing, although can do without the ones that have me constantly cringing for the characters. (See, I’m picky) I’d definitely try light-hearted NA. I’ve mostly stayed away from that genre because of the amount of angst.

    I’d like varied interactions between female characters. So often, I find relationships between women are depicted as either entirely antagonistic or “We’re all super supportive BFFs”. I love a good cast of secondary characters and I want them to feel real.

  20. Zara Keane
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 09:48:59

    @Ros: LOL! I’ve read Gaskell’s ‘North and South’ several times. It’s one of my faves. That’ll teach me to post before the first coffee of the day. :D

    I meant that I’d like to see more historical romances set in industrial towns similar to those used in Gaskell’s novels. Most are set in London or in the countryside.

  21. Lozza
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 09:51:29

    I’d also like to see heroines with a more “athletic” body type. I feel like heroines are all either very slim, or they’re “curvy.” And any time the heroine exercises, it’s always running, which typically helps her maintain her slim runner’s body. (Or yoga. Heroines do yoga too).
    I want heroines who lift weights or do Crossfit. I want heroines who are in great shape, but can’t find pants because their quadricep muscles are too big. I want heroines who have to work hard to stay in shape, and I want that to be noted in the story because that’s a big part of her life and how she spends her time.

  22. Zara Keane
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 09:53:47

    @hapax: I’m hoping writers will come to our rescue! I’m with you on the beta heroes.

  23. Lozza
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 09:54:41

    Damn, I keep thinking of more requests…

    I also want more modern versions of epistolary novels. I want a story where the hero and heroine meet through their World of Warcraft guild and built a relationship long before ever meeting in person, or a couple who meets through commenting on each other’s blogs or through some kind of online forum.

  24. Jen
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 09:55:52


    1. Historicals in different eras – we have thousands of years of history. Can there be more then just Regency? I am kind of partial to American Revolution settings as well.
    2. Someone with a normal life and have HEA ending. Bills, sucky job, family problems…books that gives hope sort of….

  25. mari
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 09:59:03

    Would love to read more historicals w/diverse (non white characters) characters and have the racial/diversity conflict be appropriate to the story line. NOT a political screed, just appropriate to the time and place. Would like to see inter-religous conflict taken seriously, (Jewish/Muslim, Christian/Hindu, etc.,) also paranormals w/creatures from non European backgrounds would be cool. Ditto to working class, middle class/struggling heroes and heroines! Love these!

  26. Kat
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 10:13:43

    Non-Regency historical fiction, Downton Abbey-era specifically. Doesn’t have to be romance – I enjoy family sagas as well.

  27. Tamara Hogan
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 10:16:31

    @Jill Sorenson said:

    I think the books I want to read are being published, for the most part. My problem is *finding* the books among a sea of others

    I agree 100%, Jill. As both a reader and an author, discoverability is a key issue.

    I publish one book per year, so there’s little opportunity to build momentum and visibility for my work. I might write books that are right in someone’s squee zone, but without reviews – lots of them – significant promo expenditure, or strong word of mouth, few realize they’re even “out there” to be found.

    It’s a conundrum.

  28. P. J. Dean
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 10:18:45

    I just wanted to add that it seems this topic comes at least once a month. I think if readers are looking for the different, they are going to have to take the time to search it out on their own. Different stuff is out there! Look for it.

    The following is for those looking for multicultural stories of ALL kinds. A contributor who comments here regularly (Camille Leone) has TWO sites with a database of writers who write interracial/multicultural books with characters of ALL diversities.

    Check them out and search for new stuff to read.

  29. Zoe York
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 10:22:09

    Jill, I also want romantic f/f/m stories! I also want more romantic suspense, and international settings. Like James Bond, but with a strong female lead.

    And thank you to whoever suggested Sarra Manning, I’ve added a couple of her books to my TBR list.

  30. Crista McHugh
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 10:24:24

    I just want more intelligent, independent, capable heroines and less alpha-holes. I read across all genres, so it can be contemporary, historical, SFF, or PNR. Yes, we all want romantic “hero”, but he doesn’t always have to be the one rescuing the heroine. Perhaps that’s why I’m having a hard time getting into these clingy, “broken” heroines in NA and the domineering billionaires in the 50 Shades spin offs. Gah! They drive me batty.

    As for finding more of what’s out there, I think part of the problem is that I keep seeing the same books and the same authors over and over and over again on the major review sites (including DA). Yes, I know there’s a reason why these same books and authors keep appearing all over the place– be it the talent of the author, the sensationalism of the story, or the marketing department of the publisher– but at the same time, it’s ignoring the wealth of “different” books that are already out there. That’s why I particularly enjoy reading posts like this or the monthly open threads for readers because there are a lot of great books out there that are not getting love from the reviewer community. I’m so very grateful readers are willing to share what they loved and help me uncover a few hidden gems (like Julie Brannagh’s books, which are sitting on my Nook for after I finish my RITA books). And as an author, it helps me see what openings are out there in market that I can fill with my stories (like the WW2 Hanukkah novella I released last year).

    So fellow readers, please keep the suggestions coming on every level!

  31. KZoeT
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 10:30:33

    On my “please, someone, write this” wishlist:

    * Romances set in the 1920s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. History didn’t end at the Victorian era.

    * Heroines that are over 35 years old (preferably in their 40s) whose biological clocks aren’t ticking and who aren’t treated as being or feeling “old”.

    * Women who are comfortable with their sexuality, experienced, and joyful about it. No more angsty virgins, please.

    * The occasional realistic sex scene with all the disappointment, messiness, awkwardness, and hilarity that sometimes accompanies the act.

    * More blue-collar / working-class couples. Billionaires make me kind of ragey.

    * Women executives or other powerful women who needn’t be “softened” or “put in their place” by an alpha male.

    * Contemporaries with interracial couples or interfaith couples.

    * Military romances with the heroine as the one in service or those where the dude isn’t Special Ops, Navy Seal, Recon, Ranger, etc.

    * Classical musicians or conductors as main characters.

    * Contemporaries set in Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, or any other non-Western country.

  32. Heather Massey
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 10:46:31

    More sci-fi tentacle romance, please! I just finished Shona Husk’s Lunar Reunion (erotic sci-fi romance) and am ready for more (erotic is fine, but non-erotic versions would be especially wonderful).

    I’m confident romance authors can transform tentacled heroes and heroines into compelling, sensual characters (as opposed to the horrific monster kind).

    I’m also keen to read more sci-fi romances featuring racial and sexual diversity. F/f especially. And a transgender lead would be awesome.

  33. Ros
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 11:06:34

    @Zara Keane: Phew! I die a little every time someone doesn’t know about the books, only the TV/movie versions.

  34. Jia
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 11:11:28

    I want more romantic fantasy with SOLID, crunchy worldbuilding. Yes, yes, we all know how picky I am about worldbuilding but I’m serious here. I want good worldbuilding that doesn’t crumble if I poke at it with a stick.

  35. Heather Greye
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 11:41:11

    Stealing a couple things from @Zara Keane‘s list:

    *More witty SciFi romance — I loved Linnea Sinclair and would welcome anything that gives me a good romp through space without the super angst that often accompanies space-set plain SF books. Not that there’s anything wrong with angst…but I want my HEA.

    *Adventure romance — I was going to mention Elisabeth Naughton’s Stolen series as an example too. There’s a definite dearth of Romancing the Stone type romances. I love adventures, quests, etc, but I’ve been having to find them in the general fiction setting and so often the female characters are so badly drawn.

    *Science romance — this may be a subset of adventure, but Michael Crichton/ Preston-Child type stories, where someone has done something terrible with science and it’s a race against time. Like the adventure books, I read these in general fiction, but the female characters are often lacking.

    Echoing what others have said as well:

    *Exploration of other myths — I would live to see more stories based on lesser-known/lesser-used mythologies.

    *Bas-ass heroines — sometimes I just want a kick ass heroine, usually in an slightly over-the-top way, assassin, super soldier, etc.

    *Big worlds — the Psy-Changeling books are my go-to’s here. I love the big worlds and the overarching stories.

  36. Jen
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 11:42:46

    I don’t really like chick lit, but I do love a good romance with lighthearted fun that’s still sexy. (I find sometimes the funnier books have lame sexytimes.) I don’t think we see enough of those! I’d also like more good guy heroes. I’d LOVE to see a hero who has a “regular” white collar job, too–accountant, HR manager, IT department, nurse, sales person, whatever! I like blue collar guys too and think there aren’t enough of them either, but it would be nice to see a hero who doesn’t have a stereotypically “manly” job, doesn’t own his own business, can support himself but isn’t a billionaire, etc. And a very personal request–I want to see a male librarian hero. I am a librarian and am a sucker for library heroines, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a HERO who’s a librarian, not in a romance. (If anyone knows of one, let me know!)

  37. LauraB
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 11:50:21

    @Zara Keane: I really hope your list is prophetic! :)

  38. Lindsay
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 11:56:44

    ” I want a story where the hero and heroine meet through their World of Warcraft guild and built a relationship long before ever meeting in person…”

    Hey, that’s my life story right there!

  39. Zara Keane
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 11:57:28

    @Ros: LOL! What my caffeine-deprived brain was probably thinking—if it was capable of thought—was that I’ve slotted ‘North and South’ (the book) into Classic Literature, not Historical Romance. The TV series placed emphasis on the romance part of the story, and that’s certainly what viewers responded to more than, say, the plight of the mill workers or the rise of the unions.

    I was discussing ‘North and South’ fan fic last night on Twitter. There seem to be a number of spin-offs influenced by the book and the series, but none of the samples I downloaded appealed to me. Basically, I’m looking for historical romance set in a British industrial town in the mid-nineteenth century. No—or few—titled characters, some emphasis on the rise of unions and developing technology, etc.

  40. Janine
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 12:13:38

    I want more books that are well-edited for story and copy both. Self pub authors, find someone to help you polish your work before you put it out there.

    I also want more variety and less bandwagon-jumping. Readers can tell the difference between a book the author was passionate about and a book that was phoned in!

    More books that take familiar tropes and flip them around.

    For example, a contemporary romantic suspense in which the hero isn’t military or even police and doesn’t have unusual experience with violence. He and the heroine are normal, everyday people who get caught up in something big through bad luck, and have to fight to survive by their wits alone.

    Or a motorcycle club book in which the hero got into the gang at a young age before realizing just how criminal and effed up they were. Now he wants out, and is willing to testify against them, but the conflict centers on how to do so and get the heroine whom he realizes he’s fallen in love with out of it safely too.

    Or a billionaire hero who actually inherited his billions! And when it’s time for him to take the helm, realizes his company is doing some kind of harm. Like that company that polluted the water in West Virgina recently! Should he sell the company and wash his hands of it or try to change it from within? The heroine can be a regulator who uncovered the company’s shenanigans, or an executive in his company embroiled in the same issue.

    There’s no shortage of possibilities like these.

    There are also dozens of suggestions in the posts above that I loved. I started quoting but there are just so many. I conclude I’m like Jill Sorenson and Erin Satie and can enjoy a wide variety of books if they are well executed.

    But compared to some of my DA co-bloggers, I’m not very adventurous. Why? Because most books aren’t that well-executed. So if I could order only one thing it would be this: “More well executed books, please!”

  41. Kate Pearce
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 12:47:16

    I love writing science fiction romance with great sex and some humor in it and I love reading it, but finding books with the right balance between too heavy on the world building and too little romance is an issue for me. The one’s I self publish are totally written for myself because I haven’t found much out there like that. :)

    I’d also love to see some big sweeping historical romances set in any other time than the Regency. But I also know as a writer that if I self-publish a Regency romance, I’ll make 20 times what I’ll make publishing a science fiction romance.

  42. Jennifer Estep
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 12:49:10

    I’d like to see more books that are just plain fun. Lots of action, lots of adventure, lots of romance.

    Some folks have mentioned this already, but I also vote for less angsty new adult books. Surely, there are some mostly happy, well-adjusted new adults (and NA books) out there somewhere, right?

  43. Tina
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 12:51:36

    If I could have a book made to order it would be:

    – A series
    – Contemporary, Futuristic or Sf-Romance
    – If Contemporary then set in a metropolitan area, if Futuristic or SFR, then a good, deep world build
    – Main protagonist couple with a deep supporting cast of ensemble characters who are embroiled in their own relationships/romances that wind throughout the series in various stages (just starting, in the deep throes, terrible endings, new beginnings)
    – Diverse in both race & sexual orientation. Real diversity, not just tokenism.
    – Overall mystery/thriller/political plot arc that winds through the entire series, but each indiv. book has a conclusion of some sort (romantic or sub-plot related)
    – Interesting antagonists or villains with understandable motivations
    – Main Protags and major supporting characters are ‘root worthy’ and generally decent, but still flawed and even sometimes not very nice or even somewhat difficult.
    – No Vampires or Shapeshifters (i like PNR but not for this exercise)
    – Include humor. Doesn’t have to be funny or comic but romance seems to take itself too seriously sometimes. Light moments, even a few ridiculous ones, are very welcome.

  44. hapax
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 13:25:04


    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a HERO who’s a librarian, not in a romance. (If anyone knows of one, let me know!)

    The only one I can think of is JUNK by Josephine Myles. It’s m/m, and one of the heroes is an academic librarian — a cataloger, I think, but we don’t see much of his job; it mainly comes up because he uses the weeding carts to supplement his serious hoarding disorder.

  45. Isobel Carr
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 13:34:27

    @Zara Keane:

    Basically, I’m looking for historical romance set in a British industrial town in the mid-nineteenth century. No—or few—titled characters, some emphasis on the rise of unions and developing technology, etc.

    From your mouth to Pam Rosenthal’s ear!

  46. hapax
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 13:36:06

    @Tina: It doesn’t fill ALL of your requirements, exactly, but I’d suggest checking out the Liaden series by Lee & Miller. It’s rip-roaring space opera, most of the stories include some romance, all of the characters are bisexual (although most of the primary romances are m/f), and they are fun and thrilling and touching and hilarious.

    Most of the stories are either stand-alone or part of small subseries, although their is an over-arching plot about the struggles of the Liaden Clan Korval with the villainous Department of the Interior (and later, its implications for a very ancient, galaxy-threatening menace) A good place to start would be the “Agent of Change” sequence (the first book of which I think is free from Baen : ) which is more adventure-y, or the novels included in THE DRAGON VARIATION omnibus, which are much more romance-y.

  47. ms bookjunkie
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 13:59:57

    Jane, you need to check out Moira Rogers’ Southern Arcana series. There’s awesome worldbuilding, and the shapeshifter politics! Boy howdy, do the politics try to get in the way of the couples’ HEAs.

    For myself, what I’d really want is more time to read. I keep adding interesting finds/recommended books to the TBR but right now, I’m mostly doing audiobooks because that’s all my schedule will allow me. [insert obligatory whining about geo blocking making only part of a series available to me, grrrr!]

    In audiobooks, I’m more open to different genres as long as the narrator is somewhere on the scale of acceptable to awesome. (The closer to awesome, the better, of course.)(And what that is will depend on my mood.)(Heavy breathers/air gulpers should stay away from narrating!) I really love finding a new-to-me/old-favorite series with great narration and am doing my best to binge listen when I can. I’m always open to series recs if anyone has any…

    I do have a recommendation for those of you who’d like a different location/culture in your mystery/police procedural with a strong female protagonist. Leena Lehtolainen’s Maria Kallio series begins with MY FIRST MURDER in early ’90s Helsinki. The English translation is recent but the first books were written back then, so it’s a return to a time before cell phones—and problems due to the crumbling of the Soviet Empire next door. Oh, and in the first book the heroine knows the murder victim (he’s a former roommate’s ex) as well as many of the witnesses/suspects (hey Maria, what are you doing here…with the cops?) but she has to continue on the case because of manpower shortages (people are on summer vacation, her boss is “out sick” (boozing) and vice has borrowed people for a big drug case). And, as she does know them, she feels friendlier toward some of those witness/suspects than others (past friendships, crushes, etc.), which complicates her investigation (and feelings). It’s not romance, but Maria does develop a realistic relationship as the series progresses. (I can even recommend the audiobook of MFM, even though the narrator doesn’t get one single Finnish name right. But she gets them wrong in the same way all foreigners get them wrong, so I guess that’s acceptable?)

  48. Evaine
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 14:02:19

    Older main characters. I am so NOT on the N/A bandwagon. I want heroes and heroines that have some life experience under their belts. I want novels, not short stories or novellas or novellettes. Enough with the series that start with couple A, go to minor character B for his story,vthen oh look,that henchman in the background needs his story, or that girl at the bookshop who mouthed off at the hero needs her story told. I also don’t want to feel lile I’m being lectured on the latest issues of the day – give me diverse characters but don’t ‘ism’ me to death. Most importantly I want books that are properly edited for content and grammar and spelling and formatting.

  49. Tina
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 14:13:06


    Oh, wow, thanks. I looked at it and it does look interesting. And I LOVE space opera. Added to my TBR!

  50. autonomous
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 14:18:17

    I’m nodding head at many of the above suggestions. To the wishlist, I would add:

    A veterinarian hero or heroine where the animals in the story serve as something more than precocious or cutesy set pieces or very simplistic plot devices to bring together the couple.

    In addition to everyday, working class heroes and heroines, how about everyday villains or antagonists to go with them? This is particularly true in romantic suspense where I’ve grown really tired of serial killers, human traffickers, terrorists and drug lords who revel in gruesome violence. Give me Mrs. Danvers instead of Cruella Deville.

  51. Kate Pearce
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 14:31:15

    Oooh!! @Zara Keane I’ve got one of those on my writing schedule, set in a fictionalized mill town in the midlands where the old aristocracy meets the new industrial wealth, all tied up with social and political upheaval.

  52. Evangeline
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 14:56:58

    @Alex: I second the desire for contemporary romance set in the UK–with warts and all (class, race, rural vs city, accents, WAGs, council estates, manor houses, etc). I have ideas, but I’ve never been to the UK.

    I want more romantic comedies with black characters! I can find plenty of angst and high-octane emotions in AA/MC romance, but romcom is very scarce (Ridley’s tweet yesterday alerted me to Nina Perez’s Sharing Space series and it’s great).

    Romantic suspense about real people–I suggested a cop hero and a working class/inner city heroine who doesn’t trust cops, and the conflict of that hampering their romance and the suspense plot. I also want romantic suspense set in international locales. Thrilling plots rooted in reality (art heists, blood diamonds, human trafficking, etc).

    Historical romance set in the 17th century and Interwar era (this includes the Great Depression–I love the plucky, realistic films made in the early 30s). If Regency remains king, I’d like more set around the politics and diplomacy of the day–Vienna Conference, post Napoleonic War riots, men’s suffrage, Regency crisis. No more fantasy spy plots or “we’re not getting married” clubs–with the latter, Amanda Vickery’s At Home with the Georgians nipped that complete fantasy in the bud for me.

    Mostly, I’m looking for books that balance humor (dry, witty, sly instead of slapstick) and emotion. So of today’s books are so serious!! Or they are just OTT.

  53. Evangeline
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 14:59:20

    *so many of today’s books.

    And another setting I love: the Cold War. Can we get some romances set during that time? Doesn’t have to be romantic suspense.

  54. wikkidsexycool
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 15:04:29

    @Janine said:

    “Or a motorcycle club book in which the hero got into the gang at a young age before realizing just how criminal and effed up they were. Now he wants out, and is willing to testify against them, but the conflict centers on how to do so and get the heroine whom he realizes he’s fallen in love with out of it safely too.”

    My novel RUSH comes out in late February. It’s about a guy who grows up in a motorcycle gang but must take a stand when he falls for a girl who’s Somali Bantu, and a Muslim.

    There are a number of twists and turns, with a growing refugee community who want to revitalize their neighborhood and a gang intent on protecting their territory, however I’ve worked hard on not making any one group the stereotypical villains.

    What I’ve done is try to write the books I wanted to read (as per Toni Morrison’s get quote ““If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”), however all the suggestions here are very good, and I am taking note.

  55. Sam
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 15:21:22

    – Contemporary novels set in in the Big City.
    – Heroines who are professional successful in non-traditionally women-only job (like nurse, kindergarten teacher, waitress, nanny, secretary)
    – Bad Girls instead of the Bad Boys
    – Alpha woman instead of the alpha male
    – Couples who do not WANT children
    – Heros who are NOT super rich, a playboy, a CEO, in the law enforcement or military, big Boss

  56. Janine
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 15:27:58

    @wikkidsexycool: It sounds like a great premise and I will at least try a sample.

  57. Christine
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 16:03:44

    @Jessica: I totally agree re: Cara Mckenna, her stories are very unique in the contemporary genre and no millionaires in sight! Love them!

  58. Lada
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 16:14:43

    So many great suggestions. This subject falls in line with what I’m currently reading and enjoying which is Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project. Why aren’t there more male POV’s that aren’t m/m? The whole professor thing is working for me, too but also just the lighthearted approach to all things romance by someone who doesn’t have a clue.

    And yes, yes, yes to romances featuring older H/h, please. Jane wrote about this not that long ago but so many of the suggestions ended up featuring H/h in their late 50s/60s. How about 30s/40s? I’m tired of being sold the idea that characters in their 20s/early 30s are as established and successful as they so often are in contemporary romance. It especially bugs me in UF/PNR when characters are long-lived yet have it all going on at 25. There is something to be said for some maturity and life experience.

    And whoever said something about bringing the sexy with brains instead of bodies…you win!

  59. Anna Bowling
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 16:16:00

    First and foremost, standalone historicals. Not books in a series that “can” stand alone, but one couple, one HEA, done. So the hero’s handsome brother might die in the war, be the villain, etc, etc, and anyone could be in peril as they won’t be needed in the next book. There’s something imminently satisfying about closing the covers and letting the couple sail off into the sunset.

    After that, diversity in historical settings. Ancient world, medievals, Tudor, Stuart, English Civil War, Restoration, more Georgians and please, please, please, American Revolution -from all three sides, patriot, loyalist and neutral- early American stories that are not westerns. Edwardians. Early twentieth century stories. Time travels between two different historical periods. Settings that are not limited to the British Isles and US. Let’s see Australia, Asia, Europe, South America, Canada, the Carribbean and more.

    I can never ever get enough of the deeply emotional books, so more of those, please.

    Multigenerational series; I love seeing the hero and heroine of book one as the parents of hero or heroine of book two, grandparents of hero or heroine in book three, etc. Seeing beloved characters at different stages of life is my favorite sort of series, and I haven’t seen that in years.

  60. Melissa
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 16:35:37

    I’d like to echo what Jill Sorenson said about discoverability. As I read these comments, various books popped into my head that fit what readers are looking for and which are already being published, but how can a reader discover them beyond deciphering the clues of a book cover and back cover copy. How should an author go about spreading the word that her couple is interfaith (for example) if that’s not the main Issue of the book, but merely the part of the reality of their lives?

    I have a hero of an upcoming book who can’t read or write as the result of a traumatic brain injury. That’s not the Issue of the book, *but* clearly there are readers who want to read about heroes and heroines with real problems and imperfections (that can’t be solved by magic wangs, natch) just like this hero has. So how do we, as authors, communicate these details in a way that aids discovery? Is there a way that authors, bloggers and book sites like Goodreads could further facilitate discoverability based on level of grittiness, level of emo-ness, that sort of thing? Are readers who want to read these kinds of books actively searching for them, but can’t find them (illustrating a metadata problem), or would they prefer that book blogs and Goodreads highlight books with these unique qualities more often?

    As an author, it’s anti-intuitive to think about promoting discoverability by broadcasting the book’s quirks: “the hero of this angsty contemporary that doesn’t paint small town life as idyllic is a cowboy who’s Jewish! And he’s infertile! and he enters into an interfaith relationship with a single mom whose baby daddy is gay!”

  61. Lynn Rae
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 16:41:52

    What a fun post! I have a notebook in hand and I’ve been jotting down authors to try, so thanks everyone for your recommendations.
    I’m also clapping my hands because the stories I’m writing happen to fit many of these requests, so I’m going to keep plugging away and trying to get an audience. Publishers, I hope you’re reading this list and feeling more willing to give something new a try. Of course, I’m saying this after my SFR with hard-working, well-adjusted protagonists has been rejected three times, so I’m a little sensitive.

  62. Lindsay
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 17:51:55

    I’m going to echo Jia and say I would kill for some romantic fantasy, especially high fantasy with extremely good worldbuilding, and the closest I’ve gotten to are The Stolen Luck, the Jaran books (which are more sci-fi but make my brain so happy) and N.K. Jemisin’s books, but they’re not really romance. Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series used to do this for me (again, not romance but had romantic elements in a lot of the books).

    Also that and romantic sci-fi/SFWRE that doesn’t default everything to white/hetero/patriarchal in their worldbuilding. Ilona Andrews does some now and then. Vorkosigan is a happy brainspace. But I’m starving for more!

    I’m also going to check out the Liaden series, thanks Hapax!

  63. P. J. Dean
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 17:58:41

    Had to comment again because with all the varied-themes books being written by the authors on this thread and all the themes asked for, someone needs to start a site where authors can post the particulars of their latest releases in the many, wonderful genres they write and where they are available. in turn readers could come there and SEE what’s out there and where they can get it. Somebody get on that please. Personally, I write paranormal and historical romances with interracial couples. If someone starts that site, you can add me.

  64. Evangeline
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 18:27:18

    @P. J. Dean: Ah, but there’s the rub: readers still want reassurance the book will be enjoyable…via reviews or recommendations from trusted sources. I know that I am risk adverse when it comes to my reading choices, not because of money, but because of time! Sometimes I buy a book that fits my “wish list,” but it doesn’t fit my mood…and there goes the opportunity to recommend it the day/month of its release (since this is what traditional publishing relies upon to gauge reader interest).

    Yet, this is why a steady stream of choice matters (Jane’s old post about “Hey Ya”).

  65. Wikkid.Sexy.Cool. | Dare to Go There
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 18:29:45

    […] Over at Dear Author, Jane is taking requests from readers (and authors) on What’s Being Published that You Want To Read… […]

  66. Fiona McGier
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 18:38:11

    kZoeT, you asked for:
    * Heroines that are over 35 years old (preferably in their 40s) whose biological clocks aren’t ticking and who aren’t treated as being or feeling “old”.
    * Women who are comfortable with their sexuality, experienced, and joyful about it. No more angsty virgins, please.
    * More blue-collar / working-class couples. Billionaires make me kind of ragey.
    * Women executives or other powerful women who needn’t be “softened” or “put in their place” by an alpha male.
    * Contemporaries with interracial couples

    Sam, you asked for:
    – Bad Girls instead of the Bad Boys
    – Alpha woman instead of the alpha male

    Please check out my books at my website:
    Almost all of my books are romances about people in their 30s or 40s. I have a contract but no release date yet for my next book that has a heroine who is 54 and the hero is 50. I write alpha females, usually.

    And re: P.J Dean, Yes! As authors we write what we want to read, but we don’t categorize our books as “the one with the blind hero”, or “the one with the biker queen as the heroine”. We just write the stories, then wonder why no one notices. I feel like I’m naked, jumping up and down in a room full of other naked writers, and we’re all holding neon signs that say, “Read my books, please!” But there are so many of us that few get noticed unless they’re already well-known.

  67. JenM
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 18:52:55

    @Alex: Have you tried Phillipa Ashley or Sue Moorcroft? I’d recommend both of them. I find that the British romances that I’ve read tend to move at a slower (and more realistic) pace in regards to the romance. There’s much less of the insta-love that many American romances feature. In fact, that would be high on my wishlist – less insta-love! I don’t mind the fated mates trope so much in PNR and UF, but in contemporary romance it’s really hard to stay in the story when the leads are professing their love after just one day (or night) together.

  68. Ros Clarke
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 19:09:08

    People wanting older heroes/heroines should check out Penny Watson’s new novella, Apples Should Be Red. The couple are in their 50s/60s.

  69. Ros Clarke
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 19:11:11

    @P. J. Dean: I basically think that online bookstores ought to do that. Wouldn’t it be awesome to just sort books at Amazon according to the kind of categories readers actually use?

  70. Aris
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 19:20:34

    – H/h hold strange jobs (like Cara McKenna’s After Hours) and we do get a feel of what the job is like. Or H/h meet through a hobby and the hobby is discussed in-depth.

    – Historicals that H/h are ordinary people.

    – More female friendship

    – A good female leader who isn’t physically strong or magically powerful.

  71. Jody W.
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 19:47:38

    A lot of that and some of… ” romantic sci-fi/SFWRE that doesn’t default everything to white/hetero/patriarchal in their worldbuilding.”

    YES PLEASE. Also urban fantasy/fantasy romance without the white patriarchal defaults. Kind of depressing to read books set in other imaginations and future societies and post-apocalypses and all of our society’s annoying, horrible ailments are still THERE (default!white!patriarchy!) instead of getting to read about new stuff.

    And romantic comedy that’s not so incredibly over the top it might as well be a bad sitcom.

    And beta heroes and “normal” characters.

    And better editing. And more time.

  72. Ellie M
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 20:52:45

    @Anna Bowling: Yes, I’ll second this. Everything you said, other than the last paragraph. I’m all series-ed out. I would love some romances set in ancient times, World War II, or other historic setting than the regency.

  73. Anna Bowling
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 21:04:32

    @Ellie M, I’m series-ed out, too, but the generational sagas register differently for me than groups of friends or siblings. Regency is a perfectly fine setting, but there are so many other periods with their own special appeal that I don’t understand why one small span of years gets the lion’s share of books.

  74. Tina
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 21:06:21

    I love, love blue collar heroes/heroines and romance. So I am always on the look out.

    A couple good ones I like come courtesy of Kathleen Gilles Seidel.

    ‘Don’t Forget to Smile’ takes place in a small Oregon industrial blue collar working town where logging/timber is the main industry. The hero has aspirations to become a union rep. The heroine owns a bar and is trying to forget her beauty pageant past.

    Another is ‘Til the Stars Fall.’ It reads almost like a romance novel/VH1 Behind the Music documentary hybrid set in the years after the dissolution of a rock band where the members have settled back into normal civilian life. Two the of the three main characters grew up in a mining community and use music as their way out.

  75. Moriah Jovan
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 21:30:19

    @Fiona McGier:

    We just write the stories, then wonder why no one notices.


    My books meet at least half the criteria listed in this thread, so this and other posts/threads like it are difficult to read. When you’re sitting there nodding your head going, “Did that, did that, did that, did that,” but also knowing you probably shouldn’t say anything because you’ll be considered to be spamming, well… Scylla, meet Charybdis.

  76. Crista McHugh
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 22:11:33

    @Moriah Jovan:
    Amen. You said far better than I ever could.

  77. Nalini Singh
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 23:32:58

    @Zara Keane: You might want to check out the websites for the Romance Writers of NZ and the Romance Writers of Australia, for authors of NZ/Aust set historicals. Off the top of my head, I know Zana Bell has written a couple of historicals set in this part of the world.

    I’m also going to second (third, fourth?!) Hapax’s recommendation of the Liaden books. It is such an awesome cast and such a huge world that it’s an addictive reading experience.

  78. Destination Infinity
    Feb 19, 2014 @ 00:33:32

    I’d love to read some book where all the human beings on this earth are killed, so that animals live happily ever after.

  79. CaroleDee
    Feb 19, 2014 @ 01:35:00

    @Heather Massey:
    Have you tried Ravenous Virtue by Tracy St. John? No tentacle monsters, but def erotic sci-fi with a twist. Some people have compared it to Morgan Hawke’s Interstellar Discipline series, but I think that’s fine considering she (Morgan Hawke) hasn’t put out a book in years.

    I too am always on the hunt for good sci-fi romance. I thought I hit paydirt about two years ago when I kept stumbling upon quality sci-fi romances, but it seems like that train has passed. I haven’t found much lately that seems to be worth my time or money :(

  80. Inez Kelley
    Feb 19, 2014 @ 06:24:51

    @Moriah Jovan:

    Amen and you said it!

  81. Andrew
    Feb 19, 2014 @ 07:39:58

    My favourite mysteries are Christie’s “And Then There Were None” (novel) and the movie adaptation based on a script she wrote called “Ten Little Indians”. A group of people are trapped in a remote location, one of them is a killer, and they have to figure out who. I love the premise of people having to think on their feet and figure a mystery out without assistance, and while at risk themselves.

    A modern novel, Dead Man’s Island by Carolyn Hart, is a second good novel with a similar idea. If anyone could recommend (or write) more like this, I would appreciate it.

  82. wikkidsexycool
    Feb 19, 2014 @ 09:25:33


    Andrew, I agree with you about the excellent premise of Christie’s tale. And I always make a point to watch the movie from 1945 when it comes on Turner Classic Movies. But I have to add some history here.

    The original title of the book wasn’t Ten Little Indians, though that’s bad enough.
    I won’t repeat the UK title from 1939 here, but I’m so glad it’s been changed over the years.

  83. Heather Massey
    Feb 19, 2014 @ 09:40:17

    @CaroleDee: Thanks for the rec!

  84. Christine
    Feb 19, 2014 @ 12:34:13

    @Jen: I like your ideas, they would definitely be on my list too!

  85. Christine
    Feb 19, 2014 @ 12:40:10

    @Jennifer Estep: agreed! Does every new adult book have to have a parents died young/abuse/some other terrible ordeal in it? Or is that what defines new adult? and I think Julie James fits the bill with romance and a little adventure, they are quite lighthearted and have many LOL moments – nothing angsty in them, just fun!

  86. Christine
    Feb 19, 2014 @ 12:45:11

    @Heather Greye: I hadn’t heard of Elisabeth Naughton before, thanks for mentioning her, I’ll have to look her up. I’ll date myself by saying I loved Romancing the Stone as a teenager :-) Any kind of Indiana Jones type book with a romantic subplot sounds great to me (my classical radio station was playing the theme from Indiana Jones this morning on my way to work, ah, I could do with a young Harrison Ford right now :-)

  87. Susanna Fraser
    Feb 19, 2014 @ 14:09:41

    Late to the party, but I can’t resist adding my list:

    1) Contemporaries set in the big city rather than a small town. No billionaire heroes, but people I can relate to–teachers, programmers, doctors, professors, etc. I loved Louisa Edwards’ chef books set in New York, but that’s about as far into celebrity as I want to go most of the time. If there’s a series, make it about a group of friends instead of a family. I love my family, but we don’t live in each other’s pockets and I wouldn’t want to, so family series start feeling claustrophobic to me in a hurry.

    2) Historicals set in colonial America and the American Revolution. West Coast historicals–I’ve loved the few set in 19th century San Francisco I’ve found, and I’d love to find good stories set in historical Seattle. More ancient world historicals. Georgians and Regencies deeply grounded in the realities of the period.

    3) To find some author, whether in science fiction/fantasy romance or just plain SFF, who hits the same sweet spot for me as Lois McMaster Bujold. Every time I try an author recommended to me as being “kind of like Bujold,” I don’t see it at all.

  88. Joanne Renaud
    Feb 19, 2014 @ 14:18:20

    @Zara Keane:

    I’m all about the beta heroes. I’m sick of bazillionaire heroes too. And in fact, my debut novella, A QUESTION OF TIME, is a time travel romance that features a nerdy bespectacled 1980s high school teacher as the hero. And I’m planning on writing a book with a librarian as a hero soon too!

    I am definitely going to check out the recs in this post. I do think a lot of the stuff that people want to read IS being written, but there’s so much stuff out there, it’s hard to get the word out.

  89. Emily A.
    Feb 19, 2014 @ 17:28:43

    I want LESS:
    big happy families (Because people from small families can think family is important too and have strong family ties/values.)
    less billionaires
    less guys who are alphaholes and Frat Boys (not literal frat boys, but those engage in stereotypical fraternal behavior_drinking, womanizing,etc.)
    Less guys who completely commitment shy, especially from people who are otherwise family oriented.
    Less couples who just met rushing into things.
    Less “Wish fullfillment”
    Less make-overs

    I want:
    More social awareness in contemporaries and maybe a few activist hero/heroines.
    More just romantic stuff like being nice and sweet to each other and bringing someone flowers, etc.
    More stand-alones.
    Less perfect HEAs (particularly in a series)
    More history even in just regency books, less feeling like the authors are making stuff up.
    Also more dancing that is enjoyable.
    Longer time frames for the couple’s relationship (e.g. Instead of making them fall in love in a week, maybe showing a year of their lives.)
    Older heroines
    Books that deal with co-dependency the biggest issue romance isn’t talking about. (I don’t mean codependency between h/h but with their families and groups of friends.)
    On the hand maybe less traditional HEAs such as her parents moving in if that’s what they want.
    More h/hs who think and act like adults.
    More variations of historical settings
    more over-the-top plots. Books that deliberately make you what the f versus the author hasn’t though this through.

    @KZoeT The RWA has definite definitions of what counts as historical. Right now they include anything taking place in 1945 or prior to 1945 is historical. Anything after 1945 is not historical. This is a recent change from when anything that takes place from I think before 1920? is historical. The idea is that people who remember the 50’s might not thing they were so long ago. For example, I am reading a book about historical 1982. Since it takes place before I was born, it seems historical to me, but not to other readers.

    @Anna Bowling The long family sagas I think are awesome. A friend likes Edward Rutherfurd, but he doesn’t write romance. (Still you might like them.) Coming Home For Christmas by Carla Kelly was a novella anthology that I enjoyed that was a family saga. I think this is hard niche to fill since many readers apparently handle the idea that their favorite characters won’t live forever (Don’t ask me I don’t get it).

  90. Holly
    Feb 19, 2014 @ 21:01:15

    I’d want the same book as Jane mentioned above. I know I’ll be repeating what others have said, but here’s my list:

    Contemporaries set in rural areas with people who WANT to live in those areas, not who are forced to live there due to circumstances or trying to get out. Also contemporaries in cities that are realistic, living in apartments and taking the subway, not being chauffeured and living in downtown highrises.

    More childfree couples and couples who are infertile and DON’T magically conceive despite the odds.

    Longer endings. I’m really tired of abrupt endings – you have hundreds of pages of working through conflict, it’s solved, it’s done. Can’t there be something that gives direction to where the characters go from here? It doesn’t have to be an epilogue. Just don’t have the bad guy die on page 300 and end the book on 301.

    Standalone or limited series books – trilogies are fine. I’m not reading new series anymore, I’ll wait until the entire series is out or just not read it. Sometimes, I just want to read a book and not wonder what is going to happen in the next one because the story is over.

    Romantic suspense that features women who can judge a dangerous situation and react accordingly, not against, as a way to show off how smart/uber-alpha the hero is and make the heroine TSTL.

    Alpha-holes/rape centric plots. If a heroine says no to anything from a guy who’s indicated to be creepy/too persistant/whatever, it’s ok. Yet if she says no to the hero, he can talk her around. What is this? No means no unless you’re destined to be together? Yuck.

    Stories where family members/friends AREN’T magically redeemed. Let the h/h cut them out of their life. There doesn’t have to be a big happy family at the end.

    I recently read a contemp where the hero had dated around a lot, and no one harped on it or warned the heroine off about what a player he was. When he decided to be in a relationship with her, he was in a relationship. How refreshing. This goes for both genders. I don’t like it when the book has characters that keep talking about the h/h’s relationship pasts. It just detracts when it goes on and on about before and prohibits story development.

    Feb 19, 2014 @ 21:12:55

    I want historical romances with American pioneers, Westerns, Vikings, and Pirates!

  92. aragingquiet
    Feb 20, 2014 @ 01:58:10

    Historical books with queer ladies, preferably ladies of color. The Harlem Renaissance, for example, would be a great setting for such a story.

    More disabled leads without fetishistic or inspiration porn based portrayals.

  93. Zara Keane
    Feb 20, 2014 @ 02:09:57

    @Isobel Carr: Ooh! Good to know. Thank you. I’m pretty sure I have one of Pam Rosenthal’s books in my mountainous TBR pile.

    @Nalini Singh: Squeals! Thank you, Nalini! I’ve read Zana Bell’s Superromances, but I had no idea she was also writing historicals. I found this gem on Amazon: “Love, passion, and adventure in 1860s New Zealand.” I’m looking forward to reading it. :D

    @Kate Pearce: Fantastic! I’ve added it to my list of books to watch out for. Thanks for letting me know.

  94. Kerry Connor
    Feb 20, 2014 @ 04:48:15


    [quote]a contemporary romantic suspense in which the hero isn’t military or even police and doesn’t have unusual experience with violence. He and the heroine are normal, everyday people who get caught up in something big through bad luck, and have to fight to survive by their wits alone.[/quote]

    This. A million times this. As an author, it’s the kind of story I want to write and have found it a challenge to do in a way that would sell; as a reader, it’s the kind of story that made me fall in love with RS and that I’m always looking for, and too seldom find.

    Janine, at the risk of spamming I will mention that my 8/12, 5/13 and 6/13 books all fall in this category, particularly the last one where the hero is a TV producer, the heroine is a wedding planner, and they’re part of a group trapped in a blizzard with a killer. I submitted review copies to DA if you’re interested in trying one (not for the sake of a review–they’re probably old news by now–but if they’re still in the system somewhere you may be able to get your hands on a free copy fairly easily).

  95. MaryK
    Feb 20, 2014 @ 10:36:36

    @P. J. Dean: That’s what tags were supposed to be for at online bookstores, but they were abused. I’m not sure Amazon even has tags anymore.

  96. Athena Grayson (@Athena_Grayson)
    Feb 20, 2014 @ 12:02:19

    I think the reason you see so many indie authors coming out with “more of the same, but different” is by virtue of the hotness of those stories and genres–they appeal to a broad spectrum of readers, so more readers are turning writers because of them, and honoring their inspiration by creating more of what turned them on to reading in the first place. Sure, some of it may be a little more practical writing-to-the-market because there are many indie authors out there who’ve done our due diligence (or time in the trenches, depending how you look at it) that we are maintaining our indie careers like a business as much as we can, and that means mass appeal.

    But by the same token, we are also–yes, even the commercially-minded–writing more of the “weird” stuff. The genre-bending experiments, books-of-the-heart, and literary experiments heretofore consigned to the limbo of the hard drive and a vivid imagination. It’s just–those stories are harder to categorize and “tag” once released into the wild, and therefore harder to find. They take active curation and really do count on word-of-mouth–to the right ears.

    As a side note, I sort of hit many of the requests outlined above–I have a light rom-com that is a fun afternoon romp (with a cartoon cover, no less!), and a bigger paranormal romance that’s the start of a trilogy-plus featuring main characters hitting 40, and a heroine who’s half-Japanese but whose identity isn’t all about being half-Japanese (yet). So much so, that I didn’t put any “interracial” tags in the book description because I didn’t want to mislead people. It’s got all the earmarks of a commercial frankenstein–literary elements mixed with paranormal elements, a beta hero, middle age, and no billionaires, college co-eds, or bondage.

    On the downside, it hasn’t yet set the world on fire in two months, but on the upside, it doesn’t have to catch fire and flare out in that time to break even on a P&L statement. I have room and time to appeal to a smaller audience.

  97. The Rodent
    Feb 20, 2014 @ 13:01:31

    The sad fact is that popular stuff breeds more popular stuff, and everyone (including authors) wants to be in the middle of the current hip-thing, whatever that is. You still have to dig deep in the jungle to find things off the beaten track, even if there are more books than ever. I want more books like “Searching for Von Honningsbergs” and fewer vampires, zombies, werewolves, and all that dreck… :-)

  98. Evangeline
    Feb 20, 2014 @ 15:08:29

    Here’s why I don’t believe self-publishing is a cure-all for the market: it requires trust. When you look at what is dominating the self-pub market (New Adult, contemporary, Western, Regency, erotic, IRR), those are markets that have built trust and goodwill with readers.

    A reader searching for Western romances will glom on any and all books available, good, poor, excellent quality, because that is their favorite type of book–and everyone is mostly lenient towards what they love. Spring something new on them–say, a Western romance set in Canada with a Mountie hero, as opposed to a cowboy hero in Texas–and any flaws will seem magnified because they aren’t sinking into something familiar and beloved. The C+ read of an unfamiliar setting will seem like a D read, whereas a C+ read from a familiar setting will still be considered enjoyable, and their experience with that C+(D) read will color their reaction to any book with that setting. Combine this with the self-publishing market, and you’ve already increased reader mistrust.

    So then we’re back to square one: self-publishing market mirroring the traditional market, and publishers sticking with what sells and sells well.

  99. EmilyAnn
    Feb 20, 2014 @ 17:58:41

    I need more grown-ups who act like grown-ups! I’ve read some of the New Adult and they are good stories and well written but I’m not interested. People with normal jobs. Preferably more urban, once again normal taking taxis and subways. I want more friends for both the hero and heroine. Friends who don’t have to be series-bait. Happily childless couples. More stand-alone. I want more folks in their mid-late 30s. It’s one of my favorite things about Kristen Ashley.

    Separate note, I want more Mafia. I have always been interested in the Mafia and I’d like more stories about the difficult choices people who pick the life of a criminal make and the heroes or heroine place in that world.

    I’d like more non-white heroes or heroines and the wide spectrum of issues and non-issues inherent with that.

  100. Nonie
    Feb 21, 2014 @ 01:57:28

    How timely. I’ve been thinking lately that the romance genre isn’t for me. I want to read about love stories, sure, but I don’t want to read about muscular alpha males, “claiming kisses,” old-school gender roles, Stockholm syndrome, slut-shaming, rape fantasies, bad boys, virgin women paired with promiscuous guys, etc.

    However, what I’ve listed is EVERYWHERE in the romance genre. I’ve probably listed some of your favorite tropes up there.

    Looking through the romance section of Amazon is so discouraging, and I don’t have book friends to recommend me the exceptions. Tbh, I think many readers who have the same aversions as I do simply stay away from romance. I think they might even look down on the genre, and that’s sad.

    For now, I’m going to try other-genre books with romantic subplots. I think I’ll start with N.K. Jemisin.

  101. Janine
    Feb 21, 2014 @ 02:09:31

    @Kerry Connor: Thanks, I will try a sample.

  102. JenM
    Feb 21, 2014 @ 02:23:36

    @Athena Grayson (@Athena_Grayson): Sold! The description of your PNR intrigued me and I’m always looking for romances with leads that are closer to forty than twenty. The sample drew me right in, so I’m going to give it a try.

  103. Romy Sommer
    Feb 21, 2014 @ 04:39:31

    @kt grant:

    For KT Grant and Alex – my publisher, Harper Impulse, has a range of books that span the chick lit / contemporary romance genres. A little humour, lots of sex, some set in the UK, some elsewhere. In Amazon type ‘harperimpulse’ in the search line and you’ll find a whole lot of fresh stories.

    For Jen, KZoeT and Evangeline – as a writer of 1920s historicals (under the name Rae Summers) I wish there were more readers like you! But sadly the vast majority still want their Regencies so those sell better and therefore get higher profiles. The more unusual historicals are out there, but as others have said, discoverability is the issue.

    And for Evangeline – YES! to more Cold War stories!

  104. sally clements
    Feb 21, 2014 @ 05:20:15

    KzoeT Check out Rae Summers for romances set in 1920s..

  105. Kenny Wright
    Feb 21, 2014 @ 08:54:35


    You might want to check out Lucy V. Morgan’s books if you like Charlotte Stein. Her prose is as beautiful as it is dirty, and to your point, she’s a Brit and her settings reflect that.

    If you’re looking for something on the erotic side of the spectrum (yet still well plotted with real characters), check out Max Sebastian’s books. He’s also British, although many of his books are set in the U.S., now that I think about it. Still, highly recommended.

    For me, I’d like to see more erotic books written from a male POV (and done well). As a guy reading erotica, I know I’m a small subset, but we do exist, and we do buy books.

  106. Zoe Cannon
    Feb 21, 2014 @ 09:12:20

    I got here via Facebook, and am not this blog’s primary audience – I know most people here are primarily romance readers – so my tastes and wishes are probably a bit different. But what I personally would like to see is more YA and urban fantasy that doesn’t focus on a love story. Urban fantasy got swept up in the paranormal-romance craze ten years ago, and now it’s really hard to find an urban fantasy that isn’t a paranormal romance. I miss my old-school urban fantasy :( There are a few authors still writing it (thank you, Jim Butcher!), but they seem to be a dying breed. YA seems set to follow in the same footsteps.

    In the same vein, I’d like to see New Adult grow beyond its current narrow boundaries. There are so many interesting stories to tell about characters in that age range, but right now only a very specific subset of them are acceptable in the NA genre.

    Also, in terms of romance, how about some love interests who aren’t alpha-male types? Why must so many love interests fit into the same narrow mold? Alphas have their place, sure, but I’d love to see something for those of us who just don’t find them attractive. I’d probably even read more romances if there were more heroes I found appealing.

  107. Crista McHugh
    Feb 21, 2014 @ 10:25:19

    @EmilyAnn: If you like books about the Mafia, check out Dana Delamar’s Blood and Honor books

  108. EmilyAnn
    Feb 21, 2014 @ 16:59:18

    @Crista McHugh: thank you! I read the first three in the series, but the premise of the 4th didn’t grab me.

  109. Athena Grayson (@Athena_Grayson)
    Feb 21, 2014 @ 20:19:30

    @Evangeline: You bring up good points. The great thing about the work that booksellers and publishers have done with genre is that they, and the authors who write for them, have codified genre well enough so that a person who reads for an “expected” experience can be reasonably sure they are getting what’s advertised.

    However, if you are a reader who seeks out a “mystery box” experience, genre can feel limiting and repetitive or stifling. And yes, both desired reading experiences require trust between the reader and the creator. In self-publishing, it’s up to the individual author to make good on the expectations she sets up–whether they be a pure-to-genre trip or an exploration of unknown turf. Depending on my mood, I look for “comfort food” reading and “surprise me” experiences both.

    @JenM: Thank you! I hope I do not disappoint. :)

  110. Melisse Aires
    Feb 21, 2014 @ 23:29:24

    I can see my latest obsession in books I want to read isn’t on anyone’s radar! Oh well. I want high fantasy romance like Harry Potter’s world for adults, or hot romance in Middle Earth–Strider and the Tavern wench! Narnia for lovers…

    I would enjoy more over 40 heroines though.

  111. wikkidsexycool
    Feb 22, 2014 @ 09:07:12

    @Kenny Wright:

    I took a look at your site and your books. Very nice website. If you added interracial and multicultural books, you’d build a fanbase of those (like me) who enjoy reading the male perspective, but would like more diversity in the female and male leads.

  112. Serena
    Feb 22, 2014 @ 10:57:31

    @Zara Keane:

    I just think there is so much potential for a sexy Nazi hero, but he has to be against the establishment, like Tom Cruise’s character In Valkyrie, or secretly a spy like you said. That would be an awesome book. he heroine could be like a member of the French underground or something… hmm

  113. sharon cullars
    Feb 22, 2014 @ 13:30:31


    I am currently writing that book with time-travel element and a black heroine – which means it won’t be that popular with mainstream readers. guess i have to make the cover race-neutral.

  114. Amberdrake
    Feb 22, 2014 @ 17:07:21

    1. Gut-bustingly funny, sexy historical romance. I don’t care if it involves dukes or urchins or the bookseller as long as it is well-written and funny. In fact, I want more funny in every genre I read. Cozy mysteries have some funny but most of them are so completely silly and unlikely that they aren’t fun to read. It doesn’t even have to be all funny, just normal romance, mystery, fantasy, scifi with funny stuff in it (think Vorkosigan series). There aren’t enough laughs in the world, we need more of them.
    2. Non beautiful people. People who have thinning hair or one leg shorter or who get around in a wheelchair or have pimple problems or keep growing out of their clothes. NORMAL people.
    3. Gargoyles and dragons. I can’t get enough gargoyles and dragons.
    4. ‘Fish out of water’ stories. Where someone from HERE gets sent/transported/falls into THERE.
    5. Did I already say dragons? Yes? Ok.
    6. Familiars. Even if the book isn’t fantasy – give me a companion dog/cat/ferret/bird/mouse/rat that is part of the story and not just window dressing.
    7. Women being brilliantly clever – engineering, rocket science, chess, math, fixing cars…just women who use their brains and their hands to make things, figure things out, invent things. We need more of this.

    Ok, I know, I’ll shut up now.

  115. Amberdrake
    Feb 22, 2014 @ 17:09:34

    Oh, meant to ask what book is this:
    RL Smith published an epic long novel romance featuring a lizard warrior priest hero and a mouthy, overweight heroine. I’d like more of that please. Not necessarily the lizard warrior priest or all the bad things that happen to the heroine but I loved the otherworld aspect to it and how the two diametrically opposite characters changed each other and their world view.

    The only RL Smith I can find publishes non-fiction electricians handbooks. I’m guessing that isn’t the right one.

  116. Jane
    Feb 22, 2014 @ 17:11:12

    @Amberdrake: I think it’s under R. Lee Smith and it’s called Last Hour of Gann. Sorry about that.

  117. Mandy
    Feb 22, 2014 @ 20:04:07

    I recently read Anne Calhoun’s latest book Jaded which makes much of the fact that it’s a small-town cop/librarian romance. Even though I enjoyed it it wasn’t really amazing. At the time – and as commented on my review by other people – I thought it would be great to see a romance where the librarian was a guy and the cop was a girl. I was so entranced with this idea I was even casting the book in my head. The cop would be tough (and damaged of course) and very scornful of the librarian – only to be proved wrong in the end. I kind of saw her played by a Michelle Rodrigues (actor) type character. The guy would be the new breed of librarian, geeky, learned, hip. Self-confident and quietly amused by the cop’s scorn. This reversing of traditional roles while still keeping the guy masculine would be a great way of taking romance into the 21st century for me.

  118. hapax
    Feb 22, 2014 @ 21:43:14

    @Mandy: I would read the heck out of that!

  119. Amberdrake
    Feb 23, 2014 @ 16:16:16

    Thanks Jane! Also, @Mandy – I like that idea too!

  120. Cassie Knight
    Feb 24, 2014 @ 09:32:26

    I’m with all the posters who want more sci-fi/futuristic but I want mine to be non-erotic. I dream of authors who write stories similar to those in the LoveSpell line from Dorchester back in the nineties with fabulous adventures and romance. I’m actually writing one I hope will fit that mark. And urban fantasy like Diana Pharoah Francis the Horngate Witches series which is heavy on action with a sexy romance that is so wonderfully interwoven in the story but doesn’t take it over. While I dream of Max and Alexander finally getting their HEA, I dread it as the adventure and sexual tension will be gone.

    As others have done, to pimp my own:
    @Christine, if you like Indiana Jones type books, check out my Blood on the Moon which crosses Tomb Raider with the Librarian. My hero, Harrison, is my version of as sexy Librarian. It’s mostly adventure mixed with romance and a large part takes place in Egypt as I love all things Egyptian.

    And @amberdrake, if you like dragons, one of my friends, a former NY author, has a fabulous dragon series she’s started, Dragon’s Thief is book one. Her name is Susan Lute. She takes a lot of the dragon mythology and mixes it nicely with romance.

    For those who aren’t sick of angels and demons , I have book 1, Key of Solomon, a story where a college student (not NA) finds herself working with a Fallen angel to find an ancient book used to control demons. Book 2, The Death Skull, comes out in May and is another angel story where this one pits a Fallen fire angel with a sexy Texan to find the Mayan death skull.

    I had a blast writing those because while there’s romance, romance is not the focus. The adventure is.

    Now, I’m off to take a look at all the other recommendations. Thanks!

  121. Christine
    Feb 24, 2014 @ 09:53:39

    @Cassie Knight: Thanks Cassie I’ll look it up!

  122. Jane Lovering
    Feb 24, 2014 @ 11:51:17

    All the heroes I write are beta, recovering addicts, abandonment issues..oh, and a couple of vampires. And here are real readers saying that this is what they want to read…and yet beta males seem such a hard sell. I can only conclude that the real ‘loud-shouters’ in the marketplace like Alpha heroes who make billions and treat their women rough. There are simply not enough sites like Dear Author where those readers who don’t want to carry placards and lobby publishers can have a voice.

    I am encouraged. Thank you. I shall continue with my beta heroes.

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