This year was an interesting one for romance novel readers. With the astronomical success of E.L. James's Fifty Shades trilogy, we suddenly found ourselves accused of reading “mommy porn” and advocating the “abuse of woman.” Romance had taken a drastic turn; BDSM and erotic romance became the “it” genres to read and the market was instantly flooded with clueless ingenue heroines and broody billionaires with dubious sexual histories. Covers became monochrome with a single object as the focal point rather than the customary hero and heroine portrayed in dishabille. I’m not dismissing the “revolution” but I’m ready for a change.
I’ve read phenomenal books, good books, average books, and some books I’d rather just forget about this year. I left no genre untouched, but found myself rather rather dismayed with romances overall. Again, Fifty Shades set the bar, a rather low bar, and we found ourselves at the mercy of angst-driven, emotionally draining trilogies. I’m not a fan of romantic trilogies. I see no reason to drag out a romance over three books unless there is a viable plot line that is completely separate from the romance.
So what am I looking for in 2013?
I’d love to see more contemporaries. I love funny, sweet contemporaries with adorable protagonists and plenty of humor. I’d like to see more works similar to Jennifer Crusie, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and Rachel Gibson. Not every romantic story needs to be mired in tragedy to be authentic.
I’d like to see paranormal romance bring forth a stronger presence of supernaturals who are NOT vampires and werewolves. Thea Harrison has the right idea with her Elder Races series, which focuses on all shapeshifters, large and small. I’d also love to see more books that realistically portray supernaturals. Step away from the Twilight descriptions and bring back the blood-sucking, flesh-eating, human-hating, slave-holding, raging supernaturals.
I’d love to see an end to the love triangle trope that has permeated Urban Fantasy this year. Urban Fantasy is and has never been about the romance, yet, I found myself disappointed in three favorite series that made the love triangle the main focus, dragging down the overall plot/arc and leaving me feeling ambivalent about continuing.
Assassins. We need more assassins. We need more female assassins. Jennifer Estep’s Elemental series has a female assassin who is tough without being bitchy, strong without being cold, and intelligent yet able to make and grow with her mistakes. I'd like to see more female assassins portrayed in a strong manner.
Stop the serials. I’m sorry, but a 50-page serial becomes a hard sell when you add up the entire series and realize you just paid close to $12 for a 200 page e-book.
I’d love to see m/m and f/f go more mainstream and not be classified under erotic/bdsm unless the story actually has these elements. It demeans the genre and gives the impression that same sex relationships is nothing more than a fetish. Kele Moon, LA Witt, and Abigail Roux do a wonderful job of writing romantic addictive same sex romances that focus on the romance and protagonists' emotions and not just the sex.
Continuing the above topic, I’d love to see a definite boundary established between erotic romance and romance with descriptive sexual content. An author friend of mine noted that, “...erotic romances seem to be determined by the number of times the P and C words are uttered.” Nowadays, any book with visual sexual content or a few naughty sexual terms is listed as an erotic. We need to make the differences known and hold authors and publishers accountable for acknowledging that difference.
And for goodness sakes, let’s be clear: J.R. Wards’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series is NOT an erotic series. Neither is Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunters series.
I’m not a huge fan of military/spy romances but I would like to see more historical military/spy romances. Stephanie Laurens, Susanna Robinson, and Virginia Henley wrote some incredible ones and I would love to see a re-emergence of this trope.
Whether any of this will happen is debatable. All I know is I need something different for 2013. So what would you like to see in in 2013?