Dec 20 2016 4:00pm

The Hamilton Effect and 4 Other Romance Trends You’ll Be Reading in 2017

What new romances will come out in 2017?

An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole

Every year we see trends come and go in romance—from billionaires to motorcycle clubs, they've all had their day in the sun, but we're calling out a few things we'd like to see in 2017!

The Hamilton Effect

Ah, the Hamilton effect. It would appear everything Lin-Manuel Miranda touches turns to gold, and I'm hoping romance is no exception. For those of you who have been off the internet, not tuning into talk shows, PBS, or any other entertainment outlet for the last two years: Hamilton brought us a diverse, groundbreaking take on our founding fathers, particularly telling this tale through the eyes of Alexander Hamilton.

I'm hoping we'll see the influence of the musical in three parts:

Diversity in Historicals:

Okay, this one isn't a trend, just a hope for 2017 and beyond. It's time to diversify our shelves. I'm hoping publishers and readers alike will take the success of this musical as a sign that there is an interest and a need for diverse stories, especially in historical periods. There's a fantastic line from the show Psych that has the character Gus coming up with the perfect rebuttal when confronted with a very white-washed cast for a play set in 1800s London: “So what are you saying? Black people hadn't been invented yet?” 

American-set Historicals: 

The United States has been a country for 240 years. While that doesn't have much on the 1000 years of England or the thousands of years that can be found in Japan and China, we have a wealth of history from which to get ideas—and romance! We have lots of war heroes, political intrigue...and 200+ years of distance from it all!

Historically Detailed Romances: 

Only a genius of Lin-Manuel Miranda's level could take a look at an 800-page biography and think “why yes, I can make a musical about that.” However, it's the details of that tome that flesh out this complex and lush musical. While “wallpaper historicals” are fun and easily accessible, there's room in the genre for more layered stories too. 

 Where are we already seeing it? We've had shining examples of diversity in historicals for years from Beverly Jenkins and Jeannie Lin, to name two of my favorites, however in 2017, it's Alyssa Cole's An Extraordinary Union that has me excited. A diverse, American-set, historically complex romance? Cole will check all the boxes. 

Fantasy romance

Game of Thrones has been on for five years, and finally the trickle-down effect of the show is happening in romance. Luckily, with strong female writers at the helm, we're seeing a more female-positive take on the high fantasy world. And if any authors wanted to write up a Jon Snow-like character in their fantasy series, I wouldn't be upset about it. 

Radiance by Grace Draven

Where are we already seeing it? Over the past year, I have fallen head over feels with so many great fantasy romance novels: Grace Draven's Radiance and Amy Harmon's The Bird and the Sword are near-perfect examples, as well as Jeffe Kennedy's Twelve Kingdoms and Unchartered Realms series, almost all of which will see updates to their respective series in 2017. 

Romantic Comedies, with Bite

This year's The Hating Game marked a turn in the tide for Romantic Comedy. While gone are the early days of Jennifer Crusie and Rachel Gibson, we're seeing a revitilization in this category. I would even hazard a guess that if we don't see a huge surge in this genre in 2017, we'll definitely see it in 2018 as readers search for a happy place they can retreat to. What made The Hating Game unique in the romantic-comedy world is the truly contentious relationship these two had that did not rely on more slapstick attempts at comedy. While I certainly appreciate a good whacky exchange between characters, it can keep the story from being relatable to readers. These people are real, and like real people their love is slow to build—the slowest to build, but in a really great way—the stuff romantic comedies are made of. The Hating Game delivers. 

Where are we already seeing it? Tawna Fenske's name is another one often tossed out when talking romantic comedy, and after the ex-fiancé of the heroine in her book Now That It's You died during... hair plug surgery... her next release, This Time Around, will likely be filled with laughs and heart as well. 

Falling for the Highlander by Lynsay Sands

Scottish Historicals

We saw an insurgance in Scottish historicals back in the '90s when Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series first began, but now we're seeing an interest in it once more with success of the series (which has already been promised a third and fourth season). 

Where are we already seeing it? Paranormal romance grand dame Lynsay Sands will be returning to her historical roots with the January release of Falling for the Highlander. I imagine this genre will continue to grow with Outlander's continued success and authors—and readers—wanting to find a Jamie of their own. 

Erotic Romance... without BDSM

Just looking at our shopping list every month, we know that fewer erotic romances are being published than back in 2013 and 2014 at the height of Fifty Shades fervor. Now, that might be in part because publishers are calling them something else (much like many paranormal romances were listed as romantic suspense), but it could just be caused from something we’ve been calling for awhile: Billionaire fatigue. While the elite, CEOs, and bosses, in general, are still hot ticket items, the popularity of bilionaires and BDSM seems to be declining. The thinking is that those readers who came into the genre through gateways like Fifty Shades of Grey or Sylvia Day's Crossfire series have now learned to explore the genre and they don't need the same explicit (pun intended) instructions of “This is what you like to read.” Erotic romance will still look like a duck, and quack like a duck, it'll just be under a different name. 

Here's my take: we're going to find elements of BDSM romance in different ways—the power exchange. The power dynamic is essential to D/s relationships and while you may not find that same dynamic along with utterances of Sir and Master (not to say that will all go away), you'll still find it if you know where and how to look. Particularly if you're reading romance with a wider age gap between hero and heroine. It may squick people out, but it's one way of handling that exchange. 

Additionally, look in contemporary romance more than erotic, because there you're likely to find kinktemporary—those hot contemporary reads that are on just this side of erotic. 

Where are we already seeing it? Alexa Riley are the current reigning champs of kinktemporary. Pumping out a new title every two weeks—yes, that's correct—they offer a little something for everyone. I started with the Mechanic last year, but late December 2016 will see the release of their first full-length novel, Everything for Her that I imagine will walk that line, too. 

So, what romance trends are you hoping to see in 2017? What are your best guesses for what's to come? 

Let us know in the comments!


Learn more about or order a copy of the books mentioned in this post:

An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole
Radiance by Grace Draven

The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Now That It's You by Tawna Fenske
This Time Around by Tawna Fenske
Falling for the Highlander by Lynsay Sands
Everything for Her by Alexa Riley


Jennifer Proffitt is a Midwest transplant to New York City. You can usually find her wishing time-travel was possible so she could go back to Victorian England or that she was a paranormal creature. But in the meantime, she fills her time being the Community Manger for Heroes and Heartbreakers, and reading and writing romance. You can find her on Twitter at @JennProffitt


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1 comment
I love the term 'kinktempory'! I'll take a dozen :)
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