Sep 27 2017 2:00pm

4 Authors Who Will Make You Laugh Out Loud (No, Really)

The Transporter by Liz Maverick

Today we're thrilled to welcome Liz Maverick (The Transporter) to Heroes and Heartbreakers. Liz is the former site manager of Heroes and Heartbreakers, but today she's wearing her author hat. When you're reading a romance, nothing is better than snappy dialogue and witty banter—and there's an importance to it in building a connection to the characters. Liz is here today to talk about some of authors that have made her laugh out loud (no, really) and the books that had her chuckling. Thanks, Liz!

My favorite dialogue is super smart, contains puns, often relies on the circularity from an earlier joke, and is sometimes interspersed with exposition that’s just as funny. It has a rhythm that you can dance to. To be truly great, it can’t be just a one-off moment in the overall read. The book—in large part because of its dialogue—must make you laugh not just once, but should delight you over and over again. For bonus points, you should be able to pick any set of characters from the book—not necessarily just moments between the hero/hero(ine)—and still be entranced by the exchange.

The most commonly cited examples of delightful dialogue tend to be from the big-name geniuses of contemporary romance. Think Jennifer Crusie or Kristan Higgins. So, I’ve pulled four of my favorites that go beyond that sphere. Old or new, they have earned a place on my electronic keeper list.

1. Penny Reid: Truth or Beard (Winston Brothers#1) – (not your typical) contemporary romance

Penny Reid’s books are hilarious and also so, so smart. She’s got quirky characters with a license to say whatever’s on their minds and rarely relies on physical hijinks to boost comedic effect. What’s also interesting is that her dialogue actually has a lot of exposition sandwiched in there, so there’s not as much ping-ponging. She’s more about set up, circularity and brilliant one-liners. That said, the overall fresh, hilarious feel of her work permeates the entire book, in part because she uses her main character’s first person POV as a kind silent—and very funny—banter.

In this example, the main character (Jessica) is talking to her brother Jackson about her love interest’s Duane’s (yes, Duane) ex-girlfriend.

I sighed. “Please don’t try to reassure me that I’m pretty. I’m…it’s not really a question of prettiness, is it? But, you’re right. I don’t understand why Duane would break up with Tina and then go out with someone like me.”

Jackson examined me for several long seconds, his eyes narrowed, his mouth twisted to one side. At length he exhaled and shook his head.

“So, I might be biased, because you’re my sister and I think you’re equal parts annoying and awesome, but it actually makes a lot of sense to me.”

I scrunched my face and braced for a deluge of reassurance about my “gifts” or “talents.” Instead, my brother surprised me a second time.

“Let me put it this way: have you ever seen someone and thought to yourself, Whoa, he’s hot! I’d like to screw his brains out. And then, you talk to the guy and realize someone already has?”

Bonus ping-ponging by two Winston brothers from Beard Science (Winston Brothers #3)

I scowled at his facial expression. “A mind is like underpants because people change them all the time.”

“But you don’t.”

“I do change my underpants all the time, Jethro. And, for the record, I think it’s mighty rude of you to assume I don’t.”

He almost rolled his eyes, but caught the urge. “I meant your mind, Cletus. You don’t change your mind.”

2.  KJ Charles: A Fashionable Indulgence (Society of Gentlemen #1)

KJ Charles is a master at taking the delicious “band of brothers” trope usually found in contemporary romantic suspense series (I should know, LOL) and retrofitting it to fit a group of gay aristocrats. Mr. Norreys and Lord Richard are part of the same social circle. The best part of spending time with this society of gentlemen is listening to them take the piss out of each other. As much love as there is between these friends, they cannot resist poking fun, each in their own way.

In this example, Lord Richard asks his good friend, the dandy Mr. Norreys to play Pygmalion and show one Harry Vane (he, of an unexpected inheritance) how to be a gentleman. Harry is (at least, he will be) the love interest, but though he is present in this scene, it’s the brilliant dialogue between the two platonic “brothers in arms” who make this scene crackle on the page. (Harry and Mr. Norreys crackle later. Trust me.) What’s also notable about this is that it’s not a light or comedic romance, yet the wit and fun just shine through.

“Wait a moment,” Gideon grunted. “You said you’d make the boy a gentleman—”

“My venerable sir,” Mr. Norreys interrupted. “Surely that was the business of his parents, some two decades ago?”

Gideon’s bald scalp flushed puce. “There’s nothing wrong with his father’s blood. But his upbringing was as bad as it could be. He should have been raised as a true Vane. I wish him to model himself on you, Richard, not some—” Gideon glanced at Mr. Norreys, then turned pointedly to Lord Richard. “Your style is excellent.”

“Indeed it is.” Mr. Norreys didn’t take his eyes from Harry. “For a large and sober man of forty.”

“Thirty-six,” Lord Richard said.

“Really? I would have thought older, but I dare say you know best. In any case,” Mr. Norreys went on, as Lord Richard opened his mouth and closed it again. “Mr. Harry Vane can hardly be seen to be aping the manner of Lord Richard Vane, almost fifteen years his senior, without inviting…observations.”

3. Julia Quinn: The Duke & I (Bridgertons #1)

Julia Quinn could draw humor out of two people talking about a scone. This example is from the (very original) meet-cute, in which our heroine Daphne Bridgerton has just decked a drunk suitor, and Simon (trope alert: he’s her brother’s friend!) – the eponymous duke—has come to her supposed rescue. Simon attempts to seduce her and Quinn’s turnaround of the situation with Daphne’s unexpected response is like candy. I love how this early dialogue between the h/h nails their chemistry—and there’s just so much delight knowing at that moment how much fun the whole book is going to be.

“I’m quite flattered you thought me worthy of such a magnificent display of dukish rakishness.” She grinned, her smile wide and unfeigned. “Or do you prefer rakish dukishness?”

Simon stroked his jaw thoughtfully, trying to regain his mood of menacing predator. “You’re a most annoying little chit, did you know that, Miss Bridgerton?”

She gave him her sickliest of smiles. “Most people find me the soul of kindness and amiability.”

“Most people,” Simon said bluntly, “are fools.”

Daphne cocked her head to the side, obviously pondering his words. Then she looked over at Nigel and sighed. “I’m afraid I have to agree with you, much as it pains me.”

Simon bit back a smile. “It pains you to agree with me, or that most people fools?”

“Both.” She grinned again—a wide, enchanting smile that did odd things to his brain. “But mostly the former.”

4. Roan Parrish: In the Middle of Somewhere (Middle of Somewhere #1)

When it’s the two main protagonists speaking, if you’ve done your job in the tension department, you should be getting enough of a chemical reaction to make the dialogue shine. It’s harder to make auxiliary conversations shine, but when the author also pulls that off, you know you’re in for a treat.

Here’s an example from Roan Parrish of two personalities who have no romantic agenda with each other, clicking like nobody’s business. Tattoo shop owner Ginger is city-boy protagonist Daniel’s straight best friend. Daniel is about to go on a date with the mountain man-esque Rex and has called her for moral (and sartorial) support.

“Mmmm.” I can hear Ginger mentally flipping through my (very limited) wardrobe. “Wear the black jeans you got last year, your boots, and any shirt that doesn’t have writing on it.”

“Uh, okay, if you say so.”

“Ooh, no. Specification: wear the maroon button-down I gave you that that guy left at the shop after puking like a tiny wuss and running outside without it.”

“The sleeves are too short.”

“Cuff and roll, baby, cuff and roll. It’s hot. It draws attention to your forearms.”

“You like my forearms?”

“No, not yours in particular. I mean, they’re fine. Just, it’s a sexy body part.”

“I totally agree. I just didn’t know girls liked them too.”

“Oh, yes, Daniel. All girls like forearms. Every single one. No really, I’ve asked all of us and we all agree. We don’t even agree about whether or not the long arm of the law should be able to reach into our vaginas, but we agree about forearms.”

Dialogue mic drop, right there.


Learn more about or a copy of The Transporter by Liz Maverick, available now: 

Buy at Amazon

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Writer Liz Maverick’s obsession with bands of brothers, snappy dialogue and circular humor goes live again with her next release. The Financier, the second book in her Hudson Kings romantic suspense series is out 11/21/17. The Transporter, Book 1, is available now.

H&H Editor Picks:

34 Romance Authors Nominate the Best Reads of 2017... So Far

First Look: Liz Maverick’s The Transporter

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Jennifer Proffitt
1. JenniferProffitt
I absolutely adore all of these books! Penny Reid in particular will have me laughing out loud, and while I associate Roan Parrish more with angst than anything else, but with any good angst-y read, you need something to cut that emotion, and her use of humor is absolutely perfect!
2. authorlizmaverick
Yeah, Jenn. I totally associate Parrish with angst. And yet, the stuff between Ginger and Daniel had me laughing more than most typical comedies. :) :) (I was a little disappointed with Ginger's story, though. I think she and Daniel had such good chemistry it was like no straight guy was ever going to be more appealing for her than him.)
3. Kareni
I really enjoy a book that will make me laugh out loud. Julie James has some witty banter in her books.
EC Spurlock
4. EC Spurlock
Julia Quinn is my number-one go-to when I need to feel better about life. She resolves the most weighty issues with a good dose of down-to-earth humor. I also have been known to laugh out loud at Lauren Willig's descriptions and dialogue (once in a doctor's office) and pass the book to whoever is nearby for them to read it too. A good laugh needs to be shared, especially nowadays when we all really need as many as we can get.
Jennifer Proffitt
5. JenniferProffitt
@authorlizmaverick, I think you so need that comedy to cut the angst and maybe that's what has us laughing out loud even more because we're so in the trenches with the heavy stuff.
EC Spurlock
6. lizzie18
Oh, Shelly Laurenston and her Pride series should be in there. It is the one series that did, and still does, make me laugh out loud. Not just smile, but really laugh by myself in my room or wherever I'm re-reading one.
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