See, don’t ever set me free I always want to be by your side
You Really Got Me/The Kinks
May 2020 is #RomBkLove, a social media celebration of romance tropes and romance-related conversations. I’m a romance author, but a reader too, and as part of the fun, I’m talking about the trope wrapped around your pinky.
To me, this about softness. Who, or what, makes the MC show their soft side? Who enchants the tough cookies or melts icy hearts? What does that normally stoic character get mushy and adoring for?
I think this trope can go beyond love interests, too. Maybe that stern and imposing MC has an adorable child that owns their heart, or even a puppy or another pet they care for. It’s seeing someone who guards their emotions form a special relationship where they can be soft.
The phrase can also be used in a negative way, but for me personally, if someone’s being taken advantage of, I’m not going to enjoy reading about it. I like this trope best when you’ve got two MCs who already have a power differential–and the one with more power is the one who ends up smitten. Or perhaps combined with some of my other favorite tropes, like grumpy/sunshine and hurt/comfort.
I’ve been writing queer historical romances for the last couple years and you’ll also find histroms filling my TBR stacks. One of the anthology authors, Cat Sebastian, also has a wonderful historical romance, It Takes Two to Tumble, an utterly charming grumpy/sunshine love story between a naval captain and a vicar that’s reminiscent of The Sound of Music. I also absolutely loved seeing competent, no-nonsense Pat become smitten with the lovely Fenella in KJ Charles’s Proper English.
Readers (me included!) love Jordan Hawk’s blend of historical and paranormal romances. I adored how he handled this trope in the first of the vivid and imaginative Hexworld books, Hexbreaker, with a witch policeman thoroughly enchanted by his cat-shifter familiar in an alternate 1890s New York. Mixing historical and contemporaries is a wonderful recent anthology, He’s Come Undone, with five stories of tightly-wound, starchy heroes finally losing their control.
What books do you love where we see a stoic MC’s softer side? Who’s got your favorite romance characters wrapped around their pinky?
The incredibly lovely Sarah Zama, a fellow historical fiction author, invited me to write a guest post for her dieselpunk blog, The Old Shelter! When I was working on Spellbound, one of my go-to research resources was New York historical newspapers. In my guest post, I share 1920s advertisements for things found in Spellbound–and a spoiler-free peek at two things that will be found in the upcoming Magic in Manhattan #2!