Thursday, April 17, 2008

What Gets You Every Time?

I’m a sucker for certain kinds of romance stories. I tell you, mention a story where the heroine first entices the hero dressed as a boy, and I am SO there (figure on left is a woman dressed as a man!). I love it when this big alpha guy starts worrying when he finds himself attracted to the short, slim young “kid” in loose clothing. I never once consider he should maybe be worrying about his IQ for making that mistake in the first place. Think of Georgette Heyer’s These Old Shades (though I think the Duke of Avon claims he saw through Leonie’s disguise right away). Linda Howard (I think) wrote a wonderful western historical with a cross-dressing heroine and I was just combing through my keeper closet (yes, I said closet), to find it, but it’s not coming to my fingertips. Anyone remember?

Another fave type of romance for me is one that I think squicks some people out. But I love guardian/ward stories, which I attribute to my early love of the old movie (starring Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron) Daddy Long-Legs. I can’t forget an old Bantam Loveswept by Iris Johansen titled White Satin. IIRC, the guardian is her coach and a famous former ice skater. It’s one of those old-fashioned love stories with the guy who runs hot and cold and the heroine who is young and wide-eyed and I don’t care if it’s not politically correct. I love it.

I also love what I call All Grown Up romances. These are the ones where the hero and heroine have known each other “forever” but now the hero finally notices the heroine isn’t the gawky girl with braces and scabs on her knees. He might consider her a little sister at first, and like those heroes of “cross-dressing” romances feel guilty about his lusty feelings for her, but soon she convinces him she’s all grown up and all woman. Because I have an older brother, I think my enjoyment from these books comes from all my childhood daydreams that one day one of my brother’s friends would look up and find me irresistible. (And, it never happened, not really, though my niece was appalled and amused recently when she overheard one of my brother’s old college friends tell my bro he had a thing for me when I was in high school. I never knew! I can’t even picture him now.) I’ve written books with this All Grown Up theme, including my latest, Bachelor Boss. Another of my faves is an old Elizabeth Lowell book that I reread every year, titled Only Mine (which also has a Native American hero, another luscious romance subset that our own Kathleen Eagle does with such perfection).

Do you have a romance “subset” that makes your pulse beat faster? Do you like friends-to-lovers or May/December romances or virginal heroes or does an amnesia story get you every time? Please share!


Helen Brenna said...

Fun topic, Christie!

I'll admit, I love captor/captive stories. (handcuffs optional - LOL) Doesn't matter to me whether it's the hero or the heroine who's stuck. Or they can both be stuck. Snowstorms, shipwrecks, whatever.

I like stories, too, where the love interest is the friend of a sibling. There are lots of options for conflict there.

Oh, and any kind of exotic setting usually captures my attention, especially if there's a hunt for a lost treasure, secret, that kind of thing. Love adventure and romance together.

Playground Monitor said...

Do you like friends-to-lovers or May/December romances or virginal heroes or does an amnesia story get you every time?

All of the above? Forced intimacy like being snowbound in a remote cabin with only a fireplace for heat and just one tiny bed is a good one too.

I have Bachelor Boss in my TBR pile. I'm reading for research purposes now and well... your bachelor isn't a vampire so he'll have to wait patiently. ;-)


Christie Ridgway said...

Marilyn: And I can't even recall whether he gives the heroine a playful bite!

Helen: I remember another great Loveswept (also non-PC) where the hero and heroine are captives in a cell in some South American place or maybe an island dictatorship. They only have each other for company and fall in love and then are forced to have sex because the bad guy's a voyeur (or something...I actually don't think he was witnessing the deed, maybe it was dar?) Fabulous story. Must try to remember it and track it down.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Sandra Brown wrote some of the best Silhouettes, and some of them had that stranded together theme. Titles escape me, but there was one about a plane crash in Alaska with the hero and heroine as the only survivors. It was deliciously sexy. SB does sexual tension exquisitely.

Love the innocence/experience kind of romantic tension. One of my favorite movies is "Guys and Dolls" with Marlon Brando as the rough-edged hero and Jean Simmons as the missionary. That theme gets me every time. I always point to "Lightning that Lingers" by Tom and Sharon Curtis as a classic series romance along those lines--stripper hero, librarian heroine--and my only criticism of that one is that the hero is really not at all rough-edged. He's a biologist. It reminds me of another memorable Silhouette about a trucker who turns out to be a lawyer. (Terrific book--woman in jeopardy, which is another of my faves.) Let him be a trucker.

Michele Hauf said...

I've never really thought if I have a favorite 'theme' to the stories I read. Hmm... I do like the kick-butt woman matched to an equally kick-butt man, and he softens her.

I wrote a historical with a heroine masquerading as a man (she wanted to be a musketeer). The hero caught on real quick, but he let her believe she was fooling him for a while longer. :-)

Keri Ford said...

I love a marriage of convenience (sp?) story and the captive stories--as in she's kidnapped him or he kidnapped her.

I really don't know of any storyline I just hate.

Christie Ridgway said...

Marriage of convenience! Another fave of mine, too, Keri.

Kathleen: Was that trucker/lawyer books EMBERS by Mary Kirk. She wrote the very best romances. Really, really wonderful.

Christie Ridgway said...

I am finding it interesting that we're harking back to "old" romances. (I admit I started it.) I really love the classics. I don't think I read a lot of "classic" Sandra Brown, but when I first started thinking of writing romance I saturated myself in series books by Elizabeth Lowell, Linda Howard, Kathleen Eagle. What inspirations!

A few years ago, a used bookseller I knew had taken the complete collection of Iris Johansen Loveswepts off her shelves. She sold them all to me at a great price. I have to store them at a place not easy to reach, so I only drag them out on occasion, but then I go through them like a box of chocolates.

Did I mention that I love to read romance?

Betina Krahn said...

Christie, what an interesting topic! I LOVE romances where the hero & heroine are competitors for the same thing. Both going after a treasure, or after an account, or even after a bad guy. That puts them on an equal footing right from the start and I love the interplay as they toss the reins back and forth-- each gets to be the leader and show their skills and worthiness.

I also love a man of the world (an alpha guy) who's reduced to beta status by his interactions with the heroine. . . who is plucky and unexpectedly sharp and totally irresistible. He has a lot to learn and she's more than willing to teach him.

Personally, I like the going-home-again-and-encountering-the-guy -from-the-past books. Probably because I have a high school fantasy of my own that just won't die.

I also like the "dumped" female who comes out on waaaaay on top because of her merit and her relationship with the hero. . . and she gets to rub the jerk's nose in her success and happiness. No mystery why that one is big with so many women!

I have a secret yen for the GiGi storyline. . . jaded man falls for innocent girl and finds himself bucking society's rules in order to be with her honorably. sigh.

I could go on and on. . .

And that All Grown Up theme. . . pretty powerful, too.

Christie Ridgway said...

Oh, Betina, ::swoon:: on the Gigi storyline. I looooved that movie as a kid (my mom introduced me to old movies) and that storyline (jaded man is tamed by ingenue) works really, really well for me, too. It's part of what makes These Old Shades so fab too.

Debra Dixon said...

Love the boy-disguise romances. Loved These Old Shades.

Love mistaken twin identity.

Love it when the heroine takes the hero captive. It's great anticipation for when the tables are turned and you know they will be.

I like the best-friend romances where it all goes to hell when one of them realizes it may be too late.

Marriages of convenience--we're back to the forced intimacy thing.

Love the Guardian-Ward romances.

I'm a classisist.

Cindy Gerard said...

Kathleen - Lightening that Lingers. Be still my heart. I LOVED Tom and Sharon Curtis and I still miss them. Did you know that LLTL was the VERY FIRST Loveswept ever released? I still have it in my keeper stash.

And someone mentioned another old Loveswept with the hero and heroine were held captive in separate cells - I think that was written by Laura Taylor but I can't remember the title.

I love all the hooks you all have mentioned - But I think friends to lovers OR adversaries to lovers are among my favs. I love the changing relationship and all the nuances that make the character arcs curve around the the 'right' way of thinking :o)
Fun topic

Playground Monitor said...

Titles escape me, but there was one about a plane crash in Alaska with the hero and heroine as the only survivors. It was deliciously sexy. SB does sexual tension exquisitely.

Waves hand wildly. I know! I know! It's TWO ALONE and it was an Intimate Moments from October 1987. It's awesome. Someone mentioned that book in a workshop on sexual tension and I tracked down a copy and read it.

Another book I tracked down after attending the author's workshop was about a woman who poses as a nun because she's on the run and turns to a hot guy who owns a bar for help. I think the author's name is Debra Something-or-Other. ::g::


Christie Ridgway said...

Marilyn: I'm going to have to look for TWO ALONE.

Cindy: I was going to ask you if you knew that Loveswept. I was telling Anne Stuart about it and I think she'd love it. Must find the title and author! I'll try Laura Taylor.

Christie Ridgway said...

Hah! Thanks, Cindy. On my first try googling "Laura Taylor Loveswept," I found DESERT ROSE. I think that's it!

Cindy Gerard said...

I think you're right.
I also think she won the RT award for best Loveswept that year. Why do I remember? Because I was up against her :o)

Debra Dixon said...

Marilyn-- LOL! Why yes. I have been known to do those sorts of books. (((g)))

Cindy-- Hey, I tell everyone I beat you. (g)

flchen1 said...

Christie, my favorites are the friends-to-lovers and friend of the sibling. Also love the plain-Jane gets the gorgeous hero (preferably without some miraculous make-over where her beauty is suddenly revealed to all--that's SUCH a cop-out, but where he comes to know and admire and love her strength of character and wit and humor and sees her as beautiful because he loves her). Although I do enjoy an occasional one where she's grown up into more confidence/beauty, and comes back to surprise her past detractors and win the hero's heart...

Anonymous said...

love bridget jones story, herione who is not like eveyrone else. just being herself.

a man that pursue like in the notebook,


Chris M. said...

I'm jumping in REALLY late... but can I vote for ALL OF THE ABOVE? LOL I just love a good romance, and have so much fun seeing how the author will make a familiar premise into their own unique story.

I do have a major preference for captive stories, hero or heroine, I'm not picky! :-D

byrdloves2read said...

I also like the girl in disguise theme. A couple of my favorites:

beauty and the beast

clash of cultures (Kathleen does these so well)