Thursday, September 25, 2014

What's YOUR Favorite Romance Trope? All That Glitters Is Not Just Her Hoo Ha!

When it comes to the romance trope, I am especially fond of the “glittery hoo ha”, for the name alone. However, I consider it less a trope, than a de rigueur requirement of the genre. No matter the heat level, once the hero has, er, experienced the heroine’s “hoo ha” (or her lips for the chaste among our genre titles), he will be blind to any other woman’s non-glittery type hoo ha (seriously, a tarnished hoo-ha? I think not!). The heroine’s will remain his be all and end all go-to hoo ha, romance-wise.

So, while I chuckle over the term, I don’t consider it a trope, unlike the myriad others from enemies to friends (always good for conflict), to the ‘meet sweet’ trope (not one of my faves). There’s a trope out there for every taste, naturally, but if forced to choose, I am especially fond of what I’ve seen called “the broken bird” trope. (Though it trespasses a tad on the Beauty and the Beast trope, for in that case, the heroine must heal the hero’s psychological wounds and accept his scars, be they emotional or physical – in fact many of the tropes can be found in blended forms, and there are multiplicities of tweaks on all these tropes.)

The broken bird trope actually figures into my own writing quite heavily (perhaps all that misplaced maternal energy to heal and protect one of my characters, along with my tendency for melodrama?). Probably for the same reason that I enjoy suspenseful elements in my writing, and erotic romance – because the broken bird trope offers an opportunity for immense conflict, both internal (the broken character), as well as relationship-wise. It’s always a major uphill battle to heal the broken one and get that character to succumb to love.

However, I’ve most often seen this trope used in stories where it is the hero who is the broken one, and the heroine’s love that heals him. Because we love the tortured alpha bad boy, don’t we?

That’s the essence, in fact, of my recently completed BDSM erotic romance MS, Hold Tight. My billionaire hero (no, money doesn’t heal all wounds!) has been kicked in the teeth by life on a number of occasions. He now lives in his ivory tower, untouched by a woman’s love, and scarred by numerous past betrayals. And it is my average, every day heroine who comes along and recognizes the wounded little boy, and heals him with her love (and her tenacity and willingness to submit to his sadistic domination and mastery of her glittery you-know-what).

But I love seeing the broken bird trope turned upside down. It may be a bit more unusual to have your alpha hero be the strong, supportive and nurturing type who becomes the healer to a broken bird heroine, but I think it offers a wonderful opportunity. You get to create a hero who isn’t tortured or tormented, and who can be the lover to bring his heroine into the healing light. (And at the LIRW luncheon, and in several reviews I’ve read recently, the dearth of the “nice guy” hero was lamented…Voila! I have the answer!) (Keep reading…)

My second Stellato siblings novel, Hot In the City, is an example of this. My heroine is as dark a heroine as I’ve read lately. Not only was she abandoned by her father, and the father of her son, but now she’s smothered by her responsibilities, and her fears for her special needs son should she be unable to care for him. At first, what Berto offers her is hot sex – her only distraction from an anxiety-filled life. Alice sees her future as a bleak and demanding one, until Berto proves to her that he can give her more than momentary, distracting pleasure. He can protect her, provide for her, and love her – but he can also be a partner in life who provides the shoulder she’s never had.

I love my heroes dark and tormented. Mad, bad and dangerous to know. The strong, silent type hiding his wounds behind his muscles. The primal man unleashing his inner demons only to have them tamed by the heroine (and her glittery lady parts).

But it’s wonderful fun to also craft the solid, Gary Cooper, Atticus Finch, Mr. Smith hero who recognizes the humanity beneath a heroine’s tortured persona (and the allure of her glittery vajayjay) – whether she is using sex to block out reality, or cutting herself because of a trauma, or hiding behind an ice maiden shell to avoid pain, or a heroine battered by fate, going down for the last time – as she reaches out for the helping hand of the only one who can save her. When her white knight rides to her rescue, he may be a billionaire, or a boxer. A Regency spy or a WWII officer. A blue collar guy or a once-a-month shifter. But he’s the one who’s whole, and this time he’s doing the healing.

He is the hero broad of shoulder, compassionate of soul, with a heart of gold.

And he’s the proud possessor of the perfect complement to her glittery mound of Venus:

His “Golden Gun”.

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