by Michele Mannon
The Romance Writers of America conference this summer held a discussion about hot trends within the romance genre. For this post, I decided to address this topic and share five trends I think are both prevalent in many new releases as well as trends I gravitate toward as a reader.
Bikers, Mobsters, Criminals, and Hit Men
I’ll be the first to admit, I love a bad boy hero. I love reading them. I love featuring them in my books. These mega Alpha heroes typically run against the grain of society, are often defiant, violent and like to be in control. Ever since Kristen Ashley released Motorcycle Man, with a surly bad ass biker hero named Kane “Tack” Allen, I’ve been hooked. Another book I recently read is Dark Mafia Prince by Annika Martin. The hero is a mobster…a hot as sin Russian bratva, and man is he naughty.
What began as bad boy heroes with tribal tattoos seems to have morphed into an entire subgenre within contemporary romance. Laura Kaye has a great series, The Hard Ink Novels, which are set in a tattoo parlor. And authors are getting creative with what their hero’s and heroine’s tats say and where they’re located. The best example of this is in Molly Joseph’s Diva. Sorry I can’t give it away but let’s just say you’ll feel like you’ve been struck by lightening after the author so expertly reveal it.
Dirty, Filthy Sex
Remember when in almost every romance you’d have to wait until page 100 for the characters to get it on? Just like the pacing in stories is changing—becoming much more like television, fast and always moving forward—sex within romances is happening a lot sooner, and with much more yummy, explicit detail. Spankings, rough, dirty-talking heroes, and a whole lot of intense foreplay seem to be the norm right now. And I really love a good, dirty sex scene. Yet crafting one where love sex that drips off the pages and that has the right balance of angst, love and sexual tension is hard work. I recently had a reviewer comment about my new release, Rogue, the first book in The Deadliest Lies Series: “Mannon really knows how to craft a love scene-scintillating and yet tender.” A comment I love, of course. The truth is I write scenes I want to read. And hopefully, you do too! (BTW, I featured an excerpt below. Warning: heat level high.)
Crossing the Border
Scenes, and stories, set outside of small town America seems to be an “up-and-coming” trend. In The Professional, Kresley Cole took us on an amazing, and highly erotic, journey to Russia. There’s a great scene inside a banya that I love. In case you’re wondering, a banya is an outdoor sauna the Russians favor. Inside, visitors escape the cold and partake in the custom of smacking each other across the body with bound twigs and leafy branches dipped in cold water. See, there’s something new to be learned in these globe-trotting stories.
And characters are also taking on more of an international flavor. Ilsa Madden-Mills, Dirty English, features a British street fighter. In my book Hit Man (coming 11/16), Diego is Mexican/Danish…with a filthy, Spanish-speaking potty mouth.
Okay, I haven’t read a single romance with a hero with a man bun. And I’m talking about the curled up ponytail kind, not buns of steel. But I’m giving everyone an official heads up. If you read The Deadliest Lies series, the ruthless CEO of this group of hit men has a man bun. You’ll see it described through the main characters eyes in every book. But I promise you, when Hayden’s story is revealed, great things are going to happen to that man bun.
So what are trends you’re reading in romance? Which ones do you like? Are there any driving you crazy? Let me know in the comments!
Blurb for ROGUE
My lover is dead.
And they think I killed him.
I’m running rogue. Hell bent on both revenge and redemption. Whatever it takes, I’m going to finish a job that began nine months ago. An unauthorized assignment that turned horribly, devastatingly wrong.
My heart left shattered into incomplete pieces which will never wholly fit back together again.
But first I have to outsmart my former organization and the hired killer they’ve sent after me; a ghost from my past who knows my every move, who’s been inside my head, my heart, my dreams and memories: Jaxson.
I’m the traitor, Kylie. The rogue mercenary, Jaxson’s newest assignment.
And this is our love story.
Excerpt from ROGUE: Warning ~ Spice Level HOT
Kylie and Jaxson are on the run and things get a bit wild.
Terrific. He’s going to flirt with me and tease me to death.
“You up for a challenge?”
“It depends on what it is.”
“Smart girl. How about I give you a play by play? Then you can either tell me to fuck off or to go for it.”
“What if I tell you to fuck off right now?” I sweetly ask.
He chuckles. “It’s your dime, fireball. Your call.”
I arch my eyebrows. He’s got this naughty, devilish look in his eyes and, God knows, not only should I resist him but I should roll myself out of our hiding place and run as fast as my legs will carry me into the woods.
“If this will help me survive Hell Camp, I’m up for a challenge,” I hear myself say.
“Believe me, it’s going to be a lesson in restraint for me as well. So here’s the deal. I wanna tease that sweet pussy of yours. Fuck you with my fingers. See how quiet you can be, how still you can be, how in control you can be when all hell is breaking loose around you. A shame I can’t lick you like I want. We’ll save that for a better time.
What do you say?”
What do I say? I open, close then open my mouth. Nothing comes out. Not “Yes, make me come beneath this decomposing tree while Hayden’s hellions run amuck around us.” Not “No, how about courting me with a few flowers first? Or at the very least, getting me tipsy on a bottle of good wine?”
I swallow hard. “I say this is you being unpredictable. Go figure.”
His hand slides downward and across my belly.
“Don’t you dare,” I whisper.
“Oh, I dare. But . . . do you?”
“I’ve been thinking about this for days. Fuck, since you sank that knife into my thigh.”
I squeeze my eyes shut. Hating that memory.
Jesus. He’s lost his freaking mind right along with me losing mine.
“Listen. You think I haven’t noticed the way you’ve been eye-fucking me? Damn, I love the way you bite then lick your lip while you think I don’t know that you’re watching me.” His hand moves across my lower abdomen, the tips of his fingers sliding beneath the waistband of my sweatpants and my panties.
“Jaxson who?” I reply. Yeah, right. I’ve had eye-gasms over him for weeks.
This is crazy. Beyond crazy . . . insane. My whole experience at Hell Camp, the fights, the knives, is surreal. One adventure after another. Nothing prepared me for him. The pad of his pointer finger flickers over my nub, tempting me. I think, Why not give into this wild need to go a little nuts? Besides, I’m with the right man to push me over the edge—literally. Just looking at him . . . oh my . . .
He’s curled a finger inside my folds.
The bony part of his palm rubs across my sensitive hood.
And I’m wet, and growing wetter with each subtle caress.
“Bend your leg and put it up on my outer thigh.”
I stare at him like he’s talking gibberish.
“I need this as much as you do.” He grins like a madman, a daredevil, a man who can steal your breath away then have you begging he steal more of it. And just like that, I’m a goner.
I bend, lift my leg, and anchor it on top of his thigh. “Stop . . . talking. Or they’ll hear you,” I whisper, my tone hoarse with excitement.
Naughty. Oh so naughty, and I want it.
“Fireball,” he murmurs, “I’m going to be struggling right along with you not to give our hiding spot away. I promise you that.”
“Misery loves company,” I add, then moan as he thrusts a digit into my slick channel.
“The best kind of misery.”
Slowly, so very slowly, he slides his finger in and out, and I’m in heaven. I feel his thumb pressing into my nub as his finger drags along the walls of my channel.
“You’re wet but tight,” he breathes into my ear, “I’m going to work another finger inside. Nod if that’s okay.”
“Do it,” I demand.
As promised, he pushes a second in alongside the first. Slowly at first, then quickening the pace. I can’t help but tilt my hips along with each stroke. It’s not long before I feel the climax building up inside me.
“Coming,” he whispers so quietly, I barely catch his question.
“Almost. Sweet Mary . . .”
“No. They’re coming. Footsteps.” He winks at me, rolling his thumb once again over my sensitive hood while his fingers plunge into me and withdraw. Once. Twice. Three times. Until my body is shaking with need.
I jerk at the sound of a voice close by. “The trail Jaxson left behind was goddamn amateurish. Like he wants us to find him. He’s around here somewhere.”
My eyebrows lift high enough to touch the tree overhead.
His smirk is full of mischief.
And, holy sweet Mary, if his tongue is anything like his fingers . . . I clamp my lips shut, holding back my moan. Yes, oh yes.
No, oh no.
“Over here,” someone shouts at the same time I arch my hips toward Jaxson and pray that the mewing sound going off in my head doesn’t work its way out of my mouth.
I struggle to keep quiet, to still my movements, to not give us away. And I curse Jaxson for putting me in this situation, for masterfully bringing me to the edge, to make me want to shout out my climax, only to have to dig deep not to do so.
My eyes meet his, and without my making a sound, I crest. My pleasure clear as day in what has to be the most blissful expression known to womankind. Which, I silently gasp, is reflected in the hottest look known to mankind that crosses over his face.
Sweet mother of God. This man is going to be the death of me.
“That was fucking beautiful.”
I blush. “Shhh. They’ll hear you.”
“They’re gone, off on a wild-goose chase. I ran ahead and planted a few less-than-subtle trail marks. Still, we better head back.” He removes his hand from beneath my sweatpants, shifts my leg off his thigh, and rolls out from beneath the tree. I squeeze my eyes shut, briefly, disbelieving what I’ve just done, then slide out after him.
He offers me a hand up.
“You’re insane,” I mumble.
“And you’re beautiful.”
ROGUE is now available to buy from all major ebook retailers (click image above for direct link).
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Michele Mannon creates characters who are far from perfect; who are likely to be knee-deep in trouble, heart-first in love and at wits’ end when life unexpectedly, unequivocally turns to hell. Her debut series, Worth the Fight, received two Romantic Times Magazine Top Picks. Her new sexy romantic suspense series with St. Martin’s Press, Deadliest Lies, releases in August 2016, beginning with ROGUE, a story about what happens when your own organization sends a hit man after you mistakenly, heart-wrenchingly kill your lover. Michele lives in Pennsylvania but likes traveling to exotic places, including the NJ shore. She’s fond of skinny cinnamon dolce lattes, quick-witted, Irish-accented men, a good story, and lots and lots of laughter.
For more information about Michele, please visit her website: http://www.michelemannon.com.