Six things Pride & Prejudice taught us about the romance genre while also ruining our lives

pride-and-prejudice-1995-restored-2010-x-250In our not quite yet a tradition of watching new-to-us romantic comedies and seeing what they can teach us about the romance genre, Erin and I recently watched the 1995 Pride and Prejudice. Although to be fair, it’s not really what we meant by romantic comedy, and we didn’t put it on — all six ultra-’90s hours of it — for the sake of this exercise.  Rather, I was goaded into it by friends because I insisted that Colin Firth in a wet shirt did nothing for me, and then I goaded Erin into it because no one should have to suffer alone.

The thing is, in the end, we loved it, despite a number of complaints, including that nothing happens in the first two episodes, and I was never a convert to the matter of the wet shirt.

In fact, we keep joking that it’s ruining our lives because we can’t stop talking about it for all sorts of completely absurd reasons. For example, my temptation to grow my hair out is useless at best, and while I do annually actually attend a Regency reenactment ball, my love for the period comes from Age of Sail material, and so I usually wear menswear to such events.  My making some sort of fluffy confection of a dress is so not on, because frankly, I have better things to be doing, like writing books. Also, my tits will never, ever look as good as Lizzie’s in the fashions of that day.

So without further ado, six things we learned about the romance genre watching Pride & Prejudice:

1. Getting chosen is really appealing.  I think we say this after everything we watch for this blog series.  But the fact remains.  And it’s not news to us.  After all, our Love in Love Angeles series is about the deconstruction of that trope.  But the trope may be more shiningly clear in Pride & Prejudice than in any other media we’ve consumed.

In Pride & Prejudice, marriage, and the right sort of marriage, is a mark of success, adulthood, worth, and beating the odds. It’s actually everything, and the miniseries makes no secrets about that. And while we can all say that’s archaic and we don’t relate to it, we do live in a world with the term “smug marrieds” and there was that unfortunate period in the ’80s where someone crunched some numbers incorrectly to say that women had greater odds of dying in a plane crash than finding a spouse after 30.  So really, we’re feeling Lizzie’s problems here.

2. The idea of girlishness is alluring. It’s alluring to perform and it’s alluring as an object of desire. Instead of hitting us with the “not like the other girls” trope that’s big in contemporary romantic comedies and rife in YA literature, here success comes from being a girl.  And it’s not that Lizzie is the best girl ever — she’s not.  But she’s one of many women in the story who all perform their girlishness differently.  That it’s okay to be what you are in the way that you happen to be it is a pretty sexy idea. And the lack of demonization of femininity — even if it’s in a story where femininity is enforced and involves a great deal of tedium and limited choice — is a nice change of pace.

3. What’s sexy in fiction is often still likely to be creepy, annoying, or weird in real life. We said this about Love Actually and it’s still true here.  Can you imagine being married to Mr. Darcy? I’m sure the sex is great, but the rest of it would probably be highly irritating.  And really, both Darcy and Lizzie should have been quit of each other permanently several times over. In real life these are your annoying friends who need to stop having their endlessly aggravating on-again-off-again thing that they swear is really going to work this time and probably isn’t.  Good thing this isn’t real life.

4. Nostalgia, which is a form of longing for what you can’t have, really turns a lot of people’s cranks.  For Erin, this was in the comfort food feel of the cheesy Masterpiece Theater vibes of the entire thing.  For me, it was a sense of Lizzie’s problems and the formality of the culture feeling perfectly modern to me (ten years at Miss Hewitt’s Class for Young Ladies? Yup. My life is an anachronistic car crash). The idea of nostalgia, of longing for a lost world, allows the reader/viewer to engage the story from a position of I could have had this if only… even when that’s not true at all.  But wow, it hurts so good.

5. Everyone loves a good class difference story.  It’s not just 50 Shades of Grey that deserves blame for the sexy billionaire trope.  I mean, have you seen Pemberly? That said, writing class difference stories — especially as an American when writing about America — is an exercise in murkiness as we tend to focus on wealth.  But the appeal of the class difference story isn’t just about money, it’s about manner, access, and expectations.

6. Sometimes, you just want to be rescued. Darcy charging in and solving everyone’s disasters at the end works because his motives include his own selfishness and making up for disasters he helped to create.  But it also works because Lizzie, like all women of that era, has limited resources beyond her own cleverness and fortitude in terms of being able to rescue herself.  It’s okay to write someone getting saved.  Sometimes, we all need saving, and that doesn’t have to be a sign of weakness or an emotionally unequal match.

Perhaps what’s most worth noting though is that while other media we’ve watched for this exercise has informed us structurally, what Pride & Prejudice really did for us was allow us to wallow in longing and desire in our new manuscript.  We tend to write sparely.  This miniseries helped us find the permission we needed to do anything but.

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Big sales at Dreamspinner and Torquere Press!

Starling CoverFor the rest of August, use code BTS2015 at to get 35% of everything in your cart.  This means you can get the entire Love in Los Angeles series to date (books 1 – 3 and the novelette Evergreen) for less than $14 total.

All our other titles are on sale too, including our titles in the ARe best selling anthologies They Do, First Timers, Santa’s Little Kinkster’s and Plaid Nights

LLcombo_smallMeanwhile, through August 29, everything at Dreamspinner is 25% off, which means you can get Midsummer and Twelfth Night for $2.99 each.


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Sample and Hold (part of First Timers anthology) out now!

firsttimersThis came out yesterday, but Twelfth Night had us swamped!

Whole anthology:

First Timers brings you a collection of eleven stories about first experiences. From sweet and innocent to smoking hot, these stories capture the exhilarating feeling that something wonderful is about to happen.

Humor and passion blend in Rob Rosen’s “Come Hell or High Water,” Gacy Grant treats us to a heartwarming first in “The Pickup,” long-time friends become lovers in “The King’s Guard” by Evelyn Burkhardt and “One Sneeze, a Wish, Two Sneezes, a Kiss” by Jacey Mills, and revelations abound first time away from home in Andrea Dalling’s “What a Man Wants” and Helena Maeve’s “Initiation.” “Sample and Hold” by Erin McRae and Racheline Maltese, Megan McFerren’s “Just Like That,” and Val Prozorova’s “Guitar Lesson” explore the intensity of a first coming out, first time, first kiss, while love can be found   where you least expect it in “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” by McKay and “Finding Home” by Katherine Halle.

Whether contemporary or fantastical, past or present, a sweet kiss on a riverbank or reveling in the Bayou, these stories are all uplifting, fun, and did we mention hot?


All Romance:


Just our story, “Sample and Hold”:

Nate may have a crossover hit with his first single, but he’s also a 19-year-old virgin who’s about to come out in Rolling Stone. But when Carson, the cocky sound engineer who’s helped put him on the map issues him one more challenge, Nate sees an opportunity he can’t refuse.


All Romance:


Use BTS2015 to get 35% off your entire Torquere cart for the rest of August!

These links are all ebook only. The full anthology will be available in print soon.

Finally, I’d say this is the most self-indulgent thing we’ve ever written, but we have that shifter story coming out next month.

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Twelfth Night (Love’s Labours 2) — Out now!

And it’TwelfthNight_finals release day!

If you pre-ordered from Dreamspinner, you can go to your Dreamspinner account and download it now. If you pre-ordered from elsewhere you should have an email from that distributor.

If you haven’t snagged it yet:


All Romance:



Also available on Google Play, Kobo, and more! This is an ebook only release for now. It may be collected into a print volume or two with the rest of the series in the future.

(Also, I apologize in advance,this is one of two new releases we have today, so there will be a post for the other one up later today as well).

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50% off everything at All Romance – August 9, 2015

rainbowconbookfairNearly everything (and all of our titles, regardless of publisher) is 50% off on All Romance just for today.

That means short stories and novelettes as low as $1.25; the Love’s Labours (Midsummer and Twelfth Night) novellas for $2 each, and the Love in Los Angeles books for $3 each (the holiday story about Liam, Evergreen, is $1.50).

And he’s what’s bonus cool about All Romance – For every ten books you buy, you get to choose an 11th one free.  If you’re a high volume romance reader, this may be the right sale for you.

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Vote for Midsummer in the Sex Scene Championship 2015

MidsummerFSScorching Book Reviews runs this fun contest, the Sex Scene Championship, every year that pits sex scene against sex scene from romance novels of all types.

Currently there are about 30 hours left to vote for Midsummer in its first heat (we’re up against A.M. Arthur’s Acts of Faith): 

Why should you vote? Mainly so you can win prizes from the contest organizers, but also so you can check out excerpts from lots of great books you might be interested in reading.

Erin and I chose the scene we did in Midsummer for a few reasons. One is because it’s funny.  Another is because it gets to a lot of the books core themes about age and experience and adventure, none of which always line up in the way people expect.

But we also chose the scene because it doesn’t contain penetration. Now, we write lots of penetration whether behind closed doors or with the camera right in the bedroom. But we work hard to (and sometimes hopefully succeed at) avoid falling into traps about valuing some types of sex more than others. It’s not realistic, and it’s not fair to readers whose fantasies don’t privilege or aren’t interested in some acts.  So we decided to take a little risk in this fun exercise and see if people could accept this scene not as an appetizer, but as the main course.

Please vote if you’re so inclined and definitely check out all the great participants!

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35% off Midsummer & Twelfth Night at DSP website

MidsummerFSDreamspinner Press is having a 35% off sale on all contemporary titles in its store August 5 – 9, which means you can get Midsummer (Love’s Labours 1) for $2.59 vs. the usual $3.99 and pre-order Twelfth Night (Love’s Labours 2 – out August 12) for the same low price. We strongly suspect this is the largest discount that will ever be available on these ebooks.

Lush, funny, magical, and a little bit morbid, the Love’s Labours series chronicles a romance between two actors who meet during a summerstock production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Sure, 42-year-old John Lyonel has never been attracted TwelfthNight_finalto men before, but falling for 25-year-old Michael Hilliard is actually the least screwed up thing that’s happened to him in years. Even if sometimes he thinks Michael’s a changeling.

A lushly worded book, filled with romance and characters that leap from the page. One of the best M/M reads of the year so far!

-V.L. Locey (author of Two Man Advantage)
Book 1:

Book 2:

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