This month I've invited the fabulous Jay Northcote to guest on my blog.
Favourite Tropes in Gay Romance
Thanks to the fabulous RJ Scott for offering me a guest slot on her blog. It’s lovely to be here :)
As a writer of gay romance, I sometimes feel that I’m writing the same story over and over again. I suppose in a sense I am. When we pick up a romance book, we always know how it will end. The HEA is why we read it, and why we love it. The story is all about the journey, how those two characters connect and end up together. But inevitably there are a lot of common themes and tropes that recur, and as a writer it’s really tempting to keep writing my favourite ones.
Anyone reading who knows my work might be able to guess some of my favourite tropes to write, but for those who don’t, the themes that tend to keep cropping up in my stories are:
Friends to Lovers
I love it when the characters already have that basis of friendship on which to build a relationship. But I also love the vulnerability, and potential for heartbreak when they fear their feelings aren’t reciprocated.
Sexual partners to lovers (fuck buddies, escort and client…)
My characters often fuck first and fall in love later. Personally I think this is pretty realistic, and it’s also fun to write if you like writing sex scenes—and I do. The challenge for me is to show their developing relationship through the physical connection in a way that makes the sex an integral part of the story.
My very first release, Nothing Serious, was a fuck buddies to lovers story and since then I’ve written several other stories where my characters jump into bed long before they fall in love. My most recent release, Like a Lover, (see below for more details) deals with an escort and his client falling in love.
Some of my books get labelled as GFY (gay for you), and I can understand why. But I prefer to think of them as stories of sexual discovery. In many cases sexuality is way more complex and subtle than gay/straight. I enjoy exploring that diversity through my characters and their relationships. How they choose to identify themselves may vary. For example, Mac and Jez never really identify as gay in Helping Hand. But they end up in love with each other and are okay with that.
This ties in with the sexual discovery trope, but it’s about so much more than just the sex. I adore writing the tentative, uncertainty of characters as they fall in love for the first time. I think anyone who has ever been in love, always remembers the first time they felt it, how powerful it was, how all consuming. That sudden realisation of, Holy shit, so this is why there are so many songs and books written about this!
So, yeah. I never get tired of writing (or reading) about characters taking that leap for the first time.
I suppose it goes without saying, that all of the tropes I love to write I also love to read. But for my favourite tropes to read I would also add the following:
I have a huge soft spot for characters who have to hide, or try to deny their feelings. Priests, young men in homophobic religious communities... they’re my kryptonite, as long as they get their HEA.
This ties in with the forbidden love theme, as at least one of the characters is usually in the closet and fearing being outed. But I also love the whole locker room, masculine, team bonding vibe in sports stories. Hockey is a particular favourite for me.
What are your favourite tropes to read? I’d love to know. Please tell me in a comment. Thanks for reading!
Josh has a plan: get through uni with a good degree and no debts. Focused on his goals, he’s working as an escort to pay his way. He enjoys the no-strings sex and doesn’t have the time or inclination for a relationship. Falling in love definitely isn’t part of the deal—especially not with a client.
When Rupert meets Josh in a bar, he’s smitten on sight. He’s never paid for sex before, but when Josh propositions him, he can’t resist. He should have known one night would never be enough. Luckily for him, he has an inheritance to support his addiction to Josh, because his job in IT wouldn’t cover the cost.
With each appointment the lines get increasingly blurred. Something is developing between them that feels more like a relationship than a business transaction, but they come from different worlds and to go from client-and-escort to lovers seems impossible. If they want a future together, Josh and Rupert have a lot to overcome.
Universal Amazon Link: myBook.to/likealover_jayn
All Romance Ebooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-likealover-1881894-149.html
“I like your lip ring,” Rupert said. His gaze dropped lower to Josh’s collarbones. “What are your tattoos of?”
“Swallows.” Rupert would just be able to see the wing tips that showed in this low-necked T-shirt. “Two of them.”
“Have you got any other tattoos?”
Josh gave a slow, teasing smile. “Maybe. Do you want me to show you?”
Rupert met his eyes again. There was a flicker of uncertainty before he answered. “Yes. I’d like that.”
Josh turned over the possibilities in his mind. It had been a long time since he’d had sex for anything other than for money. He usually saw clients at least three nights a week. They scratched the itch for him, and he didn’t have the time or inclination to hook up with other guys. He hadn’t dated since he’d started working as an escort. Josh didn’t like lying about his job, but most guys didn’t want to date escorts.
It would be easy to pick Rupert up tonight, though, and have no-strings sex with him for fun rather than cash. But Josh’s rent was due.
“Me too. But it’ll cost you,” he finally said.
Rupert frowned, obvious confusion crossing his features as he tried to make sense of Josh’s words. “What? I don’t—”
“You’re hot, and I wish I could do this without asking you for money. But a client let me down this evening. I have a hotel room booked and paid for next door, and I need someone to cover the cost for me.” The lie came smoothly. “I can’t afford to have sex for free tonight.”
Rupert’s mouth dropped open. Shock was evident on his face, but there was something else that was harder to read. His cheeks flooded pink again and his eyes went dark. “You’re….” His voice came out husky, and he cleared his throat. “You’re a….”
“A sex worker. An escort, to be precise. Hooker, rent boy, you get the gist. I’m an expensive one too. But my clients think I’m worth the money.” Josh waited, tension making a muscle tick in his jaw as he forced himself to stay still and hold Rupert’s gaze. On the occasions he’d tried picking up clients face-to-face, their reactions had varied. Interest, anger, excitement, disgust… he’d seen them all. He steeled himself, ready for rejection.
Rupert licked his lips. “How much?” he finally asked.
Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England, with her husband, two children, and two cats.
She comes from a family of writers, but she always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed her by. She spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content. One day, she decided to try and write a short story–just to see if she could–and found it rather addictive. She hasn’t stopped writing since.