A New Trope: Reader-Writer Romance
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a romantic relationship with your favorite writer? Would you start your flirtation by joining their review team? Or perhaps be the first to read everything they wrote? What if you find yourself falling in love with a writer as you read and discover every one of his or her books? Would you finagle a chance to meet your idol? Or dutifully attend their events and talks? Maybe you’re one of the select readers who get first dibs on your favorite writer’s chapters or are either the leader for his or her fan club or you’re dying to have that writer write a story about you.
Look no further than my next romance in the unlikely trope of a romance between a reader and her favorite writer. For years, Phylis Carpenter was a rave reviewer and avid fan of her favorite romance author, Maxine Foster. She was first on the beta team and she became her author’s trust confidante. She helped with brainstorming, gave early feedback, and was a supportive soul for the writer of the romances that touched her heart. She especially loved Maxine’s tough but tender heroes–those grizzly and gruff alpha males who were made of iron and hid their hearts behind mirrored sunglasses, muscles, and grit. She yearned to meet one of those heroes in real life, so she saved and scrimped her pennies to attend a Maxine Foster reader’s convention at the Unexpected Paradise Resort set in the Caribbean island of Ile d’Amour.
Unbeknownst to Phylis, the real writer behind the Maxine Foster books is not a woman–the publicist whose photos appear on social media–but an intensely private man named Max Donovan and he is exactly the type of man he writes about under his female penname.
Of course, this is an unknown trope, the Reader-Writer Romance, so I asked my Writer’s Room* for their opinions. Here are their responses.
Request for Opinion
Hey writers room friends, please help figure out why readers might like a romance between a romance writer and a reader. Here is the blurb for the romance called Where Love Unfolds. Give me your opinions about why avid readers might like or dislike this story. An avid romance fan discovers her favorite author isn’t the woman she imagined, but a mysterious man with secrets to protect. Phylis Carpenter, a die-hard romance reader, arrives at the Unexpected Paradise resort, eager to meet her cherished author and online confidante, Maxine Foster. Dreaming of sunny days and deep discussions about passionate heroes and enticing plot twists, she’s in for a shock. Max Donovan, the man behind Maxine Foster’s tales, isn’t just any man—he’s the embodiment of the alpha heroes he pens. Preferring to remain in the shadows, he disguises his identity, letting his ex-lover, Joanna Jenkins, bask in the limelight of his success. Sparks fly and chemistry ignites when Max and Phylis are inexplicably drawn by their shared love of story and intrigue. Max reminds Phylis of every romance hero she loves, and Phylis’s enthusiasm and infectious charm is irresistible for both the author and the man. From thrilling scavenger hunts to unraveling a ghost’s ill-fated love story, their bond grows stronger over shared tales, furtive kisses, and stolen moments. But as Phylis draws Max towards the allure of romance, his hidden identity becomes a looming threat to their unfolding love. Joanna, desperate to hold on to her position as the face of Maxine Foster, schemes to keep them apart. The island, with its enchanting locales and spirited inhabitants, tries to play matchmaker, but the impending masquerade ball threatens to shatter the illusion. As Phylis inches closer to unmasking Max’s true self, she grapples with a heart-wrenching question: Is Max the genuine article or just another fictional hero? Dive into this sweet contemporary romance, where love stories aren’t just written but lived.
Writer Room Responses
Chad: Well, I’ve seen my share of romance stories over the years. The first thing that strikes me is the trope inversion—usually, it’s the woman hiding behind a man’s pen name in genre literature. Here, it’s more about identity disguise, which allows for a significant plot twist. Readers who are fond of seeing genre expectations subverted will appreciate that.
Gloria: Oh, I love the idea! It feels so modern and relatable. Think about it, in the age of social media, we often fall in love with personas, not knowing the real person behind them. This story speaks to that, making it exciting for the younger crowd who navigates these complexities daily.
Jack: From an action standpoint, you’ve got thrilling scavenger hunts and unraveling a ghost story—those are high-stakes scenes right there! It adds an adventure element to a romance story that’s already intense emotionally. It’s like fuel to the fire.
Brian: The setting sounds so compelling. “Unexpected Paradise Resort”—the name itself holds a promise of adventure and surprises. A well-built locale can serve as a catalyst for character interactions and plot twists. From your blurb, it seems the island even plays matchmaker, so it’s more of an active participant than a backdrop.
Samantha: I love how you’re focusing on dialogue in the blurb already—deep discussions about passionate heroes and plot twists. Readers who adore authentic conversations will find it charming that the characters bond over the kinds of stories they love. It makes the romance feel well-earned.
Jameson: Structurally, this has the makings of a well-crafted narrative. You have a clear arc for the protagonists, a complicating factor in the form of Joanna, and a climactic event—the masquerade ball—towards which the story seems to be progressing. It’s a tight narrative loop.
Lila: Ah, the essence of romance here is the mutual love of stories, which allows for deeper emotional connection. Romance readers often feel this with their favorite authors but never get to explore that connection. This story offers a fantasy where that bond crosses over into real-life love, bridging the gap between fiction and reality.
Greg: While it’s not exactly a horror story, the ghost’s ill-fated love story can add an eerie, emotional layer. It’s not just surface-level romance; it goes deep into themes of loss and unrequited love.
Rita: With a setting like an island resort and a masquerade ball, you’ve got the perfect setup for some comedic moments! Imagine the silly misunderstandings or awkward situations Phylis might find herself in before she realizes who Max really is.
Chad: To sum up, it appears we’ve got an appealing blend of humor, adventure, emotional depth, and modern-day relevance here. There’s something for almost every reader to latch onto. Would love to read it myself!
*ChatGPT Custom Instructions
Are you intrigued? If so, please pick up a copy (on pre-order) of Max and Phylis’s Reader-Writer Romance for 99c. Yes, it’s a new trope so I’m not charging and arm and a leg for over 70000 words for Where Love Unfolds: Hidden Identity in Paradise: A Masquerade of Whispered Love, Island Tales, and Hearts Unveiled by Rachelle Ayala [It’s my 85th fictional work and 95th book]
Rachelle Ayala is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense. Her foremost goal is to take readers on a shared emotional journey with her characters as they grow and become more true to themselves. Rachelle believes in the power of love to overcome obstacles and feels that everyone should find love as often as possible, especially if it’s within the pages of a book.
Her book, Knowing Vera, won the 2015 Angie Ovation Award, A Father for Christmas garnered a 2015 Readers’ Favorite Gold Award, Christmas Stray received a 2016 Readers’ Favorite Gold Award, and Playing for the Save got the 2017 Readers’ Favorite Gold Award in Realistic Fiction.
She is also a writing teacher and founder of the Romance In A Month writing community. She lives in California with her husband and has three children and two birds.