Is this the year of chicklit-style romantic comedies?

By | 17 January 2014 | 9 Responses

Chicklit romance is on the rise, but it’s not chicklit as we remember it (and that’s a good thing).

I’m not a reader who consciously looks for trends, but lately I’ve been noticing the growing number of chicklit romances on the market. I think this subgenre (cross-genre?) is going to be the new flavour in romance. (Interestingly, last week I listened to the DBSA podcast with Lisa Renee Jones and she predicted the rise of romcoms, which are essentially what I’m talking about).

In Australia, I think this trend is being accelerated by two key factors:

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion1. The huge success of Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project, which the author categorises as romcom—unsurprising given its origins as a screenplay—but which romance readers have claimed for the genre, as evidenced by its inclusion in the shortlist for the Australian Romance Readers Awards, and which I would argue is essentially chicklit in tone and style, except that it’s told from the hero’s perspective

2. The growing preference for first person POV, which is more a staple of chicklit than romance, driven by the popularity of the romantic erotica and new adult genres, both of which I believe have reached saturation point

I don’t think this trend is surprising. I have felt for some time now that chicklit was due for a resurgence, especially when I started seeing romantic comedies coming out of Escape, Destiny and Momentum. What’s very interesting is that the crop of romantic comedies I’m reading have different characteristics to the chicklit we read in the late 90s to mid-00s, or the humorous contemporary romances we’ve come to know. Here are some of the characteristics I think we can expect from this new chicklit-romance hybrid:

  • First person POV
  • Fewer shoes and conspicuous consumption, more alcohol and f-bombs
  • Heroines with strong, enduring friendships and, as a result, fewer insecurities
  • No love triangles (I think readers are so sick of them, especially when they never get resolved properly)
  • Sexually confident heroines
  • Less angst about the heroine’s body image and more lusting over the hero
  • Bedroom door closed (boo!)
  • More beta/gamma heroes—we’ll have fewer millionaires, dickhead bosses and arrogant celebrities, and more guy-next-door types
  • Older heroines—I think most will be very close to either side of thirty, rather than mid-20s, and I think we’ll see more heroines approaching 40
  • Less self-deprecation and more wit
  • Less reliance on character archetypes—we’ll see characters with more realistic combinations of loveable and irritating traits
  • Heroines who are great at their jobs and are aiming for career advancement rather than thinking of changing careers
  • Heroines and heroes who have relationships on the page before they end up with each other

It remains to be seen if we’ll see romantic plots that stretch out over three or more books. I hope not! But it’s possible we’ll see books that deliver a happy ending in the first book and then develop the heroine’s relationship and character arc in subsequent books. I could live with that, I think, as long as the happy ending isn’t broken. I’m not a fan of the on-again, off-again relationship.

Generally, though, I’m loving this trend. The heroines I’ve been reading in this subgenre have been charming but flawed and completely relatable. The heroes are understated, which can be frustrating sometimes, but there’s something to be said about finishing a book and thinking, I wish I could have these people over for dinner—it would be so much fun!

I’m interested to hear your thoughts. Are you sensing a similar trend? Are you excited that chicklit might be making a comeback? What kinds of stories do you want to see more of in 2014?

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Kat

Killer of Fairies
Kat Mayo is a freelance writer, Twitter tragic and compulsive reader. She is the editor of Booktopia's Romance Buzz and hosts the Heart to Heart podcast for Destiny Romance. Her articles have been published in Books+Publishing, the AWW Challenge blog, and the ARRA newsletter. Kat firmly believes in happy endings. She kills fairies with glee.
Browse: *Opinions
Keywords: chick-lit

9 comments »

  1. Amy Andrews

    Hi Kat. I am over the moon about contemporary rom/romcom/chicklit coming back. I lump it all in together because I think the newer stuff is more a cross over of all these sub-genres.
    I personally don’t think its got a lot to do with Rosie – I think the resurgence happened before then (overseas at least and let’s face it, trends do find their way here eventually)  but I don’t think it hurt either.
    I’d love to see even more *Australian* romcom voices and also Aussie small town romance. I want to read an Aussie Crusie/Evanovich/SEP !!

  2. Kat (author)

    I agree. The newer stuff is crossover, although I don’t think we’ll lose the more traditional contemporaries. Looking forward to more romcoms from you. (With lots of f-bombs. :D)

    You’re probably right that the resurgence is more from within romance. It would be great, though, if TRP brought in more readers to the genre!

    Have you read Kathryn Ledson? I loved her first book, and Penguin markets her as being in the vein of Evanovich.

  3. Amy Andrews

    Nope, not heard of Ledson but just been to Amazon and despite the shocking price for the e-book have bought it.
    Another romcom coming from me in September – f-bombs included :-)

  4. Kat (author)

    Excellent! I think Ros has one in March, too, right? I’m seeing quite a few Stephanie Plum-esque series and I’m just hoping not all of them will feature love triangles because my heart just can’t take that sort of anxiety. :D

  5. Amy Andrews

    yes Ros has one in March.  Not Stephanie Plumb-esque like Fish – no mystery angle. But OMG, I love Lingerie For Felons – it was her first book she wrote and it’s still my fav of hers. More straight contemporary and I love Lola. A bit of a love triangle I guess but not  a typical two guys always vying to be the one. More like two possibilities for different stages of her life. I think its amazing – and that is purely objective, I promise.

  6. Kat (author)

    It’s in my TBR list for March, and you’re not the only person who has told me of its fabulosity. :) The Kathryn Ledson has a suspense angle, and I just finished one with a mystery and a love triangle, Love Game by Elise Sax. The latter I’d consider rom elements more than romance. I think you’re right — the titles coming out now have combinations of rom/romcom/chicklit.

    I think Australian rural and small town romances are pretty popular. I see titles that fall into that category every month, and they tend to remind me of Superromance, Aussie style.

  7. Decadence

    I’m reading one now called That Touch of Magic by Lucy March, with each book in the series (only 2 so far) following one woman in a circle of friends. In this book, the heroine has sex with someone other than the hero after his return to her life, even though it happens off-page. He’d left her out of guilt because he’d slept with someone else while he was grieving for his father. She has a few issues, but she can be quiet strong, funny and even a little bit evil (in a good way).

  8. Decadence

    I meant quite strong. She may be an ex-librarian, but she’s definitely not quiet.

  9. Nicci

    This is so interesting because I am writing my first novella and its a bit chicklit (I typed chickcLit there – freudian?) meets BDSM. So alpha hero (but no billionaire, yada-yada), bedroom door open,  confident and witty heroine. More hedonistic than angst.
    Is that going to confuse people? Will the cross-over work?
    Interested in your thoughts…..
     
     
     

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