Close to First Draft Completion

I’m close to finishing my dark contemporary romance novel, Lightness In My Dark. It’s exciting when you get to the point where you can see THE END in neon lights. Actually, the first draft is my favorite part of writing. Revisions can be grueling, but as it takes shape and improves, it’s all worth it. 

Since this is my first romance novel, it’s interesting to learn about the subgenres, tropes, and steam/spicy expectations of the reader.


Like all genres, romance has its own subs, such as the common ones: Historical (Outlander by Diana Gabaldon), Paranormal (The Dragon of New Orleans by Genevieve Jack), Contemporary (Bound to Submit by Laura Kaye), Erotic (Bared to You by Sylvia Day), Suspense (Inflict by Bethany-Kris), Dark (Tormentor Mine by Anna Zaires), and several others.

The only books listed that I haven’t read are Outlander and Bared to You. All the others are favorites I’ve recently read in the subgenres. When you’re looking for a specific subgenre, it’s easy to find them in romance and there are combinations, like mine is a dark contemporary romance.


Tropes reflect the type of story, the literary device readers anticipate. It can be the central plot, conflict, or a character trait. Of course, most romances have more than one trope. Trope examples are alpha hero, athlete hero, best friend’s brother, blackmail, bully, cursed, enemies to lovers, forced proximity, kidnapped, male-male-female (MMF), medical romance, rock star, second chance, virgin, werewolf, and onward.

My tropes consist of alpha hero, friends to lovers, marriage of convenience, and trauma.


This is the great romance debate. Everyone has their own take on steamy/spicy in romance. I haven’t found a site where there’s a basic description of them, so I will provide you with my own steam/spicy levels for romance novels.

Sweet Pepper = Hallmark movies with a kiss. There’s no explicit language or sex. It’s all an emotional connection.

Banana Pepper = Nicholas Sparks’s A Walk in the Clouds. You know they did the deed, but there’s no description and it fades with a closed-door scene. It’s more emotional than sexual.

Jalapeno Pepper = This category has a wide range of spicy. There could be one explicit sex scene with explicit language to several sex scenes.

Carolina Cayenne Pepper = Bring it on! Explicit language and several sex scenes. Enough to realize you’re squeezing your thighs together to stop the sweating.

Carolina Reaper Pepper = You might as well take your clothes off. The hotness is off the charts. It’s so explicit in every way, it will feel like you’re reading a porn marathon.

The spice level in my novel is Carolina Cayenne Pepper. You’ll need a cold washcloth and a glass of water on-hand, along with enough of alone time while reading it.

Wishing you a romantic week!

Romance and Spice,