Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Setting the Stage for a Summer Romance

Hello romance lovers!

Summer is here! To celebrate, today I’m sharing a few thoughts on writing summer romances. 

Take a minute and consider this scenario: A young woman runs a bed and breakfast in a resort beach town. While kayaking early one morning, she sees a swimmer caught in a rip current. She helps him get to shore safely and learns that he’s spending the summer in town. They are attracted to each other, but don’t immediately act on their feelings. 

How would you write the rest of the story? Where would you take it from there?

As an author, I’m free to invent anything I want in my books. I create the characters, their backstories, goals, hopes, dreams, and disappointments. I’m also in charge of the setting and the details—and they are two important things to consider when writing a summer romance.

Summer is generally considered a “fun” time (except for the mosquitos!). Kids are out of school, people take vacations, friends and families gather around the pool, lake, or barbeque, and everything is more relaxed. All that can lead to summer love.

Everything’s hotter in the summer—including romances! Characters get hot—physically, as temperatures soar and the humidity rises—and hot for each other. Suppose a hero and heroine meet on the beach. They can get an eyeful of the other person’s muscular chest or long, lean legs. They’re both hot and sweaty (maybe he just finished playing a volleyball game). They may flirt, playfully touch each other, ask the other to apply sunscreen, or simply fantasize about what’s under that bathing suit. 

In my summer romance, A Perfect Match, Vin and Danni are stuck driving across the country in July. At the start of the book, she’s professionally dressed, but as things heat up between them, she starts wearing playful summer dresses, sandals, and shorts. Her outfits were a great way for Vin to notice her legs and fantasize about touching her. (And his tank tops showed off his huge arms…) 

Setting a story in the summer months opens a world of possibilities. Writers have more opportunities to bring the hero and heroine together and keep the interest going with summer escapades. Where you set your romance often leads to the types of encounters between your characters and also influences the plot.

Suppose your heroine lives in a beach town. Give her an interesting job that gets her out in public and she could meet Prince Charming. Maybe she’s a waitress at a tiki bar, is a lifeguard, or just happens to meet a hot guy on the beach. Or, maybe your hero is on a beach vacation to get over being dumped by his ex and finds himself falling for the woman (or man) he meets on the boardwalk.

When writing any story, it’s always fun to play the “What if…” game. What if your hero is a lifeguard at a pool and rescues the heroine—or her child? What if a boater is stranded out in a lake? Suppose your hero and heroine meet on a fishing trip? They play on opposing volleyball teams? Meet at a Civil War reenactment event?

Don’t be afraid to turn things around and try something unusual. What if a surfer meets someone who absolutely hates the sun? (That was the premise to my summer paranormal romance, Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover.) What if the hero is terrified of the water and has to overcome that fear to be with (or rescue) the person he loves? 

But not every summer romance has to involve the water, sun, and sand. Anywhere you can get your characters together doing any summer activity is a great way to create mood and setting. Suppose your single mom heroine is taking her son to day camp and falls for the camp instructor? 

Maybe your hero loves the woods and likes to hike, camp, or rock climb. Is your heroine attracted to the hot guy who mows the lawns in her development? The hero meets a sexy new neighbor at a community barbeque or fireworks display? 

And don’t forget about summer sports: surfing, baseball, softball, or any outdoor event is a good way to have your characters meet. County fairs and concerts in the park are also great settings for love to blossom. Maybe your heroine falls for a member of the band…

Some summer romances have nothing to do with people on vacation or doing “outdoorsy” things, but still retain that summer heat. My contemporary romance, Trust with Hearts, takes place in the summer, but doesn’t focus on summer activities. Sherri and Curtis fall in love over the course of the book while doing everyday things, but I did work in plenty of seasonal details to give the book a summer “flavor” and spice things up! 

If it’s really hot outside (and your hero and heroine are the naughty, adventurous types) you can have them go skinny-dipping in a pool, a lake, or the ocean. If your lovers are camping and feel the urge for a quickie, they could sneak off and do it in the woods (with the added thrill of the risk of getting caught), under the stars, in a tent (where someone might hear), or on a boat during a fireworks display. 

Readers love being swept away by summer romances and writers enjoy creating them. In fact, summer romances could very well be a separate romance genre! They’re fun reads for a day at the beach and they’re an excellent way to add a little “summer heat” to cold winter nights. 

So… grab an icy beverage, set out that lounge chair, and lose yourself in a hot summer romance.

Happy Reading,