Sweet Cinnamon Roll Heroes: New Romance Novels

Sweet Cinnamon Roll Heroes: New Romance Novels

In the parlance of romance on roll” is a sweet, supportive, and kind hero-the anti–Christian Grey. The phrase alludes to a 2014 Onion headline, “Beautiful Cinnamon Roll Too Good for This World, Too Pure,” and has come to represent a subgenre of books that push back on toxic masculinity. “More readers are asking for ‘cinnamon rolls’ and ‘golden retrievers,’ ” says Kaitlin Olson, senior editor at Atria; the latter refers to a romantic lead with a warm, floppy energy and positive attitude. “We’re seeing changing views on identity and masculinity and consent in the larger population, and readers are looking for romance novels to reflect what they’re seeing in the culture.”

Olsen and other editors and authors spoke with PW about forthcoming books whose squishy-centered men typify the changing face of attraction.

He keeps his therapeutic pottery hobby a secret until he meets Sophie, a romance novelist who has never been in love

The Long Game by Elena Armas, a September release from Atria, is a slow-burn romance between Adalyn Reyes, a prickly soccer executive, and Cam Caldani, a gruff retired goalkeeper. “Cam is deceptively kind,” Olson says. “He coaches a children’s soccer team. You see his interactions with the girls, whom he considers his own children. He has two cats. He takes care of Adalyn as well. That’s something we’re seeing more of in romance-men as emotional and physical caretakers.” See “Couple Goals” for our q&a with Armas.

Rachel Abbott, the heroine of debut novelist Regina Black’s The Art of Scandal (Grand Central, Aug.), overtly rejects the alpha male-her hot, rich, philandering politician husband, who has White House aspirations-to be with Nathan Vasquez, a man 10 years her junior. Nathan is “an exceptionally good listener,” per PW’s starred review, who “offers comfort, respect, and admiration for Rachel.”

Full Moon over Freedom (Harlequin, Sept.), second in the Milagro Street series by Angelina M. Lopez, subverts the alpha hero trope right on the cover: the alpha heroine-bruja and badass single mother Gillian Armstead-Bancroft-takes the dominant position in a clinch with Nicky Mendoza, an artist who’s pined for her since they lost their virginity together as teens. In Double-s (Alcove, June), Lindsay MacMillan skewers assumptions about desirability. When Kat spots an attractive man passing by on a bus, she imagines he’s the posh Brit she’s dreamed of falling in love with. Fate has other plans: her EtelГ¤ -Afrikan kauniita naisia “bus beau” turns out to be an American teacher named Rory. ”

The book offers a “heartwarming finale,” per PW’s review, “while ably demonstrating both the impossibly high standards set by rom-coms and the messiness of genuine love

Erin La Rosa says she writes heroes who are “a little bit of a grump, but secretly sweet on the inside. I create male characters who would be on your side and empathize with you. It’s wildly empowering to fall in love with someone who has the same goals as you do, who isn’t threatened by you, who wants you to succeed.”

The love interest in Plot Twist (Canary Street, Nov.), second in La Rosa’s Hollywood series, is Dash Montrose, a former teen idol who’s in recovery. “Dash has been sober for a year when we meet him,” La Rosa says. “He stays sober through his art. It’s important to me to create men who open up about their struggles.”

With Business or Pleasure, coming in July from Berkley, Rachel Lynn Solomon delivers a “hot and heartfelt rom-com,” according to PW’s starred review. Celebrity ghostwriter Chandler Cohen has a lousy one-night stand with has-been heartthrob Finn Walsh, only to discover that he is her next client. “The first time Finn sleeps with Chandler, it’s anything but spectacular,” says Kristine Swartz, senior editor at Berkley. “But he puts aside his ego and embarks on a fun, sexy journey on how to please a woman.”

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