Stupid Romance Conflicts

I’ve been reading a lot of cozy mysteries lately, as well as cozy paranormal mysteries. I have an idea for a cozy paranormal mystery series, and I would like to understand the genre better before I dive in feet first.

However, I’ve been having difficulty finding books that I really want to read, particularly in the cozy paranormal mystery genre.

I read mystery for the Voice. There needs to be a strong voice to pull me through. Many of these cozy mysteries promise me snark and banter. Humor, even. Sadly, that’s been missing from a lot of the books I’ve picked up.

Finally found one that looked promising.

I’m 20% into the book. There still hasn’t been a murder yet, no mystery, just set up. Okay, it’s the first book in a series, there’s a lot to set up.

But now the author has added a romance.

Fine. Whatever. I can deal with romantic elements in a book.

The main female character goes on a date with the hunky guy. Something happens to interrupt their first kiss.

Instead of being an adult and explaining what is going on, she decides that she’s actually twelve years old and that this is an after-school special, so she LIES.

Now, the author has set up an artificial construct keeping these two character apart, with lots of awkward feelings, I’m assuming for the rest of the book.

I cannot tell you how much I HATE this. I call this a Hollywood conflict, when two minutes of conversation—or in this case, not even half a page of dialogue—would have resolved the Big Romantic Issue.

If I’d actually been reading a paper copy, I possibly would have thrown the book across the room. Instead, not only am I not going to finish this book, I’m not ever going to pick up another book by this author.

When I get around to writing my own cozy paranormal mystery, I’m so very tempted to set up a first kiss in a very similar manner. However, instead of lying about it, the main character is going to explain what’s happening. Writer brain has already supplied the nice twist that occurs to keep the characters kind of apart. Just so that I can write that scene how it should have been written in the first place.

Arrrrrg. Grrrrr.

One of the cozy mysteries that I have enjoyed recently was, “Men, Murder, and Makeup” which has a drag queen as the protagonist. Amazing levels of humor, banter, and snark. Plus, the romantic conflict felt very authentic.

Of course, the main character is interested in this new hunky guy who’s just come to town. But is the new guy gay? It’s hard to tell. Plus, even if the new guy is gay, is he going to be able to handle dating a drag queen, who comes with her own special characteristics and concerns?

The author is a drag queen, so all the conflicts and characters felt very real. Even though it was over the top in many ways.

I’ll keep searching for the perfect combination of Voice, character, setting, and mystery. Again, I don’t mind romance as long as it’s handled well and I’m not bashed over the head with it. I’ve tried a few books labeled as paranormal woman’s fiction, but the ones I’ve sampled so far are barely disguised romances, with a little story thrown in.

Oh, and one of the other things that I’ve run into with some of these stories is that the main character is initially presented as incompetent. There’s a difference between being a fish out of water and incapable. I’m not interested in reading about a complete klutz who manages to get herself so tangled in the Halloween decorations that she’s actually hanging upside down when meeting the hunky guy. Ewww. (Because while that sounds funny on paper, it wasn’t.)

So I am very, VERY cautiously looking for recommendations in the cozy paranormal mystery genre. PLEASE think before you make one. How voicy is the main character? Is there actual banter? Is the main character smart and just down on her luck, or actually TSTL? I’m happy to keep sampling until I find something I want to read.

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