A Bestselling Writer on Big (Overrated) Romantic Gestures

Posted by Hayley on December 11, 2018
Yes, the men on her book covers are usually shirtless. Yes, her heroes are often wealthy. But bestselling author Lauren Blakely wants to make something clear: Size—of muscles, egos, bank accounts, etc.—isn't everything, especially when it comes to romantic gestures. To mark the release of her new salacious read, Unzipped, she shares her take on the "over-the-top" moves men make to win their ladies and what they should really focus on instead. (She even includes book recommendations with great examples to follow!)



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Confession: I don't like parades.

That may be why I'm also not a huge fan of over-the-top, break-out-the-trumpets gestures in books or films.

A hero doesn’t need to bang his drum and march down Main Street, declaring his love in front of the whole damn town, to win the heroine. Nor does he need to climb the back of the ladder on the fire truck and belt out a show-stopping tune to tell her she’s the only one for him.

The gesture itself, though? That is crucial to any romance. But this is an instance where size really doesn't matter. Sure, in some cases the gesture might actually be financially enormous, like giving the heroine an island, a hotel, or a sports team.

But sometimes the romantic gesture can be as simple as when one character finally realizes just how to unlock his or her heart.

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While I don't want to spoil endings of books, Brooklynaire by Sarina Bowen includes an absolutely delicious, smile-inducing romantic gesture. The hero is a billionaire, and he has means, but the gesture also completely fits the characters. It's something that only he can give—and that she alone can receive. It also says that the hero completely understands the woman he's fallen in love with.

In the incandescent, sensual Escort by Skye Warren, the male-escort hero and the piano-playing agoraphobic heroine both have tragic pasts. That's why, when the big gesture finally comes around, it is borne of mutual knowledge and understanding. His effort shows that he understands her background, her emotions, and her potential future. It also says he loves her for who she is and who she can be.

Melanie Harlow also pens terrific romantic gestures. Some of them are big and showy, and some of them are simply heartfelt. In Only Him, the gesture requires the hero to overcome his stubbornness. He has to open up, and that's why it touched my heart so deeply. Likewise, in Harlow's latest release, Only Love, both the hero and heroine execute big gestures that are purely emotional and completely fitting with the journey the characters take.

When I approach the romantic gesture in my books, I try to reflect back on who the characters are, what they've learned, and how they've grown. Sometimes the big gesture will be a gift. Sometimes it will be a letter. Sometimes it will be giving something up.

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Because my new book, Unzipped, centers on a hero and heroine who adore ’80s movies—they regularly debate both the power and the failure of rom-com flicks—the romantic gesture between them does indeed include a nod to those iconic film moments. Yet I think it fits without being over the top. And I believe it shows growth and the ability to put one's heart on the line. That’s key.

Timing is also crucial. Let's not forget that the famous scene in Say Anything resulted in nada for John Cusack's character. Hoisting a boombox above his head and playing Peter Gabriel did not "win the girl."

Some of the best moments in rom-coms aren't about racing through the airport and stopping the plane. In You've Got Mail, the romantic gestures come from an accumulation of little moments. Tom Hanks’ character must show Meg Ryan’s character that, in spite of putting her out of business, he can be there for her, make her laugh, and care for her heart. He doesn't need to get down on one knee in the middle of a New York street and stop traffic. He needs to finally let her in.

I love romantic gestures, and all that they stand for. But I love them most when they truly come from the heart of the characters. Some moments may be quiet, others extravagant, but whatever they are, at the very least they need to be real.



Lauren Blakely's Unzipped is now available. Add it to your Want to Read shelf here.


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