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“Love and Endgames” A Sexy Short Story (Inspired By Superhero Movies)

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As I write these words, I am anxiously awaiting the premier of “Avengers Endgame.” I have my ticket and detailed plan for how I’m going to take in this historic movie that promises to break so many box office records. Just as I did withAvengers Infinity War,” I wrote a sexy short story to celebrate this momentous cinematic achievement. Enjoy!

It seemed like just yesterday, but it had been nearly 11 years since that fateful day. Iron Man, a generic superhero movie starring a troubled actor in Robert Downey Jr., debuted and gave rise to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Few could’ve imagined that one movie would’ve spawned the biggest movie franchise in cinematic history. Even fewer could’ve imagined it would ultimately lead to a movie like Avengers Endgame. Allen Marco was among those select few, but the rise and dominance of the MCU had a more personal impact for him.

On the day Iron Man premiered, Allen was reeling from a potent combination college burnout and a broken heart. Early that morning, he learned that his ex-girlfriend, who he’d been dating since high school, had been cheating on him. He thought they’d been going through a rough patch. Apparently, she’d been trying to break up with him for months.

He was so devastated that he planned to spend the day sulking rather than seeing Iron Man with his older brother, who was in town to help an old roommate move. Whether by fate or luck, his brother sprained his ankle and couldn’t go. Rather than throw away his ticket, he convinced Allen to take his roommate’s sister, Ashley.

Initially, Allen refused. Then, his brother insisted that he take her out as a favor, claiming Ashley had been a recluse since getting booted from the university’s championship swim team. She’d become a constant nuisance for her brother and all his friends, by default. Allen’s brother never could’ve imagined that coaxing him into a date with his roommate’s sister would spawn a love that had blossomed as well as the MCU.

“Here we are,” Allen said as he pulled into the parking lot of the same movie theater where that love began, “eleven years later, we’re back to where it all began.”

“I know,” Ashley said distantly. “Amazing, isn’t it? Three Iron Man movies, three Avengers movies, three Thor movies, three Captain America movies…”

“Don’t forget Black Panther, Ant-Man, and Guardians of the Galaxy,” he pointed out.

“I haven’t. I doubt I ever will. How could I when you proposed to me after the first Avengers movie? Or when I told you I was pregnant after seeing Age of Ultron?”

“It feels like a movie, in and of itself…albeit a cheesy one,” Allen said with a laugh.

“I’d still see it,” Ashley said, laughing as well and casting him a loving smile.

As he parked their car in main garage, Allen continued to marvel – a fitting term, given the context of their relationship – at how far they’d come. It was early in the morning, just after sunrise. The theater wasn’t even open, nor was the strip mall around it. There were practically no cars in the garage, but that was sure to change as Marvel fans gathered for the premier. It wouldn’t be the first time, either.

Allen still remembered pulling into the same garage 11 years ago, driving that beat-up old Buick he should’ve gotten rid of years ago. He was in such a rotten mood that day. It didn’t help that it was pouring rain and he had college finals to worry about. Seeing any movie, let alone Iron Man, felt like a chore.

Then, he saw Ashley. That moment had an impact almost as great as that first post-credits scene where Nick Fury teased the Avengers. It sparked an intrigue that only grew and expanded over time.

“This is bigger than any other Marvel movie,” Allen said. “I know I said the same thing about Infinity War, but this is different and not just with respect to who I fought to get these tickets.”

“You don’t need to tell me, Allen,” said Ashley. “I had to cash in several favors at the office and make several promises to my boss in order to get this day off.”

“It’s still worth repeating. They’re saying that Avengers Endgame is the end of an era. Everything that’s been building since that first movie 11 years ago…that movie that brought us together…culminates with this.”

“You hoping it inspires a similar culmination with us?” she teased.

“That’s just it. It doesn’t have to. Our love culminated years ago on our wedding day. This movie means something else.”

Upon turning off the engine, Allen undid his seatbelt and set the keys aside. He then reached over and grasped the hands of the woman who’d become the love of his life after 11 eventful years. Looking at her and recalling how far they’d come, it seemed like a journey worthy of any superhero.

Meeting Ashley was like Robert Downy Jr. getting the part of Tony Stark. It just fit so perfectly. He’d been a fan of superheroes since he was a kid and Ashley had grown curious about them, thanks to her comic book loving brother. Seeing that first Iron Man movie together wasn’t just thrilling from a pure movie-going standpoint. Experiencing it together acted as a catalyst for a deeper connection, one that ultimately blossomed into something every bit as vast as any cinematic universe.

“Ashley, before I met you, I honestly didn’t know what it meant to love someone,” Allen said, giving her hand a warm squeeze to convey the depths of his affection. “In some ways, I was like Tony Stark or Thor in the first movie…thinking the world worked a certain way, but not seeing the flaws that were right in front of me.”

“I’d say you were more like Starlord, at least in terms of dance skills,” Ashley said with a slight tease, “but I haven’t forgotten. It’s not like I was in a good 11 years ago, either. I might as well have been Erik Killmonger in Black Panther.”

“And like those characters, we needed something to jar us out of our stupor,” he went on. “We needed something to help us realize that we’d been going about things all wrong. It might not have involved an infinity stone or a magic hammer, but it was every bit as powerful.”

“Did you really just compare us to Mjolnir?”

“Why not? It was enchanted to respond only to the worthy. That’s not too different from love. Many try hard to seek someone’s love, but sometimes it’s just not there and trying to force it only results in frustration.”

“Kind of like how I reacted to getting booted from the swim team,” Ashley added.

“They were harsh lessons…the kind every hero learns in these movies. We just had to learn ours together.”

Allen reached over and caressed her face, lovingly trailing his fingers down her cheek, just like he’d done at their Avengers-themed wedding six years ago. Ashley smiled and blushed almost as much as she’d done on that fateful day, unable to contain the joy that he often evoked in her. It didn’t just make him worthy in a Thor sort of way. It affirmed what he’d come to know about their relationship and love, in general.

“Before you, I thought love was something that just happened naturally.” Allen said distantly. “You find someone you like, you follow a few simple rules, and you just wait for it to blossom. It wasn’t magical or extraordinary. It was just part of the process.”

“Not exactly romantic, but not entirely flawed, either,” Ashley said.

“Every superhero usually sees their world in a similar way, assuming they know how it works and making every excuse when it doesn’t. Then, something comes along that hits you like an invading alien army, a treacherous sibling, or killer robot. You can’t make excuses. You have to see what you once refused to see…accept what you didn’t want to accept.”

“And what did you see in me?”

Her tone became more serious as well. The way she looked at him was so different compared to that fateful day when they saw Iron Man. It wasn’t immediately clear what they’d found together, but the signs were there.

In his wife’s eyes, he saw the memories of that day play out in perfect detail. They approached one another at the theater, uncertain and confused. They weren’t sure what to make of one another. It was hardly love at first sight. Then, they watched the movie and it got them talking.

One moment, they were walking out of the theater, talking about how foolish Tony Stark was to reveal his identity at the end. The next, they were sitting at a fast food restaurant across the street, talking about whether Iron Man being a superhero made him a champion or an enemy of defense contractors. Before they knew it, they’d spent all night together, engrossed in conversation.

From that conversation, a spark emerged. Allen could still see traces of that spark in her eyes, even after 11 years, a wedding, full-time careers, and a beautiful baby boy they’d named Stanley. What happened that night sent them on a hero’s journey of their own. To some extent, it was beginning all over again with Avengers Endgame.

“I saw in you how wrong I’d been…how stupid I’d been, even,” Allen said.

“That’s not fair. I didn’t even believe love existed before I met you. How stupid is that?” Ashley argued.

“Not believing is better than being wrong,” he told her, “and believe me, I’d been very wrong. With every girl I’d been with, I kept pushing to hold onto this feeling I thought was real love. Hell, I thought if I wasn’t pushing, then it wasn’t real.”

“That’s not stupid, Allen…misguided, but not stupid.”

“Call it whatever you want. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have been surprised when it all went wrong. I was like Hulk trying to lift Thor’s hammer, frustrating myself and everyone around me by trying to force something that just wasn’t there.”

“God, my heart still skips a beat when I think of that scene,” Ashley snicker.

“With you, it finally became clear. Being in love is like being worthy. It’s only there when you realize how strong it is…how deep it runs.”

“Keep going and I’m going to break down like I did at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy 2.”

“After 11 years, it’s worth remembering and even celebrating. Just like nobody thought we’d get a movie like Avengers Endgame, we never thought we’d find a love as deep as ours.”

Allen leaned in closer, now cupping her face with both hands. The past 11 years had been a profound journey, not unlike that of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. From heartbreak and despair to love and fulfillment, he and Ashley had come a long way. Avengers Endgame marked both the completion of one journey and the start of another.

“Coming back to this theater, complete with non-refundable tickets, I marvel at everything we’ve achieved together,” he told her.

“Marveling at our love,” she said to him, “that’s just so fitting.”

“We stopped assuming we knew what love was supposed to be. We followed our own rules, forging love on our terms. And damn it, it worked. It couldn’t have worked better if Steve Rogers himself had blessed it.”

“Even my brother was surprised by how hard I feel for you.”

“That’s because shared in that journey. We dared to argue and disagree, but we always assembled when it counted. It was never just about me or you. It was always about us…together.”

“Together,” she repeated.

It sounded like a speech that Captain America would give before the final battle against Thanos. To anyone else, it would’ve been a needlessly melodramatic comment from someone who’d seen the first Avengers movie six times in theaters. To Ashley, the woman he’d met the day the Marvel Cinematic Universe began, it was the most loving sentiment any man could express.

She affirmed her appreciation of that sentiment in the form of a passionate kiss. Snaking her arms around his neck, he pulled him in close and shared with him the same gesture that had capped off that fateful first date. That kiss had been on a whim, but it ended up inspiring something far greater. Captain America would be proud.

As she kissed him and he kissed back, Ashley undid her seatbelt and deepened the embrace. Unlike his old Buick, their SUV had much more room and much greater comfort. It allowed Ashley to slip out of the passenger’s seat and join him on the driver’s side, straddling his waist and grinding her pelvis against his, inspiring another reaction that was far more basic.

Allen did not avoid it. He embraced it with her, slipping his arms around her waist and feeling up her favorite Captain Marvel shirt. In doing so, he found out that she wasn’t wearing a bra, which effectively communicated her intentions.

“Ashley,” Allen gasped, abruptly breaking the kiss.

“Yes, my marvelous husband?” Ashley replied in a deep, seductive tone.

“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you’re attempting the same sexy stunt we pulled after seeing the first Thor movie,” he pointed out.

“It’s not my fault seeing Chris Hemsworth shirtless made me so horny,” she teased. “Plus, you did park the car in this garage…early in the morning…with nobody else in sight.”

“Well, I wasn’t planning on something shady, if that’s what you’re thinking.”

“Allen, you parked in the exact same spot you did on our first date. You think I missed the subtext?”

Allen smiled and blushed, as he often did when Ashley surmised his intentions. She knew him so well. There was rarely any ambiguity, especially when it came to their sex life. Just like their first date, the spark came from a Marvel movie.

Their first time together had come the night the Incredible Hulk premiered, just a few months after Iron Man. That only lit the fuse of their passion for one another. Over the years, they’d explored it in many other ways, some of which included role playing and Black Widow themed lingerie. He was also fairly certain that their son had been conceived the night they saw Guardians of the Galaxy.

By parking in the same parking spot he had nearly 11 years ago on their first date, Allen expected to evoke plenty of emotions. He didn’t assume it would turn her on to the point where she’d want to have sex in the car – something they’d done more than once, including on the night the first Thor movie premiered – but a part of him had hoped it would.

“Well, we’ve got plenty of time to kill before we start camping out,” Allen said, as though it were the most logical thing in the world.

“And you did clean out the back yesterday,” she added, “including that mess Stanley made last week.”

“And I made sure it stayed clean when we dropped him off with your parents,” he said, “so if you want to start fantasizing about a shirtless Chris Hemsworth again…”

He let his words trail off, allowing Ashley to fill in the blanks, as only she could. He could tell by that sultry grin that she was already picturing Chris Hemsworth’s muscular body. That was okay with him because she knew he pictured Scarlet Johansson in a skin-tight catsuit during those same moments. Such lurid thoughts, inspired by 11 years of movies, had the desired effect.

Their excitement for Avengers Endgame had triggered an excitement for one another.

Their passions had been ignited.

They had time, energy, and 11 years of anticipation to build on.

“The back seat…now!” Ashley said in a voice as assertive as Thanos.

Like a couple of horny teenagers, he and his marvelous wife eagerly crawled into the back of the SUV. Before she even reached the seat, Ashley undid her pants and pulled them down, revealing that she was wearing that sexy Black Widow themed thong he’d gotten for their anniversary. He didn’t think he could get more turned on by the prospect of sex with his wife in a car on the day an Avengers movie premiered. Once again, Ashly found a way to raise the bar.

By the time they reached the back seat of the SUV, her pants were at her ankles and Allen was removing his Avengers-themed shirt. While he didn’t have the same build as Chris Hemsworth or Chris Evans, he liked to think he kept up as anyone without superpowers could. Ashley certainly appreciated his efforts, helping him remove his shirt before pulling him into her loving grasp.

She wasn’t subtle about her intentions, either. She threw her legs around his waist and latched onto his shoulders, pulling him onto the seat with her where she kissed him passionately, using plenty of tongue and making those seductive noises that got his blood flowing in all the right directions.

Even with such escalating arousal, it was tricky to maneuver within the confines of the back seat. However, an SUV was more spacious than his old Buick. Having not forgotten how he and Ashley managed to make love in that old car on the night of the Thor movie, he followed a similar approach to that fateful night.

“Feeling worthy, yet?” Allen whispered into her ear, doing his best Thor impression.

“Yes…very worthy,” Ashley replied, doing her best Jane Foster impression.

Those were the exact same words they’d said on that night. Also like that night, he channeled his inner superhero, laying her down on the seat so that her head rested right up against the passenger window. Ashley seemed to appreciate that approach, kissing him harder and pawing his chest and back intently. He matched her growing passion, reaching up her Captain Marvel shirt and fondling her breasts.

A heated make-out session continued, not unlike the many they’d shared when they started dating. Whether it was excitement over Avengers Endgame or just general horniness, he and Ashley felt 10 years younger. They were all over each other, kissing and fondling one another, building up both arousal and passion. Soon, the whole SUV felt 10 degrees hotter, making their remaining clothes feel unbearable.

“Mmm…take it off!” she moaned through muffled kissing. “Please, Allen…I’m hotter than Hulk’s temper.”

“Be calm, my love,” he assured her. “I’ll get you out of those clothes. And unlike Hulk, nothing will get ripped.”

True to his word, Allen got his beautiful wife out of those itchy clothes, pulling her shirt up off over her head and removing her panties. She had already broken out into a light sweat after all the foreplay, making her naked body glow in the early morning sun. She was such a beautiful sight, more so now than she was 11 years ago.

He wanted her so much. He wanted her like Thanos wanted the Infinity Stones. It didn’t just show in his admiration of her body. It also showed in the large bulge that had formed in his pants. Ashley, never one to fall too far behind in intimate moments, noticed as well.

“Your turn, my hulking stud!” she teased.

With reflexes that would’ve made Quicksilver envious, Ashely reached up and undid his pants with ease. Allen couldn’t slip out of them and his Iron Man boxer shorts fast enough. Upon kicking them off, he slipped back into his marvelous wife’s embrace, their naked bodies pressing together on the narrow seat.

More kissing and foreplay followed. Sweaty skin touched sweaty skin, her breasts pressing up against his chest in the increasingly-steamy confines of the car. Allen could feel how much she wanted him, her body aching for his as much as he longed for hers. In most intimate moments, they preferred to drag out the naked fondling, but the one unfolding before them demanded more urgency.

“You ready to assemble, my love?” Allen teased.

“Yes, my avenging lover!” Ashley gasped intently. “Please…assemble!”

With a confident grin and a bravado second only to Tony Stark, Allen got grasped his wife’s thighs, hitched her legs over his shoulder, and aligned his hulking manhood with her wet entrance. Then, using whatever leverage he could in the confines of the back seat, he thrust his body forward and entered her. In that instant, their flesh assembled.

“Oohhh Allen!” Ashely moaned. “My hero!”

“Mmm…speak for yourself,” he said with a grunt.

For a moment, he savored their intimate union, soaking in that hot, moist feeling around his member. The desire now burning with the intensity of a Hulk-led rampage, Allen followed those desires further, moving his body and establishing an intimate rhythm. Ashley eagerly supplemented his efforts, grabbing onto his shoulders and arching her lower body in accord with every motion.

Through their shared goal of expressing the love, their sex became an act of teamwork. The Avengers would be proud. Together, he and Ashley rocked the SUV, the rhythm of their passion building more sweat and heat. The windows were already fogging up. The air grew sticky and muggy with the scent of sex. It was similar to the ambience they’d created on their first time together. After 11 years and 21 MCU movies, it was every bit as satisfying.

Just like that fateful night years ago in the back seat of his dirty car, he and Ashley made the most of the intimate setting. They drew it out like a battle scene in an Avenger movie, going at it from every angle they could. Channeling his inner Nick Fury, he made use of all the intel he had on his wife’s proclivities.

She liked it when he nibbled around her neck.

She liked it when he grunted like the Hulk in her ear.

She loved it when he squeezed her butt and held her waist up so that he could thrust into her at just the right angle.

“Ooh yes!” she exclaimed. “By Thor’s hammer, just like that! Smash that pussy…just like that!”

Allen gladly reciprocated. She knew his kinks just as well, namely how she hooked her legs around his waist, just as Black Widow did to Justin Hammer’s henchmen in Iron Man 2. The extra leverage even allowed her to hold her up in his arms and bounce him along his cock, rocking the car even harder. It also allowed them to really draw out their sex, as if to show how good they’d become at making love to one another. It definitely showed in terms of passion, stamina, and pleasure.

It got so intense and energetic, more so than most lovers could hope for after 11 years together. It was a testament to the love they’d assembled, growing and blossoming like the MCU had over the years. Avengers Endgame was supposed to be the final chapter in that saga. For their love, it was just another milestone.

“Allen…my marvelous husband…I’m close,” she panted in the midst of their heated movements.

“Me too, Ashley,” he grunted. “I’m so…so close.”

“Let’s…do it together. Let’s…truly…assemble!”

Her choice of words couldn’t have been more perfect. It gave Allen even greater motivation to carry his lover to that special threshold and beyond. With their naked bodies in an upright position, him bouncing her pelvis up and down to work her womanhood along his manly length, he pulled out all the stops. He kissed, caressed, and stimulated her until that euphoric feeling washed over them.

Finally, in an instant as powerful as Thanos’ famous snap in Avengers Infinity War, Ashely climaxed in his arms. As soon as he felt that intense throbbing in her lower body, along with the extra tightness that came with it, he crossed that special threshold as well and joined her in the ecstasy.

“Oohhh assemble!” they both exclaim.

It was an odd, but fitting proclamation. Their love began thanks to the Avengers movies. Now, on the eve of the biggest to date, it culminated once more.

Their shared release was uniquely satisfying. Allen felt his love tremble in her arms, throwing her head back and raking her nails down his back as the sensations coursed through her. He admired the sight as he took in the hot flood of sensations that erupted within his core, spreading from head to toe like a ball of blissful fire. The heat of their ecstasy, as well as the heat they’d made together, had caused much of the windows to fog up. Even though the car had stopped bouncing, the scent of their lovemaking lingered heavily in the vehicle.

“I love you, Ashley,” said Allen.

“I love you too, Allen,” Ashley replied. “After 11 years, 21 movies, and a fondness for superhero movies that everyone in my family finds weird…our love has come so far.”

“Like Iron Man…like Thor…like Captain America,” he pointed out.

“Except their journeys are ending. Ours is still going…and growing.”

“God, I love how you tie our sex life into superhero movies.”

“I wasn’t just referring to our sex life, but it still works!”

They shared a joyous laugh. Allen then kissed his wife again, deepening their embrace, their naked flesh remaining wondrously entwined. Just 11 years ago, it was hard to imagine being so in love with someone. It was just as hard to imagine that an entire cinematic universe based on superheroes could grow to such heights. On both counts, he and Ashley saw that it was both possible and achievable.

Now, on the eve of the Avengers final battle, they celebrated those achievements. They still had plenty of time to kill before getting in line and waiting for the premier of Avengers Endgame. Thankfully, they also had the love and passion to do plenty of avenging in the meantime.

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Five Overused Romantic Sub-Plots (And How To Fix Them)

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Being a self-professed romance fan, I know more about the intricacies of romantic sub-plots than most men would ever dare admit. I’ve consumed an absurd amount of romantic media over the years and I’ve noticed more than a few common themes, some more endearing than others.

However, by consuming so much romantic content, I’ve also seen certain themes get overused and badly mishandled. I could list countless instances promising romantic sub-plots collapsing because it fell into a narrative trap. Sometimes, it’s because of poor writing. Sometimes, it’s because the story has too many constraints. I’ve even cited a few famous cases that exhibit both.

Whatever the case, it’s not hard to screw up a romantic sub-plot. I’ve done that more than a few times with the stories I’ve written. Lately, though, there are certain types of sub-plots that have lost their luster. They’ve either been done too many times or haven’t innovated in way too long.

Overused or not, I believe there are elements of these sub-plots that are worth saving. They just need some refinement and polish. What follows is a list of five overdone romantic sub-plots, why they’ve become so bland, and how to fix them. I’ve covered some of these elements before. This is just the romance lover in me offering some tips for future romance stories.


Romantic Sub-Plot #1: Best Friends Turned Lovers

Why It’s Overdone

I think you can thank sitcoms like “Friends” and movies like “Clueless” for this sub-plot to fall out of favor. Personally, I blame Ross and Rachel for giving this theme a bad name. They took the whole friends-falling-in-love plot way too far. Towards the end, it was more annoying than compelling.

These days, this sub-plot isn’t as common as it used to be. I think a lot of romance fans were burned out on it in the 1990s and early 2000s. There’s only so many times a character can say in so many words “I didn’t realize that what I was looking for was right here in front of me” and sound genuine.

How To Fix It

Simply put, this sub-plot needs to shake up the setting. Too many times, a story about friends becoming lovers is built around one friend having had feelings for the other over many years. That can be sweet when done right, but it’s way too easy to be done wrong. These days, it almost comes off as a long con or stalking.

To fix it, the emphasis needs to shift towards two characters undergoing major upheavals. Perhaps they go through a tragedy or trauma that changes the way they feel about other people. It can’t just be restricted to their friend/lover, either. This upheaval should affect their entire world and from there, they come together in a new way.

It has the potential to show two characters go through major growth as individuals, which eventually turns into growth as a couple. That kind of growth can work wonders for any romance and could offer something more meaningful than old friends hiding their feelings.


Romantic Sub-Plot #2: Love Triangles

Why It’s Overdone

I’ve already made my hatred of love triangles very clear. I’ve gone so far as to cite one from the X-men as the worst of all time. Beyond the comics, though, it’s not hard to see cases of this sub-plot done horribly wrong. Even contemporary romance like “Twilight” and “The Hunger Games” have made this troubled trope more insufferable.

Simply put, love triangles reduce everyone involved to prizes or plot devices. It’s next to impossible to make every character in a love triangle feel like a real character. It turns romantic development into a competition and in the long run, nobody wins and certain characters lose badly.

How To Fix It

I’m tempted to say that love triangles should be abandoned and killed with a 12-gauge shotgun, but I’m not a fan of throwing away romantic themes, no matter how much I despise them. For this particular theme, I think it needs more than just a fix. It needs a complete overhaul.

By that, it can’t just involve two people competing for someone else’s affection. That gets old fast. If there is going to be a love triangle, then it should actually take the time to show why someone is torn in the first place. It needs to be clear that someone genuinely loves more than one person and there’s a reason for that love.

This is also a sub-plot that may benefit from shifting taboos. Non-monogamy is becoming more mainstream and there aren’t many real romance stories about that idea that aren’t bad pornos. A love triangle has to stop being an either/or plot and become a why/how plot. There needs to be a concerted effort to ensure everyone involved gets some sort of emotional resolution that doesn’t involve someone getting screwed over.


Romantic Sub-Plot #3: Destined Lovers

Why It’s Overdone

If you’ve gone through any high school English class or are just familiar with certain literary traditions, you’ve probably seen this in all kinds of media. “Romeo and Juliet” is probably the most famous, but it still shows up frequently throughout romantic media. It’s prevalent in movies like “Titanic” and comics like “Superman.”

Don’t get me wrong. I have a soft spot for star-crossed lovers who are destined to fall in love, but it’s a very bland sub-plot. There’s no real sense of conflict. You know two characters are going to end up together and where’s the intrigue there?

How To Fix It

For this sub-plot, I think a simple shift in context would help. Most romance featuring destined lovers emphasis how they come together, despite the obstacles in front of them. I think it might be more compelling to explore why these characters are star-crossed to begin with. Is it just destiny or are there other forces at work?

There are a lot of factors that go into romance, even those of the non-destined variety. Why not explore the concept of destiny, as it relates to love? Why not dig a little deeper into the intricacies of how it unites people so completely? That wouldn’t just offer a meta-perspective of love, as a plot device. It would give us all an opportunity to reconsider what it means to be in love.


Romantic Sub-Plot #4: Love At First Sight

Why It’s Overdone

This sub-plot is very similar to the destined lovers trope. It’s often a pre-cursor to two people finding out they’re destined to be together. For many of the same reasons, it’s pretty bland and basic. One character sees another, some sappy music starts playing, and the love story is effectively laid out.

We see it happen very overtly in “Romeo and Juliet” and “Titanic.” We see it manifest in some form in most romantic comedies. A character just sees someone they find attractive and that becomes the catalyst for their love. It’s sweet, but not very deep and it has just become too predictable at this point. When two people fall in love at first sight, what other story is there to tell?

How To Fix It

This one can’t be fixed with the same methods as the destined lovers sub-plot. This is one of those plots that doesn’t have to be radically altered, but definitely needs fresh nuance. Finding that nuance means injecting more than just love into the mix when two characters first meet.

The first encounter between two characters is always pivotal. It helps set the tone for their relationship, romantic and otherwise. To make this sub-plot work in new ways, characters need to intrigue each other in new ways. It can’t be enough that they’re attractive. There has to be something else about them.

Maybe the character has a skill that someone has never seen before. Maybe the character causes someone to re-think a past assumption. Maybe it sends them on a new journey that their love interest can join. There are many opportunities here. There doesn’t have to just be one.


Romantic Sub-Plot #5: Sex Complicating Love

Why It’s Overdone

This one is probably the most overtly sexual romantic sub-plot that also happens to be the most predictable. Ironically, it’s “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” that summed it up best. Things go from “Don’t worry, it won’t get weird” to “It got weird, didn’t it?” That’s every sex-complicating-love story in a nutshell.

This one also has the burden of being weighed down by long-standing sexual taboos. While it may seem like those taboos have faded in the 21st century, it’s still the slutty women and stud men who die first in slasher movies. Sex, even in a romance story, still comes off as something dirty that somehow undermines a romance.

Even though sexual attitudes have evolved a great deal, the idea that sex complicates/ruins a relationship hasn’t moved very far. It’s why sex tends to be an afterthought in modern romances. Sometimes, it’s ignored or assumed and that’s just a waste of quality sexual chemistry.

How To Fix It

As an aspiring erotica/romance writer, I’ve been working on that for years. While I can’t claim to have a definitive answer, I have surmised a few ideas turn sex from a complication to a catalyst. It doesn’t have to be overly titillating or pornographic, although that can work. It just has to supplement the romance rather than subvert it.

Sex in romance is often treated like an endgame. It’s marks the culmination rather than the progression of a relationship. I believe that’s a missed opportunity. In any romance, sex should function as a progression, of sorts. It takes the relationship to a new stage, one where new opportunities for emotional and personal growth emerge.

When two characters have sex, it can be more than just a chance to depict genitals and female breasts. It can be an exercise of intimacy where two characters strengthen their bond, rather than sully it. That gives greater meaning to the sexiness and nothing makes romance hotter than genuinely meaningful sex.

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Filed under Marriage and Relationships, media issues, polyamory, romance, sex in media, sexuality

Publishing Update: Another (Expected) Rejection

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I just wanted to post a quick update on my publishing efforts, which I know I haven’t talked much about lately. There’s a reason for that, though. For the past couple months, I’ve been working with a former publisher to re-acquire the rights to a manuscript that was edited and prepared for publication a couple years ago.

That process took longer than I’d hoped, but it went through and I tried to re-submit the manuscript to the same publisher that published “Passion Relapse” and “Rescued Hearts.” I did this knowing it was somewhat of a long shot because my last three manuscripts to this publisher had been rejected. I felt if I could get this through, we would be back on track.

Sadly, that didn’t happen. Earlier today, I got a rejection letter. It wasn’t the rude kind, though. The editor offered me a sincere apology that they would not be able to publish my work. She claimed that things have been rough for small to mid-tier publishers. Unless your J. K. Rowling or Stephen King, it’s just hard to get any major project off the ground. I can understand that, but a rejection is a rejection.

I believe that after this, I’m done with that particular publisher. I’m not entirely sure of my next step. I’m still sitting on several finished manuscripts and one that is already professionally edited and ready to go. I’m not sure where to turn to next. I’m thinking of giving Writers Market a chance, but this is the part of the business I still don’t know much about.

When it comes to writing a novel or a sexy short story, I know how to do that. When it comes to the business and marketing side of things, though, I’m pretty ignorant. I’ll keep feeling my way around in the dark, hoping I’ll stumble across something. For now, though, my publishing efforts are a bit on hold. I hope it doesn’t stay that way. If anything changes, I’ll announced it in between sexy short stories.

To everyone who has supported and encouraged my efforts, I sincerely thank you.

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Filed under Books, Pubilishing, erotica, Las Vegas, erotic fiction, romance, Crimson Frost Books, Jack Fisher's Insights, Uncategorized

“Avenging Desire” A Sexy Short Story

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The following is a sexy short story entitled “Avenging Desire.” It’s not based on any real events, but it was inspired by the recent hype surrounding the debut of “Avengers: Infinity War.” Enjoy!

The wait was almost over. The day that fans of Marvel and superhero movies had been waiting for had finally arrived. “Avengers: Infinity War” was set to release and fans of all kinds had lined up outside the MaxCinema IMAX theater for the midnight showing.

Michelle Meyers considered herself one of those fans. In fact, she considered herself a bigger fan than 90 percent of those waiting in line, thinking they could get away with not pre-ordering tickets two weeks ahead of time. A few days ago, she would’ve laughed at them for their lack of foresight. Now, if they knew her current predicament, they’d probably be laughing at her.

“The biggest movie premier of my life,” Michelle mused as she sat on the hood of her car, “and fate finds a way to make it harder for me… and break my heart, in the process.”

Muttering a string of curses to herself, she looked away from the crowd and checked her phone. She had a little more than an hour before the midnight premier of the movie. She should’ve been more excited than any sane woman should for a movie premier. It was the cinematic event of a lifetime and Michelle thought she’d prepared for it, even going so far as to get a Black Widow costume.

Then, it happened. More specifically, her boyfriend happened. Eric Landon, the man she’d dated for two years and seen more than her share of superhero movies with, broke up with her. On top of that, she found out he’d been cheating on her with some girl he met on a comic book message board, of all places. If that weren’t bad enough, he’d been the one to pre-order their tickets.

“Fuck you, Eric,” Michelle said, still staring at her phone, which had an old picture of them in the background. “Fuck you for being worse than Thanos when it comes to loving your girlfriend. The least you could’ve done was break my heart after we saw the movie.”

She kept cursing her ex under her breath and in her mind, hoping that new girl he left her for would bust his balls like the Hulk every chance she got. Michelle had gone through bad break-ups before, but she’d never hated someone so much for ending a relationship at the worst possible time.

It wasn’t just that the tickets he bought had been in his name. She’d also found out just a few hours ago that Eric intended to use what should’ve been her ticket to take his new girlfriend to see the movie. For all she knew, they were already in line and Eric was wearing the same old Captain America T-shirt he wore on their first date.

It was tempting to just hunt him down, kick his ass in public, and take the ticket that was rightfully hers. However, Michelle had another plan, one that would help her see the movie and get back at her ex. It required a little cunning and sacrifice on her part, but for a chance to see “Avengers: Infinity War” tonight, she was willing to take that chance.

As time ticked by at an agonizingly slow pace, Michelle kept checking her phone, watching as the premier drew closer by the second. Finally, she heard the voice she’d been waiting.

“Michelle Meyers…is that you?” said Samuel Hartman, the man who held the keys to making her night a success.

“That’s me,” Michelle said, putting on her best smile and using her most seductive tone. “You’re right on time, Sam.”

“I know you couldn’t give too many specifics with your text, but how do you want to…”

Michelle held up her hand to silence him. He sounded so nervous, if not a little anxious. She couldn’t have that. She had to maintain a certain mood. It was the only way they could both get what they wanted.

“Don’t overthink this, Sam. I was vague for a reason,” she said as she got off the hood of her car. “First, let me see the tickets. I need to be sure…more so than I was with Eric.”

“Of course,” he replied, already sounding somewhat calmer.

She watched as Sam reached into his back pocket, took out his wallet, and showed her two movie tickets to the “Avengers: Infinity War” premier, which was set to begin in under an hour. Michelle then approached him, scrutinizing the tickets to make sure they were real. Having worked in a movie theater during high school, she knew how to spot fakes. Near as she could tell, they were real.

“Wow! You got great seats,” Michelle said with a smile.

“My older brother is a real movie junky,” Sam said. “He has picking the best seats down to a science.”

“And you thought to use it on the biggest movie premier of the past decade…smart.”

“Well, in my defense, I do consider myself an Avengers fan. Plus, I failed miserably to get tickets to the Black Panther movie and I wasn’t going to make that mistake again.”

“Except, you already had someone to share those tickets with, didn’t you?” Michelle said.

“I did,” he admitted, “but that’s where my sister’s terrible luck is your gain. She and I were going to see this movie tonight, just like we have with every MCU movie. Then, her car breaks down on her way back from Florida and she’s not going to be in until tomorrow night.”

“My older brother is a mechanic. I’ll get him to fix that car for free if this is as worth it as I hope.”

Michelle took a step closer and, in a move that would’ve made the Black Widow proud, pulled the young man into an intimate embrace. It was a lot more intimate than she usually offered for someone she’d just met, but for Sam and the promise of seeing “Avengers: Infinity War,” she made an exception.

Sam wasn’t just a guy who happened to have a spare ticket to the movie. The only reason Michelle knew him was because he worked for the same law firm as Eric. Sam even outranked him technically, having been close to one of the partners at the firm. She’d met him at the office Christmas party and remembered that he’d recently endured a nasty break-up as well. That aligned their goals in ways beyond the movie.

Michelle had overheard Eric talking to Sam about “Avengers: Infinity War” earlier in the week, just before she found out about his lying, cheating antics. She also remembered Sam being less an asshole when debating who could lift Thor’s hammer. That made the revelation that he had a spare ticket even more enticing. It also made her method of payment much clearer.

“Um…Michelle?” said Sam, still holding the tickets and his wallet.

“Yes, Sam?” said Michelle, smiling playfully as she let her body press against his.

“I know you said you wanted to earn this ticket,” he told her.

“I still do,” she replied seductively.

“For the record, though…I still would’ve accepted cash. I would’ve even offered a discount after what Eric did to you. I mean…cheating on you and using his ticket on the girl he cheated with? That’s just wrong!”

“It’s for that exact reason I didn’t accept the discount. You see, unlike Eric, I prefer to put in the work. I like doing things the hard way. It makes the end results so much more rewarding.”

With each word she spoke, Michelle channeled every ounce her flirting skills. She hadn’t used those skills much since college and even back then, she needed a little alcohol to really maximize the effect. True to her word, she decided to push herself with Sam and for all the right reasons.

As he stood dumbfounded in her embrace, she casually grasped his arms and lowered them so that he put the tickets and his wallet away. She then guided his arms around her waist so they could share a more complete embrace. She could still sense Sam overthinking things to some extent, but if the sudden hardness in his pants were any indication, his thoughts were giving way to action. Tony Stark would’ve been proud.

“That’s also why I parked my car all the way out here,” Michelle told him, gesturing towards her car. “It’s a long walk to the theater, it’s in a corner lot, and it’s right across from that pile of broken concrete that the construction crews haven’t cleaned up yet.”

“Yeah, I figured there was a reason for that,” said Sam with an awkward grin.

“The reason is simple,” she said more intently. “It’s remote and private. On top of that, all the cops are in the theater, making sure nobody sneaks in a bottle of bourbon inside a toy hammer.”

“Would you think less of me if I tried something like that when I saw Thor: Ragnarok last year?”

“Actually…I’d find that incredibly hot.”

She must have sounded like Scarlett Johannsen because she swore she felt a bulge form in Sam’s pants instantly. Embracing him under the poor illumination of a street light, the crowded theater in the distance taking up everyone else’s attention, she and Sam might as well have been in the same underground cave as Thor was in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

Michelle didn’t know Sam that well, but he loved superhero movies like her and he hadn’t given away her ticket to “Avengers: Infinity War” to some undeserving bitch. That was more than enough to evoke the desires she needed to make their little transaction work.

The first part of it involved a simple kiss, which Michelle gave Sam without hesitation. She even threw in a little tongue with some extra body contact. That actually surprised him, but in the best possible way.

“Whoa,” Sam said after their lips parted, “you’re very direct.”

“I am when I have to be,” she quipped.

“Eric once mentioned how determined you could be when in the right mindset. I think he undersold that trait.”

“Please don’t mention that name from here on out. As far as I’m concerned, there are only three things that matter right now…you, me, and seeing this goddamn movie.”

Michelle kissed him again, being even more direct than before. She practically shoved her tongue into his mouth, grabbed his wrist and guiding his hands down onto her butt. That time, Sam didn’t hesitate. Instead, he kissed back. Apparently, his brain had caught up with the rest of his body. Much like the Avengers, they were ready to assemble for the ultimate mission.

Having set the tone and made her intentions clear, Michelle sensed they were ready for the next part of their transaction. That meant a different kind of assembling.

“Now then,” Michelle said, after their lips parted, “why don’t we take this to the back seat of my car and finalize our little deal?”

“Between this movie and your kissing skills…I’m just going to shut up now.”

“Works for me!”

Tapping the same giddy spirit she felt years ago when she came out of the first “Iron Man” movie, she latched onto Sam’s arm and led him to her car. As soon as she opened the rear passenger doors, she couldn’t get into the back seat with him fast enough.

Her car wasn’t the most spacious vehicle in the world, but she’d cleaned it out that afternoon, knowing she’d need every bit of space for tonight. As soon as she closed the door behind her, doing one quick check to make sure nobody was in sight, Michelle smothered Sam with healthy dose of kissing and fondling.

Before long, he was lying on the back seat with her on top of him, his hands back on her butt as their still-clothed bodies pressed together in the confined space. She more she kissed him, the more she kissed back. The more she pawed his chest, the more he squeezed his butt. It wasn’t quite the kind of teamwork the Avengers embodied, but it still seemed fitting.

All the kissing and touching helped things heat up very quickly. Already, Michelle felt the air inside her car get hotter and stickier. It made staying fully clothed unbearable for a second longer.

“Sam,” she said, already breathless as she lay on top of him, “it’s getting hotter than Surtur’s balls in here. What do you we ditch these itchy clothes?”

Sam just grinned, keeping his promise to shut up while she carried out their little transaction. That fact alone – him actually keeping a promise – already put him above her ex. That might very well make the next part even more enjoyable.

Rising up in the seat, still straddling his waist, Michelle took off her Black Widow themed T-shirt to reveal a matching black bra. Then, with the same seductive glance that made Scarlett Johannsen the best part of “Iron Man 2,” she unhooked the clasp and removed it, allowing her breasts to tumble free.

“Michelle,” Sam said, his eyes widening with delight at the sight of her breasts.

“You can call me Natasha Romanov if you want,” Michelle said playfully, doing her best Russian accent.

“I’ll…stick to Michelle,” he said jokingly.

They both laughed and kissed again. Sam didn’t need help guiding his hands to her breasts. He quickly found his way and began fondling them with both hands. He wasn’t too hard. He was actually careful. Clearly, he had fondled breasts before and was pretty good at it. That got Michelle even more eager to get out of her clothes.

First, she helped Sam keep up. As he fondled and admired her breasts, she undid his button-up shirt with an Avengers logo on the chest. Once that was off, she undid his belt buckle and pants. That proved more challenging because that bulge she felt earlier had grown quite a bit. Still determined, both to finish the job and see the movie, she managed to pull them off, boxers and all.

“That’s better,” Sam said as he eagerly kicked off his pants.

“Yes…much better,” said Michelle.

She felt like a drunken prom date, getting her first glimpse of Sam’s dick. In addition to being in better shape than Eric, Sam was more endowed as well. In the spirit of Thor, she looked to test if he was worthy of it. That also meant testing just how determined she was to see “Avengers: Infinity War.”

“I’m going to suck your dick, now,” she told him. “Then, I’m going to fuck you. I’m going to fuck you so well that you’ll deem me worthy of that ticket…so worthy that Thor, himself, would be proud.”

“You just keep sweetening this deal, Michelle,” Sam said with the widest grin she’d ever seen on a man.

He must have felt like Tony Stark at that moment and Michelle intended to affirm that feeling. Still hovering over him, letting him admire and touch her breasts, she reached down and began fondling his cock. That got a favorable reaction, one that she followed to the utmost.

With his rigid member in hand, she adjusted herself so that she could get a more up-close look at his manhood. Sam did the same, rising up from the seat so she had room to work. Now comfortably resting with his back against the door, Michelle leaned in and took his length into her mouth.

“Oh yeah!” he moaned upon feeling her lips around his shaft.

Encouraged, she began sucking him off, treating it like a mission ordered by Captain America himself. Michelle usually wasn’t that eager to give a blowjob. When she’d been with Eric, he often had to sweet-talk her into it. She didn’t need that with Sam. He’d already given her plenty of incentive to both go the extra distance and even enjoy it a little.

On paper, it seemed like a chore. She would give a man sex. He’d give her a ticket to see “Avengers: Infinity War.” It was a simple, albeit lurid transaction. It might have even been illicit, according to her uncle, who happened to be a cop. Michelle refused to approach it like that, though. Like Scott Lang in “Ant Man,” she saw it as an opportunity worth pursuing.

Whether she was just that excited about the movie or just extra horny for some reason, Michelle’s efforts paid off. Eric’s blissful moans were proof enough of that, as well as the way his dick throbbed in her mouth. After sucking and slithering her way along his length, he was as hard as the Hulk’s bicep. That was her queue for the next part.

“Mmm…so strong and hard,” Michelle said playfully. “Ready to smash my pussy like the Hulk, Sam?”

“Hell yeah!” Sam said, now every bit as into it as her.

She grinned up at him, giving the tip of his dick one last lick in anticipation. She then rose up, undid her tight-fitting black pants, and pulled them down, along with her panties. Upon kicking them off with her sandals, Michelle eagerly straddled him so that his member was perfectly aligned with her wet opening.

“For the record,” she said, now gazing intently into his eyes, “I’m not just doing this for a movie ticket. I’m doing this to avenge the pain my ex caused me.”

“Avenge huh?” said Sam in a humored tone. “I can totally respect that!”

He smiled playfully and she smiled back before capturing his lips again. Then, as their tongues became entwined, Michelle thrust her hips downward and drove his cock up into her.

A surge of sharp sensations followed. The penetration was surprisingly smooth. She’d gotten herself much wetter than she’d thought. Either Sam was having an effect on her or the prospect of seeing “Avengers: Infinity War” made her just that horny. She preferred to think it was a little of both.

“Ohhh Michelle!” Sam moaned.

“Yeah…you like that?” Michelle said curtly. “You like how I avenge my ex?”

“Ohhh fuck yeah! Avenge him…just like that!”

She laughed playfully and kept kissing him, all while thoroughly gyrating her hips and building up towards a sexual rhythm. She clung to his shoulders while he held onto her waist, their naked bodies gliding and moving together in a sexual heat. Michelle even noticed the windows fogging up from all the heat and sweat. It was her kind of avenging, indeed.

As if possessed by the devious spirit of Loki, Michelle rode Sam’s cock with a passion, making it a point to fuck him better than she’d fucked Eric in the last few months of their relationship. She was hard and thorough with every movement, really working his length into her depths. Together, they made a potent heat within her car, even rocking it at times.

Soon, it didn’t feel like an obstacle between her and seeing “Avengers: Infinity War.” It was almost like a bonus, getting some hot sex before the movie. It almost didn’t seem fair, but then again, it wasn’t fair how her ex treated her so she figured they were officially even.

Within the back seat, despite the inherent confinement, she and Sam managed to go at it longer than she’d expected. He even managed to work up a good sweat, his chest glistening under the limited lighting from outside. She felt some sweat beading up on her naked skin as well as they worked their way towards a thunderous peak.

It even got a little chaotic, naked bodies shifting around while hands eagerly roamed. At one point, Sam was squeezing her butt as she rode him and she was pinching his nipples. At another, she was leaning back as she rode him so he could keep fondling her breasts. Whatever form their sex took, it had the same goals. One involved seeing the movie. The other involved something more basic.

“Michelle, I…I’m close!” Sam grunted, his every breath becoming more labored. “I’m getting real…real close!”

“Ooh me too, Sam!” Michelle moaned. “Please…come first. I want you…to come first!”

That seemed so counterintuitive, a woman wanting a man to climax first during sex. Then again, it was part of the transaction. She promised to give him a satisfying fuck in exchange for that ticket. That meant his peak had priority, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t also enjoy it.

Still leaning back, allowing Sam to keep admiring her breasts, Michelle worked her hips in a final surge of energy. Like that last desperate push the Avengers made against the Chitari in the first movie, she was determined to finish. Much like her favorite superhero team, she eventually triumphed.

“Ohhh Michelle!” Sam cried out as he finally climaxed.

It was so abrupt, but intense. Michelle felt Sam’s body tense within her grasp, his hands really squeezing her butt as the feeling took over. She finally slowed her motions, watching as Sam’s face contorted to the pleasure that came along with his release. She made sure he enjoyed it, remaining on top of him while his dick throbbed inside her.

Since she was so close to her own climax, though, she kept the rhythm going for a bit longer. From that final push, along with a little extra self-stimulation, she managed to achieve orgasm as well. She hadn’t expected it, as part of her deal with Sam. The fact she could just made the avenging that much more satisfying.

“Mmm…Sam!” Michelle moaned. “Avenge…with me!”

That sounded so cheesy out loud, but in a state of orgasmic bliss, she was beyond caring. With Sam still reeling from his own peak, Michelle grabbed onto his shoulders, closed her eyes, and threw her head back as she let out a cry that felt like it came straight from Asgard.

She was much louder and more energetic than she’d intended. However, she’d always enjoyed being vocal during sex. Adding that on top of her excitement on seeing “Avengers: Infinity War” just made her deal with Sam that much sweeter.

“I think…we’re done avenging,” said Sam breathlessly.

“That’s for sure!” said Michelle, still dazed by her orgasm.

Their naked bodies remained entwined as she soaked in the feeling, taking in every last ripple of pleasure that coursed up through her body. She even threw in a sultry kiss and an extra embrace. It helped let Sam know that what they had just done was more than just a transaction for movie tickets.

Once the feeling passed, their bodies parted and Michelle caught her breath. Still sweaty and sticky, she and Sam were sure to look pretty disheveled in the theater. She didn’t care, though. She was too excited about the movie, among other things.

“Come on,” she told him. “Let’s get dressed and get in line. We’ve got a movie to see!”

“I haven’t forgotten,” said Sam as he gathered his clothes.

As soon as he found his pants, he took his wallet out again and handed her the ticket. Michelle, still fully nude, eagerly took it. Having done her part and completed the deal, it was hers now. Just holding it in her hand helped it feel real.

“I’m also glad you didn’t take the discount price I offered,” Sam told her.

“Of course you didn’t,” Michelle teased as she put the ticket in her purse. “This way, you got to have sex.”

“That, and I helped avenge something that needed avenging,” he said, “On the night of an Avengers movie premier, I can’t think of anything more fitting.”

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Filed under Sexy Short Story

How To Do Romantic Sub-Plots Right (And Why Some Fail)

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This will probably surprise no one who regularly visits this site, but I love romantic sub-plots. In many cases, they’re my favorite part of a movie, TV show, or comic book. I’ve made my love for romance in general fairly well-known, but romantic sub-plots offer a special kind of appeal.

Now, when I say romantic sub-plots, I’m not referring to the stories built solely around romance, like many of my novels. I’m referring to stories that are primarily presented as another genre, be it sci-fi, fantasy, or a blatant “Die Hard” rip-off, but include a secondary romantic story that runs parallel to the main story.

Sometimes, that story is subtle. Sometimes, it becomes a major catalyst for other parts of the main story. Sometimes, it just adds a little melodrama in between all the bigger, flashier conflicts. Watch pretty much any prime time show on the CW these days and you’ll see examples of every kind to some extent.

As much as I love these sub-plots, though, they can also be frustrating. For every romantic sub-plot I felt was handled well, I can think of five others that were horribly botched. On one end, you have the rich, balanced love story of Han Solo and Princess Leia in the original “Star Wars” trilogy. On the other, you’ve got the inherently toxic love story between Penny and Leonard in “The Big Bang Theory.”

There’s so much variety and diversity to romantic sub-plots that I could spend an entire weekend going through all of them. However, for the sake of making a more concise point, I want to focus on what makes a romantic sub-plot truly compelling. Regardless of genre, medium, or scope, a good romantic sub-plot can really enhance the overall plot.

Like every other sub-plot or storytelling tactic, though, romantic sub-plots are prone to all sorts of tropes, cliches, and traditions. Some are more useful than others. However, some can create obstacles and pitfalls that derail an otherwise promising romantic sub-plot.

While I don’t consider myself an expert on all the mechanisms that go into a good romantic sub-plot, I do know plenty of others out there who are far smarter than me and far more capable of explaining the subject in a more comprehensive way. They may not be experts either, but they know how to get the point across.

That’s where wonderful YouTube channels like Overly Sarcastic Productions come in. I’ve referenced it before in previous discussions about strong female characters, but it also provides other extensive breakdowns of various tropes and does it in a colorful, entertaining way, sometimes literally.

One such video in their Trope Talk series covers romantic sub-plots and the breakdown here is the best I’ve seen to date on what makes a good and not-so-good sub-plot. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend you watch it. If nothing else, it should put some of your favorite and least favorite romantic sub-plots into a larger context.

There’s a lot of fast-talking, broad-based breakdowns of this trope, which the narrator freely admits she doesn’t fully understand. However, she demonstrates that she understands enough to point out what not to do when pursuing a romantic sub-plot on a fairly basic level. I want to go beyond basics.

The video singles out a few TV shows and cartoons where the romantic sub-plot falls flat, such as “The Legend of Korra” and “Castle.” In both cases, the sub-plot is very shallow in that it’s built entirely on the fact that a straight male and a straight female character work closely together. As such, they become romantically entangled.

Therein likes the most glaring problem, though. Just being two characters who work together is seen as sufficient to justify the sub-plot. As a result, there’s no effort to build meaningful chemistry between the characters. In some cases, there isn’t even an effort to establish whether they’re romantically compatible with one another.

This is probably the most common, not to mention the most annoying, problem that arises when romantic sub-plots enter a story. The sub-plot is given the bare minimum in terms of depth, relying on the audience to fill in the blanks as to why these two should be together.

This happens a lot in the superhero genre. Romantic sub-plots and soap operas are the cornerstone of some of the most iconic superhero comics, TV shows, and movies. One of the most epic examples, the Dark Phoenix Saga, is set to become a movie next year. However, I would argue that the superhero genre is most guilty of this common shortcoming.

Take, for instance, the first “Iron Man” movie and the romantic sub-plot between Tony Stark and Pepper Potts. Never mind the fact that these two characters don’t have much of a romance in the comics. The first movie and the two successful sequels that follow do plenty to establish Tony and Pepper as the primary romance of the story. However, it does little to show why these two belong together.

The same thing happens with Thor and Jane Foster in the first two “Thor” movies. Unlike Iron Man, the comics establish a more robust romantic history between these two. The movies, however, do little to drawn from this history. They rely solely on the fact that Thor spends a little time around Jane, she’s attracted to him, and that’s all that’s necessary for the romance to unfold.

Again, it’s shallow in that it relies too heavily on the audience to fill in the gaps of chemistry and compatibility. For any functional romance, those gaps are pretty big. Just getting together is only a small part of that process and the story around it. Movies like “Thor” and “Iron Man” give the impression that just being around each other long enough is sufficient. These characters don’t have to actually work on their romance.

Compare that to the much more developed romances in the superhero genre, such as Barry and Iris in “The Flash” TV show. In that romance, just getting together isn’t the end of the story. It’s just part of it. Barry and Iris actually work, struggle, sacrifice, and even argue at times, but that’s exactly what makes their relationship so meaningful.

Outside the superhero genre, there are other ways the romantic sub-plot gets derailed in a way that’s more annoying than entertaining. I think “Friends” was one of the worst offenders with Ross and Rachel because almost the entirety of the sub-plot was built around them struggling to get together. Sure, the process of two people coming together can be compelling, but that can’t be the whole story.

Movies tend to struggle with it even more, but mostly due to logistical reasons. There’s only so much romantic development you can squeeze into a two or three hour movie. However, it can be done. Despite being brief and tragic, the sub-plot of Sarah Conners and Kyle Reese in the original “Terminator” movie showed that it is possible for a romantic sub-plot to be meaningful within those limitations.

Far more often, though, movies try to rush a sub-plot or outright force it. That’s part of what makes any romance hard to take seriously. In a movie like “Jurassic World,” where you have two very different characters in Claire and Owen, it really has to be forced because outside the plot of the movie, it’s hard to imagine these two having a meaningful relationship.

In some respects, that’s a good litmus test for any romantic sub-plot. If you can’t see the characters involved functioning outside the plot of the movie, then chances are the romantic sub-plot is fundamentally flawed. It’s easy to imagine iconic couples like Superman and Lois Lane, Cyclops and Jean Grey, or even Allie and Noah in “The Notebook” enjoying a functional relationship past the final credits.

Even for couples where it’s harder to picture them outside a conflict, it helps when a romantic sub-plot still puts in extra effort to make the romance believable. While this is a challenge in movies, TV, and comics, I’ve actually seen this handled a lot better in modern video games.

Romantic sub-plots are important elements of popular games like the “Uncharted” series. What makes that sub-plot effective, though, is how much time and energy is put into establishing why a man like Nathan Drake would be with a woman like Elena Fisher. It even goes out of its way to show how these two characters create a genuinely functional relationship towards the end.

While it might be a bit of a stretch, I would also cite the “Mass Effect” series that I’ve praised before in how well it handles romantic sub-plots. Now, it’s a stretch because the game is structured in a way where the player can choose a particular romantic sub-plot or choose to not have one at all. That makes the story a lot more fluid than a movie or TV show, but it still manages to create depth for a sub-plot.

That depth shows, regardless of which romantic sub-plot the player chooses. Whether it’s Shepard and Liara, Shepard and Ashley, or Shepard and Garrus, the game provides opportunities for depth and development. If you follow the sub-plot through to the end, the romance has genuine dramatic weight.

In the end, that’s the most important impact of any romantic sub-plot. When done right, it adds greater weight to the overall narrative. It creates an emotional dimension that goes beyond just achieving a goal or surviving a conflict. It fleshes out the emotions, passions, and desires of the characters involved.

Conversely, it can really disrupt the plot when done wrong. I’ve already covered how the worst love triangle in history derailed the X-men movies. Talk to any “Star Wars” fan and they’ll probably say the poor romance between Anakin Skywalker and Padme was the most disappointing part of the prequels not named Jar Jar Binks.

To some extent, a romantic sub-plot is a gamble. It stretches the odds, but it also increases the payout. When it fails, it can fail pretty spectacularly. When it works, though, it can make for some of the most dramatic, passionate moments in a story. As an unapologetic romance lover, I say it’s a gamble worth taking.

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Publishing Efforts Update: ANOTHER REJECTION

A while back, I announced that I had submitted a manuscript for what I’d hoped would be my third published novel. I’d submitted it to the same publisher that had previously published my first two novels, “Passion Relapse” and “Rescued Hearts.” I hoped to continue building a larger catalog with them in the name of building a stronger partnership.

Well, I’m sorry to say that I heard back from them and the news was not what I had hoped. For the second submission in a row, I got a rejection letter. It wasn’t a mean one. The editors I work with are incredibly considerate and given all the submissions they get, they’ve been wonderful to work with every step of the way. Unfortunately, they just couldn’t get behind my story.

It is disappointing. I had high hopes for this manuscript. I wrote it with the intention of making it a real niche title that would’ve appeal to a specific segment of the erotica/romance market. I thought that would give it more appeal than the last manuscript I submitted. I guess I was mistaken.

I’m not sure what I’ll do with this or the other one they rejected. I’m still struggling to find other publishers who are willing to hear me out. However, I am not discouraged and I still intent to keep submitting.

As I write this, I’m putting what I hope to be the finishing touches on my next manuscript. This one is a bit more general and should appeal to more romance fans. It has many similar elements to “Passion Relapse” and “Rescued Hearts.” I have high hopes for it and hope to submit it soon. I also have another draft that I’m hoping to finish in the coming weeks.

In any case, I have plenty of sexy stories to tell, including more sexy short stories. This is a setback, but it’s not a defeat.

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“Rescued Hearts” Is Out TODAY!

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Today is another milestone in my endeavor to become a successful erotica/romance writer. I’ve been looking forward to this day since late last year when I announced that Totally Entwined Group, the same publisher who published “Passion Relapse,” agreed to publish another one of my novels.

That achievement, in and of itself, was pretty big. Just getting one novel published in “Passion Relapse” was tough enough. Some may even call that a fluke. One bit of success can be attributed to luck or circumstance. Just ask Trent Dilfer. Two published novels, however, is not a fluke. It may very well be the start of a trend.

That’s why I’m so excited to announce the official release of “Rescued Hearts,” my second published novel of Totally Entwined Group. If you liked “Passion Relapse,” you’ll probably enjoy this story too. However, this is a very different kind of story. It’s still a love story. It still has plenty of sexy elements. It’s just the application of those elements that’s different.

“Rescued Hearts” is the kind of story in which two people just finding each other isn’t enough. There are obstacles that will actively hinder their ability to be together and I’m not just talking about laundry habits. The obstacles here are serious and downright dangerous.

The love and passion in this story can’t just blossom on its own. It has to be earned. That’s why I believe it’ll strike the right chords with those who appreciate love, romance, and the sexy elements that make it so special. Winter isn’t over yet, but this sexy story will help guide you through.

“Rescued Hearts”
By Jack Fisher

Have you ever fallen in love with an angel? Candy Carter has. A self-proclaimed trailer-trash princess, she seems destined to live a life of quiet deviance in Haven Hill, a dying rural town overrun by drug dealers and criminals.

Then, in her darkest hour, EMT Ryan Roth saves her life when a forest fire ravages her town. That fateful encounter doesn’t just endear him to her heart. It inspires her to leave Haven Hill and build a better life, much to the dismay of her jealous ex-fiancé, Paul Reynolds. She runs away, enrolls in college and tries to become the kind of woman who was worth saving.

But just as that life seems to be taking shape, Candy crosses paths with the man who’d been her angel, only to find out that he’s divorced and miserable. As they reconnect, old dreams transform into new passions and hope for the future for them both. However, Candy’s old life comes back to haunt her. Her angel may not be able to save her this time, or they may both lose their lives.

As always, I encourage everyone to both read the book and provide feedback. I’m always open to discussing the sexy and non-sexy elements of the story. That kind of feedback helps me become a better writer and I want to keep writing more sexy stories, be they novels or the sexy short stories I occasionally share.

I also have plenty of other sexy stories I hope to get published. I consider “Rescued Hearts” just another step in the process. I hope to share more news about future novels, be they with Totally Entwined Group or some other publisher. Until then, please take the time to enjoy this sexy tale of romance, passion, and everything in between.

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