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1. May 2006

Ally Blake has been blogging over at eHarlequin in April. her last entry was about hooks and got me thinking.
How important are hooks to the book and who reads it?

Traditional hooks are, for example, sheiks, cowboys, marriage of convenince, tycoons (especially Greek/Italian), outback, single fathers, vampires, brides, babies, amnesia etc.
They’re not exactly the same as tried-and-true plots, but they’re very close. And more often than not, these hooks make it into the book’s title (and cover, if tehy can).

I consider myself not much for hooks, but that’s not really true. i just don’t care for a lot of the hooks currently out there. We all have auto-buy topics/characters when we look for in purchasing fiction.
For me, it just doesn’t happen to be the “popular” romance hooks. being a convinced childless person myself, for example, anything baby/single parent is of extremely limited interest to me. I don’t care for virginal brides/marriages of convenience either. And royalty, whether Western or the sheiky kind, leave me rather lukewarm.
And don’t get me started on amnesia.

Having condemned all these hooks quite summarily, I was pondering what sorts of hooks/staples I do go for. And the list I came up with is stuff that is sorely lacking in recent Harlequin/M&B titles, as far as I could tell. Well, most of them anyway.
My auto-interest hooks would be pirates (gee, who saw that one coming?), martial arts (the real stuff, not the dribble written by people who’ve visited a dojo once and thought it would make an interesting hobby for their tough-as-nails heroine, yawn), food/cooking and cultures (not exotifying stereotypes, real “This world is different from your world” stories. Maybe that exlains the cowboy appeal?).
Secondary interest (the story still needs to convince me on its own) are from hooks I have seen out there and liked well enough. Those are much more common. Like outback/cowboy types, especially with an opposites-attract angle. best-friends-turned-lovers hold a special place in my heart of they’re done very internally, especially as a Blaze (not so much as a Tender). And I’m an absolute sucker for comedy, even though that’s hard to bring across in a title or even blurb. I wish they brought back a comedy line.

What about you? What are your auto-buys? What topic/premise/chraracter will get you interested every time?

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