Guest Post with Vanessa Kelly & V.K. Sykes

Alyssa: I’m so excited to welcome back Vanessa Kelly! Er… V.K. Sykes! Er…Well, read on, and discover what it’s like to write in two genres, under two names, with both having a book birthday on the same day!


HIGHLANDERHi, Alyssa! My thanks to you and the ladies for welcoming me back to Embracing Romance. I’m Vanessa Kelly, and I write historical romance. My latest series is called The Renegade Royals, and book four hits the shelves next week. HOW TO MARRY A ROYAL HIGHLANDER features my first Highlander hero. Fun, and very Outlanderish of me, don’t you think? And, yes, I did think a lot about Jamie Fraser when I wrote it. **wink**


But I’m not only Vanessa Kelly. I’m also VK Sykes, and I write contemporary romance with my hubby. We also have a new book coming out next week. It’s called SUMMER AT THE SHORE, and it’s the second book in our Seashell Bay Series, set on a small island off the coast of Maine. Think sunshine, beaches, boats, 4th of July festivities, a whole of romance, and you’ll get the drift.Sykes_SummerattheShore_MM


Okay, but having both books out on the SAME DAY? Fun, I must admit, but also kind of crazy making. I’m beginning to feel like I have whiplash as I flip from one book to the other! That sense of whiplash can also carry over into the writing process. So I thought I’d talk about what it’s like to be working on a historical and a contemporary romance at the same time.


Heroes: Similarities? Alpha male heroes all the way, for both series. Differences? I can definitely lean harder into the rake/bad boy type in the historical romances than I can in the contemporary/small town romances. Too much rakish or roguish behavior in the small town romances and the guy just comes off like a jerk. Rakes, however, are very much a part of Regency romance conventions (and the time period, too).


Heroines: Similarities? I like strong, confident heroines, period (so does hubby). Differences? I find it easier to develop a contemporary heroine. There has to be some kind of realism in the way I portray my historical heroines, which means she’s not going to be a lawyer or a police detective or go off to university to pursue a stellar career as a mathematician. But it’s also fun and challenging to play with the conventions of the historical period and try to work around them in a believable way.


Dialogue: WAY easier for contemporary romance. Writing dialogue for a story set two hundred years in the past means trying to catch the proper cadences without sounding stilted or weird, or using terms most readers won’t know. Plus, the profanity issue. Sometimes a good cuss word just works in dialogue, and it’s easier to do that with contemporary romance. My historical heroines are likely not going to drop the f-bomb.


Descriptions: Similarities? I think readers like evocative descriptions that convey a sense of mood and place, regardless of what genre they’re reading. Differences? In contemporary romance, descriptions can often be shorter and more pointed, since we know what we’re talking about. In historical settings it’s a balance between describing a thing or place that might not be familiar to the reader but also not going overboard. For instance, readers generally don’t need to know every step of lighting a fire in Regency times, but you might want to say a bit more than, “she lit a fire.” After all, we read historical fiction to revel in that sense of otherness or exoticism.


Sex: **sob** The virginity issue. Most of my historical heroines are virgins because they’re young, unmarried ladies who also lack an extensive vocabulary when it comes to sex (which makes sex scenes from their point of view a challenge). Plus, it takes longer to get my historical characters into bed together. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes I just want to scream: Get on with it!!


Even though I want to tear my hair out some days as I flip back and forth between manuscripts, it’s also pretty darn invigorating. Navigating my way through all the different conventions of the genres can keep things fresh, even after several years of doing this. I’ll tell you one thing—I never get bored!



 How to plan a weddingroyal spyMeet Me at the Beach coverDo you read different romance genres? If so, do you sometimes find it hard or disconcerting to flip between them? One person who comments will win a copy of both MEET ME AT THE BEACH (Seashell Bay 1) and HOW TO PLAN A WEDDING FOR A ROYAL SPY (Renegade Royals 3).


BTW, the introductory novella in my Renegade Royals Series, LOST IN A ROYAL KISS, is currently on free at all retailers!

Vanessa Kelly website:

VK Sykes website:

Vanessa Kelly facebook:

VK Sykes facebook:




At sixteen, Alasdair Gilbride, heir to a Scottish earldom, fled the Highlands and an arranged betrothal. Ten years later, Alasdair must travel home to face his responsibilities. It’s a task that would be much easier without the distracting presence of the most enticing woman he’s ever met…

After one escapade too many, Eden Whitney has been snubbed by the ton. The solution: rusticating in the Scottish wilderness, miles from all temptation. Except, of course, for brawny, charming Alasdair. The man is so exasperating she’d likely kill him before they reach the border—if someone else weren’t trying to do just that. Now Eden and Alasdair are plunging into a scandalous affair with his life and her reputation at stake—and their hearts already irreparably lost…







Morgan Merrifield sacrificed her teaching career to try to save her family’s bed-and-breakfast and care for her younger sister. She can’t let herself get distracted by Ryan Butler. After all, the rugged ex-Special Forces soldier is only in Seashell Bay for the summer. But her longtime crush soon flares into real desire-and with one irresistible kiss, she’s swept away.

Ryan values his freedom. As much as he wants Morgan, he’s not ready to settle down with anyone, much less in sleepy Seashell Bay. But his code of honor doesn’t allow him to leave a woman in distress-and she’s in desperate need of help to fix the inn. It only takes one day working under the same roof and Ryan is already hoping for a lifetime of hot summer nights . . .


Follow Alyssa Alexander:

Despite being a native Michigander, Alyssa Alexander is pretty certain she belongs somewhere sunny. And tropical. Where drinks are served with little paper umbrellas. But until she moves to those white sandy beaches, she survives the cold Michigan winters by penning romance novels that always include a bit of adventure. She lives with her own set of heroes, aka an ever-patient husband who doesn’t mind using a laundry basket for a closet, and a small boy who wears a knight in a shining armor costume for such tasks as scrubbing potatoes. Alyssa’s debut release, THE SMUGGLER WORE SILK, was awarded 4.5 Stars and Top Pick, nominated for 2014 Best First Historical by the Romantic Times and Best First Book in the Romance Writers of America RITA contest. Her second book, IN BED WITH A SPY, released in December 2014 from Berkley, and received a Starred Review from Publishers Weekly and 4.5 Stars and Top Pick from Romantic times. She has been called a “talented newcomer” and “a rising star you won’t want to miss.” You can find Alyssa at all the usual places! Please stop by and say hello! And you can always reach her by email at

35 Responses

  1. Victoria Vane

    Thanks so very much for joining us, Vanessa! I love your historicals but was not aware that you also write contemporary romance. Thanks so much for sharing your insights on being a multi genre writer. Warmest regards, Victoria

  2. ginaconkle2013

    Hi Vanessa- I just bought your contemporary romance and How to Marry a Royal Highlander. I’m like the dog in “Up” — for him it’s “squirrel!” and for me it’s “BOOK!” Thanks for being here on

  3. Linda

    I read mostly historical romance & fantasy romance with a bit of SF romance & PNR thrown in. I don’t have problems switching from reading one genre to another. As long as it’s a well written romance I’m happy. I think it’s more disconcerting for the author.

  4. dholcomb1

    I love historical romance and contemporary romance–no problem going back and forth through the genres.


  5. Hazel Lewis

    How marvelous to read the notes about the author.

  6. Kate Sparks

    I don’t have any problem with switching between genres. Books rather unfold in my mind like a movie…. which maybe why books to movies are usually a disappointment for me.

  7. Barbara Monajem

    For a while I wrote in two genres at the same time (contemporary paranormal and Regency, although now I’m writing just Regency) and I didn’t have much problem switching between them except for the curse words! I kept having to edit them out of the Regencies and still do. 😉

  8. Angela Covarrubias

    Historical Romance is my favorite genre, but I do read contemporary romance too. I find that sometimes I have to take a small break after I read a few historical romances in a row. So that break is filled with contemporary romance or romantic suspense, but I will read anything as long as it’s good and captures my attention. I can’t wait to read, Meet Me At the Beach!

    • Vanessa Kelly

      Hi Alyssa! Thanks for hosting me. I tend to read a lot of romantic suspense, too. That REALLY clears the mind!

  9. Bronwen Evans

    Hi Vanessa – I love your BOOKS! I’d read any genre you want to write. I read widely – historical, contemporary, paranormal, romantic suspense etc

  10. Glenda

    I read all sorts of romances – I do read more historicals than other genres actually. In some ways switching between genres is a really good thing – sort of like a palette cleanser between courses in a huge meal. How? If I switch between genres, I’m less likely to critique writing styles between authors who are enjoyable but in different ways…. Does that make sense? I does in my head. 🙂

    • Alyssa Alexander

      That makes complete sense in my head too! 🙂 If you switch, then you’re comparing apples to oranges.

  11. Anita H.

    Hi Vanessa! *waves* I have no problems at all switching between genres. I go back and forth with contemporaries and historicals just to keep things interesting. Thanks for sharing some insights into your writing between the two genres! 😀

    • Alyssa Alexander

      It definitely keeps things interesting to switch!

  12. jessicajefferson

    This had a lot of great insight. I am so impressed by authors who write in more than one genre. Thanks for sharing such great info.

  13. bn100

    read different genres; don’t find it hard to go back and forth

  14. Ada

    I don’t find it hard flipping between two genres, then I won’t get bored with just one type. I like to take a breather between genres so it keeps everything feeling fresh. Congrats on your upcoming two new releases, can’t wait to read them both!

  15. Patricia Barraclough

    A bit late in commenting, but still enjoyed the post. I enjoy reading many different genre. When I worked at the library, I would have a child’s book, YA, romance and mystery all going at the same time. The trick is to not have two of the same genre going at the same time. Reading an historical romance and a contemporary suspense at the same time, it is easy to keep the plots and characters separate. I made the mistake of reading two historical romances at the same time and couldn’t keep them straight. Now that I am not reading for my job, I tend to have only one book at a time going. I do keep a Harlequin Intrigue in the car, to make sure I am not caught with nothing to read if I have time to kill.