J.J. McAvoy

BlackRainbowMcAvoyBlack Rainbow
by J.J. McAvoy
2015

ThatThingMcAvoyThat Thing Between Eli and Gwen
by J.J. McAvoy
2016

SugarBabyMcAvoySugar Baby Beautiful
by J.J. McAvoy
2015

 

So I wavered on writing these books up because they’re in a genre I don’t generally admit to reading: the short, extremely self-indulgent, quite graphic, romance novel. It’s a genre that pretty much defines the guilty pleasure book for a lot of women (it’s a money-maker genre in the publishing industry.) They’re not, generally speaking, good books, but they can be intensely satisfying and relaxing brain candy.

J.J. McAvoy might have managed to break the mold for this genre, though, because I think her books might be genuinely good. They are certainly significantly better than any other books in this genre that I’ve ever read. The issues the characters deal with are relatively believable and sympathetic, but more importantly her characters are all smart and witty and just a bit mean without ever being cruel.

Reading these books really highlighted for me how my favorite characters are all at least a tiny bit mean. I don’t like cruelty, but neither do I like a milksop. These characters, they talk and they bicker and they’re in their partner’s weight-class as far as those fights go, and they genuinely apologize on the rare occasions they go too far or hit an exposed nerve. The books transcend the self-indulgent fantasy by being about characters who are enjoyable in their own right.

And then McAvoy modified the standard plot arc in a way that I’m really impressed with. I’m going to put that beneath a spoiler cut, although there won’t be any specific spoilers.

I won’t recommend the books to everyone, because you do have to enjoy the genre first, but if you do, then you should absolutely try these.

Plot arch spoilers:

The genre (as I know it) has a standard plot arc:

  1. Main characters meet and have intense attraction
  2. But they cannot be together for reasons (often based on stupid levels of miscommunication),
  3. They cannot control their attraction and sleep together
  4. The miscommunication hits a crisis point and there’s much angst
  5. They work out their issues and declare their love
  6. The End

J.J. McAvoy does something decidedly different though, without diverging so much as to take her books outside of the genre. These books have the plot arc:

  1. Main character meet and have intense attraction
  2. They cannot be together for reasons (reasonable reasons!)
  3. They work out their issues and declare their love
  4. THEN life gets real and clobbers them with external issues that test them: Is their love enough to keep them together despite serious external problems (that have nothing to do with them being stupid)?
  5. Yes, yes, it is! They will deal with life’s problems together!
  6. The End

And that difference in plot arch is a serious and amazing divergence and I am just incredibly impressed with it. The focus shifts from being about whether they love each other enough to get over themselves to whether their love and their personalities and their lifestyles are all sufficient to survive the world. It creates a double pay-off for the reader as first you get the declaration of love and then you get the declaration of perseverance.

It has occurred to me, though, that another difference between these books and the others I’ve read is that these have African American characters while the others I’ve read are white of one type or another. It makes me wonder if the plot difference is specific to McAvoy or shared within African American romance novels. I’ll need to test that theory. If any readers here have recommendations along those lines, let me know.

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