Today I am so pleased to welcome Kelly Jensen to Joyfully Jay. Kelly has come to talk to us about her latest release, To See the Sun. She has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!

Favorite Tropes

You always remember your first Harlequin. Mine was pilfered from my mother’s nightstand and read under the covers with a flashlight balanced on my shoulder. To my fourteen-year-old mind, it was sexy and romantic. Looking back, it was actually rather lurid and rapey. But that was romance in 1980.

I don’t remember the title or the author, but I do remember the premise: a young woman is betrothed by correspondence to a duke (or an earl?) living in a remote castle, and promptly dispatched by coach to meet her destiny. Something happens to the coach and she’s on foot when her intended bursts through the mists on a large black stallion, scoops her up, takes her back to his castle, and has his way with her. She’s appropriately terrified. She’s a virgin (of course) and he’s a brute. Then somehow it all works out and they fall in love and live happily ever after.

Years later, when I think back on this book, the part I remember most vividly—aside from the fact the setting felt very bleak, and that the hero felt very bleak, and that the cover was very dark—is that everything worked out. I couldn’t recall exactly how, but it had.

Of course, that’s the point of romance, that everything will work out, and the stories I like the most are the ones where everything seems impossible. Where I have to trust the author to make it work. That’s where tropes come in. They’re wonderfully comforting—particularly if you can identify which one you’re reading. For me, it’s a clue to what’s ahead, and despite the fact most romance comes with the promise of a happy ever after, I like to know how much work the couple is going to have to do. That’s how I know how many tissues to have on hand.

A trope will also provide clues to the sort of story you’re about to read. For instance, a second chance romance is probably going have a lot of bittersweet moments as the couple reflect on what might have been—which of course makes it all the more lovely when they shift their focus toward what they might have this time around.

Friends-to-lovers is a perennial favorite of mine because I adore the transition of such relationships. A lot of couples start out knowing next to nothing about each other—and that can be scary enough. Imagine knowing nearly everything about the person you’re in love with. Terrifying. There’s also this wonderful process of adjustment where a couple who were friends have to reestablish boundaries and even create mystery in order to be somewhat unknowable. And the inevitable conflict when they realize that perhaps they don’t know everything about each other at all.

Close proximity tropes are the ones that truly fascinate me, though: arranged marriage, marriage of convenience, fake fiancé, and mail-order spouse. I LOVE the idea of putting two people into a situation not necessarily of their own choosing and watching the sparks fly. I did exactly that with my Counting series by trapping Henry and Marc in a rental car on the side of the road in upstate New York during a blizzard. On Christmas Eve. I sort of did it again in Best in Show when Julian adopts Mac from the pound only to learn his cat isn’t always a cat. He’s actually a really cute redhead with a curse. I really, really did it with To See the Sun where I have Gael travel to the far side of the galaxy as the contracted companion to a lonely farmer. Where was Gael going to run to if things didn’t work out? There’s no air on the surface and the nearest town is three hundred kilometers away.

What I love about these romances is the negotiation. Like a friends-to-lovers story, there is an enormous transition that has to take place. In arranged marriage type stories, though, we have two strangers, so they have to learn each other’s quirks first, and then figure out if they can live with them—or, if they’re stuck in this arrangement—how to live with them. They literally HAVE to make the relationship work. Romance requires a happy ever after and generally speaking, it should be the main couple. Not the bride and the gardener or the groom and his stable hand. It’s a puzzle that needs solving and it’s the solution that forms the story. As a writer, I love figuring that out. As a reader, I love seeing how it’s done.

And in both cases, I have a hastily calculated number of tissues on hand, because when it comes down to it, I’m a total sap and I don’t really care how they do it, so long as I can feel it, and so long as everyone sees the end of the story with a smile on their face.


Survival is hard enough in the outer colonies—what chance does love have?

Life can be harsh and lonely in the outer colonies, but miner-turned-farmer Abraham Bauer is living his dream, cultivating crops that will one day turn the unforgiving world of Alkirak into paradise. He wants more, though. A companion—someone quiet like him. Someone to share his days, his bed, and his heart.

Gael Sonnen has never seen the sky, let alone the sun. He’s spent his whole life locked in the undercity beneath Zhemosen, running from one desperate situation to another. For a chance to get out, he’ll do just about anything—even travel to the far end of the galaxy as a mail-order husband. But no plan of Gael’s has ever gone smoothly, and his new start on Alkirak is no exception. Things go wrong from the moment he steps off the shuttle.

Although Gael arrives with unexpected complications, Abraham is prepared to make their relationship work—until Gael’s past catches up with them, threatening Abraham’s livelihood, the freedom Gael gave everything for, and the love neither man ever hoped to find.


If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories about the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.

Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas, and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, cowritten with Jenn Burke. Some of what she writes is speculative in nature, but mostly it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.

Connect with Kelly:


To celebrate the release of To See the Sun, Kelly is giving away a $25 Riptide credit and some swag stickers and a bracelet! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on August 18, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

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