What happens in a “wrong bed” romance? At some point in the story, one of the main characters mistakenly winds up in the other main character’s bed or bedroom.
Anything can happen after that. (Or not!)
Perhaps at the beginning of the story, the hero returns home and discovers his very own Goldilocks in his bed. The woman turns out to be his best friend’s little sister and now he’s hyper aware that she’s all grown up.
Or, imagine bickering co-workers on a work trip. Jet-lagged and exhausted, they didn’t realize they had innocently shared a hotel bed until their puritanical boss finds them the next morning. Time to pretend they’ve been secretly engaged!
Maybe the heroine is determined to move on from a painful breakup and seduce a potential boyfriend. She doesn’t know until afterwards that she had entered the wrong room and had mind-blowing sex with her ex.
The wrong bed romance should be fun and flirty. It’s a comedy of errors that throws the hero and heroine together even if they’ve done everything in their power to stay apart. The storyline doesn’t just create questions about intention or fate; it also shows how the main characters react and work together in unusual situations.
In Wrong Bed, Right Guy by Katee Robert, the heroine Elle is a prim and proper lady who has a weakness for bad boys. She’s trying to change her ways and set her sights on her urbane and artistic boss. Only he seems to be clueless with her blatant interest. Elle decides it’s time to take action. She’ll climb into her boss’s bed. Once she’s there, nature would take its course. Right?
Wrong. Elle makes a series of mistakes (such as coming up with the idea, executing the plan, and wearing lingerie with an excess of ruffles) and seduces Gabe, her boss’s brother. Gabe has never been with a lady like Elle. She’s trouble, but he’s not willing to give up the smoking hot chemistry between them.
A wrong bed romance has unique challenges. How did the main character wind up in the wrong bed? The reason has to be believable and easy to follow. Also, if the hero or heroine intentionally created the error, at what point is their behavior labeled manipulative?
Some authors have found creative ways to get a character into the wrong room. For example, in Simon Says… by Donna Kauffman, hotel manager Sophie enters an occupied guest room early in the morning with her master passkey. The only reason she’s doing this is because her friend had a one-night stand with the guest and lost her cell phone. It’s an urgent matter that she retrieves it before someone finds out.
Of course, it would have been helpful if Sophie’s friend had told her the correct hotel room before she broke in or accidentally woke up the sexy and naked man. Who is not the friend’s one-night stand, but instead happens to be a retrieval specialist. He wants that master passkey to steal a jewel from another hotel guest and will use blackmail to get what he wants.
Despite the term, a wrong bed romance doesn’t require the hero and heroine to be in the same bed—or even the same room. In Too Hot to Sleep by Stephanie Bond, Georgia hasn’t had sex with her boyfriend. She decides to call him in the middle of the night and try out some phone sex. Georgia thought his response was encouraging… unaware that she had called the wrong number.
Mishaps are expected in these stories. However, a wrong bed romance can become problematic very quickly. There can be a mistaken identity but the hero or heroine can’t impersonate someone else. The main characters also shouldn’t be incapacitated in any way.
Why? Because consent—and the ability (not to mention the freedom) to agree to sexual activity—is necessary.
After all, the storyline is supposed to a lighthearted romantic comedy. A wrong bed romance is about the sexiest mistake that offers happily-ever-after consequences.
Want more romance tropes? Check out this beginner’s guide!