Danny, you've won a copy of Vanessa Kelly's "Sex And The Single Earl!" You'll be receiving an email soon w/more info! Congratulatzione, and thanks everyone for your great discussion today! SATSE is one of Michelle's picks for Historicals Not To Be Missed in '10!
I’m so thrilled to be celebrating the release of my latest Regency-set historical romance with Michelle and the Bellas. “Sex And The Single Earl” is a sexy, fun read with a beautiful setting -- the ultra-elegant resort town of Bath, England. Sounds like a bit of a romp, doesn’t it? Well, in part, but my characters experience their own dark and stormy night, and it’s touch and go as to whether they’ll survive it. But, hey, it is a romance, so eventually all will be well. And thank God for that, because who wants to see the heroine and hero go to hell and back only to be robbed of a well-deserved HEA? Not the readers of romance, that’s for sure!
Knowing that readers crave happy endings, why, then, do more and more romance writers seem to be penning such dark stories? Ones filled with pain and suffering that push the protagonists to their limits? What purpose can it possibly serve to put readers through the emotionally vicarious torments of the hero and heroine? I have a few thoughts about that.
Because darker stories allow us to explore forbidden, even dangerous emotions. We live in a politically correct culture where so many judgments -- positive and negative -- are attached to feelings. Reading dangerous romance helps us to understand emotions that can be unsettling, but which ultimately enrich our psychic landscapes. Sometimes it’s good to push the envelope!
Because it’s sexy. Romances that push the envelope can be very sexy, allowing us to explore fantasies that others might frown upon (see political correctness in preceding paragraph). Michelle has written about this on more than one occasion -- much more eloquently than I could -- so I’d love it if she weighs in.
Because it’s fun. Like riding a really scary roller coaster or doing those things that mom told us never to do, reading dark and edgy romances can be a thrill. There’s nothing like a good Karen Rose romantic suspense, for instance, to keep you awake at night, with heart pounding and your interest totally engaged. You forget everything in the thrill of the chase, or the terror of knowing a really, really bad guy is about to kidnap our heroine. How will she overcome her nemesis and restore the balance of justice? We’re with her every step of the way.
Because it gives us hope. This is the brass ring. Life these days can be pretty tough, and it seems that inspiring role models are few and far between. But romance writers are a wise and compassionate bunch, and they have the ability to craft heart-felt stories that bring us through the storm and into the light. Sure, sometimes the plots can seem very dramatic, but that’s how we tap into those deeper emotions which lead us to those a-ha! moments that make reading such a worthwhile endeavor. In Anna Campbell’s last book, “Captive of Sin,” for instance, her hero is a much-abused soldier, suffering from what we now call PTSD. His path through torment to healing -- and the heroine’s abiding faith in him -- makes for a highly emotional, truly satisfying read. These kinds of stories provide hope that redemption is possible, if we will only be brave enough to open our hearts to love and keep our eyes steadfastly fixed on what is good in the world.
In “Sex And The Single Earl,” my heroine, Sophie, is a wealthy young woman who comes from a sheltered background. Simon, the man she loves, wants to keep her that way, but that just isn’t possible -- or even desirable. Sophie and Simon will confront some very harsh realities. It will bring out the worst and the best in them, forcing them to grow as individuals and as a couple. After all, there’s nothing like the threat of danger, or even death, to clarify how you feel about something. Or, in this case, how my hero and heroine feel about each other.
So, Bellas, how dark do you like your romance? Do you go right to the edge, pushing those dangerous feelings to the limit? How much is too much for you?