Monday, May 03, 2010

Vanessa Kelly GuestBlog: It Was A Dark And Stormy Night

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?


Becke Davis said...

Vanessa! Great to see you here! I'll come back and chat in a little while. My son is here for another hour or two so I'm just checking in right now.

Michelle Santiago said...

i used to read very dark romances but i found i prefer only semi-dark (as in they're dark enough to be interesting but there are plenty of light moments too to balance out the story)... because romances are sort of an escape for me, i don't want to be too depressed.

please count me in for the giveaway. this book sounds like an awesome read and the cover is hot! thanks!

bookmakeupreview AT gmail DOT com

Vanessa Kelly said...

Hey, Becke! Look forward to chatting with you.

Michelle, I think you make a very valid point. I try to do that in my books - balance the dark with the light. And I do like a little bit of fun along the way!

Sissa said...

I'm actually find with any form of darkness in romance as long as it's written right. I have to admit i sort of have a thing for dark brooding heros. Probably why i drool over Batman along with my sister. lol I actually find myself more attractive to the emotionally tormented hero and heroine's than i do the bright and chipper ones. Something about them is more exciting and pulls me in quicker.

To me it's certain parts/themes of a story that can be too much for me. I don't read dark stories where children are involved or if the characters is too much of a Mary Sue or Gary Stu.

Hope this makes sense.


pjpuppymom said...

Hi Vanessa! Congrats on the release of Sex and the Single Earl! Gotta say, I do love that cover and the story is terrific!

A steady diet of dark romances would not appeal to me but I enjoy dropping them into my reading carousel to mix things up. I agree with your mention of Anna Campbell's Captive of Sin It was one of my top reads of 2009. I just finished reading an advanced copy of her June release, My Reckless Surrender and it's another delicious helping that I had a hard time putting down.

Andrea I said...

I enjoy all types of romance, sweet HEA, edgier historical and contemporary and sometimes erotica.

Danny said...

Hi Vanessa,

I really enjoyed Mastering the Marquess. Congrats on your newest release. As long as the story has a HEA I also read dark romances

Vanessa Kelly said...

Hi Jedisakora! I love Batman. There's something intensely attractive about the dark and brooding hero.

PJ! Thanks for stopping by! I'm really looking forward to spending tomorrow at The Romance Dish. So jealous that you got to read an ARC of My Reckless Surrender!

Hi Andrea! The great thing about romance is that there are so many types of reads.

Hi Danny! Thanks for stopping by. So glad you enjoyed MTM.

pjpuppymom said...

Vanessa, we're looking forward to your visit too!

Unknown said...

i really enjoyed this post. I never realized it but I really do like it when the envelope is pushed and knowing there is a happy ending makes it even better. Darker plot lines really help me examine my own emotions

Vanessa Kelly said...

Yes, Amanda. I like that element of darker plot lines, too. Thanks for stopping by!

runner10 said...

Let's go all the way!!
Vanessa's books sound great.

Anna Campbell said...

Hi Michelle! Hi Bellas! Hi Vanessa! Congratulations on Sex and the Single Earl - you know I loved it, I said so in black and white ;-) And hey, thank you to you and PJ for the love for Captive of Sin. PJ, still smiling that you loved My Reckless Surrender! Thank you! Actually I think the kind of journey you get in dark romances can be really satisfying - you know the darkness into light arc. When it's done well, it's really powerful.

Karyn Gerrard said...

Hi Vanessa!

Love that cover! I run the gambit, from light hearted to as dark as you can get. I do love to dwell in the twilight, Captive of Sin is a good example. And you give some great examples why we love dark reads, I agree, esp. with the hope part, I think that is the biggest thing for me, all the best for your release!

Vanessa Kelly said...

Runner10, thanks for stopping by!

Anna, my darling! Thanks for stopping by. You are the master of the arc from darkness into light. Can't wait for your next one!

Karyn, I love that description - dwelling in the twilight! Really describes this kind of book very well.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Buona sera, Bellas and hullo, 'nessa! Forgive me for just checking in after a day full of moving stuff. And now i'm just popping in for a sec on my way to pick up kids.

But i want to say that you've really made great arguments for the 'darker' romance. I adore them, mainly because i love any kind of story well told. but I enjoy the angst and the emotional growth characters experience. I think there's a sense of realism that connects with me; I seem to have this empathy/respect gene, and when authors in romance show me how characters do what folks do in real life -- move through the dark stuff and learn to live and thrive -- it appeals greatly.

And thank you for your kind compliments. You know it's a subject near/dear for me, especially when it concerns authors simply telling their stories.

btw, hullo to your husband! what's his name again? I can't quite remember...hmmm...but it always seems to make me want to make naughty sophomoric jokes...

Vanessa Kelly said...

Hey, Michelle! Thank you for hosting me, especially in the middle of your move. You're the best!

Your posts on this subject are what prompted me to write about it. And I love Anna's books, so I really wanted to talk about Captive of Sin. This gave me the perfect excuse!

And you know very well what my husband's name is, you naughty girl! Randy says to give you a big hug!

Jane said...

Congrats on the new release, Vanessa. I'm actually like darker themes in romances. I think the heavier the theme the more we get to know the hero and heroine. We get to see how they react to trauma or loss.

janie1215 AT excite DOT com

Unknown said...

I enjoy all types of romance doesn't matter, I read them all! Love the title of your book. Please count me in on this one!


Vanessa Kelly said...

Hi Jane! That's a very good point you make. When the h/h are tested to the limit, we can see their true characters revealed.

Thanks for stopping by, Virginia! It is a great title, isn't it?

s7anna said...

Congratulations Vanessa on your latest new release!

I love my books to be edgy so pushing those emotions when done well makes for a great read.


Tiona said...

Vanessa,welcome! And congrats on the new release. Love the cover. Not the mention the title.
Well, I don't like mine very dark at all. A little danger ala Jacquie D'Alessandro or Elizabeth Boyle, are right up my alley, but their humor and sense of adventure are great.
Actually, I don't really care for the ones where the heroine is constantly in peril and you're truly amazed, really, that she come out alive at the end.
But, that's why we love romances. Variety!

Barbara E. said...

I don't mind some darkness, as long as it doesn't get depressing and I don't mind a few tears along the way as long as there's a happily ever after in the end. I do love a light, frothy, romp of a romance though, they're just so much fun.

Pat L. said...

Dont like dark. Love my contemps, an occasional historical or erotic.

Love the funny romance, suspense or just straight contemp stories.

Like the title and cover of the giveaway.

Deb said...

I don't like dark romances, but a few authors can pull them off well, like Anna C. I like my historicals to have humor with a sexy rogue as the hero, of course. Congrats on the release, Vanessa!

Becke Davis said...

I'm back! I like all kinds of romance, from light contemporaries to really dark ones a la Anne Stuart. It just depends what I'm in the mood to read.

Keri Stevens said...

I know we're talking important stuff here but . . . wait . . .cover pic . . . Earl chest . . . hunh? Did you say something?

Vanessa Kelly said...

Thanks for stopping by, Anna! Edgy does tend to push the emotional envelope.

Princess, I love Elizageth Boyle! And you're right - variety is the spice of life.

Barbara, I'm partial to a good romp myself, on occasion!

Vanessa Kelly said...

Pat, thanks! I love both my title and the cover.

Deb, nothing better than a sexy rogue! One of the reasons I love Loretta Chase. She does them so well.

Vanessa Kelly said...

Becke, can't you keep Keri under control? She's always going off on man-tangents!

throuthehaze said...

A touch of darkness in a romance keeps things interesting but it all just depends
throuthehaze at gmail dot com

Sue A. said...

I like the stories to be dark and I haven't found one that's too dark. I think the reason I like these stories has to do with my personality. I'm not a "the glass is half full" type, but rather the opposite.

Mitzi H. said...

Some darker romance novels I like, some not so much.

As long as the (darker) part involves the the H/h dealing with a situation they will survive (such as torture, etc.) then I'm OK with it. An example that comes to mind is Jamie in Outlander being (used) by Black Jack Randall and then having to deal with the emotional trauma it caused.

What I don't like is a H/h being wishy-washy or not having the kahoonies to face their insecurities or their enemies.

I'm reading a book right now where the H won't face up to the brother of the h....and I'm having a hard time finishing the book. I pick it up and put it a few more pages and do the same....It's driving me nuts!!! It started out so well, but his lack of backbone to go after what he wants is killing me.

Roller Coaster rides make my heart beat fast and I know I'll scream but enjoy the ride when it's over...And dealing with unexpected situations are always fun....But Please, Please...Give me a H/h that have the wherewithal and the spunk to take on their demons.

Wishwashy....Should I comment, maybe I shouldn't....Should I post my thoughts....maybe I shouldn't...You get the idea.

Ahhhh, what the heck...I'll post and I'd also love to thank you all for the contest. Looking forward to reading Sex and The Single Earl and wishing you continued success Vanessa!!!

mitzihinkey at sbcglobal dot net

Anonymous said...

I too have as of late reading dark and heart pounding books. I hate weak TSTL h. Have yelled (husband jumps too funny) when a story is heading that way. We read to go on a trip to other times and places.
Peace to You

Vanessa Kelly said...

throughthehaze, it does keep it interesting, doesn't it?

Sue, I do find that my frame of mind affects the kind of story I want to read.

Vanessa Kelly said...

Mitzi, have you ever read Karen Rose? She's great for those rollercoaster rides, and for having very strong h/h's that face their personal demons.

Anon., thanks for stopping by! Sounds like you keep your husband on his toes!

Carrie at In the Hammock Blog said...

Hi Vanessa!! Wow, the cover of your new book is awesome!! About the dark romance, I usually prefer a lighter romance, but something dark and gothic can be great in a historical, too :)

inthehammockblog (at) gmail (dot) com

MariElle said...

I think that people are willing to read romances with deeper, darker and sometimes even painful plots as long as they resolve well because life is generally so much more difficult that it has been - it helps to read of characters you like as they face great odds but triumph- gives the reader hope and even comfort- speaking for myself that is anyway.8~)

Vanessa Kelly said...

Carrie, I love a good gothic romance - I wish we could see more of them.

MariElle, I agree. It's all about the triumph over the odds.

gamistress66 said...

interesting blog post. it depends some on my mood, but I often like a story that is a little on the "dark" side. Either with the "tortured/scarred" hero or suspense/mystery that needs resolved and puts the hero/herione together and at risk. Congrats on the new release.

gamistress at
aol dot

Kirsten said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
amy kennedy said...

I love the cover and the title Vanessa! Can't wait to read it. Ooh, I love dark, yet I also love light. And w/i the darkness there's different kinds of dark stories -- you brought up Karen Rose, in suspense, there's that dark outside force that the H/h have to deal with then, like in Anna's books there's the dark force inside the H or h -- both kinds can give me shivers.

'Course, there's also the double whammy of dark force inside/dealing with dark force outside. Sheesh.

I like dark. And light.

Bethany said...

I admittedly lean more toward light and comedic because I tend to stay in the mood of the story. If it's a dark story, there needs to be an extra happy ending to balance it out.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Buona sera, yet again! I'm really psyched to see so many readers enjoying a little dark mixed in w/their romance. And I, too, think Karyn's coined a great phrase in "dwelling in the twilight.' The HEA can remain a bit in the twilight in some of thse types of novels when the hero, for instance, hasn't been completely sanitized or 'reformed' by n ovel's end. Or the heroine or hero still are working on issues and growing, or you understand they'll continue to grow and are taking a chance on life together.

mitzi, you did the right thing.

Vanessa, I really, really enjoyed this novel, and not just for the cover. He does seem to be the new IT Boy in romance cover modeling, no? And I even want to stress that while your novel does 'dwell inthe twilight,' the flavor isn't 'dark,' rather the heroine especially is moved to challenge really bad stuff in others; she's got all the honor and guts one could want in a romance chick. And I'm just thrilled she and your boy finally have their day; I so enjoyed meeting them in "Mastering the Marquess." It'd make sense for folks to grab the pair for a nice little binge.

Becke Davis said...

Like Keri, I was momentarily blinded by the excellent chests on Vanessa's covers. The cover gods must love you!

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