Jeannie Lin’s latest post on her core themes spoke to me on many levels.
I’m writing my vicar hero/bad girl story and as I jumped into my hero’s POV, he turned out to be a little darker than expected. My heroine is pretty tormented, but I assumed my hero–a vicar–would be her foil. Instead, he’s got these rough edges beneath his sunny exterior that is pulling a number of layers out of the story itself as well as the romance. This is why it’s difficult for me to write small casts (and write short)–my characters require other characters to give their personalities greater context. I find it pat and easy for “love to conquer all.” In other words, the journey of my h/h falling in love and reaching a HEA is what smooths their rough edges, heals wounds, and solves conflicts. That doesn’t happen in my books without other characters (and sometimes historical events) creating friction for my h/h.
In The Rules of Surrender, my protagonists find their internal and external conflict exacerbated by a family tie they are not initially aware exists, by my hero’s parentage, by religion, and by money. I think riding off into the sunset just because they’re in love will result in major issues down the line, which would make the story unsatisfying for me. I don’t need things wrapped up in a neat bow, but I do like to end my novels knowing that my protagonists have evolved enough to have the proper tools for problem solving should future conflicts occur. Maybe I’m reading and writing too much into romance novels? I just know that I gravitate towards writing stories of understanding, grace, and respect.
My perspective might change in the years to come, but as of right now, this is what I write and why.