I’m not a fan of thrillers or horrors (books or movies) although every once in a while I’ll go to see a thriller, but never alone. Why? Because I find that life is not an easy thing to go through, and when I enter the world of fiction I like to escape into happy, beatuiful places. As the group REM put it – Shiny happy people hold hands.
And then I met Debbie Christiana, Jami Gray, and bloggers like Brazen Babes Review who introduced me to the dark side of romance. And I liked it. Urban fantasy and paranormal are now two of my favorite sub-genres. But I also fell in love with darker contemporary romance where I shuddered at what the hero or heroine had overcome to get the point in the life where we met them.
How much in love with the dark side did I fall? So far that my subconscious didn’t realize it was writing a dark romance until the very first editor I encountered at Harlequin, the one who snagged me into the Kimani family, pointed it out to me.
When I submitted my first draft of A Perfect Caress (then called The Dream Maker), it was a little dark. Romantic— yes. Hopeful— yes. Happily-ever-after— definitely. But dark, as in where in the world did I get the idea to torture my heroine so grievously?
In the first draft Lanelle was an only child whose parents had died in a car accident when she was a teenager. She was taken in by her mother’s best friend who had once promised her mother that she’d take care of Lanelle if something happened because there was no one else to do it. Although her new guardian cared for her, Lanelle never felt the same kind of love she showed her own children, which made her miss her own parents even more.
When one of her male high school classmate gave her attention, she fell into it and translated it as love. They were married right out of high school and that’s when their relationship changed. He became physically and psychologically abusive and alienated her from everyone she knew. Her best friend Toshia refused to be driven away and stayed by her side the whole time, encouraging her to leave the man. Six months pregnant, Lanelle decided to finally leave him.
On the day she was leaving her husband confronted her and shot her in the belly right before he shot himself in the head. She survived, but her babies and her uterus didn’t.
Yeah that was dark. I won’t even get into the numerous ways she tried to kill herself due to extreme depression before she found her calling as a nurse or that she’d decorated her home in various shades of gray.
If you read A Perfect Caress today (which I hope you will), that is not the story you’ll experience. Kimani stories have depth, but not darkness (at least not as dark as I had initially taken the story) and that’s okay because I love the way a Perfect Caress turned out. Are Lanelle and Dante’s lives all bubbles and lollypops? No because they have lived their lives, made their mistakes, and have come out stronger because of it.
Do you like a bit of darkness in your stories?