by Anna Sugden
It's always a pleasure to welcome back Lair favourite, Eloisa James. And not just because we know it means another book is available in her awesome Desperate Duchesses series!
Having said that, I know many of us have been waiting eagerly for the release of her latest book - This Duchess of Mine - where we will find out how the rocky romance between Jemma and Elijah plays out. (Thank goodness, we only have to wait until July to see which lucky woman wins the heart of the divinely delicious Villers in A Duke of Her Own!)
Don't forget, you can keep up with all the latest releases and so much more at Eloisa's website - http://www.eloisajames.com/
So, without further ado, I'll hand over the reins to Eloisa.
Your Cheatin' Heart
There are a few rules that every romance writer learns early on. Don’t make your hero an artist. Better not to make him a stripper, either (though it’s a fine profession for heroines). Some of these rules are almost impossible – for example, if your heroine was captured and sold into a) prostitution or b) a harem, try to arrange that she’s still a virgin years later. Tough, yes. Impossible? No! Loretta Chase has a fabulous novel, Don’t Tempt Me, coming out with just that premise in July.
I knew readers don’t like infidelity – and yet I started a series of six books with just that premise: a broken marriage. A really broken marriage. Neither Elijah nor Jemma, the Duke and Duchess of Beaumont, had been true to their wedding vows.
But you know what? I think the best books come out of turning that sort of rule on its head. In my experience readers are not lemmings, throwing books over the cliff the moment the hero picks up a pencil. For me, the key to a romance is making the reader feel, if only for a moment, that perhaps this marriage won’t end happily. The publisher has contrived every possible signal to emphasize the genre; look at the flowers, foil and pink on the cover of This Duchess of Mine. So she expects that the relationship will end happily. But I want her to doubt it – because I think that doubt is what makes a happy reading experience.
Another rule? A romance should be realistic. The truth is that people do cheat on each other. The key to making that work in a romance has to be their motivation. If a hero rattles off his vows and then edges up to a bar trying to find a cheerful blonde, it’s may be realistic, but it’s no fun. The key to writing about infidelity in a romance is remembering that reasons for unfaithfulness are as diverse as men and women themselves.
I gave Elijah and Jemma reasons for the mishaps in their early marriage. There’s one thing we sometimes forget as romance writers, perhaps because we often stop at the vows. Marriage is hard. Elijah and Jemma forge their love for each other by truly coming to know each other. They win back what they lost by honesty, love and forgiveness (and OK, the great sex doesn’t hurt either).
When I read a romance, I want to feel worried that the relationship won’t work – and then delighted when it does. What about you? There are other authors out there who have bravely marched into the thorny fields of adultery – which novels do you think worked and which didn’t? And why?
We've got some fabulous prizes today - three (yes, three!) lucky commenters will win signed, hard-back, UK editions of Desperate Duchesses!!