Random thoughts on our impending doom and everyday life, courtesy of a Romance Writer who occasionally feels the need to talk like a Sailor.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

It’s not easy being a Hero... or, a look at Forced Seduction.

WARNING: This post discusses forced seduction fantasies in romance books. If the topic upsets you then please don't read it.

Heroes have a tough time of it in Romacelandia. I mean, what do women want? There’s a question for the ages. While the Alpha Male is a perennial favourite there are degrees of acceptability when it comes to primeval behaviour. In ‘Beautiful Disaster’ by Jamie McGuire (a great New Adult read by the way), the hero, Travis, is prone to bouts of insane jealousy and other extreme behaviour. He’s not only been sucker-punched by love but had a messy childhood. His feelings for Abby dominate his world. Generally he gets away with the dash of crazy and lack of control because he knows the fine art of the grovel and by the end of the book he's learnt better. Never underestimate the power of a good grovel. A real man knows when it’s time to appease his woman. I would posit that a hero who cannot reflect upon his dickheadish past doings, apologise and at least try to learn from them is no hero at all (same goes for heroines). A hero must ALWAYS be redeemable or he is not a hero. This point is crucial.

It’s a common fantasy to have a steamy hot male fall so in love with you that all else in his world is reduced to meh. So overcome with your allure is he that possession is the only cure. His love for you is so great that he is out of control. In the real world we call this stalking and kidnapping. It’s scary and illegal. But in romance books we explore this fantasy with Forced Seduction. The hero in some manner forces himself on the heroine, be it kisses or more. With most publishers these days the heroine MUST clearly give consent before penetration. I think we can all agree this is a very good thing. It allows us to explore the fantasy safely. In other words... Oh you beast stop kissing me. Leave my neck alone. Yuck, I don’t even like having my collar bone licked. Don’t you dare touch my boobies! Roughian! Desist I say! Damn it, you've get me all wet. All right then, let’s do it.

Let me make this perfectly clear before we go a step further: 

  Rape as titillation is wrong. Sexual fantasies are complex and we need to be able to safely explore them. But if a real person in real life says no, then that is that. Got it?

In days of yore, circa the 70’s and 80’s, rape was big in romance. Think 'The Flame and the Flower' by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. Good girls weren’t supposed to have sex, let alone enjoy it. It was an effective manner of circumventing these prejudices; think what you will it definitely had its fans. These days, capture fantasies and forced seductions are a little different, courtesy of the rise of BDSM, women’s equality and a whole other bundle of reasons for which I am grateful. When people pick up a romance book, however, they know through long experience that there is a happy ending and that the hero is redeemable. In real life you don’t get those types of guarantees, which is why it can be safer to explore these dynamics in this way.

In romance books, we’re often exploring extreme situations. Sometimes we wander into grey areas. In BDSM people have a safe word to call an immediate halt to all activities. In ‘The Siren’ by Tiffany Reisz (an excellent book I highly recommend) the heroine is in love with a sadist. Sadists like to inflict pain. Coming home with a fat lip, welts and bruises is the norm for this girl. But if she utters her safeword, he will respect it. We are shown this. It allows an awful lot of racy power dynamics to occur while still being explicit that the girl in question has an irremovable right to deny consent. Our hero is redeemed because despite his penchant for violence at the end of the day, he respects her wishes. Mind you, a lot of readers online seem to dislike the character intensely.

In Skin, the sequel to Flesh, Nick keeps Roslyn chained to the bed. It’s a long chain. She can wander around the cabin but go no further. Her liberty is most definitely been infringed upon. She hasn’t agreed to this. What our hero is doing is both wrong and illegal. But this is set Post-Zombie-Apocalypse. There are no police, nor anyone else to come to her rescue. It's odd, I hadn't actually thought of it as a forced seduction until a Crit Partner named it as one. Blazingly obvious however that it is. To try and redeem a man who would go to such extreme lengths to be with a woman was a big challenge for me. It was important to show that Nick would never hurt her and would ultimately always respect her wishes. Roll on 1st February 2013.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Announcing SKIN the sequel to FLESH...

I’m delighted to announce SKIN the sequel to FLESH will be releasing 1st February 2013! Here’s some blurby love for you...

Six months since the zombie plague struck, former librarian Roslyn Stewart has been holed up in a school with eight other survivors. But now the shelves in the school canteen are bare. The stranger at the gate has supplies that will ensure the group’s ongoing survival, but at a cost. He wants a woman.

Nick is a man with a plan. He’ll treat Roslyn like a Queen, devoting the rest of his life to protecting and providing for her. In exchange, of course, for sexual favours. It’s the deal of the century given the state of the world. But Roslyn doesn’t see it that way. The first chance she gets she attacks the ex-army man and attempts to escape, forcing Nick to contain her. And so begins his awkward courtship of the woman, with her chained to the bed for security reasons.

Chained like a dog and forced to spend her every waking moment with a creep, albeit a good looking one, Ros is determined to escape. When circumstances force them to band together against a common enemy their very survival depends on their ability to learn to trust each other. An uneasy partnership develops, but can a relationship with such a difficult beginning ever have a future?

The hotly anticipated sequel to Flesh, Skin is set in the same universe with a different set of characters.

If you'd like to check it out on Goodreads you can click here. I might even pop up the first chapter on the blog next week. Would you like that?

Monday, 19 November 2012

Let's talk about Australian Romance Writer Anna Hackett...

Today we have a guest on the blog, Australian Romance Writer, Anna Hackett. Anna is not only a singular delight but she writes fantastic edge of your seat stories, often with a paranormal twist thrown in, always with a healthy dash of heat. In December she’s unleashing some hot for the holidays Science-Fiction fun as part of a romance anthology with Carina Press. But in the meantime, let’s discuss why I think she’s so cool. Yes, you saw through to the heart of me. This is all a thinly concealed bid to make you rush out and buy...
I mean, don’t you want to buy it for the title alone? Come on. How cool is it, I ask you? So Mind Raider is the story of Mara, a feisty, kick-arse heroine in the finest tradition of same. With a twist - Mara has mind powers. What I really enjoyed about this story was not only the thrills and spills, because the action is fantastically well done, but also the world building. It’s ingenious. Read it and you’ll see what I mean. Her characters are realistic and layered, even the bad guys. And her hero, Cal?’ll be needing to fan your face a time or two. Isn’t sexual tension fun? You know it is and this book has it in spades. Anna handles the story with a deft touch that will definitely leave you wanting more. 

And now for a few questions with Anna:
Mind Raider is fantastic. The heroine in particular really hooked me. Can you tell us what inspired you to write that story? Where did it first begin for you?
I'm thrilled you liked Mara. I think she's the embodiment of the fantasy of just doing what you want and damn the consequences. She's a leap first and worry about looking later. MIND RAIDER was actually inspired by Mara back in the first book of The Anomaly Trilogy, TIME THIEF. I hadn't planned for Mara, she was just one of those characters who appeared and had an impact. I knew I had to write her story (and give her a dark, troublesome hero to tame).

Do you play music while you write? If so, what are your favourites?
I don't always listen to music when I write, especially since I had my little boy and write while he sleeps in the day (never wake a sleeping toddler!) But when I do play music it's usually inspiring soundtracks (less lyrics the better - I find them distracting). My favs are the Battlestar Galactica Soundtrack, the Gladiator soundtrack and the Star Trek (the 2010 movie) soundtrack.

Can we please have your favourite... movie, tv show, hero and heroine? Yes, you can have more than one if you so feel the need.
I absolutely feel the need for more than one! Tough question.
Favourite movie: Star Wars, Transformers, The Thomas Crown Affair and Pride and Prejudice
Favourite TV Show: Battlestar Galactica, Firefly, Grimm and Bones
Fav hero and heroine: Mara and Cal from Mind Raider, of course (-: And I love Roarke and Eve from JD Robb's In Death series and Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy!

Paranormal Romance...

The Anomaly Trilogy.

Book One
Hunted for her ability to steal time, Bay North lives a life on the run. All she wants is to make the crime lord who slaughtered her family pay. But now he's set the ultimate hunter on her trail and Bay will need all her skills to carry out her revenge and survive. 

Ex-Navy SEAL Sean Archer saw his team killed by a time thief in Afghanistan and came back a broken man. He's made a dark deal with a criminal to hunt down all time thieves and now Sean's tracked the wily Bay North to Denver where he plans to rid the world of one more dangerous mutation. 

But during a shootout, hunter and hunted find themselves depending on each other for survival. Joining forces to exact payback by stealing a priceless treasure, their reluctant alliance shatters both their defenses. Can Bay find the courage to trust? And can Sean convince a woman honed in revenge that she can have more than vengeance, blood and killing?

Book Two
Never hide, never cower and live by your own rules.
Life has taught mind raider Mara Ross to never let anyone break her. Especially not the crime lord who tortured her for her ability to control other people's minds. But now her former tormentor has kidnapped another woman and Mara will do anything to save her—including joining forces with a dark, powerful man who is more dangerous than anything Mara's faced before. 

The CIA's experiments left Callahan with lethal powers he must control with every inch of his will. As the leader of Haven, a sanctuary for anomalies, he stays focused and alone...until Mara blazes into his life. Cal knows he must keep his distance from the fiery mind raider because she threatens his control...and if his control breaks, people die. 

On a mission deep in the wilds of Indonesia, desire explodes between Cal and Mara. But as the two wounded souls are drawn to each other, terrible secrets from Cal's past threaten to drive them apart. 

 Science Fiction Romance...

WINTER FUSION - coming in December

Ex-space marine Savan Bardan survived the Galactic Wars to become the most ruthless trade negotiator in the galaxy. His planet needs energy to survive, and he'll do anything to close the deal for the Perman fusion crystals that can provide it—even if it means seducing his beautiful, infuriating opponent, a rival icier than her planet. 

Perma's top negotiator, Brinn Fjord, lost her father when Savan delayed her planet's Trade Guild membership years ago. She hates the handsome Rendarian and the planet he represents. She's determined to finish the deal and get rid of him as quickly as possible, so she can celebrate the holidays. 

But soon the rival negotiators are in a fight for their lives. Besieged by mysterious accidents and unforgiving weather, Brinn and Savan have no one to depend on but each other. As they put the past aside, they uncover a desire hot enough to melt ice, and Brinn discovers a secret that may keep them apart.

All about Anna...

Mining Engineer by day and writer the rest of the time, Anna Hackett grew up an avid reader with no dreams of being a writer. Her career in mining has taken her all around the world and sparked her desire to write. 

As a teenager, she raided her mother's romances and her father's action adventure books, so no surprise that her stories combine both. She especially loves reading and writing short stories—the perfect intense read to fit into a busy lifestyle—and teaches the writing workshop, Short Story, Big Impact. When she isn't wearing boots and a hard hat, she's at her computer drinking too much Diet Coke and working on her stories. 

Along with her husband and son, Anna lives wherever her mining career takes her. She's always delighted to hear from readers. 

Find out more about Anna at her website here.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Six Sentence Sunday...

WARNING: Rude sweary language happens in today's excerpt. You have been warned.

Welcome to another Six Sentence Sunday. I tried my hand at writing an Erotic Romance/Comedy at my husband's behest. No, not one single gory, gooey zombie makes an appearance. Sad, isn’t it? Basically, it’s Cinderella if she’d left her bra behind instead of a glass slipper. And if Cinderella was a modern day plus-size pin-up girl on a mission to get her life in order. Its novella length and I’m polishing it up for submission. Let me know what you think.

The sun was shining and birds were singing. And maybe, just maybe, if Alex pressed his face hard enough into the pillow, he’d be able to suffocate himself and put an end to the pounding inside his head. It was worth a try.
     Such a pity, because the rest of him felt fan-fucking-tastic, oddly enough. But sweet merciful mother did his brain hurt. It easily drowned out all the bliss and happy emanating from the neck down.