One of the best things about picking up a book by a romance author you’ve never read before, is discovering a different perspective on love. The plot-lines of romances are deceptively simple, in that they are all about a couple that fall in love. However, it is the complexity of the developing relationship between the main characters, and the uniqueness of their love, chemistry and story, which makes romance such a well-loved genre.
Each romance author focuses on different aspects of love. For some, the ‘getting together part’ happens early on in the story, as deepening the relationship is the part these writers enjoy focusing on. Kathryn Le Veque (who writes epic medieval romances) does an excellent job of this. Others write ‘love heals all’ novels, in which our couple leave painful pasts behind with the assistance of their newfound love. Then there are those where the main characters learn to accept who they are through love; and others where the lovers must grow as people before they can truly be happy together.
Each reader also has their favourite approach to the telling of a love story. I particularly enjoy the ‘calm at the end of the storm’ approach to romance. The whole book is a whirlwind, an adventure, before our lovers are finally able to be together. It’s for this reason that I read – and write historical romance.
If you're a historical romance writer, what perspective do you take on love? It might be something you've taken for granted; it's only when we step back from our own work that we notice there is, indeed, a pattern to the themes we write about and approaches we take.
The period I write in (7th Century, Anglo-Saxon Britannia), lends itself to ‘love through adversity’ tales. Life was hard in Anglo-Saxon England – only the strong survived! Men were tough, and even the gentle ones had to be warriors. In this period, war, feuding and the hardship of getting through one winter to the next, made even daily life a challenge. This said, it was a magical era; the age that brought us epic poems like Beowulf, a culture that inspired writers such as Tolkien.
My romances are about strong men and women, kept apart by circumstance. In many cases, they start off with plenty of reasons to hate each other, but it’s the setting that provides their greatest obstacle. Conflicts such as blood-feud, slavery and arranged marriage play huge roles in my Kingdom of the East Angles Series.
The beauty of setting a novel in such a distinctive period is being able to completely immerse yourself in a unique world. It’s more than just researching the history, customs and clothing of the period – but about creating conflicts and characters that could never exist out of that time and place.
My perspective on love, and one that I share through my writing, is that it’s an adventure – a journey rather than just a destination – what’s yours?