My new book, Honor At Stake, is officially posted as a vampire romance. I’ve obviously done romance before, but mostly as a subplot in the books I’ve written.
With Codename: Winterborn, for example, there were two love plots going on. One was between Kevin Anderson and his wife. The other was with hunter and prey, and even then, it was a little odd. It was very, very … Laura, really.** Though the main plot is heavy on the action.
[**Laura, a murder mystery in which a detective falls in love with the victim through her portrait. In the case of Codename: Winterborn, it was via files and seeing him in action]
With Codename: Winterborn, however, this took months, the average romance novel takes, what, days? A week or two? Then jumping into bed like sex-starved hyenas during mating season? I think the longest was a Kenyon novel called Fantasy Lover where holding off on sex was a massive plot point.
The closest to falling in love in a matter of days was Scott Murphy and Manana Shushurin in A Pius Man, and the rest of the Pius Trilogy (books two and three take place over the course of a week or so).
But now, Honor At Stake …
I want a love story. Something that looks real. Something that feels real. Something that takes time to develop. Reason #3 why Honor At Stake takes place over the course of 9 months.
How do I do that?
The casual stranger says: “Well, Declan, you’ve been in love before, right? Use your real love life.”
I say: “My love life looks like a train wreck, thanks.”
Yeah. Fun fact, any relationship of mine that survived in real life for any length of time was unreal in so many ways, I can’t even describe it without people calling me a liar. Hell, I don’t even believe my own love life.
Besides, I suspect that a love story that is a blow by blow of a real relationship would probably bore the crap out of most people.
However, I am a follower of one of the better romances on television: Castle.
Yes, Castle. It has character development, a relationship that grows out from mutual attraction, to partnership, to friendship, and then to love. Heck, I’ve got one review that noted that’s how it should work, but let’s face it, when else do you see that in the romance genre?
The phrase “Let’s just be friends” is pretty much the end of any romantic relationship — in romance, and in my own experience.
And, along the way, basically everyone else sees this relationship except these two.
In Honor At Stake, with Marco Catalano and Amanda Colt, oy, these two have got relationships baggage that look like Samsonite, or maybe a Haliburton. Emotional issues? Well, one’s a vampire, the other is a killer, what do you think?
There is also, of course, the belief that some people have that they are unloveable — “Seriously, what creature could possibly love a creature like me? Only some broken psycho would express any interest — only the psychos have expressed an interest. And why would any “normal” person give me the time of day?” You know, like they kinda do on Arrow.
Not that I know anything about that, of course.
So you have two creatures of the night — would would rather be feared rather than loved, and one who eats people.
Now, I’m not going to say that this is the most unlikely duo I’ve ever created. Manana and Scott were pretty much the most opposite I could get while making them still human. As for the vampire … well, their personalities are compatible on multiple levels.
I like little things. Little details. Little innocent things that can be taken the right way if you look at them really hard, but don’t because neither one thinks the other wants to go there. Little looks and touches, and smells and “if she hugs me any closer she’s going to realize I’m having a not-so-innocent reaction,” and “stay calm, or the increased heartbeat will give the game away.”
You know, things like that. I’m told I do that well.
And there are ninjas, but they’ll be for some other time.
Now, how is any of this Catholic? This circles back to the sex starved hyenas comment. The more I look at how “romance” has played out in television, the order is date / sex / being friends / “I love you” / move in / marriage.
This order is definitely more friends / love / marriage / move in / sex. This is, of course, assuming that the two of them manage to survive that long.
Yes, I know. “Oh wow, a relationship that they actually need to like each other, then love each other, and then, maybe, just MAYBE, get married before sex?” Yes, I know, strange, ain’t it? Welcome to my headspace. It’s dark in their, bring a flashlight.
Also, the ninjas are from the Vatican, so there’s that.