For Lost in Romance, we are proud to publish a post by indie author Thea Atkinson, who writes character driven novels and has an ADORABLE black Labrador. Enjoy!
“My mother named me after a character in a romance novel she was reading when she was pregnant with me. It’s almost as though she wanted to set me up somehow. Here I was, a newborn girl she could dress in frills and ribbons, and pin all her childhood hopes and dreams on.
Unfortunately for her, I ended up as a tomboy; why I routinely forget my wedding anniversary even when my husband (bless his heart) remembers.
In that vein, I’m not one to read anything that I think is pure romance; it just doesn’t suit that part of my psyche that was fostered by having three very boyish brothers in a neighborhood full of very active boys.
That doesn’t mean I won’t read a story that has romance. To me there’s a difference between a romance novel and a novel that has romance. The latter suits me better.
So when I was approached to write a blog post for the romance genre, my first inclination was to say no. I couldn’t imagine what I would have to say about the genre that would be more insightful than the vast amount of information already said very well by romance reviewers and readers everywhere.
My salvation came with the notion that although I know nothing about romance, I could at least talk about how it affects me in relation to a series of novels I’ve read.
The following is my take on romance as I see it through the Sookie Stackhouse series of 11 novels by Charlaine Harris.
What drew me initially to the series wasn’t the notion of vampires — they’ve been done to death, pardon the pun, but it did seem to have elements of other paranormal things that drew me: most notably telepathy and shape shifting.
I duffed in as we say around here, and to be honest, the writing style nearly put me off, but once I start to read something, I really hate to stop. So I persevered only to discover that I wanted to keep reading, and what kept me reading despite not really enjoying the writing style, was the romance between Sookie, the main character, and Eric, the Vampire Sheriff of Area 5.
I surprised myself enough that I had to evaluate what was happening to me. Why was I so absolutely devouring the chemistry between these two? What was it that propelled me book after book until number 11? Especially in light of the fact that I really wasn’t into romance, and this seemed to be the one thing that was driving me further into the series.
I nailed it down to that basic thing we all crave: unconditional love.
Sookie and Eric are drawn together, even when Sookie is in love with the first vampire we are introduced to: Bill, a relatively young vampire who has come back to his ancestral home in Louisiana. Bill is quiet, but fiercely protective of Sookie. Even still, he puts his duty before her and it eventually comes between them.
Eric is volatile and fierce: a Viking of old who you imagine as a veteran pillager in his time. He’s dangerous. He’s edgy. And yet he puts Sookie before his duty. He even puts his body in harm’s way for her.
Readers always know a couple in a romance novel can’t stay together, and if they do, there needs to be the threat that they won’t eventually remain so. It’s part of the thrill of a romance story, after all: can they live happily ever after?
Book after book, Eric and Sookie come together and are torn apart in various ways that kept this cynical reader coming back for more.
Sure there were other things in the story that struck my fancy: things like fairies, werewolves, murders, magic, and danger — the series is a cornucopia of all things that go bump in the night, written in a style so easy it’s almost comical. I can read one of the books in a few hours. It’s pure escapist fiction.
But it’s Eric that makes me drool for book 12. It’s this character who sees himself as the vampire superior to all humans and his curious resentment towards his need for Sookie that draws me the most.
I want them to gather as much as I want them apart — and I suppose it’s this dichotomy that I enjoy.
Sookie first meets Eric when Bill takes her to a vampire bar on business. She can sense his eyes upon her, and at the same time, she can sense his roguishness. This is the first bit of chemistry we see between them — a chemistry that builds with each meeting over the next series of scenes. As Bill and Sookie are ultimately broken apart, Eric finds himself having to use her powers to help him, and in turn having to protect her.
When Eric loses his memory because he’s been spellbound by a witch, Sookie takes him in, and this is where things really heat up. Their desire for each other begins to show the deeper emotion of a more complex love. Unconditional love, at that, and I suppose this is the moment when I realize exactly what romance has to offer the reader.
When Eric save Sookie’s life by protecting her with his body, he sends a message. Love is power.
That’s it. It can mean a whole lot of different things to different people, but in reality, it boils down to power. Love is powerful enough to save you. It can make you a better person. It can heal, and it can dispel the darkness.
Of course, romance readers have probably known this for ages, and I imagine one right now, rolling their eyes at my naiveté. My only excuse is, I just didn’t see it before. Not until I really looked at it.
I come to conclusion that I’m not so far off the newborn hope of my mother who named me after a romance heroine– after all her desires for me were born of love .
And we all know how unconditional a mother’s love is, after all.”
Info about the author:
Thea Atkinson is a writer of character driven fiction; call it what you will: she prefers to describe her work as psychological thrillers with a distinct literary flavour. As in her novel ‘Throwing Clay Shadows’, her characters often find themselves in the darker edges of their own spirits but manage to find the light they seek.
She has been an editor, a freelancer, and a teacher, but fiction is her passion. She now blogs and writes and twitters. Not necessarily in that order.
Please visit her blog for ramblings, guest posts, giveaways, and more
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To buy her VERY successful books, simply click on the covers below: