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Friday, July 1, 2011

Lorraine Heath on Infidelity in Romances

Book cover of Waking Up with the Duke by Lorraine Heath (historical romance novel)I am thrilled to have NY Times bestseller and RITA award winner Lorraine Heath visit The Brazen Bookworm today!  Lorraine is here as a part of her blog tour to celebrate the publication of her latest romance, Waking Up With the Duke, and to offer a $25 Amazon gift certificate to one lucky commenter.  Welcome, Lorraine!

Lorraine Heath: Thank you so much for allowing me to visit with you and your fans today. You asked about infidelity in romance novels: How can it work without losing the reader?

I have to admit to feeling slightly presumptuous in tackling this question since I don’t know yet if I did manage not to lose the reader. The reviews for the book that I’ve seen have been wonderful, but I do know that the story contains a situation that might be off-putting to some readers.

As someone who has a strong opinion on fidelity and basically believes that there is no valid excuse for cheating on one’s spouse, I found this a very challenging book to write but quite honestly, those are the ones I enjoy writing. They stretch me as a writer and cause me to look deeply within myself.

When I wrote Always to Remember about a conscientious objector during the Civil War (the book is now only available in e-format from AvonBooks), I had my first experience at writing a hero who behaved in a manner that I truly did not understand or endorse. I am a firm believer in the adage that when your country calls, you fight. Writing this story taught me that I had to justify the hero’s actions not only to the reader, but to myself.

So it laid the framework for how I tackle any story where a character’s behavior might not be palatable to everyone. And I applied that framework to Waking Up with the Duke.

I knew it was important that each of the characters involved go through a tremendous amount of soul-searching and that they be reluctant about embracing this venture. I also felt that it had to be more than the heroine who wanted the child. I thought if the idea were her husband’s, then she couldn’t be viewed as “cheating on him” because he was encouraging her. I needed the characters to have powerful motivators to do what many might consider abhorrent actions. I used love, guilt, devotion, and a dream that could never be realized in any other way.

I think for a reader to buy into this scenario, she has to come to care for the characters so I spent about the first third of the book introducing the characters, giving the reader time to understand their reluctance, their personalities, their integrity so that she became invested in the characters, so that she would root for them to find a way to achieve their dreams. Only then did I allow Ainsley and Jayne to have their time together, but because they weren’t in love when they began the affair, I let the reader experience them falling in love. Then I showed all the characters struggling with the consequences, because they all went into it with good intentions. But only afterward did they really all come to understand the price they paid because what they did altered all the relationships.
Photo of romance author Lorraine Heath
As a psychology major, I was fascinated with all the different ways that I could take this story to the next level. Quite honestly, I never saw it as a story about infidelity. I saw it as a story about doing whatever was required to achieve a dream, and then living with the consequences afterward. In the real world, a lot of people have to make sacrifices to achieve their dreams—and sometimes they don’t realize the true cost they’ve paid until later. That was the underlying theme of this story.

Of course, because it’s a romance, it does have a happy ending—although I have to admit that I adored Ainsley and even if this wasn’t a romance, I would have made sure he acquired his happy ending.

Thanks so much to Lorraine Heath for visiting with us today!  Lorraine will be giving a $25 Amazon gift card to one blog tour commenter - the more you comment, the more chances you have to win!

Thank you to Goddess Fish Tours for arranging Lorraine's blog tour.  For more on Waking Up With the Duke, click here.

Sarah The Brazen Bookworm (romance book review of Waking Up with the Duke by Lorraine Heath)


  1. Great post...I think infidelity is hard subject to cover in storylines. I have strong opinions when it comes to infidelity so its a testament to how well written a story is that I overlook the moral aspects and "just go with the flow".

  2. I've seen a lot of great reviews for this book, so it must have worked! I love the other books by this author that I've read so I'd love to give this one a try!

  3. Hello, Carrie and Melissa. It's nice to see you here.

  4. Enjoyed reading your post, I totally agree about caring for the characters as you read, because then you want what is best for them, what will make them happy in the end. You live through the trials and tribulations with them.

  5. Sarah and Lorraine,

    I've been following Lorraine's blog tour and initally I was conflicted in my feeling about the relationship between Ainsley and Jayne. Since I am against infidelity in marriage it initally was hard for me to accept the premise of the story.

    With each stop on the tour and taking into consideration the knowledge I gained along the way I found myself excepting a premise I never would have considered. It made me step back and consider that I was initially judging the characters based on my upbringing of a solid family foundation and than a strong and loving marriage. I realized that instead I had to think of not only the time period that the story takes place but also the expectations of society at the time.

    The one quote that came to my mind was what a wise person once told me "Judge not that you be not judged".

    I'm looking forward to reading Lorraine and Ainsley's story and can't wait to find out how they resolve the pressures and conflicts they must face.

  6. Congratulations on your Rita Award. I always want a happy ending, otherwise I feel cheated. I love the way you write.

  7. When I think of infidelity in romances it just breaks my heart. Rarely, but somestimes I do come across a story with this issue. FOr me, it doesn't make or break a story nor will I purposefully avoid such a story. I agree with Lorraine, for this issue to really take root and have an impact is for the readers to care for the characters. Each love story is different and everyone faces and conquers different obstacles. That is how I see it, but I do trust in romance authors to leave the characters I care about in a happy place.


  8. I think this plot sounds very interesting for a historical type book... I like how you explained how you set the characters up and how/why you did to better explain them to your readers. I'm always interested in knowing how the writers write and I think a little info here and there helps explain it to me a bit better :) I'll be adding Waking up the Duke to my TBR :D I like historicals and this looks like a good read :D

    swtlilangel4jc at yahoo dot com

  9. Very interesting post! I just bought the book so I'm looking forward to seeing how Ms. Heath works things out...I don't believe in infidetlity either so it should prove to be an interesting read.


  10. "Waking Up With the Duke" looks wonderful. Officially on my list. My kind of book.


  11. It definitely isn't a pretty subject to read about in romance! I guess the writer definitely has to know how to work it.... As long as the Hero isn't cheating on the heroine, I'm good! :-)


  12. Oh Lorraine,

    I'm so glad I got the notice about the blog today. I have to be honest this is the first time I heard of you. But I'm going to Borders tomorrow to buy this book. I love historical and the cover for this book is beautiful.

    As far as infidelity goes, I don't condone it. However if the husband was sterile and he gave his wife permission to be with another man so she could have a baby I guess I could understand it. Especially in that time period. However, you have to look at how much the husband loves his wife to encourage something like that so she would be happy.
    To me no matter what the circumstance are someone is going to get hurt. Thank you for sharing your book.

    Teresa K.
    tcwgrlup41(at)yahoo dot com

  13. I have your books on my keeper shelf and have preordered Waking Up With the Duke. thanks for the giveaway

  14. Hi Lorraine,
    Thanks for your post.

    Lea Ellen {night owl in IL}


Thank you for your comments!

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