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.
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.