Thursday, 22 June 2017

My Harlequin Experience - The Darkness Within

If you ask anyone who knows me about the kind of movies I like to drag them to, they’ll tell you Romantic Comedy or Action flick. If you ask them what kind of books I like to read- they may roll their eyes and say something like, “Duh, Romance.” It’s who I am. A lover of romance. A lover of light, happily-ever-after stories where the characters don’t suffer extensively within the story, but have gone through just enough  turmoil in their lives for the story to have been one of a person who has actually lived a full life.
I watched the movie with my
eyes closed.

I’m not a fan of thrillers or horrors (books or movies) although every once in a while I’ll go to see a thriller, but never alone. Why? Because I find that life is not an easy thing to go through, and when I enter the world of fiction I like to escape into happy, beatuiful places. As the group REM put it – Shiny happy people hold hands.

And then I met Debbie Christiana, Jami Gray, and bloggers like Brazen Babes Review who introduced me to the dark side of romance. And I liked it. Urban fantasy and paranormal are now two of my favorite sub-genres. But I also fell in love with darker contemporary romance where I shuddered at what the hero or heroine had overcome to get the point in the life where we met them.

How much in love with the dark side did I fall? So far that my subconscious didn’t realize it was writing a dark romance until the very first editor I encountered at Harlequin, the one who snagged me into the Kimani family, pointed it out to me.

When I submitted my first draft of A Perfect Caress (then called The Dream Maker), it was a little dark. Romantic— yes. Hopeful— yes. Happily-ever-after­­— definitely. But dark, as in where in the world did I get the idea to torture my heroine so grievously?

In the first draft Lanelle was an only child whose parents had died in a car accident when she was a teenager. She was taken in by her mother’s best friend who had once promised her mother that she’d take care of Lanelle if something happened because there was no one else to do it. Although her new guardian cared for her, Lanelle never felt the same kind of love she showed her own children, which made her miss her own parents even more.

When one of her male high school classmate gave her attention, she fell into it and translated it as love. They were married right out of high school and that’s when their relationship changed. He became physically and psychologically abusive and alienated her from everyone she knew. Her best friend Toshia refused to be driven away and stayed by her side the whole time, encouraging her to leave the man. Six months pregnant, Lanelle decided to finally leave him.

On the day she was leaving her husband confronted her and shot her in the belly right before he shot himself in the head. She survived, but her babies and her uterus didn’t.
Yeah that was dark. I won’t even get into the numerous ways she tried to kill herself due to extreme depression before she found her calling as a nurse or that she’d decorated her home in various shades of gray.

If you read A Perfect Caress today (which I hope you will), that is not the story you’ll experience. Kimani stories have depth, but not darkness (at least not as dark as I had initially taken the story) and that’s okay because I love the way a Perfect Caress turned out. Are Lanelle and Dante’s lives all bubbles and lollypops? No because they have lived their lives, made their mistakes, and have come out stronger because of it.

Do you like a bit of darkness in your stories?


  1. Dear Nana, thanks for the shout-out :) I'm a fan of Jami as well. I loved The Dream Maker, because like you mentioned, I lean dark, but The Perfect Caress transformed a story that I also loved, but in a different way. And don't forget your wonderful, short, dark paranormal story ( I do apologize that I can't quite remember the name of it) that needs to find a home and be read by lots of people!!!

    Thanks for continuing to share your Harlequin Kimani experience with us!

    Yes, yes, I like a lot of dark in my stories :)

    1. Thank you, Debbie. I will have to get that short story out there, or possibly turn it into a full length novel. I'll see.

  2. *rubbing hands together & cackling* Ohhh, I'm so glad you've joined on the darker edges of romance. I've always love both your and Debbie's stories�� I've always been drawn to those stories where characters survive some of the darkest moments only to emerge on the other side honed and refined by a love that encompasses all their parts--light and dark. Thank you, Nana for sharing your HQN expiernece��, since I just joined HQN's Escape I'm hanging on your every word.

    1. Wow. I didn't know. Congratulations on joining Harlequin. That line is going to soar because of you.

  3. Interesting to see how a story can change. I do like some dark romance now and again. Gotta be in the right mood for it but it does strike :)

    1. From one revision to the next there is change. I'm hoping it isn't always as drastic.

  4. As a horror fan, I adore darkness in stories, I must admit. (I really enjoy happy stories, too, though.) Makes me afraid to see how people will ultimately react to my comics, haha. And whoa, you weren't kidding about your first draft being dark. Interesting to see what A Perfect Caress had almost been!


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