First, thank you so very much to Mythical Books for having me, and for suggesting such an amazing topic for my guest blog post! What is “Amor Semper Fidelis,” always faithful love, and what does it look like in a modern romance novel, given the changing trends in the genre? This is a question that faces me as I start any new project, and my latest book, Semper Fitz, was no exception.
I have watched with wonder the evolution of romance novels, from the few that I could sneakily check out at my local library where the culmination of physical romance was a kiss (I still love you, Betty Neels!) to being able to find mainstream erotic romance in Walmart with full-on explicit sex scenes with back-door and barb action (Lora Leigh’s Breeds series…my jaw actually fell open at the heat level when I opened a page one aisle over from the toothpaste). With so many changes, I haven’t always known where to situate my own tastes, or my writing, for that matter.
I will start by confessing that I have tried several times to write a Hallmark romance novel and I just could. Not. Do. It. Seriously. It just felt unnatural, like if a man is meeting a beautiful woman with whom he feels an instant connection, there’s no way he wouldn’t have at least one or two R-rated thoughts. If the heroine accidentally brushes the hero’s chest, it just seems disingenuous to act like the only thrill she feels is in her fingertips if she’s genuinely attracted to him.
Do I LOVE watching Hallmark movies, especially in the month of December? Yes…a thousand times yes! Can I feel authentic writing a love story with the heat-level of a Hallmark movie? Nope.
The fact (which the romance genre seems to embrace more each year) is that the majority of modern adults who are falling in love have sex, with a wonderful variety of preferences, predilections and kinks. Sex is one of the most beautiful expressions of love that humans are capable of, and I firmly believe that descriptive love-making scenes deeply enrich romance stories. I also love a good dominant alpha male, protective and sometimes jealous and possessive, which seems to be the guilty pleasure of a lot of modern, younger readers (including me!)…which I recognize is in direct contrast to the political correctness that surrounds us on a daily basis.
However, I have read some edgier contemporary romance stories that just seem too extreme for my taste as a reader or writer. Sometimes, the sheer number of sex scenes starts to interfere with the story and even overshadow the romance. Equally unforgivable for me in a love story is if I start to dislike either of the main characters because of their extreme or non-loving behavior. To borrow a favorite phrase from one of my close friends, I’m not here to yuck your yums…I’m only speaking for myself, and if that’s your thing, more power to you!
When I sat down to start Semper Fitz, the question of heat level was a challenge. I knew from the start that Fitz would be a protective alpha male, because that simply felt natural for him. However, with Clara being pregnant in the beginning of the story, and the mother of a newborn later on, imagining how their physical relationship would play out wasn’t as straightforward. I genuinely feel that I put in the love scenes that match the story, and for Fitz and Clara, who have instant sizzling chemistry, the action is more suggestive rather than explicit for the first half of the book. Things really heat up after Clara recovers from the delivery of baby Hope, though, and highly-descriptive passionate love-making ensues.
I think that this type of consideration is the crux of “Amor Semper Fidelis” in a modern romance setting. It should be whatever feels most authentic to the tone of a story, as well as the characters. For Fitz, waiting until Clara is ready, then making her feel gorgeous and desirable with some hot, passionate love-making that he dominates just feels like the way he would express his feelings for her. For another character, and another story, who knows? Especially for Fitz, who is a former Marine, but for any of the other heroes in my stories as well, the idea of a love that is always faithful is at the core of their beings, no matter how they express it.