As a romance writer, I love the fantasy of happily ever after, or at least happily for now. Sometimes, though, it bothers me to compare the happy endings of romance novels with the stark reality of broken romances that began with all the hope in the world for a lifetime of love and commitment.
What’s the culprit that puts so many relationships on the rocks? Is it modern society or human frailty, or vision at the beginning through starry eyes and rose-colored glasses that don’t let the parties recognize potential problems?
Take this fictional, fractured relationship that’s too much like ones that happen every day. Why did it go wrong? Was it that they were too young, too irresponsible? Were they in too much of a hurry to leap into a relationship before knowing each other well enough to form an accurate picture of what the future might bring?
There’s a young man, hot for good sex but also for romance. He works hard, parties hard as well. He’s stalled in a dead-end job by the sick economy–but he makes enough to enjoy the good life with his friends…and scope out chicks in upscale watering holes.
Add the chick–a hot looking babe with a body that won’t stop and a taste for good times that meshes with the guy’s. She works–not a career but a stopgap, as somebody else has always picked up the majority of her tabs. Recently dumped by another guy, she’s living temporarily with family members–until her new guy asks her to share his place.
Fun, games and big plans for a future ensue. All is well–until she ends up pregnant. Big responsibility. Even bigger for the prospective dad who loves the chick enough to stick around but who handles the added stress by partying more than she’s able to do in her condition.
Add a much loved baby to the mix. Chick wants to be a full time mom. Guy agrees, even though he realizes the financial strain is going to intensify. He begins noticing the chick isn’t much of a housekeeper, which bugs him since he has practically doubled his hours at work to pay bills, many of which are ones she had incurred before they met. She hates the time he spends unwinding with coworkers. He resents the money she spends, shopping and making long trips in a car that’s not exactly roadworthy.
Boom! That car–hers before they met, with a huge, high-interest note–breaks down again and again, making the financial situation worse. They break up and she runs back to her former boyfriend/meal ticket halfway across the country, taking the baby. The guy follows, having no choice but to move or lose contact with his child. Nobody is particularly happy.
What could have made this romance resolve happily? The failure may have had something to do with both parties equating hot sex and fun partying with friendship and compatibility, don’t you think? I do. This is partly a sign of the times, I guess, but I think it’s more a guy thinking he’d found his fantasy lover and a chick jumping on what she thought was a better meal ticket than the one who’d just dumped her.
As I see it, both fictional parties jumped into a relationship without knowing each other beyond the superficial–a relationship between strangers that’s more often than not doomed to failure. Writers need to be sure when spinning romances that the characters have the maturity at whatever age to give their stories believability.
Bio: Ann Jacobs is a sucker for lusty Alpha heroes and happy endings. Erotic romance, to her, is the perfect combination of sex, sensuality, deep emotional involvement and lifelong commitment—the elusive fantasy women often dream about but seldom achieve.
First published in 1996, Jacobs has sold nearly a hundred books and novellas. She has been nominated three times for Romantic Times’ Lifetime Achievement Award for excellence in erotic romance. Her books have earned awards including the Passionate the Desert Rose and More Than Magic, Four of her books have been translated and sold in several European countries.
A CPA and former hospital financial manager, Jacobs now writes full-time, with the help of Mr. Blue, the family cat who sometimes likes to perch on the back of her desk chair and lend his sage advice. He sometimes even contributes a few random letters when he decides he wants to try out the keyboard. (Most of the time Blue just curls up, hides his eyes with his paws…and sleeps!)
Blurb: Book two in the Caden Kink series.
A modern-day Liberty Valance meets The Big Valley.
Jack Duval, country lawyer and bastard son of the Caden patriarch, first discovers rancher Liz Wolfe when he goes after her to spite his father. Soon, though, he learns she’s the submissive partner of his wildest fantasies.
But rustlers and murderers interrupt their hot BDSM play, and Jack must reveal a pair of secrets that may tear the two apart before he and Liz can move on to the next step toward happily ever after.
Reader Advisory: The lucky heroine is pleasured by three hot Doms in a BDSM ménage scene onstage at a sex club. The book contains anal penetration and an instance of male/male action.
Excerpt: The only time he’d been here before, Jack Duval hadn’t fully noticed the unabashed opulence of the huge Bar C ranch house with its Grecian columns and manicured grounds, but then he’d come for a burial, not a wedding. His asshole father had obviously pulled out all the stops today to celebrate his legitimate heir’s marriage. This shindig was likely costing Byron Caden the Fourth more than the paltry trust fund the jerk had settled on Jack’s mother and him when he’d kissed them both off not long ago.
Jack would bet it had burned the elder Caden’s balls to invite him here today, but after all he did share a law office in town with his half-brother’s not-so-blushing bride. Of course he’d have been here as Liz Wolfe’s date for the affair anyway, whether or not he’d had his own invitation. He made a point of taking Liz’s hand and squeezing it, and when he did she looked over at him and smiled. That smile was a shy but unmistakable invitation, and he could hardly wait to accept it.
Tempering his impatience, he reminded himself that she wasn’t one of his BDSM playmates and they’d only had a few dinner dates and seen a couple of movies together over the past few months. Jack did enjoy being with her, though—a lot. She had a way of making him forget the reason he’d initially put the moves on her.
Liz was a girl who looked best in jeans and a cowboy hat, with her thick, light-brown hair put up in a ponytail. Or in the black embroidered skirt and low-cut matching top she’d worn with black cowboy boots last night, when they’d danced and drunk some beer at The Corral. Today she seemed out of place, dressed up in her wedding-guest finery. He didn’t much like her turned-under pageboy hairdo or the floppy pink wide-brimmed hat that shadowed her face, and the best thing he could think of doing with her insipid silky pink dress was ripping it off her tall, slender frame.
What turned Jack on the most about Liz was the needy, longing look in her big brown eyes. Jack was eager to cash in on that need and make her focus it on him.
Bye was kissing his bride now. Jack couldn’t help remembering the night when he’d played with the two of them at the Neon Lasso. Good thing Jack wasn’t quite as well-endowed as the guy he’d learned not long after that scene was his younger, bigger and tougher half sibling, only from the right side of the blanket. If he were, he’d be pretty much out of luck finding partners for one of his favorite ways to pleasure a sub of either sex.
Discovering their blood relationship had ended the possibility of him and Bye having more pleasurable threesomes—not that Jack thought Bye would have shared Karen again once they’d begun to see each other as more than favorite playmates at the club. The two seemed positively, sickeningly attached at the hip, no longer interested in watching, much less playing sex games at the club.
“Look, Jack. Karen looks so pretty, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen Bye looking quite this happy.”
Karen was a beauty whether she had on white lace or nothing. Part of Jack wished Liz was the kind of woman strangers turned and stared at when she was at his side, but then he’d figured out years ago that most truly hot women weren’t as submissive as he needed a partner to be.
Bye had a sappy grin on his face as he and Karen moved from the altar toward the porch, where Jack assumed they’d greet their guests. He didn’t intend to let any woman tie him up in knots, although he could be persuaded to hook up with one if she brought him not only pleasure in the sack but also an easy friendship outside the bedroom. Since he didn’t have the prospect of inheriting a fortune from his old man, a big pot of money would be icing on the cake.
He smiled down at Liz. It just might be that she’d fill the bill. “Yeah. Karen and Bye look good together. Shall we make our way over to where they’ve set up for the reception?”
“We probably should. They may not have places assigned at the tables.”
If Karen had assigned places to all the guests, Jack figured they would probably be seated next to Liz’s mother and whoever she was paired up with, unless his old man had snagged Mavis Wolfe to be his partner at the head table. Jack herded Liz along the white-carpeted aisle.
Tonight will be the night she’ll submit to me, he thought, taking into consideration the emotions weddings seemed to bring out in most women. “We’ll skip the receiving line if you don’t mind.”
Her eyes widened. “We can’t do that. I have to say hello to Bye. We went to school together, from kindergarten through high school.”
“All right.” It was a wonder Bye hadn’t latched on to Liz. Jack’s research into the Caden family’s history had revealed that Bye was the first Caden male to marry any woman who hadn’t brought with her a nice chunk of adjacent land to the Bar C. Of course Karen might eventually contribute a little acreage once her crazy, drunk old man kicked off, but that was no sure thing considering the way Slade Oakley hated everybody named Caden.
Slade seemed docile enough now, but Jack figured the rehab center attendants who’d come with him were keeping him zonked out of his gourd, or else he’d be shooting guns instead of shuffling along meekly between two burly guys wearing institutional-looking gray slacks and navy blazers. A nicely dressed woman—a shrink, probably—tailed them almost closer than was polite.
Forcing a neutral smile, Jack put his hand at the back of Liz’s waist and they took spots behind Slade and his entourage in the long line waiting to shake Bye’s hand and kiss the latest Bar C bride.