Thursday, May 28, 2009
Welcome Vanessa Kelly to the Manor!
Everyone please welcome author Vanessa Kelly to the Manor! Vanessa's sizzling debut, MASTERING THE MARQUESS, just hit shelves in April and is already getting rave reviews.
One lucky commenter will be selected to win an autographed copy of MASTERING THE MARQUESS, so don't be shy! But those of you who don't win, take heart--check out that price tag! The book is part of Kensington's groundbreaking Debut program (where yours truly got her start!) and you can buy this book for less than you spend on a grande latte at Starbucks! Now, without further ado, here's Vanessa....
IS THAT LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT?
Or is it lust?
I’m so happy to be guest-blogging at LUST IN TIME, and I want to thank my hostesses—and Lord Craven-Moore, of course—for letting me play in your delightful corner of the blogosphere.
Now, back to my original question. One of the most popular tropes in romance fiction is that of the hero and heroine clapping eyes on each other and falling instantly in love, usually to the sound of swelling violins and an angel’s over-wrought harp. When I was young—and I’m not going to tell you how young—I used to be ok with that. In fact, I don’t think it ever occurred to me to question whether love at first sight was even possible. Romance was all about the impossible, and not letting commonsense or realism intrude on the story.
But most romance readers today are skeptical of that trope, and rightly so. After all, love—real and enduring love—has to build itself on a solid foundation composed of many things, including mutual respect, honesty, intellectual and moral compatibility, and a desire to share everything life throws your way, good and bad. Still, in most romance novels something electrifying happens when the hero and heroine meet. What happens in that first meet can be so strong and visceral that it seems like love at first sight. In many cases, though, I think what is happening is lust at first sight. To my thinking, that’s a good thing, not a bad thing, since lust—or sexual attraction, physical desire, or whatever you want to call it—is a pretty powerful force that can bind the hero and heroine and keep them together through all the ups and downs of the story until they fall in love, surmount their obstacles, and reach their HEA.
It’s also a hell of a lot more realistic than some dewy-eyed encounter that settles everything in the first 30 pages. And, being honest here, I think a healthy dose of lust is a hell of a lot of fun.
In my book, Mastering The Marquess, my hero and heroine have that immediate, visceral reaction to each other. When my hero, Lord Silverton, first sets eyes on Meredith, this is how he describes her:
“Their gazes locked on each other. He felt as if he had been nailed to the floor, so captivated was he by the sight of the feminine whirlwind who had swept into their midst...more than anything, her eyes captured him by surprise. They were extraordinary: large under straight, determined brows and framed by thick black lashes. It was their color, however, that had caught his attention so forcefully. They were gray, but not the insipid, neutral color one associated with the term. No, they reminded him of a winter rainstorm—turbulent, untamed, and full of secret depths.”
Now here’s Meredith’s description of him:
“But then she turned and saw him and thought she had stepped into a fairy tale or an ancient legend. Her overactive imagination had decided on the spot that the golden-haired man looked exactly like a valiant knight of old.”
Fairly poetic descriptions, don’t you think? The reader might even be forgiven for thinking that I was indulging in that age-old trope, love at first sight. But read on a bit more and you’ll find that’s not the case. Both Meredith and Silverton react to each other very strongly, but it’s mostly on the physical level. Just a few short passages after her initial description of Silverton, Meredith notes with irritation that when he smiled at her, her knees actually wobbled. And when Silverton reflects later on his first encounter with Meredith, what he most remembers is how she looks, and that “she exuded a subtle yet powerful sensuality that promised a myriad of delights to the man lucky enough to bed her.”
That’s not love, that’s good, old-fashioned lust—on both their parts. And that’s ok. There are other qualities they recognize in each other, even in that first meet, but there are many obstacles that stand between them. That intense physical attraction—particularly for Silverton—is partly what pulls them together in the initial stages of the story and gives them the opportunity to develop a romantic relationship. And isn’t this often the case in real life, especially for guys? Women may find other, more ephemeral qualities attractive when they first meet a man, but for most guys I know, physical attraction is a very powerful motivator. And to my mind that’s fine, as long as the romance doesn’t begin and end there. Lust is a basis on which relationships can build and develop into real love, one that is both physically, intellectually and emotionally grounded. That’s the kind of story I like to write, and that’s the kind of story I like to read.
But not every reader is comfortable with blatant depictions of lust, and they even express real discomfort with the word itself. They see it as negative, and essentially antithetical to love and romance. For those readers, to be lustful is to be greedy, one of the Seven Sins, rather than a source of delight.
So, what about you, dear reader? Do you like a little (or a lot!) of lust in your romance? Or do you think it hinders rather than helps the love story?
MASTERING THE MARQUESS
Since the loss of her parents, Meredith Burnley has contented herself with a solitary life looking after her half-sister, Annabel. But Meredith’s peace is shattered when her uncle schemes to marry her off to his son in order to gain her inheritance. Desperate, Meredith has only one choice: to flee with Annabel to their estranged grandparents’ home. But their arrival soon reignites a family scandal—and kindles unexpected romance.
Happily reunited with the girls, Annabel’s grandmother resolves to convince her nephew, Stephen Mallory, the Marquess of Silverton, to abandon his rakish lifestyle and wed Annabel. Stephen is clearly captivated—but with the wrong sister. Determined to make Meredith his own, Stephen embarks on a seduction that will leave her with no choice but to surrender to his touch.
For more information about Vanessa, visit her online at www.vanessakellyauthor.com