Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Guest Blogger Nina Pierce - How Forgiving Are You?

It seems authors are looking for that breakout story. The “different” that will make them stand out among all the books shouting for readers’ attention these days.

Like everything, the boundary of what is acceptable and what isn’t is being challenged. Werewolves, vampires, angels, demons and even zombies are competing in the paranormal world, sometimes to the detriment of the human species. Serial killers and stalkers are being chased in crime novels with the gore and horror factors bordering on blood baths. And in the world of romance, it seems every combination of human relationship is available and love is not always found in the bedroom.

But I wonder … how much will readers accept before they throw the book against the wall?

Is a flesh-eating heroine acceptable? How about a serial killer looking for redemption? A cheating partner who wants to be forgiven? Are these characters “redeemable”? And how far would you read before you decide you can’t take it anymore?

I ask, because my newest romantic suspense release, “Cheat Her With Charm” has a hero who at first glance appears to be cheating on his fiancée. As a matter of fact, through most of the story, the reader is left to wonder what he is doing obsessing over another woman and why he is doing it. I fussed and futtered over this premise, not really sure if readers would accept that the hero is truly head-over-heels in love with the heroine. And if he was, why would he cheat? Would they actually make it to the end and discover all the truths?

So what do you think? At what point is a character not worth your time? How much leeway are you willing to give a hero/ine before you decide not to finish a book? One commenter to this post will be chosen at random to receive an e-book of “Blind Her With Bliss”, the first book in this romantic suspense series.

He’s got a secret past. She has dreams for their future. Together they have a problem that may just kill them both…

Floral designer, MEGHAN TILLING, has been in love with her fiancé since college. With her business, his promotion and a family illness, she’s finding the demands on her time are keeping them apart. PETER MADDOCK loves his fiancée with a fierceness that claws at his soul, but finding answers to his past becomes an obsession he can’t ignore. When bizarre accidents threaten Meghan’s life, he wonders if his secrets have finally caught up with him. Can they both discover the truth without paying the ultimate price …their lives?

The disgust mixing with his second scotch churned unpleasantly in Peter’s gut. He’d discussed his options with the hostess nearly fifteen minutes ago, and he was quickly losing both his patience and his nerve.

He was beginning to doubt this trip was worth risking what he’d found with Meghan and her family. But once the questions had formed, Peter had been unable to squelch the curiosity that had begun two months ago when Meghan’s father John had suffered another heart attack.

He’d stood on the fringes watching the three Tilling sisters and their mom huddled together in the ICU. The support the close-knit family had offered one another had been tender and inspiring. Rather than feel part of the Tilling clan, the experience had punctuated Peter’s isolation and lack of roots.

Meghan and her family had no idea what it was like to walk the earth knowing there was no one who shared your DNA. Regardless of how wonderful his foster families had been while he was growing up, they were ephemeral—a temporary place to find a warm bed and three squares a day. They weren’t family.

Long before his engagement to Meghan last Christmas, the Tillings considered him one of their own. The first weekend he’d gone home with her his junior year in college, eight years ago, Alice Tilling had wrapped him in a fierce hug. After he’d passed muster with Julie and Deirdre they too had treated him like a sibling. Even John, the warm-hearted patriarch of the family shared Peter’s love of the Red Sox, Stanley Cup playoffs and fishing.

Peter desperately wanted the Tillings to be enough and satisfy the hungry longing swelling inside.

But they weren’t.

And though he loved his fiancée with a fierceness that clawed at his soul, lately even her love couldn’t fill the growing chasm in his heart. He wanted it to. God, how he’d tried to ignore the gnawing in his gut. The cold emptiness that was sated only when Meghan was in his arms.

When he made love to her, it was with a desperate hunger to brand her on his soul and make her part of him. But the satisfaction lasted only as long as they were tangled in the sheets. Inevitably the bitter loneliness punched through his contentment, spreading like a cancer, chilling him to the very marrow of his bones.

That’s when he’d thought Meghan couldn’t be everything to him and he’d gone searching.

A search that had landed him in the honeymoon suite of a swanky Boston hotel.

As the minutes ticked by, Peter was beginning to realize he’d put too much time and energy into this trip. He didn’t need another woman in his life. Meghan and her family were enough. He slammed his glass down on the table beside him and stood.

“Are you leaving?” Taya hurried to his side.

“I actually just stopped in for a drink,” Peter said, absently shoving the bandana back into his pocket.

“But I’ve come to escort you to see Crystal.”

A private room? In reality, it was what he wanted. Though he’d gotten used to the idea of meeting the woman in this place surrounded by people, a more quiet setting without so many prying eyes might work better. Raking his fingers through his hair, he released some of his nervous energy on a heavy breath that puffed his cheeks. He needed to rein in his conflicting emotions. He’d come this far, backing out now would accomplish nothing.

Peter forced his lips into a smile and stared down into dark eyes outlined provocatively in black. “Why didn’t she come to me herself?”

Taya’s delicate brows furrowed. “It doesn’t work that way.” She pointed to several people being escorted out of the main room. “Crystal is a little busy tying up some loose ends at the moment.” He rolled his eyes at her joke and the petite woman’s smile faded as she cleared her throat. “Yes, well, as you can see, her other guests are already making their way to her.”

“Where is she exactly?”

“In the viewing room, of course.”

Even with his limited knowledge of strip joints, Peter knew this would cost him a lot of money. “How much?”

Again her brows furrowed. “Crystal offers her guests a sample viewing. If you choose something more that will be negotiated.”

The bands of guilt around his chest relaxed. At least he wouldn’t be alone when he first met the woman. He extended his hand in an invitation for Taya to lead the way.

She turned, guiding him through the maze of chairs and couches toward the other side of the room. He kept his eyes focused on the swirling pattern of the rug, not so much because it caught his attention, but to keep him from making eye contact with the other patrons.

He’d jumped so many hurdles to get here and this whole fiasco had taken on a life of its own, but he didn’t need to know that others watched him. Peter’s need to meet Crystal outweighed any compunction he had to retreat from his embarrassment.
BUY Link for Kindle Lovers: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0064EES0Y

Award-winning romance author, Nina Pierce, grew up in a house full of readers. So becoming enamored with books was only natural. She discovered romance stories in her early teens, falling hopelessly in love with knights in shining armor and the damsels who saved them.
Eventually, reading about alpha males and the journey to find their happy-ever-after endings wasn’t enough. She needed to pen her own stories of fated loves and soul mates. Nina’s discovered the passionate side of romance with her sexy stories. For her, it’s all about the sweet scent of seduction mixed with the heartwarming aroma of romance.
Nina resides in southern New England with her high school sweetheart and soul mate of twenty-seven years, their three grown children and several very spoiled cats who consider her “staff”.
You can keep up with her latest releases on her website http://www.NinaPierce.com and blog, http://www.NinaPierce.com/blog. Or follow her on facebook http://www.facebook.com/author.nina.pierce


Anonymous said...

Great excerpt :)

Nina Pierce said...

Glad you enjoyed it Regina!

Liz said...

great post! and yeah, I think characters CAN be redeemed. I have one myself. It's just that so many publishers I find shy away from this sort of thing it's hard to find a place for characters than must be forgiven ...

Nina Pierce said...

Liz - You definitely break the mold with your characters and readers and reviewers are both very happy with the results! I'm hoping readers find the same with my book!

Harlie Reader said...

Nina, this sounds very interesting and a topic that too feel authors would even broach. I applaud you for tackling it.

Congratulations on the release.


Harlie Reader said...

Also, don't you love the Nine Naughty....

Meg Benjamin said...

Hi Nina, Welcome! This is a fascinating topic. Obviously, there are limits to I'll put up with, but at the same time I sort of like to see them pushed. I think it's good for me as a reader to occasionally wander onto the dark side.

Kathryn Merkel said...

Hi Nina, I've read a lot of books with a lot of crazy stuff happening & still haven't thrown one against the wall. I have finished a couple & wondered what I was thinking to have picked it up in the first place, but I always hang in there until the bitter end, hoping that the HEA materializes.

drainbamaged.gyzmo at gmail.com

Nina Pierce said...

Harlie - Yes, I love this site. I will be interesting to see if readers embrace this book. The fact is ... I write romance and that includes the happy ending!

Nina Pierce said...

Meg - As long as an author convinces me the hero/ine can be redeemed because there was a good reason for their behavior, I can enjoy the story.

Nina Pierce said...

Kathryn - The HEA is a must for me. I want the characters who have worked hard through so much to get their reward. ;)

Jen B. said...

Ok, what are the limits? I am a reader not a writer so I think about this everytime I pick up a book containing one of the WTH plot points. Or, if I am reading a blog post and think the author has clearly gone over the edge.
First, if the author is really talented then almost any character can be redeemed.
Second, if the redemption or acceptance of the character's baser traits fits the overall story.
Third, marketing the book to the correct target audience is critical.
Finally (this is the one that has made me throw books ), the author must include that one thing that make redemption both real and desirable. I H-A-T-E when I am reading along, I am tense, I can't see how the character can be redeemed, I keep flipping back trying to find somethin-anything to start the redemption process and the author says...it was magic (or some variation thereof). I love paranormal stories but that is just plain lazy. The other one that just sets me off is the "he was actaully a double agent". Pfft!

Kelly Jamieson said...

Welcome to the Naughty Nine, Nina! That's a great post. I'm all in favor of pushing boundaries and like Jen B said, I think a good writer can redeem almost any character -it's all about motivation.

Nina Pierce said...

Jen - I can't say I've ever come across the "magic" trope, but that would definitely make me feel cheated. For me there has to be a paying of past sins and *then* they can find their redemption.

Thanks so much for such a detailed answer.

Nina Pierce said...

Kelly - Thank you for the welcome. It's been fun hanging out. That's a really good point, is the motivation to change and redeem onesself communicated by the author. If it is, any character can be saved from themselves. Hopefully I've done that with Peter.

Nina Pierce said...

CONGRATULATIONS to Kathryn! Her name has been chosen at random as the winner of "Blind Her With Bliss". It's winging it's way to you as I type!