Tag Archives: Vengeance

Are You a Romance or Love Stories Girl?

(This post was first published on the Long and Short Reviews blog as part of my RECKONING blog tour)

Do you believe there’s a difference between a romance and a love story? I do – but do you? And, more importantly, are you a romance girl or a love story girl (or dude…I use the term interchangeably)?

The Romance Writers of America can help us out here! Their definition of a romance is a story with “a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.” It follows that any story which doesn’t conform to these two elements is not a romance. “Love story” implies the primary plot is focused on love, so the difference is the HEA.

So: central love story plus HEA = romance; central love story with no HEA = love story.

Or does it?

What about the first 50 Shades of Grey? That one doesn’t have an HEA. It follows the same couple, Christian and Ana, through two more books of their romantic misadventures. In fact, some would argue there’s no love story, either, as Christian displays what many consider stalking and abusive behavior throughout the series. Is it a romance, a love story, or neither?

What about Out of Africa, a movie adaption of a book starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep as two ill-fated lovers in the early 1900s and described on Wikipedia as an “epic romantic drama?” That story doesn’t have an HEA, either. You could also argue it’s more about a woman’s voyage of self-discovery than a love story.

How about Me before You? Romeo and Juliet? Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? Casablanca? Gone with the Wind? All centered on love, but none of them fit the definition of romance.

The first novel in my Valentine Shepherd series, Vengeance, ends with a major plot twist that pushes the two main characters apart after they fought so hard for love. It was hard to write! But like the 50 Shades series, it follows the same couple through two more books, and (spoiler?) they eventually get their HEA in the final story, Reckoning. Does this mean Vengeance isn’t technically a romance, but the whole series is?

In the end, it comes down to what you, the reader, believe a “romance” should be. I think the RWA’s definition of romance says more about the people making the definition than it does about the actual genre.

Personally, I don’t like the idea of being characterized as “not romantic” because I can be satisfied with ambiguous endings more complicated than “And then they lived happily ever after.” I think if a couple is blissfully married for fifty years, and then one of them gets hit by a car and dies, that shouldn’t discount the previous romance they experienced together. Everybody dies. Everything ends. Hell, one day the sun will swell into a red giant and swallow the earth. Why should these facts of life mean that romance isn’t possible for any of us in the real world?

I guess this means I’m a love story girl – it’s more about the journey than the HEA for me. Which is it for you?

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Character Portrait: Georgie

Full Name: George McOwen

Occupation: Accountant

Gender: Male

Sexual Orientation: Hetero

Hair: Brown

Eyes: Brown

Height: 5′ 8″

Weight: 245 lbs

Hobbies: Watching TV, coin collecting, making poor life choices

Background: George – called Georgie Porgie by basically everyone – has worked at Carressa Industries in the Accounting department since the company’s founding almost twenty years ago. He lives with his mother and cat, Bing.

Beneath the Surface: George is a quiet man, keeps to himself. He’s very competent and loyal by nature, to his work and his family. Though he’s got a spine of jelly, he rose to the occasion and cooperated with some less-than-savory characters when his mom had credit card bills she needed paid…

Appears in: Vengeance

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Character Portrait: Michael

Full Name: Michael Beauford

Occupation: Chief Financial Officer of Carressa Industries

Gender: Male

Sexual Orientation: Hetero

Hair: Brown

Eyes: Brown

Height: 5′ 10″

Weight: 170 lbs

Hobbies: Poker, brunching, giving “tough love” advice

Background: Michael has been the CFO of Carressa Industries for about a decade. While serving on the company’s board of directors, through his keen ability to see people’s true colors he quickly determined who the real power behind the company was – the young Max.

Beneath the Surface: While Michael respected Lester Carressa as a shrewd businessman, he also understood that what made Lester a great businessman also made him a terrible father. Out of a strong sense of compassion, Michael always tries to be kind to Max in a way the boy’s father never was. He cares for the Carressa heir like his own son, even if Max doesn’t realize it.

Appears in: Vengeance, Retribution, Reckoning

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Character Portrait: Cassandra

*WARNING: This post contains mild spoilers for people who haven’t read Vengeance or Retribution yet*

Full Name: Cassandra

Occupation: Seer

Gender: Female

Sexual Orientation: Asexual

Hair: Black

Eyes: Blue

Height: 5′ 6″

Weight: 120 lbs

Hobbies: Endlessly thinking about the future, building strange machines

Background: Where Cassandra came from is a mystery; in fact, it’s not unlikely Cassandra herself doesn’t know. Val has only seen the woman in her visions, and even then Cassandra talks in riddles. She’s connected somehow to the secret and powerful organization known as Northwalk, but does she run it, or is she one of their pawns?

Beneath the Surface: Cassandra is a powerful Alpha Seer: someone who can see the future all the time. But she sees not just one future; she sees all possible futures. The never-ending flood of information has made her connection to reality tenuous, and she’s slowly slipping into insanity.

Appears in: Vengeance, Retribution, Reckoning

 

 

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Character Portrait: Dean

Full Name: Dean Price

Occupation: Lawyer

Gender: Male

Sexual Orientation: Hetero

Hair: Blond

Eyes: Brown

Height: 5′ 10″

Weight: 165 lbs

Hobbies: Listening to music, fishing, making bad decisions

Background: Dean became friends with Max’s mother, Lydia, when they were law students at the same college. Through Lydia, Dean met her husband, Lester, and began to work for Carressa Industries when the company was still in its infancy. Luckily for Dean, his law firm, Bombay and Price, was there for all of Carressa Industries’ legal needs just as the company’s fortunes began to take off. After Lester’s death, they provided Max with legal representation to ensure the heir to the billion-dollar company didn’t get railroaded by the police.

Beneath the Surface: Dean is very much a family man, putting great value on his relationships with his kin and friends. He was crushed when Lydia died in a car accident, and took a special interest in making sure Max grew up without want for anything. Though he knew Lester was a hard man, he figured it would make Max stronger.

Appears in: Vengeance

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Character Portrait: Gino

Full Name: Giovanni Dinapoli

Occupation: Career Criminal

Gender: Male

Sexual Orientation: Bi

Hair: Black

Eyes: Brown

Height: 5′ 10″

Weight: 170 lbs

Hobbies: Drinking, gambling, preying on people’s insecurities

Background: The son of Italian immigrants, Gino grew up in Chicago and quickly became a regular in the criminal underworld, though organized crime has never been his bag. He prefers to work for himself, enjoying such fun activities as money laundering, fraud, identity theft, and occasionally a violent assault or gun charge to spice things up. He met Norman through mutual “friends,” and agree to lend his special skills to the colonel’s mayoral campaign.

Beneath the Surface: Gino loves to indulge in all the sinful pleasures earth has to offer, including booze, drugs, women…and men. His debauchery knows no bounds. Even though Gino’s primary goal is to get Norman elected, he takes a twisted pleasure in bringing out Norman’s dark side, and playing with more than just the colonel’s emotions.

Appears in: Vengeance

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Character Bio: Kitty

Full Name: Claire du Lothgard

Occupation: Max’s personal assistant / general “fixer”

Gender: Female

Sexual Orientation: Bi

Hair: Blond

Eyes: Blue

Height: 5′ 10″

Weight: 120 lbs

Hobbies: Dancing, jujitsu, …whatever you want her hobbies to be, baby

Background: Kitty’s background is a mystery, especially to the people closest to her. Max knows her as his personal assistant Kitty, Stacey knows her as her girlfriend Kat, and everyone else knows her as the most alluring woman they’ve ever met.

Beneath the Surface: Kitty knows her sex appeal is her greatest weapon, and she wields it viciously and without mercy. She works for someone, or some organization… Who or what that might be, she holds close to her perfect chest.

Appears in: Vengeance, Retribution, & Reckoning

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Character Bio: Delilah

Full Name: Delilah Barrister

Occupation: Housewife

Gender: Female

Sexual Orientation: Hetero

Hair: Brown

Eyes: Brown

Height: 5′ 5″

Weight: 125 lbs

Hobbies: Pilates, leading conservative Republican women’s groups, living in denial

Background: Delilah graduated from West Point, where she met her Norman. After serving her minimum commitment, she gave up her career aspirations in order to support her husband while he served in the Army, and later in his bid for Seattle mayor.

Beneath the Surface: To the outside world, Delilah stands by her man and does everything in her power to project the image of the perfect housewife. In reality, she’s just as ambitious as her husband and is itching for a chance to assume her own leadership role. She lives in denial about her husband’s sexuality, though she’s well aware of his hair-trigger temper and lives in fear of setting him off.

Appears in: Vengeance, Retribution, Reckoning

 

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Character Bio: Norman

Full Name: Norman Barrister

Occupation: Retired Army Colonel / Seattle Mayor Candidate

Gender: Male

Sexual Orientation: Gay

Hair: Brown

Eyes: Brown

Height: 6′ 4″

Weight: 230 lbs

Hobbies: Golfing, yard work, exercising, lying to himself

Background: Norman is a Seattle native who excelled at sports and other leadership roles. He graduated from West Point, where he met his wife Delilah, and led a long and distinguished career in the Army. After retiring from the military as a colonel, he returned to Seattle and decided to run for mayor as a way to give back to the community that raised him.

Beneath the Surface: Though Norman exudes charisma and confidence, he secretly considers himself superior to most people and thinks it’s his right to lead the “weak,” while also paradoxically being filled with shame over his repressed homosexuality. The resulting cognitive dissonance has him a hair’s-width away from exploding with irrational rage at any moment, and easily manipulated by unscrupulous Italian men.

Appears in: Vengeance

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Character Portrait: Sten

Full Name: Sten Ander

Occupation: Seattle Vice Squad Police Detective

Gender: Male

Sexual Orientation: Hetero

Hair: Brown

Eyes: Brown

Height: 6′ 1″

Weight: 190 lbs

Hobbies: Smoking, drinking, mind games

Background: Sten spent a chunk of his youth in Eastern Europe, then moved to the United States at some point…beyond that, he won’t say. He met Val when they served in the Army together, and they had a brief yet intense sexual relationship. After the Army, he joined the Seattle police force and worked his way up to detective on the Vice Squad. He occasionally helps Val with her cases, though not before antagonizing her and playing a few mind games at her expense.

Beneath the Surface: Underneath Sten’s laidback asshole demeanor is an intelligence and purpose he rarely shows to people. He never does anything without a reason, though what his ultimate goals are is anybody’s guess. Sometimes he helps Val, and sometimes he tries to kill her. Who’s side he’s on at any moment is a mystery.

Appears in: Vengeance, Retribution, Reckoning

 

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