Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Embracing the Journey

A few months ago I blogged about my then-upcoming move.  I’m happy to report it’s now been completed.  It’s been a crazy few months as I moved from one side of the country to the other, crossing the nation by car and plane several times, but I’m finally settled.  New city.  New apartment.  New possibilities.  It’s not just my traveling over the past several months, but my overall journey, that’s brought me to this point, this place.  This move is something I’ve want to do and have been working toward for a long time, something that sometimes seemed like it would never happen.  Now that it has, I’m hopeful and excited to see what comes next. 

Pondering my own journey and how I got here, it occurred to me how romance, and romantic suspense, is really all about the journey, too.  As readers and writers, we know the destination we want, we expect, to reach: the happy ending.  What really matters, what makes the story special and interesting, is the journey there, the journey that takes the characters to the truth, to justice, to growth, to peace, to love.  It may not be easy.  There may be missteps made and unfortunate detours taken along the way.  But eventually we will get there, and it will be worth everything it took to make it.

I found myself thinking about this as I was considering what to say about my latest Intrigue, TRUSTING A STRANGER, which is now officially available in stores.  I’m really excited to have it out there, because I’m particularly fond of this story.  In fact, of my four books that have been released so far, I think this might be my favorite. One reason I love writing--and reading--romance is for the emotion, and this book, perhaps more than any of mine released to date, is heavily focused on the emotional journey the characters experience over the course of the story.  It had to be. 

This is my attempt at a marriage-of-convenience story, a premise that’s not always easy to pull off in a contemporary.  In this case, the hero marries the heroine to prevent her from being deported to her home country, where there’s nowhere she can hide from the villain, a powerful man with limitless resources who’s out for revenge.  The hero and heroine enter the marriage with the understanding that when the threat to her life is over, they will end it.  Naturally, ending a romance novel with the characters getting divorced and going their separate ways isn’t going to be most people’s (or my!) idea of a happy ending.  So I knew from the start that by the end of the book, when the danger is over, they had to be at the point where they would decide to continue the marriage, which basically meant they had to be in love and admitting it openly.  I couldn’t have them still relatively at the beginning of their journey, having found each other and ready to see what happens next, as I have in several of my earlier books.  Naturally their story, their lives, will continue beyond the end of the book, but I had a definite route marker, so to speak, I had to get them to in a believable way by the end.

This was particularly challenging because, as the title indicates, these are two complete strangers who don’t entirely trust each other at the beginning of the book, with only the word of the mutual friend who brought them together to give them any reason to do so.  Throw in the fact that this a self-contained hero who’s already lost too much and refuses to feel anything as a means of survival, and a heroine who has been betrayed by her first husband and will not accept anything less than full openness, and these two are in conflict from the start.  Not to mention that preventing the heroine from being deported only results in bringing the danger stateside, sending them on the run. 

So these two people are not just on a physical journey as they try to elude their pursuers, but a huge emotional one as their feelings evolve over the course of the book in that grand Intrigue tradition, from wariness to trust, then beyond to something deeper.  I really loved these characters, and even knowing where I intended for them to go, their journey surprised me at times.  In the end, I'm pleased with how it turned out. 

I hope any reader who decides to take the journey with them will enjoy it, and wish you the best on your own journey, wherever it takes you.

Kerry Connor