Spoiler Warning! This post contains spoilers for Fallen Hearts and The Final Calling!
“Before we go, there’s something you need to know, Ardilon,” Stephan began. “We’d always assumed I’d contracted Ithrim from another human in that vampire lair, but since my turning, I’ve recalled something in my sleep, and it’s … weird.”
Nodding, Stephan tried to explain as thoroughly as possible. “It’s a vague memory that’s resurfaced more than once, something that took place right after the explosion. I was out of it, and couldn’t see, but I heard a man’s voice, and remember being fed something that tasted coppery.”
Ardilon’s expression became curiously interested. “Do you remember what the voice said?”
“Not clearly, but one thing I do recall is that it was very deep, even ominous.”
“I see,” he acknowledged plainly, making it hard to tell what he may have been thinking. “Then someone purposefully infected you?”
“Looks that way, unless I was hallucinating.”
–from Fallen Hearts, Chapter 39
One of the reasons I love writing romance is because of the genre’s versatility. I mean sure, it’s romance, so the story will always revolve around two people (or more!) getting together and finding that sense of connection in companionship that so many of us seek but rarely have the fortune of finding. But the stories are all different, from the settings to the mood, and of course, the heat levels.
I mean damn, how many subgenres of romance are there? Contemporary, historical, paranormal, fantasy, mystery, suspense, thriller, comedy, horror, YA, inspirational, and the list goes on. So basically, if you love romance, there’s something out there somewhere that’s specifically attuned to your tastes and desires.
I personally enjoy books with a level of adventure and even some fantasy elements added to it, books that offer some mystery and intrigue that keeps me curious about a place, person, or event–particularly regarding series. This is one of the reasons I’ve cited an excerpt from Fallen Hearts here. As much as I love reading such elements in stories, I have even more fun introducing them into my own books, and the excerpt cited above is an unresolved issue from Fallen Hearts left open at the end of the story.
Throughout the entire book, Stephan thought he’d contracted his illness from some human in the vampire lair where he’d been held captive. But none of the vampires or other humans survived the attack/subsequent explosion of the lair. So there was no way to trace the origins–and that wasn’t even an issue he’d really concerned himself with. Yet, vampires don’t actually dream, they reminisce, and after becoming a vampire, this very peculiar, and vague memory resurfaces in his sleep that gives him a little more insight into the origins of his illness.
But it’s not until The Final Calling that we find out who did it, i.e., this conversation between Ardilon and Arias:
“Ah, yes, because you know so much after having a hand in nearly every problem I’ve encountered recently.”
Arias planted a dramatic palm against his chest. “Moi? You truly believe I could fly so low under your radar? Perish the thought.”
As if annoyed, Ardilon’s jaw twitched. “Stop playing coy. There are a number of events I could cite, such as my former votary’s health. Did you infect him?”
Isaac had no fucking idea what Ardilon was talking about now. But Arias sighed, waving a dismissive hand with the admission, “Alright, yes, that was me. But I had very sound reasons for infecting a mortal with a deadly, contagious, mystical disease—and by the by, I heard a cure was obtained, so you know, you’re welcome.”
–from The Final Calling, Chapter 18
So now we know who did it, but not why. Could Arias have simply been setting events into motion so that a cure would be obtained? Or did he have some personal motivation? Perhaps he was testing the illness to see what it would do, or hoped to sell it to some maniac aspiring to commit vampiric genocide? And, if his intention was merely to have a cure developed, how did he even know to infect Stephan with the illness to begin with?
I love these types of mysteries (and I know how strange it probably seems that I’m citing my own work so everyone knows I already have the answers lol! But it was the best example I could think of on short notice :) ), and I love adding them to my own books as much as I enjoy reading them. The only other example I can really think of at the moment (and this is somewhat spoilery for Game of Thrones, so skip if you haven’t seen the latest episode (and yes, I’m talking about the show, not the books here)) is the most recent reveal about Jon Snow. I won’t say what was revealed exactly, but we’ve gone for the entire series believing one thing was true, perhaps with a few hints thrown in suggesting something entirely different, and then we finally learn that something else was the case all along.
That has very little to do with romance, I know, but it does a good job of exemplifying my point, being that these elements can all be woven into romance just as easily as another genre, making these stories so much more than, “Boy meets girl and they fall in love.”
In fact, and to be frank about it, I think the entire genre is largely overlooked in terms of its potential to deliver memorable stories that have as much of an impact as an epic sci-fi trilogy, or whatever other genre you can think of. Instead, people hear romance, and usually say, ” Oh, you want an afternoon read you’ll completely forget about by tomorrow.”
This type of dismissive attitude, I think, has caused several great stories and authors alike to fall under the radar, never managing to garner the acclaim they should have. Certainly, we have well known, critically acclaimed authors of romance who are praised for their ability to weave a memorable story, and that number has definitely increased in recent years. But I’m not entirely sure it can compete with the number of successful authors and books we have in other genres.
Or maybe I’m wrong? Feel free to comment if you have any thoughts on the matter, and mention what youre favorite genre is! And don’t forget to enjoy your holiday weekend!