As we near the end of another year, I've found that I've made significant progress on wrapping up two manuscripts, starting a third and writing a couple of short stories. Not as bad as I thought when I consider how much valuable writing time was sacrificed over the year. One of the books I finished this year is a medieval-set erotic romance, Warrior's Vengeance. This story was a tricky one to write, and to be honest, at times it left me drained. Involving the kidnapping and forced seduction of the heroine, Marissa Langley, the tale skates along, and sometimes seems to cross, the lines of consent.
To be honest, the hero, Ian McCallum, does not treat Marissa nicely. Yet, to be fair, he harbors one hell of a grudge – she is the daughter of his enemy, a man whose warriors raped and murdered Ian's wife, murdered his small son, and basically decimated his village and clan. Kidnapping Marissa and forcing her to be his slave is justified, in his mind. Marissa, on the other hand, cannot believe her father could do such things. Truth is, back in 1307, that's exactly what men like her father did. They were ruthless, murdering and raping innocents, and generally not caring who got caught in the crossfire of their wars. Kind of similar to how things work in various parts of the world today. Certainly there were honorable men who sought to protect those who could not protect themselves, but even those men were merciless when it came to meting out the justice they felt was deserved. Ian is a man much like Marissa's father. One who employs brutal justice, and seeks revenge. Those goals held powerful sway on the men of that time, just as much as their lust for power and money.
But there is a difference in Ian. He feels guilt, true remorse over some of his ill-treatment of Marissa. Not that his guilt will turn him from his avowed path of vengeance - he will still do what he believes he needs to – but he does have regrets. Marissa, after learning what Ian's suffered, understands what drives him, what compels him to behave as he does toward her. She is, after all, a woman of the time. She happens to have been raised alongside one of her brothers, can handle a sword as well as any man, and knows what drives the men in her life, even if she believes them to be more honorable than is claimed by their enemies.
I've had very mixed reactions to this story from the various places it's been sent. Contests, editors, and some critique partners. There is no middle ground with this story – it's either loved, or reviled. I consider it to be forced seduction, and there were those who agreed. Then there were those who disagreed. Strongly, in some cases. I had an absolutely lovely rejection from an editor who explained exactly why she had issues with the content. One of the nicest rejections I ever received. And I understood her point, and why she felt the way she did. In the contests I entered, overwhelmingly, the story was received very well. I did have an angry judge harshly reprimand me for the content, but others were salivating for more. Perhaps because it was historical, and set in that brutal era, they were able to put aside the requirements of today's society for complete, clear-as-day consent. Perhaps it's just a fantasy they like to read about. Either way, they wanted more. With those reactions, I was torn as to what I wanted to do with the book. I could make drastic changes, but I wasn't sure I was up to that. Or I could see if I could find a publisher who wanted edgier, more raw stories. I decided I'd start with the latter option, and go from there.
Well, Warrior's Vengeance has found a home, and a bit quicker than I anticipated. Pink Flamingo Publications has accepted it for release sometime in the spring or summer of 2012. I have no other details at this point, but I'm just thrilled that Ian and Marissa's story will be available for readers who like a good, old-fashioned "bodice ripper." Stay tuned – as I get more information, I'll share it here.