Insta-Love or Something Like It
I recently read another review that referred to my books as insta-love and I don’t dispute that...not entirely anyway. My characters almost always have an instantaneous explosive (and sometimes painful) connection that has them falling into bed and then falling into a lifetime together, but I never thought of myself as writing insta-love, which got me thinking about why.
I write about killers and psychopaths, many of whom lack the capacity to fall in love. So, what does that leave? Insta-lust? Insta-obsession? Definitely. But more than that…my psychopathic characters and their counterparts stay together for the same reason the relationship between you—my readers—and I works.
When you’re a romance author just starting out, people tell you to find your niche market, find your readers, and give them what they expect from you over and over again in different ways. My obligation to you as my readers is to give you all the things you’ve come to expect from my books (snark, angst, high-heat, insta-love or something like it, a little bit of a mystery, and an HEA) It’s like a contract we’ve sort of entered into, and if I violate that contract, I could lose a reader.
My characters’ relationships are, at their core, contracts. My characters have to find other ways of establishing trust that goes beyond the whole ‘the heart wants what the heart wants’ concept. I firmly believe that the difference between relationships that work and relationships that don’t firmly falls on whether all parties are honest about what they need and what they are capable of giving from the beginning.
I think, in a way, it’s like an arranged marriage or a contract within the BDSM community. For Adam and Noah from my Unhinged Series, Adam is completely honest with Noah. He tells him he’s not capable of love. He’s not capable of sweeping romantic gestures or understanding Noah’s pain. Knowing this, Noah agrees to get involved with Adam anyway. Why? Because Noah has been horribly abused and what Adam can provide him is the one thing he’s never had.
Adam would and has literally killed for Noah. When he tells Noah he will literally gut somebody if they so much as muss Noah’s hair, he believes him because he knows what Adam is capable of. And Adam doesn’t judge Noah for his daddy issues or his panic attacks. He is there for him when he falls apart, even if he doesn’t quite know what he’s doing. What does Adam get? Noah’s undivided attention, his subservience in the bedroom, his companionship and the agreement that he takes priority over every other person in Noah’s life. That’s the contract they’ve agreed to. Noah loves Adam and Adam protects Noah. Plus, they have a smoking hot D/s sex life that works for both of them.
The same can be said for August and Lucas. August is instantly obsessed with Lucas and, even though he has no idea what he’s doing, he understands that, in order to keep him, there are certain psychosocial needs he cannot ignore. He sets about learning everything he can about relationships and agrees to a lifetime of meeting those expectations. Lucas is fragile and has an ability that would cripple many people. He needs August’s stability, his brutal honesty, and his calm in the face of a crisis. That’s their contract.
But it’s not just my Necessary Evils Series; it’s all my books. With some relationships, it’s more obvious. In Intoxicating, Wyatt needed a Daddy and Linc needed to regain some semblance of control after the war had wrecked him. With other books, like Infuriating, the contract is more subtle. But truthfully, it’s in every book and every relationship, romantic or otherwise.
Nobody wants to think of relationships in those terms. Contracts. Agreements. It all sounds very technical and not at all swoon-worthy. But relationships fall apart when one or more parties misrepresent themselves or don’t honor the contract they agreed to when the relationship began. That can be friendship, marriage, parents. Any relationship can be irreparably harmed when people aren’t honest. This is why it doesn’t pay to try to pretend you’re somebody you’re not to try to force a bond with another person.
All this to say, are my books insta-love? Not always. But they are all about two people agreeing to be together under a specific set of circumstances and then showing up for the other person every time, without fail. Because, in the end, that’s all any of us want. Somebody who shows up when shit goes sideways. Right?