Monday, December 30, 2013

Family Drama in Contemporary Romance

By: Reese Ryan

Giveaway Alert!

Little Women is the first novel I fell in love with. I was captivated by the story of the struggling March family who had little but with their overwhelming love for one another. 

Of course, the fact that they loved each other didn’t mean that their relationships were happy sailing and chockfull of hugs and sunshine. They were sisters, after all. There was jealousy, contention and resentment. At times, Jo and Amy were more nemesis than sisters. 

But there was warmth and realism in Jo March’s relationship with her sisters. Exploring the drama in the heroine’s family life gave us deeper insight into her character and allowed readers to understand what she needed from a romantic partner. The revelations of her family life enhanced our appreciation of her romance.

A few years later I read Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. I was smitten.  I loved Austen’s voice and wit and her cast of memorable secondary characters. Completely absorbed by the story, I laughed, cried, was indignant on Lizzy’s behalf, then wanted to shake her when she made a bad choice. An avid reader my entire life, I’d been immersed in stories before. But reading Pride & Prejudice was an emotional experience. It was a turning point for me. After reading that book I didn’t just want to read captivating stories about people who felt real with all of their faults and foibles; I wanted to write them. 

So what do two novels written well over a century ago have to do with contemporary romance? For me, everything. 

Though I write and primarily read contemporary fiction, that early taste of stories that intertwined family drama and romance had a deep, abiding effect on me. As a reader, I’m drawn to contemporary romances in which family relationships play a key role, like Slow Ride Home by Leah Braemel, After Hours by Cara McKenna and Shannon Stacey’s The Kowalskis series. I’m fascinated by how family dynamics impact the heroine and hero’s lives. Whether their family members are active secondary characters in the story or a lingering mental presence the characters must overcome in order to grow as individuals so they can achieve their happy ending.

As a writer, falling hard and fast for Pride & Prejudice made me want to tell stories that made people happy and angry. Made them laugh and cry. Stories that dealt with issues that weren’t always pretty, but managed to leave readers content and hopeful about the future. The characters’ futures and their own.

Family is definitely one of the themes in Love Me Not, my contemporary romance that releases today. My heroine, Jamie Charles, is dealing with some serious issues, many of which are rooted in her relationship—or lack thereof—with her parents. The reappearance of Jamie’s mother, whom she hasn’t seen in fifteen years, reignites the hurt and anger she thought she’d buried. We don’t meet Jamie’s father, who walked away from them when she was ten, but his influence is keenly felt as Jamie struggles with an inability to open her heart to the hero, Miles Copeland.  

Jamie’s relationship with her parents is complicated, as is the connection she feels with Miles. As she explores all of her complicated relationships and comes to terms with her past, we watch the character grow. Her relationship with Miles deepens. She gets her happy ending, not because her life is suddenly perfect, but in spite of the fact that it isn’t. The lesson in that is what I like most of all. 

What about you, do you like stories that explore complicated family relationships? Comment below and share your favorite contemporary romances that incorporate a bit of family drama. Then be sure to enter the Love Me Not Blog Tour giveaway below.

Author Info: Reese Ryan writes sexy, contemporary fiction filled with colorful characters and sinfully-sweet romance. She secretly enjoys torturing her heroines with family and career drama, reformed bad boys, revealed secrets, and the occasional identity crisis, but always rewards them with a happily ever after. Born and raised in the Midwest, she now resides in Central North Carolina.

Visit Reese online at Follow her on Twitter @ReeseRyanWrites. Connect with her on Facebook or Goodreads.

Abandoned by a mother who chose drugs over her, Jamie Charles barely got out of her own addiction alive. Now, she pours her pain into her art while pouring drinks at a local bar. To Jamie, love is a four-letter word—until she meets Miles, a charming ad exec with piercing blue eyes who makes no secret about his desire for her.

Miles Copeland has family demons of his own, but his unhappy upbringing drove him toward hard work and success. He's determined to win Jamie over, and when he finally does, it's worth every moment he spent waiting. But when he confesses that he's falling for her, she panics. Sex is one thing, but love requires more than she can give.

Jamie can't deny her feelings, but she's haunted by her past. Miles knows his heart, but Jamie's lingering doubts have him questioning their future. It might take the threat of losing him forever for her to realize that refusing to let love in is the worst mistake of all.

Where to Buy:

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  1. I LOVED this book and the series. Miles Copeland is in my list of top ten book boyfriends of 2013. And Jamie doesn't disappoint. Looking forward to the next book(s) in this series.

    Good luck with the tour!

  2. Thanks so much, Jonetta! So many stories spinning in my head for other characters. Guess that means I need to sit down and do some writing. :-)

  3. I write women's fiction and always center it around a woman and her family and the problems that lie therein. I love your cover and thank you for the suggestions of books you liked.

    1. Hi Patti! Women's fiction is a wonderful genre to explore family dynamics and the heroine's personal journey. That's probably why I love that genre so much.

  4. Congratulation on your second novel release, Reese. I enjoyed your debut novel, and I'm sure this second one won't disappoint. Kudos to all your literary successes.

    1. Thanks for stopping by today, Demetria! Your support of my career has meant so much to me. You're the perfect example of why I love being part of the writing community.

  5. First of all, good luck with the book launch/new release. I wish you much success. Like you, I love romance that also combines powerful emotional elements of familial and other relationships. To me, it enhances the story (because I want a story, not just a bunch of lusty thoughts, sex scenes, and external conflict strung together). Lately I've been having a hard time finding books that blend these elements...they are either very women's fiction with little romance, or borderline erotic romance (as described in my prior sentence). I did think Fiona Lowe's Rita winning Boomerang Bride did a nice job of showing a lot of issues (family, cancer, strained relations, etc.) with a hefty dose of romance. Also, Lisa Kleypa's Sugar Daddy (and other Travis Brothers books) weaved heavy real life elements into compelling love stories.

    1. Thanks for the congrats, Jamie, and for sharing your thoughts on this topic. It isn't easy to find that perfect blend. I've been meaning to read Fiona Lowe's Wedding Fever series. Lisa Kleypas is also on my TBR list, too. You've just bumped them higher on the list. :-) Happy New Year to you!

  6. I think fiction in general is all about family drama. As a only child of a single parent I relied on books to show me other kinds of families were possible. As a child I was drawn to stories about large families, The Boxcar Children, Cheaper by the Dozen, etc.

    As an adult reader of romance, I am often drawn to stories where the hero and heroine help heal each other's childhood wounds. The only child who is drawn to the person who longs to escape their large, loud, overbearing family is one of my favorite storylines.

    Good luck with your release. Sounds like a great story.

  7. Hi Kristina! Thank you for your comment and warm wishes. We have very similar taste in stories. I just read my first Cara McKenna book, After Hours. It was face-melting hot. But what I loved most was the story of these two damaged characters with deep-seated family issues who were drawn to each other. I loved that even though each of them was broken they tried desperately to save the other.

  8. I think I like reading romance with family drama because that is what my life is composed of. I have a theory that every family there is a snob, a Mr/Miss Know-It-All, the black sheep, the peace-maker, and the sloucher. For some reason, stories of characters with these personalities just make my life not too bad at all.

    1. Love your assessment of family dynamics, Kai. I think nearly everyone experiences a bit of that family drama. So watching a character experience that makes the story more real to me. Thank you for your comment!

  9. I love novels that are centered around family because mine is so small. Growing up it was just my mom, brother and myself and I'm still single, so anytime I can read family stories, particularly ones with tons of siblings, I live vicariously through the characters.

    Congrats on the new release!


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