This may sound funny coming from a romance author…
But contemporary romances are not usually my thing.
Now, mind you, that doesn’t mean I completely avoid them; after all, I did write one. (Should be out sometime this winter.) It’s just that, given a choice, I prefer literature that has a more surreal (or even bizarre) feel to it. However, I have read a number of contemporary romances over the years that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed, and I always try to keep an open mind in regards to them.
At the end of the day, I know that I am just as likely to enjoy a contemporary romance as I am any other book. The trick, however, lies in getting me to pick it up in the first place! There’s gotta be some kind of hook, some interesting angle that makes the book grab my attention.
Callie Carmen (of Black Velvet Seductions Publishing) managed to pull it off…
Her novel Patrick features a serial killer. (To me, that’s like waving a bag of crack in front of a junkie. Seriously…) Now, I would’ve thought that this would make the book a ‘thriller’, but it doesn’t; Patrick is a rock-solid romance, with the emphasis ever remaining upon the characters and their interactions with one another.
The killer is pretty twisted, and even helps narrate the story (which is rather unnerving). Callie did a phenomenal job of balancing the dark side of her tale with the budding romance between the heroine Jaq and her love-interest, Patrick. It was obviously a fine line to walk, too. Had Callie ‘gone for broke’ on the morbid side, romance publishers would have told her to go kick rocks and horror publishers would have told her that the story was too sappy. (I’d have ROYALLY flubbed that one! My manuscript would’ve been as disturbing as all hell.) Patrick required a certain amount of finesse to write, and even more so to market; a ‘horror chick’ could never have pulled it off.
I loved the nuances of the characters. Frankly, I frowned upon Jaq’s dating four guys at once before she met Patrick. That just seemed kinda… well, mean. On the other hand, Jaq was also a fairly innocent woman, certainly not someone who could be labeled ‘cheap’ or ‘easy’. Her father, while described as an alcoholic and an embarrassment to his family, is also portrayed as a kind man who was a decent person when he was sober.
Then there’s Patrick. I strongly suspect that culture comes into play when evaluating Patrick’s character. I would imagine that many readers from ‘progressive’ regions (such as the American Northeast and West Coast) might describe Patrick as ‘possessive’, or even ‘controlling’. I, however, was born and raised in the American South, where the ‘alpha male’ is the norm and not the exception. (Even our ladies often refer to passive or overly-solicitous men as ‘weenies’.) So how you view Patrick’s character depends on where you come from, I think, and what social expectations you’ve been bred to hold.
Notice I didn’t really say anything about the serial killer, other than there is one. And I ain’t gonna, either…
Don’t wanna spoil it for you, ya know?
Patrick, by Callie Carmen. Go read it! You’ll be glad you did.
Cheers! – Virginia
(P.S – Callie’s next novel, Joseph, will be available soon. She will also be appearing in a cowboy-themed anthology later this winter, alongside yours truly. I’m deeply honored!)
TO ORDER CALLIE’S NOVEL FROM AMAZON, CLICK HERE: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=callie+carmen+risking+love&ref=nb_sb_noss
FROM BARNES AND NOBLE, CLICK HERE: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/callie+carmen+risking+love?_requestid=51677
TO FOLLOW CALLIE’S WEBSITE (page contains links for all major social media platforms): https://www.calliecarmen.com/