Last year’s Bookscan figures prove beyond doubt that many readers do. The sales figures for the Fifty Shades Trilogy by E L James are staggering. Sylvia Day’s Crossfire Novels are selling beautifully too. The reviews are very mixed. Reader engagement is very strong. Readers talk about these books a lot. Non-readers talk about these stories too. What’s that all about?
I bailed on Christian Grey very early on in the piece. I bailed on Gideon Cross a couple of times too, although the writing kept me hooked. These are challenging characters to be around. They’re meant to be.
For me, one of the reasons these types of stories can be so engaging is that I’m waiting for that moment where the hero crosses my line in the sand. I’m not reading for the black-moment between hero and heroine. I’m waiting for the train-wreck between him and me.
Writing ‘The One That Got Away’ was an exercise in going darkside when it came to manipulating reader emotions and engagement. There was no gorgeous good-guy hero who would never deliberately hurt others. No surety that this relationship was going to work at all, beyond it being packaged as a romance (with its implied HEA). I wasn’t aiming for an easy read. I chose to give Logan a turbulent and abused childhood. Does it excuse his adult behaviour? How much sympathy you got? How much empathy? At what point in such a relationship would you have stood up and said, ”Yeah, sorry. No.”?
Reader reviews are starting to come in for The One That Got Away. They’re surprisingly good. A lot of them are very detailed. The words dark and intense keep cropping up. Reviewers are saying “yes, I believed in the HEA, but it’s still not a comfortable read”. One reader emailed me and said, “It’s a really good story, but are you sure it’s a romance?”
It’s a really good question.