Guest blog by Brenna Chase, author of North and South: The Wild and Wanton Edition, Volume 2
I recently had the pleasure of watching Richard Armitage in three seasons of MI-5. What an interesting, and heartbreaking, character arc. Of course he played the role with his usual skill, but I’d seriously love to see the man in more roles with happy endings.
This started me thinking of other character arcs that left me less than thrilled. One such was the character of Marcus Cole on Babylon 5. He blamed himself for his brother’s death and spent his time trying to atone for that, and once he met her, to win the love of Commander Susan Ivanova. For two seasons I watched him try to do both, only to want to throw something at the television when he had served his purpose and been confined to dying to save her.
Of course everyone’s got to write things the way they come, but I hate investing my time and heart in characters only to see those characters wind up unfulfilled after their struggles, or dead, or both. That’s why I love romance novels, because even with all the ups and downs a couple might face, there’s the promise of a happily ever after, or happy for now ending. Yes, they’re escapism, but so what. I need that. Real life is already full of those kinds of struggles ending in defeat without it bleeding over into entertainment. Don’t get me wrong--I don’t mind seeing a couple struggling to work things out as long as the payoff is worth it. I love the hopefulness inherent in romance novels, as much as I love daydreaming about a hunky hero.
What about you? What do you love about romance novels?
North and South: The Wild and Wanton Edition Blurb:
Margaret Hale’s life changes dramatically when her father quits his living as a parson in the idyllic New Forest in the South of England and moves the family to the northern industrial town of Milton, intending to become a private tutor. There, she is appalled at the poverty surrounding her and at first finds the local mill workers too rough, but soon she can’t help sympathizing with their plight.
John Thornton is a magistrate and owner of a prosperous cotton mill. Forced to become the head of the household at a young age and driven to keep his family from becoming impoverished again, he’s had no time for love. He certainly has no time for a lady who looks down on both him and the industry in which he earns his livelihood. Their beliefs lead them to inevitably clash, but their arguments over his treatment of his workers mask a deep attraction neither wants, and eventually, one that neither can deny.
Although it is labeled as a social novel, North and South simmers with sexual tension. Through the backdrop of a labor strike and a riot, through a possible murder and its fallout, through the deaths of loved ones, and the rise and fall of fortunes, the romance between John Thornton and Margaret Hale still entrances readers as it did when first published in 1855. In this updated version, read the steamy scenes that Ms. Gaskell, a minister’s wife, could not include in the original work, from John and Margaret’s first desperate, yet tender, lovemaking, to their sizzling reunion in London.
Sensuality Level: Sensual
Excerpt from Volume 2:
Margaret, too, mistook her feelings. She thought her agony over hurting him stemmed from her unwillingness to injure anyone. But she was unaware of any other motive when she decided to see him and assure him that, though his kindness toward her mother was welcome, because it evidently pained him to be near her, he did not need to continue it. She would ask him not to visit so often, and accordingly made her way to the mill and inquired if Mr. Thornton was in. She was directed to his office and hurried toward the indicated door before she could lose her nerve and run the other way. Her pulse, already hammering madly, sped up when he called for her to enter. He was at his desk, in his shirtsleeves, his hair slightly dishevelled as if he had run his hands through it often, and when he looked up Margaret noted shadows beneath his eyes. Something painful squeezed her heart, and she found herself longing to go to him, sit in his lap and pull his head down to her shoulder. She inhaled sharply and started forward before she could stop herself.
Mr. Thornton’s brow contracted over his nose and his lips tightened before he spoke. “Miss Hale. To what do I owe this pleasure?”
She flinched at his hard tone. There was no mistaking that her coming here was anything but pleasurable for him. She drew another deep breath and plunged ahead. “Mr. Thornton, I wanted to thank you for being so kind to mamma, and bringing her fruit, but--.”
“But what?” His eyes narrowed. “Shouldn’t I be?”
“Not if it bothers you so much, no. Why do you insist on bringing it yourself?”
If possible his scowl became even more pronounced. “I like your parents. They’ve been kind to me. It’s little enough in return.”
“But surely you can see how difficult it is for me. I know it pains you when you’re there.”
“You really do have a low opinion of me, don’t you? I will not turn my back on your parents simply because you spurned me and my proposal.”
Heat rose up her neck. “No, I—.”
“Miss Hale, I’m very busy and have no time for visitors. You know the way out.”
She raised her chin and turned to leave. He was at her side, his palm flat against the door before she could turn the knob. His eyes burned into hers, with anger or something else she could not tell. Her breath caught in her throat as she glared right back.
“Now you answer me, why did you come here?”
Author Bio: Brenna Chase is a romance author and Southern transplant to the Midwestern US. She holds a BA in history, is married to a wonderful man and has two great kids. She enjoys knitting, bicycling, classic literature, movies and rock. She has always loved romances.