Always a Stranger
By: Amara Royce
Releasing May 15th, 2014
When two worlds collide, anything is possible. . .
An international affair, London's Great Exhibition has taken the city by storm. As its newest Royal Commissioner, Lord Skyler Ridgemont must ensure the performers are properly contracted. Among them is the delicate and graceful Hanako Sumaki. Draped in vivid silk robes, Hanako's exotic Japanese fan dance captivates Skyler--and he longs to learn more about her. . .But Hanako's enigmatic employer keeps his exquisite charge very close. The consummate artist, she shows the handsome nobleman many faces, but never her true heart, which holds a desperate secret. When Skyler learns the real reason Hanako has been brought to London, he will risk his entire world to win her trust--and save her from losing both body and soul. It's a feat that will require the type of courage only love can give. . .
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Amara Royce writes historical romances that combine her passion for 19th-century literature and history with her addiction to happily ever afters.
She earned a PhD in English, specializing in 19th-century British literature, from Lehigh University and a Master's degree in English from Villanova University, and she now teaches English literature and composition at a community college in Pennsylvania.
When she isn't writing, she's either grading papers or reveling in her own happily ever after with her remarkably patient family. You can find her at www.amararoyce.com.
Guest post: Secrecy in Romance Novels
I think it’s fair to say that secrets are one of the cornerstones of romance novels. The Big Secret is a common trope that can drive the story and generate increasingly severe conflicts until the climactic moment when the Big Secret is revealed and characters have to deal with the aftermath.
In romance novels, it’s guaranteed that the couple will survive whatever the Big Secret is. After all, romance novels by definition have happy endings. That’s one of the reasons I love reading and writing them! No matter what trials and tribulations they go through, the central couple will undoubtedly end up united in love or at least happy for now. But that makes it challenging to write a Big Secret story—because the lovers have to be motivated to get past the pain of dishonesty and broken trust.
For the record, in real life, I believe “honesty is the best policy,” but I recognize life and fiction are…complicated.
There better be really, really good reasons for keeping a Big Secret. In ALWAYS A STRANGER, the heroine Hanako is keeping a very Big Secret, as well as a variety of smaller building-block secrets. So one of the challenges of writing her character was trying to draw sympathy for her—why shouldn’t readers be turned off by her secrecy? In her case, deception is a matter of life and death, and not just her own. Her secrecy is ultimately coerced and selfless, not selfish.
Moreover, in the romance community, there’s occasional grumbling when a Big Secret could easily have been avoided by a simple and direct conversation. In other words, the Big Secret was really a Big Misunderstanding. For some readers, the fact that the Big Secret could have been avoided may detract from the main characters.
So…how does a couple survive the secrecy?
Here’s what I’ve learned from romance novels about surviving the Big Secret: the big Cs—contrition, commitment, and communication.
Contrition - I think one of the biggest factors in a fictional couple surviving the Big Secret is the contrition of the secretive person. The character may have had understandable and important reasons for being secretive, but it seems that he/she should clearly feel remorse for misleading their loved one, not just for being found out but for being deceptive. Without that sense of guilt and responsibility, it’s virtually impossible to rebuild the trust that has been lost. I can tell you that, given her circumstances, Hanako probably wouldn’t have done things differently—but she still feels remorse over deceiving Skyler, especially as she gets to know him better.
Commitment – After the Big Secret has been revealed, generally it’s vital that the secretive character commit, even tacitly, to being honest with the love interest. They may still keep secrets from the rest of the world, but never again from each other. In some romance novels, after the Big Secret is revealed, the couple comes out stronger, united against a common foe. In real life, it’s probably not so pretty. But commitment to honesty and to each other can go a long way toward building (or rebuilding) trust.
Communication – In the fictional world of romance, the Big Secret has to be revealed eventually. The truth eventually comes out, and how the central couple communicates as a result of the revelation is pivotal to their success. The person who was kept in the dark may not be willing to hear those very good reasons, but, if they are, the deceiver’s contrition and commitment to their relationship need to be made clear through open communication.
In any relationship, trust is vital; in some cases, its violation may be unforgivable. But in romance novels, hope really does spring eternal and can offer us opportunities to see how Big Secrets can still lead to happy endings.
a TOUR WIDE Commenter Giveaway for Two Digital Copies of ALWAYS A STRANGER or $20.00 Amazon or B&N Gift Card
Hey, book buddies, isn't that a gorgeous cover? I'd love to know who designed it!