While touring last year for the release of The Demon King, I participated in a signing in Oceanside, CA with the awesome Alyson Noel. There was, shall we say, a preponderance of paranormal romance fans.
We each did a brief reading. I chose a scene in which the former streetlord Han Alister is attacked by a rival gang. During the Q&A, one reader raised her hand and asked me, “Is there any…ah…romance in your books?”
Oh, yes. Romance. Had I thought it through, I would have chosen a love scene.
The Seven Realms quartet is, at its heart, a story of love and betrayal, played out against a backdrop of civil war, political intrigue, and magical disasters.
Princess Raisa ana’Marianna descends from the Gray Wolf Line, a dynasty of queens known for making poor choices in love. Raisa’s ancestor, Queen Hanalea, was ensnared by the wizard, Alger Waterlow, now known as the Demon King. Hanalea was forced to kill Waterlow when he nearly destroyed the world. That’s what you call a bad ending to a relationship.
A thousand years later, Raisa herself is the mixed-blood product of a troubled political marriage. Although she knows that she’s unlikely to marry for love, she can’t help hoping for it. In the meantime, she intends to find love where she can—whether with the Demonai warrior, Reid Nightwalker, or with her best friend, Amon Byrne, a corporal in her guard. She even steals away to be with the darkly handsome wizard Micah Bayar–although, these days, queens are forbidden to fraternize with wizards.
Raisa knows she’s playing with fire, but she’s also inherited Hanalea’s headstrong ways.
Han Alister is a former streetgang leader who is trying to leave the life. It isn’t easy. As a streetlord, he was feared and respected throughout the Ragmarket and Southbridge slums. He could take his pick of girlies—and he did, knowing he had little chance of growing old.
Now that Han’s gone straight, his family is close to starvation, and the Queen’s Guard is hunting him for murders he didn’t commit. The only thing of value he has is something he cannot sell—the silver cuffs he’s worn all his life and can’t get off. His mother says he’s demon-cursed, and sometimes he thinks she’s right.
When Raisa ventures into the Southbridge slum in disguise, chance brings her and Han together. They’re instantly attracted to each other, despite the social barriers and secrets between them. But they soon find out that there’s a price to be paid for a relationship built on a lie.
When writing about love triangles (quadrangles?) I want the reader to experience the jealousy, desire, angst and indecision right along with the viewpoint characters. And so each oppositional character has to be as real, as layered, as complex as possible. There are no black-and-white decisions, no easy choices to be made. Each character is imprisoned by history.
Born into a family of ruthless wizards, Micah Bayar has few scruples about doing whatever it takes to get what he wants. But, in his way, he loves Raisa, and just when you think he is despicable, he will surprise you.
Amon Byrne has inherited a family tradition of honor and duty that takes precedence over his own desires–sometimes to Raisa’s dismay. Still, he is one of the few people Raisa can trust at the treacherous Gray Wolf court.
Han Alister has been running the streets of Fellsmarch since he was a lytling. Despite his violent reputation, he adheres to a code of honor as robust as Amon’s. He’s always been the one to walk away from relationships—but now he’s finding that it isn’t always so easy.
Raisa is flawed, impulsive, a little spoiled to begin with. But she has the makings of a strong queen—if she lives long enough. Her ancestor, Queen Hanalea, sends Raisa a message—choose love. But just now that doesn’t seem possible.
Those are the players, and this is the stage. Since The Demon King was published, I’ve heard from Team Han, Team Amon, and even a few Team Micahs. And that’s just the way I want it.