I hope you chuckled.
I didn’t the first time I heard my son describe my books that way.
He was being funny. He performs a little stand-up comedy on the side and thought it would get a laugh from the crowd. In fairness, it probably will if he ever puts it in a set.
Still, I love Scottish historical romance (does that surprise you?) and I took a wee bit of offense at that description of my stories.
I bristled with indignation. “It is so NOT like Fifty Shades of Gray. It is NOTHING like that.”
However, once my righteous anger was spent, I thought more about it and noticed a few parallels. Before you roll your eyes and stop reading, let me explain.
I have long maintained that a fairy tale is at the core of every romance novel and some element of that fairy tale addresses a fondly held fantasy for many women.
Who doesn’t wish to be adored? Sought after? Saved from a life of drudgery? Cinderella would only have been a story about a nice, underprivileged girl getting a night out if Prince Charming hadn’t devoted his full energy to finding her after she left the ball.
What about the idea that true love can reawaken even the coldest heart? Without that, Snow White would still be lying in that glass casket and Aurora would be snoozing away.
Perhaps one of the most satisfying fantasies of all is being able to change the man you love. Whether it is getting him to put the toilet seat down, or finding the human hidden within the Beast, as Belle did.
So how are these themes evident in both my books and the Fifty Shades trilogy? I will start with adoration. Sigh. To a man, my heroes adore their wives. Niall may not want to initially, but there is no denying that he does. And as for Tadhg and Fingal, well…sigh. Even in Highland Revenge when Eoin captures Fiona, he wants to hate her, but he too falls hard and fast. In Fifty Shades, Christian Gray absolutely adores Anastasia Steel. Perhaps it is in a profoundly overwhelming way, but in spite of that she adores him too.
She adores him. That is critical to the next fantasy, the transforming power of love. In Highland Solution, Katherine believes if she is patient and constant, Niall will accept that she truly loves him, in spite of the pain and humiliation he had experienced at the hands of other women. In Highland Courage, Tadhg wants only to release Mairead from the walls of fear and shame she built years ago. He knows it will take love and faith in her to do that. Likewise, in Fifty Shades, Anastasia believes that her love can draw Christian from his darkness into her light. Wow.
In the case of Highland Solution and Fifty Shades, it is this transforming power of love that achieves the final fantasy. With the strength of their love, both Katherine and Anastasia are able to find the man within the beast. They both effect a dramatic and permanent change in the very flawed men they love.
And here I thought the toilet seat thing was great.
Assuredly, it is unlikely that you will ever find a kinky, billionaire in one of my novels. Still at their core the themes of mutual adoration and redemptive transforming love are why I love reading romance and what I believe resonates with other romance readers, including those who love Fifty Shades.