Since THE SCOUNDREL will be live on Kindle sometime this week, I thought I’d talk a bit more about the book itself. It’s the second book in my Rogues of Ravensmuir series – the first book is THE ROGUE – a series in which I wanted to try some different things in historical romance. Fiction is a mirror of popular culture, so, in order to remain relevant to readers, genres and sub-genres need to shift with the times to remain vital. It seemed to me in the early 00’s that historical romance had become quite fixed in its ways. There were right answers and there were right settings and there were right ways to tell the story, and there wasn’t much wiggle room for innovation. While it makes sense to acknowledge what works in a genre, when the parameters become too constrictive, it’s only a matter of time before the genre fails to feel fresh to readers. They wander off then, to other sections of the bookstore, as has been the case with historical romance in recent years.
At the time, though, I was excited about possibilities and I dove into the challenge of writing this series. One of the things that many people remarked upon when first reading these books is that both THE ROGUE and THE SCOUNDREL are written in first person POV. I’m not sure why this style choice is uncommon in romance, because it works so brilliantly. First person POV is ideal for a character who has secrets or a character who might appear to have attitude in third person POV – the intimacy of sharing the character’s thoughts can make that character more compelling and more sympathetic to the reader. I love writing romances in first person POV and have no explanation why the technique isn’t more popular in the genre.
In addition, the gothic romances that were so popular in the 1970’s and 1980’s were often written in first person POV – since THE ROGUE essentially was a gothic romance, albeit one with a medieval setting, it made sense to me to use first person POV.
With THE SCOUNDREL, I chose first person POV for a different reason. Gawain, the hero of THE SCOUNDREL, was the villain in THE ROGUE. I quite liked him, though, and thought that he could be redeemed by love. I wanted very much to see him meet his match – and Evangeline, the determined heroine of that book, was perfect. Because Gawain is a character who is good at manipulating appearances – he’s very charming – I knew that we as readers would only believe that he had fallen in love if we were in his thoughts when he realized it. (And that realization would ring true if it made life very inconvenient for him.) So, I was resolved to use first person POV – and in fact, I initially thought of writing the entire book in his POV in first person.
Now, it was one thing for me to want to cast the villain of book #1 as the hero of book #2. My editor was fairly nervous about that choice. But the idea of telling a romance in first person POV from the hero’s viewpoint only was not an acceptable choice. I don’t really understand the concerns about using first person POV in romance, but they are real and they are eloquently expressed by both editors and readers.
So, this book is told in first person, but it is divided into quadrants. I chose a turning point for each character from each quarter of the book, which decided who would be the POV character for that section. The first quarter is in Gawain’s POV – his turning point is his realization that he has met his match. The second quarter is in Evangeline’s POV – her turning point is her surprise not only at how glad she is to see Gawain again, but that there is more to him than meets the eye. The third quarter, again in Gawain’s POV, shows that realization of his feelings for Evangeline. The last quarter is Evangeline’s and takes us to the H.E.A. that she never expected to have with anyone, much less this unpredictable and intriguing man.
I really like this book, and I’m excited to send it out in the world again with a new cover illustration, one that shows Gawain much as I imagine him. I hope that you will give an historical romance written in first person POV a try – it might just make the whole sub-genre fresh and new to you all over again.