Sunday, May 13, 2018

Why Relent is Really a Mother's Story

I realized recently why I've had a hard time pushing Relent when I'm at author events, as well as talking about it online other than the occasional reminders that it exists as a book and I want people to read it. You see, it's labeled as "paranormal romance." I cringe every time I tell people that, but it's not because I have an issue with that genre or with romance in general. I do read romance--it's just usually romance + some other genre. (Romance+fantasy, romance+sci-fi, romance+dystopian, etc.) I find myself telling readers that Relent is lighter on the romance, heavier on the paranormal. Which is true, but my motivation for that is so they don't expect a bunch of steamy scenes. There's love, there's romantic tension, and yes, Simone gets pregnant, but the details of that union stay behind closed doors.

But while listening to this podcast with authors Janeen Ippolito and H.L Burke, where they discuss books with unique family dynamics, I was struck by Janeen's comments about Relent. She pointed out that Simone isn't just some badass warrior chick with a sword, which is a common thing in paranormal/supernatural romance and urban fantasy. (BTW, not dissing that--there are some awesome books that use that trope in great ways, like The Reluctant Warrior Chronicles by Amy Brock McNew.) Instead, Simone is a half-angel, struggling to not let her angel half fall while she tries to get back into her young daughter's life. Sure, this involves the romance between Simone and her ex, but her focus, her driving force, is the relationship with her daughter.

That relationship was broken as a result of Simone's broken relationship with her own mother. Seraphina, who was full angel, was forced to give up Simone at birth and live away from her with her angelic status and powers stripped. Years later, after Simone has grown up and had a daughter herself, whom she abandons at birth -- for very different reasons-- Seraphina is allowed to return to Heaven as a full angel. Simone is angry to say the least. She believes her mother chose to abandon her out of selfishness, and vows to get her own daughter back. Thus begins her hunt for her ex and their child.

Throughout Simone's search she is guided (read: manipulated) by the only one who understands who she is, a demon named Wraith. He was the one who told her the truth about her past, about her mother, and advised her to leave her child. He is simultaneously her best friend and her worst enemy. Their relationship is of course complex, but even Simone doesn't realize just how complex until the end of the book.

See? Relent isn't a paranormal romance. Not in the traditional sense. It's a story of a daughter who was abandoned by her mother. The story of a mother who abandons her child. It is about the lengths a mother will go to to give her child a chance at life, even it means not telling her child what's really going on, letting that child hate her for the decisions she makes because there is no way the child can understand what drives them. And it's about sacrifice, giving all you have, all you are, for the one you love.

So, yes, I will probably continue cringing every time I say Relent is a paranormal romance. Not because PNR is such a bad thing, but because it's not the right category. Unfortunately, there is no category for romantic supernatural fiction about mother-daughter relationships. At least now I can explain why Relent is different, and why it's more than just a book I wrote that I think you should read.

You can find Relent on Amazon and other online retailers by clicking THIS LINK.

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