I love dark romances. Not because when most responsible heterosexual women who happen to be responsible adults go ‘ugh, he has a neck tattoo’, I go ‘Jesus, Mary and Joseph he has a neck tattoo’, no. I like the dark romances because the climactic heart-breaks are horrific. When a criminal or biker or werewolf or vampire breaks your heart, they rip it out of your chest and crush it under their steel-toed boot.
More often than not I will not get to the end, the happily ever after. I do not believe in the rest for I am always finding reasons to be unhappy. And with relationships, I will always expect heart-break.
My distrust of men borders on (what is misogyny for men?). My desperation to be loved is almost manic. These two states are at constant war for control of my life. So some days I wake up a soulless zombie who cannot leave the house because she cannot stand to come into contact with male members of the species and the rest of the days I put on a show where I am charming, and lovely, and willing.
Enter the hero of the dark romance. He is terrible, powerful, he cannot love, and he has no mercy. He is not only impossible to get ( the best dream of all) but also in need of redemption. His attraction to her will be annoying at first, and then it will become an obsession. When she finally gives in, he will do something stupid, something unforgivable, something that will just fall short of destroying her. I read acres of erotic romance just to reach this point. She realizes he is exactly as terrible as he seems and her heart hollows out like a buck shot just exploded inside her rib cage.
If you are thinking that this type of fascination is why all those women do not leave the men who beat them, rest assured, that thought keeps me up at night. This all consuming passion that is dangerous and unhealthy is a passing fantasy for most readers of dark erotica, not so for me. I live in fear of men because I could so easily surrender myself to them.
The extent of my complicated feelings towards relationships is clear in the way I imagine relationships. Most women have fantasies involving movie stars, young millionaires, members of royal families, what have you. I have these too. When my imagination takes over and a world in which I am the adored girlfriend of a rock star takes shape, the dream is… different.
I have against all odds made it as a successful author. I am even co-writing adapted film scripts. I have wonderful, nerdy fans of my own and have achieved the dream and been on a Dr. Who Christmas special. During a party hosted by Jennifer Lawrence, my just as awkward best friend, I meet the gorgeous Phillip Glass*. It starts out a bit awkwardly because in the face of the Norse God I cannot string together a sentence but we sink into a great conversation. The relationship takes off. I joke about him on the Ellen Show in a cute tongue-in-cheek sort of way. But the internet is brutal. There are photos of fat, dark skinned me with delicious, tanned him on a beach and social media is not amused. Worry gnaws at the back of my head but I am happy, for the first in my life I am happy and I will not ruin it by being an insecure cow.
I am in London on a book tour. Things are going well, I am almost finished with the tour and me and Phillip can have some well deserved alone time. I’m thinking the Alps, he could teach me to ski. My phone buzzes but I’m getting ready for a shower so I ignore it. Twenty minutes later, I step out of the shower wrapped in a robe so comfy it feels like I am wearing a cloud. I sit on the massive bed and pick up the phone which buzzes even as I pick it up. There are a dozen messages from my agent, even more from my publicist. “Have you seen it?” “Do not go online.” “On my way.” “Don’t post anything.” “I mean it K, do not go anywhere near social media.” “Stuck in traffic, 10 minutes away.”
The first tears splatter on the tablet screen thirty seconds later. He said nothing about going to her concert in Rio. They look wonderful on the beach together. Her endless legs, that natural blonde hair. She’s tall enough for him to kiss her properly. I really was the rebound. More like a lay over until he could get back home.
The wedding is announced a week before I start promoting the new book. I avoid it on Ellen and try to be funny but no one believes it. I did toss a priceless vase at his head when he turned up at the hotel in London mouth full of apologies and face bronzed by the sun.
This is how they all end. I never get the boy. No one ever chooses to love me. And a part of me likes it because it means that I am right, men can only hurt you in the end. Love is not my problem, trust is. I am so convinced of the looming catastrophe that I cannot even allow myself a fairy tale ending in theory.
However, this view is limited to relationships. In fact, my lack of faith in the fickle practice of finding and keeping love has meant that all my attention is focused on other areas. The pages I write will never walk away from me. I may be disappointed in the work I do and the grades I get but it will never be undeserved. Love is unpredictable, working harder and being better will not guarantee success.
In the dark romance, the trials and colossal mess-ups are worth it in the end. The hero is proven to turn to mush at the very thought of his heroine. He finds that he has a heart and that it belongs to her. She turns out to be the dominant force in the relationship. He will love and cherish her, never again will his actions lead to her being kidnapped and tortured by his enemies. This ending proves that love can be warped and twisted but it still conquers all. Here we find the other reason why I do not finish the books, because I want someone to entrust me with their heart more that I wanted my father to leave and never come back. No one will, no one should.
*Phillip Glass is not, nor is he based on, a real person.