When does a romance become something else? When I first started writing and submitting manuscripts 
in the traditional way, it was either a romance or it wasn’t. The definitions were very clear, but incredibly restrictive. Although I think it’s a huge step forward to have the freedom of being a cross-genre writer, I must admit I am sometimes baffled by the many sub-divisions in the romance slot and it seems they are constantly evolving. Just for fun, I had a look at the top five most er… unusual genres in romance.

At number five then, Amish Romance. This one speaks for itself, but who, other than the Amish community, would read them?

Number four was interesting, Nascar Romance. This is where the hero is a driver and all the action is car related, nothing too odd about that, but number three had me cringing… The Personification of Death. As the title may suggest, these novels feature a romantic interlude with the Grim Reaper.

Number two was plain old Romantic Suspense but number one on the list… Centaur Romance. Okay I like horses, but really? The piece said it was nothing to do with My Little Pony, but you’ll love it if you are a horse lover, and like sex with hairy men.

Maybe my work is more conventional than I thought! But I did get to wondering if White Horizon could allude to any of these trends. Now, the Nascar thing I can understand a little, since my male character did the first thing that any working class hero coming into a lot of money might do - buy a fast car; and the Romantic Suspense speaks for itself and is extremely relevant to White Horizon. The Grim Reaper does indeed show himself to one of the characters but you may or may not be relieved to learn there is no sex scene. No, I’m sticking with dramatic romance. Or is it romantic drama?

The location re White Horizon is certainly both romantic, and dramatic. Crafnant, is far more accessible than it looks in the pictures. I say accessible, but to be fair the single track road is not built for the modern car, and if someone needs to pass, don’t look down. Llyn Crafnant is a 3/4 mile-long lake (well, reservoir actually) that lies in a beautiful valley where the northern edge of Gwydyr Forest meets the lower slopes of the Carneddau mountains and, more specifically, the ridge of Cefn Cyfarwydd. The head of the lake offers what could be regarded as one of the finest views, across the lake to the mountains above, in North Wales. Crafnant takes its name from “craf”, an old Welsh word for garlic, and “nant”, a stream or valley. Even today the valley of Afon Crafnant smells of wild garlic when it flowers.

It’s a popular location for a Sunday stroll, a family walk on mostly level paths and the whole circuit only takes 40-60 minutes depending on your pace. There’s a tea shop selling Welsh ice cream on the left bank and in bad weather the mountain ponies come down to graze, often with young at foot. On one such amble, I said to husband, wouldn’t this make a great location for a hotel? Maybe with a huge decked area jutting over the head of the lake. What a wonderful vista to have a restaurant overlooking the water, imagine the sunsets! Oh, the romance of it all.
‘Why don’t you use it for a book location? Then you can build a hotel in your head,’ he said. Our imagination ran riot, well, mostly mine, although we soon became bored with just the hotel and began to spice it up, adding a character hell-bent on destruction, manslaughter, domestic violence and eventually, running out of sensible plans, we set it all on fire! What a story… we turned a pleasant picnic area into a scene of death and devastation! (I’ll have to keep my eye on that idea of his though, the one about building things in my imagination. I can see how it might become used and abused beyond its original motive).

And I haven’t forgotten the sexy centaur. Is it relevant to White Horizon? Well, yes, he gallops in somewhere towards the end… Oh, and I kept the fire, the manslaughter and the domestic violence. But it is romantic as well, trust me.

Excerpt from White Horizon:

Tina pushed their cases into the Porsche and they set off for the hotel. The sea was crashing over the promenade, a huge restless grey void with angry white foam at its crest. When Tina shivered and sunk into her coat, Daniel caught hold of her hand. She was such a city girl, and not for the first time he felt suddenly anxious about it all, this massive life change he’d committed them both to.
But when the guests started arriving and the place got established, she’d grow and flourish in all those social roles she was so good at. She was going to be such a fantastic host, his wife. She was flirty and fun. Everyone loved her.
‘Can’t wait to show you,’ he said. ‘You won’t recognise it.’
She smiled at this, catching his enthusiasm at last. ‘I should hope not. I’ve hardly seen you for six months.’

‘There’s loads to think about. I need your input now.’
‘Oh yeah? I might have other plans, like Christmas shopping.’
‘Don’t you have to obey me now, wife?’
‘Dan, did you not listen to a word that vicar said? I made him leave that bit out, it’s so old fashioned,’ she said, the tiniest sting in her voice. ‘No one says that any more, Dan.’
‘I’ll carry on doing as I’m told, shall I? What about the love and honour bit, or is that dead in the water as well?’
‘Don’t be stupid. I’ll always love you.’
After forty minutes, Daniel turned off the valley road, the old hotel sign, still collapsed in the hedge and pointing to an old water butt. He needed to do something about that. A steep single-track lane led them up through the fringes of Gwydyr forest. The snow had remained on the higher ground, catching the tops of the fir trees and winter sunlight flickered through the branches.
‘Close your eyes,’ he said, as they neared the start of the lake.
He wanted to watch her reaction. It was a sparkling winter morning, still early. The mass of Cefn Cyfarwydd rising to the right, was lit with silver waterfalls, and cast a deep shadow over the ancient trees along its flanks. The water was shivering in the pale light, reflecting the broken clouds and the moody sky.
At the head of the lake, the best part of a mile away, rising out of the brown reeds was what Daniel hoped was something just as raw and honest. A piece of architecture both ancient and brand new, yet fitting as beautifully into the landscape as if it had every right to be there.
‘Can I open my eyes yet?’ Tina said, ‘It makes me feel weird.’
He steered her out of the car and faced her the right way, feeling ridiculously apprehensive. ‘Okay. I hope you love it as much as I do.’
She blinked and stared. Then she whipped round to face him.
'Oh my God, Daniel... what did you do?’

Kindle UK: http://amzn.to/1ausrge
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Apple: http://bit.ly/12yxBTJ


madwippitt said…
Centaurs? Really? Maybe you can answer a question that's been bugging me for ages then ... what do they eat? As a human diet not suitable for the horse part and vice versa? Some kind of exotic lotus flower perhaps?

Great excerpt - I want to know what happens next now - is that an ominous or an excited 'What have you done?' ... :-)
Jan Ruth said…
Thank you Madwippitt!

I have no idea what the diet of a centaur might be. Handy if it could cross over from equine to human!

Glad you liked the excerpt.
Lydia Bennet said…
an ominous excerpt! I wonder what happens next... I was looking at Amazon erotica in Kindle store (believe it or not, a friend's relative is supposedly making lots of dosh from a 50 shades-alike, and won't say titles or pen names,I was looking for clues!) and there are some very strange kinks being catered for. Good luck to them all but a lot of them are strangely precise. you'd think the target demographics would be pretty tiny. Centaurs seem pretty vanilla compared with lots of those books!
Jan Ruth said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jan Ruth said…
Indeed Lydia, made me chuckle anyway! I think I'll stick with the more conventional fiction, two legged men anyway. I mean, I like horses but...
Oh, centaur romance! I want to write one!

I should imagine centaurs are vegetarian for the horse digestion part? They can pick apples from trees quite easily. A good bowl of centaur-museli should go down well, and they probably like mints... I expect they brush their teeth a lot?

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