by Natalina Reis
Releases May 11th.
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A stand-alone romantic comedy set against the background of Scottish small towns and locks that will make you laugh, cry, and definitely melt your heart.
Livie Dunn, bookworm and aspiring bookstore owner, has been in love with her best friend ever since he dropped a bug down her shirt in primary school. She never stopped hoping that one day he’d realize they were made for each other.
Until Mia got in the way.
Kyle Huang has been taught to always do the right thing. But when that involves ostracizing his best friend by marrying her childhood nemesis, Mia, life as he knows it derails and crashes.
Suddenly, their happy ever after seems like a broken dream, especially when Livie moves across two continents to open a bookstore in Scotland.
To salvage a love that seems all but lost, Kyle must come to terms with his own bad choices and hope that Livie is willing to forgive and help him face his demons—a task that is anything but simple. Will he be able to reignite her love or will he lose it all?
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A couple months ago I finished writing a romantic comedy that is close to my heart for a few different reasons. If you have read any of my books you know they are not just about romance and happy endings (even though they definitely have both) but they normally touch on something a bit heavier, sometimes darker.
This one is no exception. I wanted to write a character who is being emotionally blackmailed. This was an important subject for me because it’s something I experienced personally. I had always considered myself a strong woman. Not the most assertive one, but emotionally strong. Until the day I discovered I had been manipulated by someone I considered my best friend at the time. Worse even this had been going on for years. I lived in a state of confusion and hurt without a clue of who or what was making me so miserable.
Emotional blackmailers use traits of your personality (good qualities more often than not) against you. In my case, she used the fact I would do just about anything to help and/or defend a friend and turned it into a weapon against me. She also used the fact I choose to believe the best about people to make herself believable in my eyes. She was the victim, the one that needed help, everyone was out to get her. And I ate it up even when my conscience and common sense told me there was something wrong with her stories and/or her attitude.
When I began writing this story I wanted my main male character (who in romance are kind of expected to be alpha males) to be a victim of emotional blackmail. As I wrote the story I had the suspicion I was making him look weak, which was not at all my intention. Strength has nothing to do with this. The most put together, emotionally stable person can be the victim of one of these predators. Because make no mistake, these are predators as ruthless as any other.
I submitted the manuscript thinking that I would get it back with the comment, “he comes across as weak”. I was right. That’s exactly what happened. So now I’m faced with the challenge of portraying someone who has been “broken” by his girlfriend but still seems strong and capable–which he really is. Not an easy task but I have all confidence I’m on the right track. I agonized over it when I was writing it the first time, I’m agonizing over it now as I revise it. I want to be true and fair to my MMC and not make him look like the weakling he is not.
I’m hoping I can make my guy just as strong and awesome as he is broken and confused. Have you ever have to write a character like that? What did you do to balance his state of mind with his personal strengths?