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Most of you are probably already aware of that; I kind of gave myself away with my post on Female Stereotypes back in October. Apart from that, I think you will find my stance on the relationship of Man and Woman sprinkled through the romance in each of my novels - from The Soldier's Cross (which, in the main character's case, has little more than an undercurrent of romance), to Wordcrafter (where the quite modern main character struggles with the conservatism of Tera), to the Sea Fever novels (where Tip quite obviously takes the role of guardian to Marta).
I have no patience with the flimsy cardboard women of old romantic literature, but neither have I the slightest interest in passing the time of day with such do-it-alls as inspired October's post. I like happy mediums, and the romances in my novels thus far have reflected that. Not by plan, certainly: to me as the writer, these relationships developed almost coincidentally. "I can't take any credit for them," as Lucy Muir would say: "they just...happened!" But develop that way they did.
Not so with Tempus Regina. In so many ways this book has launched me out of my comfort zone, has, I hope, forced me to expand and expand some more. I made a list several months ago of the things that are particularly tricky about it: the female main character, the span of time and research, the traveling the characters do. One thing I did not write down was "romance." At that time the romance between Regina and, well, Some Fellow was but the kernel of an idea, one I was fond of and longed to develop, but which had not yet come to life.
I've come quite a ways in the story since then: we seem to have gone to one end of the earth and are now headed for the other. The chapter I am currently writing contains a scene I've been longing to write almost since Day One - you probably all know that feeling! - but the beginning has been slow, and so I've been thinking on this romance and wondering a little at it. On the surface, these characters - and therefore this relationship - seem to depart so vastly from anything I have written to date.
Regina herself is a tough cookie. She's not a steel magnolia - she's really just steel. Having lived in London of 1849 for years, she has had some of its smoke, some of its colorlessness, some of its mercilessness ground into her. Now she is the time queen, with a power and a persona that inspire fear. Her strength and her dominance make her romance, not hard to write, but new. Because if she is the power-figure, and if she terrifies those with whom she comes into contact, her romance could hardly be of the beaten-path variety. She demands a man who can, in his own way, match her and surpass her in strength.
[because I'm pretty sure Tip would be thoroughly freaked out by her.]
That has been the joy of writing the romance of Tempus Regina. At first blush, I suppose readers might think Regina is the dominant figure, that she is the one with all the brains and the chutzpah. And at first blush, she is. But down at the heart of the matter, in the things that count, the hero of Tempus Regina is more powerful still. They're like Sophie and Howl, like Katherina and Petruchio. They're a pair.
Yesterday I discovered the song King and Lionheart. I had seen some of the lyrics elsewhere and liked them, and then when I listened to the song, I thought - naturally - of these two characters.
and when the world comes to an end
I'll be there to hold your hand
'cause you're my king and I'm your lionheart
But then I realized that matters are different in Tempus Regina. Because Regina is a queen, but the man who stands beside her is her lionheart. And for me, that's where the thrill and the joy of this story lie.