I love forbidden love stories. It started with Romeo and Juliet, which I saw as a thirteen year old in a revival of the Zefferelli version with Olivia Hussey as Juliet, one of the most beautiful Juliets ever with her endlessly long black hair and buxom figure. (Not to mention some seriously great gowns!) For a great clip of the first kiss scene, check out this YouTube clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCOafzKxfpA
I was absolutely lost. Memorized the entire play, made my sister rehearse the balcony scene over and over on the fire escape of the local school. I even made a Juliet dress and wore it to church.
It’s just so wildly romantic, isn’t it? That these two lovers, fierce and sure in their love for each other, are forced to battle against a hostile world to win happiness. Since I’m a romance writer, I like the happy ending version of the story, but suffering along the way is very important to my sense of satisfaction. I like serious conflict.
I’ve written forbidden love many times over the course of my career: A Bed of Spices was the first, a medieval romance set in Germany just as the Black Death was about to sweep through. It’s a dark romance between Rica, the noble daughter of the local lord, and Solomon, a wildly handsome Jew, son of a wealthy merchant, who is home on leave from his studies. The two meet at the cottage of the local herbalist and fall madly in love. The book did not sell a lot of copies, but developed a passionate cult following, and before I re-released it as an ebook, paper copies were selling for more than $150.
Another is the badly titled Meant To Be Married (it was a bad era for titles at Silhouette), which won the RITA for best contemporary romance. Set in Taos, New Mexico between a white girl and a Latin boy, it’s forbidden love and hints of reincarnation, and a lost child. It’s one of my absolute favorites.
You must know that I’m going to tell you about a new book of forbidden love. In The Sleeping Night, Angel Corey and Isaiah High have known each other all of their lives, and each has yearned secretly for the other. When Isaiah is sent to war, Angel marries another man, who is killed in the Pacific. Isaiah’s condolence letter to Angel begins a war-long correspondence that opens their hearts, and leads to terrible danger for them when Isaiah comes home. Because this is not merely difficult—it’s against the law. Isaiah is black, Angel is white, and it’s 1946 in east Texas.
It is one of my favorite forbidden love stories. Angel is a courageous woman fighting for the right to have the life she dreams of, and Isaiah is a strong, honorable man who has been battling his love for his soul mate his whole life. In a time when a multicultural love affair is about as shocking as a glass of milk, we sometimes forget how far we’ve come.
The Sleeping Night has just been released by Bell Bridge Books, and I promise it is a romance that you will not soon forget.
Are you a fan of forbidden love? What are some of your favorite kinds of romances—cabin romances, road romances, Cinderella?