What is dark romance? That was a question I was asked recently. Dark romance should tantalize the senses. It can be tragic or uplifting, but it has to explore the darker side of human nature.
*** JANE JORDAN IS THE AUTHOR OF THIS ARTICLE DESPITE LISTED AS ARIELLE BELLE LYON ***
A Little History
For me, as a novelist, it means a captivating romantic story that is dangerous and seductive, a tale that will lure readers with gothic tension and richly textured prose.
Historically, dark romance has been categorized as a literary subgenre of romanticism, an academic and artistic movement in Europe in the late eighteenth century. The defining characteristic of romanticism was an emphasis on emotion.
Literary Romanticism ideas encouraged writing of love and a sense of individualism with a supernatural touch. An example of early fiction that combined romance with horror would be Wuthering Heights.
Even though the book is a story of love, the ghost at the window is chilling, and the dark, brooding characters and moody atmosphere make it a classic nineteenth-century gothic tale.
When The Gothic Comes Out
We often relate a gothic element to dark romance, and although the word gothic can describe the onset of European architecture from around the twelfth century, it more often describes a style of literature characterized by a gloomy setting.
Add to these grotesque, mysterious, or violent events and an atmosphere of degeneration and decay, emphasizing the melodrama, the macabre and the morbid. All this portrays the dark side of romance.
Dark romance explores a romantic love that has a strong component of sexuality and infatuation—indicative of what we feel in the early part of a love relationship, where sexual desire can be one of the most essential parts of romantic love.
The Romanesque Human Factor
Human emotions hardly change no matter what century we live in, for we easily associate fiery passion with romantic love or feel the searing pain when that love is lost or betrayed. These same emotions that our ancestors experienced, and in turn, inspired the writers of classic literary fiction.
Those bygone writers knew that both the characters and storyline became compelling by using such potent human characteristics.
Dark characters such as vampires can enthrall a love interest because of their potent charisma. They are often portrayed as beautiful or handsome, with the ability to hypnotize and bewitch normal mortal senses. A dark romantic love will often follow.
Get Yourself A Bad Boy
This scenario is not just for stories. It mimics deep-rooted human emotions that are locked away in our psyche. Dangerous men or women have often been a good person’s downfall.
Are these people merely victims? Or are they just drawn to the excitement, danger or a whole array of emotions that these relationships can create?
Deep down, we all know there is darkness and light in every one of us. It depends on one’s own perspective of right and wrong and the rules of morality we choose to live by.
Although, dark romantic fiction cannot be all about love. Readers want to be drawn to the dark side on some fundamental level.
The Emotional Pages
Two of the strongest emotions are love and fear, and in dark romance novels, we test these emotions. It is the job of a dark romance writer to create intriguing characters, even if they may be dangerous and often have decidedly unromantic thoughts.
As a writer, I want to know what demons lurk in my character’s imaginations what pain or injustice they have suffered to make them the dangerous individual my reader is confronted with.
The darker side of life is death, destruction, pain and psychological despair. These fundamental terrors help draw another side in human nature and fictitious characters alike.
Hocus Pocus Witchcraft
By mixing darkness with compassion and love, the strangest of unions can be created, and by exploring these deep-felt emotions, readers can be captivated with a darkly romantic novel that will delight their senses.
Human nature is complicated. It is composed of a strange mixture of fear and courage. How many movies have we watched where someone walks through an old dark house knowing the journey could potentially bring them face to face with something terrifying?
Why else would we rise from the relative safety of a bedroom to go and investigate a noise in the middle of the night?
The Darkest Love Of All
But we have all done it. Our logic tells us that it’s most likely a rational noise, something completely normal. Only in fiction could that sound be something completely abnormal. A vampire or a werewolf, perhaps.
A light can be thrown on the predicament in a darkly romantic story. Perhaps the character is aware that her vampire lover is waiting for her, so fear is entirely unjustified.
Her love for him has overcome any residual fear, and love compels her to walk through the shadows of the night to meet him.
After all, doesn’t love to conquer everything?
ABOUT JANE JORDAN
Jane Jordan grew up in Essex, England. She later spent six years living on Exmoor on England′s South West Coast, the inspiration for her novels. She now lives in Sarasota, Florida.