Author Amber Lin Speaks About Motherhood in Romance

Today I would like to welcome to A Book and a Short Latte author Amber Lin. Amber recently released her erotic romance novel Giving It Up, my review for which can be seen here. In Giving It Up, protagonist Allie manages to balance a very healthy sex life with being a mother, so I asked Amber if she would speak a little bit about the dynamic between motherhood and sexuality in romance novels.

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There are a few challenges when writing a protagonist who also happens to be a mother. The biggest one is what to do with the kid when mama is off doing adult things. Maybe she’s off concocting a potion to save the world. Maybe she’s simply sitting at the kitchen table, brooding about her life. Or, since I write erotic romance, she’s having sexytimes with a guy.

Really, there are only so many ways you can say, “Thank goodness Sally decided to sleep over at her friend’s house today!”

But I want to talk about the deeper challenge, which is writing a likeable mother you can root for while still allowing her to be human, and therefore flawed. I think moms sometimes get shortchanged in the media. Hell, sometimes women do. Good moms are kind and generous but strict while bad moms are smothering and downright abusive. There isn’t a lot of middle ground in portrayals, even though that’s where most of us fall.

While I think it’s fair to say that we don’t want to read about a heroine who endangers her child, there’s still a lot of grey area. Most things that can affect the mother can also affect the child, somehow. However I’m not sure there’s much point in a saintly protagonist—at least, that’s not the kind of book I’m likely to write.

In my book, Giving It Up, my heroine Allie has serious personal issues. She was raped by her best friend two years ago and still bears the emotional scars… as well as the child that was a result of the that night. She reacts by avoiding men and relationships. Well, except for her monthly date nights, where she has ritualized, anonymous, rough sex.

She is careful to keep those nights very separate from her daughter… but they always could come back and haunt her somehow, right? It’s a possibility. For example, if Allie was seriously hurt during one of these times, who would take care of her child? It’s a real and painful moral dilemma, and it’s not just Allie who faces it—but also the reader.

I think every reader wishes she would stop doing that. It’s painful. We may not quite know how she should heal herself of that emotional wound, but we’d like her to be safe. But then when she does get the chance for a better life, it’s with Colin, a man we don’t quite know enough about to trust.

Rock, hard place.

Readers have fallen on either side on whether or not she should have trusted Colin. I would venture to say that a romance-centric reader would be a little more trusting of the hero, secure in the knowledge that a happy-ending was forthcoming for those two. But I think there are valid concerns are both sides. It’s not black or white.

The important thing for me was simply this: Allie’s plight is a real one. One of the earliest people who gave me feedback said she didn’t believe anyone would ever react that way to rape, to seek out rough sex, and her comment stunned me. Because I knew she meant it. She might as well have said she didn’t believe birds could fly for all the sense it made to me. I’ve seen it, so what is going on if someone believes it doesn’t happen?

Ultimately it made me more determined than ever to publish this book.

While Allie’s story was not based on a specific person, I know people who reacted that way to rape. And people have come forward since Giving It Up was published to tell me that I got the reactions right, that they were the same way.

So when readers look at Allie’s actions and try to figure out whether she did the right thing or went astray, I am really just gratified that people are considering about it. For us to even have this discussion, to acknowledge that a mother is a person, that she deserves a romantic and sexual life, that she has tough decisions to make and that sometimes she will make mistakes—all of that is beautiful to me.

Giving It Up by Amber Lin

GIVING IT UP by Amber Lin

Allie prowls the club for a man who will use her hard and then ditch her. Hey, it’s not rape if she wants it. Instead she finds Colin, who looks tough but treats her tenderly, despite her protests.

He tempts her, but kindness and a few mindblowing orgasms aren’t enough to put her back together again. Allie has no hope for a real relationship. Two years ago her best friend betrayed her in the worst possible way – she’d be stupid to trust a man again. Besides, she has her daughter to think of, the only good thing to have come from that dark night.

But when her rapist returns, threatening her sanity and custody of her daughter, Allie turns to Colin. Under his protection and patient touch, Allie begins to heal and learns to hope. Colin’s no saint, though, and his criminal past draws danger of its own. Allie must fight to protect her child and the man she loves, hoping her newfound power will be enough to save them all.

Publisher’s Note: This book contains explicit sexual situations, graphic language, and material that some readers may find objectionable: dubious consent.

“A ballsy departure from romantic conventions. At once gritty and tender, stark and hopeful.”
—Cara McKenna, author of Willing Victim

” Amber Lin shows us that romance isn’t just for the rich and shiny. Love can find its way even into the dark corners of the most damaged hearts.”
—Tiffany Reisz, author of The Siren

“This is a book you MUST read if you like gritty, edgier romance that makes you think as well as turns you on.”
—Cari Quinn, USA Today Bestselling Author

“Dark and edgy…but don’t be fooled. There’s a wonderful love story running through this book. Sharp, intense writing, sexy as hell, and such a cool idea!”
—Charlotte Stein, author of Sheltered

“Every page is chock full of sexy, angsty must-read-moreness.”
—Karla Doyle, author of Game Plan

“Giving It Up is a gritty, real romance that deals in an honest way with what happens to sexuality in the aftermath of rape…. Read it. You won’t be sorry.”
—Ruthie Knox, author of About Last Night

Book trailer and excerpt: http://givingitupbook.com/

Author website: http://authoramberlin.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/authoramberlin

Review: Giving It Up by Amber Lin

While I don’t usually feature erotica titles on this blog, so many of my trusted fellow bloggers have been gushing about one new release in particular this week that I had to see what all the fuss is about. Having read Giving It Up by Amber Lin, I can definitely envision myself checking out some more of Lin’s books in the future.
I believe that many romance readers are reluctant to take that one scary step into reading erotica because they fear that the author will forsake substance for sex. Anyone who has allowed that thought to influence their reading decisions need not fear, because as Lin shows in her steamy new book, sex scenes can be pretty substantial in and of themselves. I was immediately drawn into the premise underlying Lin’s story. Allie, still struggling years later to cope with being raped by her best friend, believes that Colin is just another notch to add to her bedpost.

Giving It Up by Amber Lin

Despite having found the world to live for in her daughter, Allie is still unable to reconcile the events that happened to her with the ability to move on and have a healthy relationship. Thus, she “treats” herself to regular nights out in which rough, impersonal encounters are on the agenda. Yet Colin’s refusal to play to her game shakes the foundations on which she’s premised the last several years of her life. Lin shows a side to romance that is often lacking in traditional romance novels; her characters interact on a largely (though not purely) physical level, yet even once they have acknowledged the presence of feelings on which to build a real relationship, the sex remains the same. There’s no need to sanitize it, to make their previous experiences seem shameful in comparison. Too often in romantic fiction, it appears that authors are reticent to portray a loving, romantic relationship as overtly sexual as well.

That being said, I would have liked to have seen a bit more character development to aid in showing how Allie and Colin’s connection grew from its tenuous beginnings. I’m a huge fan of dialogue, and so I was somewhat disappointed to find that the majority of Allie and Colin’s screen time plays out as narration instead. I felt this stunted the development of their mutual understanding, as it was difficult to assess Colin’s emotions when we only get impressions of them through Allie’s eyes. Dialogue serves as an objective lens, revealing sides to a character that the narrator doesn’t pick up on. I also found some of Allie’s decisions somewhat troubling, even divorced from the confusion caused by her own personal issues. For instance, I had a hard time believing she would so readily allow a virtual stranger not only into her life, but into her actual home where her daughter was. Perhaps had Lin dedicated a bit more page time to Colin’s interactions with Allie’s daugher, this wouldn’t have been such a glaring criticism.
I’m also curious to learn a bit more about Colin’s brother Phillip. Lin leaves several loose ends dangling without explanation, so maybe she plans to follow these up with a subsequent release. Overall, I quite enjoyed Giving It Up and would love to see Lin explore a more dialogue-heavy story for her next effort.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? is a meme created at Book Journey to catalogue everything read in the past week, what you’re working on now, and what you hope to get to in the coming week.

The Past Week

Among the Nameless Stars by Diana Peterfreund

The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe

Giving It Up by Amber Lin

Good Bones by Kim Fielding

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

Reading Now

Thieftaker by D.B. Jackson

The Week Ahead

One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies by Sonya Sones

Lothaire by Kresley Cole

Showcase Sunday

Showcase Sunday is a meme created by Vicky at Books, Biscuits, and Tea to share new book acquisitions, whether bought, gifted, received for review, borrowed, or won.

Gifted

  • Among the Nameless Stars by Diana Peterfreund (available for free on her website)

For Review

  • One Moment by Kristina McBride (from NetGalley)
  • Spark by Brigid Kemmerer (from NetGalley)
  • The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke (from NetGalley)
  • Giving It Up by Amber Lin (received from author)