Genre: Dystopian Romance
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corp.,
Lyrical Press Imprint
Date of Publication: November 17, 2014
Number of pages: 72
Word Count: 33,718
Cover Artist: Renee Rocco
Two lives. Two realities. But only one truth.
The Senator reigns all-powerful in a manifested picture-perfect world. No worries. No wars. Only the unspoken threat of oblivion if you step a toe out of line. On the other side of the divide, the rebels face a debilitating war against an invulnerable robotic army. Every day is a struggle to earn back their freedoms. Freedom to feel. Freedom of speech. Freedom of thought.
Sergeant Grant Baker is pivotal to the war effort. But ever since his wife’s abduction, he’s been walking around in as much of a daze as the Senator’s brainwashed citizens. Then Eva reappears—without memories of him or their son. And he’s willing to do anything to keep her. Even if it means jeopardizing the war.
Eva doesn’t know which side to believe. Her predictable life as a single nurse, or the man claiming to be her husband. All she knows is she needs to discover how to end the war, quickly. If she doesn’t choose sides soon, she may lose the man—and the life—she never knew she wanted.
Acting as vanguard for the injured squad, Grant turned a corner and froze. A hulky man carried a limp woman over his shoulder.
Grant automatically reached for his gun. Even if they weren’t yet across the divide, he couldn’t stand idle as a man accosted a woman. Or worse. He aimed the rifle at the criminal. “Set her down nice and easy.”
The man froze. He glanced over one meaty shoulder, his unshaven mouth set in a scowl.
“Set her down, or I’ll shoot.”
A gold tooth flashed as the criminal grinned. He hurled the small woman at Grant and dashed for the slim space between two buildings.
Grant moved without thinking. His gun clattered to the ground as he lunged forward to catch the woman before she split her head open on the sidewalk. He grunted as he caught her with her weight against his bruised forearms. He shot a flickering glance her way. A riot of brown curls obscured her face. He set her gently on the ground.
He dashed for the opening the shady figure had disappeared into, but saw no sight of the man. The delinquent was long gone.
Ashland panted as he jogged to Grant’s side. “What happened?”
If Grant never heard that question again, it would be too soon. He shook his head wearily.
“Mugging, I guess.”
“Mugging, I guess.”
“They still have those here? I thought the Senator brought an end to violence.” Ashland drew sarcastic quotes in the air as he spoke.
Grant didn’t bother to answer. He turned to the woman and where his squad was now gathered. A horrified private glanced from the woman to Grant and back again. “What do you want us to do with her…sir?”
If they left her, the Senator’s people might find her and stick her back in the pen with the rest of their brainwashed sheep. Then again, that same goon might double back to continue what he started.
He crossed to the woman and crouched to lift her into his arms. Her tangled hair fell away from her face. He nearly dropped her. “Eva?”
Frantically, he pressed his ear to her chest. Her breathing was shallow, but her heartbeat steady and strong. He clutched her tighter. He couldn’t believe it.
He’d found his wife.
The Power of Women in Romance
We readers of romance know a secret that readers of other genres are only beginning to figure out. We know the true power of women. Think about it. Girls portrayed in fiction for young readers fall apart when rejected by their love interest. Mystery all too often victimizes women or paints them as helpless. Fantasy and science fiction use women as background noise, caricatures and stereotypes rather than people. This is changing, as woman-empowered literature is invading the mainstream. These other genres are learning what we romance readers already know:
Women are powerful.
Women in romance fiction take charge of their lives. They take risks. They put their lives -- and their hearts -- in danger. They are assertive, confident women…more or less the kind of woman I aspire to be. The kind of woman who pursues something she wants, be it a man, a job promotion, or even a much-needed day of relaxation.
That’s not to say the women we like to read about don’t have insecurities. Take, for example, my heroine from Beauty in His Bed, Amy, who is self-conscious about her weight. Or my heroine from Stone Cold Kiss, Kelsey, who would rather fly halfway across the world than give a public speech to earn the promotion she deserves. Both of these women, through the course of their stories, overcome those insecurities. They learn to embrace who they are, and that they have something important to say. They learn to trust in themselves.
The heroine of my newest book, Hellish Haven, is different from the other heroines I’ve written. Eva is thrust into a world she doesn’t understand, and struggles to reconcile what she knows with what other people (notably the man who proclaims himself her husband) present as history. But even while confused, she is no less powerful than other women in romance. In fact, I might say she is even stronger. Instead of accepting what she is told as fact, she digs deeper. She wants to find the truth. And when that truth endangers her young son, she is willing to put everything on the line in order to defy the government threatening to turn her son into a homeless orphan. She knows she must survive in order to reunite with her son. So, simply put, she does.
When I read a romance novel, I find myself feeling like I can be superwoman, just like those heroines. They overcome obstacles we also face as women. Obstacles that sometimes tempt us to give up. Their example in the books I read inspires me to keep going. Romance novel heroines might be sassy, they might be reckless or insecure, but they always prove themselves to be the equal of any man, including the man who earns a place in their lives and in their hearts. The women portrayed in romance novels aren’t secondary characters, thrust out of the spotlight. They are women who refuse to be taken for granted, who give as good as they get, and achieve the goals they set their sights on. They are women like you and I, women who teach us that assertiveness and perseverance will win the day. Like the heroines we love and admire, we can do anything we set our minds to.
Why? Because women are powerful.
L.K. Below wrote Hellish Haven to bring her love of Orwell’s classic 1984 into the modern day…or near future, as it turns out.
She reads as obsessively as she writes and likes to Tweet about both at @LBelowtheauthor.
November 20 Twitter Party
1-2pm EST #hellishhaven