Why Romance – Dark Romance Edition.

I am a forty-something wife, mother, mental health professional, avid reader and cookie lover. 

I’ve been a voracious reader since I can remember, having read and enjoyed anything from classics to young adult fiction and everything in-between. I’ve always been vocal about my love of reading and eager to recommend books to those who ask (and maybe, sometimes, even those who don’t). While I would sometimes earn a chuckle in regards to my current reading obsession, I’ve never felt as much judgement and encountered as many misconceptions and bias as I do when it comes to the Dark Romance genre.

     Having grown up in Russia, I was pretty much raised on stories featuring complex characters and tales of tragic love that didn’t necessarily evoke hearts and flowers, not to mention happily ever afters. Russian literature is rife with psychologically fragile heroines and not completely scrupulous heroes. Leo Tolstoy was a master of just that kind of tale and Anna Karenina certainly comes to mind with her unhappy marriage, a love that couldn’t be and an inevitable tragic ending. One of my favorite books as a teenager was Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. The novel is definitely cloaked in quite a bit of otherworldly darkness and is not only an astute political commentary but also a story of Margarita’s love and sacrifice for the Master.

     While I continued reading across genres, I didn’t really fully discover Dark Romance until a few years ago, when I encountered Kitty Thomas. Her books really spoke to my desire for something unconventional, dark and not necessarily conforming to the standard ‘Hollywood Ending” trope. 

     So why Dark Romance? As I mentioned before, I’ve come across quite a bit of judgemental views regarding the genre, ranging from the feminist outcry about lack of political correctness to sheer disgust at perceived mistreatment of the heroine by the anti-hero. I’ve had many discussions about assigning moral value to a person’s choice of FICTION (lets not forget that this is fantasy and not reality) read for entertainment value. However, we don’t judge those who love horror movies and suspect them of secretly planning a massacre. So, no, I don’t want to be abducted and held captive, nor am I saying that abuse and mistreatment is OK in any shape or form. 

     For me, Dark Romance taps into the allure of the forbidden, something so far removed from my real life that it allows for a real escape from reality. Additionally, I do enjoy the thrill that this type of story provides. Dark Romance speaks to my affinity for complex, broken and, sometimes, irredeemable characters and my tolerance for ambiguous endings.  Simply put, it’s fun and thrilling and slightly taboo. Dark romance offers a volatile rollercoaster ride of emotions ranging from heartbreak and fear to tenderness and love that conquers all. It’s messy and complicated and doesn’t always culminate in a traditional happily ever after. When done right, dark romance is also beautiful, haunting and, most importantly, makes you feel ALL the feelings! It’s not for everyone, but it’s definitely for me. How about you? Are you brave enough to flirt with the darkness?