GUEST BLOG: My Romantic Achilles Heel – by bestselling author Kate Belle

Bestselling author Kate Belle on the expectation of a HEA

I have an affliction as a ‘romance’ writer. I’m not good at happy endings. Actually, it’s more of a curse than an affliction, because romance readers expect their Happy Ever After (HEA) fix, it’s why they read the genre. For God’s sake, in romance HEA’s are mandatory! It’s part of the genre’s promise.

Believe me, I’ve tried, God knows I’ve tried, but to no avail. My story’s endings are always tinged with bitter-sweet. My questionable romantic history probably has a lot to answer for here. My bent out of shape, battered heart looks more like a returned WWII soldier than a thing of worthy of loving. I’m not doing a poor-me act here, I know I’m not alone in the ‘I stuffed it up’ stakes. But for some reason, perhaps the way my psyche is built, instead of hungering for inspiring stories where true love ultimately finds a way like everyone else, I hunger for truth. I want to know how to survive a broken heart, humiliating mistakes and choosing the wrong guy. I want to understand how to come out of those experiences wiser and stronger.

Which isn’t, on the whole, what a romance writer is supposed to do. Most romance authors offer their characters bright, sunny futures as couples. I offer mine tough choices and the opportunity to seek a deeper truth about themselves in love. Which leads me to wonder, can I call truly myself a romance writer? Am I failing reader’s expectations by classifying my books as ‘romance’? Am I just upsetting people by not delivering on the widely accepted promise of a HEA?

Kate BelleThe truth is I can only write the stories that grow within me. Everything I write comes from a deep and honest place. I draw it up from the murky subconscious and half the time I don’t know what’s coming until I start typing. If I try for a neatly-tied-up-in-a-bow HEA ending, all sweet and romantic and perfect, I feel I’m betraying the origins of my story in some way. If I force it I fear I’ll be outed as a fake. So best I be honest, ‘woman-up’ and admit it.

I’m crap at romantic Happy Ever After.

The uncomfortable ramification of this revelation is realising I’m a black sheep in Australia’s golden stables of pedigree romance writers (we have so many of them, just look at Booktopia’s Romance posts for July). What right do I have, with my subversive stories, to even lay claim to being a romance writer? Am I traitor to the cause? The ultimate wanna-be?

My answer arrived recently in a timely email from a reader who’d received The Yearning as a birthday gift. This is what some of she said:

I have to say, the book resonated with me in a way that no other book has. … I like that it didn’t deliver the cliche ending, it kept things real but also left you hanging somewhat – yearning almost – giving the reader the opportunity to draw their own conclusions about some of the story. … I cannot stop raving about the impact that this book had on me.  (Reprinted with permission)

Thankfully books find their natural habitat once they are released into the wild. People read them and either allow their expectations to be shifted, or push the book aside because it doesn’t give them what they were looking for. As it turns out, Happy Ever After doesn’t always have to be about neat bows. It can be about wisdom, strength and the confidence to step into a new future with a clearer vision of what we want. While my stories may not fit romance in the purest sense, they are about love. The journey’s my characters take are inspired by what I’ve learned from the School of Romantic Failures and my endings, while not always neat, contain the most important ingredient in a HEA – hope.

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Kate is a multi-published author who writes dark, sensual contemporary women’s fiction. She lives, writes and loves in Melbourne, juggling her strange, secret affairs with her male characters with her much loved partner and daughter and a menagerie of neurotic pets.

Kate holds a tertiary qualification in chemistry, half a diploma in naturopathy and a diploma in psychological astrology. Kate believes in living a passionate life and has ridden a camel through the Australian desert, fraternised with hippies in Nimbin, had a near birth experience and lived on nothing but porridge and a carrot for 3 days.

Head over to Kate’s website http://www.ecstasyfiles.com, like her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/katebelle.x, and don’t forget to follow her on twitter at @ecstasyfiles

THE BOOKTOPIA TOP TENS: Top Ten Most Romantic Novels Ever

HeartCurious about which rogue is most full of rascal, which heroine the sharpest, which love scene the steamiest?

Booktopia’s romance guru Haylee Nash rates the Top Ten Most Romantic Novels ever written.

From Mr. Darcy to Noah Calhoun, our Top Ten covers unmissable classics and contemporary hits.

Think the list is spot on? Or did we miss a crucial novel (too few Scottish highlanders)? Let us know what you think and your Top Tens in the comments bellow!

Continue reading

Love is in the air – an open letter from Mandy Magro

Bestselling author of rural romance Mandy Magro writes an open letter about the importance of love, in fiction and in everyday life

Let me begin by saying I love writing about love…no, actually, I’m obsessed with it! I write about it, I read about it, I watch it, and I live it! I’m a firm believer in true love, and that there is a soulmate out there for each and every one of us. So if you haven’t found him or her yet, or your busy lifestyle isn’t allowing you time to be romantic with your soulmate…don’t give up! Continue reading

REVIEW: Bittersweet by Colleen McCullough (review by Haylee Nash)

Romance Specialist Haylee Nash has her first taste of Colleen McCullough in Bittersweet…and finds herself going back for more.

I must confess something – prior to Bittersweet, I had never read a Colleen McCullough (I know, I know,  take away my romance specialist badge). So when the review copy for Bittersweet landed on my desk, I approached the book with an equal mix of excitement and trepidation. Continue reading

A Romance Specialist’s version of Nashville

Acting as our US Romance Correspondent, Booktopia’s Romance Specialist Haylee Nash stops into Nashville to sit on a Bookseller & Librarian Panel for the members of the Music City Romance Writers…plus some other stuff…

A week and a half (and several additional kilos) into my American tour, I stopped in the gorgeous historic town of Franklin to meet with the Music City Romance Writers of Nashville, a dynamic and successful chapter of the Romance Writers of America. A couple of other brilliant things  happened too, like a karaoke evening, drinks with a Grammy nominated artist and a restorative lunch at Chili’s.

Here’s the recap – in pictures – which will give you a far better idea of my experience of Nashville than any written blog I could possibly string together. Feel free to fill the blanks between photos any way you like.

Many thanks to the Music City Romance Writers, specifically Susan Bickford for the tour of Franklin, and Monica McCabe for the lift home, Kim Law and C.J. Redwine for inviting me to the panel and Nashville for having us!


Haylee Nash is Romance Specialist at Booktopia and, by now, is about 80% Mac and Cheese.

Romance at Booktopia’s Saucy Six with Beth Kery

Booktopia’s Romance Specialist, Haylee Nash pins down bestselling erotic author Beth Kery for the Saucy Six…and gets all hot and bothered in the process

 1.       When do you feel your most beautiful?
Probably on a day when I actually take care of myself and think about how I look. Unfortunately, that’s too rare these days due to work, which is a shame. I am a huge spa-lover. I adore pampering myself, not just because I’m into self-indulgence, but because it’s a reminder that I need to relax and focus on myself for a precious moment. A big favourite thing is to do a spa day with my friends or sisters, think healthy, drink lots of water, get a treatment, do hair and make-up there and then go out on the town. I feel like I’ve checked in with myself on a day like that, had fun. And yes, it makes me feel beautiful. :) Continue reading

Australian Romance Author Showcase with…Mandy Magro

As part of Australian Romance Month, Romance Specialist Haylee Nash will be interviewing one Australian Romance author per day. Much like a beauty pageant, each author will be using their charm, wit and grace (and the power of social media) to take home the Booktopia Romance Bestseller crown. Booktopia invites bestselling Rural Romance author Mandy Magro to the stage.

1. Describe the perfect date.
Out in the bush, snuggled up in front of a campfire with the man of my dreams, the glimmering country sky above and nothing to be heard for miles other than the sounds of nature. What could be more romantic than that? Continue reading

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