I got in a discussion recently about love. It comes up a lot when people find out I write romance novels. Some people snort and think it’s idealistic. Others admit to loving the romance genre but feeling ashamed to read it. But this person in particular was a little jaded about love. He said that people in your life shouldn’t put up with your “issues” and that there’s no such thing as true, unconditional love.
The romantic in me recoiled. No such thing as true love? Then what am I writing these books for? I write romance to make readers feel warm and fuzzy inside, to make them laugh, cry, or just feel something, anything, for my characters. I want people reading my books to see hope. My characters struggle with the same “issues” we all do – trust, fear, sorrow, etc. But as they journey through their lives, and experience love, they begin to overcome the obstacles that once held them back.
With a deep breath, she stared at the door to the place where it all began. She’d changed so much since she’d first bounded through that door, young and idealistic. She’d had no knowledge of the real dangers of the world. Today she felt tired and world-weary. She wasn’t the naïve twenty-year-old wanting to change the world anymore, standing up for truth and justice and all that shit. Now she knew some things would never change. There’d always be greed and people who thought they were better than everyone else, power-hungry tyrants and evil manipulators. She used to think big action by a lot of people was the key to change. Now she knew that sometimes altering the course of just one person triggered a riptide of events that led to big change. And sometimes, the only action one could take was to hope.
We all have issues. We are in a constant state of flux – a work in progress from the day we’re born until the day we die. My hero, Maddox, starts off thinking love is a frivolous emotion meant for silly children.
“We were in love,” Felicity said, smiling. “Of course we were stupid. That’s what love does. It makes people crazy.”
With a grunt, he stood up. “Why anyone would choose that is beyond me.”
“Nobody really chooses it.” She leaned up on her elbows. “It just happens. It starts with a warm feeling in your chest. And every time that person makes you laugh or…or understands a deep part of you no one else does, that warm feeling grows. You tell yourself it’s just ‘like.’ You like this person ‘cause they get you. Then one day you realize you’re so deeply ‘in like’ that you’d do almost anything for them.”
Love doesn’t expect change. It might strive for it, support it, challenge it, but it doesn’t demand it. When you choose to love someone (and I firmly believe love is a choice), you choose to take them as they are with no promises or guarantees of fixing them, healing them, or changing them, in the future.
“People aren’t like broken furniture, Maddox. You don’t need to be fixed. Everybody changes as they grow older and experience more of life. Some of the experiences that changed you have been terrible, yes, but deep down inside, you’re still you. Nobody can break your soul, not even your father. Your mind will heal, little by little. And I’ll love you through it.”
Love just is.
If you can’t let it be, well, that’s not unconditional love. And there’s no such thing as conditional love. I know true love exists. I’m one of the lucky ones who’ve experienced it. Maybe I’m a romantic, or too idealistic, but you can’t argue with experience.
I’m going to end this post with one of my favorite quotes about love. And it fits Destiny Forgiven perfectly.
I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love. – Mother Teresa.
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Leia Shaw is the bestselling author of the paranormal romance series, Shadows of Destiny. Thinking up fae politics, plotting dragon power games, and calculating how fast werewolves can change forms has given her a way to express those dark places in her mind. More recently, she’s branched out into the erotic world and has co-written several humorous but heartwarming contemporary BDSM romances, 31 Flavors and the Badass Brats series.
Leia lives in New England with her husband and two kids. Though she will go to her grave denying it, her husband insists she would be thrilled if he suddenly sprouted fangs.