Right, it's been a little while since our last date with a book.
Life got in the way, but now it's time for another deep-dive into another one of my books.
This month I've chosen Rogue Affair, and the making of a bully redemption romance.
If you've read the book, you must know that the story was inspired by the Netflix show, Sex Education.
In it, there's a high school bully who comes to realize SPOILER! (or not, 😂. It's quite obvious from the start) that his bully behavior is due to his own issues of acceptance.
Now I know bullies have a bad rep, and I have had my fair share of bullies in the past, so I knew writing about such a guy wasn't exactly going to be easy.
In fact it was a hard choice to make.
I know bully romances in MF are quite the trend, but a) I found the books I read quite irritating and b) the dynamics of bullying are different in a MM relationship.
But I'm not here to discuss why bully romance is popular, if it's wrong, or why it's a touchy subject. That's for others to debate and I honestly have no interest in it.
However, the only thing I will say was how hard I found to relate to active bullies. Meaning characters who are bullies throughout the story.
Now I love a good enemies-to-lovers romance as much as the next guy, but I couldn't find it in me to write a bully, at least not a 21-year-old one, and definitely not in the world of Cedarwood Beach. If the book was meant to be a YA where there's a lot more opportunity for self-discovery and acceptance that would be a different story. But personally, I find adult bullies don't deserve a spotlight.
So all these ideas informed what Rogue Affair was going to be about. An ex-bully and his victim who happen to get tangled in each other's life after years apart.
On developing these characters (Nathan, the victim, and Hudson, the ex-bully) I tried to find the connections that would make their lives implode into each other's and one of the ways I accomplished that was by making them life-long friends, until Nathan came out during high school and when things took a turn in both their lives. That detail was important to give someone as opinionated as Nathan a chance to pause, instead of walking away from Hudson when he seeks his help. In a way, Rogue Affair is a second chance romance. And only by giving them that past connection, would a guy like Nathan decide to help someone who had hurt them in the past.
Another detail I implemented quite early on, was the hookup chat. In fact, the chatting and messaging part of the book was meant for another book in the series, the upcoming fifth and last book in Cedarwood Beach, Royal Fling. But I found it much more fitting in here. A chance for the characters to connect beyond what's scarred them in the past.
I don't remember at what point I decided that Hudson needs to be hated by everyone in town, but exploring that side, the less sweet side of small towns, where everyone knows everyone, was an interesting concept. I hadn't had a chance to fully delve into the rumor mill in the previous books, so I found it an great challenge to bring forth in this story that's all about appearances and deep truths.