Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What Makes the Final Crisis or Black Moment

I find this rather difficult to answer. I know what the question means, in a romance/romance there is a conflict that must be resolved. It might look like the hero and heroine will never get together but sometimes with my suspense books it isn’t a conflict between the couples that is at the heart but the conflict of outside events.

However, here I go. In my novel The Substitute Bride, Elizabeth Mary has deceitfully married the man to whom her sister (Mary Elizabeth) was promised. It is an arranged marriage and so the two have never met. However, my hero is a medieval man and expects his wife to obey him but more than this he prizes honesty.

When Edward discovers the truth he is furious. He vows never to have anything to do with his wife again. That their marriage will be annulled, it is not, his having been contracted to another woman, legal anyway. Edward must learn to realize that love can conquer anything but he takes his time to learn that lesson but when he does….

“Aye you are right, but what will you do about your wife, I mean it will be troublesome for you?”
“Nay. Turn around…He did not wait for her to comply. As if he suspected she would not, he gently eased her around to face him.
“First of all I shall kiss her and then I will soothe her to sleep…”
“You will…what?”
He bent his head, slowly he covered her lips with his own, executing a kiss of such tender devotion it left her bewildered and yet oddly thrilled. “I don’t understand?”
“Of course you do, if you think on it. Who is my wife?”
“You said ‘twas Mary Elizabeth.”
“Did I?”
“You said by law…”
“The law is an ass and it is something that can be broken or changed, and when you have the ear of those on high, then anything can happen.”
“I don’t understand!”
“Valentine, I have only one wife. I wish only one wife. She is warm, she is clever, she is quite bewitching, and her name is…Elizabeth Mary.

In my novel Bitter Betrayal (published by Wings Press) my couple who were torn apart by the connivance of other people, finally resolve their conflict when they comfort one another over my heroine’s miscarriage. In Spanish Lies my hero feels he can never forgive my heroine because she did not reveal that her son was his. They finally come together through their efforts to make things easier for their son. These are conflicts that are resolved through circumstances and I am not certain if that satisfactorily answers this week’s question. Yet in all my novels, when I think on it, conflicts are resolved because outside circumstances are resolved, questions are answered and the truth is revealed.

Shadows of the Past, published by Robert Hale Limited, has a very different and rather shocking ending. There is a resolution but I am not sure if it was the one the reader or I expected.

No, I don’t think I have answered the question but I have tried to do my best!


  1. We're on the same wavelength, Margaret - the moment when it seems the hero and heroine will never get together. As you say, it might not necessarily be a conflict between them but could be caused by outside events.

  2. If the Black Moment in a romance is the emotion-packed, close-to-the-end page or paragraph when love appears lost to the lead character, another question arises. How secretive should we be about the happy ending that is coming? Do we deliver a more satisfying read when we make our heroine believe there is no happiness in her future?

    (Ignore that a reader could skip ahead and read the last page.)

  3. My view is that the black moment should have readers wondering, not WHETHER the hero/heroine end up happily together (because that's obligatory in a romance novel anyway), but just HOW on earth they are ever going to get past this huge obstacle to their love, whatever it is. Skipping ahead to the last page will show them the HEA ending, but not how it is achieved. And of course the characters don't have the luxury of being able to skip to the last page!

  4. Hi Margaret,

    I think you've covered the subject very well, and showed us a variation on a theme. After all, "black moments" cannot be set in concrete as a "build this way" guide - inevitably some will be more intense than others. To this aim, daring authors will really push boundaries and have readers on the edge, maybe introduce a third element putting on the pressure in - how shall I say - a blackmail sense, perhaps sexual in nature, and then a skin of teeth escape from ruin! :)


  5. I think that is the 'trick'. In a romance, the reader KNOWS the hero and heroine are going to be together in the end. They KNOW the HEA is coming. The black moment makes that ultimate happiness seem impossible.