I accept that my work won't appeal to every reader. I was definitely cautioned to remove the themes of Faith from the book by some of my author friends. But I couldn't reason a way to accurate, authentically construct a hero in 1813 without elements of faith. So I didn't do it. And released, knowing some readers might just react to that.
I always take risks in my writing--if you've read a book by me, you know that-- and some readers love it, some readers hate it, but even with the bad review, it's my party and I'm going to tell a story how I want to.
I've had all the range of unpleasant reviews we all get- horrible writing, terrible story, hated it, too many words, etc.--those are fair because it's like when I serve someone dinner. I may not cook to their taste. It's a preference thing. And fortunately I have a lot more good reviews than bad reviews, and it prevents me from crawling under my bed and just hiding forever.
But then there is the how did the reader come away with that review. Sometimes I wish I could ask them. When my work strikes someone hard and wrong, I'm very curious why. It's why I like when the critical reviews pop up on Goodreads. I can ask the reader, learn from them, sometimes see something new through their eyes. I enjoy the interactive writing experience in our current Indie World of Publishing. It's an amazing tool for an author to utilize. Especially if the ultimate goal is to write good books people will enjoy.
But sometimes there is just no way for me to get from the work to what a reader sees. No matter how I turn it, I can't make reason. So I thought, I'll introduce you to my favorite hero, Varian Deverell, who was mislabeled rather boldly in a review "A Rapist." He is a man of faith and patience and love. Definitely patience, since I tortured the poor man in When the Perfect Comes and always held the heroine just out of his reach. I made up for it in the second book, Face to Face. I hope he is not still angry me for what I did to him in book one. I love a man of patience and faith and heart. I rarely post excerpts, and I do apologize for it's length, but one needs to put Varian in a complete context. So here is my rapist. What do you think?
As ever, I wish you Peace. OH and One Last Kiss is still on Amazon Free Download.
***Copyright © 2014 Susan Ward All rights reserved***
Merry felt her emotions commence to frantically churn again. This she understood without effort, though finding the chapel was no more a comfort than what she had expected to find here.
It was another woman Varian went to each day. But it was not a mistress; it was his wife. And Ann held his heart in a way no flesh and blood woman could ever claim him. Indy had warned her about this. Indy had warned and been right about many things.
She could not stop herself from going to the entrance to see if Varian was inside. He was a lone figure on his knees, head bowed before God as he quietly prayed. Merry’s eyes rounded in surprise. The infamous pirate Morgan at pray. Seeing him thus rattled her in a way unexpected, and she cautiously eased back out of view.
Gathering her skirts up in her hands, she ran from the chapel. For some elusive reason, she stopped at the bench on the grass and settled herself there. The world was quiet all around her, so quiet she could hear the distant bird songs, the gentle swish of air from the valley below, and the sound of her own blood gushing through her veins.
She was anything but quiet internally, and could not begin to understand why this discovery distressed her. A man in pray. Her stomach was taut and tears burned behind her lids. What a foolish thing to become distraught over.
The sky was a rich oiled blue and the breezes licked with the rich scent of newly turned soil. Merry could understand the allure of this place, why Varian had built the chapel here and planted the small rose garden, which surely was intended for Ann. It was a peaceful place, of richly colored beauty and solitude. She was well aware Varian had loved his wife, and yet this confused her more than any other thing she had learned of him. What manner of man was Varian truly?
Some time passed before Varian exited the chapel. He settled on the bench beside her, his blood-warmed fingers a feather-light lay atop her hand. He didn’t speak and she couldn’t speak, but the quiet they shared had a strange kind of blending closeness to it.
Through the fabric of her gown, Merry could feel the long elegant muscles of his body, his awareness of her and what she now knew was a potent intimacy that was them. It came to her that what she was feeling was no surprise to him, he had felt them first and understood it, this blending closeness in the quiet that was them.
The wind tousled his hair, and in his sculptured face his black eyes had an intent, peaceful glow. Twice her eyes strayed to his face and then lowered in a shaken way. He was not angry she had followed him here. He had expected her to, and she knew he had wanted her to and had led her here.
His voice, though quiet, was powerful. “Why did you not come in?”
“I don’t know.” As she inspected his hand atop hers it occurred to her his stillness and quiet were deliberate. His question was not as simple as her answer and she added, “It seemed a private thing you do. I did not wish to disturb you.”
His smile was warm, understanding and very human. “All men, Merry, pray at the moment of their death. A wise man prays long before that moment.”
She sank her teeth into her lower lip. “It was not so much the praying, but why you pray that made me not wish to disturb you.”
Varian’s heavy lidded eyes widened in response. “I pray for wisdom, counsel, and forgiveness for many things in my life. You would not have disturbed me, Little One.”
It was a cleverly worded answer, true and yet evasive. Merry didn’t miss one nuisance. “You pray for her. To be close to Ann in the only manner left to you.” Her eyes shifted to the roses. “Just as you had this bench placed here and the garden planted. For her.”
In a low tone that was oddly devoid of emotion, he said, “Yes.”
A truthful answer, direct. It was the last thing Merry expected or was prepared to deal with. Her love for him, long denied, was urging her closer to him, even as it urged her to run from him.
Varian’s fingers tightened slightly around hers. “And now I sit here with you.”
That was far from a casual remark, and Merry felt her insides sharply adjust yet again. The tender parts of this man, potent with his sensitivity, were more dangerous than all the other parts of him. Merry looked away, as though to study the valley, so he could not see and read her thoughts in her eyes. Shay had been right. Being on land with the Captain was a curse, not a blessing. It was not Morgan who drew women to him. It was Varian.
Over her shoulder, she heard Varian say, “You need to be more careful, Little One.”
Merry didn’t look at him. Yes. More careful. But I am not a careful girl, Varian. You must have care with me.
Killing her thoughts, she turned her face and saw he was staring at her feet. She looked in the direction of his gaze. She’d climbed the path without her shoes, and there were cuts here and there on her pale flesh. She had not felt a single cut as it was made. It seemed to her a distressing omen underscoring her danger with him. She had cut her feet to ribbons following him and hadn’t even known she’d done it.
Not giving her time to react, Varian lifted Merry from the bench and said, “I will carry you back to the house, Little One.”
The mold of their bodies was so close, it was hard for Merry to tell which breath that passed between them belonged to her and which were his. The gentle care of his hold gave the sensation of floating downward on the path.
“I can walk,” she said.
Varian’s answering smile was soft and amused. “Don’t be foolish.”
Merry hid her face against his chest. Too late, Varian. I am a foolish girl. I am in love with you.