Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. "Pooh!" he whispered. "Yes, Piglet?" "Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you." ~A.A. Milne
"I felt it shelter to speak to you." ~Emily Dickinson
"Soul-mates are people who bring out the best in you. They are not perfect but are always perfect for you." ~Author Unknown
I picked up a Writer's Digest the other day, and one of the articles talked about creating the perfect romantic couple: what your hero and heroine should/should not be made up of. Among the top qualities: make them imperfect, don't make them mean, and above all, don't let them commit adultery.
OK, I can agree with all of that. But here's the problem: my latest WIP, Entwined, breaks one of these rules.
First, let me just say that I don't think Entwined is going to be a typical genre romance novel. It always has felt much more women's fiction/literary fiction/mainstream than something that will fit neatly into "contemporary romance."
Maybe that makes a difference, maybe it doesn't.
Here's the thing: my hero commits adultery. When the book begins, he is living with his girlfriend and their 4-month old baby girl. By the third chapter, he has moved across the country (doing research for his dissertation), met the heroine, and begun a torrid affair with her. Let me qualify this slightly by explaining that from the start, we know his relationship is miserable. His girlfriend won't sleep with him, barely tolerates him, and he has a suspicion she is seeing someone else.
No, I know this isn't an excuse. But much of the book's premise centers on the notion that sometimes we are drawn to another person despite every rational thought and every effort we make to stop it, that there are such things as soulmates and when we meet ours, we know instantly that is the person we are supposed to be with. No matter what. No matter the mess it might create around us.
So...here's my question: do you think I need to change the opening chapters somewhat? I don't want readers to think my hero is a total jerk. And much of what happens to him is explained and justified later in the story. But at the start, he's a semi-committed guy who falls for another woman and acts on his desires.
Will you dislike him for that?
[Note: I'm cyber-waving to Liz, who has already read the first 2 chapters, so I'm hoping she'll drop by and tell me what she thinks...]