Monday, June 13

Four Roles for Child Characters in Romance

Please welcome our guest blogger, today, the fabulously talented Laura Kaye! (She's got a new book out, so be sure to read the excerpt at the end of the blog. You'll want to put it on your TBR list!)

Child characters have come up in quite a few author interviews and guest blog posts I’ve read lately, and that interests me because a child plays a prominent role in my latest release, a paranormal romance called Forever Freed.

Olivia “Ollie” Sutton is the five-year-old daughter of the heroine, Samantha, and actually meets the vampire hero Lucien Demarco separately and before her mother does. Olivia is not a typical secondary character—while she is secondary to the romantic plot, of course, she is a primary character in influencing the hero’s character arc and bringing about his emotional transformation. I’m totally in love with the relationship between the Lucien and Ollie, as are quite a few readers and reviewers, since almost everyone mentions her. Admittedly, she is a huge scene stealer!

But all of this got me thinking about why Ollie, and other children in romances, can really add something to a story.

1. Children are great sources of conflict. A child in peril makes a situation with which a reader will be immediately engaged and sympathetic. A parent will often place a child’s needs and interests above their own, which you can use to force characters to make decisions full of tension and conflict. Another great way to connect a child character to conflict is to put someone who doesn’t want kids or never thought of themselves as capable of caring for kids in the role of caregiver, and see what ensues. All three of these play some role in Forever Freed, and help make Ollie’s role central to the goals/motivation/conflict (GMC) of the story.

2. Children are inherently vulnerable. Which makes them potentially great (and sympathetic) targets of a villain, and also something likely to bring out the protective instincts of your hero and heroine. That protectiveness can play a major role in bringing about the transformation of your hero. Children love so unconditionally, and the best tortured heroes need that kind of love so badly it has the power to change them. This is certainly true for Lucien, for whom Ollie represents a second chance at fatherhood. And Ollie’s belief in Lucien’s inherent goodness, even when she can tell there’s something different about him (he’s a hero, but she think he’s something else…) is an incredible source of solace and healing for him.

3. Children are perfect for injecting comic relief or breaking tension (especially of the sexual variety!). And both uses are important for an author guiding her readers’ emotions through a story. Ollie definitely plays both roles in Forever Freed.

4. Children represent family, which makes them very useful for injecting heart and sweetness and warmth into a story. I try to infuse all my stories with both heat and heart, the hot sexual tension and the heartfelt warm-and-fuzzy-feel-goods, and kids can definitely contribute to the latter.

So, what do you think about children in romance novels? Do they take away from the romance or contribute something you enjoy? Are there any great romances with children in them you would recommend?

Thanks for reading!
Laura Kaye

§ twitter: @laurakayeauthor
§ BUY FOREVER FREED: 20% off with code e3d9d10a3c at Digi Books Cafe
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Laura Kaye is a multi-published author of paranormal, contemporary, and erotic romance with four books releasing in 2011. Laura Kaye’s hot, heartfelt stories are all about the universal desire for a place to belong. Laura lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.

Forever Freed Blurb:
A heart can break, even one that no longer beats.I stalk my new neighbors, a single mother and her child, drawn by the irresistible scent of their joy and love. I crave their blood, starved for some healing respite from my ancient grief. Now to lure them into my grasp.But they surprise me. Little Olivia accepts me without fear or reservation—talking, smiling, offering innocent affection that tugs at my long-lost humanity. Her mother, Samantha, seeks me out when she should stay away, offering sweet friendship, and calling to the forgotten man within me. They lure me instead.Ah, Dio, Lucien, run and spare them while you can…

Forever Freed Excerpt:
Ollie moved curiously around my kitchen. After a few minutes, her eyes settled on the black case on the kitchen table. She walked over to it and ran her index finger down the marred surface. “Is this a guitar?”
I walked over to the other side of the table. “A violin. Would you like to see it?”
“Yeah.” She took a step back but leaned her head forward excitedly.
I spun the case around and unclasped the latches. “You can hold it if you want. Just sit down.” I pushed the chair out for her, and she scooted herself up. I laid the violin in her arms, and she cradled it uncertainly like a baby. I smiled. “Do you want me to show you how to hold it?”
She nodded eagerly.
I knelt down next to her and double checked my control. Though she smelled and felt good, my protectiveness of her had overridden my bloodlust, for which I was incredibly grateful—I would never be able to forgive myself if I stole the lifeblood from a child, particularly this one.
I positioned the violin on her collarbone and showed her where to place her hand and chin. Then I handed her the bow and invited her to move it across the strings. The screeching noise made her grimace and me laugh. I offered her more guidance, and she attempted to play again.
Then she stopped and held the instrument out to me. “Do you play?”
I pulled out the chair next to her and sat down. “Yes. Do you want to hear something?” The adoration in her lovely blue-green eyes melted me. I just couldn’t fathom it.
She wanted me to play for her. So I played. She started clapping immediately. “That’s ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star!’ ”
Encouraged by her requests for encores after each song, I played for her for almost a half hour before we ran out of time.
“Thanks, Lucien. You’re good at the violin.”
“Thanks,” I said as I secured the instrument in its case. “Come on. I’ll walk you home.”
We walked out of the house as she chattered. The rain had stopped. A muggy haze hung over the midday. I was just thinking how much I appreciated the overcast day when Ollie did the most shocking thing—for me at least.
She took my hand.


  1. I love your excerpt!

    I also love kids in stories, but I'm a "home and family" reader and writer. I don't really want them in suspense, and I NEVER want them to be the ones at risk.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Liz! And thanks to Christi and Word Wranglers for having me here today!

  3. Oooh, hunks and real babes. Gotta love those pecs in the pics! And a five-year-old meeting a vampire hero before mom? I love the story already.

  4. Hi Laura!

    I have one child and two infants in my current paranormal romance WIP. I love how little ones add to the plot; they raise the stakes and add sweet and humorous moments. Win-win!

  5. @Em-Musing - I know, right?? Yes, Ollie meeting Lucien first is pretty cool! :) Hope you enjoy if you give it a try!

    @Sarah - *waves* Hi! I definitely agree!

    Thanks for stopping over to comment!

  6. great excerpt, Laura! The book sounds wonderful...good luck!

  7. Thanks to Christi and to Word Wranglers to hosting me! And to everyone for reading and commenting!

  8. I have a ten-year old girl in my contemporary secret-baby romance. She's a huge influence on the plot as she starts to search for her dad in their hometown.

    The only time I don't like kids in plots is when they're too precocious, too cute, to be real. They make my teeth hurt from all the grinding.

    Is there anything sexier that a big strong man be so gentle with a newborn?

    Thanks for an interesting topic, Laura.

  9. No! Nothing sexier, Joan! Thanks for commenting! :)