I’m reading Promise Me Forever by Lorraine Heath right now. I’m only around page 98, but so far I’m enjoying it. However, I’m starting to get the feeling Lorraine is letting out the backstory a little faster than I want. That or the central conflict isn’t as strong as I’d like. I haven’t decided which.
Why do I feel that way?
It has to do with where the eventually-to-be-happy couple will end up living. This question is the central conflict of the book. I think. Sure, there are questions of whether or not they still love one another, but it’s hard to take them seriously when they clearly still do.
They have both been missing the other since her mother’s remarriage and consequent move separated them, and have both been working toward becoming reunited. When they think about NOT wanting to be together, it’s because they have both changed in the process of growing up from their early teen to their mid twenties. It’s all pretty superficial.
Which means if Lorraine tries to make their doubts the central conflict then the book falls into the category of The Big Miss, miss meaning misunderstanding. I have no more tolerance for that device than other readers I’ve seen complain about it.
Where they should live is turning out to be an insubstantial conflict. Too often I find myself thinking it shouldn’t really matter where they live if they love one another. There is no outside force tearing them apart at the point where the book begins. They could easily marry, then live in either place as they chose. At least, that’s how it appears on page 98. There is some potential for more resistance.
The thing is, with a slight shift in details, whether or not they still love one another could become a powerful central conflict in this book. She needs merely refrain from telling us everything these two have done in the last ten years to bring each other together again. Put some real doubt in the readers mind as the whether or not their love continued uninterrupted until the moment they set eyes on one another again.
I think I know why Lorraine didn’t take that slant.
If she had with withheld the details of their years apart the doubt in the reader’s mind over whether or not they still loved each other could have spread into a doubt as to whether or not they should be together. In a Romance, that kind of doubt can be deadly.
But I think, based on what little I have read so far, the book would have been better if she’d trusted her readers more, and kept more from us. Then when the hero and heroine face the changes in one another, we can feel their doubt and cheer as they reveal to one another just how far they would go for love.
Do you intentionally withold backstory? How do you determin which details you will let slip, and when?