May 17 2017 3:00pm

What’s the Line Between Forbidden and Too Forbidden?

All the Lies We Tell by Megan Hart

Today we're thrilled to welcome Megan Hart (All The Lies We Tell) to Heroes and Heartbreakers. The line of what's taboo is constantly moving—what was forbidden 20 years ago, is mainstream today, and what is forbidden today... well, only time will tell! Megan is here today to talk about the moving line and what makes a relationship forbidden. Thanks, Megan!

Forbidden love. Why does it feel so delicious to want what’s wrong? There seems to be something inherently arousing about desiring what we know we shouldn’t. Sometimes it’s a chocolate sundae. Sometimes, it’s your super hot billionaire stepbrother, am I right?

It’s clear there’s no question that there’s an enormous difference between what’s truly wrong—non-consensual power play, the use of position to bully someone into providing sex, abuse of power—and what’s “wrong but so right.” The line might be razor sharp, but it’s there…and sometimes, it changes! Reader’s tastes shift, along with societal viewpoints. What used to be common in romances (bodice ripping, for example) falls out of favor, while subjects and plot points that would have been taboo cycle into popularity.

In times past, class distinctions made romance between people of different social classes taboo, something that historical romances use to broad popularity. In contemporary stories, we can still see echoes of that in the “boy/girl from the wrong side of the tracks.” In the more recent past, interracial relationships were forbidden, castigated, even illegal. Today, diversity is sought and craved in our romance fiction – and while we have a long way to go before we can say that romance novels are completely diverse, many of today’s romances offer opportunities to read stories featuring heroes and heroines who don’t have the same skin color. Or religion. Or ethnic background. All differences that in the past would have been considered taboo, and yet are now considered acceptable and rightly are demanded to have a place.

Beyond changes in social conventions, however, we still have the tropes that tantalize exactly because they do feel so forbidden. Boss/employee, teacher/student, older woman/younger man, best friends to lovers, dating your best friend’s sibling…or parent! Something about the pairings we aren’t supposed to like end up cycling through so many stories, possibly because if there’s something a great romance provides, it’s sexual tension. What could be more tense than a growing passion between two people who are not supposed to be together?

Beyond changes in social conventions, however, we still have the tropes that tantalize exactly because they do feel so forbidden

In my story, All the Lies We Tell, and its sequel, All the Secrets We Keep, two couples navigate the taboos of family relationships and romances. Alica married Ilya, who used to love her sister, even though Alicia always had a thing for his younger brother. When Nikolai comes back to town, sparks fly again. Add in Ilya’s and Niko’s former stepsister Theresa and another blooming relationship, and it’s a convoluted tangle of sibling rivalry, resentments and also passion!

But is it taboo? Alicia and Ilya divorced long before Niko returned home. Theresa was their stepsister for only a year a few decades before. Their family ties are close and binding and complicated, but in the end, they’re also the reason why these four people have any relationships to start with at all. What happens when family and love are so intertwined you can’t have one without the other? That’s one of the themes I explore in the Quarry Street books, available now from Montlake. I had a great time writing the stories, and I hope readers enjoy them as much as I did creating them.


Learn more about or order a copy of All the Lies We Tell by Megan Hart, available now:

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Megan Hart has written in almost every genre of romantic fiction, including historical, contemporary, romantic suspense, romantic comedy, futuristic, fantasy and perhaps most notably, erotic. She also writes non-erotic fantasy and science fiction, as well as continuing to occasionally dabble in horror.

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Heather Waters
1. HeatherWaters
Good questions! I've enjoyed reading about relationships I wouldn't be comfortable with in real life (step-sibling romances being one) simply because it's written so well. All I can say is that since discovering books like yours, I've become more open-minded...and also *much* more careful about saying "I'd NEVER read..."!
Darynda Jones
2. DaryndaJones
FANTASTIC POST, MEGAN! I lurve taboo. There's even a show about it with the super smexy Tom Hardy. Booyah!

A lot of people dont' get the stepbrother thing and although I've never had a crush on a stepbrother, to me it makes perfect sense. Just because two people with older children decide to get married doesn't mean their children can't and won't be attracted to each other. (I'm defending this becuase I have a stepbrother story I started years ago. :)) The lure, IMHO, is not only about the incredible conflict their attraction would cause, but the fact that their parents married people other than their mother/father. The emotional rollercoaster for these kids must be incredible and, yeah, book-worthy.

Anywho, great post! Getting your latest NOW.
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