Jun 16 2017 8:30am

Is It Hate or Is It Love? The Closeness of Fear and Desire

Stranger by Robin Lovett

Today we're thrilled to welcome Robin Lovett (Stranger) to Heroes and Heartbreakers. Robin writes dark, gritty romance, and knows a thing or two about about the line between love and hate, fear and desire. Today she's here to talk about that fine line. Thanks, Robin. 

That enemies to lovers trope that so many of us love…

Why does that work so well?

They say opposite personalities attract, but I say opposite emotions attract too. The passion that comes out of a relationship that begins with mutual dislike can turn explosive.

The “I hate you. This changes nothing,” declared during a love scene creates the ultimate experience of the forbidden, which gets a lot of us going and turning pages like mad. I can’t get enough of the high stakes game wondering, when will this shouting match turn into a hot-and-heavy?

But why? From intense hatred comes life changing love? It doesn’t make sense—at first sight (pun intended).

But it makes a hell of a lot of sense, if you really think about it.

Hatred—true unadulterated disdain—consider what it feels like physically. Real hatred is an emotion from the gut. It’s a blood pumping whole body sensation. It’s intense and overwhelming. It clouds the mind and makes rational thinking difficult.

Sound like arousal to anyone else?

It’s so similar, so visceral that our characters get confused.

Not to mention that two people who clash personally are like two stones rubbing against each other, sanding off their rough edges, their tight defenses, their fears of being intimate and vulnerable with someone.

But if the right people clash often enough, get beneath each other’s rough exteriors, what they uncover within themselves—that’s the good stuff.

And this is where the fear factor comes in.

Exposing oneself intimately to a person we distrust is very scary, a potentially painful situation. There’s fear in opening up to someone we assume hates us. But beneath the fear is an attraction, a need—a desire to be known.

With fear, as in with hatred, if you feel into it, the physical sensations can be a twisting of the stomach, a sweating on the palms or the back of the neck. When it’s really severe, it can cause the shakes or even blurred vision.

Sound like descriptions we use for desire in romance novels?

It was Tiffany Reisz who first awoke me to this link between fear and desire. She says in a Goodreads blog post, “Erotica is sex plus fear.”

So I tried it.

I love reading books that push boundaries, not break or jump them all together, but when a story gives me something new, it grabs me better than anything tried and true. I work hard to do it as a writer too.

Writing Stranger: A Dark Stalker Romance, I went all out on the fear factor, as far as I could go, capitalizing on the enemies to lovers trope. I walked the line of what’s possible in romance, as I know it, like a tight rope.

And I discovered many things, many pleasurable surprises. When I maximized the enemies to lovers trope—the hero stalking the heroine for revenge—the result was exhilarating.

For a particular kind of heroine, being afraid of the hero excites her. It confuses her, but the fear he inspires—she likes it.

Fear is an intense feeling. Go too far with it and it’s a nope, sorry, close the book situation. But when it’s just right, it’s a gripping to read. Throw in some arousal with that fear and—Oo, things are sizzling.  

For in fear, it’s all about the anticipation of what will happen next. As with desire.

On the hero’s side, seeing the heroine intrigued makes him want to scare her more. Because he wants to give her what she wants and go after what he needs, he’s exposing his deepest desires—making himself vulnerable.

Being afraid, exposing one’s fear to another person is an intimate thing that can’t help involving trust. Trust that the person will walk the line with you of fear and desire.

With the tensions running so fraught, it’s no wonder mutual love and understanding is inevitable. 

Fun Fact: Robin Lovett is also a blogger for Heroes and Heartbreakers, but today is wearing her author hat. 


Learn more about or order a copy of Stranger by Robin Lovett, available now:

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Robin Lovett writes sexy contemporary romances, and her dark romance trilogy will release this summer through SMP Swerve.

Robin enjoys writing romance to avoid the more unsavory things in life, like day jobs, housework, and personal demons. To feed her coffee and chocolate addictions, she can frequently be found overdosing on mochas. When not writing with her cat, she’s busy embracing untamable curly hair and adventuring in the outdoors with her husband.

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