Friday, November 1, 2013

Futuristic Regency Romance? WTH?

Guest post for the lovely Samantha Holt's blog: Nov. 1, 2013

I burst out laughing at C. E. Kilgore’s description of my To Be Sinclair series. It’s tough enough trying to write science fiction with romantic and erotic elements, but to be labeled a Regency when I have no idea what that actually entails?

I believe it’s all because I write about an Imperial Family.  Book one, Dignitydescribes how a lady University science student unwittingly causes the Emperor, the sole Sinclair scion left on the planet, to fall in love with her. All she wants is a lab of her own to explore her scientific creativity, yet she is blatantly encouraged to be his partner to social events by two of the most important Royal ladies on the planet. She really cannot say no (more than once!), and she does rather pity him, but to learn he fell madly in love with her, a High Royal but nerdish Plain Jane, upsets her carefully-ordered life and plans for the future. 

More than one reviewer has referred to this as ‘the classic Cinderella story’. Whoa! Wait a minute! The only thing they have in common is royalty! Since I consider my ‘style’ to be something between an artsy ‘minimalist realism’ and a silly ‘bare-bones nitty-gritty’ (as if you were in the head of the main character in a movie), I was even overwhelmed by Beach Bum Books’ Diane Nelson’s description: “Told with the lush prose of a Jane Austen, as well as with that author's incisive, detailed and quite pointed barbs at social strata and the constraints on actors thrust onto stages not of their own choosing, this is science fiction masquerading as historical fiction on the grandest scale.” 

Now, that’s more like it. I write science fiction, no question. Majesty, book two of my series, details the first few years of Empress Felice Sinclair’s marriage, but particularly her development of the most dangerous technology in the galaxy: stargate science. Although there are some sexual elements to the story, they play directly into the psychological dynamic between her and her husband, specifically on how to control a person who allegedly has absolute power. Felice suffers repeatedly throughout her dedication to science in many forms, yet she manages to retain her humanity and dedication to become a progressive, benevolent co-ruler with her husband, specifically through his total support.

My third novel, Fealty, is justifiably called futuristic romance, simply because I have very few science elements to it. My other books are perhaps 50/50 science fiction to romance, as I expound upon such things as wormhole travel, stargate science, faster-than-light communication via ‘quantum transmitters’, and even a new science I created called matrixing. However, they are all romances as I describe the lives of the second generation of Sinclairs, with my most recent book Nobility about the grandson who will be Emperor. Why? Because the most important decision you will ever make is choosing your life partner!

As a result of all these fairly-accurate descriptions in reviews, I decided to write a prequel to the series, some 150 years in our future but 400 years in the series’ past, about the two fabulously wealthy men who ‘own’ the planet and must decide how to colonize it. I’m having great fun with it, for at one point I ran a poll asking participants whether they would colonize a planet that chartered for a Royal ruling family – and you cannot imagine the harshly negative responses to that poll!

In this prequel, tentatively titled Undying Dawn, the protagonists reject current political models for their colonial charter and fall upon good old-fashioned vassalage. They realize there are real benefits to the hereditary transmission of power, so they populate the new planet with 50 ‘dukes’ as they become the administrators in the Urban District capital. That work-in-progress, also laced with romance and about 50% complete, should be out in 2014; I am also working on another prequel and a finale to the series.

Nevertheless, I love reading reviews just to see how widely people interpret the words I actually write according to their personal perspectives. From my perspective, the eight books of the To Be Sinclair series are about the problems those in authority have in finding that special person who can withstand the storms, pressures, and dangers of Imperial necessity. I consider science fiction to be on the far end of the spectrum of reason to emotion, and romance the other end. My goal has always been the (sometimes erotically hot!) fusion of the two.

And the reviewer comments that thrill me the most are over how these are not ‘typical’ romances. No ‘unhealthy expectations or desires’. No ‘sappy plot lines’. My favorite review will always be my first, by Amy Dixon at The Geek Girl Project, particularly for these lines:

“I would like to point out (with a certain amount of glee) that the author has managed to write a scifi romance without relying on The Big Misunderstanding of romance, or (as is more commonly seen in SciFi romance) The Inadvertent or Perceived Betrayal for the climax of the story or the major conflict. I was absolutely thrilled about this; while there is nothing wrong with either of the aforementioned tried-and-true plot devices, they are (dare I say it) a trifle overused. And, in this case, using either would have been out of place… disrespectful of the intellect of the main characters and the nature of their strong relationship dynamic. The characters do have misunderstandings, and occasionally hurt each other, but this is not the main conflict, and the resolution is always satisfying, and helps enhance the reader’s respect for the characters.”

Excerpt from Nobility, book seven of the To Be Sinclair series:

 A watchman approached to announce it was time for lunch, so they headed back to the East Wing along 
the most direct route. As they were walking, Grandfather put his arm across Matthieu’s shoulders. 

“I know you are mindful about considering the perspective of others, but I would like for you to review the Sentinel files on Duke Makov before you pursue Miriel much further. After all, I was raised relying on his grandfather, but then I subsequently and personally executed his father, and Phillip’s Fight Brothers killed his youngest brother that gruesome Midwinter nineteen years ago during the fireworks display. Since Miriel and her family live and work in Makov’s household, they have been subjected to unusual stresses.”

Matthieu thought about that offer. Should he focus on Miriel first, and then consider the panorama of influences on her life, or should he look at the broad picture and evaluate how events had shaped her?

“Thank you, Grandfather,” Matthieu said gravely. “Let’s see how the rest of this week goes before I start perusing Sentinel files. I don’t want anything therein to cloud my judgment.”

“Very wise. And very considerate of you,” Grandfather approved.

◊ ◊ ◊

Tuesday evening, Matthieu showed up at the Makov mansion with a huge bouquet of flowers. They were not roses, but there were 50 of them, one from every single duchy, from a small yellow butterbell to the central glorious white canolus, towering high and proud. The butler once again opened the door before he had reached it, ushering Matthieu and his Sentinels immediately to the salon at the front of the building.

Duke Cyril Makov strode in, his Duchess Arnita holding his arm but lagging a little behind him as if he were towing her along. At 77 years of age, he was quite hale, demonstrating the vigor of a much younger man. “Your Highness.” Duke Makov bowed low as the duchess curtseyed. “Welcome to my manse. How are you this evening?”

“Thank you, Your Grace.” Matthieu gave him a half-bow before holding up the flowers. “I’m a bit nervous, as you can imagine. I hope Miriel will like them.”

“I’m certain she will.” Duchess Makov smiled, gliding closer to examine them and touch them gently. “A lovely arrangement, to be sure. Gentryman’s work?”

“Ah, no, I had Grandmother’s social director design it. I do not know whom she assigned to perform the arrangement,” Matthieu admitted.

“Fidel tells me you were the best student he ever supervised.” The Duke’s voice was polite but his eyes were beady. “I daresay your career will be cut short like your grandfather’s, though.”

“As well as Uncle Phillip’s was,” Matthieu replied steadily. “I’m certain my Imperial responsibilities will land on my shoulders entirely too soon. I intend to take advantage of my career to learn our defensive capabilities thoroughly. Since I will be the galactic interface of the Empire someday, I can do no less.”

The subtleties of this conversation were unnerving. The duke’s use of the phrase ‘cut short’ definitely referred to his father Andrei and his brother Zachary. Matthieu had not only reminded the duke that he had accomplished relatives like Phillip to guide him, he had responded with ‘responsibilities’ and ‘defensive capabilities’, hopefully showing the duke he knew his own strengths even as they spoke of Grandfather’s inevitable demise. Thankfully the butler showed Miriel into the room.

As Matthieu gloried in her demure but pleasant visage, he unfocused his eyes, trying to see that aura again. As a result, he noticed Duke Makov making a subtle sign to the butler as Matthieu offered her the flowers. More than a little unnerved, he focused on Miriel again and ignored the others.

“You look lovely.” He put his hand on her shoulder and kissed her temple as she took the wide-mouthed vase.

“What a glorious arrangement! Look, there’s even a cerise parrot nest.” She pointed to the spiky, mid-sized flower. “From the southern forests bordering the Gottlieb Duchy.”

“Yes. I asked them to include a flower from every duchy so I could give you the world.” He emphasized those last words; Miriel looked up with a bright smile and a firm blush.

He had her out the door very quickly after that. Duke and Duchess Makov actually escorted them to the entrance, to be framed therein for any outside observers, no doubt.

Once in the back of the ground car, he pulled her into an embrace and whispered, “I saw the duke make a gesture to the butler when I handed you the flowers. It makes me wonder if he will have an eavesdropping device placed on them.”

“It doesn’t matter,” she murmured sadly. At Matthieu’s raised eyebrows, Miriel leaned in to whisper almost inaudibly in his own ear, cheek pressed against his. “Our apartments have always been bugged. At this point I suspect every article of my clothing has, too, for the laundresses spent all day fussing over my wardrobe yesterday while I was at class, Mother said.”


Eva Caye is the author of the To Be Sinclair series, featuring Dignity, Majesty, Fealty, Royalty, Dynasty, Loyalty, and Nobility, with an add-on book of four novellas titled Evan’s Ladies. The first two books cover the romance and first years of marriage of Empress Felice and Emperor Victor Sinclair, set approximately 600 years in the future on the planet of Sinclair Demesne. They particularly feature Felice Sinclair’s development of stargates, a technology so dangerous she must keep it secret, yet so critical she charges billions of dollars to create them, catapulting her into the position of ‘the most important person in the galaxy’.

Books 3-6 and the novellas feature the lives and romances of the second generation of Sinclairs, how they strive to find their true loves. Each book features different Imperials, so they all have unique ‘tenors’ according to the personality of the main characters. Prince Phillip is philosophical and in the Service, so he dwells on the nature of military service as well as fighting. Crown Prince Zhaiden is brilliant but a bon vivant, thus he learns beauty and charm are not precisely what he needs in his future Empress. Stefan, Josef, and Evan are trained by their mother to master her ultra-private stargate science; intellectually capable of handling the work, their personal lives suffer from her demands. Princess Anne and Princes Brian and Christian are dedicated to their careers as Stargate Scientist, Sentinel, and Serviceman; how do they find mates who can handle the extreme security necessities of their lives?

Eva lives with her magnificent husband and two lovely mutts in a tiny, century-old farmhouse in Louisville, Kentucky.




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