Lately I’ve noticed a new trend in romance novels. Lots of books about women who are strong-willed and independent, but who secretly want to “surrender” or “give in” to a man. Usually it goes something like this: in the rest of her life, she seems to know who she is and what she wants, and she meets a man who is rich (a billionaire preferably) and powerful and arrogant and though she is powerfully attracted to him she resists. At first. But the strength of their passion cannot be denied and so she gives in. And through their sex, she surrenders control to him and learns that that was what she wanted all along.
I have been toying with the idea of that theme in my work, wondering whether it speaks to a need that women have today.
Do we want to give in? To surrender to a man who sees it as his role to take care of us?
There may be something to that. I think we have more control over our lives than ever before, but more than that, we have more responsibilities than ever before. And there is no doubt that responsibilities can feel burdensome at times; so I suppose it stands to reason that in our fantasies, there is romance, the desire to give over control sexually, but also the desire to give over our responsibilities (because a billionaire would very handily take care of all our responsibilities, wouldn’t he?).
Having said that, I’ve decided that the theme of surrender, or giving in, is more interesting to me from the standpoint of learning how to give trust. I’m more interested in female characters who learn to trust and then realize that its safe to surrender, or let their partner take the lead. For African American women, I think this is a particularly powerful wish, or theme in our lives. So much of our experience with men has been challenging that the process of learning to trust is a particularly difficult journey and an interesting one. In my novel, ‘The Seduction of Dylan Acosta’ to be released September 1, I explore the theme of learning to give trust, rather than to give in. I’m excited to see how it plays out, and how it’s received.
And as for the billionaire erotica that’s flying off the shelves, I’ll keep an eye on those too because I think the success of that genre is an interesting indicator of how we as women today see ourselves.