Once upon a time, a little girl sat enthralled in a story about a prince and his princess. She was officially obsessed with love, romance, and most of all—boys.
Fast forward a few years to the summer before high school. Her older sister gave her Dance with the Devil by Sherrilyn Kenyon (Now McQueen) and here we go again. But now there’re adult themes. Lusty sex and epic battles! And MEN. Holy masculine obsession, Batman!
With her cousin, they’d sneak off to the bookstore. The one in the city, not their hometown so as not to be recognized. They’d buy and trade romance novels. The darker the hero’s past, the better. A strong and funny heroine? The girl was hooked. She read more books that summer than she had ever dreamed possible. Who knew you could read a whole book in two days??
Her mother was quick to tell her, however, that those heroes were not real. Real guys don’t change, they hardly listen, and they never keep their promises. Well, teenage guys don’t anyway…
Still, the girl watched the boys…
at her high school with curiosity and intrigue. Determined to be a strong heroine in her own story, she ended up scaring most of them away. Go figure. By the time senior year came around, she was just ready to get the first time over with so she could get on with her life. So when she met a boy who was graduating early and bound for the Marine’s it all made perfect sense. Of course real life isn’t a story and about the time they’d done the deed they didn’t want to live without each other anymore. He made her laugh and she showed him a new side to the world.
With bootcamp looming, they made the most of what they had. When it was time, they said their goodbyes and promised to write. And write they did. She wrote every single day, he wrote back most days. One such letter wasn’t addressed to the girl, though. He’d addressed it to her father. Who beamed with pride as he asked if she wanted to marry the boy. He’d asked permission to propose! Of course she did. Who are we kidding? She’d been WAITING for this! Her strong hero (with a way darker past than she knew, not to mention a war filled future) was here to stay.
Nineteen years old…
and surrounded by their friends and family, they said “I do”. Lit the unity candle, and partied like it was 1999.
Now, any good romance reader knows the heroine needs her own struggles and things to learn and grow. And if she wants to keep up with a Marine hero, she better get started quick! Not that being a military spouse was easy. It wasn’t. Which lead her to make a decision. Almost as soon as she’d moved from her small New England town to Jacksonville, North Carolina, she enrolled in college. Determined to get her bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and then join the FBI. Along with her romance books, she’d amassed a collection of works on abnormal psychology and serial killers. The BAU sounded like just the place for her while her husband was off fighting a war.
But then reality hit. Her husband was going off to war. Like a real war. Not training in the desert, but bullets flying, IED’s blowing up, snipers, ambushes. War. They were told his chances of survival were low. Very low. They talked it over, long and hard, before deciding to have a child. If he didn’t make it home, at least she’d have a piece of him.
Conceiving was much more difficult than they expected. Especially since both their parents’ marriages were started by unplanned pregnancies. That then resulted a whole slew of children. They were like rabbits… but that’s besides the point.
Five days after he left…
for Afghanistan and a week after their first wedding anniversary, the test came back positive. She called his mom first. And then told him, via Facebook Messenger because she wasn’t sure when or if she’d get the chance again. Turned out he called a day or so later. But hey, hindsight is 20/20.
With a baby on the way and some epic complications with her pregnancy, the girl forewent school and dove into being a mom. Eight months and a week later, the Marine was home, and his wife was in labor. Three weeks early.
After welcoming their tiny (5lbs 7oz) bundle of joy into the world, she needed something to do while he napped. Never one to clean unless it was absolutely necessary—she picked up a long forgotten hobby. Writing.
That, my friends, is how Angela Breen came to be. Now, ten years later, I’ve been publishing for five. The Marine is now a veteran, and we have three beautiful children. And as you well know, we live happily ever after…
Happily ever after…
That’s the dream, right? The goal, what we’re all searching for. We want to be happy. Regardless of everything else. Pretty love stories are happy. They’re fun and with any luck, funny. They make you see what could be and fill you with hope.
But love also burns. It can use us up and spit us out if we’re not careful. Gritty love stories bring in outside struggle. The struggle for life or safety as the characters fight for each other. Despite the dangers all around them. A crime to solve and a lover to save. The best of both worlds.
So naturally, my books involve both. The darkest and the best parts of the human experience. The thing is, sometimes love is pretty and sometimes it’s gritty. Life isn’t a happily ever after, but we can pretend everything will work out while living between the pages. Escape with me. Start reading pretty, gritty, love stories today.
I’m always open to speaking to book clubs, on podcasts, and at local meet ups (Within reason, I’m in central NH). If you’d like to schedule something, please reach out to angela (at) angelabreen [dot] club.