Completed Romance Plot Question

Hey Nick!

So, as I was writing this summary out for my book Unlawful Temptations, I realized how sudden the mystery subplot sort of interjects itself into the story. The story starts off as your dark Rom Com and then around chapter 16 takes a turn when the mystery plot is introduced about a string of kidnappings in the area over the last six months.

That plot takes over the story and is the entirety of what the sequel and final book Seducing Danger is based around. I guess my question is: Is it a problem that the story-line veers so abruptly into this mystery plot? The only mention of the kidnappings before chapter 16 is the main character Kat hearing about them on a TV in the background, but she doesn’t think much of it. The romance of the story is still prevalent throughout the story, and is just now propelled by this new mystery plot.

The readers so far haven’t had any issues with it but seeing it laid out in the summary made it feel super out of left field and I began to worry. Maybe it’s just that the summary isn’t great? I don’t know and I’m hoping you do. lol This is also the first crack at the summary so I’m sure it needs loads of work.

Here’s the summary:

Summary

KAT Sanders wouldn’t touch love with a ten-foot pole. Not after her father abandoned her and her family three years ago, leaving behind Kat’s baby sister, CHARLOTTE, and tail-spinning her mother into a drug-induced stupor. Kat stepped up, assuming responsibility of Charlotte with a slow-building resentment for her mother growing over the years.

When Kat is fired from her job, her best friend, LAYLA, sets her up with a job as a Nanny. During the interview process, she meets DOMINIC and HEATHER Reed and their five-year-old daughter Maya. Although the interview doesn’t go great and Heather clearly doesn’t like Kat’s fiery personality and lack of a high school diploma, she gets the job.

Martial problems are obvious between the Dominic and Heather from day one, as is Kat’s attraction to Dominic. His brooding manner and dangerous job as a police officer all entice Kat’s rebellious nature, but she knows better than to get involved with a married man.

Despite Kat’s best efforts, Dominic opens up to Kat about his failing marriage and works his way past Kat’s defenses and into her heart, terrifying Kat as her biggest fear is realized- Becoming like her mother. Her mother allowed love to ruin her life and for Charlotte’s sake, Kat refuses to fall in love.

Kat and Layla go to the beach for Kat’s birthday but shortly into the trip, Dominic shows up with the news that Kat is in danger. Dominic has been working a string of female kidnappings in their area and whoever has been taking these women has pegged Kat as their next target. In the midst of the panic, Kat and Dominic get into a fight then ends with Dominic telling Kat he’s asked Heather for a divorce. Finally, the pair give into their feelings and kiss.

With their romantic troubles solved for now, Kat and Dominic focus on the kidnappings and Dominic reveals the only lead they have is a known drug dealer in the area, TOMMY. As it turns out, Kat’s mother knows Tommy and owes him money. She begs Kat to let her help right her wrong and Kat agrees, setting up a recorded meeting between her mother and Tommy.

Before this can happen, Layla is taken by the kidnappers and Kat receives a call from a stranger who bribes Kat to switch places with Layla, or else they will kill her and target Charlotte next. Kat agrees but doesn’t tell Dominic, as she’s positive the set-up with Tommy is going to work and they’ll get Layla back.

Instead, their plan fails more miserably than they ever imagined and Kat’s mother ends up dead from a suspicious overdose. With no moves left, a desperate Kat resigns to trade places with Layla even though it means the possibility of never seeing Dominic or her sister again.

At the trade, Kat expects to see Tommy. Instead, it’s revealed that Heather is behind it all. This leads into the sequel and final book, Seducing Danger.

Thanks! :slight_smile:

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Hmmm summaries have a tendency to over-simplify in that sense. While you’re correct that it does come up pretty abruptly in the description, if you’re making sure there’s a lot of foreshadowing prior, then it shouldn’t be a big deal (via the news reports). I would suggest making sure it pops up in 3-5 chapters before happening so that it seems like world-filling background information and then collides properly with your plot. It can also help a world and plotline feel more natural when they have these sorts of collisions, as happens in real life (similar to when you’re trying to go somewhere only to find out the road is closed for a parade or something).

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This makes a lot of sense!

When the news report is mentioned is in chapter 12 so it fits within your 3-5 timeline of the mystery plot being mentioned in chapter 16. Is it possible at all for you to comment on the actual summary as it is? If not, I understand but I thought I’d ask.

Thank you either way!

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Oh no I mean it should appear 3-5 times before you reach the chapter that matters, as opposed to within 3-5 chapters of it happening.

As for the summary, what would you want me to comment on/what do you dislike about it other than the nature of summaries making it sound abrupt when the shift happens?

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Ooo gotcha. Okay. So go back and add in one or two more mentions of it before it’s mentioned in a big way in chapter 16? Can do.

As far the summary goes, I don’t know? I think my thing with this book is that it introduces a lot of cliches intentionally to then go ahead and smash them later on or completely turn them on their heads and I’m worried that none of that really comes through in this summary. With my last summary attempt, you mentioned that it more so read like a list of things that happened rather than the emotional development the characters went through in the book and I’m worried the same goes for this one?

It’s a unique take on the whole boss/nanny trope with the twists that come in halfway through the book but I’m concerned if this summary is successful with getting that across or not. Reading it, I’m not sure it does but you’re the expert, so. lol

So to judge the actual summary itself:

It feels like the characters are being propelled forwards by the writer, not by the plot or their actions. Like you have a destination in mind for them so things need to happen. This often causes sudden lurches or skips or abrupt endings to some storylines so that it can be wrapped up and the next thing can just happen.

This is especially prevalent with the romance/mystery breakage. Based on real people, if you find yourself drawn into an affair with a married man, even if he says “hey I filed for divorce!” it’s not usually that simple. You have a character who doesn’t want anything to do with love, who fears all of this and hates everything around it and her entire characterization is based on her opposition to love, but then he says he’s single now and she kisses him and their romantic issues are gone.

There’s no residual fear of getting close or opening up. There’s no constant mess of sorting out a divorce, there’s no fear of social pressure if people think he left his wife for the nanny or that they were actively cheating before the divorce. There’s no fear if he cheated on his past wife he won’t cheat on her too. There’s no fear from him around her disappearing. There’s no sorting out who gets the kid or how she feels about potentially liking a man who has a child/was married up until a hot second ago.

Instead it shifts into full mystery. And because of that, it effectively has to start a new plot all over again. I think from the perspective of could these two plotlines exist together, yes, certainly. It’s interesting to see this kind of case. But the characters you’ve set up don’t play very well in it.

To have a “omg I might get kidnapped” plot is kind of fascinating, for a guy to be a cop and like a woman and then that woman have to be in protective custody is kind of unique since usually they’re put in protection first and fall in love through that. In that scenario though, he’s going to need to have some sort of issues or reservations around this, and she will too.

For example, she doesn’t want to love because she thinks it leads to misery. She ends up in love and then is immediately struck with misery. Wouldn’t that make her question the decision she just made to fall in love?

“See, I knew it. You open up your heart and it’s nothing but misfortune everywhere you go. This is what you get for loving. This is what you get for forgetting the lessons of the past.”

For a police officer who just fell in love, what does this mean to him? He just blew up his entire life that he understood, he has a kid who now needs to go somewhere and probably has feelings, and the woman he left his wife for is now a target in his police investigation. I imagine he would probably feel some guilt (he thinks she’s being targeted because she’s dating a cop) or he would want to keep his professional and personal lives separate and now doesn’t want to be engaged in a relationship with her but doesn’t know what that means. You just got a divorce for a woman and you’re going to drop her like a rock already?

There’s a lot of interplays being sidelined so that there can be a mystery plot and that makes that mystery plot uninteresting because it has nothing to do with the continuity of the character’s emotional cores from the beginning. MC opens as opposed to love, but that’s solved mid book so she can be kidnapped for awhile, and that kidnapping doesn’t help her grow or resolve anything in her character, seeing as it was already resolved.

There’s not really a reason I can see why it has to be resolved or sidelined, like I talked about above, there’s a lot of implications that come with this additional plot layer.

Also, remove Heather as the kidnapper. It is a meaningless twist that adds nothing to the plot, and if the plot were still focused on how the kidnapping impacts their lives and romance it would inherently be interesting. It feels like the twist is just there at the end to make it so that the mystery plot feels worthwhile, like you got something out of it in the form of a surprise. Also it currently doesn’t have an ending. Nothing is really resolved, except for the romance much earlier. It feels like it’s just a reveal to reveal.

I am curious to see how this plot and setup plays out by what it’s created. I want to see it exist around this romance within a kidnapping and the strains that causes.

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Thank you so much! This is exactly what I was looking for.

Solid point. That’s not how it plays in the book but I certainly see how it reads like that in this summary. The MC still has lots of struggles actually admitting she might be falling in love after the kiss and actually physically doesn’t say she loves him until the sequel.

A lot of this comes into play in the sequel which is split into duel POV while this current book is all in Kat’s POV. Though, you’re right and I can find ways to add it into the first book as well.

Huh. Never considered that specific thought as an internal struggle. Definitely adding it in. Thank you!

Again, a lot of this comes into play in the sequel but I’m assuming should also be seen in the first book some as well? There’s talks of upcoming custody hearings, him moving out, and how difficult the wife is being about signing the papers in this book but I could always add in more. Or I could just fix the summary to add in the struggles. lol

One of the things I try to make clear from the husband’s point of view is that he’s not getting a divorce for Kat, but for himself and Kat is just the catalyst that showed him that his marriage really was over. This is something that’s touched on a lot in the sequel and I’m finding myself saying that sentence a lot now. lol

I’m confused by this? What do you mean the kidnapping doesn’t help her grow or resolve anything in her character as it was already resolved? At this point in the book, she hasn’t been taken yet.

Okay. so hear me out. lol

I know Heather as the kidnapper reads as cliche, but it’s a part of a much bigger plot that takes up all of the sequel. Heather’s parents run a human trafficking ring/brothel in Atlanta Georgia and Heather works for them. She essentially has a double life that her husband knows nothing about but she uses his position as a cop to her advantage to help make sure they never get caught. That’s why it has to be Heather, because she’s been taking girls from their town and surrounding areas and sending them up to Atlanta for auction and she wants to do the same thing to Kat to get her out of the picture to try and save her marriage.

When the kidnapping plot is introduced it’s when the husband is talking about one of the missing girls who was found dead it Atlanta which some readers know is pretty much the sex-trafficking capitol of America so it’s slightly hinted at even there that it’s a kidnapping crime embedded into something bigger.

I get this. I thought since the romantic relationship was sort of resolved as in they spend the night together (After the husband brings her to the new home that he bought to tell her that he moved out and the divorce papers have been signed on his part) that that was enough of a resolution before introducing this new reveal that leads into the sequel.

They spend the night together and he tells her he loves her even though she can’t say it back and things seem to be going in the happily ever direction but the next morning is when Kat’s mom is found dead and that leads into the final chapter and reveal of Heather.

Not enough of a resolution still?

Again- thank you so much for tearing this apart. I desperately wanted this because I know it needs work but I just couldn’t figure out where or why lol

It sounds like your sequel isn’t a sequel, just the second half of the same story (and thus shouldn’t be a sequel but just all one story).

Isn’t what sequels are? Or trilogies, etc. An extension of the same story with the same characters going through different journeys?

Yes, same character, different journey, yours seems to finish the first journey though in the second story or all of the character beats don’t show up until the latter one. You can’t necessarily read the second to understand the first, or basically all your answers to large, core emotional issues or plot set ups can’t be answered in book two, which seemed to be the pattern you were noticing and commenting on as you answered stuff.

I must be dumb because I still don’t understand.

So make it a part one and part two story? I’m sorry if this is a stupid question or not what you’re saying but I honestly don’t get it. Which is upsetting because I felt like we were really getting somewhere and I was excited and now I’m just confused.

Sorry :slightly_frowning_face:

I mean it sounds like the sequel should just all be the one story and shouldn’t be broken into two books.

That would be like a 600 page book. That’s insane and no publisher would touch it.

I guess I still don’t understand how it’s not a sequel but I’ll figure it or something else out. Thanks.

Well more like the things that should be answered in book one that are sitting in book two need to be ported over and answered in book one. If that means it slightly lengthens book one or shifts it around to cut other things and potentially derails book 2, that can happen to ensure that at least the first one works as a complete and fulfilling story.

I guess I assumed that since the first, main conflict introduced in book one (the romance) is fulfilled by them spending the night together, admitting their feelings, the divorce papers being signed on his part and all around deciding to be together that that was a complete enough story. The book ends two chapters later. It’s just that within those two chapters shit hits the fan but even as book one ends, their feelings for each other are resolved and unchanging. Which- their feelings and deciding to want to fight to be together- is what I had thought was enough of a satisfying completion before the conflicts of book two are introduced ?