Do you like Capture Romances? Then you might want to check out Snatch Me by Nara Malone. Snatch Me explores the world of capture romance. The heroine finds hot sex n true feelings while exploring a virtual world where she plunges (literally) into captivity the very first moment she enters it.
This is a world in which men can virtually (bad pun intended) capture and claim any woman they find.
But what is it about capture romances that makes them so great? And why does it appeal to readers so? According to All About Romance a capture romance is one where “heroes and Heroines in these books are held captive by more than the bonds of love”. Do I hear the clinking of chains? I surely do.
What I like best about capture romance is that it allows the hero & heroine to be extremely honest about their strong surface feelings, (‘I hate you,’ etc.) while at the same time forces them to explore the other uncomfortable feelings roiling below. These uncomfortable feelings usually take on the form of ‘…but damn you’re hot. And you’re making me hot. What’s going on????” In facing these undercurrents of feeling they begin to shatter assumptions and explore sexual tension.
Capture romance stories probably descended from the “rape-y” romance novels of the 80’s. Back then women readers identified more with heroines who had less agency. Today we need heroines with lots n lots of agency.
Yet while we now want strength and sass, we still like helpless and breathless too. Voila: capture romance. However, a good capture romance is about more than just chains and a heaving bosom. In a capture situation, a protagonist must seriously re-examine her attitudes from a new perspective. She has time to face her desires vis-a-vis the culturally repressive forces that surround her, and oh yeah, re-examine that hunky hero bad boy in front of her. A heroine must show great character. She must face change and embrace it.
I think my favorite capture romance has gotta be Kresley Cole’s Kiss of the Demon King. The hero is the captive at first. [Spoiler alert: things get very very hawt between them!] This is a bit of a role reversal, and I like a good story where the power shifts from one protagonist to the other, and sometimes even back again.
[ BTW, I love capture romance so much, I wrote one myself. Shameless plug follows: It's an erotic romance called Elf Wizard's Captive. A sexy girl apprentice for a grumpy sorceress one day mistakenly captures a powerful elf wizard. When he escapes the apprentice becomes his captive...and the object of his kinky desires. If one day you read Elf Wizard's Captive, you'll see just how much I like to shift power roles back and forth.] Shameless plug over.
I also like how Cole’s romance has a very playful element between the heroine captor and hero captive. Meanwhile, Snatch Me has it’s own sly spin. The hero who is supposedly in control in the virtual world discovers that his heroine has a few tricks up her sleeve he wasn’t expecting.
Snatch Me is categorized under Ellora’s Cave’s Exotica brand. That’s where they put erotica, not erotic romance, right? But isn’t there a strong love interest in this story? Check. Isn’t there a desire for a long term romance between the hero and the heroine? Check.
Well, the author does violate a few of the basice erotic romance conventions that many readers expect. For instance, there is an early scene that does some important world building and shows how the rules of “capture role play” works. In this scene, the heroine is caught by a small group of men and…interesting events follow. [Let me give you a spoiler alert--while they are all very respectful towards her, she ends up having a thoroughly naughty good time.] That in itself is probably enough to slap an Exotica brand onto the story, but really, what you’ve got here is an erotic romance.
What I find interesting is that while I read the novella, I kept forgetting the virtual world wasn’t the real one. So while they were having sex and stuff…I forgot that they weren’t really having physical contact. Ultimately that didn’t matter. They were mentally engaging in sex, and sex is all in the brain, baby.
What the virtual world did was bring that exciting whiff of incognito that regency writers get to plunder with their masques and costume balls and all that. I could see romance writers exploring this sort of scenario more. It’s a handy way to put people into a situation where they seem to know each other…but they don’t. You could incorporate disabilities into such a scenario, or an older women & younger men spin.
Snatch Me is itself masked by its Exotica cloak. Under its techno robes is a very sweet erotic romance. In fact, I could see this hero and heroine between the covers of a Harlequin romance despite their lusty deeds and the scene in the library.
So kudos to Nara for exploring this brave new world. We’ll see if her pioneering efforts pay off and result in another new sub-sub-genre. (Bad pun intended.)
Meanwhile, do you have any capture romances that you’d particularly recommend? I’m all ears.
*In full disclosure, Nara Malone is also a good writing buddy.