I wrote Billie’s story in 2015 for a romance competition. Back then, I had NO idea what genre or category romance was. Sure, I read them—Harlequin, Mills & Boon, Silhouette, and others—but writing it? Nope. It simply never crossed my mind that the stories I wrote were literary fiction or women’s fiction with romantic elements, not category romance.
Of all my books, this was probably the one that came with the toughest learning curve… and the smashing of that bubble I had been writing in for years.
I did not write romance. Not then.
So when RT Book Reviews, a well-known review service that closed last year, stated that Billie’s story was a “mistaken identity story that straddled chick lit and romance,” they were basically saying, “yo, this isn’t category romance.”
I didn’t get it though. Not then.
Since then, I could probably say that I’ve been learning how to write romance. It’s actually not as easy as people believe. There are beats, turning points, character arcs in addition to the kissing and other steamy scenes (unless you’re writing Christian or clean and wholesome romance). There are expected events that when the author fails to deliver, the reader knows. Romance readers know what they want. They know every book that claims to be a romance has to have a happy ending, either happily ever after or happy for now.
If your story doesn’t have that happy ending, no, you did not write a romance. It may have romantic elements but it’s not category romance.
But I digress…
Billie’s story used to be titled A Collateral Attraction, A Romantic Suspense Novel. There is still romantic suspense so I’ll keep that subtitle but because the story is narrated only by one person—Billie—as she struggles through sibling rivalry, grief, and guilt, I always knew that I needed to have only a woman on the cover. I’ve had couples and then a lone man on the cover for so long and it always felt… “off.”
I think I’ve got it this time. After holding on to this cover for months, I finally designed the text and the layout to fit my branding last night and it’s live. Different cover and title but the same story. I had debated on adding Heath’s point-of-view many times but each time I tried, he had nothing to say that Billie already didn’t say in the original 95k word book that’s since been edited down to 73k. The story was fine the way it was, even with its 1-star reviews and whatnot. Some stories are just fine the way they are.
But I do love the cover, and if you haven’t read it, here’s the synopsis:
The Other Sister: A Romantic Suspense Novel
Billie has always been content standing on the sidelines while her identical twin sister, Blythe, gets all the attention, including a glamorous lifestyle with billionaire Ethan Kheiron.
All that changes when Blythe and Ethan disappear and Billie is mistaken for her twin sister. Worse, Ethan’s younger brother Heath accuses her of corporate theft.
To prove her sister’s innocence, Billie will need to step into her sister’s Manolos and play the game, including pretending to be Heath’s lover.
But a life of luxury, personal shopping sprees, and private jets cannot hide the years of unresolved differences between sisters, nor the decades of lies that have left the Kheiron family divided. And even as Billie slowly falls for Heath, she realizes that until they all settle their differences, they’re really just pawns in someone else’s game of power and money… and where some of them are more expendable than others.