Title: Rouse Me
Author: Crystal Kaswell
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Day: August 4, 2014
Alyssa Summers is not the kind of girl who cheats. Sure, she isn't in love with her fiancé, Ryan Knight, but she has no use for silly ideas like love or passion. She needs someone who can keep her from destroying herself. She needs Ryan. She's sure of it.
Then she meets Luke Lawrence.
He's handsome. And he's bold—he thinks nothing of flirting with her in front of Ryan. And he's smart, and articulate, and interested in what she has to say.
But she should be able to stop thinking about him.
So what if his big, brown eyes light up when he smiles? So what if his laugh completely disarms her? So what if his touch-- even his fingertips grazing her back-- makes her body hum?
She shouldn't feel so tempted. She shouldn't feel so desperate to know him. Luke is Ryan's business partner, for God's sake. She should be able to resist him.
But she can't. She wants Luke more than she's ever wanted anything.
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22699958-rouse-me?ac=1
What inspired you to write Rouse Me?
Rouse Me is the product a feeling I know very well—frustration. I hadn't planned on writing a novel. I had gone to film school. I had written half a dozen screenplays, romantic comedies, mostly. But I was frustrated with screenplays. I was frustrated being so outside of my characters' heads. I was frustrated by the lack of compelling female characters on film and in TV. It felt like I was waging an impossible war. Was there any place for fucked up female heroines? Was there even a place for love stories?
I took solace in romance novels, contemporary and new adult mostly. At least these stories were about women. At least these stories were about two people falling in love. I adored tons of romances, but I still felt like something was missing. So many heroes were controlling assholes better known as alpha males (especially in more explicit novels). These were not the kinds of guys I liked. Hell, I'd never met a guy like this, or a woman who would put up with him. I still remember, vividly, a screaming fight I got into my boyfriend when he told me I shouldn't get another tattoo because it would somehow ruin my body. I wouldn't talk to him for days. Hell, I had to be dragged to family outings. But, when these “Alpha men” were controlling, the heroines just put up with it. They didn't care. They even liked it.
Don't worry—the boyfriend learned the error of his ways and apologized and has never, ever tried to tell me what to do again. He even held my hand when I eventually got another tattoo, albeit a different one than the theoretical tattoo we fought over.
I am an outlier. I do realize that. Other people have a much higher tolerance for being told what to do. There is something naturally contradictory about my personality. I always want to do the opposite of what everyone else is doing. So, naturally, I wanted to do the opposite of what I saw in most of the romance novels I read. I kept reading about these controlling men and I kept wondering why someone would put up with that behavior. What would make an otherwise capable woman embrace being controlled?
And I came up with something—an eating disorder. Eating disorders are very much about control—controlling your life, your body, your food intake. A person who was recovering from an eating disorder would be giving up a huge amount of control. She would likely find comfort in control coming from somewhere, even if it was from her boyfriend.
So, after reading many, many novels and finding no heroines with any signs of mental illness (a few heroes have PTSD), I made my protagonist a recovering bulimic. She's someone who isn't good at dealing with her feelings. She used food to silence them, and, no that she's given up binging and purging in favor of a strict recovery diet and her boyfriend's guidance, she's easily overwhelmed.
I was tired of reading about women who didn't realize they were beautiful. So, I made Alyssa acutely aware of her beauty. She's an actress and she fits into a certain type. Other people-- agents, casting directors, producers, men-- see her as beautiful and nothing else. Or they see her appearance as a tool they can exploit.
Like I said, I'm naturally contrarian.
Once I found Alyssa, the rest fell into place. She's in a controlling relationship, so her boyfriend, Ryan, must be controlling. She's smart enough to realize this, but she stays with him for plenty of valid reasons. She's chosen the security of their relationship over love or passion.
Luke was an especially difficult character. Alyssa has been around the block. She's used to men being interested in her, and she can usually see right through them. Luke had to be different. He needed to test her belief that she was better off with Ryan. He needed to have romantic ideals, even if he couldn't admit it. He needed to be thoughtful—the kind of person who sees fault in Casablanca, the supposed most romantic movie ever made. And, most of all, he needed to be direct. Alyssa has no time for bullshit.
I agonized for a long time over publishing Rouse Me. I worried that people only wanted familiar tropes. Would they really want to follow my not so innocent heroine? Would they really fall in love with my non-alpha hero? Would they really accept how deeply I dive into Alyssa's messed up thoughts?
But I wrote this book to fill a Rouse Me shaped hole in the contemporary romance genre. I wrote this book because it's exactly the kind of book I want to read. These are exactly the kinds of characters I want—real, three-dimensional, and littered with baggage.
And I published it to prove everyone, including myself, that people do want a romance novel with as much maturity and depth as anything that could fit into the “literary fiction” genre.
About the Author:
Crystal Kaswell is the author of Rouse Me, coming August 2014. She is a voracious reader, typically consuming books in only two or three days. When not reading or writing, she is typically playing board games, drinking tea, or riding her beach cruiser around Los Angeles.