Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sex, Death and Taxes

By Margaret Tanner (Guest Blogger)

Everyone has to pay taxes; no government on earth is going to let their citizens get away without paying taxes. Taxes on your salary, business tax, death taxes, you name it, they will tax it.

In romance novels, we don’t talk about taxes. I don’t recall ever having read anything about tax collection.

Sex – yes in all its forms, sweet and tender, just a kiss or two. Hot and spicy, no shutting the bedroom door here, and the steamy, red-hot erotic novels that I don’t write, but I do commend the talented authors who do, and pull it off so successfully.

Death – In novels, I consider death to be a great tool in creating emotion and upping the drama. I don’t mean having the hero and heroine die, but the villains and secondary characters.

I have been thinking about this in regards to my stories. I write historical fiction with romantic elements, so death is probably easier to include in these stories. Harder to justify in contemporary romance, unless it is some villain who is hell bent on harming the heroine and to save her life, he has to go.

In bygone days, death in childbirth was quite common. People died of snakebite/disease/illness because they were miles from medical assistance or could not afford to pay for it. Bank robbers, stage coach robbers, cattle rustlers etc. - the sheriff could quite legitimately shoot these criminals down without fear of reprisal from their peers, or condemnation from the public.

In war, on the field of battle, soldiers die or are wounded, so we happily accept this in historical romance. We probably shed a tear or two for the gallant warrior and the staunch heroine who waits in vain for him to return. We wouldn’t throw the book against the wall because of this. We just sigh with contentment when another dashing soldier rides into the life of our heroine and she finally gets her happily ever after ending.

I have to confess that in all my novels there is some sex of the medium to hot variety and someone must die. Never a main character, of course, but someone invariably has to go, usually a baddie, but not always so.

As for taxes, I never mention the word in my novels unless it is to say – the heat became very taxing.

Margaret Tanner

3rd in the 2013 International Digital Awards contest hosted by the Oklahoma RWA.
Raw sexual emotion, revenge and redemption. If you want a sugar-coated romance, Savage Possession is not for you. In colonial Australia it took hard men like Martin Mulvaney to tame a harsh land.
A sweeping tale of love's triumph over tragedy and treachery in frontier Australia.

A mistaken identity opens the door for Martin Mulvaney to take his revenge on the granddaughter of his mortal enemy.

An old Scottish feud, a love that should never have happened, and a series of extraordinary coincidences traps two lovers in a family vendetta that threatens to destroy their love, if not their lives.

Amazon UK


What the hell? Martin Mulvaney stirred himself from the kitchen fire. His head thumped from the numerous whiskies he had indulged in during a session of whoring at the Black Stallion bordello. He always paid women to relieve his sexual hunger,easier and safer for everyone concerned.

God, he hated living in this house. I ought to burn it to the ground and rid myself of its terrible aura once and for all. The wind shrieked and moaned outside, rekindling memories of Emily Parsons and what had happened to her here. Taking another swig from the whisky bottle, he tried to blot out the guilt that had tortured him for more than twenty years. I could have saved her but I didn’t.

He rubbed his hand across the bristles on his chin. The sound of the front door knocker being slammed against the wooden door thudded into his fogged up brain. He would have ignored the noise, except the continual banging made his headache worse. God Almighty, how the hell had he found his way home? If he didn’t stop this kind of behaviour it would end up killing him. And good riddance many would say. “Stop that damn noise. I can't come any faster.”

Wrenching the door open he peered out into the blackness. Something made him glance down, and on the step lay a dark shape. The soft object moved when he prodded it with his foot, so he turned the lamp up and took a closer look.

A girl knelt on his doorstep. A damp curtain of silver blonde hair tumbled over her shoulders. Glancing up, he half expected to see a hole in the sky where this angel had fallen through. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. God, he must be drunker than he thought.

“Help me. Please. Have mercy.” Her desperate plea pierced the fog swirling around in his brain. When he lifted her up she swayed and almost fell. Swinging her up into his arms he kicked the door shut, and strode back inside.

“Who the hell are you?” He dumped her on a chair in the kitchen, grabbed the whisky bottle he had slugged out of minutes earlier and forced some of the liquid down her throat. She coughed and spluttered before turning her head away. “I’m Martin Mulvaney. Who are you?” he persisted, mesmerized by the bewilderment in her blue eyes.

“I…I don’t know.”


“I…I can’t remember.”

He took a long slug out of the whisky bottle.

Her rain-washed skin glistened like white marble, and a graze on her forehead oozed blood. He lifted her chair up closer to the fire and watched her trembling hands reach towards the flames. Small and dainty, a little work roughened, but no rings adorned her fingers.

His anger turned to pity. “You’ll have to change out of those wet clothes.” He inwardly cursed the fact his housekeeper was away tending her sick sister. Of course, he had planned to spend most of his time enjoying the whores at the Black Stallion. Pure chance found him home tonight.

Forced by the howling wind, rain lashed the window panes drowning out the girl’s whimpers. He strode towards the stove to lift the kettle off the hob.

“I’ll make you a cup of tea.” He tried to sound kind as he sloshed boiling water into the teapot, but it was hard when he hadn’t shown concern for a woman in years. He used them for sex, was never physically abusive and always paid them handsomely for their services. Not like his father who used to delight in punishing and humiliating women. He clamped down on the bitter memories and the fear dogging him for years that he would one day turn into a woman beater like his father “I could do with some myself. Might clear my head.”

He stared into the girl’s face as he handed her the tea. “Come on, drink this, it will help warm you up.” Her eyes seemed enormous and he could have drowned in their haunted, pain filled depths.

Fear contorted her pretty face. “Who am I?” Frail and ethereal, like an angel in a religious picture, she looked the epitome of everything beautiful in a woman. Untouched, untainted, the perfect bride for a man who wanted marriage, which he didn’t. He tried travelling down that road once before and it had cost him dearly.

About Margaret

Margaret Tanner is a multi-published Australian author. She loves delving into the pages of history as she carries out research for her historical romance novels, and prides herself on being historically accurate. No book is too old or tattered for her to trawl through, no museum too dusty, or cemetery too overgrown. Many of her novels have been inspired by true events, with one being written around the hardships and triumphs of her pioneering ancestors in frontier Australia.

As part of her research she has visited the World War 1 battlefields in France and Belgium, a truly poignant experience.

Margaret is a member of the Melbourne Romance Writers Group (MRWG). She won the 2007 and 2009 Author of the Year at Her novel Frontier Wife won the Best Historical Romance Novel at the 2010 Readers Favorite Award, and another novel, Wild Oats was a 2011 Finalist in the EPIC awards. In July 2013, her novel, Savage Possession, came 3rd in International Digital Awards contest hosted by the Oklahoma RWA.

Margaret is married with three grown up sons, and two gorgeous little granddaughters.
Outside of her family and friends, writing is her passion.



Lisabet Sarai said...

Greetings, Margaret! Welcome back to Beyond Romance, and thank you for sharing this dramatic excerpt. You have really brought this scene to life for me.

As for taxes - well, a failure to pay taxes is the triggering event in my recent novel RAJASTHANI MOON. However, I must admit that once my heroine arrives on the scene, nobody mentions taxes!

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Lisabet,
Thank you so much for inviting me here again. Always love visiting here. Ooh taxes, we must be on the same wave length. Well, of course, I would be very surprised, no shocked, if they did mention the "t" word once the heroine appears.



Ann Herrick said...

Love that cover and sounds like a great story!

Excellent points about death and taxes. The only book I can remember where taxes were mentioned was Gone With the Wind. Scarlett is in danger of losing Tara to taxes, which indirectly leads to her inadvisable second marriage. Not the sort of tax worries one usually thinks about!

Kathy Fischer-Brown said...

As always, Margaret, a fascinating blog...and excerpt. And as always, here's wishing you all the best.

A.M. Westerling said...

Sounds like a terrific story, I look forward to reading it! :)

Victoria Chatham said...

Having read and thoroughly enjoyed Margaret's Fiery Possession, this excerpt has whetted my appetite for more. Historicals fascinate me because of the details an author needs to incorporate in them and still make them interesting. Good luck with Savage Possession.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Victoria,
Thanks for dropping by. Glad you enjoyed fiery Possession, Savage Possession is loosely linked to it. A couple of the same characters appear in it.



Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Astrid,
Thanks for dropping by.



Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Kathy,

Thank you.



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