I’m currently doing edits on the second book in my new paranormal series and the heroine has a disability. I didn’t exactly plan it that way at first but when I started to develop her character and round out her quirks, well…there it was. It’s who she is. It doesn’t define her, she doesn’t let it dictate to her, but it’s an integral part of how she came to be the person she is. As I look at layering the book further to bring out more of this characterization, I started wondering about disabilities and how they’ve been represented in other romance novels over the years. The first that comes to mind are JR Ward’s The Black Dagger Brotherhood series. There’s a blind king and a warrior with an amputation for starters. Are there any other books that stand out? That have made an impression?
As a writer, this provides a great opportunity to explore the character and some unique scenarios, providing an added level of richness and depth if handled correctly. I’m not going to give away exactly what disability my heroine has because it’s kind of a surprise as the story unfolds, but it doesn’t weaken her, it doesn’t make her a victim. In fact, it’s hardened her to others somewhat and it’s actually made her a stronger person. By the end of the book she’s also finally able to come to terms with her situation. Of course, the book is a fast paced paranormal read so this doesn’t get a lot of page time, but it is a critical piece in understanding my heroine. I do wonder though how readers will perceive this.
So what do YOU think about disabilities and how they’re represented in romance?