In genre fiction, romance often follows well-trodden paths: grand gestures, destined lovers, and obstacles that only serve to strengthen bonds. Yet, when dark fantasy is introduced, the narrative deviates.

Alleria by Chantal Noordeloos is a testament to this shift. Romance is as nuanced as the world it inhabits, challenging conventional expectations because, unlike traditional romance, it does not follow romance beats. This love story spans multiple books and only begins with a young woman realizing her own worth for the first time.

Q & A

Dreamers and Rogues: Crafting a Complex Love Story

What inspired you to incorporate a subtle romance into the dark fantasy narrative of “Alleria”?

I wanted Alleria to be a dreamer. When I pictured her, I imagined her to be the kind of girl who dreamt of castles and princes. Yet, instead of giving her the prince of her dreams, I gave her a deeply flawed rogue. Love is very much a part of life, especially in younger years it’s something that we all need to discover. Who are we? How do we love? Who do we love?

I decided it was one of the hurdles Alleria needed to deal with. Like everything else in her life, love is complicated too, but while I like having elements of romance throughout the story, I never want it to become the main theme.

Navigating the Shadows: Balancing Dark Fantasy with Romance

How do you navigate the balance between romance and dark fantasy without conforming to typical genre expectations?

In the first book, I had the excuse of making their mutual attraction a ‘forbidden fruit’. This allowed me to highlight that there were feelings without falling down the ‘romance rabbit hole’. The complications of Jack’s situation made a love affair pretty much impossible to begin with. Let’s be honest here: Are we really ready to give up our lives for someone we have feelings for? Especially someone who has not been in your life that long?

Halfway Jack wasn’t looking for love; he was desperately seeking a way to survive his situation. He did not set out to be some fanciful hero who would think with his heart instead of his head. Jack is cunning and calculating, and his motives are not born from a desire for love. Love was almost an afterthought.

In the later novels, there will be challenges for Alleria to overcome, which should be enough to provide balance in dealing with the budding romance. Her main goal will be to overcome the challenges that lay ahead of her as a gosgeiddig.

The Unpredictable Dance: Character Dynamics and Growth

Can you share insights into the character dynamics that contribute to the unique romantic elements in the trilogy?

Halfway Jack is an unpredictable character, but his heart is in the right place. There is a push-and-pull dynamic between himself and Alleria. I think what attracts her to him—aside from the obvious physical element—is that there is a lightness to his personality that she isn’t used to. He has a sense of humor and doesn’t judge the world or her the way others have done in the past. Their relationship starts from an unhealthy point, where Halfway Jack sets himself up to be yet another person to take advantage of Alleria. He reminds her often that he is not her friend. Yet he still takes up many roles that a friend and a protector would. He shows her kindness, fights for her, and even allows her to see his desire for her. These are all things that resonate with Alleria.

Jack himself has a deeply romantic spirit, and I think Alleria’s sweetness is part of what has drawn him to her to begin with. He genuinely feels bad for being another one of her captors, and if his life hadn’t depended on it, he would have released her as soon as he could. As much as he tried to keep Alleria at an emotional distance, he failed. In his own mind, he was very much the villain, which influenced their dynamic greatly. He had to deal with a lot of guilt. He would have cared for her no matter what, but Alleria’s transformation added a physical attraction as well as a mental pull. Had she remained a monster, he would have probably loved her like a sister after their stay in the shelter. Alleria’s innocence made it easier for Jack to let his guard down around her—he has, after all, been hurt before and struggles to let women close to him. With Alleria, he felt safe. Due to his close company with her, he grew to see her as more than his captive and even as more than just a pretty face. While lust played a significant role, he learned to appreciate Alleria for who she was becoming. Despite his complaints that he liked her better when she was compliant, that’s not the case. Jack appreciates Alleria’s deeply hidden fiery spirit. There is a danger about her too, and a man like Halfway Jack is drawn to that. They’ve spent a lot of time together, and that either brings people together or pushes them apart. In this case, it brought them together.

The Art of a Slow Burn

For some, love is fated, while others must cross great seas of time or face formidable obstacles that strengthen their bond. Alleria by Chantal Noordeloos masterfully illustrates the art of a slow burn, allowing the romance to develop naturally and gradually over multiple books. This approach adds depth and authenticity to the characters’ relationship, creating a love story that is as intricate and nuanced as the dark fantasy world they inhabit. Through this deliberate pacing, readers can fully appreciate the evolution of Alleria and Jack’s bond, making their eventual union all the more compelling and satisfying.

Alleria launches May 20th in your favorite online stores!
Alleria is available for preorder now!