Worth the Risk: Celebrating HIV-Positive Characters in Romance

Posted on August 30, 2014


Hi All,

Stacy-Deanne (Dee-Anne) here and I want to share a bit about my new release, Worth the Risk!

About the Book:
WorththeRisk_LRG(1)Houston music critic Alvin Zak becomes smitten with violinist Madeline Deever from the first moment she lays her bow to her violin to perform a concerto. Sent to review the orchestra, Alvin becomes so enraptured by Madeline that he asks her if he can do a feature on her. The polite, yet elusive Madeline agrees to think it over while declining Alvin’s invitation for coffee. Alvin does not understand Madeline’s abrupt refusal to his invite and it makes him even more interested in getting close to her.

The last thing Madeline is looking for is love since she is harboring a secret that has the power to ruin any potential relationship. Convinced no man would love her enough to accept her situation, she fights off Alvin’s advances, but begins to fall in love with him.

Can Alvin convince Madeline to trust him and give into her feelings or is Madeline destined to spend her life alone?

Available August 30th from Secret Cravings Publishing
Amazon Link
Check Worth the Risk out on Goodreads and add it to your shelf.

Why I Wrote the Book:
Worth the Risk will always hold a special place in my heart. So far, it is probably the most important book I’ve written. I wrote it in honor of my cousin who has been living with HIV for over a decade. The type of person she is and the struggles she’s been through made me want to base a character of her. I also wrote the book because I feel that it is important for fiction, especially romance, to focus on people from all lifestyles. One thing my cousin has to deal with is finding friends and lovers who understand her situation. I wanted to write this book for others with HIV so that they have faith that they can find love and romance like everyone else.

Why I Feel the Book is Important:
I believe fiction should sometimes show the harsher side of life. I also think it is important that people have characters in which they can relate. People with HIV fall in love and are in relationships the same as others, yet we don’t see many romances focused on them. I don’t know why that is. Maybe some writers don’t know much about HIV and are intimidated to write about it. Maybe some writers feel like audiences would not want to read a romance with an HIV-positive character. All I can say is that so far, reactions from readers and reviewers have been positive toward my book. In fact, a Facebook Group influenced me to follow my heart and write this. I had someone tell me that no one would want to read about an HIV heroine, but when I asked about this I got so many others who said that wasn’t true. I like to follow my heart in my writing so I couldn’t let it go, so the story was born. This a lesson to all writers to listen to your heart. If you feel strongly about something, write it no matter what.

The Importance of Romance Books for Everyone:
As a black child, I didn’t have any books that centered on people like me. None of the children’s books I read and enjoyed had little black girls in them. I always thought about that.

When I was a teenager, I never saw romance books or many other books outside of literary fiction with blacks as characters or on covers. Romance especially weren’t being written for blacks. It was very hard for black authors to get their romances published. Until BET Books and Kimani came along, romance books rarely focused on blacks. I always thought about that.
Now, read what I just wrote and you’ll see why I feel it’s important to have books everyone can relate to. I feel this way because it’s something I’ve experienced. I wondered how many people with HIV who love romance novels ever go, “Hmm, wonder why they don’t write more romances for people like me?”

That is the question I had in my head when writing Worth the Risk and it made me more determined and proud for writing this story.

What I Hope Readers Get From This Book:
What I hope people get from this book is simple, entertainment. I also hope that it expands the minds of people who don’t have firsthand experience with HIV or with those who have it. Worth the Risk is an interracial romance before anything else, except the heroine is living with an incurable disease. Madeline is still a woman with feelings and desires like any other woman. What I don’t want is for people to overlook the book because they are afraid of the subject matter. Once again, this is a romance above all else and I hope people see that.


Madeline ran out the door and hurried down the sidewalk toward her dark-blue Mazda.

Come on!

She dug in her purse for her keys.

The last thing I need is anyone asking questions.

“Madeline?” Alvin busted out the door. “Madeline?” He ran up behind her. “Wait!”

She stopped and sighed.

What do I say if he asks why I’m here? Of course, I can tell him to fuck off but then what? I wake up and the next thing I know another feature of me will be in the magazine?

She turned around.

Hold on. Why the hell is he here?

“Hey.” He squinted. “You okay?”

“Why?” She held the prescription note behind her back. “Why wouldn’t I be okay?” She raised an eyebrow. “You saying I don’t look okay?”

“You look beautiful actually.”


She brushed her hair behind her ear.

I do like the way I feel when he looks at me. But, I can’t trust this man. He did a feature on me without my permission. Who does that?

She tilted her head.

I can’t lie and say I’m not a tiny bit attracted to him. Why does he like me though? Is he really interested in me or just my music?

“What are you doing here?” She avoided meeting his gaze.

“I’m here for my yearly checkup.” He swung his arms. “I gotta get my blood pressure medicine refilled.”

“You have high blood pressure?”

He rolled his eyes. “No, I just take the medicine because I like it.”

She grinned. “I guess your job can get stressful, huh? I’ve seen how some react when you give them bad reviews. I saw what that musician did to you on Twitter last year. I couldn’t deal with stuff like that.”

“No one likes a critic.” He clasped his hands in front of him. “That’s the nature of the job, but I love what I do. I love music, so that’s why I like to judge it and study it.” He gestured to her. “Why are you here?”

“I had to see my doctor.”

“Dr. Fox too?”

“No.” She crumpled up the prescription note. “It’s another doctor.”

“Oh.” He nodded. “Who?”

“Who?” She exhaled. “Is that really your business?”

He shrugged. “No, but I told you the name of my doctor.”

“Yeah, but I didn’t ask did I?”

His smile faded.

I hate being a bitch to him. He seems to be a nice guy but I can’t give him an inkling something can be between us when I know it’s impossible. Better to reject him now than hurt him later.

“Alvin, I told you I didn’t wanna see you again.”

“You don’t wanna see me because of the feature or something else? I’m sorry if doing the story hurt you. It wasn’t my intent.”

“Do you realize how many emails I’ve been getting since you wrote about me?” She touched her hair. “I mean…they’re nice and stuff but I didn’t want this to happen. You should’ve given me the choice.”

“I apologize, but I thought you’d be happy once you saw it.”

“Well, I wasn’t.” She held her arms to her sides. “I wasn’t.”

“I don’t know how to be with you.” He ran his fingers through his hair. “Things that I thought would impress women don’t work on you.”

“I don’t like games or tricks. I’d rather know off the bat what you want. No bullshitting.”

“Okay.” He swallowed. “I wanna go out with you, and I wanna know more about your music.”

She sighed.

“How about I give you a chance to tell your own story this time?” He touched her arm. “I really am sorry if the piece offended you.”

“It didn’t offend me. It was a very flattering feature but—”

“You didn’t want it?”

She nodded. “I don’t like people doing things behind my back.”

“You might be glad to know it’s gotten a lot of attention. I got people calling me asking me more about you and how to reach you.”

“I don’t want anyone to reach me.”

Why, Madeline?” He moved closer. “You’ve got a wonderful gift that you share with the world, but you don’t wanna share yourself?”

“I can’t.” She closed her eyes. “I can’t share myself with anyone else again.”

“Including me?”

She looked into his eyes. “Especially you.”

Upcoming Release:
Since I’m here I’d like to share about my upcoming September 13th release Empty coming from Sugar and Spice Press.SD_Empty_453x680
It’s about a May/December romance and I hope you check it out and enjoy it!

Empty is an endearing love story about soul mates who didn’t realize how lost they were until they found each other.

Forty-five year-old Sacramento Social Psychology Professor Bella Terry has developed a feverish attraction for her twenty-four year-old student, Cameron Moore. Despite their differences, Cameron finds the elusive Bella irresistible and stops at nothing to get closer to her.

Their interest for each other turns into a fascinating bond neither expected. They share their deepest secrets and Cameron realizes there is more to Bella than he ever imagined. Bella has not had an easy life and because of this, she’s built a wall to her heart. Bella pushes Cameron away, but Cameron refuses to give up on love.

After a traumatic experience, Bella realizes she loves Cameron and can’t afford to walk away.

Thanks for having me!

Check Empty out on Goodreads and add it to your shelf:
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