Too Close to the Flame

The writing of Fort Worth author Rebecca Allard’s intense and compelling book, Reckless: A Memoir, took 17 years. Describing this book as intense is an understatement.

Allard’s story is an honest and courageous telling of early childhood abuse at the hands of her father and 16 years of abuse from her husband. But it’s more than that. Reckless is Allard’s story of addiction to danger and her long and painful journey in discovering herself and how she recovered from nearly fatal choices.

Why would a middle-class woman from Sweetwater, Texas, fall in love with and marry a convicted felon and psychopath from Harlem?

“Most of us never get this close to the flame,” Allard says.

Her story is set in New York in the 1970s and ’80s. Allard, a former actress, was working in a copy center in 1975, in a building that housed The Family, a theater company for ex-convicts. She was drawn to a man named Al Black. Charming in the beginning, Black showed his true colors after Allard married him. His world was one of violence and drugs, and he wanted her to be a part of it.

There were many factors that created the needs that caused her to be so attracted to him, Allard says.

“The easy answer is that I had suffered abuse from my father, who was mentally ill. That experience when I was 3 years old, combined with the fact that my father was the one who connected with me on an emotional level, was an odd and toxic combination of danger and compassion. It stayed with me. That is the short version of my relationship with Al,” she explains.

Allard says that the journey with him, and his teaching her to be the person he wanted her to be, was also teaching her some amazingly valuable lessons.

“When I look back on this entire experience, it holds everything. It holds the terror of the domestic violence and the gratitude in learning how to navigate in the world, which no one had ever shared with me, and I wasn’t able to figure out for myself. Al was the perfect mix of ecstasy and terror. When I thought I was rebelling against my upbringing, I was just running full-bore straight toward it.”

Allard wants the reader to understand that this could happen to anyone.

“One of the goals in writing this was to demystify who is the victim of domestic violence,” she says. “People want to think that it’s someone who can’t accomplish things in the world, and they are allowing these things to happen to them. The truth is that one-in-four women are victims of domestic abuse. If you’re in a room with a lot of people, you’re in a room with a lot of secrets.”

Reckless pulls the covers off a lifetime of secrets.

“These secrets are not secrets per se but are truths hidden from public view,” she says. “I had to write this book. There had to be a reason I survived to tell this story.”

After a decade of being a professional actor, Allard joined a Fortune 500 accounting and auditing firm and rose to the position of director. She retired in 2000 to focus on her writing. In 2003, Allard joined Lehman Brothers, where she served as senior administrator on the global equity syndicate desk through the collapse of 2008. She currently is working on her as yet untitled second memoir about her five years at Lehman. Author’s page on Amazon: