Ahhh, Valentine’s Day. I do love the holiday. And even though I’m a single gal without any romantic interests other than the love affair I’m about to have with the pizza I just ordered, (maybe the delivery guy will be cute?), I still adore Cupid and his day to reflect on love.
Which got me thinking about relationships and how I’ve worked to shape and mold them in my two paranormal mystery series, The Psychic Eye Mysteries, and The Ghost Hunter Mysteries.
Now, my two protagonists, Abby and M. J., are very similar. They’re both headstrong, stubborn, highly, (and obviously,) intuitive, and somewhat emotive. Oh, and they both kind of suck at relationships. But don’t most of us when we’re young?
Which is the whole point, I suppose, in trying to match them with a good, strong romantic partner. I wanted their mates to be realistic choices for each girl, and balance their individual personalities.
So, when I started writing Abby, I decided very early on to compliment her with a man who wasn’t afraid to attach himself to someone so…shall we say…eccentric. I wanted her to have a manly man, but someone sensitive and nurturing too. I also wanted to create someone who wasn’t emotive or effusive, but a little more reserved and grounded – someone to balance Abby’s often-flighty personality.
And I wanted a character who was a patriot; a soldier at heart, because I think there is something so courageous and sexy about any man willing to put his life on the line for others. I also wanted Abby to have a smart man, who could match her quip for quip. Think Bruce Willis or Tom Selleck in Mark Valley’s body, and you’ve got Dutch.
People often ask me if Dutch is based on someone I personally know. He’s not, although there are bits and pieces of him that I’ve glimpsed in the men I’ve dated. Dutch is, however, definitely my idea of the perfect man. He’s funny, smart, completely secure in his own skin, easy on the eyes, and someone who thinks that Abby is the most beautiful woman he’s ever laid eyes on, even when she’s not looking her best. (And Dutch, if you’re really out there…call me, m’kay?)
Now, M. J.’s a completely different story, (literally and figuratively!) She’s a bit more independent than Abby – a smidgen more, “take charge!” So she needs someone a bit less in command to help balance her personality. In creating her, I also had the very clear intention of making her romantic relationships less stable than Abby’s. I didn’t want her to partner with only one man during the course of the series, because, well, most of us go through several romantic partners before we finally find someone who’s a good match for us.
I also wanted to avoid the love triangle trap, because that’s not something I particularly enjoy in romantic fiction. Most of us don’t involve ourselves in love triangles. They’re too hard on the participants. So, when M. J. makes the switch in the middle of the series from Steven to Heath – it’s permanent. (Sorry, Steven fans!)
What I’m trying to create in a romantic partner for M. J. is that tricky, somewhat elusive quality of balance. Someone to help her advance emotionally, who won’t hinder her or the mysteries. I wanted someone vastly different from Dutch because I thought M. J. would only butt heads with that much testosterone. She needs someone a bit softer…more of a poet and a romantic, and there are those elements in both Steven and Heath. Now, neither Steven nor Heath are guys I would personally date, but I think M. J. would, and that’s the point. They both suit her but not quite perfectly, which is exactly what I wanted to showcase because love isn’t perfect and relationships are never easy, especially when they’re new.
You might be wondering, however, what Dutch and Heath would get their leading ladies for Valentine’s Day? Well, Dutch would likely cook Abby her favorite meal and serve it to her over candlelight with some smooth jazz playing in the background. Over dessert, he’d offer her something sparkly – a pair of emerald earrings to match her engagement ring, perhaps. Then he’d come around to her chair, hold out his hand and ask her to dance with him in the living room before swinging her up in his arms and carrying the party upstairs.
Heath on the other hand, would show up with a dozen red roses and whisk M. J. off for a sunset picnic somewhere with a spectacular view. Then he’d serenade her with a song he’d written especially for her. He’d tell her all the ways she’d made a difference in his life, and all the things about her he loved and admired. Then he’d kiss her, long and deep….and their party would also move back home and to the bedroom. Which, I’m convinced, is the only proper way to end Valentine’s Day…wrapped in the arms of someone you love.
Still, if you’re like me, and haven’t found your Dutch, Steven, or Heath yet, I say to go ahead and order yourself a pizza, curl up with a good book, and keep your fingers crossed that the delivery guy is cute!