Falling in love . . . again . . . and again . . .
What do you do when you create that hero that makes you fall in love with him? Oh, he’s not perfect. That would be boring. This man is complex, so dazzling, so infuriating, that you fear you will never conjure another hero quite so special? This daunting question haunted me as I started work on my two series – The Sisters of Colford Hall ™ (Montlake/Amazon Publishing) and The Dragons of Challon ™ (Kensington Books).
The first series is paranormal contemporary romances and the latter Scottish Medieval Historicals, two vastly different periods, requiring two different “voices” in the telling of the stories. To me, the heart of any romance comes down to the hero. Oh, you can create a special heroine― enjoy her unique love for this vexing man. You admire her, you imagine you are like her, want to be her or know someone like her. Only, the pure core which drives romances― that makes me care ― is the hero. In spite of writing one kick-ass heroine, if she doesn’t meet a mate that is her match the stories sort of flat-lines. You have this wonderful woman; she’s strong, smart and resourceful― maybe blessed with a wicked touch of humor― yet, if you can’t give her a male worthy of her the tale fails to hit the bull’s-eye.
With the Sisters of Colford Hall ™ series, I focused on building the stories around seven sisters of the Montgomerie family. These are women who have been through the first passions of young adult lives, and for one reason or another, lost their loves― divorce, death or other complications ending the relationships. Now in their thirties, they are women coming into bloom. Long ago, they’d lost most of the insecurities about their self-worth and figured out what they wanted from life. They’re able to stand on their own feet, and not depend upon a man to define them. Independent, head-strong, they control their destinies. They’re now ready for romance, a deeper love, which is better the second time around. These ladies deserve men that are powerful, as strong-willed as themselves, smart men, more than a tad overly arrogant, because, they too, like the Montgomerie sisters know their self-value. When you conjure these Alpha matings of Ying and Yang in a romance formula, you set up wonderful clashes of wills, with both lovers going no-holds-barred to win what they want in the end.
Enter the sexy Mershan men. Men whose lives that started out rough. They’ve had to scratch and fight for their place in the world; men strong enough to take from life what they wanted because nothing ever came easy or was handed to them. Used to control, power, and forging the world to their will, they run headlong into the Montgomerie women, who for a change were an unmovable force. They might allow these men into their lives, yet they also know how to remake the world to their vision and are not about to give up their lives and their homes. For the Mershan men to win the hearts of the Montgomerie sisters, they must be willing to bend their own will or risk losing these special women. Of course, it takes a few trials and errors for these hardheaded Mershans to reach that conclusion― the fun is watching it happen!
Des was my first Mershan. Desmond― not your typical “hero” name. I am not sure why or how his name came to me― perhaps it was one of those instances were characters “tell” you who they are. In my mind I saw this drop-dead sexy hero coming up the harbor hill, as clearly as if I lived the scene. When he first meets BA Montgomerie and says, “Desmond Mershan. I presume you’re expecting me?” I knew Des would be a force to behold. I didn’t pick the name― he did! Well, Desmond is an ancient Irish name, from the Irish place-name Deas-Mhumhna (South Munster). Des needed to be half-Irish, so that fit perfectly! I fell in love with Des from the instant he locked eyes with BA. He was sexy, handsome to the point of being beautiful, arrogant, assured on the one hand; on the other he was relentless, a wounded animal, and we all know animals are at their most dangerous when hurt. His character, so in need of BA’s love, in need of the acceptance from BA’s Islanders, and his instant bonding with The Cat Dudley, made his character irresistible to me. I loved Des and it hurt when I had to type “The End” to the novel.
However, being the intrepid writer, I had already started working on the next two books in the series, even before I was a hundred pages into the Falgannon book. The next two novels in the Montgomerie sagas would deal with Desmond’s younger twin brothers. We’d met both in The Invasion of Falgannon Isle. We learned that Jago was a caring man, the Mershan with the strongest conscience, while his twin, Trevelyn, was a bit more distant, more arrogant, more in Desmond’s mold. Only, how could I love these two men as much as Desmond? Were they not paler shades of the older brother, and twins to boot? By letting go of my love for Des, and permitting the brothers to show their own characters in their own stories I soon saw they were not clones of Desmond, but their own men, and while they shared a twin’s face, they were nothing alike inside. Jago instantly recognizes Asha is something rare and more important than anything in life, and he is willing to fight for her. Trev also senses this about her sister, Raven, yet though he is pulled into her gentle world, he still sees himself as the Big Bad Wolf to her Red Riding Hood. Each man in turn won my heart.
To complicate my “love life” while I was creating the bad bad Mershan boys, I was already deeply in love with Julian Challon. My first true love, Julian was loosely based on lore from my family’s history. I was cleaning up one of my grandfather’s translations when I came across his story. Of course, that wasn’t his name― the road to commercial fiction took several turns and name changes. To my grandfather, it was simply another piece of history to try and unriddle, to add to the puzzle of the past ― to me it was a love story. A Scottish lady and Norman knight, one that started out as a rebellious woman and the other her conqueror; they found a common ground and a love that could last through the ages. I spent a long time researching it, trying to make sense of the details, how much was true, how much was the writer embellishing? During the time I researched, I came to love these people, to care about them, and knew I had to tell their story. Originally, I envisioned the tale as a saga, a sweeping one, encompassing not only Tamlyn’s and Julian’s romance, but the romances of the females of Tamlyn’s line and the men of Challon. Challon was such a powerful figure, a warrior above all men. Strong, arrogant, used to being a force in his world because only the strong survived, that I couldn’t help falling under his spell. I started the book in the late 1980s so by the time I decided to go commercial with the series, I suddenly faced a dilemma― how could any of the other Challon men step beyond the long shadow of Julian? I wasn’t sure I could create other males that I would care about enough to make the readers love as much. I put aside finishing the other books for a spell.
Unsure which would sell first― the historicals or the paranormals― I was hedging bets by creating two series at the same time. I really love writing historicals, so I had been concentrating on them from the start. Only, Lynsay Sands thought I would sell with the Sisters first and had been pushing me to focus on getting them into print. Who wouldn’t fall for a king’s champion, a warrior of old? Thus, I wondered how I could open myself to another “great” love. Surprisingly, I found I did love Des as much as Challon. Maybe not more, but as much. . . lol.
I think deep down I knew that to make it as an author, to keep readers coming back again and again for new tales that I would spin, I had to make them fall in love with the hero. If I didn’t fall in love with each Challon or Mershan― or new coming heroes like Greyson de Verre in the series I hope to launch soon, The Knights of Hellbourne ™ ― then how could I expect the reader to fall in love with them, too?
So here’s to sexy men . . .and falling in love . . .again and again . . .
Purchase The Sisters of Colford Hall series at:
Invasion of Falgannon Isle (Book 1)
Riding the Thunder (Book 2)
A Wolf in Wolf's Clothing (Book 3)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Currently she is residing in Kentucky, but often still spends part of the year in Britain. She was resident historian at WAXING POETIC (1999-2001).