Ben Harris, the hero in my latest release, UNCOMMON PASSION, first showed up on the scene in my previous erotic romance release, UNCOMMON PLEASURE. Ben was the man the heroine turned to when she wanted to get over the Marine who broke her heart half way through his deployment. Her life was falling apart around her ears, and she didn’t want anything more complicated than booty call. She knew Ben is a cop with a reputation, and therefore perfect for what she needed. Eventually Ben ends up in a ménage with that heroine and her returning Marine, serving as the catalyst to their HEA.
Erotic romances often feature a character like this, Dan Savage’s perfect ménage partner: someone you trust totally who will fade into the background and never mention that single night of passion again. But Ben’s willingness to be used like that stayed with me long after I finished that book. My favorite way to come up with plots for books is to develop the characters as deeply as I can, then imagine the worst thing I can do them. It’s a fun (and by “fun” I mean “cruel”) way to work out a book, and in this case, it led me down a very specific path:
What if jaded, world-weary, emotionally unavailable Ben meets Rachel, who happens to be a virgin? What if he doesn’t figure out she’s a virgin because a) he’s drunk and b) she’s doing her best to hide it? What if, when he confronts her, she tells him she chose him because she knew he wouldn’t care? She doesn’t want his pity or his protectiveness or his sexual expertise. She got exactly what she wanted out of the encounter, and he can go on with his life.
What if Ben’s discovered a way he doesn’t like being used, or what that says about who he’s become?
That’s the catalyst for the emotional journey in UNCOMMON PASSION: experienced cop determined to feel nothing at all meets a woman equally determined to feel everything, physically and emotionally. I was also influenced by Laura Kinsale’s Flowers From the Storm, about a Quaker heroine and a jaded duke (this is one of my favorite historical romances and I highly recommend it). Drawing from FFTS, I gave Rachel a back story set in separatist religious community she felt called to leave.
Rachel’s dead on assessment of Ben’s character rocks him back on his heels. Rachel is everything Ben isn’t: awake and aware in a world that will devastate them again and again and again. Suddenly, he does care, and what they experience together makes him face everything he’s avoided from his past. What happens between them is erotic and emotional and frightening; it’s what happens when Fate or God or love grips you by the nape of the neck and refuses to let you go.
Have you ever looked around at what you’ve become and decided to choose a different path? I have. I “woke up” in a cube farm one morning and knew I couldn’t keep doing what I was doing. It wasn’t bad or dangerous or wrong…just not authentic. Tell me your story, and I’ll choose one winner to receive a copy of UNCOMMON PASSION. Thanks for reading!
***Anne's winner is Artemis! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing address!***