I had an author friend once tell me that your hero and heroine should be the absolute worst people in the world for each other. Anything less just wouldn’t be compelling enough to keep readers turning pages. My personal feeling is that’s a tad, well, overboard. But the basic idea definitely creates conflict.
Which is how I got the working title of The Scientist Vs The Spy. (I think we upscaled magnificently to the actual title, THE EX SPY WHO MAYBE LOVED ME). Dr. Blake Montgomery, who works at the premiere genomics lab in the entire country, has nothing but disdain for the artist she’s forced to share an office with when her company holds a contest meshing art and science. She’s super judgmental (don’t worry – he calls her on it!) about someone who ‘colors for a living’.
But what about Blake’s good points? Why do you care about her? Why does Wyatt care about her? Here’s where it gets good—I think it is not just important, but imperative to portray women in STEM careers. Because women are whip-smart. Driven. Focused. Literally changing medicine and the future. They’re on the cutting edge. They are motivating and fascinating.
Hey, I’m a reader (first and foremost) and a writer. Give me a book about a bookstore owner any day and I’ll slurp it right down. The first book in this series, HOTTIE ON HER SHELF, is actually about a librarian. Still, the numbers of women in STEM careers are not yet high enough. I figure that my book can be inspirational and aspirational, as well as entertaining. Blake’s working on curing blindness. I mean – that’s just awesome. She doesn’t want a promotion for more money and all the face time – she just wants to cure blindness, and probably can/will. No wonder my hero falls for her.
As for my ex-spy, Wyatt Keene? Oh, well, he’s yummy. Sorry, but it is just a fact that you have to be in really good shape to chase terrorists across Europe to keep our country safe. And seeing as how they kick off the book with a one night stand in chapter two, it is safe to say that Blake and Wyatt are hot for each other.
Which is one of the fun things about a romance, am I right? Except that – when they know nothing about each other – they’re both still drawn to the brain as well as the beauty/brawn. Wyatt calls her interesting. Blake’s intrigued that he keeps up with her verbal sparring. (Although, let me please stress, that Wyatt is one fine physical specimen).
#notaspoiler Wyatt’s forced out of being a spy four days before the book starts. He can’t tell Blake (for both safety and an extremely serious privacy oath both sworn and notarized with the U.S. government). So she only knows him as an artist. Guess what? That focus and drive, determination and protectiveness comes out in his artist persona, too. He’s spent years honing his skills of reading people. He sees Blake as herself, not as a famous scientist or the heir to the Montgomery dynasty that pretty much owns the entire town.
See, jobs don’t define a person. The person defines how they do the job. (Is that too cheesy? Feel free to judge me). My point, is you fall in love with each other, not with a scientist, or a spy, or an artist. And that’s the key to a good romance. That’s how I had a mobster and a doctor fall for each other in BAD FOR HER. And a princess who absolutely loathed the accountant sent to rein in her spending in RULING THE PRINCESS. What do a scientist and a spy see in each other? Aside from the cut abs and glorious breasts? They see the inherent goodness and heartfelt attention and steadfast determination. (Don’t worry – there is still plenty of sexy times and flirting, on top of all that deep stuff to keep it fun and funny).