Pretty packages

So at my signing on Saturday, I was talking with this guy.  He’s not exactly a romance reader, although I think he was intrigued with CHAINS. Had a very cool accent, too.

We got to talking about books.  He’d read the back of HUNTER’S EDGE-loved the warning.  The warnings from Samhain tend to amuse a lot of people.  This one reads:

Warning: Some violence. Some sex. Some bloody violence. Even a little bit of bloody sex. Not all of the sex is between the hero and the heroine, even though every time that happens, the hero closes his eyes and thinks of England Angel. Not exactly a traditional romance, but I promise it does end HEA.

It amused him.  He asked about how I write vampires and made mention of a book he’d read.  It had vamps.  He hated it.  But it wasn’t the vampire aspect.  It was the characters.

I love her.  She’s so wonderful.

I love him.  He’s so wonderful.

They just luvs each other soooooo much, but nobody ever hears why.  Are the characters just in love with a pretty package?

I think it’s something we, as readers, do see in romance sometime.  I’m probably guilty of it at times, although I do try to make my characters more than just a pretty package. I try to make them real.  Give them strengths and weaknesses.  It’s one of the ways to portray a character as real…even the vamps, weres, witches, whatevers.  There has to be something real to them, something we can connect with.

Duke, the hero in HUNTER’S NEED is afraid of flying.

Duke didn’t like flying.

He hated it.

The first class seat with its wider width, abundant leg room, friendly staff and the discerning menu wasn’t going to do a damn thing to change the fact that he hated flying.  Fuck, he was already on edge because of Ana.  Getting on a plane was the last thing he needed.


He tore his gaze away from the seat in front of him and focused on the flight attendant.  She gave him a friendly smile, flirtatious and inviting .  He glanced at the cart in front of her, and decided, no.  Getting on a plane wasn’t the last thing he needed.

Getting on a plane and getting drunk was the last thing he needed.

Despite knowing it wasn’t the wisest course of action, he debated on whether or not to get some whiskey.  The burn of it might ease some of the tension inside him.

It wouldn’t last, though.  Shifters just burned through it too quick.  Although he could spend the next eight hours getting drunk on the Council’s tab, anything that was going to screw with his control was something he had to avoid.

He shook his head and focused once more on the back of the seat in front of him.  Arms crossed over his chest, legs stretched out in front of him, he stared straight ahead.  Straight ahead, because he didn’t want to risk catching sight of one of the windows.  Damned planes.  Too confining, too noisy—too fucking high in the air.

“I don’t much like flying either.”

Duke didn’t bother glancing at the woman sitting next to him.  If he did that, he might see the window.  See out of it.  See the ground way too far below.

Not one to take a hint, the woman leaned in, pressing her breasts against his bicep as she laid a hand on his arm.  From the corner of his eye, he could see her face and the mask of concern, but he could also smell her—smell her interest, not specifically in him, though.  Just a fling.

“The trick is to find something else to think about,” she said.  “So you don’t worry.  There’s nothing really to worry about, you know.  Air travel is so much safer than car travel.”

Safer…yeah, as long as they stayed in the air.  He could survive a car wreck, but even a shifter wasn’t going to be able to make it if the plane suddenly went crashing down to earth.  It didn’t really matter in his mind that it wasn’t a likely possibility.  Didn’t matter that he’d flown hundreds of times and landed safely each time. He’d used to hope that serving in the army might help his problem with flying, but it hadn’t.  The only thing frequent flying had done was just make damn sure he had to come face to face with his fear on a regular basis.

The heroine, Ana,isn’t a fighter.  She’s not an ass-kicker, she’s not a Hunter…she works as an office assistant.  She’s psychic but her strongest ability is one that tends to have a bad effect on Hunters.  Basically, she casts a null area around-blunts out the instincts of paranormal creatures, hides their presences from each other.  Since the Hunters rely on their instincts to track down the bad guys, this makes trouble for them.  She’s also unsure of herself, she worries a lot, she hates confrontation-and of course, Duke is all about confrontation.  😉

With these two, it was easy to build some depth to their characters, just because there was already so much to work with.  It’s not so easy with others.  But it’s something I need to make sure I continue to work on.  As a reader, there’s nothing that bores me more than reading a book where either or both of the characters are just pretty packages.  There has to be more to them, a lot more.  Otherwise I don’t want to read it.  I don’t want to write a book that has a reader tossing it aside for that very reason.