Professional photographer Dana Secrest has a secret and doesn’t even know it. When she storms from her best friend’s home on Christmas Eve-not the wisest decision she’s ever made - security contractor Sam Galdicar follows her to save her from her own hot temper and impulsive action. Upon arriving home, Dana discovers her apartment has been ransacked. Then an attempt is made on her life. She doesn’t know who’s trying to kill her or why, but Sam is determined to protect the woman whose eyes don’t need a camera to see the truth.
This enemies-to-lovers, billionaire romance contains some explicit content that may be unsuitable for readers under 18 years old.
I sighed. “I suppose you have a dossier on me and know pretty much everything about me.”
“Of course,” he replied. “I’m extremely good at what I do.”
“And so am I,” I retorted. For an insane second, I wished I had my camera so I could capture him: The Arrogant Male at Breakfast. With that square jaw, those twinkling eyes, and that proud expression, he would have made a fortune gracing the covers of romance novels. I could see him doing particularly well garbed in period costume.
“Do you have any tattoos?” I asked.
His eyebrows went up, a sign that my question had surprised him. I wanted to preen at the accomplishment. Then his small smile broadened and his gaze turned sultry.
“Wanna see them?”
I kept my cool demeanor and met his gaze without melting. “There’s a studio in the city that specializes in custom cover art for a couple of the big publishers. If you’re looking for a side gig, you’d do well as a cover model.”
“You think I’m handsome?”
I huffed. “You know you’re pretty.”
“Pretty?” he echoed, looking offended.
“Pretty,” I said with a curt nod, pleased to have disconcerted him. He wasn’t the only one who could needle someone. I’d die before admitting that he made Henry Cavill look like a troll.
“I don’t need a ‘side gig,’” he muttered under his breath.
Holly Bargo never outgrew a love of fairy tales, legends, and myths. Or horses. However, one foot must remain firmly planted in the real world where Holly makes her living as a freelance writer and editor. She and her husband have two grown children and live on a southwest Ohio hobby farm with a menagerie indoor and outdoor animals.
Holly enjoys hearing from readers and other authors and may be contacted via the Hen House Publishing website: www.henhousepublishing.com.
When she's not working on other people's documents or reading, Holly finds time to transfer the voices in her head to paper ... er ... computer. If she doesn't, there's a definite possibility her mind will explode.
And for those who might wonder from where the pseudonym of Holly Bargo came, it's quite simple really. Horses. Namely an elegant and temperamental Appaloosa mare who has long since crossed the Rainbow Bridge and is fondly remembered for guarding toddler children and crushing a brand-new pager.
In his poem “Locksley Hall,” Alfred Lord Tennyson famously wrote, “In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” I don’t know what that says about summer. Maybe it’s just too darned hot.
Using that logic, summer seems like a poor time to market romantic beach reading, those light and fluffy romances with sugary sweet, happily-ever-after endings. Of course, it’s generally not young men reading those books.
Women are wired differently when it comes to thoughts of love.
That, of course, brings me to the thought of genre expectations. According to the Romance Writers of America (RWA), of which I am not a member, a romance must--must--have a satisfying ending with an understanding of happily ever after (HEA) or happily for now (HFN). Frankly, I’m all for an HEA. Anything else smacks of temporariness, which I don’t find satisfying.
In romance, the HEA usually alludes to marriage. (In paranormal, fantasy, and science fiction romance sub-genres, marriage isn’t the goal as much as “mating” or acceptance of a “mating or soul bond” is.) We don’t give consideration to divorce as an option in an HEA, because then it wouldn’t be “happily ever after.” That’s probably why second chance romances are so popular: the characters get another opportunity to work out their differences to find that satisfying ending.
As a writer of paranormal and fantasy romance, the whole romantic connection being deeper and stronger than mere wedding vows intrigues me. It often begins with love at first sight, “instalove” or “instalust” in modern parlance. I dislike those two terms and consider them derogatory. The concept of simply knowing right away that someone is the perfect person for you, the match to your soul, makes many women melt with longing. We want that.
I think men want that, too.
However, there’s a lot to be said for the slow burn, the building of love and romance that begins with attraction and grows strong and deep through association and interaction. Most romance today prefers the shortcut intensity of peril or love at first sight to force a connection. The give and take of the slow burn enables the relationship to develop. It allows the main characters to learn and accept the imperfections of one another. That’s a lot how it works in real life.
Attraction tends to be immediate. Something about the person snags our attention, inspires a second look, perhaps leads to a self-indulgent fantasy or two. It’s usually based on the physical: the outside of the person appeals to the inside of you. (I tend to choose horses that way. It doesn’t necessarily work out.)
If you’re married or in a committed relationship, then you know your partner has traits that drive you crazy and annoy you to no end. But you tolerate them anyway, because they’re part of the larger whole that you love. Your partner tolerates the traits you possess that irritate him or her, too. That’s part of the give and take of a strong relationship between partners, not between master and slave.
When writing romance, something more than mutually pleasing physical appearance should bind the protagonists. Their personalities should complement each other and make each other stronger. You know, just like real people in real relationships. The strengthening process, of course, cannot occur within a vacuum or without hardship. Strength must be tested to grow stronger.
My new book, Focus, begins after the hero and heroine being acquainted for three years. That acquaintanceship doesn’t exactly translate into friendship: basically, they only tolerate each other. Circumstances throw them together and the relationship begins to grow and develop and deepen.
You know, just like real people in real life. Except this story ends in a guaranteed happily ever after.
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