(Guest blog at Read Your Writes)
Romance is very much a dance, an archaic and complicated one, and it has to be re-learned no matter how many times it appears. The first steps are always awkward, tentative. Then just when we manage to gain a bit of confidence, we trip over our feet, stumble, come crashing to the floor. Oh, the embarrassment, the self-doubt, the misery — especially since this particular dance requires considerable elegance, high polish and a promise of tenderness.
Yet, despite the required grace, romance certainly isn’t polite. It’s an obsession that makes us rude to our friends (think of all those cancelled coffee dates) and horribly self-centered (we can’t talk about anything else) and narcissistic (keeping us in search of the closest mirror).
This is exactly what happens in my romance book, All About Charming Alice. Neither Alice (my heroine) nor Jace (my hero) are particularly young. Both lead interesting lives: Alice, an original but prickly character, loves the desert and protects snakes; Jace, a writer, intellectual and definite charmer, is from the big city. Both have been in love before, have had relationships that either fell apart or grew dusty, and neither expects the zing and confusion of new love when it comes galloping in — along with confusion, hesitation, misgiving… and bliss. And while Alice and Jace are taking those first tentative dance steps, the entire nosy, cranky population of Blake’s Folly watches, goggle-eyed, from the sidelines, hardly daring to breathe but not in the least loath to interfere.
Who are those folks? Well there’s the meddlesome, ageless and shapeless couple, Ma and Pa Handy: she’s a terror; he’s her henchman. Sex bomb Rose Badger who has already chewed up most males in the state of Nevada, encourages Alice to indulge in a mad fling; Mick Fletcher, a beer swilling tough cookie and once the rat catcher’s mistress, also gives romantic advice; and well-off, rather boring rancher Brad is there too, waiting for Jace to abandon Alice, go back to gorgeous women and life in Chicago’s fast lane. And let’s not forget all the wriggling dogs in the tale, although the starring role goes to Killer, a scrawny, sloppy-looking, match-making stray.
That’s all I’m going to tell you… except, I want to make a confession: yes, I adore my hero and heroine, but my absolutely favorite people are all those odd-ball inquisitive cranks looking on.