Monday, March 7, 2011

Julie James Ponders Sexual Tension

KATI: What's better than an author who is a master of bringing the funny, smart, incredibly sassy heroines, and heroes who we just want to sink into? Not much. Julie James epitomizes all of those things, and on top of that, is just a cool chick. Please help us welcome Julie to the Island, as she talks about her new release, A Lot Like Love.

First off, I want to thank the DIK ladies for inviting me here today!

The other day, someone asked me a question that got me thinking. She asked me to talk about the “opposites attract” theme that I write in my books. In my answer, I discussed how my books all feature a dynamic that I like to call “dislike at first sight,” but for some reason, I found myself avoiding the term “opposites attract.”

I think this is because the heroes and heroines in my books aren’t true opposites, they just. . . rub each other the wrong way. Push each other’s buttons. But as they get to know each other, they slowly begin to realize that they’re not all that different, that beneath the surface they have similar goals, ambitions, and desires.

My new release, A Lot Like Love, is a good example of that. The heroine, Jordan Rhodes, is smart and sophisticated and owns the most successful wine store in Chicago. Oh, and she also happens to be a billionaire heiress. The hero, Special Agent Nick McCall, is much more rough-around-the-edges than the usual smooth, suave, well-moneyed types that Jordan usually meets as part of the crème de la crème of Chicago society. Here’s Jordan’s first impression of Nick:

Her words trailed off as she stopped at the sight of the two men standing near the front of the store. For some reason, she felt tingles at the back of her neck. Perhaps it had something to do with the man closer to the door. Her eyes immediately fell upon him—he didn’t look like her typical customer. He had chestnut brown hair and scruff along his angular jaw that gave him a dark, bad-boy look. He was tall, and wore a black wool coat over what appeared to be a well-built physique.

This was no Italian loafer-wearer. Unlike Cal Kittredge, this man was good-looking in a rugged, masculine way. There was something a bit . . . rougher about him. Except for his eyes. Green as emeralds, they stood out brilliantly against his dark hair and five o’clock shadow as he watched her intently.

He took a step forward.

Jordan took a step back.

For his part, Nick isn’t exactly impressed with Jordan (or the wine scene in general) when they first meet:

Objectively speaking, Nick knew she was stunning. No doubt, the long, blond hair, svelte figure, and Caribbean blue eyes would appeal to many a man. With her obviously expensive coat and wholly impractical-for-snow high-heeled boots, she reminded him of the ultra-chic, designer-clad Manhattanites he’d occasionally come across back in his New York days.

Not his type.

First of all, he preferred brunettes. And curves. And women without direct relations locked up in a maximum-security prison. Or an inheritance that rivaled the gross national income of a small country. That kind of wealth had to make a person . . . weird. Probably snobby and flashy, too. The impractical high-heeled boots seemed to be confirmation of this.

Of course, we all know these two characters are already secretly digging each other, even if they refuse to admit it. And that’s where the fun comes in: watching two strong-willed characters fall in love with someone completely unexpected.

For example, a little bit further in the book, Nick and Jordan’s second impressions of each other are slightly different:

Nick blinked at the sight of the woman standing before him. He’d expected to find the stylishly dressed and designer-clad sophisticate he’d met five nights ago. Instead, Jordan stood on the porch wearing a black ski jacket, black body-hugging leggings, and pink snow boots. She had her long hair pulled back in a high ponytail, with a few layers framing her face. She wore not a speck of makeup, had rosy cheeks from the cold, and her blue eyes sparkled in the winter morning sun.

Interesting.

(And Jordan’s POV)

Nick leaned against the counter opposite her, stretching out his tall, leanly muscular body. He wore a navy crewneck sweater, jeans, and a gun harness that made him appear even more dangerous than he had that first night in her store. She took note of his strong, angular jaw, which was once again dark and stubbled.

It wasn’t the worst look she’d ever seen on a guy. She wouldn’t go as far as to say she liked it or anything, but she supposed some women found this sort of overt . . . manliness attractive.

I’ve always found sexual tension to be a hard thing to define—I just know it when I see it—but maybe it has less to do with conflict between the hero and heroine and is more about the internal conflict within the characters about being attracted to someone they *think* they don’t like? Now there’s an idea I need to muse on some more. . .

What do all of you think? Is there truly such a thing as “opposites attract” or is it more about two characters slowly finding commonalities they didn’t first realize existed? Do you prefer love-at-first-sight stories or characters who initially don’t see eye-to-eye? What do you think creates sexual tension between a couple?

I’m giving away a copy of A Lot Like Love to one person who leaves a comment below.

32 comments:

mariska said...

oh, i want to win this ..want it ! :)

i prefer characters who initially don’t see eye-to-eye...

uniquas at ymail dot com

runner10 said...

I like a storyline where friends develop into more.
csdsksds[at]gmail[dot]com

Stacie said...

I prefer characters who clash in the classic opposites attract sort of way. I like the tension and sparks that fly between them. I also like to see when the couple realize their attraction and act on it.

user1123 AT comcast DOT net

KB/KT Grant said...

*whispers* Xander.

Hmm loves me some George.

Jane said...

I do believe that opposites attract and these differences complement each other, but I also think you have to have some common ground as well. I prefer reading about couples who slowly develop their attraction for each other. I like the buildup of the tension.

janie1215 AT excite DOT com

❤Stephanie! said...

I used to think it was highly unlikely that opposites could attract. Now, this was way back in junior high when I would sneak my romance novels behind my algebra textbook :) But I've learned more and more everyday (beyond that age) that there's more chemistry when two people are different from each other -- and I've noticed this both in romance books and in real life. It makes the "different" person much more intriguing to the other since they are not similar.

Just my two cents!
Stephanie
thestephanieloves[at]gmail[dot]com

JenM said...

I do think opposites attract because we all have things about ourselves that we don't like and wish we could change. When we find a person who has opposite traits we are attracted to that person because they do possess the trait we wish we had.

On the other hand, there have to be some commonalities. Otherwise, even though you may be attracted to your opposite you'll eventually split up because you'll fight too much if you can't find that common ground.

Sarah said...

Definitely prefer characters who don't initially see eye-to-eye - creates more tension that way :-)

smaccall @ comcast.net

Julie James said...

Hi everyone! Just popping in to say hello. I'll be in and out all day, so if anyone has any questions for me, ask away.

Put me down in the camp of people who prefer the buildup of sexual tension. I like the "slow burn". : )

Seo said...

I prefer characters who clash at first as well.

sxg21 at scasd dot org

Johanna R Jochum said...

I love love at first sight books but also love the clash of enemies to lover stories! Its all good! I love the build up of all the sexual tension!

evjochum[AT]aol[DOT]com

Casandra Bennett said...

I prefer opposites attract characters, though I'm a love at first sight gal myself. LOL Weird, huh? True story; met him when I was 15 and he was 16. We were paired up for a wedding in which my cousin married his brother, and I fell in love at first sight. Now almost 20 years later, we are married and have 2 small children. Life's good. Keep writing those opposite attract stories. SEXY!

Scorpio M. said...

In real life I see more evidence of 'opposites attract'. I think that just because personalities are different it doesn't necessarily mean their core values differ greatly and that's probably what keeps them together.

jenma76 at hotmail dot com

Amanda from Novel Addiction said...

I've heard some great things about this book - I'd love to get my hands on a copy!

Amanda
ohmorningglow AT aol DOT com

Izzy said...

I think it just creates more sexual tension if they are opposites. please enter me for the contest!

bradunwanted @ yahoo . com

Mariee said...

I prefer stories where the characters don't see eye-to-eye. I want lots of sparks and tension between the hero and heroine.

marieimy (at) gmail (dot) com

Sheree said...

Although I enjoy reading opposites attract stories, I don't see that too much in real life. If the people are too much opposites, then the relationship won't last very long; there has to be underlying qualities that are the same. Plus, don't women know within a few minutes whether they will ever be interested in a particular guy?

ironss[at]gmail.com

Chelsea B. said...

I think, you know, it's just about two people getting to know each other and falling in love with what they find. And I think it's a great writer that creates great sexual tension :-)

sgambunny said...

If characters are head-over-heels in love from the very beginning, no tension is really created, so I find their relationship turns dull throughout the book.

great giveaway!
sgambunny AT hotmail DOT com

shabbygeek said...

I think it's all about finding commonalities, but I do believe in lust-at-first sight. I don't believe in love at first sight at ALL. And high-five to any kind of tension that sizzles throughout the story!

Jessica said...

I think having "opposites attract" adds sexual tension to the plot

jsididia at gmail dot com

Leanna said...

I like characters that challenge each other to be a better person.

leanna.hiner@gmail.com

Julie James said...

Just popping in to say hello again! Thanks for all the great comments! And I also have to give a shout-out to Kati for adding in the photo of George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez from Out of Sight. Talk about chemistry... you've inspired me to watch that movie again. : )

Emily said...

I would love to read A LOT LIKE LOVE. I sometimes think it is unlikely two people who start off hating each other can fall in love in the end...but it defiitely makes for a more interesting romance book =)

fantasizesgam at gmail dot com

lisagkendall said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Lately, I tend to enjoy those stories where the characters don't see eye to eye in the beginning. But I think this changes with my mood. Thank you for the giveaway.
lisagk@yahoo.com

Dr J said...

I am absolutely convinced that opposites attract. In real life I have to do lots of counseling and I find that people look for a person to supply what they think is missing in them. Now that self-perception is not alway accurate, but that's what we go with. Sometimes it pays off and sometimes the very qualities we look for in another person that are opposite our own are the ones that become horribly irritating in the end. Go figure . . .

Kaetrin said...

I'm finding it increasingly difficult to believe in love at first sight stories. I believe in attraction at first sight but I also like stories where they couple don't initially like each other - one way or another there's sparks!

Something About You was excellent and I've been looking forward to reading this book. In SAY Ms. James put in a scene where the heroine was wearing the dress on the cover - does that happen in this one too?

Julie James said...

Kaetrin: Yep, I worked the dress on the cover into this one, too. : )

jeanette8042 said...

Characters who don't see eye-to-eye are a lot more realistic and it alos makes the story mroe interesting when reading about them clashing to falling in love.
lilazncutie1215[at]yahoo[dot]com

Kaetrin said...

@ Julie James - that's so cool! - you do realise I will be expecting the same in the next book now though don't you? *grin*

Stacie said...

Please withdraw my name from the contest. I won A Lot Like Love on another blog. Good luck everyone!

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