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.
(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.