Characters – The backbone of every romance
By Bronwen Evans
Hello, I’m waving from New Zealand. Thanks for having me as your guest today! My name is Bronwen Evans and I write Regency romances for Kensington Publishing.
I love talking to readers; they always tell it like it is. They soon inform you if they like your book or not, you can’t escape reviews and feedback in this internet world. I love feedback. It’s how you learn to improve, and learn what readers liked or didn’t like.
Not every reader will like my books. They may not like the plot, or the writing, or worse luck, the characters. Characters are the crux of your story, without demanding, infuriating, honorable, likeable, loveable characters, why read their story?
Readers bond with characters in different ways. I compare it to real life. You meet many people throughout your life, not all of them become you best-friend. Some become friends, others merely acquaintances.
That’s what happens with books. When you bond with the characters, fear for them, laugh with them, love with them, they become your best-friends. Currently my best-friends are Henry St. Giles, Earl of Cravenswood, and Lady Amy Shipton, from my current work in progress, To Challenge the Earl of Cravenswood, due out August 2012. It’s book three in my Wicked Wagers Trilogy. You also can’t write a book if you don’t love the characters.
Characters drive a romance. Readers have to find something in the character that they can bond with. Empathy is an important tool in building a readers desire to get to know your hero and heroine. I, myself, love the emotionally wounded hero who has to struggle with deep fear in order to open his heart. My hero in book two of the Wicked Wagers trilogy, To Wager the Marquis of Wolverstone, Marcus Danvers, The Marquis of Wolverstone, had his heart broken ten years ago when his true love eloped with someone else. Now she’s back asking for a favor and he’s determined not to lose his heart to her again. A reader can empathize with him. I wouldn’t want to trust her again, would you?
Then there is the hero out for revenge. My hero, Harlow Telford, the Duke of Dangerfield, in book one of the Wicked Wagers trilogy, To Dare the Duke of Dangerfield, is consumed with revenge. His mother was seduced and left pregnant by a man who took advantage of her grief and fear when she became a widow with an estate to hold for her young son. When the cad refused to marry her, Harlow vowed to take everything the man owns from him, and give it to his innocent half-brother, who should by rights inherit. Once again I can empathize with his situation. He wants to do right by his half-brother.
Caitlin had never met Dangerfield’s mother. She’d seen her from afar but never been invited to approach. Harlow looked so much like her.
The Duchess was still an attractive woman. Only a glimmer of grey showed in the fair tresses. However, while Harlow’s face resembled his mother’s fine aristocratic features, he must have received his dark curls from his father. Caitlin didn’t remember the previous Duke at all.
“Likewise, Duchess,” she responded, politely. “I hope you were not hurt.”
“Not at all. Harlow you must introduce me to your companion, although I can guess who this delightful young woman is. You must be Lady Caitlin Southall.”
As she spoke the young boy—Jeremy—moved to his mother’s side, staring at Caitlin as though she were some evil monster he’d discovered under his bed. The ferocious expression on his face made him far less attractive than she’d originally thought.
“Lady Southall.” The Duchess spoke hesitantly. “May I present my younger son, Jeremy. Jeremy, make your bow to our neighbor, Lady Southall.”
But the boy didn’t move—except to look her over. Then a sneer formed on his lips. “I refuse to acknowledge a Bridgenorth,” he said. And with that he turned on his heel and stalked back to wait by the carriage.
The Duchess’s face paled to the color of milk and her fingers tightened.
“Mother.” Harlow urged his horse closer. “It’s late. Lady Southall must get home.”
Caitlin understood neither the hatred spewing like sulphur from Jeremy’s mouth nor the urgency in Harlow’s tone.
His mother ignored him. “Caitlin—I may call you Caitlin?”
Still completely taken aback, Caitlin could only nod agreement.
“Thank you. Please, Caitlin. Forgive my son. He is young and does not think before he speaks.”
It was more than that, Caitlin knew, but as she had no idea as to the origin of the bad blood between the Harlow Dangerfield and her father, there was little she could say except, “Think nothing of it, Your Grace.” After all, it wasn’t the duchess’s fault that her son—both her sons—seemed unable to be civil to their neighbors. Why should Caitlin care? All she required was the opportunity to win her house back.
“Since Jeremy has chosen to be rude,” the duchess continued, “I do hope my eldest son is not bothering you.”
“Not at all. He has been helping me with a project dear to my heart.” That, at least, was true.
“How interesting.” The duchess sent Dangerfield a beaming smile. “I do hope Harlow remembers that he is a gentleman.”
Dangerfield looked even more uncomfortable and his mother laughed. “I heard some interesting gossip in London, Harlow. I shall discuss it with you when you get home.”
Caitlin watched, fascinated, as the dreaded Duke of Dangerfield’s cheeks flushed a very unmanly shade of pink.
“Mother, is there any need for this?”
“Absolutely. We shall discuss the significance of your social schedule later this evening. Don’t be late I shall be waiting up. It has been lovely to meet you, Lady Southall.” And, with another smile, the duchess turned back toward the carriage. “Come along, Jeremy.”
“Can’t I ride back with you, Harlow?” Jeremy asked.
“Not today,” Dangerfield said. “I have to see Lady Southall home first. You go with mother. We can go out riding tomorrow morning.”
Once again the boy shot a furious glare at Caitlin. She, in turn, studied him, making sure to keep her face as expressionless as she could. What on earth was wrong with the boy? She couldn’t understand why he’d taken such an aversion to her.
She tried not to listen to the pair’s private conversation, but Jeremy was so loud.
“How did you get the black eye?” Dangerfield looked grim.
Jeremy flushed and bit his lip. “It was nothing of importance. A few of us were practicing our boxing. My face accidentally got in the way.”
Harlow couldn’t see Jeremy’s expression, but Caitlin could. The boy was lying. Why?
Harlow must have guessed this because he said, “Do you need me to come to the school?”
“No.” Jeremy’s chin lifted and his fists clenched tight. “I can fight my own battles, thank you. I don’t need you to treat me as if I’m still a child. I can manage on my own. But what are you doing with her?” He stabbed a finger accusingly at Caitlin. “I don’t need my older brother, the Duke, to marry a Bridgenorth just so I…”
[CLUE TWENTY-EIGHT: WOMAN]
For my hero, Henry St. Giles, I’ve twisted a feminine desire and applied it to Henry. He wants to marry for love. He grew up in a household where there was little to no love. He refuses to put his children through that kind of upbringing. He wants a love match and will not be bullied into a marriage simply in order to ensure an heir, even though he’s the last in his line and someone may be out to kill him. I think we all agree with his sentiments here. We all want love.
Character’s motivations are the foundation for their emotional journey. Make them realistic, make them understandable, and build empathy with readers for your characters. Use this as the launching paid to writing loveable characters. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it when they become reader’s best-friends.
I’m giving away two copies of To Dare the Duke of Dangerfield in eBook format to two lucky commenter’s. Simply tell me who your favorite romance character is and why? (Open internationally)
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And don’t forget my Invitation to Romance blog tour.
The Book Tour Grand Prize – A $200 Amazon, or B&N, Voucher PLUS… A Book Basket of 30 ‘SIGNED by the AUTHORS’ books…
New Zealander Bronwen Evans grew up loving books. She’s always indulged her love for story-telling, and is constantly gobbling up movies, books and theatre. Her head is filled with characters and stories, particularly lovers in angst. Being able to write her characters stories is never work, it’s a dream come true. Is it any wonder she’s a proud romance writer.
She writes both historical and contemporary sexy romances for the modern woman who likes intelligent, spirited heroines, and compassionate alpha heroes. She’s won several romance writing competitions and is a member of several writing organizations, including RWA, RWNZ, and The Beau Monde. Her 2011 debut novel, INVITATION TO RUIN, received a 4.5 star rating from RT Book Reviews and was nominated in the RT Reviewers’ Choice awards – Best First Historical.
When not ensconced in her study writing her characters thrilling journeys to their happy ever after, Bron can be found on the golf course.
Readers can contact Bronwen via email at firstname.lastname@example.org For more information on all of Bronwen’s books, including updates on novels yet to come, visit Bronwen’s website at www.bronwenevans.com