Kids are the greatest for being imaginative, as you can see by my photo examples. From the “you can’t see me” (hiding in plain sight) to the “I’m Mommy” to the “I’m a space man” to the…well, I have no idea what he’s thinking, they make something out of really nothing. And these aren’t even Halloween costumes.
As writers, we pull on those powers of imagination that we developed as a child. We create characters and give them backgrounds, physical descriptions, personalities, careers, strengths and weaknesses, dreams and goals. Then we figure out how to complicate their lives. We give them obstacles to overcome in their efforts to reach their goals. In romances, we give the heroine a hero worthy of her, but someone that makes her a little nuts and, of course, she desires him in spite of his flaws. Likewise, we give the hero a heroine worthy of him. We give him a woman like none he’s known before or maybe even considered liking. She makes him crazy and yet he can’t resist her. Personally, I live to “torture” my hero with a woman who makes him want to pull out his hair and, at the same time, he wants to have his way with her anywhere and everywhere.
One of my favorite heroes was U.S. Marshall Morgan Rydell Whiskey’s Rebellion. He had been burned in one marriage and steers far away from getting close to another woman. But he has a son he hardly knows and longs to, if he can give up his badge and settle down without marrying again. If he ever marrys again, he dang sure wants a sweet, loving, gentle, biddable woman. Do you get his picture? Morgan is a big, tough, gruff, take-charge kind of man (with a soft heart, of course, that he guards carefully).
To “torture” this kind of man, I naturally had to give him a woman he can’t resist but makes him absolutely crazy. Enter Angelina “Whiskey” Wakefield, the daughter of a saloon owning English Earl, and younger sister of his U.S. Marshall partner Taos Wakefield. She has no concept of proper ladies behavior, blind obedience to any man, or pretty much anything domestic. She prefers doctoring animals to needlework. She befriends saloon hall dancers instead of joining a church quilting bee. She can tackle almost anything, but she can’t cook at all. And she does everything her way…maybe a very unconventional way at times.
Here are a few snippets to set up the inciting incident that pulls these characters together for a battle-of-wills romance:
As Morgan pressed the makeshift bandage against his wound, Taos sucked in a breath and squeezed his eyes shut. He grabbed Morgan’s arm with a blood-covered hand. “I’m not going to order you. I’m asking.” He grimaced. “Whiskey. My sister. Promise me you’ll marry her.”
Morgan fought down the demons of his past. As much as he didn’t want to, he knew there was only one answer he could give. He owed Taos too much already. “All right. I’ll do it.”
Whiskey gripped the edge of the basket made of woven willow branches and the valve line at the same time. She hazarded a glance over the side. Dodge City was finally well within sight. She pulled on the line to open the valve and release another spurt of flame, which in turn sent more hot air into the balloon envelope. It wouldn’t be long now.
She looked over the side again and found the buildings of Front Street much closer. The train, which had remained in Spearville long after she’d taken flight, was puffing closer as well. She sucked in a steadying breath and went into action. Landing a balloon was tricky business and working with the different winds took a lot of concentration.
Something yellow floated in the sky above the town. Morgan reined Demon in and snapped, “What the hell?” He’d seen one of these contraptions before, back east. A balloon. He had seen one list off to one side like that right before it fell out of the sky. “Damn thing’s gonna crash!”
Whiskey’s Rebellion is available at Blushing Books, along with fourteen other of my novellas and novels.
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