Welcome author J.D. Brown! We are celebrating the new release of her second book, Trace of Passion.
Movies, TV shows, and fiction are entertaining because they stretch reality. We're willing to suspend belief for a while to go on an adventure in a place where magic can happen, where the hero always gets the girl, where true, unconditional love exists.
Wikipedia calls Love at First Sight "one of the most powerful tropes in Western fiction". Its popularity spans the ages, back to Classical Greek and Roman poetry.
How many of you believe in love at first sight in real life? Or in soul mates? You might like to think it's possible. You might even know someone who seemed to find true love with the first person they ever dated. I know a couple people like that. My uncle proposed to his wife on their second date. One of my close friends from high school married a boy she met in kindergarten. They remained close through the years despite him moving to a different country with his family when he was young. They got married soon after she graduated and have four beautiful daughters now. And my uncle? He and my aunt are still together.
So I know it's possible. And I know we all love to believe it can be possible for us too, even if only in a book.
But how realistic is it, really, for two strangers to meet and fall instantly, deeply, and unconditionally in love to the point that they would sacrifice themselves without question for the others' happiness? We don't really think about it because fans of romance want to read about that kind of devotion. But in truth, most of you probably put aside some amount of believability to allow yourself to be satisfied by the hero and heroine's passion. Because really, you could think "Oh my god, that is so FAKE. Real men don't act like THAT. If this was a reality show, he'd probably only be dating her for her money." But we don't think like that when we read a romance. Instead we think "Awww! I wish men really did THAT, that is so sweet!"
Like the movie Titanic. Woman watched that movie over and over when it first came out and it was all because of Leo's character. Meanwhile, our boyfriends and husbands wished ill things on the movie's producer.
In real life, most of us experience "lust" at first sight, which sometimes then grows into passion. But it's almost never perfect. It's almost always difficult. Sometimes it ends badly. Few times it ends really well. Authors are often told to write what we know, to write believable stories with believable characters and believable motivation. Which is what prompted this post. As a romance writer, I have a difficult time making two strangers fall in love. I don't think it's believable. It's definitely not very realistic. And I refuse to write a story that I don't believe in. So, I make my characters work on their relationship.
And you know what? It works for me. It's like the novel The Notebook. Allie rejects Noah over and over until he is forced to trick her into going out with him. Allie didn't instantly love Noah. He had to work for his chance with her, and their relationship grew from there. Noah's character scores points with the audience for being so deliciously clever in his attempts. We even like it when Noah and Allie fight because it's real.
In my first erotic romance story, A Trace of Love, I poke fun at my own beliefs in romance. Trace Curtis, the hero, is convinced his feelings for Ophelia are true, but she doesn’t think it’s possible after only one night. The story ends with Trace and his band leaving for their next gig and Ophelia’s missed out on a second shot at love.
In the newly released sequel, A Trace of Passion, Trace is back in town and demands an explanation from the only woman to ever reject him. What he thinks was payback is actually the cover for a darker truth and neither Trace nor Ophelia are sure their love for one another can survive Ophelia’s reality.
And now for a special treat! Excerpt from A Trace of Passion (book 2)
Trace exited the bathroom smelling of mouth rinse. He had the decency to put his jeans on before he sat on the couch. God, please put your shirt on too before I do something stupid. She wanted to ask why he slept on her couch, but she knew questions would only prolong his stay and lead to trouble.
Trace nodded at her mug. “Aren’t you going to offer me some coffee?”
“That’s not very hospitable. I carried you up two flights of stairs and stayed on your couch to make sure you didn’t have a concussion or choke on your own vomit.”
Ophelia narrowed her gaze. “I didn’t vomit.”
“But you could have.”
“Get out of my apartment, Trace.”
“Well now you’re just being rude.”
She pressed her fingers to her temple and sipped the coffee. This cannot be happening.
“Trace, I don’t have time, I have to go to work in an hour.”
“So go to work,” he shrugged. “I’ll be here when you get back.”
Her jaw dropped. “You wouldn’t…you can’t…don’t you have band practice or something you have to do?”
He grinned and leaned back while spreading his arms over the back of the couch. “They won’t miss me for a day.”
Ophelia gulped the last sip of coffee while weighing her options. She moved to the breakfast bar near the mounted telephone and slammed the cup against the counter. “All right, I get it.
You’re pissed that I gave you a fake phone number last year. But if you don’t take a hint and leave now, I’ll call the cops, Trace. I’m not kidding.”
He stood and cocked his brow. “And tell them what, exactly? That I helped you into bed after you passed out drunk? That I stayed on the couch to make sure you’d be okay?”
She bit her lip and glanced at the floor. “Trace, you’re seriously freaking me out.”
“All I want, Ophelia, are answers. Honest answers.”
Tears welled in her eyes. She blinked them way and tried to draw up courage that wasn’t there. “Jesus Christ, do you ask every woman why they slept with you?”
Trace pursed his lips. He sat on the edge of the couch and ran all ten fingers through his hair.
She saw the agitated wrinkle in his brow before the black curls fell over his eyes again. “I didn’t mean to scare you, okay? I only wanted to confront you last night. Call you a bitch or something like that,” he scoffed. “But now I feel like a dick. I owe you an apology, Ophelia. I’m sorry I hurt your feelings when you asked me to the Sadie Hawkins’s Day dance.”
Ophelia raised her brow. “The…the what?”
“You know, the dance you asked me to. I shouldn’t have told you to grow a pair of breasts in front of the whole cafeteria. But damn it Ophelia, you didn’t have to rip my heart out.”
“Wait,” she stood there blinking. She remembered that day and was pretty sure he had used the word tits. It stung, but when she thought about Trace, she always remembered the good things. His smile or the little tunes he played at lunch despite the rule against musical instruments being in the cafeteria. “Trace…that was eleven years ago. You really think I’m the type to hold a grudge over something so juvenile?”
Trace wet his lips. “You mean you weren’t trying to get revenge for that?”
“Then…why did you sleep with me?”
Ophelia rolled her eyes. This was tiring. “Trace, I think your melodramatic song lyrics went to your head. It was just a one-night screw. As for why I did it, I don’t know, maybe just because you’re you. You’re…you know…famous and rich and incredibly sexy.” And why am I inflating his already huge ego? “Why do my reasons have to be any different from any other woman’s?”
“Because…because I fell in love with you that night. That’s never happened before.” He glanced at her. “Believe me, I know what a screw feels like and that was not just a screw.” He stood and Ophelia couldn’t help but watch his torso muscles flex in the movement. “And I don’t think it was just sex for you either because you wouldn’t have run away.” She swallowed hard as he slowly stepped toward her. “You wouldn’t have given me a fake number and gone through so much trouble to avoid me last night.” He took two more steps. Her hand slid across the counter looking for anything to hold on to. The closer he came the dizzier she got. “You wouldn’t have been mad to see me on your couch this morning.” He whispered as he stepped up to her, his nose mere inches from hers. Ophelia gasped, her hand landing on the phone. She clutched it to her chest. He pried it from her grip and tossed it on the couch behind them. “You are mad because you love me too.” His hands rose to cup her face. “What I can’t figure out, Ophelia, is why you’re so afraid to admit you love me.”
His lips pressed hot against hers. She tried to resist, but her body defied her. Her back arched off the wall, pushing her breast against the planes of his chest as his hands came around her waist. She couldn’t lie to herself; she missed the feel of him, the heat of his skin burning trails wherever they touched. And yes, she thought of him every single day for the past eleven months, twenty-four days, six hours and elven minutes. Still, she had hoped to fool Trace. What were they doing? If he thought she had ripped his heart out last year, repeating the experience would truly crush him.
She whimpered between him and the wall. “Trace…”
His whole body pressed against hers, his breath hot against her cheek. “Don’t say anything and for God’s sake, don’t fight me anymore, Ophelia.” He sealed her lips with his and gripped her tighter around the waist. She cursed under her breath as her body melted against him. Her hands flew around his neck and tangled in his black curls. Her eyes closed tight as their tongues glided against each other in furious passion.