Thursday, August 23, 2012

Welcome Andrea Downing to The Word Place

Most authors will tell you that their books in the Romance genre are character driven.  We do not have charts up and down the wall, index cards pinned to cork boards or possibly even little lists of forthcoming scenes.  Some will even claim they have no idea what will happen in the book because the characters act and do things of their own accord. For myself, I often have the first line, know well the ending, and the rest, as they say, is—no, not history—pot luck. 
With Loveland, I knew the story—and I knew it well.  It had run through my head so many times, I was practically living it.  I heard the dialogue, knew the people, mentally walked around the ranch and lived there.  And I could see them all.  They don’t look like ‘this celebrity’ or ‘that supermodel.’  They look like themselves and I see them clearly.  Maybe I’m a nutcase, but that’s the way it is.  But I had one problem:  Jesse!
I can see my hero Jesse perfectly, and I know him intimately.  The brim of his hat is slouched down rather than turned up, his check shirt is topped by a worn leather waistcoat or vest and, while some of his friends prefer the striped or checked pants of the period, Jesse has switched over to the new Levi denims. He has what would now be called “dirty blond’ hair, somewhat long and straggly, and eyes the color of bluebonnets from Texas, where he was born. And I love Jesse.  I love him because he is gentle and kind and patient, despite the fact he can lose his temper at the drop of a stetson, and he’s dependable, smart and caring.  But the trouble is, maybe he’s a little too gentle and kind and dependable?  Is he coming over as a bit too much of a pushover?
Someone off in the mists of time once announced that women like a bit of rough, and that may well be true.  But if you’ve had the kind of life that Lady Alexandra Calthorpe has had, it might more likely be the case that a ‘bit of rough’ is definitely NOT what you’re looking for.  You might be willing to put up with the fact that your man loses his cool every so often—as long as it doesn’t include throwing you about any.  And you’d certainly be willing to overlook his previous liaisons with the local soiled doves as long as it doesn’t continue past your own firming up of relations.  But, basically, you want someone with the nous to let you have your own way, be patient with you when you’re wrong, or–-more especially—when you’re unbelievably stubborn, and someone who’s unbelievably kind and giving and loving.  In other words, you want Jesse.
And therein lies the problem.  Because while Jesse to me is real, because he is who he is and can’t be changed, to my reader he might possibly come over as a little too easy to be manipulated, a bit too kind, a little too ready to let Lady Alex have her way.   And then again, don’t we ladies all want to be spoilt?
You tell me. 

When Lady Alexandra Calthorpe returns to the Loveland, Colorado, ranch owned by her father, the Duke, she has little idea of how the experience will alter her future. Headstrong and willful, Alex tries to overcome a disastrous marriage in England and be free of the strictures of Victorian society --and become independent of men. That is, until Jesse Makepeace saunters back into her life...
Hot-tempered and hot-blooded cowpuncher Jesse Makepeace can’t seem to accept that the child he once knew is now the ravishing yet determined woman before him. Fighting rustlers proves a whole lot easier than fighting Alex when he’s got to keep more than his temper under control.
Arguments abound as Alex pursues her career as an artist and Jesse faces the prejudice of the English social order. The question is, will Loveland live up to its name?
The two men looked over at Jesse who was leading his own horse into the stable, anger etched in every muscle of his face. Joe nodded toward the chuck house and they followed the others in to leave Alex alone when Jesse came out.
She was starting back to the main house when Jesse grabbed her arm and turned her around. “You ever do that again,” he said in a voice she had never heard, intense in its anger, rage just below its surface, “I swear to God, Alex, I’ll...I’ll take you over my knee and give you a lickin’ once and for all.”
“How dare you!” She shook him off. “How dare you talk to me like that! How dare you! Who the hell do you think you are?”
Jesse jabbed his finger at her to emphasize he meant what he was saying. “Who do I think I am?”he snarled back. “Who do I think I am? You ever, ever take a gun off me again and point it at someone, you’ll find out who the hell I think I am. You know that coulda gone off? You know you coulda killed someone? I told you—out there yonder—I told you, you never point that thing at anyone less’n you mean bus’ness.”
“I did bloody well mean business! They were destroying that horse. Furthermore, I knew, and you knew, and they both knew, there wasn’t a shot under the hammer. You taught me that, didn’t you? So there was no chance of an accident!”
“That don’t matter none. You coulda pulled the hammer back twice. Way you was, you were nothin’ better’n a loose cannon, Alex. You ever do a thing like that again—”
“You’ll what?” She shook with her rage as tears pooled against her will. “I apologized to them both and they accepted my apologies. It’s none of your concern—”
“None of my concern! You pulled my gun! You ever do that again— Don’t you walk away when I’m talkin’ to you!”
She turned back to him after a few steps. “You’ll what? You’ll what, Jesse? What will you do? I want to hear it! Say it again. What will you do?” And she stood there in the evening darkness, facing him down, wearing him out like she’d faced down the stallion.

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Eunice Boeve said...

Andrea, I too love Jesse. He's a good man with a full sense of who he is. Men who have to act rough and tough when there is no call for it, aren't nearly as strong or self assured as Jesse. And about that gun business. Jesse was right and he needed to chew her out.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for assuring me about that, Eunice! As you well know, when you write a character you never know how your reader is actually going to interpret him/her--whether the reader sees the character with the same eyes the author does.