Real Life and Romance … oil and water?

October 7, 2013

From Clare London:

Have you ever read a book and thought – When did he get to do his washing? What did he make for lunch? Doesn’t he ever get harrassed by spam emails? Doesn’t he ever get a spot on the end of his nose? How come he got a parking space so ****** easily when it takes me three circuits of the block to find one? etc.

That is, how does Real Life weave its way into a Romance story? Or *can* it?

I’ve started lightheartedly, but I admit I like my books nowadays to reflect reality as well as romance. To me, they’re not mutually exclusive. When I wrote the story of Red De Vere and Carter Davison in Flying Colors, I wanted to reflect less of the melodrama of their friends Miles and Zeke’s courtship (True Colors), and more of the depth of feeling and respect of two men developing from friends to lovers.

So Red De Vere is a playboy hero, rich, handsome, bold – and living down an outrageously embarrassing event in the first chapter! But he also works hard, cooks pretty good scrambled eggs, gets caught in the rain, likes garlic dough balls, calls his Mum late at night… all the things we all might do.

And Carter is a quiet, serious kind of hero, who works too hard, forgets to shop for food, takes too much sugar in his coffee, has occasional nightmares, isn’t much good at woodwork, argues with his best friend … you get the picture :)

It’s when these apparently commonplace things come together that an author has a chance to bring in the dash of passion and chemistry that certainly make the whole much more than the sum of the parts.

Carter is taking a sabbatical from his engineering job to help launch a youth centre where he’s been doing a few part-time sessions. He’s excited by the young people and their energy, and their need for a safe and stimulating club of their own. Red’s on an enforecd sabbatical of his own – forced on him by his father/boss, after that aforementioned embarrassing event *g* – and he’s clever enough to see that this is a way he can get closer to Carter. His first attempts to help are clumsy and misconstrued – it’s only when he thinks more carefully and surrenders his ego to a common cause that he starts to connect. And Carter – who needs a similar nudge to come out of his shell and stop judging Red in the same shallow way as the paparazzi – begins to blossom with Red’s company and attention.

There are no explosions, mad car chases, creepy stalkers, gore or gratuitous violence – I’m not putting you OFF am I? :) – but there’s a slow burning, amusing, sometimes torturous relationship building up between them. And *I* think they’re cute together! I hope that you do too.

How do YOU feel about the balance of Real Life and Romance?
Have you experienced something mundane that’s been transformed by a romantic gesture?
Have you found romance in the most ordinary of places? Been proposed to in the middle of the supermarket?
Or have you experienced an embarrassment like Red’s, or a joke – only to have it lead to something rather special in the end?

Remember, I’ll choose THREE winners from the commenters on ANY of my posts today, to win a FREE download of Flying Colors.

FLYING COLORS: True Colors: Book Five

While Red yearns for something real, Carter has some sweet, sexy secrets that might surprise even Red. If Carter dares emerge from his shell, and Red pursues a more rewarding path, romance could spark. Then there’s no telling what might happen.

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And in evening news …I’m afraid this is my last post tonight. I’m off work sick today and not fit for much more posting, even to celebrate my new release! :( . The UK is signing off soon.

But the contests are open until Wednesday, so take your time to read and enjoy. And join me tomorrow on Twitter if you can – I’ll need people to talk to :)

I’ll finish with another excerpt from Flying Colors. You saw it here first! Thanks for joining me today :) .


Red could hear voices in the corridor, and so he stuck his head through the open doorway. He could see Carter at the entrance to the center, chatting to a group of half a dozen or so young people. They were all dressed in the usual jeans and jersey tops, but were a mix of ethnicities and ages. Zeke was standing with Pam, halfway between the door and the room where Red was. Two of the youngsters stood in front of the group, as if they were the spokespeople. Curious, Red wiped more sawdust off his hands and stepped out into the corridor.

“We was just passin’.” The young man at the front of the group was dark-skinned, from Asian Indian heritage, with short dark-brown hair and large eyes. He wore narrow-leg jeans, low on his hips, boots with a slight heel, and several layers of T-shirts. He was thin, and the clothes had a chain-store look, but he wore them with an innate style that impressed Red. He’ll be handsome when he grows into his body—and loses that constant scowl on his face.

“Workin’ at the weekend, Carter?” one of the other lads asked, a tall, rangy young man with shaggy chestnut hair and a very freckled face.

“So what’s going on?” one of the girls said, peering over the freckled lad’s shoulder.

“You were all just passing?” Carter asked with a wry smile. There was a babble of laughter and protests. It seemed that the young people were itching with curiosity to see what was happening to their youth center.

The dark-skinned boy looked over Carter’s shoulder and caught sight of Red. “There’s another guy here. Which one’s y’ boyfriend, Carter?”

Red didn’t like the kid’s tone. Pam broke off what she’d been saying to Zeke, and Zeke’s shoulders tightened.

But Carter’s voice was as steady as before. “No need for showing off, Jag. These are friends, helping me out. We’re decorating the café, it should be open by next weekend.”

“Cool!” The girl at Jag’s side sounded genuinely pleased. She looked similar enough to him to be his sister, maybe even his twin. The hair on his head matched the curls at her temples and the long sweep of hair that had been caught back in a braid. She was probably no more than fifteen, with a bright-colored top, well-fitted jeans, and enormous gilt hoops in her ears. Her eyes were a smoky brown and discreetly but strikingly made-up. Red knew she’d be a real stunner when she was older. Handsome family, it seemed.

Jag snorted. “Like we have nothin’ better to do, Ruchi. Hangin’ out in a fuckin’ stupid kids’ café.” His voice was arrogant, with the swagger that Red had heard many times on music videos and in clubs.

“Watch your language, Jag.” Pam raised her voice slightly to be heard over the noise of the group. “The center’s not open again officially, as you know. But come in and look around as our guest, if you like.”

“Yeah? Thanks!” Ruchi didn’t even seem to have noticed Jag’s aggression. She walked straight in the door and over to Carter. A couple of the other girls shuffled along in her wake. “It’s really goin’ to be, like, an American diner? Like the movies?”

Carter smiled. “That was your choice, remember? We were having some problems with the sign, but Red’s been working on it.”

Red?” Red heard the young men around Jag snicker. Their gazes flickered to Red then away. Seemed it was okay to have a nickname if you were in your teens, but not on the far side of twenty-five. That was fine. He’d been mocked for worse things in his life.

“When d’you think it’ll be open again?” Ruchi asked. She looked wistful. “There’s nothin’ else doin’ around here.”

“The jewelry makin’ was fine,” one of the other girls drawled. “And the dance classes.”

“Karate was better,” muttered the freckled lad. His accent was soft Southern Irish.

“Bike maintenance’s more fuckin’ useful for you, Owen,” another young man said. “How many times you fallen off this week?” The group laughed, all except for Jag.

“Fuck you, Joe,” Owen muttered, blushing furiously. It sounded like a familiar argument between them all.

Carter shrugged, still smiling. “Let us know what you want to do and we’ll do our best. But we’ll need your help. What else do you think we need?”

“Table tennis bats,” Owen said. “The old ones ’r crap.” He looked like the oldest of the group, but definitely not the leader. “The pool table cushions ’r  knackered.”

“And half the balls is missin’,” Ruchi added. Her friends giggled and nodded vigorously, like a Greek chorus following her pronouncements.

“I’m working on sponsorship for some new sports equipment,” Pam said. “It’s taken most of the budget to get the toilets and kitchen fixed, but the games room will eventually get a makeover as well.”

“Cool.” There were murmurs of genuine interest.

“We’ll come ’n’ help,” Ruchi said. She looked back at the group, seeking agreement. “Right?”

The others nodded, though a couple darted sideways glances at Jag as if asking for permission. Jag didn’t nod or agree, he just grimaced and gripped Ruchi’s arm. “Let’s go,” he said sharply. She shook him off but she turned to leave, the others following.

“See you soon,” Carter said.

Jag glanced back, but he actually caught Red’s eye. Red made a deliberate effort to keep his gaze steady, his expression neutral. Jag scowled at him; Red looked back. There was no evidence that either Jag recognized him, or that Jag would suffer the dreaded effect, but there was still a moment of confrontation between them. Red knew he recognized it for what it was. Then Jag turned and shepherded Ruchi out of the center. The young people sauntered across the drive, muttering and laughing, until they were out of sight.

4 Responses to “Real Life and Romance … oil and water?”

  1. Carolyn says:

    Sorry to hear you’re not feeling well, and on your release day. I appreciate you even more being on here to share with us. Take care of yourself, and I hope you feel better soon!

    In answer to your question, I have to say I love real life with my romances. I like the quiet moments that are transformed simply because they are between people in love, or getting there. Most of us live ordinary lives full of little moments that add up to a whole lot of our life, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I think that’s enjoyable to see, and may even open some people’s eyes to the fact that our ordinary lives are full of wonderful, even magical moments.

    The alternatives to that are enjoyable too. I just think there’s a place for specialness of real life to be showcased and appreciated.

  2. Clare London says:

    Hi Carolyn, and many thanks for your comment and kind wishes :) . What a lovely description you give of the magical moments in real life! Like you, I love to see and treasure those. And I think Red and Carter would agree with us!

  3. Trix says:

    Get well soon! I like the idea of reality in romance, because there’s so much in pop culture that goes the other way. Everything is supposed to be about the showy grand gesture, which makes things less spontaneous and more forced. (Exhibit A: the corrupted observance of Valentine’s Day.)

  4. clare london says:

    Well said, Trix! I don’t think it’s about excess money or cliched gifts. I love a personal touch or special wish.

    That said, I do like my hubby buying me flowers on Valentine’s Day….:)

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