I write traditional mysteries with a darker edge. I don’t write romantic suspense, much as I enjoy reading it when done well. I write mysteries with a strong female sleuth, Skeet Bannion, who has no time for men, except as colleagues, friends, and relatives, who’s protective of her freedom and doesn’t want to sort out the messy entanglements that romance and sex bring with them. Skeet prides herself on not being a cowboy cop who’s always taking stupid chances, so what’s she doing falling for a bad boy? Talk about taking stupid chances!
What is all this romantic mess that walked in and tangled up my current WIP? Skeet’s practical and sensible, and she learned a hard lesson in the failure of her marriage to a charming, flirtatious hunk. She prefers to keep her heart under lock and key. So how did this dangerous, probably criminal mercenary slip into its inner recesses?
As a reader, I prefer my mystery straight. A little sexual tension maybe, but let’s keep the focus on the important thing here, which is finding the killer. As a writer, I prefer the same. Yet, in my last Skeet Bannion book, Every Broken Trust, a minor character walked in and decided he liked Skeet and would become a major character—and to my shock, Skeet developed an attraction for him that she’s done everything but drop a nuclear bomb on to destroy, all without effect. Now, in the WIP, Every Hidden Fear, Skeet is losing ground in this battle against this new guy who’s probably going to rip her heart out. How did this happen?
Yes, there’s a murder to solve and a killer to catch. Yes, there are innocent and not-so-innocent people to save. Yes, Skeet’s as busy as ever with no time for silly attractions. Yet, there they are, staring into each other’s eyes and breathing heavy. It’s enough to make anyone sick.
Like most authors, I have to stay true to my characters and honor their choices. But honestly! Yes, he did look kind of hot when he showed up in the last book, all kitted out like an assassin, ready to rescue Skeet from danger. Of course, Skeet wasn’t having any of it, thank you very much. She’s quite capable of rescuing herself and any number of others from danger and did. So why didn’t he just go away?
Such are the dilemmas authors face.
Do you like romance mixed in with your mystery? Do you prefer to keep them separate? What do you think of characters who take over and grow beyond what they’re supposed to be?
And would you fall for a dangerous guy with a classified background and a nice sense of humor who looks kind of like Johnny Depp?