Chalk and Cheese: when opposites attract – by Juno Blake
All the best love stories are mismatches. You know: the relationships where it doesn’t work on paper at all. One’s too snobbish and arrogant! The other’s too talkative and impulsive! They barely speak the same language, occasionally literally! And yet the chemistry is off the scale.
When you’re writing a story like this, the process has to start right at the beginning. Like every plot point, it’s best if it springs naturally from the characters involved. That part’s simple. If you know your hero inside out, you also know exactly who would be right for him. So you work all that out, trait by trait, preference by preference.
And then you give him the exact opposite.
It can be really hard to land your sunny optimist with a grumpy swine for a love interest. After all, you made your hero from scratch. You want him to be happy. “Why can’t he just find someone who loves him for him?” you’ll sob, as you delete entire paragraphs of sexually-tense squabbling.
And it feels pretty mean to drop your metropolitan artist in the middle of the Scottish Highlands with no overcoat, right next door to a super hot farmer who hates city folk. (Okay, yeah. I’m talking about my own book now.) Why not introduce the artist to another creative urban-dwelling guy? Why not let the stallion shifter mount a different horse?
The answer is: because it’d be a snoozefest. Because the happy ending comes much, much later, and the most scenic route from here to there is the rocky road.
In my book We Ride, the main character has just left a relationship where the other guy cheated with a friend. He’s been burned. He doesn’t especially want meaningless sex to get over it, but he sure as hell isn’t looking for love.
The guy he falls for is a surly young farmer, who has nothing but disdain for citydwellers, their inappropriate footwear and their stupid tousled haircuts. He’s also not looking for love. One night stands are his thing. No second dates. No taking anyone home. No admitting to some guy you’ve just met that you’re a stallion shifter with minor time travel capabilities.
But together? Together they’re greater than the sum of their parts. They’re a design classic. And they just have to work this out, over the course of the story. There will be pitfalls along the way, but that’s how it has to be. Nothing worth having comes easily, as (the internet insists) Mr Roosevelt once said.
Arguments are beautiful. Misunderstandings are gold. Give your hero all the trouble he can handle, and then sprinkle more on top. When the happy ever after kicks in, it’ll be twice as sweet, both for him and for the reader.
If you send your lead guy an adoring lover who sends him roses and makes him breakfast in bed? It’s going to be a flat story. I hate to say it, but conflict is fun. Not so much in real life, I grant you. In real life, the adoring guys rule. Your grandmother was right on that.
But in fiction? Make them work for it. 😉
Donovan Claine needs a vacation. Somewhere he can relax. Somewhere he can paint, draw and recharge his art career. Somewhere a million miles away from his cheating ex-boyfriend.
When he picks a destination at random, he doesn’t expect to find himself heading for the Highlands of Scotland. And yet here he is, freezing his butt off and trying not to stare at the breathtakingly ripped farmer next door.
Lachlan ‘Lock’ McTavish can’t stand the English. Especially city folk. So when Donovan asks to paint him, he thinks the whole thing is ridiculous. What’s worse is the way Lock can’t keep his mind off those smooth, idle hands and that boyishly sharp jawline.
If Donovan ever finds out Lock’s a stallion shifter, there’ll be trouble. So Lock’s never going to let that happen. Not unless the choice is taken away from him.
‘We Ride’ is part 1 of the Highland Horses Trilogy.
From We Ride (Highland Horses book 1) by Juno Blake
Lock stamped on the glowing embers, kicking over the charred twigs until the fire was out. Sparks fluttered over his boot. He ignored them.
“I told you to get out of here.” His voice carried a low warning note.
For the first time since I got here, I dared to challenge him.
“Or what?” I folded my arms over my chest and stood firm. “What if I stay?”
Lock shook his head slowly, glancing up and down at me with contempt. His eyes roamed over my impractical suede desert boots and my thin merino wool sweater.
City idiot. I knew what he thought of me.
But there was heat in his stare. Out there, in the freezing fog, I felt warmth flood every part of me. My cock stirred as his eyes grazed over it.
“I know you think I’m a city boy with a head full of nonsense,” I said. “And you’re right. I don’t know shit about life out here. I can’t fish. I can’t read animal trails. I can’t fight. I’m still not leaving you to face them alone.”
Something new flickered behind those grey-green eyes. He took one step toward me, as though threatening me.
I held my ground.
My heart pounded so hard in my chest, I wondered if he could hear it.
“You just don’t know when to leave well alone, do you?” Both fists were clenched tightly at his sides.
My face burned under his angry glare. We were close enough that I could smell the scraps of Highland heather still clinging to his shirt.
“I know who my friends are. I don’t leave friends in danger.”
I set my jaw firmly, in what I hoped was an intense, loyal way. Like an action hero.
But knowing my face, it probably looked more like a grumpy librarian. Next to Lock, I was a flimsy wingman indeed.
He laughed bitterly. “Friends, Donovan? Friends? Don’t make me laugh. You think you’re any use to me in a dangerous situation? You’re joking. Look at you.”
He was right in front of me now, looming over me with menace. His breath was hot on my forehead.
Instinctively, I stepped back. Then I hit my head on a branch behind me.
“Oops,” I said.
Smooth. I couldn’t even walk straight around him.
My cock strained against my hip. God, I hoped he couldn’t tell. These were pretty loose pants. With any luck, his eyes wouldn’t roam over me like that again.
My luck was out. He saw.
And it was the last straw.
With a snarl, he slammed me back against the tree, his mouth on mine. His hands bunched handfuls of my sweater, pulling me into him.
It took just a fraction of a second for me to react.
I kissed him back, hungry to taste him at last. The tree was old and gnarly, and I was sure my neck was being scratched to ribbons by its spiteful branches. I couldn’t have cared less.
Every caress of his huge hands set my nerves alight. His kiss made me forget the danger, forget the cold, forget everything. I gripped on to him, as he ground his hips against mine.
Our kiss grew almost violent with longing. Teeth clashed. I tasted blood. Nipping my neck with tiny bites, his hands delved lower until I cried out into the night air.
It was too much. If we carried on like this, how could I keep my promise?
Just then, we heard it. The noise I dreaded most. The rhythmic drumming of hooves in the distance.
He broke away. I groaned, aching for his touch.
He placed one finger on my lips.
“They’re here,” he whispered. “Now we must face them. Are you ready?”
Juno Blake grew up in a spooky old house on the edge of a windswept moor, daydreaming about alpha shifters and the wisecracking guys who love them. It recently occurred to her that she could write this stuff down. When not writing, she enjoys forest walks, moonlit picnics and time travel. If you can teach her the names of all the stars, she’ll be your friend for life.