Love is up in the air

(With apologies to John Paul Young for corrupting his song.)

In my Valentine’s Day email to my Readers Group, I gave them a look under the bonnet of Kent Fisher’s turbulent love life.

From the outset, I gave Kent a fear of commitment. It offered the chance to have people come and go from his life as the series developed, keeping the stories fresh. But the characteristic isn’t restricted to his romantic encounters. It goes to the core of him, rooted in childhood disappointments and the wise words of a teacher, who wanted to lift his spirits.

There’s always something better around the corner.

This gives him a restless nature. If he settles for something, will he miss out on something better in the future? If he falls in love, what if he meets someone more suitable the next day?

In a way, he’s seeking perfection, even though the rational side of him knows it doesn’t exist.

Or does it. In the opening to No Accident, the first book in the series, he tells you about his colleague Gemma – the most attractive woman he’s ever met. Is she the perfect woman for him?

The question bubbles and boils through the series, adding sexual tension and romance to the stories. It divides opinion among readers and reviewers. It’s the classic ‘will they won’t they’ thread that we enjoy and look forward to.

Gemma also has the two characteristics that attract Kent the most – dark, sexy eyes and a silky voice. Take Kent’s reaction when he first meets one of my favourite characters, dog groomer, Freya, in No More Lies

Loving couple

I gaze into her big, dark eyes, the attraction instant and electric.

My heart hammers in my chest. I feel breathless, excited, aroused.

I see excitement in her eyes. Fear too. She seems lost somehow. Maybe she’s giddy on adrenaline like me.

Or his reaction when he first meets Rebecca, a receptionist at Tombstone Adventure Park in No Accident.

“You can’t come in here,” she says, in a soft Scouse accent that has me in raptures. “We’re not open to the public.”

I stride over and bend to check the name badge, pinned to her blue silk blouse. “Hi, Rebecca, you’re much lovelier than I imagined.”

Sometimes I create a character as a potential love interest.

Yvonne Parris is a confident, intelligent, and sassy Meg Ryan lookalike, who automatically appeals to Kent. Their opening encounter in No Bodies sets the scene for what’s to follow.

“Do you always enter through the rear?”

Her deep voice and languid smile soften her American accent. Something Neanderthal pastes a grin on my lips and deepens my voice. “If you leave a door open, someone will walk in.”

“If only it was Mr Right.”

Other characters evolve and develop to become a potential love interest. Detective Inspector Ashley Goodman is perhaps the best example. She arrives at Kent’s animal sanctuary in the opening scene of No More Lies, with anything but love on her mind.

She removes her sunglasses to reveal intense eyes, the colour of platinum. Eyes that want to know everything but offer nothing in return.

With eyes that looked like ice on fire …

Elton John’s Nikita shuffles into my thoughts. I can’t think why as it’s a song about unrequited love. From the way her tongue traces across her lips, this cat’s thinking of her next meal not love.

Ashley went on to become a favourite with many readers as I stripped away the brash exterior to reveal the person beneath. Kent’s gone through the same process, slowly revealing the past that underpins his fear of commitment and trust.

Lovers from his past have returned. They often force him to evaluate how he behaved and treated them at the time. They also make investigations more personal, adding an additional emotional layer to the mysteries, as in No Love Lost.

And then occasionally, the attraction’s purely physical.

As No Love Lost draws to a close, a former contestant from Love Island walks into Kent’s orbit.

Her thick shoulder length black hair frames an oval face with flawless skin and cheekbones. Her glossy lips part into a smile that reveals the whitest teeth.

She’s magazine cover perfect.

“Hi, I’m Savanna.” Her silky voice makes me tingle in all the right places. “I came to look around before the grand opening. Your gorgeous dog has been showing me around and smothering me with kisses.”

When she removes her dark glasses to reveal dreamy cobalt blue eyes, I want to do the same.

Such moments remind readers that Kent’s flawed, afraid of commitment, and vulnerable to alluring eyes and a softly spoken, silky voice.

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