This often works out gloriously. For one thing, I know beforehand, without a shred of doubt, that my couples will be perfect together. They were created to be compatible or, if not compatible to start, I can help them find ways around their issues. Because I believe in happy endings, they seldom have cause to complain.
As a writer, though, I want these love matches to have one foot in reality. There has to be ample reason these two particular characters would fall for each other. Beauty isn't enough. Neither is great sex. They need to fall in love with a whole being.
Here's an excerpt from Sorcerer's Knot, to be published next month, in which the two main characters begin connecting the dots.
“Immortality is a curse, and riches useless against denizens of the Deep.” Muir kissed him again, gently questing, as if seeking to learn something in a language without words. When they broke again, he said, “You’re going to leave me, just like the others. You will never pull the language of the sea out of my skull, because you cannot or because you refuse, and you will go to search for it elsewhere. You will fall prey to the creatures of the Deep and they will use you, and drain you, and I will find your body on the rocks or your bones upon the strand, mocking the sun.”
Muir was afraid for him. He did not even bother to conceal it. However roughly, the man actually cared. Cian struggled to make sense of his own feelings. He’d lain with so many men before, with young men and old, with wizards and princes and kings, and none of them had awakened feelings in him at all. Yet Muir did. All he could think was that the sorcerer, too, was damaged, in ways visible and invisible that allowed emotions between them to flow from deeper wells than those of other men. At first he’d seen only the hardness, hardness like walls, but now Cian saw those walls as fragile, crumbling, and he knew they were crumbling for him.
Not sure how to answer or even if an answer was wanted, he curled deeper into the pull of Muir’s arms. If there were monsters outside this house, besieging the island, he was safe from them here. He’d never heard of Ygoth, but that being, too, was far away. He could content himself listening to the drone of Muir’s voice.
“You remind me of another life, a life I might have had had the world spun on a different course, a life where talent is currency and the men who possess it are exalted. I know now that such men are easily spoiled, their minds weakened and twisted by desire. Most mages who find me are of that kind, older men at the height of their art, wanting more than what they have. At first I thought you were one of them, a deceiver who had placed upon himself a sorcerer’s knot of enduring youth, for I sensed your power even as you lay senseless. But then you opened your eyes and I saw—” His voice thickened. “I saw the eyes of a young, restless thing that has yet to find his place in this world.”
“I have a place,” Cian said, his voice thick with sleep. The edge was near, tugging at his eyelids. His answer made no sense, even to him.
“Maybe you do. But listen, young wizard, to one who sold everything for a power that gained him naught. What you seek is not worth the finding.”
Muir’s lips brushed his neck, traveled lower, beard and breath warm upon a shoulder. Cian smiled, knowing the man inhaled his scent. Calmed, held fast within an embrace like iron, he slipped off into sleep.
I don't know about anyone else, but I love those moments where two people find what they need in each other. In another of my novels, Captive Hearts, the heroine falls for a man who is passionate and flawed, but strives to balance vengeance and justice. He falls for her because she has a gentle, uncynical nature and carries herself as a princess despite her country's conquest.
I'm having the most fun right now with Madd and Vorgell, from Thick as Thieves. Their story is really taking off because they're crashing into love territory soon. It didn't start out that way. Vorgell had the instant hots for Madd, in large part because of his magical affliction, but also because Madd is good-looking. Vorgell is willing to overlook that Madd doesn't find him attractive and spends a lot of time calling him an oaf. Now, a good way into the story, he also knows Madd is stubborn, brave and has a sense of fair play. Madd, on the other hand, finds Vorgell physically intimidating and distrusts everyone anyway. He's warming to Vorgell, though, because he's learned a lot about him: Vorgell is loyal, easy-going and, yes, misunderstood. Not to mention filled with unicorn magic and actually pretty sexy once he's had a bath.
It's not love yet, but when love hits them both between the eyes, I hope it is believable. The characters in a love story need to be as believable as the setting in which they're placed, or the situations in which they find themselves. And the upside for me: I get to explore this beautiful thing called falling in love every day of the week.
So who's the fool?