Thursday, February 20, 2014

Meeting Cute

Maureen, thank you so much for having me! I’m thrilled to have the chance to reach out to everybody here.

As a contemporary romance author, I am fascinated by the tropes and conventions of the genre. And one of my all-time faves is the “meeting cute” scene. Why? Well, some friends have called me a prude when it comes to my lit tastes. I shrug off the prude label, though. For me, a good romance is about chemistry, and I rarely if ever sense chemistry from a sex scene. Chemistry is about personalities encountering one another, exploring differences, negotiating those differences, occasionally clashing, and ultimately embracing one another: the origin story of a true love.

In a book, the author can’t have her characters meet cute and then rush off to a seedy motel room to engage in unspeakable, outrageous x-rated activities, so when a book I’m reading starts with a meeting-cute scene, I know I’m inhabiting my preferred universe. That universe involves getting to know characters as real people with vulnerabilities, quirks, and endearing qualities I just can’t help fall in love with. And it also involves the kind of “closed-door” sex scenes that allow me to imagine the characters getting it on in far more colorful fashion than most authors would dare to write.

My debut novel, LOVE SONGS FOR THE ROAD, was published last month, and features a meet-cute scene in which 24-year-old Ryan Evans is interviewing to be the nanny to the children of Marcus Troy, a wealthy rock star. But when she’s led into the room where the interview is supposed to take place, Ryan finds Marcus in nothing but his underwear and a pair of boots. He’s also bound and gagged (see, I’m not really a prude), and it takes Ryan a few minutes to figure out the why and how of the situation. I hope you enjoy the excerpt below.

My husband and I met cute—I think so, anyway. I was visiting my sister in New York City, and she got us tickets to see a taping of Bravo’s The Fashion Show (sort of a rip-off of Project Runway that’s no longer on the air). I don’t know if you guys have ever been to a live-audience television taping before, but 80% of it is waiting around in an overcrowded area with a bunch of strangers and some seriously sub-par snacks. In this particular case, because the show was fashion-themed, a disturbing percentage of those strangers were teenage girls in mini-skirts and stilettos who would cackle and scream every fifteen seconds at that piercing decibel level that only teenagers can attain.

Ty, a crazy-handsome guy who was also visiting family in town, made eye contact with me during one of these teen outcries, and we started to laugh. He met my gaze for just long enough for me to know he was interested. Then a few moments later, he approached me, my sister, and our entourage of five. He engaged all of us with questions, and while he listened to us more than he blabbed about himself, he somehow managed with a few words to display his wit, intelligence, and calm good nature all at once. Before I knew it, he and I were talking one-on-one, my sister and her friends having courteously started their own conversation so that Ty and I could connect better. (I guess they could tell we had chemistry, and trusted that we weren’t going to rush off to a seedy motel room.)

“Okay, people,” called out the show runner, interrupting our chat, “We’re ready. Please start making your way into the studio.” My time with Ty had come to an end too quickly. I had to see this guy again. But how? Where?

Not missing a beat, Ty whipped out his phone and asked for my number. “Can we meet for coffee before you leave town?” he asked. I asked him why he had his phone—we’d been admonished to check them along with our coats for the entire three hours of the taping—and he said, “I don’t know. I guess I knew I might need it.”

Anyway, that’s my abbreviated meet-cute story. Ty and I haven’t spent more than a few nights apart since that moment. A chance meeting, aided by some annoying teenagers, changed our lives forever.

Do you guys have any meet-cute moments you’d like to share? Please do write yours in the comments. I’d love to hear them!

The only thing rock star Marcus Troy loves more than making music is his kids. So finding just the right nanny to take on tour with them is important—as is proving to his ex he deserves joint custody. Falling for his employee wouldn’t just be fodder for the paparazzi: it could ruin everything.

Too bad the perfect nanny turns out to be beautiful, vibrant Ryan Evans. Ryan’s never left her small Montana town before, so she jumps at the chance to see the country. And as much as accidental fame doesn’t gel with shy Ryan, what does is her relationship with her capricious, smoking-hot, shockingly good dad of a boss. Marcus is nothing like what she expected. But when the whole world’s watching them, will life in the spotlight be too hot to handle?

Ryan was freaked. What was going on here? Had a
girlfriend of Marcus’s tied him up and left him here after a
kinky sexcapade? Had a groupie stalked him and inflicted
a horrible revenge fantasy on him? She covered
her eyes with her hand, but then, she peeked through her

Slowly, a smile curled across Marcus’s lips, but still
he said nothing. He seemed to be waiting for something,
moving his neck slightly as if to better listen. Turning his
head toward Ryan, he raised his index finger to
his lips. Why was he shushing them?

Suddenly, a closet door across the room swung open, and
two children ran out toward Marcus, screaming—a boy of
four or five carrying a plastic ax and a girl who looked about
ten wielding an enormous Nerf bat and wearing a football
helmet. Soon, the children began beating the hell out of their 
dad, who tried and failed to defend himself against the 
punishing blows.

“Do you surrender, prisoner?” the girl demanded. She
kept her game face on. She was something fierce.

The boy was giggling, though, as he repeated his sister’s
words. “Surrendah! Surrendah!”

“I give up! I’ve had enough,” Marcus cried, his fear and
terror sounding real enough. “Just don’t hurt me anymore. I
can’t take the pain!”

The children collapsed into giggles and fell upon their
father. Of course, it wasn’t every day that Ryan interviewed
with a gorgeous, captive man, but she was nearly as surprised
by the sexy prisoner’s parenting skills. By all appearances,
Marcus was a fantastic dad, easy and affectionate with his
kids, not someone who would leave the child-rearing to
professionals while he wrote chart-topping singles and
bedded breathless groupies.

He took off his blindfold and hopped over to Ryan and
Serena, still struggling with the cloth ties that bound his
ankles and wrists.

“Hi, are you the nanny?” he said excitedly.

“That’s me,” Ryan said, as calmly as she could manage.
“Ryan Evans, at your service.” 

“I’m Marcus,” he said. “I’d shake your hand, but I’m all tied
up at the moment.”

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  1. I'm definitely not a prude (at least in my reading life) but cannot handle the sex scenes well without a sufficient build up of the characters' relationship. I feel like a voyeur otherwise and it throws me out of the story emotionally.

    Thank you for the post!

  2. I met my husband at a fraternity rush party. My friend's boyfriend was president of the fraternity so we made cookies. In walks this tall, blond guy with amazing blue eyes. We became friends at first sight. We hung out a lot with his roommate. At some point we found ourselves alone at the grocery store. He let me leave my Diet Coke in his room and the rest is history.


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