I finished my draft of The Pulse of Princes, the novella that’s been gobbling up my time for the last few weeks. I sent it off to gobble up my editor’s time instead 😀 .
I’m so happy I chose to write this story. It turned out well, and best of all it made me think hard about the early life of Prince Daire, who’s turning out to be the most influential character in the Elan Intrigues stories. I gleaned some insights which have me really excited.
The Pulse of Princes shows Daire before he inherits the throne of Caldermor, when both his parents are still alive. I had to put them on the page. I had to figure out how they met, and how they each found a role in their marriage.
Here’s a snippet:
Princess Irmine’s dark gaze assessed Daire: the tidy queue that was making his head ache, his tense posture, carefully chosen clothes, and comfortable gray watersnakeskin boots. Her eyes narrowed. “You are so like your father. Do you know why he married me?”
That, at least, was easy. Daire relaxed his arms, used the question to restore his equanimity. A reprieve, though no doubt a temporary one. “He tells me the story, often. He loved you from the moment he saw you. He never saw a woman so strong. So beautiful. He forgot the biting cold. Forgot the furs he’d come in search of. Forgot everything except you.”
Just for a moment, his mother melted. Her dark eyes shone. Her lips softened and curled upward in sheer pleasure. Just for a moment, Daire saw the woman his father saw every time he looked at the crown princess.
“Well, yes.” Her smile faded. “But it’s more than that. Your father takes his vows seriously. His duty. He knows the best way to protect Caldermor is to have a strong, powerful country.”
“Father traded everything he had with him to carry off an unknown princess from a wild island nation on the edge of the ice fields, and you call it duty?” Daire rubbed a hand over the back of his neck. “Excuse me, ma’am, but you do yourself a disservice.”
“I say he did me a great honor.” His mother stood straight as a lance, every inch a princess. “I organized everything for my father the king. Our stronghold. Our people. Our fur trades. Desmond saw I could rule Caldermor for him. And better still, I’m not Calderran.”
“Because I can take the decisions he can not.” She relaxed, just a hairsbreadth. “Daire. I was traded myself. I understand everyone has a price. I’m not sentimental about Calderran people the way your father is.”
Daire winced. “And I am.”
“So it seems.” She leaned toward him, and for once he got the sense she was speaking from the heart, without calculation. “I strive every day to be worth the great price Desmond paid for me. I will do what I must to keep his country safe and strong. And I shall do so as long as I have breath in my body. Whether he is here to see it or not.”
I like this. It explains Irmine’s no-holds-barred mindset. It also led me to think about my new WIP, The Seeds of Destiny, which is Daire’s love story. I had imagined he’d be influenced by the events of the two previous Elan Intrigues books, where true love happens to people he cares about. Of course those events are important, but the bond between his own parents would be an earlier and stronger influence.
That got me to musing about love at first sight, in real life and in fiction. Lust at first sight happens all the time, of course, but I think sometimes it can be more than that. My father decided to marry my mother before he ever spoke to her. They would sit at bus stops on opposite sides of the street on working days. They spent months smiling at one another before heading off in different directions. That turned into fifty-something years of powerful togetherness.
I like it as a trope in fiction too, as long as it’s more than he’s so hot/she’s so beautiful. More like the fabulous first meet in Loretta Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels. Of course there’s immediate physical attraction between Dain and Jessica. He is hot, and she is beautiful. But there’s also a major battle of wits and an even bigger battle of wills between two smart, headstrong characters. We already know Dain is hyper-competitive. When he loses both battles we know he’s toast. I love that 🙂 .
What do you think? Do you believe in love at first sight, on the page or IRL?
I believe in attraction at first sight, followed by that turning out to be validated or invalidated as one gets to know the other person. And I believe in being very careful indeed lest that initial attraction blind one to the attractor’s true character.
Which actually sounds like the basis for a romance…
That’s a very sensible approach, and you’re right, it would make a great character study. And it would be even more fun if your pragmatic character was strongly attracted to somebody who had a completely different philosophy. Maybe someone who was all in from the first date, or somebody who’d been badly burned in the past…
I enjoy the love at first sight trope and the romantic in me believes that it can happen in real life too. 🙂 And your excerpt is wonderful! I’m excited to learn more about Daire’s story. I loved Kristal and Kiran’s romance and thought they had an amazing connection from the start.
Thank you so much! You made my day 🙂 I love my characters, of course, but it’s so lovely to hear that somebody else gets them the way I tried to write them. I hope you enjoy the Daire stories. Fingers crossed!
Oh, yes, I just love these characters! When Kiran says, “You would be a true partner to a man, not a dependent. A wife for a lifetime,” to Christal in Seeds of Power…that is just *chefs kiss* perfection! I think I might have swooned. lol
I believe in love at first sight in fiction, because we’ve already suspended so much disbelief, why not that, too? But in real life, well…. Like your parents, I can cite relatives of mine when they fell in love at first sight and the guy vowed to his best friend that he would marry the fabulous woman he had yet to meet. If that works out in real life (as it did for my relatives and your parents), all well and good. If it doesn’t, it becomes stalking. So … I’m happy every time IRL love at first sight works out, but I’m really skeptical about it unless it’s in retrospect with 50 years of a happy and supportive marriage behind it.
You’re right, of course. And I suppose even fiction tells both stories. I was about to say it depends whether we’re writing romance or suspense, but that’s too simplistic. Some romance borders on stalker-ish (Twilight?) and scary suspense stories often have an intense love at first sight between the endangered protagonist and cop/bodyguard/spy/whatever, accelerated by lashings of peril.
I also think, even with all that suspended disbelief, fictional love at first sight needs to be followed up with a healthy dose of commitment, hard work, and compromise. It has to withstand some stress testing if we’re to spin it into a credible HEA.
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