The messy, sweaty, painful, exhilarating, and maddeningly complicated path to Romance
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Jordan Bell is a bestselling author of steamy romance novels and novellas. The Fortune Teller’s Daughter is her newest release, now on sale on Amazon and all other major retailers and will be available in paperback in late March, 2013.
I don’t like writing about love at first sight or meant to be or fated lovers. It’s not that I don’t think they can’t make good stories or that they don’t really happen, it’s that real life is so beautifully messy.
And I like all the messy, stormy, maddening bits so much better.
Let me tell you a story.
Girl meets boy on a subway platform. She drops her groceries and a parade of oranges and apples and vagabond kiwi go scattering amongst the busy foot traffic of afternoon commuters. Boy stops and kneels at her side to help her collect her lost fruit. She smiles. He smiles. He crawls around on the dirty platform getting his nice suit pants all messed up for this strange girl and the match is made.
It’s a great metaphor for falling hopelessly in love – the vision of the man on his knees before his lady, selfless, her happiness and protection his only concern. It reminds us of a man about to propose. It shows the couple side-by-side surrounded by the carelessness of the world, bracing against its coldness together. That he’s a stranger clinches the meant to be aspect. He would not have stopped to help her, like all the other people passing her by, if something didn’t pull him to her plight.
We romantics call it love at first sight, but it has very little to do with love or sight. It’s the something that matters, the mysterious, invisible thread that connects them in a universe with nothing but mathematics weighted against their favor. Statistically, he shouldn’t have stopped because people rarely bother, but he did, and it’s the something that interrupted the flow of his every day to slow down time and knot his path with hers.
The wild fruit, shamelessly, is a metaphor for something much naughtier. I’ll let your imagination fill in the rest.
The readers of this story know the moment they meet that by the end of the book they will have declared their love and set in motion a forever Happily Ever After. Readers are smart and can spot a Meant to Be a mile away. Blindfolded. The story that I find compelling, that I think most readers find compelling, is not the story about why these two characters are going to fall in love and live happily ever after.
The really great story is why they won’t.
If I were writing this story, I would have their hands brush as they return the last wayward fruit to her torn bag. She says thank you, how can I ever repay you, but just before he answers, a woman appears at his side, a perfectly nice, average, lovely woman. She obliviously helps the man to his feet, and while being breathlessly appreciative that they didn’t miss the train, whisks him away as the doors close and the train rumbles off. The girl is left alone, kneeling on the platform.
And close scene!
The chances of the girl ever crossing paths with the boy again are so infinitesimal as to not even be worth day dreaming about. And even if she did find him again, he’s not single and the average relationship isn’t so volatile that she could hope for its demise soon. Maybe he’s married. Maybe not. It doesn’t matter. He’s unavailable. And maybe she’s not even looking to fall in love anyway. Maybe she didn’t even notice his eyes linger on hers or trace the shape of her mouth while she tried not to laugh when an apple slipped out of her hand and went rolling away again. Not all women, contrary to popular opinion, are pining away for a husband.
The story, the really great love story, exists in this place of conflict and missed chances and what-ifs. The why can’t they be together, not the they must be together.
Most of my characters fall into lust long before they fall into love. Lust is a lot more roguish, it doesn’t mind that the man walked away with another woman. It doesn’t have to weigh the consequences. It can be right now, no waiting necessary. It’s all about wanting and needing and craving and aching. Lust is painful and exhilarating. It can break all the rules without guilt or prejudice. Lust is awesome. It can do things love can’t without looking like an asshole.
With The Fortune Teller’s Daughter, Serafine and Eli meet under complicated circumstances. For quite a bit of the story they aren’t even friends. He is definitely not helping her pick up her fruit off the subway platform in the beginning. Hell, he probably tripped her in the first place. And she instigates a major conflict by metaphorically grabbing up his fruit when he’s not looking and running off with it. And I’m not giving anything away by saying that what chemistry they do have right away is based on physical need rather than any inclination towards love.
One doesn’t believe they can be loved and one doesn’t believe they should be loved.
It was important to me to tell a story about why they can’t be together, but are in all the fantastic, dreadful, sweaty, wonderful, painful, and messy ways that people inevitably find themselves. Give me heartbreak, extraordinary pain, a few swear words, and tears any day over some pretty words. There’s no moment a good f-bomb can’t complicate beautifully.
That they have to do battle to reach each other in the end makes the falling in love part so much more.
I don’t want any of my heroes to utter the words I love you more than anything in the world. If they do, I want the world to get really pissed off about it and take its revenge.
“Things happened for a reason and the only reason they didn’t happen when they were supposed to was because people were exceptionally good at getting in their own way.” – Serafine Moreau, The Fortune Teller’s Daughter, Chapter 3
The Fortune Teller’s Daughter
Serafine Moreau grew up on the shiftless, grimy edges of cities that were never home, raised at the capricious whims of her bohemian mother. She learned young how to move unseen through crowds, acquire things that didn’t belong to her, and disappear at the first sign of trouble. Together they made a curious life beneath street market tents, plying tourists with fortunes and new age voodoo. It wasn’t perfect, but it was theirs – until a stranger appeared one unremarkable autumn morning to steal the fortune teller’s life and leave Sera with nothing but questions.
Now alone, Sera wanders lost between days, strangled by the past and unable to pursue her future. Even the cards reveal nothing. So when an invitation addressed to her mother’s stage name Corazon arrives from an old carnival outfit looking to recruit the late fortune teller, Sera answers instead.
Beneath the labyrinthine tents she discovers enchantments that defy explanation and wonders that feel like magic. Bewitched by the carnival’s handsome illusionist and the dark whimsy of the Carnival Imaginaire, Sera finally feels like she’s home until the mystery of her mother’s death unravels with the secrets of the carnival’s past. At the center of the brewing storm hides Sera’s heart that can’t hope to survive another loss.
Jordan Bell is a bestselling author of steamy romance novels and novellas. She writes about powerful relationships, complicated families, terrible villains, delicious heroes, and curvy, clever heroines. Jordan’s newest title series, Curves & Corsets, debuted on the Amazon bestseller list with more hot titles on the way. The Fortune Teller’s Daughter is her first full length novel. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and four cats.
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