Polished Slick by Holley Trent

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Kitchen Sink Hero

I’m Holley Trent. I write contemporary romances set in rural Eastern North Carolina. They’re usually a little offbeat because, well…I am, too. My characters tend to have a lot of layers. Sometimes to excess, I think. I’m always finding “one more thing!” to complicate their personalities.

I swear, I try not to throw everything (including the kitchen sink) into my character outlines. I don’t want a heroes and heroines who are caricatures even if they are appearing in a comedic work. Whenever I read a book and see a character who is just too…well, too much, I roll my eyes and scoff.You know the type: the international man of mystery who was once a famed opera singer, decathlete, super-spy, and slayer of hearts.

You think “Oh, all that, huh? And now he’s in a romance novel, living in some podunk town selling tires?”

Well. That sort of happened in my newest book Polished Slick.

My hero, Jeremiah Rouse, is the ultimate nerd. He’s never seen a computer he couldn’t take apart and put back together. He’s fluent in coding and probably has electricity coursing through his veins. He’s the tech guru at a little cosmetics company in rural Eastern North Carolina, which is ironic because if you look at him you’d think that’s the last place he’d want to be.

Jerry is pierced, tattooed from neck to knees, and wears his long blond hair in dreadlocks: he’s not exactly centerfold material.

Where’s the kitchen sink, you’re wondering?

Well, Jerry is a former pro-surfer. He dropped out of college to catch waves and never went back. Then someone noticed, “Hey, this guy is attractive” and he got pulled into some modeling gigs. It paid the rent.

So, hey—he actually is centerfold material. Or was when he was younger. So, what are we up to? Grungy dreadlocked computer geek former model surfer.

I know that’s a lot, but I think what makes a character like Jerry relatable is that he hates being looked at. What he hates even more is being broke (and that’s probably why he works at a little cosmetics company in the middle of Podunk).

Here’s a little snippet of Jerry, my “kitchen sink” hero in action: 

*** A sotto alto said from the bench, “Imagine how productive we’d all be if we actually worked during working hours.” 

Jerry resisted the urge to fling his cell phone in the direction of the smug voice and instead ground his teeth. He wasn’t a violent guy. He was just so damned tired. Everything was setting him on edge.

Jerry decided then and there to do two things. First, make time for pleasure even if it meant he had a backlog of work. Second, tame that little shrew. He’d done it before. Wasn’t hard.

Jerry’s emotions must have been clear on his face because Juan laughed, shook his head, and stood himself. Before retreating to the boxing area, he leaned in close to Jerry and said, “Take some advice from your old friend Juanito. Don’t argue. The women—they like that. Seems to charge their batteries. You’re better off just letting her have the last word.”  He slapped the taller man on the back and walked away. Jerry couldn’t resist glowering at the owner of the smug voice. She wasn’t looking at him at the moment as she had her head down measuring out ingredients from cryptically labeled canisters, so he squinted at her hair, trying to figure out what was different about it. “Ah,” he murmured to himself after noting the lack of color at the tips of her pixie cut.

Trinity let Mercedes cut her hair, and Mercedes regularly liked to experiment with color. The last had been blue. Jerry guessed she’d opted out during the last cut. It was cute. Not too many women could pull off a style that short, but she had a heart-shaped face and delicate features, unmistakably feminine. She would have been beautiful even if she was bald. Trinity looked up from the oil she was pouring and found him staring, so he did the punk thing and decided to save the fight for another day. He turned around and walked to his desk without comment. *** Polished Slick is now available for purchase as an ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookstrand, and All Romance eBooks. Find out more about it at my website or follow my tweets for information about the status of the spin-off.

I’d love for you to tell me what you think makes a romance hero unrelatable. Is it him being everything but the kitchen sink or does something else make you cringe?

One lucky reader who comments on my blog will be randomly selected to win an e-ARC pdf of my quirky sensual romance novel Polished Slick. Good luck!