When I’m at the planning stage of a book I spend a lot of time thinking about what motivates my characters to behave the way they do. In my latest release for Harlequin Presents Extra, After the Greek Affair, both the hero Loukas and the heroine Belle are haunted by events in their pasts that continue to affect them.
Initially, Belle was delighted when Larissa Christakis, the sister of billionaire business tycoon Loukas Christakis, asked her to design her wedding dress. Larissa’s wedding is the society wedding of the year and the commission to design the bride’s dress is guaranteed to give Belle’s struggling design company Wedding Belle huge media attention.
Even before she met Loukas, Belle had heard of his reputation as a ruthless man who had fought his way out of poverty and who always demands his own way. Having grown up with a domineering step-father, Belle had reservations about her client’s brother. When she meets Loukas on his private Greek island she is blown away by his virile good looks – he is the sexiest man she has ever met! But within minutes of arriving on Aura, Belle discovers that Loukas has offered the commission to make Larissa’s dress to a designer he has chosen, and is prepared to bribe Belle to leave the island on the next ferry.
Loukas is infuriated by Belle’s accusation that he is a control freak. He has acted as a surrogate father to Larissa since she was a child, after their father was gunned down by a drug gang in the rough part of New York where they had lived. When their mother had died two years later, Loukas had given his word that he would take care of Larissa. Of course he is over-protective of his sister when he knows how dangerous the world can be.
Loukas doesn’t trust beautiful Belle because
he has learned that her company has financial problems. But he acknowledges that his sister is no longer a child, and maybe he should allow Larissa to make her own decisions. He can’t deny he is attracted to Belle – and he senses that she is equally aware of the sizzling sexual chemistry between them.
That chemistry explodes into white-hot passion while Belle is on Aura, but she knows her affair with playboy Loukas is only temporary – and that’s all she wants. She loves designing fairytale wedding dresses, but after witnessing her mother’s unhappy marriage to her controlling step-father, Belle has vowed never to give up her independence for any man.
When it is time for Belle to leave Aura, Loukas tells himself he can let her go. Years ago he had been cruelly betrayed by Sadie, the women he had loved, and he’s not looking for a long-term relationship. But he can’t forget Belle and visits her in London – only to be confronted with the shocking news that she is pregnant with his twins!
Loukas insists on marriage. Sadie had denied him his child, but now he is determined to be a father to his twins and he won’t take Belle’s refusal to be his wife for an answer. Belle is terrified of losing her independence by marrying a powerful man like Loukas, but she wants her babies to have a loving father that she never had.
Both Loukas and Belle have so much to learn about each other. At first Belle thinks Loukas’s determination to protect her is because he is trying to control her like her step-father had done. Loukas has to learn that although Belle is career minded like Sadie had been, her babies are her first priority. Only when they start to trust can they learn to let go of the past and open their hearts to love.
How important do you think motivation is? Do you think it is important as a reader or writer to understand what drives characters to act in a certain way?
For me, it’s all about getting inside the characters’ heads and really knowing them and understanding their beliefs, fears and concerns, and of course the events in their past that made them have those concerns.