Leah Marino hasn’t been on a date in two years. After discovering the man she loved had manipulated and deceived her, she refuses to even entertain the idea of a relationship. Instead, she focuses her attention on taking care of her family, a role she’s assumed since the death of her mother and the one place she knows her kindness won’t be taken advantage of again.
When a nostalgic trip back to her childhood home results in a chance encounter with Danny DeLuca, a smart-mouthed mechanic who’s as attractive as he is mysterious, Leah’s carefully cultivated walls begin to crumble. She finds herself unexpectedly drawn to Danny, despite his unreliable behavior and mixed signals.
But Danny has a secret…
One that could shake Leah’s already precarious foundation and bring her world crashing down around her. Suddenly, she’s faced with an incredibly difficult decision–is she willing to risk everything for the chance at finding the love she’s always wanted? Or are some obstacles just too big for the heart to overcome?
To be honest, I’ve never given much thought to creating chemistry; it’s usually something that develops naturally as my characters begin to reveal themselves. But this question got me thinking, and looking back on Back to You, Emancipating Andie, and Coming Home, there does seem to be a common thread in the chemistry I created between Michael and Lauren, Chase and Andie, and now Danny and Leah. So I’m going to try and break it down and hope I don’t make it sound too clinical 😉
Most people associate chemistry with sexual tension, and that’s part of it, but not all – at least not for me. If you have sexual tension in isolation, that’s lust, not chemistry. Of course you want your characters to be attracted to each other. Of course you want them to flirt – to make each other squirm, in the good way. And the author can simply base that tension off of physical attraction, but in my opinion, the best kind of sexual tension has an emotional component too – which brings me to the next piece of the puzzle.
Part of having chemistry is being emotionally invested in someone else. I think the characters have to connect on a level beyond physical attraction – either they share a common flaw or hurt like Leah and Danny, or they learn and grow because of each other like Andie and Chase, or they offer each other support and security, like Lauren and Michael. For me, to truly have chemistry, there needs to be something that transcends sexuality – the characters have to connect on a deeper level so you can feel and believe their relationship.
And then there’s the cherry on top – humor and wit. Nothing stirs the pot and gets your blood flowing like a little sarcasm and snark, especially when it comes from someone you’re already attracted to. In all of the relationships I create, there’s a healthy dose of humor. It adds playfulness and fun, which can balance out the intensity of the emotional connection. Plus, a sense of humor is inherently attractive to most people, which then leads us right back to sexual tension.
So there you have it. If I had to break down how to create chemistry, I’d say it goes a little something like this:
sexual tension + emotional connection + humor/wit = great chemistry
Priscilla Glenn lives in New York with her husband and three children. She has been teaching English at the middle and high school levels for the past twelve years while moonlighting as a writer, mom, coach, student, and professional laundry-doer. If you catch her when she’s feeling sophisticated, she’ll tell you her favorite things are great books and good wine. In the moments in between, she’ll admit her love for anything Ben and Jerry’s, UFC fights, and Robert Pattinson. Glenn is the author of the contemporary romance novels Back to You, Emancipating Andie, and Coming Home.
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