Friends to lovers is my favorite trope – I’ll rarely ignore a book which indicates this is the romance theme – and if you throw in a geeky hero or heroine, I’m toast.
Veteran category romance writer Joan Kilby manages just this balance, giving readers in Mad About You the story of quiet accountant Cassy Morris who agrees to temporarily move to Seattle to help her best friend from grade school, the multi-millionaire Scott Thornton. Voted Seattle’s sexiest bachelor he needs her to not only fend off the women who keep throwing themselves at him but to also help him get his nanotechnology startup in financial order while vetting angel investors so he can beat a rival to the patent punch.
Complications naturally arise – both of them find the other incredibly attractive and always have – and it’s not long before they are pondering the fact that no previous girlfriend or boyfriend worked out because who they were really waiting for was each other. Yet acting on their attraction could not come at a worse time, with Scott’s estranged father attempting a reconciliation, dealing with a temperamental Australian billionaire, and juggling their fake engagement to keep vipers at bay.
Joan Kilby does an excellent job transmitting the weight of all these tensions (there were times reading I felt a physical heaviness in my chest) but she shines in her characterization. Scott is no typical geek – yes, he’s a genius, but he’s also a mountain bike enthusiast and works out constantly, hence his awesome body. No wonder the Seattle ladies go crazy for him! Yet, he’s still vulnerable at thirty to his father’s abandonment, and facing that issue is undeniably painful. He’s an introvert and it’s obvious the balance Cassy has played in his life since grade school. She’s got some risk-taking issues, making her pursuit of Scott all the more brave and gut-wrenching. Learning to stand up for herself and not settle as she has been in her career and romantic relationships is heartening to watch, particularly when Scott is busy earning the Captain Oblivious award.
I was fortunate enough to hear from Joan Kilby, who agreed to answer a few questions. Based on her cupcake answer, she’s a long lost sister of mine!
1. Is friends to lovers a favorite theme for your writing? Why/why not?
Friends to lovers is definitely a favorite theme of mine. Maybe I’m drawn to these types of stories because that’s how my husband and I got together. We were living in a group house with mutual friends for a whole year before we got together romantically. At first I thought he didn’t like me! Later I found out he was a shy because he was attracted. Then we both went traveling, separately, and returned home within a few days of each other. I’ll never forget the first moment we saw each other again. It was like a scene from a movie. Time seemed to stop as we saw each other through new eyes. Not long after, on New Years Eve, we kissed for the first time. And the rest, as they say, is history.
In terms of writing a friends to lovers story, I enjoy exploring new aspects of the couple’s relationship and how they discover things they never knew about each other. There’s a lot of vulnerability and bravery involved in the big leap from being ‘just friends’ to admitting they’re in love. What if the romance goes bust and they lose their best friend in the process? In Mad About You, my hero, Scott, has abandonment issues so the possibility of losing Cassy from his life is really scary. As for Cassy, she can’t conceive of life without Scott.
2. Why do you think readers can’t get enough of millionaires?
I think millionaires are the modern day equivalent of a Prince Charming. The fantasy appeal is that they have the money and the power to sweep the heroine away from her life of drudgery and into a magical new existence. Of course, a modern heroine is independent and fully able to provide for herself, but it’s still nice to know that if she needs him, the hero can protect her…and keep her in glass slippers for the rest of her days.
There’s also the underlying assumption that if he’s that rich it must mean he’s smart and has a strong character. Clearly not every rich person is nice or good but usually in a romance novel, a millionaire has done something impressive to earn his wealth. In Mad About You, the hero, Scott, has invented something with the potential to change the lives of everyone in the whole world for the better, not just the heroine.
3. Your favorite cupcake/icing combination?
Great question! Devil’s food chocolate cupcake with salted caramel frosting. Yum!
Thanks, Joan! Keep in mind that Mad About You is currently at the low price of $.99 in keeping with Entangled’s fabulous new policy of an initial low pricing to reward on the ball buyers, so take advantage of this colossal bargain and pick up a great new book.