So, I love Molly O’Keefe books. I kind of love the woman, too. (Once you start meeting authors in real life, the ones who are great people as well as great writers stand out.) So far she’s made me cry on a plane, a couch, and in bed. She writes people, real people. Shitty, messy, awesome people! My writer brain has been pondering what makes my reader brain fall in love with a book. What makes a certain part of a story hit me like a heartpunch. I can’t quite put it into perfect words yet, but it has to do with character. Also with conflict, stakes, torture, and payoff, but mostly with character.
In BETWEEN THE SHEETS we’ve got Shelby and Ty. Lo, they are broken. Ty is a bad boy, the genuine article. The dude doesn’t just drive a motorcycle, drink beer, and present an interesting sexual challenge for the heroine. Ty is wounded and at the end of his rope. Shelby (introduced in WILD CHILD, which I’m giving away here!) is so deeply miserable and repressed she’s about to bust her spring. At first I was like FINALLY, a nice man who can give Shelby amazing dirty sex that won’t make her feel bad. And then I was like *gasp* Ty is not a nice man. He’s damaged, too. And then the beam of light! And then the realization that even if the bad boy CAN be redeemed, the heroine has her own issues. And it’s HER issues that are the real problem. NO NO NO NO NO NO! Ahhhhhhhhhhh!
And hot sex. Good stuff. And community, family, and belonging, which O’Keefe always does well. I don’t have “autobuy” authors. Books are expensive, so I make my decisions book by book based on whether the sample sucks me in. However…I may have to go back and pick up that blue one with the selfish, bitchy heroine in the Crooked Creek ranch series because O’Keefe excels at making me empathize with her flawed characters. Making me care. I haven’t finished BETWEEN THE SHEETS yet, but I care. I can’t wait. It’s all about the payoff. Damaged characters whose needs are as big as their flaws. Characters who will hurt each other to protect themselves. HUGE payoff.
So that’s why I fangirl for Molly O’Keefe. She gives huge payoff. (And she’s not invulnerable, thank God. This blog post really touched me, and she won that RITA last month, btw. I fangirled CRAZY THING CALLED LOVE here. And she gave a kick ass workshop to the Western New York Romance Writers on writing sex scenes. And in that workshop, she didn’t even freaking MENTION she had two books coming out the next month. It’s a classy chick who sees you as colleagues instead of royalties. Or maybe she just forgot, but that makes me like her even MORE!)