I wanted to write an enemies-to-lovers book, but I couldn’t figure out how. If my brand is “good people who treat each other well,” then how are these guys going to become enemies? Either one of them would have to do something worthy of being hated for or the other would have to be stubbornly unforgiving of a human error.
Around this time, the story of Delta Flight 431’s daring attempt to fly into and back out of Puerto Rico as Hurricane Irma bore down on the island was in the news, and I conceived the idea of writing about a similar mission gone bad. I gave one of my heroes a teetering balance between pride and insecurity and the other a sarcastic sense of humor paired with a reckless sense of adventure and put them in contention over who could best lead the crash survivors to rescue.
But then, ok, this is me, right? There was no way I could seriously write a story in which the best choice for leader was one of two “alpha males.” And so Among Heroes became a comedy. Or, as I like to put it, “the most light-hearted plane crash ever.” The joke is that neither one of these two guys is the best choice for leader. As a kicker, I gave them a second role to fight for. The turning point comes when Bryce and Rook are informed in no uncertain terms that neither of those roles is actually available. That’s when enemies turn to lovers and we get down to the real fun.
But are these two characters “good people who treat each other well”? Some readers found Bryce to be too much of an ass, but I judge him by his actions, not his words. He’s the first to volunteer for anything that needs to be done and the first to defend anyone who needs defending. He gives respect where it’s due and admits when he’s wrong. And yeah, he’s a bit of an ass sometimes, but hopefully the book makes the point that sometimes you need a headstrong, reckless ass to get things done.
As far as whether these two treat each other well or not, I’ll say that they enjoy how they treat each other. It’s what works for them, which I think is evident by the end of the book. Hopefully when readers come away with the idea that these two deserve each other, they mean it in a positive way, not a negative one!
I probably would have told you that I’d never write enemies-to-lovers again, for the reasons detailed above, except Trained (by T. M. Chris) is enemies-to-lovers too. And no one has told me that either one of the guys in that one is an ass, so maybe I’m getting the hang of it.