It’s a common misconception that a romance has two characters: hero and heroine. Unless you literally strand those two characters on a deserted island, you must create characters who figure into their daily lives. And unless they work and live in the same place, those secondary characters are going to be different.
I always strive to have secondary characters serve a purpose. I feel like old friends or family members can help reveal something about the main characters’ backstories or character traits that we didn’t already know. For this reason, I brought in Connor’s brother Jeff, the handsome pilot of Connor’s private plane, and Mira, Carole’s cute if a little immature college student sister. I feel like Mira probably serves more of a purpose to the storyline since she’s at first jealous of Carole’s relationship with Connor and later appalled that her sister would leave him. Check out these two short excerpts that illustrate the ways these two characters serve their purpose. First Jeff:
“Forgive my brother, ma’am. Jeff Wallace. The older sibling of the Wallace clan.”
Carole’s jaw dropped. “Oh. Well, that explains some stuff, then.” She felt like an idiot. The two men were very similar in height, build and features. She glanced at Connor. “You might have mentioned that your brother was the pilot.”
“Sorry.” Connor didn’t look at all sorry. “You just seemed so certain of yourself, I didn’t want to disappoint you.” He smiled a little wickedly. “I mean, it’s a shame to disabuse you of the notion that I lose touch with who and what I am whenever I’m offered a bit of Hollywood hospitality.” He turned to his brother. “Sorry, bro. She drank your champagne. You got another glass?”
Carole’s face felt aflame with embarrassment. “Oh my God. I’m so sorry. I—”
“He’s messing with you.” Jeff punched his brother in the arm. “Cut it out.” He turned back to Carole. “I never drink when I fly. Of course the champagne was meant for you. He called ahead to arrange it.”
And now Mira:
Mira stood in the doorway. “Better take some jeans and sweaters too. Just in case Connor takes you hiking. I hear he likes to hike.” She spoke casually, but Carole detected a glitter in her eyes. Was that really envy? As long as she could remember, Mira had been the prettier one, the more glam one, the one everyone loved without effort. Carole was smart and decent enough looking, but her little sister outshone her at every turn.
Carole frowned. “What’s up?”
“What do you mean, what’s up?” Mira didn’t meet her eyes.
“I mean you sound all jealous or something. Like I stole your boyfriend. This is work, Mira.”
“Ugh!” Mira threw her hands into the air. “I’m sorry. I just…maybe in a way you are stealing my boyfriend.”
“I was not aware of this thing between you and Connor Wallace,” Carole said solemnly.
Mira’s lips twitched. “Don’t laugh. You go to L.A. and be spotted on Connor Wallace’s arm, you’re stealing a lot of girls’ boyfriend. Because it’ll mean he’s off the market.”
“Why on earth would it mean that? He’s dated lots of women.”
“Because you’re the kind of girl a guy dates when he’s ready to settle down.”
Of course, my Sleight of Hand books wouldn’t be complete without an appearance from one of my other magical couples. In this case, Walt and Sabrina from Movie Magic are (slight spoiler alert if you haven’t read their story yet) planning their wedding and working on Connor’s documentary about becoming a magician. In a way, they serve almost parental roles for Carole, who has been Walt’s assistant since high school. Here’s just a taste of what they’re doing in the book:
Connor pulled out the linking rings, ready to manipulate them, and paused, his eyes on the engagement ring. “Well, that’s not right.” He pretended to try to get the ring off only to have it caught between two rings. He looked up. “Did somebody lose this?”
The audience tittered, but it had a surprised, anticipatory sound to it. Connor worked the rings again, managing only to get the engagement ring looped over three. He worked until he had managed to get it off all but one. “Finally.” He set the others aside. “I think this ring will only be released into the hands of its rightful owner.” He tossed it up into the air and caught it, the ring still in place. He glanced around, turning to Carole. “Is this yours?” He tossed it to her.
She caught it with pride, holding it up to display the diamond still hanging on.
“It would appear not.” Connor held out a hand and she threw it back, watching as he caught it expertly. He appeared to think. “I have an idea. Maybe I need another magician’s help with this one.” He swung around to Walt and threw the ring to him.
Walt caught it, tossing it back in one fluid motion, then turning to drop to one knee in front of Sabrina. He held up the diamond ring. “No magic is equal to what you’ve done to me. Say you’ll stay in my life forever.”
Tears spilled over onto Sabrina’s cheeks, amazing Carole. She’d never seen Sabrina cry before. But as she held out her hand to let him place the ring on her finger, she could only nod, wordless and obviously happy.
In a very real way, this book—and the whole Sleight of Hand series— is about family. It’s a very large family made up of lots of smaller families, but they’re all bound together by a love of magic and each other. And a belief that love is a magic all its own.