Betting Hearts

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I just finished reading the sweetest love story. Betting Hearts, by Dee Tenorio, is a best friends story, which I love, and this one is so emotional, you just squirm right along with the hero, Burke.

Cassie is one of the boys. She works in a nursery, plays poker and hangs with her brother Hayne and his best friend Burke, who is als her best friend. She’s content with her life until her former fiancĂ©, a snake from the lowest level of hell, returns to town. He’s left her weeks before her wedding, leaving a note that he was gay. Only now he’s back with a woman, planning another wedding, claiming Cass isn’t woman enough. So she decides to transform herself into a girl, and she gets Burke’s help to do it because he’s the only one she feels safe with.

Burke has been warned away from Cassie by her brother, and he’s never had to take the warning seriously till Cassie shows up on his doorstep, drunk and needy. Now he’s trying to protect her from her rat-fink fiancĂ©, his own unworthiness, all the while fighting his attraction.

Watching Burke suffer as he becomes aware of Cass’s attributes is priceless. He’s just stunned she’s a girl. The reader feels his struggle, his longing. And when he has to come face to face with the rat fink and defends her, the reader falls in love with him.

The sexual tension is thick as, well, as the heat here in SA. The love scene is fulfilling and heartbreaking.
Secondary characters are great and real, twists of phrase make you smile (and wish you’d written them) and the last scene is fabulous.
Betting Hearts is Dee’s first book from Samhain Publishing.

The other day Mary Beth was commenting on her blog about how she knows her heroine better than her hero, but that the hero is more important to romance readers. That may be true, but it’s also so important to have a heroine the reader can root for, like Cassie. I think the hero can be forgiven a lot (at least I hope – the hero in my WIP is being a jackass) but the heroine has to be worthy, so that the reader can say, “You jerk, why can’t you see how great she is?” Agree or disagree?
Anyway, read the book and tell me what you think!


Paula said...

I absolutely agree about the heroine, Mary. Heroes are important--crucial even--but you don't want to have an incredible hero and try to pair him with a so-so heroine. The readers will wonder why he's settling for such a bore (or shrew or wimp or whatever).

Dee Tenorio said...

Mary!! WOW! Thank you SOOO much! Talk about making a gal's day!


As for the question, I had an editor once tell me that you must fall in love with the hero and want to BE the heroine. Or at least be her friend. I think it's that you have to believe these people are worth all the emotional value the reader invests.

Of course, my last heroine is one of the last people I'd want to be, lol, but man, I love every damaged inch of her. She's sort of an exception to the rule. But totally agree with Paula. If she's awful or TSTL without a good reason...the book is toast.

Big hugs!

Stacy Dawn said...

I agree with Dee, you want a hero you can fall in love with an a heroine you want to Be.

Congrats Dee! It sounds fabulous.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree, Mary. :-)
I love what the editor said, Dee. That's perfect.

Anonymous said...

Back to say more :-)
For me, the reason the hero is so much more difficult is because by the time I'm done wih my character profiles, my heroines are real people. I don't know why. My heros on the other hand are still flat. I know their GMCs, but I don't hear them. I don't know if that even makes sense.
With my new book I FINALLY get the hero. It took 50 pages, but he's real to me.
Still love what the editor said, Dee. :-) Can't wait to read the book.

April said...

I love Dee's book. Love it! I stayed up rediculously late reading it because I couldn't stop!

Eloisa James gave a speech at one of my chapter's workshops and she said that recent research suggested that readers actually identify with the hero of a story. But they "feel" with the heroine. So, I guess what that says is that it's important not to skimp on either!

Dee Tenorio said...

Awww April!! Thanks!!

I think, too, it really matters which "centric" you are. Aside from Cass, I'm actually more "hero-centric", so I have trouble relating to the heroines. Most often, when I'm writing them, it's a struggle to KNOW them. Heroes I tend to understand immediately. Beer. Sleep. Scratch. Repeat. LOL!

I find men tend to think very directly. Their sensory has to do with the physical. Women tend to want to sort out their business mentally, take a deep breath and look for the best course. Guys generally follow instinct and make the rationalisation fit the instinct. So, if you include that very different way of thinking into your characters, it can help you to reach their perspective and from there, you should be able to reach their personalities.

At least, that's my process. :)

MJFredrick said...

I'd heard the same thing, Dee, about wanting to be the heroine. I think you did a terrific job of letting us see the world through Cassie's eyes. I like what you said about men's processes being physical. Makes perfect sense.

Paula, you're right about not wanting the reader to wonder why he's with HER! I've done that, haven't you?

I always always come up with my heroes first. They're just there. Boom. I think it's because I'm prone to these crushes....I can just imagine what he'd be like in this situation, and this one, and this one....


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