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Enemies to Lovers

Come Meet the Guys from Spy Games

Welcome!

I’m interviewing the three men from the first books in my Spy Games series today!

Each of the first three books is a standalone romance, although for anyone interested in the overall series plot (there really is one!), they’re best read in order:

herspytohave_paulaaltenburg-ebook_final-min

Her Spy to Have ~ Book 1

 

Thank you to Syd Gill Design

Her Spy to Hold ~ Book 2

 

 

hisspyatnight_paulaaltenburg-ebook-final-min

His Spy at Night ~ Book 3

 

 

If you don’t want to read them in order, no worries—the main plot doesn’t contain any deep dark secrets or major spoilers. We know who did it from the very first book. The rest of the stories are spent gathering enough information to hang him.

Although we haven’t literally hanged anyone in Canada since December 11th, 1962.

Now that we’ve cleared all that up, let’s get back to my guys so I can introduce them….

Word of warning–these guys are a little camera-shy, for obvious reasons.

First on the scene is Garrett.

garrett

He’s in love with Isabelle, a woman with a sketchy past. His pastimes include wandering around Khao San Road in Bangkok dressed like a tourist.

Next we have Kale.

kale

He made quite the impression on Irina, who’s a brainy software engineer and weapons systems placement designer. Kale likes extreme sports—kitesurfing, rock climbing, and longboarding down mountain roads in Nova Scotia for starters.

Last but not least, we’ll introduce you to Harry. Oh, Harry…

harry

His girl is Marlies, an expert in money laundering and hawala systems of exchange, but she has other skills that Harry puts to good use. (Yes, that’s a naughty reference.) When Harry wants to get away from the embassy office in the Netherlands, he likes to take after-hours canal tours. (Yes. Another naughty reference.)

Only two of these men are spies, however. That’s okay. Garrett and Kale like Harry a lot and they can totally sympathize with the problems inherent in his relationship with Marlies. (Marlies goes by Lies for short. Pronounced Lees. Even if the pronunciation is different, it is so, so appropriate for her…)

*Ahem.*

Garrett and Harry have a lot in common. They both work at Canadian embassies. They’re quiet and good at blending in. Kale is even better than they are at listening, but he prefers a bolder approach to information gathering. If you want an analogy, he’s more of a hurricane to their warm summer rain. (ßThat sentence right there is why I’m a writer.)

 

I know you guys are busy so I’m going to go with 3 easy questions for you:

  1. What set you on your career paths? Harry, I know you’re a diplomat and trade commissioner, not a spy, but still, there’s a level of intrigue in what you do. You constantly have your ear to the ground and one of your friends happens to be the director of Canada’s spy organization.

(Heads turn. Garrett and Kale stare at Harry.)

Garrett: You’re friends with John Carmichael?

Harry: No offense, but he’s the only one of you people I even remotely trust.

Kale: None taken. (Arches brow.) But what about Lies?

Harry: Not even as far as I can throw her.

Kale: Right. What was I thinking?

Garrett: To answer your question—I’ve always been restless if I stay in one place too long, which comes from me, not my upbringing. My family is pretty stable and ordinary, and I love them, but I want to serve my country. I like the challenge. What I do isn’t especially exciting, at least not on the surface, but I really enjoy the game of matching wits with people who believe they’re smarter than I am.

Kale (nodding head in agreement): Yeah, I like that whole game aspect of it, too. I’m a linguist who speaks seven languages. My dad is a career diplomat who travels a lot, particularly in the Middle East, so I’m comfortable with the different languages and cultures. I don’t fit my stereotype and I love it when people look at me and see a dumb jock. You wouldn’t believe the conversations people have in public when they think no one around them can understand.

Harry: I seem so dull in comparison to these two. I started off working summers as an unpaid intern for the UN, then after university, went to work for several different aerospace and defence companies in their international marketing departments. I speak a few languages too, so between those and my business connections, it was an easy progression to Canada’s trade commission. I like helping companies do business in other countries. It increases Canada’s profile worldwide and grows the economy.

  1. We’re all friends here. What do you find hottest about your women?

Garrett: Not that it’s anyone’s business, but I love the fact that Isabelle is such a mystery to me. I’m always trying to figure out the best way to please her.

Kale: No secrets here, man. I straight up love the way Irina can be talked into anything. And I mean anything. Still waters. Gotta love them. (Shifts restlessly in chair and eyeballs clock on wall.) When is this interview over?

Harry: Since we’re oversharing (stares pointedly at Kale), Lies can be very (clears throat) forthright about her preferences. It’s refreshing to spend time with a woman who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to ask for it.

Kale: That’s what we’re calling it? Refreshing? Wait until I share that with Irina. (Starts to laugh at what is clearly an inside joke.)

  1. Since we’re on an honesty roll, and next week the ladies will get their chance to rebut, what do you like the least about them?

Garrett (answers a little too quickly): Isabelle’s father. Did I say that out loud?

Kale (speaking to Garrett): Is that an option? Because I like everything about Irina, including her parents. She’s smart, she’s pretty, she’s sexy… I mean, her father was once a Soviet double agent, sure, but it’s not like I can cast stones. I do get why you don’t like Isabelle’s dad though. The guy steals military weapons and intelligence and sells them to hostile nations. That’s got to make Christmases awkward.

Harry (thoughtfully): Lies can be really inappropriate. The phone sex, for instance. I can’t figure out if I like or dislike it. Once I got over the initial shock, it can be— You know what? Forget it. I take it all back. I’m not answering this question.

Kale (stares): Dude. What the hell. You like it. (Again glances longingly at clock.)

And on that note, guys, it’s a wrap. Thanks so much for joining me today.

If readers are interested in learning more about these three, you can check out their stories on my website. I have links to the first chapters, online retailers, and to a sign-up form for my newsletter so you can follow upcoming releases for the Spy Games series.

Next up is Dan’s story in Her Spy at Dawn, Book 4, which should be making its appearance at retailers in February 2017. Dan’s not as camera-shy because he works behind a desk these days, but this guy has a PAST. I’ll just leave you with this:

dan

It’s all in the Trope

A trope is a recurring literary device that’s been proven to appeal to a broad audience. In romance writing, authors often rely on particular tropes when outlining their stories. Some authors do it consciously, others, instinctively. The point is, tropes tend to crop up in stories, particularly successful ones, whether an author means for them to or not.

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

Tropes

(Yeah. That might be going too far.)

I consciously choose tropes for my contemporary romances. I don’t for my fantasy and paranormal stories though, because I prefer for the romance to grow from the story’s plot and theme. I’m sure the tropes are there–I just don’t make a point of paying attention to them.

You can find dozens of tropes lists on the internet, but to save you some time, you can check one of them out here.

My latest contemporary release Her Spy to Have utilizes three romantic tropes–Enemies to Lovers, Damsel in Distress, and Different Worlds. I also added an Ugly Duckling trope, but it’s not as obvious and is mixed in with Different Worlds and Damsel in Distress. Garrett first sees Isabelle as plain, but later realizes she chooses to make herself inconspicuous. As the attraction between them grows he realizes she’s a chameleon. People presenting themselves as something they’re not is a recurring theme in the story.

Damsel in Distress is actually one of my least favourite tropes. I like my women with backbone. So, while Isabelle in Her Spy to Have definitely starts off in distress, that’s not who she really is. She’s actually very resourceful. She was getting herself out of a bad situation when Garrett enters the picture. To be fair, he’s not really charging to her rescue. He’s suffering from morbid curiosity more than anything.

You can read Chapter One to see what I mean.

Damsel in distress

This is why tropes are such successful storytelling devices. When an author uses them properly, they’re a starting point only. The whole point of creative writing is to be, well, creative. Don’t have your heroine spending the whole story internally whining about how she’s not beautiful enough for the hero, or the hero obsessing over how she’s not as pretty as his usual type. That’s why using more than one trope gives a story a better effect. Isabelle’s biggest problem really is that she’s a Damsel in Distress, but she’s actively trying to resolve it on her own. Garrett’s biggest problem is that they’re from Different Worlds–he’s a CSIS agent and she’s the daughter of a criminal involved in international espionage. The Enemies to Lovers trope is a problem for them both. They somehow have to resolve the problems the tropes cause them.

If you’ve already read Her Spy to Have, you can get a sneak preview of the second book in the series, Her Spy to Hold, which is coming in May. You can also stay in touch by signing up for my newsletter here to be among the first to find out about upcoming releases.