THINKING ABOUT who my main character would choose to become her lover was a fascinating exercise as an author. In Below the Beltway, my romantic adventure, it wasn’t enough for the guy to be “hot and sexy” though that’s a great place to start.
Alex Gantry, the heroine of my story, is a feminist. It’s a driving part of her character, which means her relationships with men are automatically more challenging but also more rewarding because no prescribed roles are expected which means a relationship that has no preconceived boundaries.
Alex is also committed to the work she does as an elite personal coach. This has a profound impact on the type of men she’s dated in the past, like Brian Marks, a man that Alex has been in an uncommitted, convenient relationship with for a while. They see each other when their schedules permit and they love being together but their uncommitted status makes for a very complicated history.
Isn’t that the way anyone describes a love affair gone wrong? Creating a relationship that works really is complicated, especially when you’re a woman who thrives on her work that is as demanding as any man’s career is to him.
When the story begins, Alex has changed and her relationship with Brian isn’t cutting it.
So when Berkley Banks started pitching her best friend to move to Washington, D.C. and join her firm, the timing seemed perfect. But moving across the country isn’t easy, especially when ex-lovers are involved.
There was so much for Alex to think about, but instead, she just went for it.
The meeting of Alex Gantry and T.J. Gale, the hero of my story, was not love at first sight. I knew it had to be real, an organic discussion that opened up the possibility of attraction that could lead to something interesting. I believed it also required a bumpy road because that’s part of modern life and relationships between two strong, successful people.
T.J. Gale not only had to be a catch but he also had to have a driving passion that inspired his life. For most men I’ve interviewed, as well as those I’ve known, the way they make money and the satisfaction they get from their work resounds throughout their life.
I’m a big believer in making a living at what you love. Sometimes you have to do something you don’t like to pay the bills but the ultimate goal is never out of mind: to enjoy what you do every day to make money. Over a lifetime, it makes all the difference.
“Save the Bay” isn’t just a slogan for T.J. Gale. He’s a greenpreneur who’s from the tri-state area of Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. The passion he feels for the Chesapeake Bay and surrounding area is rooted in growing up in a vitally alive coastal region that depends on the beauty of the land, water, and the creatures who inhabit the waterways and estuaries for commerce, tourism, and family enjoyment.
I’ve found through talking to hundreds of men that how a man feels about what he does for a living matters. That whatever he does all day to provide for his family has to be something that feeds his soul and gives him purpose.
When a man loves his work it makes him a lot sexier to a woman.
When Alex sees T.J. Gale in his element, talking about how much he loves the area she’s just landed in and what the environment means to his life, she sees a side of him she hadn’t before. It turns Alex on to see a man so committed to protecting wildlife, birds, and the environment, which tracks well with her own life, which is all about making a difference in people’s lives.
And, oh, did I mention the sex? Let’s just say this book is for adults, and as is fitting the subject, the sex is hot and satisfyingly explicit.
Nothing could possibly go wrong for Alex and T.J., right?
Think again because not everyone is happy Alex and T.J. Gale got together, which makes everything a lot more difficult for them and dangerous for everyone.
Below the Beltway is available on AMAZON., BARNES & NOBLE, iBOOKS, KOBO
This post has been updated: current cover art, by Mirna Gillman of BGS