Yesterday, I spoke of the medical research behind my writing of Second Chances: The Courtship Wars. If you did not have the opportunity to check this information out, it is fascinating. Read it HERE. One of the things that struck me in the original article was the idea that women on birth control change their hormonal makeup, and, therefore, skew their natural instincts. Could this be a factor in the rise of divorces? Of miscarriages? LOL! I hold no means to know, but what an interesting concept!
With that in mind, I give you the premise behind my contemporary romance, Second Chances: The Courtship Wars.
Second Chances is a reality TV show in which couples who were once married and now divorced wish to remarry. The winners will receive the wedding of their dreams, as well as a substantial cash prize. As part of the show’s medical staff, psychologist Dr. Lucian Damron meets his match in Gillian Cornell, a sexologist. Lucian and Gillian are as of much interest to the American viewing public as are the contestants, and the show’s executives decide to highlight their growing romance to boost viewership. Needless to say, things do not go as planned.
Excerpt (This scene takes place early on in the book, and it incorporates some of the research mentioned in yesterday’s article.)
Worried she would be late for her university lecture, Gillian stepped onto the busy sidewalk. Digging in her purse for her sunglasses, an action, which seemed to claim more and more of her time each day, she did not notice Damron’s approach until the man stood before her.
“Dr. Damron,” she gasped, reaching for her heart as if frightened.
“Lucian. Please call me Lucian.”
He reached to steady her stance, and Gillian felt the warmth of his touch scooting up her arm.
“Lu…Lucian,” she flustered. “What are you doing here?”
“I know this is presumptuous on my part, but I wished to see if there’s something I could do to convince you to join the show’s staff.”
“How did you know where I lived?” she asked suspiciously.
Damron smiled amusedly.
“I am afraid I purposely did some research on you. I thought if we’re to work together, it might be easier if we knew something other than what the lecture circuit tells the public.”
“I suppose I should be flattered, but it’s a bit disconcerting to know a stranger could find such personal information so easily.”
“I was a bit tenacious in my efforts,” he admitted before releasing his hold on her arm.
“I appreciate your concern, but I’m accustomed to making decisions without assistance from those I know little of,” she announced.
Dr. Damron smiled, and Gillian realized a smile on his lips was a powerful weapon against her resolve. Deep set dimples. Like those found on Clark Gable. God! To be the recipient of that smile on a regular basis would be heavenly.
“Naturally. I overstepped my boundaries. I apologize for intruding upon your privacy,” he said dutifully.
“I am not offended, Doctor…I mean, Lucian.”
Gillian placed her purse across her shoulder.
“I take care of my responsibilities, and I believe I’ll be able to meet the contract. I just possess a few small details to settle, but now, if you’ll excuse me, I must be at the university for a lecture soon.”
She glanced around to hail a cab.
“I’ve my care with me, might I offer you a lift?” he offered.
“I wouldn’t want you to go out of your way on my account.”
Gillian’s eyes finally met his, and a tingle of anticipation rushed through her.
“I’ve nothing else planned, and it would provide us time to talk a bit more.”
The man did not wait for Gillian’s answer; he caught her elbow to lead her to his waiting car. In truth, as soon as he touched her, Gillian swallowed her refusal.
The relatively short drive to the university didn’t allow for much conversation, but Lucian used it to his advantage.
“What’s the lecture on?” he asked as he maneuvered through traffic.
“Is that the subject of your upcoming book?”
“It’s a large portion of it, but there’s more hard core honesty than many psychology based offerings currently on the market.”
A lull in the conversation followed. Lucian did not know much about MHC, but he meant to learn something of it when he returned to his computer later. At length, Miss Cornell asked of his hopes for a talk show.
“It’s my chance to market myself; I hoped for something more along the lines of Dr. Phil. I prefer to take the high road: no fist fights or married siblings or such foolishness.”
Lucian asked without forethought, “Would you have lunch with me?”
Miss Cornell stammered, “Lucian…I…I don’t know whether that is wise.”
“Why not? I’m not asking for an intimate evening. We’ll have lunch and learn more of each other. That’s all.”
“I have the lecture.”
“I’ll sit in the back and listen. Then we can spend a leisurely lunch.”
Lucian watched her from the corner of his eye. He could read the moment of indecision swaying in his favor, and he relished the idea. At length, an aggravated sigh escaped Miss Cornell’s lips as she grudgingly accepted.
“If you insist.”
“Good.” His heart lifted with anticipation. “Thank you, Gillian.
Good to his word, Lucian sat in the shadows at the back of the auditorium, but that didn’t keep him from Gillian’s thoughts as she worked her way through the afternoon lecture series.
“So what makes two people fall in love?” she asked as she stepped from the podium and into the audience. “Have you ever been in love?”
Gillian thrust the microphone before the face of a bleach-blonde co-ed.
“Sure,” the girl’s gum snapped as she answered.
“How did you know?”
“He was hot!”
The crowd roared with laughter.
“Ooh. Lust,” Gillian purred. “Isn’t it exhilarating?”
The girl giggled nervously.
“How about shared goals? Mutual interests?”
Gillian moved on to an older grad student.
“Without that,” he said what he thought she wanted to hear, “the sex is useless.”
“Well, I wouldn’t go that far,” Gillian teased. “However, what if I told you an olfactory nerve discovered in a whale could be the real source of a person’s attraction?”
This time she turned to the “jock” type.
“You mean I just need to smell my girlfriend to find out if we’re in love?”
The guy blushed when his obvious girlfriend playfully slugged his shoulder.
Gillian’s eyes rose to where Dr. Damron looked on.
“An esteemed colleague asked me a similar question recently.”
An enigmatic smile played across his features, and Gillian fought the urge to ask him his thoughts on their previous encounter.
“But the truth is a bit more complicated.”
Gillian returned to the stage to continue her thoughts.
“The truth is Nerve O has endings in the nasal cavity, but those nerve endings play a different role from what we might expect. Nerve O doesn’t smell out the person to whom we’re attracted, but it does identify sexual cues from all the thousands of potential lovers we meet on a daily basis. Family members. logically, have a similar chemical make up. That is nature’s way of protecting close family members from procreating as we seek out those with a different chemical program.”
“Unless you live in the South,” a voice from the rear of the audience shared a bit too loudly.
“Hey, I attend school in the South,” Gillian countered, shooting down the laughter before it began. “Nerve O also can be a cue to fertility issues, miscarriages, and infidelity. If your partner has similar chemical markers, such problems may occur. This is where the old adage of opposites attract coming into play. And loading up on your favorite cologne won’t change your love life, no matter what all the commercials tell you; our scents are natural and instinctive. You can’t change the code. My last caution is to the females in the audience. Although I applaud your responsibility in choosing birth control, if you’re sexually active, you must remember that birth control changes your hormonal makeup, simulating pregnancy, and, therefore, making your body seek out those with similar chemical programs, like family kinship, rather than potential mates. Your choices for successful love may be affected by the pill.”
A nervous giggle filled the space.
“Before I leave you with this last lecture in the series, I wish to thank you for your participation in the program.”
A light round of applause spread across the room, but Gillian raised her hand to let the attendees know she still required their attention.
“I am considering a contract in the fall that will not permit me to be part of the series when your return to classes; I will not see many of you until the spring semester.”
“Where you going?” A dark-headed prep shouted from the front row.
Gillian glanced to Dr. Damron again. She hesitated before she offered an explanation.
“Dr. Lucian Damron, who I am certain many of you took note in the lecture hall today, and I will work on a joint national campaign. That is all I am at liberty to tell you at the moment, but you’ll be hearing about it before long.”
Gillian motioned for Dr. Damron to come to the front.
“Please welcome Dr. Damron. If you’ve questions for either of us, we’ll be glad to address them.”
Damron self-consciously came forward as the audience applauded. He hugged Gillian quickly – too quickly for her preferences – as he accepted the hand-held microphone from her and turned to face those gathered in the lecture hall.
“How does she smell, Doc?”
A sniggering voice penetrated the silence.
“Like roses,” he responded with a light laugh.
“Actually, it’s lavender,” Gillian corrected.
“Well, that shows you I’ve no sense of smell.”
Damron presented Gillian a knowing look before turning to the audience.
“Are there any questions I can answer.”
Rushing through the concourse to make her way to the conference stage, Gillian Cornell comes face-to-face with the one man she finds most contemptible, but suddenly her world tilts. His gaze tells stories she wants desperately to hear. As he undresses her with his eyes, Gillian finds all she can do is stumble through her opening remarks. The all-too-attractive cad challenges both her sensibility and her reputation as a competent sexologist.
Dr. Lucina Damron never allows any woman to capture his interest for long. He uses them to boost his career and for his pleasure. Yet, Lucian cannot resist Gillian’s stubborn independence, her startling intelligence, and her surprising sensuality. Sinfully handsome, Lucian hides a badly wounded heart and a life of personal rejection.
Thrown together as the medical staff on “Second Chances,” a new reality show designed to reunite previously married couples, Lucian and Gillian soon pique the interest of the American viewing public, who tune in each week, fascinated by the passionate electricity coursing between them. Thus begins an all-consuming courtship war, plagued by potential relationship-ending secrets and misunderstandings and played out scandalously on a national stage.
Giveaway: Yesterday, I offered 2 eBook copies of Second Chances: The Courtship Wars to those who commented. I’m adding an additional two copies to this giveaway for a total of four. If you did not comment yesterday, do so, as well as leave your comments below. The winners will be chosen at midnight EDST on September 30, 2015.