He’s a still-waters-run-deep kind of man, and he is one of my favorite heroes.
When I set out to write the Gentlemen of Scotland Yard, I knew my very first Yard man had to be a brave and intrepid detective as well as an intriguing, potentially explosive lover. I thought long and hard about which detective’s story I wanted to tell first, but in the end, I went straight for the stoic, aloof romantic hero.
Thinking back to the beginning, I’m sure Mr. Kennedy started out as a kind of Mr. Darcy meets Sherlock Holmes character. I wanted him to be somewhat awkward and disinterested in social situations, as well as mildly disdainful of the upper classes. At the same time he needed to be intuitive, curious, with a razor-sharp mind and a surpassing talent for lovemaking. I have an affinity for the reserved alpha male with a much less tamed side he reveals only to intimates! I think this combination, the man who is firmly in control––until he’s not, makes him YUM!
I wrote An Affair with Mr. Kennedy in such a way that the reader is gradually treated to more hidden aspects of the hero’s personality as they turn the pages. In the first chapters, Zak Kennedy is confident in a quiet, reserved way, while his taciturn demeanor can make him appear cool and detached. But give him a second glance (which he always gets because he is a handsome, imposing man) and one becomes more intrigued. As the story deepens, a somewhat more personable detective begins to emerge. There is also a magnetism to his enigmatic side, which makes a girl wonder what other charms lie beneath that stiff, high-pointed collar and those tight fitting breeches! And by the end of this romantic escapade? I hope I have created a male hero that readers will always remember.
For those of you who haven’t been introduced, a brief excerpt from An Affair with Mr. Kennedy.
Set-up: As it is raining heavily, Mr. Kennedy offers his new neighbor, the lovely young widow, Cassandra St. Cloud, a ride home in his carriage.
The heavy rain and underground rail construction conspired to make their simple commute home a miserable slog across town. London streets were in a constant state of flux, what with the Underground expansion and electrical cables laid out in street gutters. On days like today, it could easily take the better part of an hour to transect the city.
The rat-a-tat of rain, though calmative, did not dispel a chill in the air. From their brief encounter at the orphanage, he gleaned enough to surmise Cassie knew The Bloody Four as social acquaintances. He wondered if now would be a good time to broach the subject of Gerald St. Cloud with her. During their ride in the park, all that charm school business had knocked him off his game. Zeno settled into his seat, unable to stop staring at his new neighbor. Not unhappily, she appeared to return his interest.
“Do you dance, Mr. Kennedy?”
“I try to avoid it whenever possible, Mrs. St Cloud.”
She studied him with a beguiling half smile, just the barest ends of a superbly sensuous mouth turned up in quizzical amusement. “I take that to mean you do dance, but perhaps only in the course of duty. When it is forced upon you?”
She made him feel as silly as that exhaustive, tedious brother-in-law of hers. Zeno no longer tried to feign indifference toward the attractive widow, particularly since he could not seem to tear his gaze away.
He exhaled a loud sigh. “Women take pleasure dressing in evening gowns, being waltzed about a ballroom and whispering tittle-tattle.” He loosened his cravat. “Men, on the other hand, must endure high-pointed collars, feet crushed by dainty toes—and tittle-tattle.”
She pressed her lips together and formed a dimple. “The only reason I ask is I am quite sure my brother will wire back and beg off at the eleventh hour. And frankly, I’ve not much time. The ball is tomorrow evening, you see…”
Her conversation faded, accompanied by a wistful, resigned shrug. “I suppose I could always tag along with Gerald and Miss Templeton.”
He contemplated the idea of escorting her to the ball. On the yea side she provided perfect cover. He could observe the Bloody Four unawares in their milieu, take note of their friends and associates. As for the nay?
Zeno listened absently to the pattering of rain on the carriage roof. The woman frazzled him at times. Especially when she bit her lower lip and let it slip out from under pearl white teeth. Like now.
“Mrs. St. Cloud. Do you wish for me to escort you to the crush of the season?”
Her gaze slipped away, then back again. She added a nod.
“Please accept my offer of escort, as long as my company brings you greater happiness than the attentions of Lord Rosslyn.”
“It brings me a great deal more happiness, Mr. Kennedy.” The sparkle in her eyes so beguiled him, he allowed his smile to widen.
“I believe we have an engagement, madam.”
A MR. KENNEDY BACKGROUND BONUS EXTRA
For those of you who have read An Affair with Mr. Kennedy, here are a few little known facts about the first hero of the Gentlemen of Scotland Yard series, taken from my original character notes on the story!
Detective Inspector Zak Kennedy
Born: Zeno Augustus Kennedy “Zak” to his friends. (Named after Zeno of Citium, a Greek Stoic philosopher)
DOB: February 10, 1852
Birthplace: Isle of Skye, Scotland
Mother deceased, father retired school teacher. 1 brother, Ariston, works as a stillman at Talisker distillery.
Education: Fettes College, Edinburgh and St. John’s, Cambridge University. Played Rugby and sustained knee injury. Joined choir at St. John’s (has lovely tenor voice).
Military: 2nd Dragoons, Royal Scots Greys. Reassigned to intelligence work in France, then Burma.
Employment History: Resigned military commission and applied to Home Office, London. Accepted and assigned to Special Branch, Scotland Yard.
Commenters: Romantic heroes like Mr. Darcy, the archetype of the aloof romantic hero, have long been the stars of romance fiction. Who’s your favorite reserved alpha male? Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, John Bates from Downton Abbey, Jack from Lost, or someone else?
I have three copies to giveaway of An Affair with Mr. Kennedy. A signed copy to a US and a Canadian commenter and a copy (unsigned) to an International commenter (via Book Depository).
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