Beautiful Characters? by Mary Costello

The heroine of my first novel, The Reluctant Wag, was a stunner, but when I wrote Irresistible Enemy, I chose a heroine who’s a plain Jane. Cassie Bowtell is scrawny, flat-chested, knobbly-kneed, with frizzy hair and thin lips, and none of this worries her in the least. Like most of us whose faces will never launch a thousand ships – or even a barnacle-covered hulk – her looks aren’t an issue for her, and she’s quite happy in her own quirky skin.

But I’m fascinated and somewhat baffled by the effects of beauty. We all take delight in beholding a lovely face. The degree of indisputable natural beauty enjoyed by women like Angelina Jolie, Keira Knightly, Audrey Hepburn, or Grace Kelly is rare. It’s the ultimate gift of the gods. It attracts and enchants, and that’s a kind of power. But what effect does beauty have on the beautiful?

Beauty gets a woman noticed and draws unwarranted privileges. Aristotle wrote, “Personal beauty is a greater recommendation than any letter of reference.” It was true 2,300 years ago, but even more so now. Ours is increasingly a culture where looks are revered – a truth that made my first heroine distinctly uncomfortable.

In The Reluctant Wag, heroine Merise Merrick is a journalism student who just happens to be a looker. It’s not something she thinks about too much until she’s approached by a modelling agency with an offer of work. She rejects the offer, until she’s so desperate for money that she finally gives in and signs on as the new face of the Yarraside Wolves football team.

Merise is uneasy in the role of celebrity beauty, and even more disturbed when she finds herself powerfully attracted to the Yarraside captain, Cal McCoy. Ironically, Merise quickly dismisses the very handsome Cal as an over-muscled jock, so even she fails to look below the surface at first.

The beauty can’t take credit for her appearance; it’s not something she’s achieved through effort and dedication. It may also prove a liability, generating jealousy and false judgement. The perception that good looking girls are airheads still persists. Yet what woman would pass up the chance to be beautiful?

I’m afraid that in Irresistible Enemy, I deprived the ordinary looking Cassie of her chance to be a traditional romantic goddess of loveliness. Of course, she doesn’t really have time to worry about her looks. She’s too busy looking after the injured animals at her wildlife sanctuary. She also spends all her money on feed and vet bills, so that she buys her clothes at second-hand shops, and it shows.

It makes my hero – the very sweet, very charming Hart Huntingdon – all the more appealing that he falls hard for a girl who’s very different from the fashionable socialites and well-groomed professional women he normally encounters.

When Hart invites Cassie to accompany him to a high-profile gathering, she scrabbles together a pre-loved outfit and he thinks she looks adorable. The only thing that spoils the illusion is the faint whiff of mothballs that scents the air every time Cassie moves. Luckily, Hart’s not the man to be deterred by a little naphthalene.

Romance is all about fantasy, which is why so many heroes and heroines are such splendid physical specimens. I just liked the fantasy of a plain girl winning Prince Charming for a change.

Not surprisingly, Cassie got a major makeover for the cover of the book. The young woman cuddling up to Hart is beautiful by any standards; but then even ebook covers must draw the eye, and we’re all drawn to beauty.

A thing of beauty is undoubtedly a joy forever, and somehow when we behold beauty the delight we feel reflects that beauty back on us; and for just a moment, we too feel what it is to be beautiful.

5_12 Irresistible Enemy cover imageIRRESISTIBLE ENEMY by Mary Costello
Contemporary Romance, Destiny Romance

Cassie Bowtell adores her idyllic life in the bush and after a chance encounter by the roadside, even her love life is looking up. So when a housing estate is planned right next door to Cassie’s beautiful rural property, she vows to fight it with everything she has.

Wealthy businessman Hart Huntingdon can’t stop thinking about the mystery woman he met in the country. And then he discovers Cassie is the one of the people responsible for holding up his plans and doing her best to turn the locals against him.

With both of them firmly believing they are in the right, Cassie and Hart are soon locked into battle, a battle every bit as fierce and passionate as their growing obsession with each other.

About the Author:5_12 Mary CostelloMary Costello is an Irish-Australian freelance writer, and despite living most of her life here, she hasn’t lost her accent, or the sense of being somewhere exotic. She lives in Melbourne’s bushburbs with her husband of many years, who, oddly, bears no resemblance whatsoever to a romantic hero. They live with a flock of recovering battery hens and their two daughters, for whom Mary aspires to arrange advantageous matches to men of large property.

Mary’s first book, Titanic Town, Memoirs of a Belfast Girlhood, was published twenty years ago, but she only recently turned her pen to Romance, inspired by the heroics of the men of Aussie Rules footy. Through the thrilling nexus of footy and love, she hopes to fulfill her romantic Destiny, and keep on writing..

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