I’m working on the fourth book in the Jorja Matthews mystery series and I’m going back and forth about the romantic interest between Jorja and Fritz (Officer Fritz of the local police department) and the old romantic interest between Jorja and Brad Dawson (high school sweetheart and current high school football coach).
As it stands, with the ending of the third book, Ties That Bind, we left Jorja healing after her escape from harm at the hands of a dangerous adversary. She was weak with emotion, stress and pain when Fritz showed her a side of himself he usually keeps hidden from others. Someday, we’ll learn about Fritz’s past and what made him become the man, and cop, he is today. Regardless of his past, Fritz made an attempt to show Jorja he cares and is interested on where their relationship may go. Did he purposefully approach her and show this side of himself knowing she was already weak with so many emotions? Or did he decide to set aside his usual rigid attitude after realizing how relieved he was that she had survived her ordeal?
In his personal life Fritz is not one to take advantage at the emotional sake of others so my vote is for the second option. After all, it is only when you believe you’ve lost someone that you may finally realize how important they are to you.
When I started this series, I really hadn’t thought much more than what was going to happen with the mystery involving Jorja and her family and the mini mysteries Jorja would solve as a private investigator. The idea of romance…well, it never really crossed my mind. When the possibility of romance popped up during the initial draft of the first novel, I wasn’t sure who Jorja might end up dating, or if she would ever date anyone at all. I enjoy the friction between Jorja and Fritz and I also enjoy the easy-going relationship she has with Brad, but we all know conflict is key when it comes to stories, which is why I also enjoy the fun Brad has at Fritz’s expense when it comes to putting him on the spot with Jorja.
I’m not writing romance, but I can’t deny romance won’t seep into the story because the characters will ultimately form relationships that may blossom into something more than friendship. Jorja’s best friend, Taylor, and the local bakery owner, Dylan Rhoades, were quick to become more than friends and are engage to be married already. I hadn’t planned on having to research wedding details but now that the wedding is set to happen in the fifth book in the series, I do look forward to introducing Taylor’s dysfunctional family to the mix of characters.
But I’m jumping ahead of myself here – the fourth book in the series has its own interesting and dysfunctional characters that I’m having fun with and will also include another cold case, this time involving the disappearance of an alcoholic and abusive father.
A stand-alone mystery may include only that, a who-done-it mystery. But when we’re working with a mystery series, we tag along as the characters expose more of themselves to us. Characters tend to find various ways to interact with each other, form bonds and close relationships, or show their annoyances, and even loathing between each other. And sometimes, characters do fall in love, whether we plan on it or not. Where Jorja and Fritz go from here, and whether Brad will back off, just be there as a friend or wait for his opportunity the next time Jorja and Fritz battle it out, will remain to be seen.