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Two By Two: Pairing Off Characters in Romance

Hello. My name is Leigh Ellwood and I write erotica and erotic romance. I’d like to thank Silken Sheets and Seduction for hosting me today, so I may talk about pairings in romance. If you have visited my website or followed me on Twitter (links below if you haven’t – you know you want to click!) you’ll know I have trouble sticking to one specific pairing in my stories. I have written M/M, F/F, and M/F stories, as well as the occasional ménage tryst. You could say when it comes to passion and play, I like to mix and match!

While I enjoy writing different types of stories, I realize it presents a challenge when fostering a readership. Some out there may prefer to read strictly M/M or just ménages – even then, they may only want MMF or MFM. So when I debut an F/F story I imagine I may disappoint some. Believe me when I say that’s not my intent. When I get a story idea, not only do I plan the action but I imagine the characters who best fit the roles. There are times in a story when a M/F pairing doesn’t quite work. I learned that recently as I worked on UNDERCOVER PASSIONS, a paranormal short available at ARe, Amazon, B&N and other retailers. When I first drafted the story I had the protagonist interested in a male colleague who hid a few secrets. The more I read their story, however, I felt something didn’t quite click between them. It felt as though I tried to force the relationship…and I then realized that my heroine didn’t dislike the guy, she just wasn’t into guys! A heavy revision turned UNDERCOVER PASSIONS into an F/F story, and I saw the story flowed better.

In my latest book, BITTERSWEET, I have two male heroes reuniting after time apart. M/M pairings seem natural to me in paranormal and sci-fi settings – I suppose it is because these genres offer excitement and action. That’s not to say I don’t believe in female characters in sci-fi…but in the case of BITTERSWEET the affection between heroes Tobin and Kelly radiated as genuine to me. Either man would do anything for the other, including traveling the far reaches of space to come together.

Do you have a favorite pairing, or coupling, in romance? I’d love to hear what readers enjoy. I will also give one commenter a $10 GC to Amazon, ARe, or B&N – reader’s choice.

About Leigh Ellwood
Leigh Ellwood writes erotica and erotic romance. Her first novel, TRUTH OR DARE, was published nearly a decade ago, and she continues to write in a variety of genres. Please visit Leigh online at:

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After years of imprisonment on his home planet, the disgraced Tobin – former captain of the starship Jiu’Kr – is called upon to undertake a mission to save his people. Their salvation, to his great joy, lies on Earth.

Kelly Landry has tried to be productive since he and Tobin parted. He finds solace in his bakery, Taste This, and in helping those in need. He’s not ready to pursue another relationship, much to the disappointment of would-be suitor Brad Summers, because a part of him wants to believe his sexy alien lover will return.

When Tobin does come back for him, however, it’s not the romantic reunion Kelly expected. Tobin is a risk taker…will his actions keep him and Kelly apart for good?


Tobin swallowed back a lump in his throat as the planet—bright blue and swathed in swirling white clouds—loomed in his view. Why did his hands shake as he maneuvered the small ship toward the remote coordinates designated for him? The first time he and his crew came to Earth, the excitement proved palpable even with his eyes closed. He couldn’t wait to claim the man he’d admired from afar and show him a new world of possibilities.

Now, a shiver of fear cooled his skin. How would Kelly react if Tobin simply showed up at Taste This? So much time had passed, too—for all Tobin knew, Kelly had closed up shop and moved on to another career. If he still possessed the vial Tobin gave him, perhaps Kelly had volunteered to help the less fortunate, all the while spreading the good news in the form of a permanent cure to people’s ills.

So much time separated them now, Tobin realized as he fixed on a remote spot in a South American jungle. What Mar’quan and others required grew here amid a variety of odd insects and poisoned thorns. He would beam down, get what he needed, and get out. Hopefully he’d meet no natives during his brief stay—two-legged, winged, or clawed. The ship had come equipped with sufficient weaponry, but Tobin didn’t anticipate the need to defend himself.

Just like he planned, he maneuvered the cloaked craft to hover over a thicket of tall trees near the river and beamed down to the precise spot where he could collect the plants. The heat enveloped him, creating a film of sweat that caused greater discomfort the longer he stayed in the grass.

He filled a container two-feet wide and one foot deep, and hoped he had enough. If not, he’d come back, but Tobin felt confident that the team Mar’quan assembled to work on the cure could work with this. Now he required only one more thing—rather, person—to complete his mission.

Once settled at the helm, he set the coordinates for Taste This and steered the craft northward. He’d stay within the planet’s atmosphere for this short trip, just above the flight line so as not to compromise the safety of any air jets in the area. His heart seemed to accelerate with every minute that passed, which both amused and bothered him. Was he actually nervous to see Kelly again? Did he fear rejection or—gods forbid—the possibility that Kelly no longer lived?

He wouldn’t know for certain until he saw the man for himself. Traveling at top speed brought Tobin out of the jungle and circling the city within the hour.

Tobin adjusted his scanners and checked the coordinates for the bakery once more, then flipped a switch near a surveillance screen. The aerial vantage point afforded him a view of the shop’s marquee, which partially shielded the front doors. He could detect movement along the bakery’s glass walls, however, and a quick check of the universal clock on his dashboard told him that it was mid-morning in Kelly’s hometown. Customers filtered in and out of Taste This in pairs and singles rather fluidly, and Tobin knew his old lover was busy.

He drummed his fingers next to another button, one that triggered the transporter. In five seconds, he could stand before the bakery himself and marvel at Kelly’s success, then drool over his beloved’s perfectly lean body and handsome features. For countless days he’d rehearsed in his mind how to pull off a longed-for reunion. Should he burst through the shop’s doors like a wild man desperate to find his lost love, or maybe he’d play it cool and slip inside with a hat covering his face. He’d saunter up to the counter and casually order a slice of pie, and Kelly—bent over the register or a tray of cookies—would recognize his voice and engage a slow-motion eye-contact, not unlike those climatic love scenes in Earth romantic comedies.

The one reaction Tobin figured most likely, Kelly serving him without a hint of recognizance, frightened him the most. In a way, too, such a non-reaction might relieve him. He’d enjoy one last look at Kelly, grab something for the road, and return to the Vectran system. He’d give Mar’quan the needed herbs for the cure and ask for a full pardon and a ship. At the very least, he could come back and try to woo Kelly again.