Hello, Internet! Please welcome Racheline Maltese as she discusses her new release The Art of Three, co-written with Erin McRae.
For me, reading romance has always been a little bit aspirational. The characters I identified with (whether heroes or heroines) are always just a little bit cooler, hotter, and more resourceful than me. They are what I could be if I were at my best or the world were kinder to my worst.
This feeling of enjoying romance for aspirational qualities means that I’ve long preferred my heroes and/or heroines to be my age or older (my affection for silver foxes of all genders quite aside). But as I’ve gotten older myself, there’s been a shortage of heroines I can see that way.
At 44, heroines my age or older are often in second-change romances. Something in their lives has gone wrong, and now something in their lives is about to go right. I love the realistic underpinnings of second chance romances (and Erin and I have written more than one), but I also want stories that don’t hinge on past sadness. Writing The Art of Three was very much Erin and I trying to figure out how to solve the riddle of featuring an older heroine without a backstory involving loss.
With a 48-year-old, happily married heroine and two heroes (one, her 56-year-old husband, the other their 24-year-old boyfriend), The Art of Three is about big romantic stories and how new Happily Ever Afters aren’t off-limits for older characters or characters who have already found joy. We wanted to embrace the idea of positive female selfishness and a belief that if you have the right partner(s) in your life, you don’t have to lose what you already have to in order to make big changes.
While the MMF triad at the center of The Art of Three isn’t a set up that would work for everyone in real life, we do believe it’s a possibility – on or off the page – that can appeal to any reader. A woman’s life should not be measured in what is enough and love multiplies.
Jamie Conway has a charmed life. At 24, he’s relocated from Dublin to London to star in his first feature film. Unfortunately, he also has one very big problem: He has a huge crush on his happily married costar.
British heartthrob to middle-aged women everywhere, Callum Griffith-Davies should have more sense than to flirt with his new-to-the-business colleague, but good judgement isn’t one of the qualities for which he’s known.
Nerea Espinosa de Los Monteros Nessim has better things to do than fret about her husband’s newest conquest. She’s busy planning her daughter’s wedding at the family’s farmhouse in rural Spain. Besides, she and Callum have been married and polyamorous for almost 30 years; she’s content to let him make his own bad choices.
But when Nerea flies to London after her artwork is selected for a high-profile museum show, she falls for Jamie too. Soon Callum, Jamie, and Nerea have bigger problems, and surprises, than international logistics. From ex-lovers and nosy neighbors to adult children with dramas of their own, The Art of Three is a contemporary romance that celebrates families, and farce, in all shapes and sizes.
Paperback coming soon.
The cab ride to the flat was silent. Nerea sat in the middle. Jamie was acutely aware of her warmth, especially where their thighs were pressed together. At one point Callum shifted, Jamie assumed to put an arm around her shoulders, but Nerea leaned forward ever so slightly. Jamie felt Callum’s hand warm on his back. Fingers slipped up under his jacket. Jamie wondered if it were possible to spontaneously combust from anticipation.
When they got out of the car in front of Callum and Nerea’s building, Nerea frowned and stepped out of her high heels right in the middle of the sidewalk.
“You’re so tiny,” Jamie exclaimed. He hadn’t realized how high her shoes had been. Or how nice it was to be around a woman who was shorter than him. At five foot eight, most of the actresses and models he worked with definitely weren’t.
“I’m not climbing those stairs in these,” she said like Jamie hadn’t spoken, gesturing at Callum with the shoes.
“This is still an annoying flat.”
Callum laughed. “You love the flat.”
“So do you,” Nerea shot back. “Until you hit your head on the ceiling. Again.”
“The place seemed like a good idea when we got it.”
It was obviously an old and fond argument. Jamie felt privileged to witness it. He stuffed his hands in his pockets, nervous all over again. Callum and Nerea had decades of physical and emotional intimacy between them. Was he a fool to think there was room for him at all, even for a night?
Jamie put his doubts aside when Callum gestured for him to follow his wife up the stairs.
Nerea swung her hips more than was probably necessary, and Jamie watched her magnificent curves as she climbed the flight ahead of him, her shoes dangling from her hand. Below, Jamie heard the now-familiar sounds of Callum locking the front door behind him.
His footsteps were still somewhere down a flight when Jamie got to the top landing and was met by Nerea’s smile and a beckoning crook of her finger. His mouth went dry; Callum was all very well and drop-dead gorgeous, but Jamie had never kissed someone as stunning and completely out of his league as Nerea before.
“Do you not want to?” Nerea asked quietly when Jamie hesitated. She wasn’t being a tease. She, like Callum, genuinely wanted to know.
“No, no, I really, really want to,” Jamie said, nodding with embarrassing amounts of enthusiasm. “I just….”
How was he supposed to say that this was a very nice dream but he was afraid he would wake at any moment?
Before he could get the words out, Nerea went up on her toes, slid her slender arms around Jamie’s neck, and kissed him.
Jamie sighed into her mouth. He had forgotten how nice it was to hold onto someone smaller and softer than him.
Racheline Maltese can fly a plane, sail a boat, and ride a horse, but has no idea how to drive a car; she’s based in Brooklyn. Erin McRae has a graduate degree in international affairs for which she focused on the role of social media in the Arab Spring; she’s based in Washington DC. Together, they write romance about fame and public life. Like everyone in the 21st century, they met on the Internet.