Don’t you love it when you’re reading a book and you completely connect with the main character? It’s magical. And so mysterious. Why some characters and not others? Why do other people like characters you don’t? The first character I love-love-loved was Jo in Little Women. I liked her sisters too, and cried my eyes out when Beth died, but Jo was – everything I wanted to be. Imaginative, adventurous, vibrant, devoted to her family. Jo was one of the reasons I wanted to be a writer.

As an adult, the first character I clicked with was Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice — her sense of the absurd, her liveliness, her intelligence. I loved her and wanted to be just like her so some elusive eligible bachelor would fall for me. Whether or not he looked like Colin Firth.

Those two characters are iconic. I’m very sure I’m not the only writer who loves those two. But why should I connect with Sugar Beth in Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Ain’t She Sweet? I’m nothing like her. I’ve never been a spoiled Southern beauty queen, believe me. And yet, something about her gritty determination and sense of humor really spoke to me.

Other characters leave me cold. Bridget Jones? I enjoyed the book, but Bridget and I didn’t have much chemistry. I thought she was trying too hard to make me like her. Bella Swan in Twilight? I loved the book, and related to some parts of her character, but overall found her too reserved. I followed her through all her books, but didn’t come away feeling I’d made a friend for life.

Chemistry with a character is so elusive – much like real life chemistry. Back when I was single, people used to say ‘Describe your ideal mate. List the characteristics you want him to have.’ I found that it doesn’t work that way. My sweetie isn’t a list of traits – he’s a living, breathing, wonderful person. Same with a character I fall in love with. I can’t pinpoint why I love them so much. The closest I can get is this: it’s something about the way that character looks at the world. It makes me feel I’m not alone, that someone else sees things the way I do. That I’ve found a friend.

So how can a writer create a character people connect with? I have no idea. But I love it when I really click with my own characters. My heroine in Training the Receptionist is not much like me. I didn’t grow up in Long Island with a dysfunctional family. I don’t have any tattoos. Dana’s much more daring than I am. But still, I connect with her cheekiness, her bravery, the way she finds the humor in difficult circumstances. That’s all I can do … Write characters I love, and hope others love them too.

What characters have you connected with the most in your reading? Tell me in a comment and I’ll put you in a random drawing for a choice of any of my books.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for having me, Leah!

“Training the Receptionist” 
by Juniper Bell

Genre: Erotica
ISBN: 978-1-60504-949-6
Length: Novella
Price: 3.50
Publication Date: March 2, 2010
Cover art by Scott Carpenter
Buy the book from Samhain’s My Bookstore and More

It’s her naughty dream job—if they’re satisfied with her performance…

Eager to escape her miserable existence in Low-Life, Long Island, street-wise Dana Arthur jumps at an entry-level position with the consulting firm Cowell & Dirk. As her training period begins, she quickly discovers she’s required to do more than take messages and order office supplies. Her job description contains some deliciously naughty duties that give receptionist a whole new meaning.

Simon has almost given up on finding the right woman who will please his clients as well as his demanding partner and mentor, Ethan Cowell. No one measures up—until Dana. Her inner fire and fearless nature are perfect for the job. No matter what wicked punishment he devises to chastise her for her on-the-job mistakes, she accepts with a relish that leaves him wondering which one of them is really in control.

The last thing he expects to discover is that she’s a perfect sexual soul mate he can’t bear to share. But share he must—it’s part of his business agreement. Unless he makes Ethan the deal of a lifetime…

Warning: This title contains explicit sex, bondage, ménage, ingenious use of office furniture, lingerie, and the occasional sex toy. Oh, and did I mention the package delivery guy?

Read an excerpt over on Leah’s excerpt page — warning it is NSFW.

Training the Receptionist is available here. You can find out more about Juniper Bell’s books at You can also follow her on Twitter or check out her blog.

Don’t forget, Juniper’s offering a copy of her book to one lucky commenter — but you have to tell her what character you’ve read that you connected with the most. Contest closes on Friday March 19, 9 p.m. Eastern. 

Juniper Bell’s Love Connections

7 thoughts on “Juniper Bell’s Love Connections

  • March 16, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    Great post. I'm not so sure that it's the characters I related to or the situations in which they found themselves, but I totally related to Kat in Pamela Clare's Naked Edge. It takes place in Boulder, where my hubby & I went to college, and Clare includes a ton of locations, directions, etc that made me feel like I was back there. But the kicker for me was when she noted that Gabe skied backwards teaching Kat to ski downhill. Because I swear, that's exactly how my hubby taught me all those years ago. And I had the same "how does he do that?" reaction that Kat did. And she mentions how watching him ski was such a thing of beauty. Again, totally related to it. (If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend it!)

  • March 16, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    The character I so loved and can relate to is Blue Bailey from Susan Elizabeth Phillip's NATURAL BORN CHARMER. She was such a likeable character; quirky, feisty, vulnerable and so funny. She had such a big heart, and the fact that no job was below her was admirable. The reader is first introduced to her character wearing a beaver costume by the side of the road as she advertises for the business she works for.

    This reminded me of the many jobs I had while making it through college and in later years. Too many to list here, but I just chuckle at the things I had to do to survive. It sure builds character, I have to admit.

  • March 17, 2010 at 12:59 am

    Hi! Loved your post! Very interesting. I don't connect with characters because they are similar to me regarding their job, decisions, history etc. they just click with me and stay that way, it's on emotional level. How about Harry Potter or Zarek from Dance With The Devil by S. Kenyon? I know they are male, but there's just something that clicked betwen us 🙂

  • March 17, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Lori, I will definitely check out that Pamela Clare book, it sounds great. Thanks for the rec!

    Armenia, I loved Blue Bailey too!! That first scene is hilarious. I love almost all of SEP's heroines, as a matter of fact. 😉

    And yes, I did forget about male characters. There just as easy to click with as the heroines, as long as there's that certain something that just does it for you!

    Thanks for the comments, everyone! I'm in Hawaii, with no Internet access, but I snuck away to see what characters got mentioned. This is fun!!

  • March 18, 2010 at 7:43 am

    Hawaii?….I'm in vacation envy over that. My mom lives on the Big Island and right now she's probably harvesting her macadamia nuts or avocados.

    Have fun in Hawaii!! I'm slowly warming up in Texas. Can't wait for summer. *sigh*

  • March 19, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    Hi, Juniper! It's hard to say who I feel most connected to–I tend to feel an immediate affinity for characters who are described as plain and bookish 🙂 But as you said, sometimes the author reveals parts of the character that I can say, "Wow, I'm like that too!" even though I'm not blonde, gorgeous, or incredibly good at who knows what 🙂 While I loooved Ain't She Sweet, I probably initially related better to Gracie Snow (Heaven, Texas). It's sure a mysterious chemistry though that helps us click with all the characters we love!

    Hope you're enjoying Hawaii!!


  • March 24, 2010 at 3:21 am

    Ooops — sorry ladies, this fell off my radar.

    The winner of Juniper's Training the Receptionist is: ARMENIA! Armenia, email me at leah.braemel @ (without the spaces) to tell me what format you'd like your copy of Training the Receptionist in.

    There were 4 items in your list. Here they are in random order:

    1. Armenia
    2. Lori
    3. flchen1
    4. host

    Timestamp: 2010-03-24 11:20:00 UTC

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