Hi, I’m Leigh Carman and welcome to the Match Point blog tour. I thought today I would discuss one of my absolute favorite storylines in all of romance. One I put front and center in Match Point—Enemies to Lovers.
I’m not sure where my passion for enemies to lovers began, but my earliest memory of the genre is when I used to watch episodes of Cheers as a kid growing up in New England. Some of you may not be old enough to remember the show, but it was pretty much about Sam and Diane, two characters who despised each other to the point of frustration, and that frustration, at times, turned sexual.
Will they hit each other? Will they kiss each other? Will they split apart? Will they come together? Every episode was a toss up. The tension kept viewers coming back for more each week, to watch them fight, make up, or make out.
Dexter Savage and Finn Callahan have been enemies since freshman year of college. Despite laying it on thick, the very charming, incredibly likable Dex is never able to get one specific man to give him the time of day, let alone a single smile—fellow pro beach volleyball player, Finn Callahan. At tournaments, Finn shoots Dex scowls, dark looks, and frowns at every opportunity. Confused and irritated at Finn’s behavior, Dex simply goes with the flow, unwilling to allow the petulant man to ruin his fun.
Finn, on the other hand, despises Dex. The guy is always smiling—too damn happy all the time. And even though Finn wins way more matches than Dex, people seem to gravitate toward his rival like planets around the sun, a fact that only makes Finn’s hatred for Dex grow exponentially.
They’re rivals, the hatred between them fierce but for reasons unknown to both men. Yet they’re forced to see each other on a regular basis. The beach volleyball world is small, and they end up at the same tournaments throughout the season. Each encounter is exactly the same. Dex grins, Finn grimaces, one gives the other the finger, and the rift between the men grows wider.
Close your eyes. Can you picture it? Two shirtless, tan and fit men on the sandy court, exchanging dirty looks? When the match ends, do your imaginary men shake hands? Or does one grab the other by the back of the head and plant a big, sloppy kiss on the other? I’m willing to bet you know where my mind goes.
The tension, the passion, the heat, the back and forth emotions between enemies isn’t all that dissimilar to those between lovers. One is based on negative feelings, the other based on positive feelings. Either way, you the reader, should feel the friction. Your heart should race, you might become anxious. Will they or won’t they? A punch or a kiss? You find you don’t care if it’s love or hate, as long as they do something.
Can you see why I adore enemies to lovers? The stories aren’t fluffy walks in the park. They’re not easy meanders down lover’s lane. They’re tense and stressful. They’re push and pull, yes or no, love or hate.
What is the common denominator in enemies to lovers stories? You might have to deal with ups and downs. You might end up yelling at your e-reader wondering why the heck these two people are so blind they can’t see that they’re meant for each other. You might even laugh and cry. But in every story, you know without a doubt, you will eventually get your happily ever after—maybe with a little bit of roughhousing along the way.
Two stubborn men.
One is a rude jerk. The other, the life of the party.
It was hate at first sight.
Pro beach volleyball players Finn Callahan and Dexter Savage have been rivals since college. While Finn always comes out on top on the court, Dexter’s carefree and fun-loving personality earns him scores of adoring men and women. And as much as Finn fights to deny it, there’s another reason for the tension he feels when Dex is around. Hate wasn’t the only thing he felt when he first laid eyes on his opponent.
When they’re forced to team up, the two men must bury their differences—on and off the court—if either of them is going to succeed professionally.
Here’s a little peek at Dex and Finn
“Get it. Get it. Hurry, hurry!”
I scramble for the ball while Coach yells out encouragements—or possibly reprimands. I can never be sure which. Either way I’m on top of my game today. I hustle to the net, get under the ball, and bump it with my wrists, arcing it high for Dex.
Dex waits for it to come down and lifts it using his fingertips. As the ball goes in the air, I take a running jump, curve my body so it doesn’t touch any part of the net, and smack the ball over our opponent’s head. It hits the sand.
“Yes,” Dex shouts and holds up a hand for me to high-five. Grinning, I reach out and slap my hand into his. Dex holds on to it for a brief moment. The contact is quick—less than a second—but the heat that sears through my palm leaves a lasting impression. It’s time to switch sides and it’s my turn to serve. Dex puts his hands behind his back and gives me the signal to hit it left with no spin. I toss the ball up and hit it over the net.
Beautiful. Our opponent drops to his knees and makes the save, but he can’t get to his position quickly enough to reach the ball his partner perfectly sets for him. Dex cheers and pumps his fist in the air. I grin at his enthusiasm. Watching Dexter Savage have the time of his life is mesmerizing. It infuses me with an energy I’ve never felt before. I no longer see Dex as just another charming guy. He has me spellbound and hanging on his every word.
“Nice whiff, dickhead,” I call out when he misses a dig and comes up with a mouthful of sand.
I can’t have him thinking I like him or something.
Dex laughs and spits out the sand. “Shut up, Callahan.”
By the end of the day, we should be exhausted, but we’re riding high on winning the New Orleans Open, and on the thirty-minute ride back to the hotel on the river, we both get our second wind. Dex is literally bouncing around. He’s so full of energy, he’s making me dizzy.
“Come on, Finn. Let’s go out to celebrate. This is New Orleans, The Big Easy. There’s sin on every corner and a ton of awesome clubs here.”
I roll my eyes. “I doubt your idea of an awesome club is the same as mine, Savage.”
“What?” Dex squints at me. Then his eyes widen almost comically. “Oooooohhh. You don’t think I can handle a gay club?” A slow, snarky grin spreads across his handsome face, and my breath hitches.
I shake off my dirty thoughts to get back to the subject at hand. “No. I don’t. God. I can’t even think about you going into a gay club without laughing.”
Or getting hard and groaning.
“Hmph.” Dex levels his intense hazel eyes at me and quirks one eyebrow in challenge.
“Yes, Finn,” he sings gleefully.
Dex chuckles and nods his head. “Oh yes. Pull out your sparkly top, baby, because we’re hitting the gay clubs tonight.”
“Fuck you, Savage. I don’t own a sparkly top.”
Dex gives me a disgusted look. “What kind of gay man are you?”
“Not a very good one, I guess.”
One who crushes on his straight teammate, that’s what kind of gay man I am. A stupid one.
After five minutes of back and forth, I finally get Dex to let go of the idea of cruising gay clubs tonight, but only on the promise that I’ll take him to one when we get back to LA. I’m hoping he’ll forget by then, because seeing his gorgeous ass shaking on a dance floor while hot, sweaty guys grind on him? I’d implode before the night was over.
We change and grab a cab, and Dex directs the driver to head toward Bourbon Street. “Really, Dex? Bourbon Street? Can’t we go somewhere a little less—”
“Less fun? No, Callahan, we can’t. You’re having fun if it kills me. Tonight I’m officially removing the stick from your ass….” Dex twists his head and shoots me a scorching look that has my dick throbbing painfully in my shorts. “Even if I have to pin you down to yank it out.”
I swallow, and my mouth suddenly disconnects from my brain as every drop of blood in my body turns to lava and collects in my groin.
“Whatever, Savage,” I mumble, turn to the window, and shift my hips so Dex can’t see my now fully hard cock.
Dex laughs and shoves my shoulder. Does he not know what he’s doing to me? I sneak a glance at my teammate. He’s looking out his own window, eyes glittering, smile as wide as a kid on Christmas morning.
No. He has no clue. He’s truly excited to go out and have fun. In fact he’s practically bursting out of his skin, he’s so wound up. But then, Dexter Savage always was the life of the party. He’s comfortable in his own skin. It’s what makes him so attractive. Well, besides the tousled, just out of bed hair, the perfectly straight nose and full mouth, and the body to die for. But his outgoing personality was what had me crushing on him in college—and the reason I hated his guts. I watched him every day at practice as he charmed everyone around us, and knew he would never be available to me.
“Here it is.” Dex throws some money at the cab driver and leaps out of the car. I take a look at my surroundings and thump my head on the glass. We’re on a street thick with pedestrians clutching hurricane glasses and sipping through long straws as they mingle in the crowd. Neon signs line the business fronts on both sides of the cab, each promising a different kind of debauchery inside.
Dex leans down and sticks his head in the backseat. “What are you waiting for, Callahan? Let’s get this party started.”
Ugh. Tonight is going to be pure torture.
She lives outside Atlanta with her husband, 2 kids, and French bulldog.
She is leaving explicit directions in her will for her friends to discreetly scatter her ashes around Fenway Park. Then they are to sit back, watch a game with a beer and a Fenway frank and have a wicked good time.