Angela Burrowes: My Filthy, Outspoken Athena


MyRecklessValentineBY OLIVIA DADE

In Greek mythology, Athena—the goddess of wisdom and so much else—was not born. Instead, she sprang fully grown and armed from her father Zeus’ aching forehead, freed by a blow of the ax to his skull. She experienced no infancy, no swath of time where her goals or personality remained inchoate or indistinct. Instead, she emerged entirely complete and ready for battle.

Angela Burrowes, the heroine of My Reckless Valentine, is my own personal Athena.

To be honest, she’d make a pretty terrible goddess of wisdom. Her decisions…well, they’re often suspect. She’s definitely no virgin. And I suspect she uses her extensive vibrator collection much more than Athena did.

But like the goddess, Angie didn’t require years or even hours to form her personality. She sprang to life vibrant and herself within minutes, a potty-mouthed miracle with a loving, rebellious heart.

When I wrote the first book in the Lovestruck Librarians series, Broken Resolutions, I didn’t consciously plan Angie’s character. Penny needed a boss, so I gave her one. That boss didn’t need to create erotica displays advertising “Spanking-New Books.” She didn’t need to propose New Year’s Eve games entitled “Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray.” She didn’t need to bring a book called An Erotic Treasury 2: Tales of Submission to the hospital while awaiting her niece’s birth.

Heck, I didn’t even realize Angie would get her own story, since I hadn’t planned to write a series. But from the beginning, I knew exactly who she was (loyal, funny, warm), what she’d say (anything), and how she’d act (impulsively, covering her vulnerability with outrageousness).

That’s not true of many of my characters, not even the ones I end up loving the most. It took me three attempts at Mayday (the third book in the series) before I figured out what drove Helen, my heroine, and kept her apart from the hero, Wes. Even Grant, Angie’s lover-turned-boss, required some fiddling to become clear in my mind.

Not Angie. From the beginning, she seemed to exist separate from me. A force of nature, waiting impatiently for my attention. Prone to taking over other people’s stories and getting all the best lines along the way.

She deserves those lines, and she deserves a man who worships her. A survivor of depression and a perennial disappointment to her parents, Angie assumes someone like Grant would eventually reject her for her mistakes. Giving her a happy ending warmed me from the inside out, and I got such a kick out of revisiting her in my later books. I’m not surprised she remains my critique partner’s favorite heroine I’ve written. She holds a special place in my heart too.

If you read My Reckless Valentine, I hope you adore her. She’s not perfect, but she’s ready to battle her way into your affections with the fierceness of Athena and a big heart all her own. Both of which she’s possessed from the very start.


While I was growing up, my mother kept a stack of books hidden in her closet. She told me I couldn’t read them. So, naturally, whenever she left me alone for any length of time, I took them out and flipped through them. Those books raised quite a few questions in my prepubescent brain. Namely: 1) Why were there so many pirates? 2) Where did all the throbbing come from? 3) What was a “manhood”? 4) And why did the hero and heroine seem overcome by images of waves and fireworks every few pages, especially after an episode of mysterious throbbing in the hero’s manhood?

Thirty or so years later, I have a few answers. 1) Because my mom apparently fancied pirates at that time. Now she hoards romances involving cowboys and babies. If a book cover features a shirtless man in a Stetson cradling an infant, her ovaries basically explode and her credit card emerges. I have a similar reaction to romances involving spinsters, governesses, and librarians. 2) His manhood. Also, her womanhood. 3) It’s his “hard length,” sometimes compared in terms of rigidity to iron. I prefer to use other names for it in my own writing. However, I am not picky when it comes to descriptions of iron-hard lengths. At least in romances. 4) Because explaining how an orgasm feels can prove difficult. Or maybe the couples all had sex on New Year’s Eve at Cancun.

During those thirty years, I accomplished a few things. I graduated from Wake Forest University and earned my M.A. in American History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I worked at a variety of jobs that required me to bury my bawdiness and potty mouth under a demure exterior: costumed interpreter at Colonial Williamsburg, high school teacher, and librarian. But I always, always read romances. Funny, filthy, sweet–it didn’t matter. I loved them all.

Now I’m writing my own romances with the encouragement of my husband and daughter. I found a kick-ass agent: Jessica Alvarez from Bookends, LLC. I have my own stack of books in my closet that I’d rather my daughter not read, at least not for a few years. I can swear whenever I want, except around said daughter. And I get to spend all day writing about love and iron-hard lengths.

So thank you, Mom, for perving so hard on pirates during my childhood. I owe you.

Twitter handle: @OliviaWrites
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Library manager Angie Burrowes is in trouble again. Her superiors have never approved of her unconventional methods, but the latest warning is serious—another complaint from the administration or a patron, and she’s fired. With a steamy Valentine’s Day contest to conceal and her career on the line, the last thing Angie needs is a near-accident while driving home. At least, until she meets the tall, dark, and sexy stranger responsible for her very own spicy plot twist…

Straight-laced Grant Peterson has only one thing on his mind: making a good impression as the new Director of Branch Services at the Nice County Public Library. On the eve of his first day, however, a lusty encounter with Angie unleashes a desire unlike any he’s ever known. Their tryst may be one for the record books, but when he learns he’s Angie’s new boss, will Grant need to check out on love?