As an author, choosing favorites from the characters that I’ve created, is a difficult thing to do. To me, they are all real people with real backgrounds and histories, who have revealed their stories to me to put on paper.
However, we agreed to choose a favorite couple and that was actually pretty easy: Barrett Strong and Ella Edison from my Strong Armed series. There is a part of me that would write about them over and over again.
The series itself, books one through four, are told first person from Ella’s perspective. Ella is so complex, it was both a fun and challenging experience to write her. On the surface, she would appear to have everything. She is a child of privilege, sharing an upscale apartment, purchased by her stepfather, with her younger sister. She is beautiful, smart, educated, witty and tough. But Ella leads a dual existence, born from a childhood of emotional control and sexual abuse by her father and other men
To say that Ella has a low self-esteem would be an understatement. She has no self-esteem whatever. And as we learn from the first sentence of the book, Ella’s life sucks.
Barrett Strong is a master in the business world, who loves a challenge. He started his own company and turned it into an international empire. An American, his company is based in London and when we meet him, he is expanding to New York. He is self-esteem personified and seems to have the world at his feet. Almost instantly upon his arrival, the gorgeously sexy alpha male is dubbed the most eligible bachelor in New York. But nothing about Barrett is eligible. Still mourning the death of his young wife, six years earlier, he has made Strong Enterprises Worldwide his life.
After a chance meeting in a hotel bar, Barrett and Ella each blow off a business meeting for an afternoon of anonymous, hot sex. Of course, unbeknownst to either of them, the meeting was supposed to be with each other. Upon discovering each other’s identity, they enter into an unconventional business arrangement.
I wrote the first series supplement Born Strong in tandem with the actual series. It retells the first book from Barrett’s point of view. This was important for me, because I didn’t want Barrett to come off as a user or manipulator. I needed to understand his motivations, and I needed to ensure that even when feeding Ella’s dark side, he was still my hero.
I love this couple together because they fix what is broken with each other. Ella doesn’t believe she is fit to be loved and thinks her family’s unending love and support is out of necessity. The fact that Barrett gives a damn, gives her the strength to dig deep within herself and finally face the demons that haunt her. Barrett doesn’t believe his broken heart will ever heal and when he begins to fall in love with Ella, he denies it to himself and everyone that will listen.
Once together, this fragile couple fights the past, the present and the future to make their relationship work. Together they face the unimaginable and continue to grow stronger.
After the first series was published, many of my readers sent me requests for more of this story. That’s when I published the first supplement, Born Strong and I hope that everyone got to delve deeper into who Barrett Strong really was and how far Ella brought him.
In the upcoming weeks, I will publish the second supplement, Inner Strength, which is a three-part standalone book, telling the story of Barrett and Ella’s younger siblings, Bryn and Carson, a fan favorite couple. And I couldn’t resist bringing my favorite couple back, this time seen through the eyes of sibling rivalry.
If you have already read the Strong Armed series, I hope you enjoyed reading Barrett and Ella’s story as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you haven’t, I would love the opportunity to introduce you!