We all have our catnip. Bad boys on bicycles, tattoos and tortured histories, Idris Elba wearing anything he wants. But the thing that gets me going, that I can’t get enough of and look for no matter what I read, is kindness. I know, welcome to Snooze City: population two lovebirds permanently glued to the couch. It sounds boring, but hear me out. Kindness remembers your birthday. Holds the mushrooms on your half of the pizza without your having to ask. Kindness knows what an apology is and, just as importantly, what it’s not. Kindness isn’t perfect, but it always strives to be on your side.

Men who complain that they’re “nice” to women and then get rejected for it because “nobody wants a nice guy” are entitled, whiny, and, by definition, not at all nice. But the duds shouldn’t ruin the word. Kindness is, I think, at the root of any good relationship. You can’t have someone who is loyal, trustworthy, respectful, engaging, committed, a good listener, etc., if they are not kind.

I’ve read more than a few books where the hero’s actions would have me running for the door. When I write heroes, I think about their pasts, their fears—all the complexities that make them who they are. No matter what situation they’re in or what drama is about to unfold, I strive to make them kind. Call me demanding (you wouldn’t be the first), but I have standards for how I want to be treated. My heroines do too, which is why they won’t fall for anything less.

It seems obvious—nobody wants to be around people who are mean. But kindness is so unassuming, it’s often taken for granted or simply left behind. So I wanted to write this Valentine to kindness, and find out what qualities you, dear, readers, could never do without.

Leave a comment below about what qualities you value most in your favorite heroes and heroines and be automatically entered to win a FREE copy of Rebecca Brooks’s steamy contemporary romance ABOVE ALL. Please include an email address where you can be reached if you are a winner.

Above All

Reeling from a sudden breakup, Casey Webb leaves Brooklyn, drives north, and settles in a sleepy mountain town in upstate New York. She’s convinced she’s happy being alone—until she reads the acknowledgments to her ex-boyfriend’s hit debut novel, thanking his new girlfriend “above all.” Good thing Ben Mailer is in town. The hot, young Brooklyn-bound chef offers the perfect distraction, and soon Casey is having the best sex of her life—on a mountain, in the lake, all over the cozy cabin where she lives. But as their weekend fling turns into something more, the demands of Ben’s family and budding career make moving to her idyllic town impossible. Now Casey must decide what she can’t live without: her life in the mountains, or the man she wants to be hers above all. Smart, sweet, and blisteringly hot, Above All is about getting lost… and finding yourself right where you belong.

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Read the first two chapters of Above All here.

Visit Rebecca’s website here and find her Scavenger Hunt clue!