I’ve already come to terms with the idea that if I develop a significant fan-base, people are going to ship my characters with each other. (Hell, I’ve done this myself, to be honest. Yes, with my own characters.) This is part-and-parcel of most fandom these days, and can be fun if not taken too far. But it is easy to take too far, and sometimes people misunderstand characters and the relationships they have. So I felt like discussing that subject: characters and their relationships through the prism of shipping.
Canon Pairings: These are your ‘top tier’ ships, the only truly authorized ones. As you’d guess, these are the couplings that happen within the actual story. In Tamed Hearts, these are limited to Aaron / Cassie and Karla / Drake. Both of these pairs have a deep and powerful connection, though I credit Aaron and Cassie with the healthier relationship. They’re also the more dynamic: Karla is a dominant, no ifs, ands, or buts. She is the one who calls all the shots. On the other hand, Aaron and Cassie have a more dynamic back-and-forth. Neither is bad, necessarily, but I find writing about a dynamic relationship more interesting and fun.
Permutations: This is what I’m calling the ‘what if’ relationships that might possibly work, if perhaps not very well. Almost any combination that involves Becky is included here: Cassie / Becky, Becky / Aaron, and Becky / Drake. Cassie’s internal dialogue hints at an attraction to Becky (both women could be called ‘bi-curious’, but are canonically straight), and if circumstances had played out slightly differently, a relationship might not be out of the question. Similarly, if (for example) an external crisis had forced Becky to seek out assistance from another werewolf soon after her arrival in Graycliff (meaning a lower investment in time), she could have met Aaron before the start of Tamed Hearts, and worked through whatever that crisis might be, planting the seed for romance. (This possibility is probably the one that I find most intriguing.) Becky and Drake are a different question, and the only way I see that pairing playing out is if Becky essentially takes Karla’s place in Drake’s life: a dominating, often controlling (if not sinister) partner.
No F-in’ Way: These pairings, due to the nature of the characters, would be unstable–and if they lasted, would be unhealthy from the start or would soon turn that way. These mostly involve Karla. This group of ships includes Aaron / Drake, Cassie / Drake, (to a lesser degree) Karla / Aaron, and (most prominently) Karla / Becky. As you might notice, most of these pairings cross the line from the ‘benign’ characters to the antagonists. As you might expect, part of the difficulty I envision these pairings experiencing comes from moral or philosophical differences, but the bottom line is, Karla and Drake are very different people from the other three–a large part of that difference stems from the way they view themselves as werewolves, and that’s simply an irreconcilable difference. First, let’s address Aaron and Drake–both of these guys are straight by canon, to begin with. Beyond that, Drake runs into a similar problem with both Aaron and Cassie, so let’s look at them together. To the degree that both of them like to ‘live and let live’, if Drake abandoned his murderous ways, a pairing might work with either, but there’s a different issue, too. Remember how I was talking about the dynamism Aaron and Cassie’s relationship has? They might not realize it, but both of them kind of need that. Sooner or later, Drake would ‘out’ himself as kind of a cringing, sniveling sort of partner seeking approval like some sort of addict–neither Aaron nor Cassie would deal well with it: I picture a fairly cinematic blow-up in either case.
But let’s say that Karla had no mate when she came to Graycliff, and sniffing out a male ‘Omega’, certain ideas started to filter into her head. This is a disaster waiting to happen, frankly, and Karla herself would only seek out an Omega as a mate if she were truly desperate. She’d be much more likely to find a more suitable human to turn and mold as she saw fit. Even within Tamed Hearts as written, her internal monologue hints at what a pathetic creature she thinks Aaron must be, as she’s envisioning Changing in a cage for years at a time. Even if it happened, this relationship would undoubtedly turn abusive before long–emotionally, if not physically.
Finally, there’s the possibility of Karla / Becky. These two… Honestly, no. Neither of them would be willing to be submissive to the other and they’d end up fighting–not just ‘play’ fighting, but actually fighting before very long. Which, if you’ve read Tamed Hearts and paid attention, you probably realize something. While Karla thinks she’s in a power struggle with Aaron (one she’s confident she’ll win before long), he’s really just caught in the middle. Karla’s real opposition is Becky.