“Any relationship worth having is earned through commitment, patience, and compromises.” Jesper Schmidt and Autumn M. Birt are referring to the love interest being a fully developed character, with his or her own wants and needs that may run counter to those of the protagonist.
Hunter, with a chip on his shoulder and his less than stellar communication skills, will only be introduced in the novella. The focus is on Ally and Riley, their friendship and how they work as a team. Hunter is a shadow, a man whose help may save them, but it is not given without reservation. To be honest, he is only there because he respects Logan, he has no relationship with Ally at all. It is one of the reasons I like them as a potential romance.
In the book, Jesper and Autumn provide several examples of how romance can develop. Whether it begins with a love-hate relationship, frowned upon, unexpected, unlikely, fated, or they are soulmates. Regardless of how it develops, both characters need to be independent of each other in their needs and wants. This is why I thought it would be good to introduce Hunter here while he is still finding his own path, and has a chip on his shoulder.
Ally does not need a knight in hiking boots to save her. Rather, she wants to save herself. A relationship is not her focus, she is more interested in taking control of her life and not hurting her family in the mean time.
While Hunter is trying to find his way in the world, but in a very separate way, with a separate agenda. He knows where he belongs and understands the situation Ally and Riley are facing better than either of them do. His own life being torn apart, Hunter’s focus is on protecting his own community through decisive actions. He tends to not talk about what is wrong, but rather just fixes it. Ally and Riley running around without calling for help is a rookie mistake to him, an annoyance he is forced to deal with.
As the novella is set years before the trilogy, both Hunter and Ally have a lot of growing to do. Neither one of them is interested in investing in a close relationship, instead they are both working on their own lives. Hunter acts more like a mentor in this story, as he tries to emulate Logan, a man he holds in high regard.
The Challenger, Type 8, a self-confident, decisive, resourceful person fits Hunter perfectly. Hunter’s focus is on self-reliance while he protects those he cares about in his community. He learnt early on in his life that survival requires will, persistence, and endurance, and he carries those learnings through his adult life.