I got an unasked-for critique (in person, not in a review) recently and it got me thinking. This person said he didn’t like how Zo acted when she was with Michael. I was a bit taken aback by this because I thought she was pretty much the same throughout Now (spoilers for Post Parcel ahead), Zo was under a hell of a lot of stress in her second mystery. There were a couple of places where she fell apart. I like to think if Michael hadn’t been there, she would have fallen apart on Jerry or Marie or Feliz.
I try to write my characters as people with full lives not being defined by their relationships. This is actually most difficult with Feliz because family is very important to her. She would do anything for her kids. Marie has bad luck with romance. This could be because of losing her dad at ten and a love/hate relationship with her mother and the society in which she grew up. Jerry adores his wife and kids. Michael is close to his mother and sisters, but estranged from his father (you’ll find out why in a future book).
This means, there’s a fine line to walk. There’s a balance that must be maintained. Relationships can be interesting, and can also be clues in solving a mystery, but too much time spent involved in relationships bogs a story down a bit.