Get into Bed with Lauren Layne (Author Interview)

lauren layneKeira: Only With You features an enemies-to-lovers trope. What is your favorite aspect of enemies-to-lovers plots?

Lauren Layne: From the moment I discovered romantic comedies, enemies-to-lovers became a favorite. Actually, probably THE favorite. But it’s not until I started writing my own romance stories that I figured out why: instant-conflict. Have you ever picked up a romance that had exquisite writing, relatable characters, but you just couldn’t get into it? It’s probably because there wasn’t enough conflict; not enough “stuff” keeping the two characters apart. With the enemies-to-lovers plot, there is so much anticipation on the page because these two people don’t like each other … and yet they DO. It’s like the Holy Grail for sexual tension.

The other reason I love enemies-to-lovers? It’s a great set up for fun banter. Banter is my favorite thing to write, and when my two main characters are at odds, I get to write lots of it!

Keira: It also features an office romance and a romance where a main character dates a sibling’s “ex”. Both can be tricky to navigate without coming across tacky and I think you hit a home-run. What were you most aware of as potential pitfalls while writing this book?

Lauren: I so appreciate you saying that these elements worked for you, because you’re correct … getting them right was HARD. As far as the office-romance goes, I’ve always been a sucker for them, but I’m also a feminist, so it was really important for me that Sophie wasn’t the little woman who was pushing papers, in awe of her big, important boss. In order to give a modern-take on the boss/secretary romance, I tried to make it clear that Sophie’s job choice was very deliberate. She was in charge of her life, she was calling the shots. And I’ve worked as a receptionist at a big company; it’s freaking hard, important work!

As far as the “dating of the sister’s ex,” that was even more difficult. I really have to credit my agent with helping me get that part right. In earlier drafts, I skimmed over it TOO much, so it wasn’t believable. In later drafts, I went too far the other way, and made Gray and Brynn too much of a thing. Finally, FINALLY I found the happy in-between phase. I think. I hope.

Keira: Gray has a gut reaction to meeting Sophie. She reminds him of his ex-fiance in her appearance. He’s introverted and awkward around people, failing at the most basic social niceties – in other words, he sticks his foot in it a time or two. What was something Gray said or did that he felt most embarrassed by later?

Lauren: Ha. Poor, poor Gray. But really, don’t we all know a few real life Grays? Those people who have a GREAT heart, but for whatever reason, are really, REALLY bad at showing it?

As far as “in the book” moments that he regrets: that in-the-elevator meeting with Sophie, for SURE. Not only was he guilty of a snap-judgment, but he’s guilty of saying it out-loud. Major no no. As far as moments in his past that the reader doesn’t get to see? I definitely picture him being an absolute disaster asking a girl to prom :)

Keira: How do you define love? What does it take to be with someone for the long-haul?

Lauren: You know, this is such a great question, and one I think about  lot, not only because my chosen career is writing love stories, but because of my personal life. My husband and I met at 15, started dating at 17, married at 23 … basically we’re a recipe for “married too young,” but we’re 31 now and seem to get happier every day. And sometimes I’m like, “How? Why? Why does this work SO well for us, and not everyone?” I think the difficult answer to this question is that it’s just not the same for every couple. For us, it’s definitely laughter. We make each other laugh SO much, every day, so the relationship rarely feels like work. But that’s just our personality; it’s not the way everyone works. We have friends in successful relationships that are all about shared goals. Or adventurous spirit. Or dedication to family.

I think what makes a relationship work for the long-haul is figuring out what brought you together in the first place and watering the hell out of that seed so that it continues to grow. But at the same time, give each other room to grow and change. And you know what? Be interesting. A significant other that has his/her own thing going on is SEXY.

Keira: What makes a sex scene in a romance? (And I think I know where you might go with this question – banter and anticipation – which Only with You has in spades!)

Lauren: Ha, you caught me! A sex scene without build-up is to me, just a description of body-parts touching other body parts. Snooze. Anticipation is everything. I recently read Screwdrivered by Alice Clayton, in which the hero/heroine don’t even kiss until the last 95% of the book, but it’s one of the hottest books I’ve read all year, because it’s been building the ENTIRE STORY.

I tend to look at structure of movies when I write; romantic comedy screenplays can tell us a lot about pacing. With the exception of Friends With Benefits storylines, rarely do you see the main characters getting it on until at LEAST halfway through. And THE kiss at the end of those movies? It’s everything.

Keira: In what ways would the story have changed if Sophie wore the sensible shoes instead of the boots?

Lauren: You know … GREAT question! I’ve never even thought about it, because those darn boots were in my very earliest conception of the story. I think, likely, Sophie and Gray would have exchanged polite smiles and never seen each other again (well okay, Sophie would have drooled, and Gray wouldn’t have smiled, because he’s Gray). But you get the idea … these characters are SO opposite, they really needed “exceptional circumstances” to bring each other together. Or in this case, exceptional footwear!

Keira: What’s the next Best Mistake?

Lauren: Next up is the story of Sophie’s uptight sister, Brynn. It was a really tricky one to write, because in book 1, she verges on being slightly unlikable. She’s rigid, a little prissy and self-absorbed. But honestly? Brynn’s books is one of my favorites because of these flaws. She’s my most imperfect heroine, and I think that makes her story so real. Made for You (October 28th) is the only book of mine that I’ve gone back and read “just for fun.” I love it that much :)

Layne_Only With You_MM[1]About ONLY WITH YOU

Getting mistaken for a prostitute is not part of Sophie Dalton’s life plan. Not that Sophie even has a life plan. She’s perfectly happy being everyone’s favorite party girl. But then a Las Vegas bachelorette party goes awry, and an uptight businessman gives Sophie a new label: hooker.

Unfortunately, what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay there. When the same jerk who mistook her for a prostitute shows up as Sophie’s new boss and her perfect sister’s new boyfriend, Sophie’s carefree existence is turned upside down. Grayson Wyatt may have infiltrated family dinners and her professional world, but Sophie’s not about to let a judgmental prude anywhere near her personal life.

As Gray’s icy stares give way to quiet smiles, Sophie realizes that the one man she’s been so desperate to get away from just might be the one she wants to keep around forever.

Buy: Only with You (The Best Mistake)

Layne_Made for You_MMAbout MADE FOR YOU

Three years ago, Brynn Dalton made a rare error in judgment and had a one-night stand with the one man she swore would never get into her designer panties. Will Thatcher was exactly the type of sexy playboy that good girls like Brynn stayed away from. And when Will moved across the country just days after their fling, Brynn vowed to put him behind her, even as the memories haunt her.

Now Will Thatcher is back, and just in time to see Brynn’s perfectly structured life begin to crumble. Her job is dull, her social life is tedious, and Brynn’s perfect cardiologist boyfriend doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to get to Tiffany & Co. More than ever, Brynn needs her childhood nemesis to keep his distance.

But Will isn’t content to be Brynn’s dirty little secret any longer. This time, he’s out to show Brynn Dalton that the imperfect man might just be the best mistake of her life.

Buy: Made for You (The Best Mistake)

About Lauren Layne

Lauren Layne writes contemporary romance for Grand Central Publishing (Forever) and Random House(Loveswept).

After dabbling in an e-commerce career in Seattle and Southern California, Lauren moved to New York City where she now writes full time.

Lauren graduated from Santa Clara University with B.S. in Political Science that she has yet to put to good use. She lives with her husband and plus-sized pomeranian in a tiny Manhattan studio.

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Get into Bed with Molly Harper (Author Interview 2)

molly harper snow falling bluegrassKeira: If Kelsey, the heroine of Snow Falling on Bluegrass were to recommend her top five places in Kentucky – where would she tell us to go?

Molly Harper:

  • Moonlight Barbecue in Owensboro, Ky. – a Kentucky tradition. Get the pulled pork shoulder.
  • Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville
  • The Kentucky State Fair
  • Tater Day in Benton, Ky. – A local festival that has to be experienced to be believed
  • Vent Haven Museum in Fort Mitchell, Ky. – The only museum in the world solely dedicated to the ventriloquist arts.

Keira: I love secluded romances where a set of circumstances (such as a snow storm) cause the main characters to be isolated together away from the “real world.” What is your favorite aspect of secluded/isolated romances?

Molly: The improvisation.  I love that they cook frozen pizza on a gas grill and make romantic pillow forts. It was like writing a “desert island” romance because any random item can become a solution to any problem.  My only regret is that I didn’t get to build a fictional Swiss Family Robinson house. It’s considerably sexier than my own ice storm experience, when the only time I saw my husband was when he stumbled in from twelve-hour emergency police shifts to sleep for a few hours and then get back out for another shift.

Keira: Snow Falling on Bluegrass also features a love triangle. What are the three best aspects of Luke and Charlie (in their opinion and/or Kelsey’s opinion)?

Molly: Well, there’s insane hotness on both of their parts, which is always a plus. Kelsey enjoys Charlie’s quiet genius and the fact that he has a snarky center she is trying to help him cultivate.  They share the same sense of humor and enthusiasm for their work. They were friends first and slowly fell for each other.

But while Charlie is shy and reluctant to tell Kelsey how he feels, Luke is very upfront about his appreciation for Kelsey.  Not only does he enjoy her subversive personality, but he very openly admires her looks, something that Kelsey is a little insecure about, after getting out of a relationship with a guy who made her self-conscious about them. She appreciates that he’s straight-forward with her.  He doesn’t make her guess.

Keira: What’s the best part of writing a love triangle and what’s one of the pitfalls?

Molly: It’s fun to write not one, but two, romantic connections. The drawback is writing the characters to be equally good matches for the hero/ine, without obviously leaning toward one or the other.

Keira: As a former humor columnist, do you find humor to be easy to write or is it one of those things that’s difficult to always get right?

Molly: For me, humor has always come effortlessly. It comes a lot easier than plotting, characterization, etc.  In some cases, it happens unintentionally and I have to go back and remove it because it’s inappropriate.

OK, that happens a lot.

Keira: What’s next for you in life and/or books?

Molly: I’m writing five more Half-Moon Hollow spin-offs.  My Christmas novella, I’m Dreaming of an Undead Christmas will be released in November.  And I will have some interesting news to announce in the next few weeks!

Book Blurb:

Kentucky Tourism Commission employee and executive assistant extraordinaire Kelsey is known around the office for having everything under control. So it’s not surprising that she and her boss, Sadie, have everything planned to the second for the office winter retreat. But there are things even Kelsey can’t micromanage.

An unprecedented snowstorm smothers half of Kentucky and knocks out the power, closes the roads, and generally shuts down the state. Luckily, the lodge has working fireplaces and enough food to keep the staff from turning on each other like something out of The Shining. Kelsey wouldn’t mind being stuck inside if it wasn’t for the tension with her not-so-secret crush, Charlie, the office’s statistician. But handsome Ranger Luke, the lodge’s only employee on hand, is there to take Kelsey’s mind off her discomfort.

Even though this weekend is supposed to be a planning session for KTC, Kelsey can’t help her mind from wandering and finds herself conflicted over Luke and Charlie. Someone’s love will keep her warm, but whose will it be?

Buy: Snow Falling on Bluegrass

Giveaway: Two readers will get a digital copy of Snow Falling on Bluegrass by Molly Harper. Leave a comment to enter! Last chance to enter is 9/28/2014.

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Get into Bed with Kara Braden (Author Interview)

Kara Braden Author PhotoKeira: Both, Cecily and Ian, the hero and heroine of The Longest Night, are battling trauma. In what ways, does this help and hinder them from getting together?

Kara Braden: Ian’s dependence on painkillers is rooted in his stubborn conviction that he can control everything around him, including his own body. As it turns out, his body betrayed him, so he’s second-guessing everything. Because of that, he takes things slowly with Cecily—and that’s exactly what she needs. If he’d come barreling into her life and tried to sweep her off her feet, she would’ve thrown him out to freeze in the snow. (Well, not really, but she would’ve been tempted!)

Cecily’s trauma was much more insidious, making her doubt herself. Ian’s growing faith in her was exactly what she needed to start regaining faith in herself.

Of course, they’re both iron-willed—meaning stubborn as anything—so actually getting them to admit they’re interested in more than a couple of weeks of snowy casual sex was something else altogether! Cecily was very happy living in the wilds of Canada, thank you very much, and Ian had no desire to leave Manhattan full-time. Finding a compromise was the real challenge!

Keira: Cecily is a Marine Captain, what inspired her to sign up and what encouraged her to thrive where other might falter?

Kara: Cecily’s defining moment was when she was a little girl attending her first Brownies meeting. When she discovered that Brownies—her chapter, at least—got badges for cooking and sewing, rather than climbing and outdoor survival, she did two things: She quit the Brownies and set off to prove that she was just as good as the boys. At everything.

She excelled in math and physical science. She was okay with computers, but her passion was structural engineering. At the time, writing was just a hobby. And when she joined the Corps, she went for officer training, with the intent of taking any hazardous duty post she could get, all because she wanted to serve her country.

Keira: What do you love best about “insular” romances, where the hero and heroine have time alone, secluded from day-to-day interactions and routines?

Kara: I love how genuine the dynamic feels. The hero and heroine get to know each other as they are, rather than the public faces they might present when surrounded by friends or family. And with no other distractions, they have to focus not only on each other but on themselves.

I touch on that a little bit in the sequel, The Deepest Night, when the heroine’s mother unexpectedly shows up to throw a wrench in the works. You can really see the impact of even one outsider.

Keira: You live in the heat of Phoenix, Arizona, but your story takes place in the Canadian wilderness… How did that come about?

Kara: Wishful thinking! I love the snow, so when one of my readers prompted me to write a story set in Canada, my muse took off running with the idea. The Longest Night is the perfect antidote to a scorching hot July, so it’s being released at just the right time of year, too!

Keira: How do you define love?

Kara: Love is tolerance and acceptance. It’s not just the willingness to tolerate your loved one’s flaws and quirks, but the deep-down acceptance that nobody’s perfect. That’s what Ian and Cecily have to learn, both about themselves and about each other. They’re not perfect, and they have edges where they just don’t match up—but the ones that do match up, like puzzle pieces clicking together, more than make up for the ones that don’t.

Keira: What makes a happily ever after “perfect”?

Kara: I’ll let you know when my husband and I hit our fiftieth anniversary! We’re each on our third marriage, so we’re bound and determined to try.

In a story, though, I think it all comes down to the foundation. Love between two characters is built one step at a time, creating a solid foundation. There might be bumps along the way, but when my readers reach the end of one of my romances, I want them to feel that foundation under their feet and say, “Yeah. These two can make it work, for the long term.”

Keira: If you were sent on a secluded retreat, where would you want to go?

Kara: The Isles of Scilly. It’s an island chain off the coast of Cornwall, England, and it’s the most gorgeous place you’ve (probably) never heard of. Snorkeling with seals, quiet beaches, a sky filled with stars, and all the time in the world to come up with new ideas, then write them down. There’s a reason I set my sequel novel there.

Keira: Which is your favorite scene in The Longest Night?

Kara: I absolutely love watching Ian Fairchild, super-suave criminal attorney, being utterly defeated by s’mores. I may or may not be channeling my own lack of cooking skills here, but I do remember lighting more than one marshmallow on fire.

Keira: What did you learn during the course of writing and publishing your debut romance novel?

Kara: It’s far easier to write than it is to edit! For me, writing feels almost like I’m chasing along in the wake of my characters, scribbling down everything they do and say. Editing, though… That’s actual work.

Keira: What’s next for you?

Kara: The Deepest Night comes out in December of this year, starring Preston’s Vice President, ex-Royal Marine Ray Powell, and there’s something awfully sexy about a British hero. After that, I have all sorts of plots cooking up around the other people who work for Samaritan International Security—and there’s still Cecily’s wedding to plan, with her Maid of Honor, Marguerite.

longest nightBlurb:

This could work, whispered the little voice in the back of her mind, the voice that had been silent for seven years…

SHE SOUGHT SOLACE IN SOLITUDE

Years ago, former Marine Captain Cecily Knight fled her dark past and the nightmares forever haunting her nights. Alone in the remote Canadian wilderness, she survives day to day…until Ian Fairchild comes storming into her life and shatters her protective seclusion.

UNTIL ONE TOUCH BARED HER SOUL

Aloof but intriguing, defensive but undeniable, Ian is everything Cecily shouldn’t want but can’t ignore. He watches her with shrewd blue eyes, as if determined to decipher her secrets…and for the first time in years, she finds herself coming alive beneath the hands of a man with too many scars to count.

As the hushed and harsh winter closes in around them, two lost souls find themselves on the precipice of a love that could save their lives…or destroy them forever.

Buy: The Longest Night

Author Bio: Kara Braden makes her debut in modern romance with a story of love in isolation. She believes that engaging, romantic fantasy can be found everywhere in the world, even in the most unlikely places. With the support of her wonderful husband, cats, and dogs, she writes from her home office outside Phoenix, Arizona, where she spends her time hiding from the sunlight and heat.

Author Website: http://karabraden.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/karabradenauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KaraBraden @KaraBraden
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/KaraBraden/
Tumblr: http://karabraden.tumblr.com/

Giveaway: One print copy of The Longest Night by Kara Braden. Open to US and CAN. Enter by leaving a comments. Ends 8/5/14.

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Get into Bed with Kelsey Browning (Author Interview)

Kelsey Browning - HeadshotKeira: What’s the best way to keep a secret… secret?

Kelsey Browning: Hmm…this is a hard one for me because I’m pretty much an unfiltered, open book. LOL. But I think the best way to keep a secret is to realize what’s at stake for the person who has the secret. And the other way would be never to tell another single person. A secret is hard to contain once even one other person knows. :)

Keira: What would make you break a promise to keep a secret?

Kelsey: If the secret could hurt either the person keeping the secret or hurt someone very close to me.

Keira: Eden Durant, your heroine in Problems in Paradise (Texas Nights), also has secrets, that have her starting over. What does she feel are the best and worst things about starting over?

Kelsey: The best and worst for Eden is probably the same thing—that no one really knows the real her. It keeps her “safe,” but it also keeps her from getting too close to anyone. Keeps her from having the relationship that—deep down—she craves.

Keira: Have you ever started over in your life? What did you find the best and worst about starting fresh?

Kelsey: Oh boy, have I. My family “started over” when we left Texas to move overseas to Doha, Qatar (a small country just off Saudi Arabia). The best was experiencing a new adventure and leaving behind so many of the expectations about the way we were supposed to live our life. The worst was being without family and friends from home. It was tough being half a world away from so many of the people we love.

Keira: Name three not-so-secret-secrets she might only tell the hero, Beck.

Kelsey: All the restaurants where she worked between California and Texas. Why she dresses like a color-blind toddler. :) How she really feels about sex.

Keira: Ladies love a man in uniform – how did Beck get his?

Kelsey: Deputies (including the Chief Deputy, Beck Childress) serve at the pleasure of the sheriff. Beck was hired by the current Crockett County sheriff when he moved home to Shelbyville after leaving a career on Wall Street.

Keira: Beck is also running for election. When and why did he decide to do that?

Kelsey: Let’s just say if you read the first scene in Problems in Paradise (Texas Nights), you’ll know the answer to that. ;)

Keira: How do you define love? What makes it real and work?

Kelsey: You like to ask the easy questions, huh? LOL I think love—at least romantic love—is a combination of attraction, respect, and trust. Other than that, it’s a mystery. As far as making it work for the long term, I think the trust and respect are critical. And learning how to be a good listener—something I’m still learning after 20 years of marriage—is a biggie.

Keira: Is it ever okay to keep a secret from a spouse or loved one?

Kelsey: Yow – you’re on a roll today! A big, ugly secret? No. A surprise party? Yes.

Keira: Now for the hardest question. ;) What are you working on next?

Kelsey: I’m working on a new Texas-set contemporary series and book two in The Granny Series!

Problems In Paradise Cover - FinalBook Summary:

Eden Durant hasn’t always been Eden Durant. She’s made a fresh start in Shelbyville, Texas, far from her mother’s notoriety. Running the Paradise Garden Café is as much excitement as Eden wants—or it was, until she meets Beck Childress. Although he’s the one man who could expose her past, she’s willing to open up enough to see if he might be her future.

Chief Deputy Childress is determined to get to know the real Eden, when he isn’t busy cleaning up after the sheriff and running in the election to replace him. When several men fall sick after eating in Eden’s café, he investigates even as her mysterious past raises both his suspicions and his protective instincts.

As their relationship heats up, so do the pressures of Beck’s campaign. When Eden’s secrets are revealed, jeopardizing his dream of becoming sheriff, he’ll need to choose: serve and protect the town he loves or the woman who makes it home.

Buy: Problems in Paradise (Texas Nights)

Author Bio: Kelsey Browning writes sass kickin’ love stories and cozy Southern mysteries. Originally from a Texas town smaller than the ones she writes about, Kelsey has also lived in the Middle East and Los Angeles, proving she’s either adventurous or downright nuts. These days, she hangs out in northeast Georgia with Tech Guy, Smarty Boy, and Bad Dog. She’s currently at work on the next book in her Texas Nights series and The Granny Series.

Connect with Kelsey: Email / Website / Newsletter / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

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Get into Bed with Susannah Sandlin (Author Interview)

Susannah-Sandlin-Suzanne-Johnson-July2013Lynn Reynolds: In writing as two different authors, is it hard to keep the two separate?

Susannah Sandlin: I feel like a two-headed monster sometimes! When I first began writing under the name Susannah Sandlin, I tried to keep those books, which are darker and sexier, separate from the ones written as Suzanne Johnson, which have less romance in them and more humor. But it was too much to try to maintain separate websites and emails and blogs and…well, you get the idea. So I’ve pretty much consolidated everything now. I do have to stop sometimes and think about what series I’m talking about since I have three running concurrently.

Lynn: If you could put yourself into one of your books, which book would you like to be in and would you have a romantic interest?

Susannah: Oh, fun! Probably one of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy books—maybe River Road—because while there is danger afoot, it’s not quite as dark and dangerous as the world of the Penton books or in my romantic suspense series, The Collectors. I think my vampires are sexy as sin, but their world isn’t too safe right now!

Lynn: I see you like reality TV, if you could develop a show what would it be about?

Susannah: LOL. Probably the dirty politics of university life; I work at a university on my day job and what seems as if it should be a calm and stress-free environment is rife with much dirtier politics than in the preternatural world! It would be like “The Office,” only with bigger vocabulary words and more subterfuge. 

Lynn: Because you write paranormal what type of research do you do in order to make it sound believable to the reader?

Susannah: I do a lot of research, which seems to surprise people. I set my paranormal books in real locations, so there’s research to make sure I have the settings right. But beyond that, there are all kinds of things. For example, in the new book, Allegiance, the hero, Cage Reynolds, was turned vampire while serving with the British Army during World War II. So I did a lot of reading about things the British Army was involved in, and to see what kind of special operatives Churchill had—quite a lot, as it turned out. I also studied a lot of psychological warfare techniques, since those are used in the plot. Since I introduced shape-shifters into the series with this book, I did quite a bit of research on golden eagles—the heroine is an eagle shifter—to find out what their personalities are like. They’re aggressive and predatory, by the way, and so is Robin.

Lynn: What do you find easier? To write the beginning or the ending of your story?

Susannah: For me, the beginning is easier. I usually have an opening scene in my head before I plot out the rest of the story. I’m a plotter, so I know how the main conflict is going to be resolved, but then where to actually end it after the big climax is always tricky.

Lynn: Is it easier to write about female or male characters?

Susannah: I have no idea why, but I find my heroes easier to write than my heroines. I think in a romance, there’s usually a dominant character among the couple, and it’s often the hero. Maybe because as women authors we know what we find sexy and appealing in a guy so it’s easier to give voice to that. My heroines, I tend to struggle with a lot more. The few that have been easy—Glory in Absolution and Robin in Allegiance are the only two I didn’t fight with the whole way—are real treats.

Lynn: If you had the chance to rewrite one of your books which would it be and what would you change?

Susannah: I would rewrite my very first book, Royal Street, to tighten up the pace of it and downplay what turned out to be more of a love triangle than I ever intended. I still love the book—it’s the book of my heart because it came out of my own experiences living in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. But there was so much I didn’t know about the craft of putting together a story that I’d love a do-over on it. The heroine, DJ, has grown a lot as a character as I’ve grown as a writer…although we both still have a way to go!

Lynn: Given the chance, if you were asked to write a biography of someone living or dead who would it be and why?

Susannah: Probably the pirate Jean Lafitte, because his undead version is a character in my urban fantasy series. So I’ve read everything about him I could get my hands on, to try and get his personality right. He was absolutely fascinating and a very complex man. Of course, I’d need to talk to the undead Jean Lafitte to find out which of the stories about him are true…assuming he’d tell me the truth!

allegiance-cover-hires

ALLEGIANCE

(The Penton Legacy #4)

By Susannah Sandlin

Out June 10 from Montlake Romance * British vampire psychiatrist and former mercenary Cage Reynolds returns to Penton, Alabama, looking for a permanent home. The town has been ravaged by the ongoing vampire war and the shortage of untainted human blood, and now the vampires and humans that make up the Omega Force are trying to rebuild.

Cage hopes to help the cause, put down roots in Penton, and resolve his relationship with Melissa Calvert. The last thing he expects is to find himself drawn to Robin Ashton, a trash-talking eagle shape-shifter and new Omega recruit.

Meanwhile, as a dangerous saboteur wreaks havoc in Penton, the ruthless Vampire Tribunal leader Matthias Ludlam has been freed on the eve of his scheduled execution. But by whom? And to what end?

As war and chaos rage on, love isn’t something Cage is looking for, but will his attraction to Robin distract him from the danger living among them?

Buy: Allegiance (The Penton Vampire Legacy)

Author Bio: Susannah Sandlin is a native of Winfield, Alabama, and has worked as a writer/editor in educational publishing in Alabama, Illinois, Texas, California, and Louisiana. She currently lives in Auburn, Alabama, with two rescue dogs named after professional wrestlers (it was a phase). She has a no-longer-secret passion for Cajun music, Canadian French pop music, and reality TV. She’s single and is on the hunt for a longhaul Ice Road Trucker who also hunts gators. * She writes the Penton Legacy paranormal romance series and Collectors romantic suspense series of Montlake Romance. * ABSOLUTION, book two in the Penton Legacy series, won the Holt Medallion for paranormal romance in 2013 and was a finalist for the 2013 Prism and Gayle Wilson awards. * Penton book three, OMEGA, was nominated by RT Book Reviews Magazine for the 2014 Reviewer’s Choice Award in paranormal romance, and is a finalist for the 2014 Booksellers Best Award. * STORM FORCE is a finalist for the 2014 Prism Award for dark paranormal romance. *Susannah is a member of Romance Writers of America and the following chapters: Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal, Southern Magic, Georgia Romance Writers, and Kiss of Death. She also is a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and Novelists Inc. * As Suzanne Johnson, she writes the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series for Tor Books.

Get into Bed with Molly Harper (Author Interview)

Molly WhiteLynn Reynolds: Was it hard to make the switch from werewolf to haunted house in Better Homes and Hauntings?

Molly Harper: Not really.  I have always been fascinated by hauntings.  I was that weird little kid who checked out the non-fiction paranormal books out of the elementary school library so many times that my mom got a concerned note from the librarian. And I watched an inordinate amount of Scooby-Doo as a child. I remember being disappointed that the Velma couldn’t just once say, “Jenkies, Fred, I’m pretty sure this creepy abandoned candy fact really is haunted by a gumdrop ghost.”  But, then again, I was often disappointed by the “true” ghost stories I read or watched, because the ghost’s backstory wasn’t scary enough for me. I’d been tinkering with the idea of “the biggest and best” haunted house story I could tell for a while now.  I hope that the readers enjoy it.

Lynn: Which do you like writing better the paranormal or the contemporary?

Molly: I have a bit more fun with the paranormal, because giving these big bad supernatural creatures very human foibles is hilarious. But every once in a while, I really like working with characters who can go out during the day and eat normally. (With all due respect to my werewolf characters.)

Lynn: Has your husband ever played a part in more than one of your books?

Molly: My husband, David, is a six-foot-four, manly-man police captain and he takes a lot of teasing over what his wife does for a living. He hears, “Oooh, does your wife base all of her heroes on you? Hahaha!”  And he will be the first one to tell you, “Yep, it’s all right here.”

And to be honest, yeah, it is. We’ve been together since my freshman year of high school, so naturally, he has a lot of influence of how I think about men and how they should interact with women. His ability to tease me back into a good mood and his tendency to be a wee bit overprotective is in Gabriel Nightengale.  His occasional wildly inappropriate humor is in Dick Cheney. His gruff, morning person persona is the basis for Cooper Graham’s surliness.  And his weird on-the-job stories made their way into And One Last Thing …… for Monroe, who is a retired police officer. (David usually asks me to tell people that unlike Monroe, he has never been shot in the butt.)

Lynn: Is there an author that you love to follow?  What draws your attention to a book?

Molly: I fangirl all over people at conferences.  It’s embarrassing, but I’m a reader, just like everybody else. I met Teresa Medeiros at SOKY Book Fest a few years ago and I thought I was going to faint, because her books were the first romances I was “allowed” to read.  (I’d been sneaking paperbacks out of my mom’s romance hoard for a while.) But I also love Nora Roberts, Alice Clayton, Nicole Peeler, Christina Lauren, Rachel Caine, and a bunch of others.

Lynn: Why did you choose the New England coast for your latest book?

Molly: I usually stick with a Southern setting for my books, but I started reading about Newport and the Gilded Era mansions – the Vanderbilts, the Astors, etc. And I knew it was a perfect setting for a ghost story.  Everything was so beautiful and glamorous but with an ugly underbelly. People had secrets upon secrets, and unresolved business leads to ghosts aplenty.

Lynn: Have you ever stayed in a haunted house?

Molly: Not on purpose!  But while I was attending Western Kentucky University, I did live in a dorm that was supposed to be haunted by the spirit of the woman it was named for – Mattie McLean. The rumor was that she was very protective of “her girls.” If we were being mistreated by a man, Ms. McLean was supposed to find a way to make the man leave, by making him ill or just too uncomfortable to stay. She also supposedly wandered the halls at night, locking our bedroom doors if we forgot to do it before going to bed. I never saw anything, beyond the typical creeped out feelings in the basement laundry room, but it was a basement laundry room, so that was pretty natural.  And one morning, I woke up to find the blankets I KNEW I’d kicked off during the night tucked around and under my body, but I still think my roommate did it… even though she was similarly tucked in and under her blankets and would have had a really hard time doing that by herself…. Nevermind.

Lynn: Have you ever listened to one of your own audible books?

Molly: I always listen to the audio books!  Amanda Ronconi does such an amazing job.  Her voice makes the story new for me all over again.

Lynn: Can you give the readers a hint as to what you have in store for them next?

Molly: If you enjoy audiobooks, Better Homes and Hauntings will be released by Audible on the same day that it is released in print and ebook.

Also, my Half-Moon Hollow Christmas short story, I’m Dreaming of an Undead Christmas, will be available in ebook on November 3, 2014.

And third book in the Bluegrass contemporary series, Snow Falling on Bluegrass, will be released on September 22.

I will be writing several new Half-Moon Hollow spin-offs and hope to have some other announcements soon!

better homes and hauntingsBook Blurb:

When Nina Linden is hired to landscape a private island off the New England coast, she sees it as her chance to rebuild her failing business after being cheated by her unscrupulous ex. She never expects that her new client, software mogul Deacon Whitney, would see more in her than just a talented gardener. Deacon has paid top dollar to the crews he’s hired to renovate the desolate Whitney estate—he had to, because the bumps, thumps, and unexplained sightings of ghostly figures in nineteenth-century dress are driving workers away faster than he can say “Boo.”

But Nina shows no signs of being scared away, even as she experiences some unnerving apparitions herself. And as the two of them work closely together to restore the mansion’s faded glory, Deacon realizes that he’s found someone who doesn’t seem to like his fortune more than himself—while Nina may have finally found the one man she can trust with her bruised and battered heart.

But something on the island doesn’t believe in true love…and if Nina and Deacon can’t figure out how to put these angry spirits to rest, their own love doesn’t stand a ghost of a chance

Buy: Better Homes and Hauntings

Get into Bed with Dani Collins (Author Interview)

web-14Keira: An Heir to Bind Them is a marriage of convenience plot — what do you love best about them?

Dani Collins: I love the forced intimacy of a marriage of convenience. No matter what has happened between the hero and heroine, they have to share space and work it out. And, of course, when they’re in close proximity, they can’t resist the pull of physical attraction!

Keira: The hero, Theo, is newly the guardian of his niece and nephew and he needs a wife to help him take care of them. So why Jaya?

Dani: Theo is only a temporary guardian. The children are from previous books of mine. Evie is the daughter of Nic & Rowan from No Longer Forbidden? and Androu is the son of Adara & Gideon from More Than A Convenient Marriage? An emergency forces Theo to helicopter them off of Gideon’s ship for a few days.

Theo turns to Jaya on instinct, partly because he knows she is within fuel distance and that he can trust her discretion. This situation could be a media nightmare if it leaks out. But he also remembers her helping a lost little boy at one of his hotels and recognizes her as a natural with children where he feels completely inadequate.

Keira: From the blurb, it sounds like there might also be a secret baby twist! How will that affect the hero?

Dani: The last time Theo saw Jaya, she was leaving her employment with his family’s hotel chain. They both had reasons to seek solace in each other, but Theo had a brutal childhood. He has zero faith in his ability to be a good father and never wanted to be one so discovering he has a son is a huge shock.

Keira: What kept Jaya from sharing the baby information with Theo?

Dani: Jaya did try to tell him, but he never returned her calls. He had a family tragedy that distracted him, but he did warn her that their affair was only for one night. She only wanted to inform him, not trap him, so when he didn’t respond after her first couple of tries, she took the hint and left him alone.

Keira: If you were to cast the characters for a movie, who would play them?

Dani: I always struggle with these questions! I feel like I don’t watch enough tv to know who the hip actors are these days. I’ve had a terrible girl crush on Aishwarya Rai, the stunning Bollywood actress, since Bride and Prejudice came out.

For Theo, Ian Somerhalder has the right mix of handsome and vaguely wicked.

Keira: You started reading romances in high school, what do you love best about the genre?

Dani: The uplifting endings! I don’t think I’m alone in needing that promise that no matter how dark your days seem, there is a brighter day coming. Somehow, whatever you are facing, will work out in the end.

Keira: How do you define love? What makes it work? How do you recognize it?

Dani: Love is unconditional acceptance. Generosity of spirit makes it work. Love isn’t something you expect or hold back or only give if you get something. I think there’s a calm and a joy and a sense of security that helps you recognize it, but fear too. Fear of losing that person or pet or child. Not a jealous type of losing, but a need to protect and hold dear, support and, you know, love.

Keira: If you could travel any where on an unlimited budgeted, where would you go and what would you do?

Dani: I don’t think I’d stop traveling! And I’d do the high-end stuff in fancy-shmancy hotels with obscenely expensive food and views of beaches and gentle river cruises with drinks with umbrellas. My husband and I are keen on natural wonders, so I suspect there’d be more rock formations than rock concerts, but I like history too so castles and ruins would definitely feature as well.

Keira: What is your favorite office equipment for writing your stories?

Dani: Ha. I don’t think I’m alone in having a fetish for office equipment in general. I write on a Mac laptop, which I love. I recently bought a widescreen monitor, not expensive, but I love the extra real estate it offers. I write in Word, which I don’t love, but I’ve tried other things like Scrivner and they didn’t work for me so I make do with what’s familiar. I sit on a ball rather than a chair. I spent a long time trying different To Do and Calendar apps and finally went back to my spiral-bound business calendar to track deadlines and goals. I have a whiteboard—super love that along with my many colored dry-erase pens. (Neon pink, hello!) I also keep lots of colored post-it notes handy for my many genius moments. I prefer to write at my desk, but I do drag the laptop when I travel and usually manage to produce something edible.

Keira: What are you working on next?

Dani: My first Sheik! He’s half-English and I intended him to reside in England, but after some chats with my editor, we decided to move him into the desert and I’m both terrified and excited—which tells me I’m in a good space to write the story. Fern, the heroine, is a very shy red-head who is completely out of her element with Zafir. The story is still in early stages, but I have high hopes for it.

9780373132546BOOK BLURB:

Off the boss’s payroll…and into his bed

Jaya. Her name reverberates around Theo Makricosta’s head in time to the whirring blades of his private helicopter. He must find her; only Jaya can help with the care of his infant niece and nephew…. It’s not because he hasn’t stopped thinking about the single night of mind-blowing passion he shared with the exotic beauty.

Jaya Powers couldn’t refuse her gorgeous millionaire Greek boss when she worked for him, and she can’t refuse him now! Only this time she has a secret. Their night together had consequences that will change Theo’s perfectly ordered existence forever!

Buy: An Heir to Bind Them

EXCERPT:

“There’s not a woman in the world with enough training to fix me. Don’t try.” Another warning, his tone a little cooler.

She shook her head. This was about fixing herself, not him. “I just keep thinking that if I leave without kissing you, I’ll always wonder what it would have been like.”

That sounded too ingenuous, too needy, but his quietly loaded, “Yeah,” seemed to put them on the same page, which was remarkable. He stared at her mouth and hot tingles made her lips feel plump. She tried to lick the sensation away.

His breath rushed out in a ragged exhale. He loomed closer, so tall and broad, blocking out her vision, nearly overwhelming her. But when his fingers lightly caressed her jaw and his mouth came down, she was paralyzed with anticipation.

There’d been a few kisses in her life, none very memorable, but when his mouth settled on hers, unhurried and hot, she knew she’d remember this for the rest of her life.

The smooth texture of his lips sealed to hers. He didn’t force her mouth open. She softened and welcomed his confident possession, weakening despite the nervous flutters accosting her. He rocked the fit, deepening the kiss so she opened her mouth wider, bathed in delicious waves of heat. Their lips dampened and slid erotically. His tongue was almost there, then not, then—

He licked into her mouth and she moaned, lashed with exquisite delight. This was the kind of kiss she’d only read about and now she knew there was a reason they called it a soul kiss. Her hand went to his shoulder for balance. She lifted on her toes, wanting more pressure, more of him settling into her inner being.

With a groan he slid his arm around her and pulled her tight against him, softly crushing her mouth while digging his fingers into her bound hair. It was good, so good. She reached her arms around his neck, loving how it felt to be kissed and held so tightly against his hard chest and—

He was hard everywhere.

Like hitting a wall, she pushed back, perturbed by how intensely she had been responding and the dicey situation she’d put herself in.

He didn’t let her go right away, kind of steadied her first while staggering one step himself, then he ran a hand through his hair and swore under his breath. “Hellfire, Jaya. I suspected it’d be good, but I didn’t know it’d be that good. Are you sure you don’t want to spend the night?”

Buy: An Heir to Bind Them

BIO:

After a brilliant debut in the UK with No Longer Forbidden, a Mills & Boon Modern Book Of The Month January 2013, Dani’s first Harlequin Presents, Proof Of Their Sin, won the Reviewer’s Choice by Romantic Times Book Reviews for Best First In Series. While her focus is Harlequin Presents, Dani also writes romantic comedy, medieval fantasy, and coming August of 2014, erotic romance. Whatever the genre, she always delivers sexy alpha heroes, witty, spirited heroines, complex emotions and loads of passion.

Enter Dani Collins’ Masked Desires Contest for a chance to express your secret desires from behind a masquerade mask.

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Get into Bed with Elisabeth Staab (Author Interview)

Elisabeth StaabKeira: Tell us a bit about the vampire mythology around the Chronicles of Yavn Series.

Elisabeth Staab: The vampires in the Chronicles of Yavn are alive rather than undead. They’re a sort of divergent species that also comes equipped with super powers. They have the standard weaknesses – can’t handle sunlight (unless they’re a half-breed), and they weaken without blood or if they overuse their powers. They can live for a long time, but they’re not immortal. There’s a lot that revolves around the vampires being an insular, remaining few, and even fewer who have pure vampire blood. As a species who has been hated and feared by humans, many vampires dislike them, especially the older vampires like Lee (the hero of Hunter by Night) who lived during the old times when humans knew about vampires, but they came after them with fire and pitchforks.

Keira: Lee Goram is not a fan of humans. How does he survive?

Elisabeth: Lee was mated for awhile to a succubus hybrid, but in the decades after their “divorce” he gorged himself on vampire blood. Until meeting Alexia, he’s never touched human blood. Vampire blood is stronger, thicker, and more powerful. He won’t touch human blood, because he views it as inferior. We find out in Hunter by Night, however, that his actions and his belief in the superiority of vampire blood, is about to be his downfall.

Keira: And now his food source is killing him?

Elisabeth: In a way, it’s not simply the food source but Lee’s arrogance, and the number of times he’s bellied up to the buffet. He’s turned into a bit of a lone wolf. No family, no mate, and the one thing he has is his power. Blood gives him power and his ability to protect. The more he consumes, the more powerful he becomes. There’s a tipping point, though, and Lee’s reached that point at the beginning of Hunter by Night.

Keira: Alexia might be the key to his cure… but she’s human… will he have to feed off of her?

Elisabeth: Probably so. ;-)

Keira: Best friend to the queen of vampires, how did Alexia get to be so close to royalty?

Elisabeth: They met in the Florida rave scene, pre-King of Darkness. Alexia had run there to escape her past, and Isabel (the destined queen) had moved there with her family, when her parents felt they weren’t accepted by the rest of the vampire population. The rave scene is a place where young people who don’t belong anywhere else can feel included. For an orphaned vampire and a human on her own, what better place to find each other?

Keira: Isn’t she worried about being in their compound? How does she keep safe?

Elisabeth: Sure. Alexia doesn’t do “caged” very well, and being on the compound, even though it’s supposed to be for her safety, kinda gives her the heebie-jeebies. It’s something she and Lee will need to work out by the end of Hunter by Night in order to be together.

Keira: What’s your favorite scene in Hunter by Night?

Elisabeth: That’s a tough call, because I love Lee and Alexia together from start to finish. But I think my favorite is when they’ve just gotten through a fight and Lee has to get Alexia cleaned up and give her blood to heal her. It’s the first time they’re close together in a way that’s sensual and intimate, and the sexual tension starts to build between them. I love the way Lee’s resolve cracks and the promise of what’s to come in that scene.

Keira: What’s your favorite part about paranormal romances? Vampire romances?

Elisabeth: I love the element of forbidden, and the added conflict. The sexiness of some possible hidden danger lurking right under our noses that we might feel but can’t see. For vampires especially, there’s a special bond between lovers. They’re not only falling in love, they’re bonding on a physical level through the exchange of blood, which is something that adds a heightened element of romance as a reader, and adds an extra layer of fun things to play with as an author. The primal, larger than life, animal factor that comes into play when your hero is part monster, and the idea that a special someone is the only one who can keep him or her in check? Yeah, that’s all hot stuff.

Keira: How do you define love?

Elisabeth: I would say anytime you feel deep affection for another creature, that’s love.

Keira: What makes a great Happily Ever After?

Elisabeth: That’s so nebulous. I just need to feel that a good story has been told, and I need to have a sense that things will be okay going forward. Sometimes as a reader I get greedy and wish I’d had more details about certain things, but really that just means I loved the story and I wanted to know more. Mostly though, I want to walk away feeling satisfied that the characters really will go forward and have good lives together.

Keira: What’s next for you?

Elisabeth: I’m not 100% sure. My kids are home for the summer and I’m looking forward to spending time with them. I also have some contemporary projects in the works (I hope to have the next book in my HaleStorm series out before too long.), but I’m looking forward to not having deadlines for awhile, and getting more time with my family, so I don’t want to commit to much just yet.

hunter by nightBook blurb:

She wants out

Party girl Alexia Blackburn is only hanging around the vampire compound until her best friend—the queen—has her baby. After that, nothing is going to stop Alexia from getting back to daylight, safety, and feeling like a normal human being. But leaving the vampire world has one big catch…

He needs her to stay

Head of vampire security Lee Goram has hated and distrusted humans for centuries. Feeding on vampire blood has kept him strong…but now it’s killing him—and he’s horrified to discover that Alexia may hold the key to his cure. He’d rather die defending his king than admit his weakness, but time is running out for the great vampire warrior…

Buy: Hunter by Night (Chronicles of Yavn)