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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Why I Love the Enemies to Lovers Trope

YouMayKissTheBride_200x300Guest blog by Monica Corwin, author of

I decided to write this guest post on my favourite romance trope. After a lot of deliberating I finally decided on enemies to lovers. I love best friends to lovers or the one that got away as well but enemies to lovers has to be my favourite to both read and write. There are so many emotions to roll through in this trope and without a doubt always a great switch…the moment when these two people who’ve hated each other finally give in and let it all go. Best moment.

A couple of my favourite novels that fall into this category are:

  • Night Fires by Karen Harbaugh – This is an older novel but has been one of my favourites for years. What’s not to love about a French Revolution historical paranormal romance with a strong female lead? NOTHING.
  • Lover Mine by J.R. Ward – John Mathew was long my favourite character in the BDB world and when I finally got his and Xhex’s book I was complete.

What are your favourite enemies to lovers novels?

BLURB:

Helena Banks and Alex Parker are meant to be…if they can get past the secrets, lies, corporate espionage.

Helena Banks has the perfect life. Well, she thought she did until her perfect fiancé left her in the limo outside her perfect wedding. Like any strong woman she rallied with the help of one super sexy limo driver. But is he really who he says he is?

Alex Parker never wanted a complicated life. He lives for his work and that had always been enough. When fate drops a damsel in distress on his radar he realizes he’s not content after all.

But Alex has a secret…one that will turn Helena’s perfect life even more upside down. Can she handle it, or him?

Find Monica Corwin on Amazon

Excerpt:

A quiet knock sounded at the door, and Alex went to sign for the food without me even making a move to get up. The aroma of melted cheese hit me full force. I surged to my feet, ready to make a beeline for the tray when the alcohol caught up to me and I wobbled, about to keel over. Alex had nowhere near my level of intoxication and caught me smoothly. He could do nothing but help buffer the fall with his arms.

We both landed on the plush faux fur in a tangle of limbs. The silk of my outfit did little to disguise any part of me, and when we both stilled, he was laying in the curve my open thighs created. Alex pushed up on his arms, removing his comforting weight off my chest, but made no move to get up.

Those green eyes ensnared me, and I did the thing I had been dying to do since I watched his lips wrap around the bottle earlier. They were just as soft as I imagined and tasted like lemon and beer. He didn’t respond at first, but when I probed the seam of his mouth with my tongue, it felt like an electric current shot through both of us. He wrapped one arm around my back, and the other hand tangled in the mass of curls at the nape of my neck. Effortlessly he pulled me into his body while pressing his hips into mine.

Not even a Disney kiss could have been as equally magical. His tongue traced mine with a demanding edge I savored as small currents of need sparked from the tips of my fingers all the way to my toes. I would have stayed there for hours if the sound of the door lock opening to a keycard hadn’t broken the spell between us. We both looked up just in time to register the shocked face of my former fiancé.

About the Author: Monica Corwin is an outspoken writer who believes romance is for everyone no matter their preferences. Displaced in Central Pennsylvania, Monica Corwin attempts to spend her days writing away in her home by the river. In reality she chases around a toddler and writes when she can. In her free time she drinks entirely too much coffee and collects tomes on King Arthur.

www.monicacorwin.com

www.twitter.com/monica_corwin

www.facebook.com/monicacorwin

Find Monica Corwin on Amazon

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Review: Doukakis’s Apprentice by Sarah Morgan

The title and blurb for this book are misleading because Polly Prince isn’t Damon Doukakis’s apprentice, though he is the boss and she winds up working for him. Polly’s more like a thorn in his side that he’s got to manage until he can expose where his sister and Polly’s father are hiding.

Hero: Damon is an arrogant fellow, determined to do right by his sister, even if that means sticking close to Polly, a woman he has no respect for and blames for his sister’s expulsion from an elite private high school. (He was always overprotective.) Polly he finds dresses unprofessional, doesn’t have any credentials, and is a leech on her father’s (now his) business. He’ll make her earn her pay… so why can’t he think of anything but those hot pink tights she wears?

Heroine: Polly has been embarrassed by her father’s behavior before, but when he was discovered having an affair with her best friend, well, that’s the worst. Or maybe the worst is when the brother, Damon, shows up and takes over the company, threatening to fire everyone that works there. Why did she find him beyond sexy then? He didn’t like her wild ways when she was younger. It would never work, even if it were an option.

Review: Damon is a very anal retentive person, controlling all aspects of the businesses he runs, including which desks people sit at each morning. He doesn’t understand Polly’s highly creative way of managing her father’s advertising company at all. He thinks it’s unprofessional, instead of just a different form of management. The story is fun and very entertaining. I always love a falsely accused heroine, showing the hero what’s what. I love that her blasé attitude about their relationship has him spluttering for commitment. It was a refreshing change from the usual scenario of the girl wanting more and the guy being a commitment phobe!

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Doukakis’s Apprentice (Harlequin Presents)

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Review: Make Mine a Bad Boy by Katie Lane

Reviewed by Aggie S.

Do you like to read a cowboy romance? Yes? Well this is the book for you!

Hope, is the town’s former head cheerleader and homecoming queen. She finally decides to return home after sowing her wild oats in Hollywood, only to find that a twin sister she didn’t know existed has stepped into her shoes… or should I say love life? Hope’s dreams were shattered when Slade married her twin sister.

Colt, the town’s bad boy is late for the wedding and figures the only thing he can do is kiss the bride. Hope yells for him to take his hands off her sister, but Slade has already gotten there and punched him for grabbing his new wife. Colt comes up swinging and punches Hope out.

It’s a classic – he pursues, she evades, cat and mouse, tit for tat romance.

I’m going to classify this romance as enemies to lovers because Colt has pulled so many pranks on Hope that she feels he hates her. But is that really true? Shirlene, Colt’s sister, tells her he does it because he is so hung up on her and he feels he needs to torment her to get her attention.

You really need to read this captivating story to find out why Colt had a snarling hog with a tiara tattooed on his arm. And, why is there all of a sudden a shot-gun wedding and for who! This book is such an interesting read, with what a plot so realistic it could be an actually true story for many homecoming queens and town bad boys.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Make Mine a Bad Boy (A Deep in the Heart of Texas novel)

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Review: Passions of a Wicked Earl by Lorraine Heath

Looking for an irresistible historical romance with an unusual twist? You should try Passions of a Wicked Earl. It features an arranged marriage, unrequited turned requited love, enemies to lovers, seduction of a rakehell, and an evil other woman.

Exiled to the country less than twenty-four hours after marrying her husband, Claire Westcliffe knew she deserved it. It didn’t matter that she was unaware of exactly what Westcliffe’s brother and her best friend, Stephen meant to do when he said he’d save her from her wedding night, because she wanted the reprieve. That all changes when her sister comes to her and begs to be given a season in order to avoid marrying the man their father picked for her. For her sister, Claire will brave her husband—his wrath and his bed—because somebody deserved romance.

After the disastrous wedding night, Westcliffe took himself off to London where he cut a swathe through the women (never a married woman or an innocent). It was his way of showing he didn’t care and a way to reaffirm his manliness which was striped away so completely upon the sight of his brother in his wife’s bed. It’s been years and he doesn’t believe there will ever be a reconciliation between them and he’s not sure he even wants one. If he divorces her and marries his current mistress, he knows what he’s getting into – a loveless marriage based on lust.

What he doesn’t count on is Claire. The more she learns about her husband’s true nature, the more she likes him and the more she wants to keep him. His actions were in reaction her own and while those actions were equally wrong, she knew they both had things to be sorry for, and that they could start fresh. But with Westcliffe avoiding her at every turn how was she to get her rakehell of a husband into bed? By seducing him of course!

Spoilers: Now I know what you’re thinking. Claire getting into bed with Stephen is completely inexcusable. How does the reader/hero get past something as morally challenging as that? Would you be able to get past your spouse cheating on you with a sibling? Probably not, but appearances can be deceiving as Westcliffe will find out when he finally consummates his marriage to Claire.

Westcliffe’s confirmed adultery is another morally challenging bit. Can a man like that be sympathetic? Of course he can when Lorraine Heath writes him. Westcliffe hid a broken heart in a string of very public affairs. Claire’s deception was the straw that broke this camel’s back. Westcliffe has always felt unloved. His mother obviously loved his younger brothers, and Stephen was notably the preferred child, but she never warmed up to Westcliffe because of who his father was.

Personally, I liked both the hero and heroine. Their flaws, backgrounds (morally challenging bits and all), and personalities just worked for me and I really enjoyed their romance. It was sexy, passionate, and sweet.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Passions of a Wicked Earl

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