Character Perspective with the heroine from Carolyn Brown’s THE LILAC BOUQUET

1503943550Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for inviting me back to talk about THE LILAC BOUQUET. This is my 84th published book but it was the first book that I ever wrote. When my third child was born in 1973 and refused to sleep at night, I picked up a pencil and a spiral back notebook and began to write a novel that my husband and I’d talked about for years and years. I’d written Seth Thomas as a young man and if there was something that could be wrong with a book, I managed to find it. Of course, it didn’t sell but the core story stayed on my mind and through the years I’d drag it out and revise it but it wasn’t until this year that it all came together.

I really think it was Emmy Jo who finally brought that story to life and I’d
like to introduce you to her today. She’s a young lady from Hickory, Texas who has agreed to answer a few questions for us today. From day one she stole my heart but I shouldn’t tell you everything I know. We’ve got a few questions worked up and she’s willing to answer them all—as long as there are no spoilers.

Carolyn: Emmy Jo what was it that made you so determined to
have a big wedding.

Emmy Jo: There’s a curse on the Massey women and I was
determined to break it. My great grandmother, Tandy, had a baby out of wedlock in a society that shunned her for it. My grandmother, Rose, followed in her footsteps and so did my mother, Crystal. I wanted a big wedding so everyone in the town of Hickory would know that I was really married.

Carolyn: What did your fiancé, Logan, think of that?

Emmy Jo: Logan loves me enough to let me do things my way and he understands my reasons but he’d just as soon go to the courthouse

Carolyn: And your best friend, Diana? Did she agree?

Emmy Jo: Diana and I are both engaged. Every conversation we had was about our weddings, what kind of cake we wanted, where it would be held.

Carolyn: Did anything change between you and your family and
Diana when you went to work for Seth.

Emmy Jo: Wow! Did it ever. Tandy, that would be my great
grandmother, was so mad she told me that I couldn’t ever come back home. Diana thought I was doing the wrong thing and wouldn’t even let me spend one night in her house. I had to virtually walk away from everyone but Logan to take the job at the big house on the hill overlooking Hickory.

Carolyn: Where on earth did you live?

Emmy Jo: The job came with room and board and a salary that
would let me have my dream wedding. I had faith that my granny and my best friend would eventually come around.

Carolyn: Once you were there, did you instantly become friends
with Seth? I hear he was an old recluse who didn’t even want you to be there

Emmy Jo (with a giggle): You got that right. His sister, Ruth,
hired me, actually. He didn’t and he sure didn’t want me there so he tried to
make me miserable through sheer boredom. But if I left I couldn’t have my
wedding so I stuck with it and made it my mission to make him like me.

Carolyn: And how’d that work out for you?

Emmy Jo (with a big smile): You have to realize something. Tandy and Seth and Logan’s grandpa were all tangled up in a secret that no one had ever been able to crack. And believe me Hickory, Texas has its fair share of
gossips who’d tried to figure out why three people who’d grown up in the same town hated each other so much. After a few days of living there, I was
determined that I’d find out just exactly what was at the bottom of that secret. To get him to talk, I had to make him like me. So how did it work out for me? I refused to give up and pretty soon he started to talk. A little bit at a time.

Carolyn: What about Logan’s family? How did they feel about him
marrying you?

Emmy Jo: Oh, Miz Carolyn, they were very much against it. But then remember, small towns never let gossip die and Logan is the son of the
local preacher and the grandson of a retired preacher, Jesse, who came from one of the most prominent families in town. They had predestined Logan to be a preacher also and of course, it was my fault that he didn’t want to go into that profession. If you don’t believe me, just ask them.

Carolyn: After you started to find out the secret, did it
affect your life?

Emmy Jo (nodding emphatically): Yes, ma’am. In ways that I’d never have expected possible. I would tell you exactly how much but it would sure spoil the whole story.

Carolyn: Why did Seth live in such a big mansion of a house

Emmy Jo (pointing at Seth who’s been sitting beside her during this
: I’m going to let him answer that.

Seth: Well, I fell in love with a woman who wanted a big house.
The only trouble was she wanted the house but not necessarily me so we broke up right before the wedding. It was mutual. She liked the city life and I’m a bit of a hermit. But to punish myself for being so stupid, I decided that I’d live in the house until I died. Emmy Jo here helped me see that I was wrong to let one event ruin my whole life. And now I’m going to steal her away from you. We have to go to the cemetery and put the lilac bouquet on my mother’s grave. It’s a weekly thing that we do together.

Carolyn: Thank you Emmy Jo and Seth for being here. If you had one bit of advice for my readers, what would it be?

Emmy Jo and Seth (in unison): Listen to your hearts and make a bucket list!

About Carolyn Brown

Carolyn Brown

Carolyn Brown is a New York Times and USA Today best selling author and a RITA Finalist who has sold more than 2.75 million books. She presently writes both women’s fiction and cowboy romance. She has also written historical single title, historical series, contemporary single title, and contemporary series.

She credits her eclectic family for her humor
and writing ideas. She was born in Texas but grew up in southern Oklahoma where she and her husband, Charles, a retired English teacher, now make their home in the town of Davis, Oklahoma. They have three grown children and enough grandchildren to keep them young.

Spikes and Spurs | Cowboys & Brides | Luckadeau Cousins | Honky Tonk | Cadillac, Texas | Burnt Boot, Texas | Lucky Penny Ranch | Lucky Cowboys


Michelle Major | Digging in the Dirt

51vZPP7bKFL._SY346_In my latest release, MEANT FOR YOU, Jenny Castelli is a single mom, raising her son, trying to get a new business started and caring for her aging mother. Jenny is opening a garden center and although parts of her life are chaotic, making living things grow always makes her feel centered. Since spring is finally here, I’m also planning what I’m going to plant this year. I definitely don’t have Jenny’s talent, but I still love choosing flowers and vegetables for the garden and my potted plants.

There’s something about the scent of the earth and getting your hands dirty that is inherently satisfying. Going to a garden center and choosing just the right mix of flowers or the perfect tiny tomato stalk is the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Working outside is good for your body and your spirit, although not everyone has time for a big garden. I used to be more of a gardener but the past few years I’ve limited myself to a couple of pots of flowers and tomato and basil plants. Even that makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something. It’s a great excuse to get outside on warm mornings and there’s nothing better than picking a tomato from the yard in late summer to use in a salad or on a sandwich. Gardening forces patience and helps you reconnect with the cycles of nature. In this world we live in where technology is everywhere, gardening is a great excuse to unplug and be mindful.

It’s also the perfect activity to do with a friend or someone you love. In MEANT FOR YOU, the hero, Owen Dalton, has had his heart broken by Jenny once before. But when life (and a fake engagement) bring them back together, one of the ways they connect is working together at her nursery. He gets to see her doing something she loves and it helps to remind him why he first fell in love with her.

So even if it’s just one tiny plant or a container herb garden, plant something this spring if you haven’t already and I hope readers enjoy MEANT FOR YOU as much as I loved writing it!

About Michelle Major

Michelle Major

I was raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, and for as long as I can remember I’ve loved books. Growing up, I wrote stories and plays and graduated with a degree in Journalism from Ohio University.

By then I’d also fallen in love with the mountains. After college I pointed my ancient Honda west until I came to Colorado. I worked on a dude ranch and then spent a month camping through the southwestern part of the state. Technically, I might have been homeless but that hardly seemed to matter while sleeping under the stars.

I settled down to a career in Human Resources and traveled across the country for my job. With my fear of flying, I needed something to distract me on all those planes. I picked up a Julia Quinn novel in an airport bookstore and was hooked. It dawned on me that the stories milling around in my head were actually romance plots. My passion for novel writing was born.

Fast forward a couple of years and I’m now married, a part-time writer and a full-time Professional Wiper (noses, bottoms, tears, scraped knees, pet accidents – you name it, I’ve cleaned it up).


Watch Out, I’m Watching You!

That’s right, I’m the little blond lady who’s scrunched in the corner of the coffee shop. I’m watching you carefully and jotting notes. I see what you’re wearing – I like that paisley scarf, by the way – and I’m scrutinizing the way you sip your coffee and nibble your scone.

No, I don’t work for the CIA, FBI, or IRS. I’m an author who writes three different mystery series and I get ideas for my characters by watching all the fascinating real-life characters around me. From the folks who cross my path at the driver’s license bureau to the ones who are picking through bins of organic oranges at the grocery store or kicking tires at the local garage.

You all fascinate me and give me such wonderful ideas because you’re all real, highly individual, and (this is a good thing) a little bit quirky. You see, creating literary characters is a tricky thing for an author. You want them to be loved, reviled, understood, amusing, or even feared. But characters also need to be larger than life. They need to transcend the pages, worm their way into your hearts and memories, and stick like a proverbial burr. That way you’ll look forward to reading my next book.

The interesting thing is that we all tend to respond well to characters who are a little bit like us – that are relatable. We want a book that tells a rollicking new story, but we also want that story to reflect some of who we are and what we’ve experienced in life.

In a mystery, questions drive the plot and narrative. In PEKOE MOST POISON the reader will want to know – who are these crazy waiters and why are they wearing rat heads? Who put deadly poison in the tea? Who stashed a box of X-Terminate Rat Poison in the kitchen cupboard? The same elements that draw us into a story are the same things that propel characters and story lines. Most important of all, we are as anxious to solve the murder mystery as Theodosia, the main character in PEKOE MOST POISON.

So next time someone watches you surreptitiously, please don’t worry. You might end up the perfect character in someone’s best-selling novel!

All my very best,

About Laura Childs

Laura Childs

Halfway between a cozy
and a thriller – a thrillzy!

Laura Childs is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. PEKOE MOST POISONis her just-released Tea Shop Mystery. In Laura’s previous life she was CEO of her own marketing firm, authored several screenplays, and produced a reality TV show. She is married to Dr. Bob, a professor of Chinese art history, enjoys travel, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.

Tea Shop Mysteries | Cackleberry Club Mysteries | Scrapbook Mysteries



Tea Shop Mystery

Pekoe Most Poison

In the latest Tea Shop Mystery from New York Times bestselling author Laura Childs, Theodosia Browning attends a “Rat Tea,” where the mice will play…at murder.

When Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia Browning is invited by Doreen Briggs, one of Charleston’s most prominent hostesses, to a “Rat Tea,” she is understandably intrigued. As servers dressed in rodent costumes and wearing white gloves offer elegant finger sandwiches and fine teas, Theo learns these parties date back to early twentieth-century Charleston, where the cream of society would sponsor so-called rat teas to promote city rodent control and better public health.

But this party goes from odd to chaotic when a fire starts at one of the tables and Doreen’s entrepreneur husband suddenly goes into convulsions and drops dead. Has his favorite orange pekoe tea been poisoned? Theo smells a rat.

The distraught Doreen soon engages Theo to pursue a discreet inquiry into who might have murdered her husband. As Theo and her tea sommelier review the guest list for suspects, they soon find themselves drawn into a dangerous game of cat and mouse…


Mystery Cozy [Berkley Prime Crime, On Sale: March 7, 2017, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9780425281680 / eISBN: 9780698197398]

Kris Rafferty | “Outside Looking In”

With a show of hands, how many of you felt like an outsider growing up? I suspect most hands are waving in the air right now, and if you’re reading this, you’re probably a bookworm like me, someone who hides in plain sight, escaping into books, written worlds that never judge us. It took me a long time to understand most people feel as if they’re “outside, looking in.” I suspect it’s not so much a human condition, as it is a ‘living’ condition. If you’re alive, you seek to connect with someone, be it pet or partner. Even the lowly amoeba is willing to split in two to find a friend…a place to belong.

51Ij8HQ+leLSEDUCED BY SIN is the third book in my An Unlikely Hero series, and though it’s a standalone book, it completes a series plot arc, as well as continues the theme of being an outsider. In my An Unlikely Hero world, outsiders rule, and they’re convinced being an outsider is why they survive and thrive in a world that has been cruel to them. They’re solitary creatures, hiding who they really are to blend in a world they know they don’t fit in…couldn’t fit in, even if they’d tried. No one has faith in them, and they have no faith in themselves, but they want things, secretly long for them. Things like love, happiness, and normal. As they struggle to stay aloof from the lure of these secret longings, my unlikely heroes risk their lives to save the day, and their reward is belonging on their terms.

51SUm9modTL._SY346_In BETRAYED BY A KISS, Marnie Somerville is sure Dane MacLain is just another bad guy. Her job as resident investigator at Whitman Enterprises is to track down the owners of delinquent accounts, but something about Dane’s case is off, and Marnie can’t resist a good mystery. The secret files and cover-up she finds after hacking her boss’s computer are more than she expected, and now she’s fleeing her former employer…right into Dane’s arms. Former detective Dane MacLain has spent the last year gathering intel against Whitman Enterprises, the company he believes responsible for his wife’s death. When a beautiful and intense woman shows up with information, Dane is willing to accept all she has to offer, especially when the help comes in such a sexy package. Caught in a deadly cat and mouse chase, Dane must do everything he can to protect Marnie as they run for their lives.

51NReNhB+eL._SY346_In TEMPTED BY A TOUCH, Harper MacLain is more comfortable supporting the heroes in her life, but now must find the courage to become the hero or all will be lost, because people keep dying around her, and try as she might, she can’t stop bad things from happening to those she loves. When her closely guarded secret lands her in the middle of her ex-boyfriend’s investigation, she’s in over her head. She hates that Detective Lucas Sullivan is in her life again, tempting her to fall back into bad habits…and his bed.

When Harper left him, Lucas tried not to care, burying himself in his job instead. Then Harper became the job. Now they’re on the run, and all he can think about is keeping her safe…and his hands off her. Lucas knows she’s the key to solving his case, if he can keep them alive long enough to do it. And that’s the trick…because falling in love can kill you.

In SEDUCE BY SIN, Caleb Smith saved Francesca Hamilton from a nasty situation with her father. Sure, it landed her in Caleb’s bed wearing his engagement ring, but it was a means to an end, and she was enjoying the ride. It wasn’t Caleb’s fault her feelings were changing, leaving her wishing things between them were real rather than pretend.

Caleb took the FBI’s assignment because he wanted to end the tyranny of a man who’d hurt the people he loved. Odds of success were slim and the danger high, but he knew the risks. Francesca didn’t and was completely in the dark about her family’s “business.” And the more time he spends with her, the harder he falls for her…but to finally get retribution, he’ll have to destroy her world.

To find out more about An Unlikely Hero series, visit her website.

Alexia Adams | Bring on the Bling

I’m not much of a jewelry person. I wear my wedding and engagement rings and when I go out, a pair of dangly earrings if I remember to put them on. I have one of those Pandora bracelets but it was taking so long to get the charms that I went down to the dollar store and bought a bunch of replicas to fill it up. Again, I forget to wear it most times.

So, when it came to writing a hero who was a jewelry designer, I had a lot to learn. I researched famous jewelry designers of the past and up-and-coming artists of today. I read up about world-renowned houses such as Tiffany’s, Cartier, Bulgari, etc. But it wasn’t until I searched on Pinterest for inspiration pieces that my heart really started pumping. Many lost hours of “research” (also known as bling envy) later, I found the premier piece for my story—a bicolor sapphire that I could wrap my book around. If you’re interested in seeing this stone, please visit my Pinterest page and click on the Masquerading with the Billionaire board.

My jewelry designer hero, Remington Wolfe, was inspired by Harry Winston. Allegedly, at the age of twelve, Harry saw a two-carat emerald in a pawn shop, bought it for twenty-five cents and then sold it two days later for $800. And like my hero, his jewelry empire also began when he took stones from old-fashioned settings and reset the gems into beautiful contemporary pieces.

For myself, I have strong preferences when it comes to jewelry. I never wanted a diamond engagement ring but hadn’t told anyone. I assumed that when the time came, I’d go to the store with my beloved and we’d choose a ring together. Then my boyfriend surprised me by proposing on a day trip to Paris (we were living in London at the time so it wasn’t that far, but still amazing) and he held out a ring box to me. After I made him get down on one knee to make it all official, I took the box from his hand. Mine shook in what I hope he interpreted as surprise but was, in fact, trepidation. What if it was a diamond solitaire? How would I tell him that wasn’t what I wanted?

I held my breath and opened the box to see an oval emerald as the central gemstone surrounded by small diamonds. Exactly what I’d dreamed of. He said he’d walked by a jewelry store and this ring caught his attention because it reminded him of my eyes, and he knew it was the one. And after that I knew he was the one. This year we are celebrating twenty years of marriage. What do you think the chances are he’ll buy me another ring? Yeah, I didn’t think so either. Guess I’ll just have to make-do with my blinging book boyfriend Remington Wolfe.

I hope you enjoy MASQUERADING WITH THE BILLIONAIRE and all the beautiful bling.


Guide to Love

Masquerading with the Billionaire

World-renowned jewelry designer Remington Wolfe is competing for the commission of a lifetime and someone is trying to destroy his company from the inside. He’s in for more than one surprise when his unexpected rescuer turns out to be a sexy computer specialist with a sharp tongue and even sharper mind.

Kat Smith is a cyber-security expert and master of disguise. So being assigned to masquerade as Wolfe’s girlfriend while she uncovers who slipped malicious code into his corporation’s computer systems is no problem. But when Kat’s past catches up to her and their fake relationship starts to feel a little too real, problems are all she seems to have.

Romance Contemporary [Entangled Indulgence, On Sale: March 13, 2017, e-Book, ISBN: 9781682814543 / eISBN: 9781633758797]

About Alexia Adams

Alexia Adams

Alexia Adams was born in British Columbia, Canada, and traveled throughout North America as a child. After high school, she spent three months in Panama before moving to Dunedin, New Zealand, for a year, where she studied French and Russian at Otago University.

Back in Canada, she worked building fire engines until she’d saved enough for a round-the-world ticket. She traveled throughout Australasia before settling in London—the perfect place to indulge her love of history and travel. For four years, she lived and traveled throughout Europe before returning to her homeland. On the way back to Canada she stopped in Egypt, Jordan, Israel, India, Nepal, and of course, Australia and New Zealand. She lived again in Canada for one year before the lure of Europe and easy travel was too great, and she returned to the UK.

Marriage and the birth of two babies later, she moved back to Canada to raise her children with her British husband. Two more children were born in Canada, and her travel wings were well and truly clipped. Firmly rooted in the life of a stay-at-home mom, or trophy wife, as she prefers to be called, she turned to writing to exercise her mind, traveling vicariously through her romance novels. Her stories reflect her love of travel and cultural diversity and feature locations as disparate as the windswept prairies of Canada to hot and humid cities in Asia.

Vintage Love | Guide to Love


Jessika Fleck | All’s Fair in Love and War

First off, I am thrilled to be here at Fresh Fiction— I love this website! I’ve been following for a while, so, add this to the pinch-me-is-this-really-happening list for this new author.

One of my favorite things about writing YA is the relationships. Because, young love. Le sigh. So many ups and downs, butterflies and roller coaster tummy twirls. It can be exhilarating and confusing and… Bloody. Well, when you’re falling in love happens surrounded by war. In my YA debut, THE CASTAWAYS (Entangled TEEN), my main character, Olive, finds herself stranded on a middle-of-nowhere island, trapped in time and space. Now, this would be horrific enough, but there’s a decade’s long war in full-swing between two groups of kids and Olive lands smack dab in the mix of it.

Some might say that a love story doesn’t belong entwined in all of that violence and upheaval. I say, bring it. Because, let’s be honest, don’t the best war stories involve romances? If you’re not so sure, here’s a quick list off the top of my head: The Winner’s Series, Divergent, The Grisha Trilogy, Harry Potter, and Angelfall to name a few. And I’m not only talking modern literature. What about War and Peace and For Whom the Bell Tolls and Les Misérables? Can you imagine those books minus the love stories? (Hint: Don’t try. You might just fall asleep.).

Also, while it’s not a book but still very much a story, lest I forget to mention the whole Hamilton Musical phenomenon! Alexander Hamilton minus Eliza Schulyer? No torrid love affair with Maria Reynolds? Don’t even make me go there! Because when passions are high and the action is hitting the fan, even with bullets flying, the love story brings us back from the throws of war. Love humanizes characters. It strips down the shell, the rough exterior that battle built and gives us flaws and vulnerability. It softens the edges.

Conversely, imagine these particular stories minus the wars. Meh, right?

Love and war works. And it works together in perfect juxtaposition. We could go so far as to say, in these instances, they rely on and complete each other. Individually, war… love… they tell great stories, but when blended and balanced, interwoven as the perfect storm, the outcome can be quite epic. And who doesn’t want epic?

THE CASTAWAYS by Jessika Fleck

The Castaways

You’ll walk into the maze, but you won’t walk out…

Mean Girls meets Lord of the Flies in this YA contemporary fantasy.

The Castaway Carnival: fun, mysterious, dangerous.

Renowned for its infamous corn maze…and the kids who go missing in it.

When Olive runs into the maze, she wakes up on an isolated and undetectable island where a decades-long war between two factions of rival teens is in full swing.

Trapped, Olive must slowly attempt to win each of her new comrades’ hearts as Will—their mysterious, stoically quiet, and handsome leader—steals hers.

Olive is only sure about one thing: her troop consists of the good guys, and she’ll do whatever it takes to help them win the war and get back home.

Also available as a print book on Amazon.

Romance Contemporary | Fantasy [Entangled Teen, On Sale: April 3, 2017, e-Book, ISBN: 9781633759183 / ]

About Jessika Fleck

Jessika Fleck

Jessika Fleck is a writer, unapologetic coffee drinker, and knitter — she sincerely hopes to one day discover a way to do all three at once. Until then, she continues collecting vintage typewriters and hourglasses, dreaming of an Ireland getaway, and convincing her husband they NEED more kittens.

Her work verges on fantastical and dark with a touch of realism. Her YA fantasy, THE CASTAWAYS (Entangled Teen), debuts April 3, 2017. THE OFFERING (Swoon Reads/Macmillan) releases in the fall of 2018.


Christina McKnight on why Regency romance excites her

I get the sense I’m in an AA or NA meeting every time someone says: Oh, you’re a
writer! What do you write?

Hello, I’m USA Today Bestselling author, Christina McKnight, and I
write historical romance. Narrow that down a bit, I write Regency Romance. What follows is usually wide-eyed stares that evolve into scrunched brows as people ponder what in the heck I just said. I normally go on to explain my books are set in or around London, England in 1816.

Next question is always: Why don’t you write ___ ( fill in a genre here)?

I smile and laugh as if their question isn’t utterly perplexing to me. Why
Regency? Simply because I have not found a period in history (including modern
times) that fills me with such a sense of passion, a drive to explore, and a
need to envelop myself completely in the time period.

One glimpse of Regency era fashion, decorum, and daily activities had me hooked. There is something about the mannerisms, the speech patterns and the grandness of everyday in London, England during the 1810s that holds my attention. Think about it, in 1813 a woman of the ton would never leave her home in yoga pants and gym shoes. No, by noon a woman had spent hours preparing to be seen in polite society. Their gown is selected to fit the activities on their calendar; a ride in the park, a round of social calls, or an afternoon garden party. Their hair was exquisitely coiffured to meet the rigid standards of high society. Shoes, stockings, gloves, handbag, hat, jewelry, face powder, and parasol were selected to match each gown.

And do not get me started on gentlemen of the period. Swoon. They lived
and breathed manners, at least in front of a lady. They knew when to offer their
arm or collect a refreshment for a woman. But they were not opposed to a round
of boxing or a fencing match. They never turn down a card game, enjoyed the
occasional carriage race, and were certainly not above challenging another man
to a duel to avenge the honor of a woman they love.

At least these are the men and women I enjoy creating in my Regency romance novels.

Why Regency?

The true question is, why NOT Regency?

About Christina McKnight

Christina McKnight

Christina McKnight is a book lover turned writer. From a young age, her mother encouraged her to tell her own stories. She’s been writing ever since. Currently, she focuses on Historical Romance.

Christina enjoys a quiet life in Northern California with her family, her wine, and lots of coffee. Oh, and her books…don’t forget her books! Most days she can be found writing, reading, or traveling the great state of California.

Craven House | Lady Forsaken | Lady Archer’s Creed


Lorraine Heath talks about WHEN THE MARQUESS FALLS

On the eve of her latest release, WHEN THE MARQUESS FALLS, Lorraine Heath chatted with reviewer Miranda Owen about writing historical romances, her favorite characters, and who she reads to escape.

Occasionally, in one of my online book groups, the question comes up
asking which books make you teary-eyed. My first instinct is to say that I
usually avoid reading romances that do just that – but then I remember that your books frequently tear me up and I adore them. Since so many of your books – THE VISCOUNT AND THE VIXEN included – have such a strong emotional pull, do you intend for readers to have a visceral reaction to them as they’re reading along? Do you enjoy reading books like that as well?

Lorraine Heath: I do hope that readers “feel” something when
they are reading my books. When I first started writing romance, I had a goal—I
wanted to make the reader smile at least once…and to tear up. So many of the
books I love to read always make me experience some sort of emotion—joy, sorrow, happiness—while I’m reading them. My very favorites make me smile, laugh, cry, sigh. When I read I want to totally immerse myself in the story…and I try to bring that same sort of immersion to my writing.

I love the chemistry between Killian and Portia. Is it sometimes
difficult finding that spark between two characters, or is that the first thing
that strikes you when you begin writing a story?

Lorraine Heath: I’ve written a couple of books where it seemed
more difficult to find that spark but for me, the seed for a story usually
begins with the characters so I see them and how they are going to react to each
other long before I know what is going to happen around them.

In any book in which secrets play a big part in the story like THE VISCOUNT AND THE VIXEN, I always feel a little anxiety waiting for the secrets to be revealed and the fallout that comes from having the secrecy discovered. What compels you to tell a story about characters with deep dark secrets?

Lorraine Heath: I have a degree in psychology so I’ve always
been interested in studying people’s motivations and secrets. Very often it’s
those secrets that motivate us the most. What we don’t easily share about
ourselves tells us more about ourselves than what we easily share. So I like to
dig around in my characters’ pasts, dreams, hearts and figure out what makes
them the way they are. And when I discover a little secret, so much the better.
To be honest, the secret doesn’t always come to me until I’m in the midst of

In so many of your books, I feel like the characters’ lives and the
situations they get themselves into – or are put into by circumstances beyond their control – are so tangled that, if the story wasn’t written by an author I know and trust, I would find it difficult to believe a happy ending was possible. Why do you seem to enjoy writing about characters in such moments of crisis? Has there been any of your stories that have proved the most challenging to get your characters out of trouble?

Lorraine Heath: I love the challenge of writing a story that
makes me push the edges of my creativity. And where I can, I try not to take the
easiest path. If I have a heroine who likes two men, it’s easier if one of them
is a jerk. But if they are both decent guys then the fun part is figuring out
what it is about one of them that makes him perfect for her. I find all stories
difficult to write, especially the ending, because I’ve brought the reader along
on the journey and I don’t want her—or him—to be disappointed.

I found WAKING UP WITH THE DUKE challenging because I knew the husband would have to die but I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to get my hero and heroine past that. Originally I envisioned them not getting together until after the baby was born…but it didn’t feel right as I got to know the characters better. A lot of times what I originally think is the way I’ll resolve the conflict or end the story changes once I get to know the characters better.

Since many of your books have such an intensity about them, is there any
topic that you’d deem too dark to write about, or some circumstance, or aspect of a hero or heroine that you’d say was off limits?

Lorraine Heath: I can’t think of anything offhand. I’d probably consider something really dark as an intriguing challenge to make the topic/subject palatable to a reader. I can have darkness in my characters’ backgrounds without making them or the story necessarily dark.

In THE VISCOUNT AND THE VIXEN, the hero’s father the Marquess of Marsden is a man haunted by his love for his first wife. I love the “Miss Havisham” touches like the stopped clocks and closed rooms. Such a character is fascinating to read about, but what makes such a character interesting to write about?

Lorraine Heath: It’s interesting to find ways to portray the character so he’s intriguing to readers. From the beginning with Marsden, I wanted to show him in a way that left some doubt as to whether he was truly insane. Or was his wife haunting the moors? Finding ways to depict him that might leave unanswered questions made it fun to write him.

In March, you’re releasing a prequel e-novella story starring
the Marquess of Marsden featuring his early years and romance with his now late wife. Had you always intended to tell his story in that way? As with any kind of prequel I am obsessed with timelines. Can you say approximately how long Marsden and his wife were together before she died giving birth?

Lorraine Heath: I had not originally planned to write his story
but as I was writing THE VISCOUNT AND THE VIXEN, and Marsden revealed little bits about his wife, I realized I wanted more than those tidbits. I tossed the
idea out to my editor and she was all for it—so I wrote the novella. They were
married for four years, which I realize isn’t very long but they loved a
lifetime during those years.

Since you’ll be coming out with another installment in your Scandalous
Gentlemen of St. James
series in May, what inspired you to take this detour and writes these Hellions of Havisham books?

Lorraine Heath: When I finished writing THE DUKE AND THE LADY IN
, I didn’t really have an idea for any more scandalous gents but the
Hellions were knocking on my office door, letting me know they had stories. Then when I finished writing their stories, Rexton popped in to let me know he was willing to talk. All that is a little tongue-in-cheek, but not too much. As I
mentioned before, the characters usually come to me first and until I see the
hero and heroine, I find it difficult to sit down and start writing a story

A frequent topic of discussion in my online book groups is what we, as
readers, drives us crazy about the genre we love – whether it’s technical
inconsistencies, or issues with a specific type of character. What are some
things about historical romance, or other types of romances that bug you?

Lorraine Heath: I want to understand why the hero and heroine
fell in love. I want to see them falling in love, so I’ll be disappointed if the
author doesn’t show me that aspect of the story. I recently read a book where
the heroine was constantly rude to the hero—when he didn’t deserve the rudeness. So I didn’t understand why he expressed any interest in her, continued to help her when she ran into trouble, or why she went to bed with him. I want to see the characters fall in love; I want to experience it, to know they will have their happily ever after because I’ve “seen” what they mean to each other

I know it might be extremely difficult to choose, but which are your
favorite books that you’ve written? Favorite characters?

Lorraine Heath: Oh, oh, oh…very hard. I really like THE
VISCOUNT AND THE VIXEN, THE DUKE AND THE LADY IN RED, WAKING UP WITH THE DUKE. Some of my favorite characters are Jack Dodger and Olivia, Rafe Easton and Evelyn, Edward Alcott and Julia…I could go on and on. Whatever book I’m writing at the moment has to be my favorite, the characters my favorite—otherwise, why am I telling their story?

I was so happy when you finally wrote a story for William Graves in your
Scoundrels of St. James series. Are there any supporting characters that you wish you would’ve been able to devote a book of their own to, or to expand on that you haven’t yet for whatever reason?

Lorraine Heath: At the moment, I’ve written a story for every character that I have a story for—except for Rawley Cooper from my Leigh Brothers trilogy. I’d like to write his story and I hope to in the near future. It’s a matter of finding time and deciding if what I’d originally planned for his story is what his story should be. My main concern is that readers have waited 20 years for his story and after all that time, they’ve probably imagined their own stories for him. Is it possible to write a story that won’t disappoint?

It’s hard to pick a favorite story in your Scoundrels of St. James series, but I loved the mystery/romance balance in MIDNIGHT PLEASURES WITH A
. Some of the imagery made me think of the classic Alfred Hitchcock film Vertigo. Do you think in the future you might write a book or series with similar specifically Gothic and mystery elements, centered around one character or couple – like Stephanie Laurens’ Casebook of Barnaby Adair series? I enjoyed AN INVITATION TO SEDUCTION for similar reasons.

Lorraine Heath: Thank you. I was thinking of Alfred Hitchcock while writing that story. I knew who the hero would be. The first time I saw the heroine, she was sitting on the train, staring at her reflection in the window. Then her sister spoke, asked her question—and I was like, whoa! How did they get there and where do they go from there? That one had some elements of my not knowing exactly how I was going to get the couple together. But I don’t see myself writing multiple books with the same characters. That said, you will meet James Swindler’s son in the next Scandalous Gents book and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he’s following in his dad’s footsteps. His story is tweaking at the back of my mind, and it may have some mystery to it.

Do you currently have plans to, or think you ever might, write more
historical romances set in the US?

Lorraine Heath: I would like to, but I’m not currently contracted to and I’m still having a lot of fun with my British historicals.

I’ve heard that some authors don’t tend to read books in the same genre
or sub-genre they themselves write in. What are some of your favorite books and authors?

Lorraine Heath: Historicals are my first love when it comes to romance. I’ll read anything by Lisa Kleypas, Sarah MacLean, Loretta Chase, Valerie Bowman, Kelly Bowen. For contemporary I turn to Addison Fox, Julie Anne Long, Sophie Jordan, Linda Howard, and, of course, Nora Roberts.

What are you working on right now? Do you plan on writing a story in
the future about Portia’s friend Sophie?

Lorraine Heath: I’ve thought of writing a novella for Sophie. I don’t know if she has enough story for an entire book—but who knows? I’m currently working on a new series, that’s presently untitled, and will introduce a new set of characters to my readers. I’m not really far enough along yet to say more about it because I’m not really sure where the stories are going to take me. The first book will be out in 2018.

Lorraine Heath: Thank you so much for the intriguing questions and taking the time to ask me about my stories.

About Lorraine Heath

Lorraine Heath

Lorraine Heath always dreamed of being a writer. After graduating from the University of Texas, she wrote training manuals, press releases, articles, and computer code, but something was always missing. In 1990, she read a romance novel and became not only hooked on the genre, but quickly realized what her writing lacked: rebels, scoundrels and rogues. She’s been writing about them ever since, for both adult and young adult readers (as Rachel Hawthorne).

Her work has been recognized with numerous industry awards including RWA’s
RITA®, a HOLT medallion, a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award, and several Texas Gold Awards. Her novels have appeared on bestseller lists, including USA Today, Waldenbooks, and most recently, the New York Times.

London’s greatest lovers |
Scoundrels of St. James
| Lost Lords of Pembrook
| Rogues & Roses | Scandalous Gentlemen of St.
| Hellions of


Kat Gamble | The Wonderful Chaos of Weddings

Marriage. Commitment. Forever. These words go hand in hand when you think about weddings and they conjure up images of white dresses, tuxedos, friends, family, beautiful locations, nit-picked details and, of course, heightened emotions.

And I’m not just talking about the wedding party.

Having been to my fair share of weddings as part of the party and as a guest I
can say that without a doubt that there is all kinds of crazy that happens at
these events. My own wasn’t without it’s hiccups. Our attempt at a low key, drama free celebration turned into anything but. Besides tripping as I walked (or should I say stumbled) down the aisle and bursting into nervous giggles as I tried to say my vows, my new brothers in law who don’t see eye to eye at the best of times couldn’t keep it together and got into an argument at the reception which then turned into a fight which of course ended up involving the food. If that wasn’t enough, our escape from the family drama turned into one of a different kind when we came home to find that our house had been covered with toilet paper and graffiti by an angry and vindictive ex. Not exactly the wedding of anyone’s dreams. So, yeah, when I talk about weddings that stray way off the plotted path, I have a little insight on the subject.

What I love to write about when it comes to nuptials is the complex mix of
emotions everyone has going into a wedding whether or not they are the ones
taking the plunge. There’s just so much of it, good or bad and even sometimes
mixed. How that not be worth some exploring?

To date, I’ve written about two destination weddings from the point of view of
the guests. In FUEL TO THE FIRE, the hero and heroine are exes brought together serendipitously, and quite contentiously, by a wedding. As things get physical and they begin to unravel their past, old emotions come into play. Secrets come out. The things they’ve believed for years change. They, and their relationship, change. The story is complicated and the characters go through so much to get their happy ending.

This time around I’ve written a story that’s much lighter, fun and contained in
one day. In PLAYING DIRTY, Olivia and Rafe are in Brazil on a picturesque beach at a luxurious, sun drenched resort as part of their respective best friends’ wedding party. Obligated to be there, they go along with their friends’ obvious and rather embarrassing attempts to bring the estranged couple back together. All the while, even with all the scheming, Olivia and Rafe enjoy themselves. All the time spent together flirting and the teasing is bound to bring up some old feelings, right? That’s what their friends are hoping!

It was so much fun (and maybe a little cathartic) to write a couple who are
having a good, if strange, time at such a beautiful wedding where everything
goes to plan!

PLAYING DIRTY by Kait Gamble

Playing Dirty


Sometimes the only way to get what you
want is to play a little dirty…

Olivia just wanted to give her best friend the best wedding experience and was fully prepared that her own devastatingly handsome polo-playing ex, Rafael, would be there too. What she didn’t expect was that all their friends would use the occasion to try to push her and Rafael back together.

Rafael just wanted to get through the event with a little dignity, but since his teammates got it into their heads that he and Olivia are meant to be, things have become a little complicated.

Their friends aren’t going to let anything get in the way of bringing Olivia and Rafe together—not even the couple in question.

Romance Contemporary
[Totally Bound Publishing, On Sale: March 21,
2017, e-Book,  ]

About Kait Gamble

Kait Gamble

Read. Escape. Fall in love.

Kait was born and raised in the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest and started writing to entertain herself during the long winters as a child. Insatiably curious with a love of learning new things, she picked up many random
skills including three languages, and two martial arts. After travelling three continents (the other four are on her bucket list), she settled in England with her family where she spends most of her time cultivating her daughter’s love of reading and writing, scribbling ideas on every available scrap of paper and trying out dialogue on her cat.


Shae Ross | Finding the inspiration for BOTTOM OF THE SKY

Here’s the quirky mix of inspiration behind my new release, BOTTOM OF THE SKY:

THE GOLD COAST, by Nelson DeMille

When I finished writing my last book, Rush, I took about a month off to binge
read. A friend of mine recommended this book. It tells the story of Long Island
attorney John Sutter, who lives a posh life with his beautiful and extremely
rich wife, Susan, until a mafia crime boss moves into the mansion next door.
Reading this book made me realize how much fun I could have writing about a
family engaged in organized crime and my brain started plotting.


I wanted my crime family to be involved in something different. This documentary opened my eyes to the dangerous business of fake goods and I started to develop my plot around this theme. We’ve all seen the street vendors selling knock off sunglasses and designer purses, but the world of counterfeiting is much darker and deadlier than think the average person realizes.

The Port of Seattle

One of the many factors that add to the huge personality of Seattle is the
shipping docks at the Port of Seattle. I’ve always wondered “what’s in all those
stacked cargo containers and what happens at nighttime in those shipping yards?” What a perfect setting for intrigue and suspense!

The Skykomish River

The Skykomish River is about an hour North of Seattle. The river offers a
paradise of outdoor fun—fishing, kayaking, hiking, and biking. My alpha hero,
John Rossi, has the street smarts of a city boy who was raised in a rough
Seattle neighborhood, but the heart and physique of a mountain man. The bottom of the Sky River is at first a source of tragedy for John Rossi. But in the end it’s where he finds his salvation.


Bottom of the Sky

Tragedy set his course for revenge. One woman stands
in his way.

The last thing I need is to be saddled with the on-the-run niece of the family I’m about to take down. Gianna Silva wants me to help her find her missing mother.But I’ve got bigger fish to fry–namely, her cousins Stefano and Santos Silva. I’m working on the inside,feeding information to the FBI, and
I’m about to drop the net on their ring of
counterfeiters. To keep Gianna out of my way, I’ve agreed to help her but under one condition: What I say goes. No questions. No push back. I make the rules.

The problem is Gianna Silva doesn’t know the meaning of the word
“rule” and she’s on to me. For two years, I’ve hidden my true identity behind a wall built from stone-cold revenge. I thought it was indestructible–especially against someone with the last name of Silva–the family I’ve vowed
to destroy…

If I could find my missing mom by myself I would, but the only enemies she’s ever had are my dead father and his powerful family. Confronting the Silvas alone is too dangerous. I need an insider who knows how to play their game. John Rossi,with his cool, bad-boy confidence and access to the family is my best hope. I’ve bargained away the last dollar in my savings account in exchange for his help,but I’m beginning to think I made a deal with the devil.

I didn’t expect his rules to include sharing a cabin–and a bedroom with him–northwest of Nowheresville. I don’t trust him, or my attraction to him. But to find my mom, I’ll break everyone of his damn rules, regardless of the consequences…

Romance Contemporary [Author Self-Published, On Sale: March 19, 2017,
e-Book,  ]

About Shae Ross

Shae Ross

Shae Ross was born and raised in Ferndale, Michigan. After graduating high school, Ms. Ross attended Michigan State University and continued her education
at Detroit College of Law. Prior to 2014, she spent the majority of her career practicing corporate law, running a successful business and engaged in entrepreneurial ventures.

After having one too many stressful days at the office, Ms. Ross began to consider pursuing her lifelong dream of writing.

Armed with an English degree, an interest in historical settings and a huge collection of romance novels, Ms. Ross put pen to paper and began converting the characters in her head to ink. She soon found herself happily immersed in a new working world that included heroes and heroines, agents and editors, and a multitude of secondary characters.

Ms. Ross’ debut novel, PRETTY SMART GIRLS – LACE UP released in January of 2015. The second book in the series, PRETTY SMART GIRLS – FEARLESS is set to release in July of 2015. She currently writes in the new adult and contemporary romance genres and lives with her husband and three children in Holt, Michigan.

Pretty Smart Girls