Waiting on Wednesday – What The Bride Didn’t Know by Kelly Hunter

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

I love Kelly Hunter!  What the Bride Didn’t Know will be in stores November 1st (Kindle version)

 

What the Bride Didn’t Know (The West Family)

Shh…it’s a secret! 
Special ops expert Trig Sinclair is a man’s man, and that means he knows the cardinal rule of the bro code—no matter how dynamite Lena West is, as his best friend’s younger sister, she’s strictly off-limits! 
But when a secret mission to Istanbul sees Lena and Trig pretending to be married (and sharing a bed!), he finds himself in a whole new world of sweet torture…. But if Trig thinks playing the honor-bound hero is tough, it’s got nothing on how Lena feels when she discovers what her "groom" is really hiding….

What are you waiting on?

Character Interview with Tash Sinclair From Nikki Logan’s My Boyfriend and Other Enemies

Please welcome Tash Sinclair to the virtual offices today! Tash is the heroine of Manga Maniac Café fave Nikki Logan’s My Boyfriend and Other Enemies.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in five words or less?

[Tash Sinclair] Creative, optimistic, stoic, damaged.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share a typical day in the life of Tash Sinclair?

[Tash Sinclair] I need a proper breakfast to fuel the physicality of my glassblowing so, most days, I have a biggish feed before heading to the studio. I walk or run the couple of kilometres to Fremantle (because it really doesn’t matter how sweaty I am on arrival, I’m only going to get sweatier) and simply pull on overalls and safety gear on top of my running gear. And then I work solidly all morning at the furnaces blowing glass and working on my art pieces. If I’m not the trial or creation phase of a new piece then I might head out somewhere inspiring to draw or design and gather ideas. But most of the time I’ll be in the studio either trialling new features and perfecting them or working on a commission.

End of day I’m pretty filthy so I walk home again (if the weather is truly awful I’ll inflict myself on the public transport system), shower straight up and then spend a few hours doing business admin before heading out or fixing a meal. After that it’s just me, my sofa and my DVD collection.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words come to mind when you think of Aiden?

[Tash Sinclair] Stubborn. Judgmental. Hot.  Though if you tell him that last one I’ll deny it. He doesn’t need the ego boost.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you find most exasperating about him?

[Tash Sinclair] Aiden is very driven by past experience and this closes him off to new ones, sometimes. He’s much slower to forgive and forget than I am. He can also be irritatingly obtuse for such a bright man.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could change one thing you’ve done in your life, what would it be?

[Tash Sinclair] My father. My life, and my mother’s would have been so different without him. And although I totally believe that growing up with him made me stronger I also believe I would have found a different reason to be strong. So maybe way back on that day in my childhood when he first tried to use me against my mother I would have called him on it.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Tash Sinclair] Mum’s old mobile phone. I use it to access her voicemail when I really, really need to hear her voice and I never know when I’m going to get hit by a bout of sorrow and need to take the edge off.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t feuding with potential boyfriends?

[Tash Sinclair] Well, that’s kind of a sport for me–I love a good mental spar. And being a self-employed artist I don’t have a whole lot of time to do things not related to work but when I do I guess it’s exhibitions to see what other artists are doing, trolling through the markets looking for unique, hand-made fashion. Oh and I love the football—AFL all the way!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share your dreams for the future in five words or less.

[Tash Sinclair] Success. Happiness. Peace. Love. Family.  For me it feels like those five things are so intertwined I can’t have one without the other. So it’s a work in progress.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

[Tash Sinclair] No problems, thanks so much for having me. Let me know if you’re ever looking for a nice glass piece for the Manga Maniac Café foyer. Happy to do you a deal on something original and naturey.

About the book:

Tempted by trouble…The moment Tash Sinclair sets eyes on family rival Aiden Moore she knows she’s in trouble. His vendetta against her is bad enough, but the fact that she finds Aiden outrageously attractive makes everything a million times worse!

Tash and Aiden clash immediately, but everyone knows that the line between love and hate is paper-thin. As the fireworks fly will Tash and Aiden spontaneously combust—or will Tash do the unthinkable and fall for her own worst enemy? After all, you should keep your friends close, but maybe your enemies the closest of all…!

Interview with Heidi Rice, Author of Too Close for Comfort


Please welcome USA TODAY bestselling author Heidi Rice to the virtual offices today!  Heidi dropped by to give us the dets on her latest release, Too Close for Comfort.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Heidi Rice] Film buff, romance junkie, wife of good guy, mum of 2 not-always-good sons who lives in London & has weakness for bad boys & eye candy!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Too Close for Comfort?

[Heidi Rice] Too Close for Comfort is my first Harlequin KISS novel and actually a linked book to my last book to go out in Harlequin Presents Extra, One Night, So Pregnant. The hero Zane Montoya is a Mexican-American Private Investigator who owns his own firm in Carmel – and is one of those guys who’s so gorgeous he stops traffic. He’s effortlessly charming, exceptionally hot and totally confident with women – a bit too confident really, because in reality he has used his charm, his looks and his sex appeal as a means of keeping the women he dates at a distance. In other words, his hotness is a barrier to emotional intimacy. That is until he catches Iona MacCabe, a Scottish wildlife artist, trying to break in to the motel room of a con-man he’s been trailing for months. Iona’s presence threatens to blow his case – so he’s determined to ‘contain’ her. What he hasn’t bargained for though is his reaction to her – and how her honesty and bravery and vulnerability not only gets past his guard, but eventually manages to blast all the carefully constructed and maintained barricades he’s built around his heart to smithereens.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Heidi Rice] As I mentioned, Zane had appeared in One Night So Pregnant – as the best friend of my hero in that book, Nate Graystone. At that point all I knew about him was that he was so hot he made women drool – and he was Nate’s illegitimate half-brother – something the two of them had known since childhood but never acknowledged, because Zane had a lot of hidden rage towards their father. Once I’d met Zane I knew I would have to write his story. I wanted to find out where the rage came from, and if he could overcome it – and for that I needed a heroine for him who would be able to push past all his charm and confidence and control and expose the wounded man beneath. Iona was a natural for that, partly because she had a few self-esteem issues of her own – her mother had abandoned her and her dad when she was still a child, and she’d been sexually exploited by a con-man. As a result of her past experiences, she’s immediately wary of Zane’s charm and intimidated by his looks, so he has to work a lot harder than usual to gain her trust. Also she’s got an innocence and honesty about her that Zane, who has always felt the need to protect women after what his father did to his mother, can’t help but be captivated by.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Iona?

[Heidi Rice] Tough, tender, cautious

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Zane had a theme song, what would it be?

[Heidi Rice] Beneath Your Beautiful – a hauntingly beautiful soul ballad by Labrinth featuring Emilie Sandé. When Labrinth sings ‘Take it off now girl, I want to see inside. Would you let me see beneath you’re beautiful, tonight?’ the line perfectly describes what’s happening when Zane first seduces Iona. He knows she’s had her confidence knocked by her previous sexual partner and he wants to show her she’s beautiful to him. But once they’ve slept together, he realises how vulnerable she actually is – and how determined she is to hide that vulnerability – and it scares him, because it makes him feel responsible in a way he never has before, and that makes him vulnerable. There’s also a brilliant answering lyric sung by Emilie Sandé which tears my heart out every time I hear it and perfectly describes Zane – and what Iona eventually discovers about him – and that line is: ‘Behind your Broadway Show, I hear a boy say “please don’t hurt me”’  Sheesh, tearing up here again!!

Here’s the YouTube link: http://youtu.be/bqIxCtEveG8

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Iona is never without.

[Heidi Rice] Her battered and much-loved box of art supplies which she uses to create the beautiful watercolours she paints of flora and fauna.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Zane’s bathroom?

[Heidi Rice] 1) Wet towels on the floor – his mother Maria became a single parent at the age of 16 and worked as a housekeeper, so she trained him very well as a kid to clean up his own mess!

2) An empty shelf where the condoms should be – he doesn’t take chances with birth control and always practices safe sex.

3) Women’s junk – because he’s never had a woman stay over more than one night at a time…. Well, that is until he starts to fall for Iona!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Iona’s greatest regret?

[Heidi Rice] That she couldn’t get her mother to love her enough when she was a little girl…

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Heidi Rice] Movies which feature bad boy heroes and the women who love them – On the Waterfront with Marlon Brando & Eva Marie Saint, East of Eden with James Dean, The Long Hot Summer with a young and in-love Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, and more recently Django Unchained with Jamie Foxx are just a few I could name, but they are legion!

Great romance writers – Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Linda Howard, Queen Nora, Jennie Cruisie, Diana Gabaldon, Victoria Dahl, Robin Gibson are just some of my favourites.

And most of all my Dad, Peter Rice. Born in Ireland, he was a world renowned structural engineer, a brilliantly lateral thinker, and a wonderfully lyrical man who believed whole heartedly in the power of listening to your ideas. He wrote a book about his work just before his death 20 years ago in which he said: “The courage you need is the courage to start.” When it comes to creative influences, I couldn’t have one any greater than him. Cheers, Dad!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Heidi Rice] Quiet, my Mac and the voices of my hero and heroine talking in my head.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Heidi Rice] Well, I’ve read a lot of books recently that I’ve really enjoyed – I’m currently devouring Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series – but my last bona fide sock-knocker-offer would have to be the first Outlander book by Diana Gabaldon. I’ve loved all the other Outlander books too that I’ve read so far, but that first one… Pwoah! It was quite simply mind-blowing. If you want to know exactly what I thought of it you can check out my Goodreads review here:

http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/344084612

But be warned, there is a disgusting amount of gushing involved.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Heidi Rice] SE Hinton’s The Outsiders age twelve… Hmmm, am suddenly beginning to see where the whole bad boy vibe might have come from.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Heidi Rice] I love watching movies, in fact my ‘other’ job is as a film journalist. I also love socialising, going out dancing, eating delicious food usually cooked by my husband (unfortunately for my waistline!), watching good TV shows (am currently watching Breaking Bad series 4) and travelling – especially in the US where I go on a road trip every couple of years with my best mate.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Heidi Rice] My email is Heidi@heidi-rice.com

I’m on Twitter (far too much) @HeidiRomRice

My web addy is www.heidi-rice.com

And I’m also on Facebook (again, far too often) at http://www.facebook.com/heidi.rice.524

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can purchase Too Close for Comfort or any of Heidi’s releases from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below:

About the book:

Up close, and way too personal!Breaking and entering is hardly her style, but Iona MacCabe needs her passport back from her ex’s motel room.

Jaded L.A. private investigator Zane Montoya is staking out a con man’s motel room when this pretty Scottish girl gets seriously in the way. For her own safety, he’ll keep her under his very close protection….

Except independent, willful Iona is not best pleased to be "rescued"—even by someone as sexy as blue-eyed, gorgeous Zane! And when he discovers just how innocent she really is, suddenly their scorching attraction feels even more dangerous….

Extra bonus: included is The Wedding Dress Diaries by Aimee Carson, the prequel to our fab new quartet!

About the author:

USA Today bestselling author Heidi Rice lives in London, England. She is married with two teenage sons (which gives her rather too much of an insight into the male psyche) and also works as a film journalist. She adores writing romance because it involves getting swept up in a world of high emotions, sensual excitement, funny feisty women, sexy tortured men and glamourous locations where laundry doesn’t exist. Then she has to turn off her computer and do chores (usually involving laundry!)

Interview with Lucy King, Author of One More Sleepless Night

Please welcome Lucy King to the virtual offices! Lucy is here to chat about her latest, One More Sleepless Night!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Lucy King] Voracious reader, erratic writer, ace procrastinator. Mother of two, sun-loving Hispanophile. Avid list-maker yet perplexingly inefficient.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about One More Sleepless Night?

[Lucy King] One More Sleepless Night is the story of Nicky Sinclair, a photojournalist who, following a nasty incident in the Middle East, is suffering from PTSD and burnout. On the recommendation of a friend she heads to Spain for some lovely peaceful R&R, only to discover that she has to share her retreat with Rafael Montero, a man who, being after solitude, peace and quiet and a break from women, does not feel inclined to babysit a house guest. Throw in a nightmare or two, scorching summer heat and a ferocious one-sided attraction, and things become far from restful!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Lucy King] By the time the story’s finished, it’s generally undergone so many twists and turns that its origins fade into the mists of time and thousands of deleted words. That’s certainly the case for this story, although what I can remember is that I’d always wanted to set a story in south west Spain, where I live, and write about a dark brooding Spaniard (which had nothing to do with the desire to endlessly Google Antonio Banderas, absolutely nothing at all). A heroine with PTSD was just someone I think I thought sounded interesting.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Nicky?

[Lucy King] Ex-thrill-seeker. Burnt-out basket-case.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Rafael had a theme song, what would it be?

[Lucy King] That’s a tricky one as I’m hopeless with songs and who sang them. I did rack my brains, but couldn’t come up with anything. However if there’s a song out there about being a loner, believing you’re emotionally unreliable, and having a tendency to stick your head in the sand, then that would be it.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Nicky is never without.

[Lucy King] Her hi-spec digital camera.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Rafael’s bathroom?

[Lucy King] Moisturiser. Hair gel. Waxing strips.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Nicky’s greatest regret?

[Lucy King] As she’s always lived life to the max Nicky doesn’t believe in regrets – or at least she didn’t before she became such a mess. Now, though, she regrets pretty much everything.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Lucy King] The voices in my head…

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Lucy King] A computer and a clear head. Coffee’s a bonus, as is my iPod which I find helps to block out the distracting sounds of every day life. In order to write like the wind though, all I need is a looming deadline.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Lucy King] Recently I’ve read Rules of Civility by Amor Towles and The Hopeless Life of Charlie Summers by Paul Torday and loved both, but the one that springs to mind and kept me up til dawn is Before I Go to Sleep by SJ Watson. Original and spine-tingling.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Lucy King] I spent most of my childhood with my head in a book, devouring anything I could get my hands on. Enid Blyton was a favourite (The Enchanted Wood, Malory Towers, the Famous Five…) so it was probably one by her.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Lucy King] In my dreams I lie on the sofa reading and catching up on TV shows, or go out with friends and dance til dawn. In reality, however, toddlers don’t think much of people lying on the sofa relaxing and they don’t have much sympathy for the tiredness that staying up all night results in, so I generally find myself entertaining the children, cooking for the children and clearing up after the children, while studiously ignoring the piles of paperwork building up.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Lucy King] I’m such a remiss blogger that I’ve kind of given up on that. However, I do Tweet from time to time (@lucy_king) and can be found wittering away on Facebook (www.facebook.com/lucykingbooks). Then there’s my website www.lucykingbooks.com and lastly, email info@lucykingbooks.com. I love hearing from readers, so please do get in touch.

Thank you for having me here!

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Thank you!

Purchase links:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/one-more-sleepless-night-lucy-king/1113824118?ean=9781460312377

About the book:

She’s going to take her life back…one sizzling night at a time!It used to be Nicky Sinclair’s nightmares that kept her up all night; those 3:00 a.m. silences were her worst enemy. So now she’s following doctor’s orders—rest, relaxation and plenty of therapeutic Spanish sunshine.

Only she hasn’t counted on sharing her tranquil retreat with her best friend’s brother, Rafael, whose presence is anything but peaceful! With his beguiling eyes and smoldering smile, he quickly becomes a very welcome distraction. After all, if she’s struggling to sleep, why not find something else to do with her time…?

About the author:

Lucy King spent her formative years lost in the world of romance novels when she really ought to have been paying attention to her teachers. Up against sparkling heroines, gorgeous heroes and the magic of falling in love, trigonometry and ablative absolutes didn’t stand a chance.

But as she couldn’t live in a dream world forever, she eventually acquired a degree in languages and an eclectic collection of jobs. A stroll to the River Thames one Saturday morning led her to her very own hero. The minute she laid eyes on the hunky rower getting out of a boat, clad only in Lycra and carrying a three metre oar as if it was a toothpick, she knew she’d met the man she was going to marry. Luckily the rower thought the same.

She’ll always be grateful to whatever it was that made her stop dithering and actually sit down to type Chapter One, because dreaming up her own sparkling heroines and gorgeous heroes is pretty much her idea of the perfect job.

Originally a Londoner, Lucy now lives in Spain, where she spends much of the time reading, failing to finish cryptic crosswords and trying to convince herself that lying on the beach really is the best way to work.

Interview with Joss Wood, Author of It Was Only A Kiss

Please give a warm welcome to today’s special guest, Joss Wood!  She’s here to chat about her recent Harlequin KISS release It Was Only A Kiss.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Joss Wood] A relaxed mom and wife and a loyal friend. Involved in an illicit and time consuming love affair with my Kindle. One of my greatest passions is for not cooking.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about It Was Only A Kiss?

[Joss Wood] For driven businessman Luke Savage success is the only option. So when gorgeous marketing intern Jess Sherwood waltzes into his office and casually informs him that his newly inherited vineyard has an image problem he’s outraged! She’s naïve, overly ambitious, a know-it-all… And all Luke can do to stop her talking is kiss her senseless.

Eight years later the vineyard needs a boost—and Luke needs a hip new marketing strategy to save it. Jess may drive him crazy but she’s the right woman for the job. Their only problem is how to keep their minds on work and off that kiss!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Joss Wood] In my book Wild about the Man, the hero Nick has a sister called Jess who does promotions and advertising for his six-star game lodge. In the book Nick describes Jess as the gutsiest of all his siblings and I decided right then that I wanted to write her story.

The winelands area outside Cape Town is stunningly beautiful and it was settled by French framers in the 1700’s. They were expert winemakers and I wanted a hero who had inherited one of these amazing properties because, well, if I can’t have a wine farm in real life then I can pretend! But it would be too easy to have my hero happily making wine…I wanted his inheritance to come with a whole bunch of problems….

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Jess?

[Joss Wood] Competitive, compelling, creative.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Luke had a theme song, what would it be?

[Joss Wood] In the beginning of the book it would be Red, Red Wine by UB40. If only he could sell more of the stuff… After he falls in love with Jess, his song would be Thank You by Keith Urban. Every time I listen to it, it sends chills up and down my spine. For me it’s the ultimate, non-cheesy love song.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Jess is never without.

[Joss Wood] Her mobile phone. And a plan…

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Luke’s bathroom?

[Joss Wood] Despite his talent for making money? which his vineyard St Sylve sucks up like an industrial Hoover? Luke is a pretty simple type of a guy; a farmer at heart. You wouldn’t find any left over stuff from previous girlfriends, fancy colognes, cotton wool (he really needed some to patch Jess up after she fell and cut open her leg) and bath salts. He’s a shower only type of guy.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Luke’s greatest regret?

[Joss Wood] Luke had a rough time growing up with his controlling, abusive father and he wishes that he didn’t take everything he said about his mother? who supposedly left them when he was three? at face value.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Joss Wood] People. What they say, what they do, why they say and do things. I’m also crazy about music and frequently find that lyrics will inspire a scene or clarify a motivation. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Joss Wood] My laptop, coffee and ear phones.

Somebody asked me the other day if I only wrote when I felt inspired and I nearly rolled on the floor laughing! I have a day job and I am a Mom of two very busy pre-teens and I have to write whenever I find a spare moment. So I find myself writing in odd places; at my son’s sports matches, in airport lounges, in cars, in café’s, in doctors waiting rooms.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Joss Wood] Early today I saw one of my friends reading Shantaram by Gregrory David Roberts, a book I read a couple of years ago and was absolutely entranced and enthralled by. Not only because it was a joy to read but because of the story behind the writing of Shantaram. Roberts started the writing the book during his incarceration in an Australian prison and the manuscript was destroyed by prison wardens, twice, while Roberts was writing it. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

On the romance side, Shannon Stacey’s Kowalaski series is so much fun. I adore her voice and every book makes me smile.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Joss Wood] I can’t, please don’t ask me too! Books have always been part of my life, my father read me AA Milne and Peter Pan and told me stories as a very, very young child. Those books led to Enid Blyton and Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys which led me onto adult books and whoosh!… the genie was let out of the lamp.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Joss Wood] Think about plots and characters? ;-) My hobbies include coaching my daughter’s field hockey team, meeting my friends for a before-work cappuccino or an after-work cup of tea and reading, reading, reading.

Travel is hugely important to both my husband and I (and now my kids) and I’m happiest with a rucksack on my back and an airplane ticket in my hand and have been so fortunate to indulge my passion for travel by visiting many countries within Southern Africa, Europe and America.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Joss Wood] I love meeting new people and readers can connect with me via Facebook: at Joss Wood9. If anyone would like to know how I see my characters and what settings inspired my books they can take a look on Pin Interest at http://pinterest.com/josswoodbooks/

On Twitter @josswoodbooks or at my blog: http://josswoodbooks.wordpress.com /

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Thank you!

You can order Kiss Was Only A Kiss from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below:

About the book:

The most distracting boss of all…For driven businessman Luke Savage success is the only option. So when gorgeous marketing intern Jess Sherwood waltzes into his office and casually informs him that his newly inherited vineyard has an image problem he’s outraged! She’s naive, overly ambitious, a know-it-all… And all Luke can do to stop her talking is kiss her senseless.

Eight years later the vineyard needs a boost—and Luke needs a hip new marketing strategy to save it. Jess may drive him crazy but she’s the right woman for the job. Their only problem is how to keep their minds on work and off that kiss!

About the author:

Joss Wood wrote her first book at the age of eight and has never really stopped. Her passion for putting black letters on a white screen is only matched by her love of books and travelling (especially to the wild places of Southern Africa) and, possibly, by her hatred of ironing and making school lunches.

Happily, and chaotically, surrounded by family, friends and books, she lives in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa with her husband, young children and their many pets.

Interview with Ally Blake, Author of The Secret Wedding Dress

Please welcome the talented Ally Blake to the virtual offices today!  Ally’s latest release is The Secret Wedding Dress, which is published by Harlequin under their new KISS line. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Ally Blake] Redhead, footy fan, mum to three beings of pure delight, putty in the face of Italians & firemen, believer in love, luck & fairies.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for The Secret Wedding Dress?

[Ally Blake] The Secret Wedding Dress was born of a single image that slammed into my sub-conscious one day – a woman standing in a lift, holding a wedding dress that she owned, when into the lift walked the most gorgeous man she’d ever seen ;). I just had to know; who was she, why did she have that dress, and what kind of man would go after a woman he knows owns a wedding dress?!?!?!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Paige?

[Ally Blake] Ambitious, loyal, emotionally-stunted. (The hyphen makes it three words ;))

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Gabe had a theme song, what would it be?

[Ally Blake] I listened to Jace Everett constantly as I wrote this book – he sings the theme song from TV show True Blood. In fact I heard the voice of Joe Manganiello – Alcide from that same show – in my head every time Gabe hit the page. Not a bad way to make a living!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Paige is never without.

[Ally Blake] An escape route ;).

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Gabe’s bedroom?

[Ally Blake] Since Gabe travels, a lot and to some truly remote places, I’m not sure he’d would much notice what was or wasn’t in his bedroom. The three things Gabe’s bedrooms MUST have are his own bed. And his pillow -flattened to the point he probably didn’t even need the thing. And his mattress with the man-shaped dint right smack bang in the middle that fit his spread-eagled body to perfection. Unfortunately for Gabe, for much of the book they are lost in transit, so he has to make do with sleeping elsewhere…amongst other things ;). Thankfully he’s a man with a good imagination!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Paige’s greatest regret?

[Ally Blake] I’m not sure Paige has any regrets at the beginning of the book. Her life is pretty much exactly how she always wanted it to be – with a great job and a gorgeous apartment, she’s set up so that she doesn’t need anything from anybody. It’s only with the looming marriage of her best friend, and worse, the new man in her life – big, bad beautiful Gabe Hamilton – making a mockery of her desire never to fall in love that she sees what her life could be, if only she found the guts to let it.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Ally Blake] I envy John Le Carre’s clever turns of phrase. I think Dick Francis writes the most wonderful, laid-back, gorgeous heroes. I love Rachel Gibson’s va va voom. I adore Kristan Higgins’ lightness of touch, Sophie Kinsella’s laugh out loud humour and LaVyrle Spencer’s warmth. If my books find a splash of any of the above, I’m a happy writer.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Ally Blake] Coffee, computer, white noise – I do my best work in noisy cafes!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Ally Blake] The past months I’ve devoured Rachel Gibson’s entire backlists and adored every book to absolute bits! Tangled Up in You and True Confessions were particular favourites. Fantastic stories with feisty heroines and men to make you melt!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Ally Blake] I’ve been a reader as long as I can remember, but I believe I owe my absolute soul-deep adoration to my Grade 7 teacher who chose John Christopher’s Tripod Trilogy for the end of year book report. My report for the first book ended up covering the entire trilogy and led me to read John Christopher’s Sword of the Spirits books which I still class as absolute favorites today. So much so my son’s middle name is named after the hero!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Ally Blake] With three little kiddlywinks, my non-writing time is pretty much owned by Play-Doh, colouring in, and playing hide-and-seek. In rare kid-free moments I love yoga, cloud-watching, eating M&Ms, snuggling on the couch with the hubby knocking back half hour TV shows, barracking for the Collingwood Magpies AFL team and researching future heroes on Pinterest ;).

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Ally Blake] For the latest book release news, the best bet is to pop over to my website – www.allyblake.com. For behind the scenes stuff, head on over to my Pinterest boards. Or come say "hi" at Facebook, Twitter, or ally@allyblake.com.

Thanks so much for having me, and happy reading!

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

You can purchase The Secret Wedding Dress  or any of Ally’s backlist from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below.

About the book:

A wedding dress…but no bride!  Paige Danforth isn’t interested in setting herself up for an unhappy-ever-after-thanks to her father’s betrayal, the closest she’ll ever get to walking down the aisle is as a bridesmaid. But one bridal sale later, Paige is left clutching her own champagne chiffon wedding dress! Clearly she needs to end her self-imposed dating drought….

Enter ruggedly sexy neighbor Gabe Hamilton. He wants Paige in his bed and nothing more-no promises made, no promises broken. But will this big, bad adventurer stick around when he discovers not only skeletons-but the wedding dress-in her closet?

Review: The One That Got Away by Kelly Hunter

 

 

Title:  The One that Got Away

Author: Kelly Hunter

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

The man who’s always left her wanting more!

Good job? Check. Newly purchased apartment? Tick. Evie’s life is on a pretty even keel at the moment. The only thing missing? A man with an edge to keep things interesting.

Enter Logan Black. Tortured, distant and sexy, Logan has edge written all over him. He’s also the man who tipped Evie over the edge a few years back – she gave him everything, but he didn’t know when to stop taking.

Leaving Logan was the hardest thing Evie’s ever done. Until now. Because Logan’s back, the chemistry is as blistering as ever and this time he’s not going anywhere…


Review:

I have read three titles from the Harlequin Kiss line now, and each has been vastly different in tone and texture.  My previous forays into the Kiss line were a bit more light hearted and more in line with what I thought this line would be like.  The One That Got Away caught me by surprise.  This is a darker read, with flawed but likable characters.  It delves into the fears of a man whose childhood was marred by abuse, and examines his deepest fear – that he will be as violent, controlling, and selfish as his father.  This fear has shaped his adult life, twisting his relationships and fueling his desperation to keep everyone at arm’s length.  Mix in a hopeless obsession that has festered for over ten years, and you have a story that makes you uneasy and steals your breath away in equal measure.

Evie has worked long and hard to make a successful business of MEP, the architectural firm she runs with her friend Max.  When a huge opportunity looms for them, they both fret about raising enough working capital.  Then Max drops a bombshell.  He asks Evie to marry him so he can access his multimillion dollar trust fund.  Shocked, she agrees, and they travel to Max’s hometown to meet his family, and give Evie another shock.  Max’s older brother, Logan, is the man she spent a blissful week with 10 years ago, a week that ended in disaster.  Both Evie and Logan have been haunted by their brief time together, but for different reasons.  Evie’s heart was broken when she didn’t hear from him again, while Logan ran as fast and as far away from Evie and his obsession for her as he could.  Evie represented everything that terrified him, and he didn’t want to face that monster in the closet of his mind. 

Now, older and ten years wiser, Evie wants to put that week from her past into perspective.  Logan refuses to discuss it.  With the support of Max and his mother, Evie slowly begins to understand the demons that stalk Logan.  She confronts him, time and again, trying to make him understand that they are both different people than they were ten years ago.  I admit that their relationship made me uncomfortable at several points,.  Logan’s fear of being like his father has made him try to repress his inner most desires, and when they batter at him, they terrify him.   Evie and Logan’s relationship is dark and intense, and at times, unhealthy.  I began to wonder if I would be convinced that they could ever have a HEA.  Fortunately, I was, and I became a bigger fan of Kelly Hunter’s because of it.

My one quibble would be the lack of depth regarding Evie’s background, and how her dysfunctional childhood affected her.  We are given a brief sketch of her parents and their inability to commit, but there is no clear picture given.

Grade: A

Review copy provided by publisher

Character Interview: Zander Rush from Nikki Logan’s How To Get Over Your Ex

Please welcome Zander Rush, hot-shot producer for EROS radio station.  He’s here to chat about a recent promotion that is currently the talk of the town.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Zander Rush] Complicated, professional, focussed.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share a typical day in the life of Zander Rush?

[Zander Rush] Typically, I’d be up early for a run. One hour minimum. Then home for shower and coffee and into the Jag. Stop for drive-through coffee on the way to work. Much better than my own (I have the top-of-the-range machine but I’ve never read the manual). Then it’s pretty much meetings and paper shuffling from 8am until 6pm. No coffee there at all, the machine’s rubbish. Either lunch with clients or one of the local restaurants will deliver to my desk. End of day my assistant nudges me out the door and I grab something on the way home. Then another couple of hours of work, a bit of time on my training schedule and bed.

Rinse, repeat.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words come to mind when you think of Georgia?

[Zander Rush] Shambolic, fearless, real

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the first thing that you noticed about her?

[Zander Rush] Her voice, husky and anxious piping out through the whole studio. But I hadn’t seen her then. Once I met her I became fixated by her manners, even though she was falling apart. She was so unflinchingly polite. Classic Brit.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Have you ever had a promotion backfire like Georgia’s Valentine’s proposal?

[Zander Rush] One man’s backfire is another man’s boon. The network were ecstatic at the exposure it got and I was able to pull it back on track pretty quickly. But no, that’s probably the biggest ‘oh crap’ moment of my life…

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was the primary reason you offered to foot the bill for the Year of Georgia?

[Zander Rush] It was her money the moment she signed the proposal contract, I just found a way of her earning it that wasn’t truly horrible for her. That two minutes in the lift with her, the look on her face… I knew the money would be the last thing she’d be thinking of but it was also my biggest tool to set things to rights.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could change one thing you’ve done in your life, what would it be?

[Zander Rush] Answering an ad for EROS looking for a production coordinator. That was the moment my life went off track. And then it just kept veering…

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Zander Rush] My door key? Heh.

*cough*

Okay, serious then… uh… my smartphone. There isn’t a brain on this planet big enough to keep all my obligations in it.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

[Zander Rush] I train. I love to run. The longer and the more peaceful the better. Just me, my heartbeat and the thump of my feet on the track.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share your dreams for the future in five words or less.

[Zander Rush] Meaning. Freedom. Family. Garden. Georgia.  They’re all kind of sub-sets of Georgia, really…

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

[Zander Rush] You’re welcome. Invoice is in the mail. Now I have a radio station to run….

To learn more about Georgia, Zander, and the Valentine’s Day proposal gone wrong, read How To Get Over Your Ex by Nikki Logan. You can order a copy from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below.

About the book:

Being rejected is one thing. Being rejected live on radio takes it to a whole new level!

After her on-air proposal is turned down by her commitment-phobe boyfriend, Georgia Stone must learn to survive singledom. Unfortunately, thanks to a clause in her contract, she has to do it under the watchful gaze of brooding radio producer Zander Rush.

And so begins the Year of Georgia! Lurching from salsa classes to spy school, Georgia discovers a taste for adventure. Her biggest thrill so far? Flirting with danger—aka the enigmatic Zander. But admitting she’s ready for more than just a fling…? Definitely Georgia’s scariest challenge yet!

Don’t miss the second book in this duet: The Guy To Be Seen With by Fiona Harper