Interview with Melissa McClone, Author of His Larkville Cinderella

 

Please welcome Melissa McClone to the virtual offices today!  Melissa is the author of many romances, and  I invited her to stop by and chat about her entry in the Larkville Legacy series. 

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

[Melissa McClone]  Former engineer turned Harlequin Romance writer, loves reading & writing, Star Wars fangirl, mom to three kids, too many cats and a dog.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about His Larkville Cinderella?

[Melissa McClone] His Larkville Cinderella is Book #5 in Harlequin Romance’s The Larkville Legacy continuity series. The eight books center around two families—one from Texas, the other from New York—who discover a secret that draws them together.

My story features Megan, the youngest daughter of the Calhoun family from Larkville, Texas. She’s an inspiring costume designer who recently graduated college and is doing an internship in Hollywood. She’s excited to have finally escaped the confines of Larkville and her family, neither of which she feels understand her at all. But she misses her long time best friend, who she thinks is the man of her dreams. That is, until she meets movie star Adam Noble.

Here’s the back cover blurb:

The small-town girl with big dreams has finally reached Hollywood! For years, costume designer Megan Calhoun has longed to be seen for who she is, not who she isn’t. But under the gaze of A-list heartthrob Adam Noble, this Cinderella begins to step out of the shadows….

Adam hides from his painful past behind every role he plays. But something in Megan is threatening to smash apart this carefully constructed facade. Will he finally take his biggest risk…throw away the script and open his heart

[Manga Maniac Cafe] His Larkville Cinderella is part of the Larkville Legacy series. Can you share how you and the other authors worked together write these books?

[Melissa McClone] We (the authors) were provided with a "Bible" by the editors that described the overall story for the continuity, the basics of each of the eight books (characters, setting and storyline) and what threads or information from the other stories needed to be included in what books. We also received a timeline of the stories (including backstory plot points) and a character spreadsheet listing the characters, their descriptions and other info about them from each of the eight books.

We set up a yahoo groups loop so we could discuss details of Larkville (places and people not listed in the Bible that we all could use to provide continuity between the books) and sort out what other things needed to be in what books in addition to what we were given by the editors.

As questions came up as we were writing our manuscripts, we would go to the loop to make sure what we were thinking of doing worked. Working out all these little things is my favorite part of doing a continuity. It’s fun to get to know other authors and bounce ideas off each other.

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

[Melissa McClone] Hardworking, creative, misunderstood

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Adam would never have in his bedroom?

[Melissa McClone]  Me though I’d love it if I could be there. LOL! This is fun question.

I think I’ll have to go with the following:  Any gossip or tabloid magazine because he hates gossip, a cup of decaffeinated coffee because he only drinks the real stuff, and a video recorder because his fans wouldn’t like it if he were caught in a sex tape scandal.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are Adam’s must have accessories for a night on the town?

[Melissa McClone] A limousine, a beautiful date to show off, and a bodyguard to keep the rabid fans away.

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

[Melissa McClone] Christina Perri’s A Thousand Years.  The song really fits Megan.

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

[Melissa McClone] Interesting question. I’ve never thought of this before. Let’s see…

Authors: I’ve always been a big fan of books by Nora Roberts and Debbie Macomber. They were my first auto-buys when I started reading and then later trying to write category romance.

    Photos: I’m very visual so use pictures and images to inspire my characters and settings, but these change with each story. In this case, Chris Hemsworth acted as the perfect muse and kept the creativity flowing! 

    Music: Again, this changes with each manuscript, but every book has a soundtrack with music that I associate to the story. Listening to the songs makes it easy to get into the right frame of mind and just start writing.

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

[Melissa McClone]  My MacBook Pro, my cats sleeping next to me, and a glass of iced tea

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

[Melissa McClone]  Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins is the one that really sticks in my mind. I couldn’t put the book down!  (My kids had been on me to read the entire trilogy for a long time so I finally did.) Lately I’ve been reading a lot more YA than Romance due to my fourteen year old daughter.

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

[Melissa McClone]  I’d say Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsong.  Loved it! Couldn’t wait to read the next Pern book!

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

[Melissa McClone]  Sleep!  Seriously though, I enjoy spending time with my family. Whether it’s hanging out at home doing a puzzle or playing a game or heading outdoors for geo-caching or skiing, the more time we can be doing something together the better. 

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

[Melissa McClone] I have a website at http://www.melissamcclone.com. I’m also on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/MelissaMcCloneBooks and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/melissamcclone

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

You can purchase His Larkville Cinderella from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the widget below.

Here is a list of the entire Larkville Legacy series, in order by release month.

The Cowboy Comes  Home by Patricia Thayer – JULY

Slow Dance with the Sheriff by Nikki Logan – AUGUST

Taming the Brooding Cattleman by Marion Lennox – SEPTEMBER

The Rancher’s Unexpected Family by Myrna Mackenzie – OCTOBER

His Larkville Cinderella by Melissa McClone – NOVEMBER

The Secret that Changed Everything by Lucy Gordon – DECEMBER

The Soldier’s Sweetheart by Soraya Lane – JANUARY

The Billionaire’s Baby SOS by Susan Meier – FEBRUARY

Here are all of the covers -

Lark Ville Legacy

Review: Taming the Brooding Cattleman by Marion Lennox

 

Title: Taming the Brooding Cattleman

Author: Marion Lennox

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Alexandra Patterson swaps city chic for the dusty outback when she arrives at Werrara Stud Ranch. As the new vet, she may be more used to pampered puppies than prized stallions, but Alex is determined to show that she can cut it.…

Brooding rancher Jack Connor is in for a shock—the women in his life have only ever caused him pain and anguish…and Alexandra was supposed to be Alexander. Instead, the person before him is a petite blonde with a pink suitcase and is distractingly, infuriatingly attractive!


Review:

My Larkville Legacy reading journey continues!  This time, we find ourselves in Australia, on a horse farm.  Alex Patterson is a large animal vet, and she wants nothing more than to work at a large horse breeding operation, but the big names in the US will barely give her the time of day because of her lack of experience.  When her father uses his connections to land her a job in the Outback for six months, she is overjoyed.  She’ll be earning some practical experience, so she will have something to put on her resume.  She isn’t even bothered by the knowledge that she will also have to pitch in as a farm hand.  She is hard-working and determined, and she will do whatever is asked of her.  Did I mention that there are horses?

I found the premise a little hard to swallow, but quickly set that aside.  Perhaps Jack could be confused and think that Alex was a guy.  Perhaps Alex’s father, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, could have either misled him or truly been confused about his child’s gender.  Perhaps Jack would be adamantly against hiring a woman, given the primitive conditions.  Jack inherited the horse breeding operation from his grandfather, a harsh man he grew to despise, and he hasn’t been back to the farm in years.  He was too busy trying to take care of his younger sister, who suffered from deep and overwhelming depression.  After her death, he left the big city to get away from any possibility of human entanglement.  At the ranch, he is dismayed to see how run down it has become.  The overseer was stealing from him, the house is in ruins, and entire place needs a ton of TLC.  At least the horses were well cared for, but this is obviously no place for a woman.

When Jack is confronted with Alex for the first time, he rails against her for lying about her gender.  Quick to take the defensive, she argues that she never said she was a man.  When Jack tells her that her father pitched the skills of his “son” Alex is aghast.  Then she’s infuriated.  What difference does it make, whether she’s a woman or a man?  All she wants is the opportunity to prove herself.  While I had a few issues buying into the idea of Alex’s mistaken gender, I did like Alex and how she quickly put Jack in his place.  I loved how she pushed him out of his comfort zone for the entire book.  He’s cold and determined to stay detached from his feelings.  Alex isn’t about to let him do that.  Even if it means overcoming her distaste for the scary outhouse behind the house.  The plumbing in the house needs serious attention, and for someone used to much more luxurious surroundings, the lack of indoor plumbing is almost a deal breaker.  More so than Jack’s unwelcoming attitude.  After recently suffering from a lack of running water when our well went out, I could completely sympathize with Alex.  No flush toilet would be more of a challenge than a rude, dismissive employer for me, too!

Alex quickly proves that she is worth her weight in gold by saving a mare and her foal.  Alex shows Jack that she is a competent vet, and against his better judgment, he agrees that she can stay the six months.  He will even have the plumbing repaired.  Yay!  I thought, the question of her worth was quickly answered.  But then the demons in Jack’s past pop up, challenging him with every encounter with Alex.  She dares him to care for the unhappy boy who lives with his step-mom on Jack’s land.  She dares him to re-establish emotional bonds with the people around him.  Like a skittish colt, he constantly pushes back, unwilling to be hurt again.  I found Alex’s willingness to put her own heart on the line admirable, and I grew impatient with Jack.  For every attempted outreach she made, he stubbornly rejected her.  He’s not nice about it, either, but Alex takes his rejections in stride and never gives up on him.  Bravo!

While certain aspects of the story did not work for me, I found the characters so engaging that I overlooked my skepticism.  I wonder what is next for the Larkville Legacy crew?

Be sure to read my interview with Marion Lennox here.

Grade: B

Review copy purchased from Amazon

Interview with Marion Lennox, Author of Taming the Brooding Cattleman

Marion Lennox is the author of many romances, including Taming the Brooding Cattleman, which I recently read and enjoyed.  It’s part of The Larkville Legacy continuity, published by Harlequin Romance.  Marion recently stopped by the virtual offices for a chat.

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

[Marion Lennox] Tall. A Bookworm. A farm kid transported to a regional city with marriage, but you can’t take the farm out of the girl. Mind, I don’t miss twice daily milking. A beach lover.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Taming the Brooding Cattleman?

[Marion Lennox] This is part of the Larkville Legacy, a multi-authored series of Harlequin Romances. We’re given two extended families discovering past secrets that link their futures. Taming the Brooding Cattleman takes my cute heroine straight from her New York family and dumps her onto an Outback Aussie farm, where the only thing Jack Connor cares about is his horses. From the moment he spots her pink suitcase, sparks fly.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share how you and the other authors worked together to write these books?

[Marion Lennox] We’re given a `bible’ created by the Harlequin editors which is basically the overarching story of the two families. Then we’re given our time lines and characters, suggestions as to conflict and let loose. It’s a lot of fun as we create our individual romances within the story arc. There’s a lot of give and take, asking other authors to bleed in backstory, offering suggestions as to how our characters might behave in future books. It’s an amazing and fun way to write and make friends at the same time.

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

[Marion Lennox] Feisty, smart and soft-hearted. Is that four?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Jack would never have in his bedroom?

[Marion Lennox] A woman. Anything fluffy. Did I say a woman?

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

[Marion Lennox] Anything you can do, I can do better…

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are Jack’s must have accessories for a night on the town?

[Marion Lennox] My Jack wouldn’t have a night on the town. He’d be hunkered down on his cattle station, with nothing but his beloved horses.

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

[Marion Lennox] The thousands of writers who’ve shown me other worlds since I was a kid.

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

[Marion Lennox] A computer.

A switched off internet connection.

My dog and cat on either foot.

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

[Marion Lennox] Joanna Bourne’s Spymaster Series. The first – Spymaster’s Lady – blew me away and they just keep getting better.

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

[Marion Lennox] Anne of Green Gables. I was a pretty isolated kid in a farming community and Anne picked me up and transported me into the land of dreaming. She taught me that you don’t need to stay confined – just pick up a book.

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

[Marion Lennox] I’m a beach nut. Beach walking, swimming, rock pool wading, hurling sticks for my dog into the surf and then trying to retrieve them myself when she loses interest… Right now it’s whale migration time so see me on the cliff top watching for spouts.

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

[Marion Lennox] Through the contact details on my website at www.marionlennox.com

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can order Taming the Brooding Cattleman from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the widget below. Available in both print and digital

Here is a list of the entire Larkville Legacy series, in order by release month. I am a bit behind, but I intend to read them all.

The Cowboy Comes  Home by Patricia Thayer – JULY

Slow Dance with the Sheriff by Nikki Logan – AUGUST

Taming the Brooding Cattleman by Marion Lennox – SEPTEMBER

The Rancher’s Unexpected Family by Myrna Mackenzie – OCTOBER

His Larkville Cinderella by Melissa McClone – NOVEMBER

The Secret that Changed Everything by Lucy Gordon – DECEMBER

The Soldier’s Sweetheart by Soraya Lane – JANUARY

The Billionaire’s Baby SOS by Susan Meier – FEBRUARY

Here are all of the covers -

Lark Ville Legacy

Review: The Cowboy Comes Home by Patricia Thayer

 

 

Title:  The Cowboy Comes Home

Author: Patricia Thayer

Publisher:  Harlequin

Bk 1 in the Larkville Legacy Series

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Single mom Jess Calhoun had learned the hard way not to trust a man in a Stetson; her young son’s dad was long gone. But that doesn’t stop Jess from noticing good-lookin’, sweet-talkin’ cowboy Johnny Jameson swagger into town. He’s as wild and untamed as the stallions he trains.

The attraction between them is as fiery as a Texan summer and Johnny finds himself questioning whether he could finally put down roots—in Larkville, a place where two very special people have taken hold of his heart.

Review:

When I finished The Cowboy Comes Home, the only thing I could think was “Darn you, Harlequin!!”  Why?  It’s the first book in the Larkville Legacy series, and being anal about reading series, I now want to read the rest of the books.  When I decided to read this title, I was not aware that it is part of a series; instead, I saw the happy family enjoying a trail ride together and I just had to read it.  The hero is a horse trainer (wait, didn’t I just read a HQ Blaze about a horse trainer?!), and the heroine has a shop that sells baked goods (wait! Didn’t that same HQ Blaze feature a heroine who is a cook?).  Despite these similarities, the books are nothing alike.

Jess is a single mom, and she is still grieving the death of her father, a wealthy rancher.  Her brothers and sister are off doing their own thing, so she is temporarily in charge of the Double Bar C, even though she doesn’t want to run the ranch.  She has a business of her own to fret about, and having a young son keeps her on her toes.  When Johnny Jameson swaggers to town, she’s a bit dismayed.  She is instantly attracted to this sexy cowboy, and her son, Brady, takes a shine to him too.  After having her heartbroken and being left pregnant by her ex boyfriend, she has sworn off of cowboys.  They never stay in one place for long, and she knows that once Johnny finishes training Storm, the horse her father had so many hopes pinned on, he’ll be gone too.  Johnny’s motto is that all he needs is his truck, trailer, and his horse, and he’s a happy guy.  He moves from one training job to the next, never staying in one place for longer than he has to.  Once he’s finished training, he’s gone, and he doesn’t see that ever changing.

I found Johnny an interesting character because he is carrying around so much baggage.  It’s a good thing he has that horse trailer, because he needs the extra room to drag his unhappy past around with him.  He never knew his father, and his efforts to track him down yielded nothing.  The older man wanted nothing to do with his son, and every lead Johnny followed to find him ended in a dead end.  His mother wandered from town to town, never staying in one place for long.  When she settled down with a man who beat her, Johnny had had enough.  He packed his meager belongings and hit the road at 14 and never returned.  The kindness of an old horse trainer gave him the skills he needed to feed himself, and he has made a name for himself because of his gift with horses.

Jess is reluctant to give in to her attraction for Johnny, and with a young child to care for, her reluctance made perfect sense.  Brady misses his grandfather terribly, and with her brothers gone, there are no other men in Brady’s life.  When he sets aside his fear of horses and asks Johnny to teach him how to ride, Jess realizes how much her son needs a stable man in his life, which makes her even more wary of her feelings for Johnny.  He is a sexy, charming guy, though, and soon both of them are in over their heads, and while Jess has accepted that he won’t be there for long, the reality of him packing up and high-tailing it out of town tears both her and Brady into pieces.   Dumb cowboy!  You promised to help the kid with his mutton bustin’!  So much for the cowboy code!

I enjoyed this very quick read and found the resolution very satisfying.  The last chapter was perfect, in fact, and had me convinced that Jess, Johnny, and Brady will all have a HEA.  Now, let me get back to the darn you, Harlequin bit.  The epilogue came out of nowhere for me, because I don’t really pay attention to plot descriptions, and I don’t find that Harlequin communicates effectively when they introduce most of their series.  They just put a little graphic on the cover, which I don’t always see because I read all of their titles digitally.  The covers are all pretty generic, and I don’t pay much attention to them (unless there is a horse on the cover, which guarantees that I will add it to my wish list) .  So when I read the epilogue, and it ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, I was compelled to immediately purchase Slow Dance with the Sheriff, even though I won’t be able to read it for a while.  So, I guess Harlequin’s devious plan to make me purchase more of their books worked – AGAIN! I especially enjoy their series that span several months and have several authors contributing titles to the continuity.  I am thinking of tackling The Harts of the Rodeo, too, which is being released under the Harlequin American Romance line.  Have you read any multi-author series?  Would you recommend any?

Grade:  B-

Review copy provided by publisher

Here is a list of the entire Larkville Legacy series, in order by release month.  I plan to read at least through October, because I am familiar with the authors.   

The Cowboy Comes  Home by Patricia Thayer – JULY

Slow Dance with the Sheriff by Nikki Logan – AUGUST

Taming the Brooding Cattleman by Marion Lennox – SEPTEMBER

The Rancher’s Unexpected Family by Myrna Mackenzie – OCTOBER

His Larkville Cinderella by Melissa McClone – NOVEMBER

The Secret that Changed Everything by Lucy Gordon – DECEMBER

The Soldier’s Sweetheart by Soraya Lane – JANUARY

The Billionaire’s Baby SOS by Susan Meier – FEBRUARY

Here are all of the covers -

Lark Ville Legacy

Subscribe in a reader