Thursday, March 20, 2014

Q&A With Author Olivia Miles: Recipe for Romance

I'm so thrilled to be chatting with my good friend, Olivia Miles today about her new book release, Recipe for Romance. I loved everything about this book-and can't wait to share the insider scoop on this story and Olivia's upcoming books...

First loves are hard to forget…but blend one very special couple with a slice of blueberry à la mode and anything can happen in Olivia Miles's delicious reunion story, Recipe for Romance!

When Scott Collins walks into the Sweetie Pie Bakery on opening day, Emily is convinced she is seeing a ghost! It has been twelve years since he left town without a word—twelve years since he shattered her teenage heart. What has brought him back to Maple Woods? And why now?

Time has only improved Emily's beauty, Scott muses. He would give anything to take away her pained expression, to be able to hold her in his arms again. But the family secret that drove him away still stands between them. And telling her the truth could ruin more than just their second chance at a happy ending….

Available at: Amazon  B&N

Can you tell us a little about Recipe for Romance?

Emily Porter is thrilled to be putting her pie-making skills to use at the town's new bakery: Sweetie Pie. Working with food has always been her passion and now that her family responsibilities are finally behind her, she can start to think about pursuing a path outside of Maple Woods…that is, until her high school sweetheart Scott Collins strolls back into town and makes her think twice. When Scott left twelve years ago, he took with him a secret that could devastate Emily. Will he explain his reasons for vanishing, and will Emily be able to forgive him?

So, back to Maple Woods! I know I was thrilled when I learned that Recipe for Romance was set in the same town as your Christmas debut, ‘Twas the Week Before Christmas. Can you tell readers whether or not they’ll get a glimpse of Max and Holly?

Max and Holly do make cameo appearances, as well as everyone’s favorite busybody, Evelyn Adler. I’m happy to be introducing some new characters as well.

When you began the first Maple Woods book, did you have Emily and Scott’s story in mind, or did it evolve as you wrote ‘Twas the Week Before Christmas?

It didn’t really evolve until I wrote the last scene in ‘Twas the Week Before Christmas. I knew then that the town of Maple Woods would evolve and grow, and the first place to start was with the pie shop. From there, I thought of threads I could build on from the first book, specifically the reconstruction of the town library, which was a primary plot point in the first book, and Recipe for Romance began to take shape. I actually had to go back into ‘Twas the Week Before Christmas and add Emily’s character, since neither she nor Scott were central to the first book, though the storyline they continue is directly linked.

Can you share what your hardest scene was to write?

The ending was the hardest and also the most rewarding. I had an epilogue in place, but at the line edit stage, my editor and I decided that it really wasn’t the right tone. I had a very short amount of time to rewrite it, and I wanted to do the story and the characters justice. I’m particularly proud of the final scene, despite the crunch it was written under, and I think I achieved what I set out to do.

What scene did you have the most fun writing?

I just loved writing the scenes with Emily and her sister, Julia. Julia is a bit dramatic and she speaks her mind, and she has a way of really forcing Emily to be honest with herself. Julia is one of my favorite characters ever, and she brought the perfect balance to this book.

I fell in love with Maple Woods. Can you tell us what inspired the setting?

I grew up in Connecticut, where Maple Woods is set, and I think the fictional setting embodies a combination of all my favorite, quaint, quintessential New England towns. I don’t ever get back, and by writing these books, it’s a way for me to reconnect with my childhood.

Last year was a very exciting year for you, with your Briar Creek series being sold to Grand Central Publishing. How does writing single-title differ from writing category romance?

I think the biggest difference for me is pacing. My first single-title book, Mistletoe on Main Street, is about 100,000 words, whereas my Special Edition books are around 60,000 words. With the longer books, I have to be careful not to rush the story but also keep it moving, and I’ve also adjusted my point-of-view shifts. Fortunately, there is more room in the single-title books to develop secondary storylines and characters, which I have really enjoyed doing.

Care to share a little insight into what you’re working on right now?

Right now I’m wrapping up my second book in the Briar Creek series, which will be called A Match Made on Main Street. This book will release next April. For those that enjoyed Recipe for Romance, this book will also play on a culinary backdrop. Ironically, as a result of writing these books, I have less time to spend in the kitchen, but I have certainly never had a bigger appetite…:)
You can find Olivia at the following places online:

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Q&A with Author Victoria James: The Rancher's Second Chance

I am so happy to be chatting again with my dear friend Victoria James on the release of her heartwarming and at times hilarious contemporary romance, THE RANCHER'S SECOND CHANCE.

Widowed rancher Cole Forrester is all about running his family's ranch and guarding his heart. The last thing he's looking for is love, but when his little sister can't make it home to handle some of her wedding details, he's forced to entertain the event planner, Melanie Simms. 

Melanie is everything he's not even remotely interested in: she's high-society, complicated, and high maintenance. But when he's stranded with her at his remote cabin in the Colorado mountains, he realizes he's seriously underestimated her. She's hiding something about her past from him, but despite everything, he finds himself falling for the last woman he ever expected, and the first woman to make him want to give his heart and risk everything...  

AMAZON | B&N |KOBO | iTunes

Congrats on your newest release, The Rancher's Second Chance! Can you tell us a little about the book?
It’s about second chances and trust. Cole Forrester a strong man with a very tender side. He’s a widower and he’s closed himself off to finding love again. In comes Melanie Simms, good friend to his little sister. Melanie is a woman who has it all together on the outside, but she’s running from a past that continues to haunt her. The last thing Melanie wants is to be married-especially to a man of power and authority. But Cole is a man that has a softer side that allows her walls to come down and let him in. When their future is threatened Melanie hopes that he chooses her and the love they've found...

I love the rustic setting of this book. Was there a real location that served as inspiration?
It was set in Colorado, so I did some online research. I also researched working cattle ranches in the area. It’s a beautiful area, so the description came easily.

Cole is one sexy hero, and he's also the first cowboy you've created. In trying something new, where there unforeseen challenges?
The biggest thing was confidence. I have read soooooo many romances with cowboys (I consider that part of my research ;-) but when I actually sat down to start this story, I struggled. I didn’t know if I could actually ‘write’ a cowboy. They are a tad intimidating ;-). My confidence grew the more I got to know Cole and his character just evolved naturally after that.

Melanie had such a sad childhood and she's been holding out for the right man. Why is Cole "the one" for her?
I think Cole has everything that Melanie would need from a man: he’s trustworthy, protective, tender, loyal. He has such a soft side and Melanie knows she can trust him. Cole also passed the ‘hero-test’ that Melanie and her sister devised-and I’m not going to reveal anything else about the test!

I must ask... Can you ride a horse?
Does sitting on a horse posing for a picture when I was six years old count? No, I can’t ride a horse! But it’s on my bucket list! Hmm…maybe we can meet up one day at a ranch and take riding lessons!

Do you have a particular favorite scene or character in this story?
Well, I love Melanie and Cole…but the secondary characters really grew on me. Mrs. H and Gage turned out to be hysterical characters that I’d never really planned. They took on a life of their own. In fact, my editor liked Gage so much that she asked me if I’d write his book. Which of course, I will! Gage’s story is tentatively scheduled for January 2015! I’m looking forward to revisiting The Tall Pines Ranch again…

Can you share what you are working on now and what readers can look forward to seeing from you next?
Right now I’m working on a story that’s a little different for me. It’s due in April and scheduled for release in November 2014 with Indulgence. This summer, the last book in the Red River series is due out and I’m so excited to finally be able to share Evan’s story with readers. 

Read an excerpt from THE RANCHER'S SECOND CHANCE:

“You look hotter than I expected.”

            Her eyes widened, and she looked over at him. Their horses were standing close together and she could almost touch his thigh. His compliments always seemed to come out of left field, and they were impossible not to physically react to. It was hard concentrating on the horse and the cowboy at the same time.

            “I guess this is a good time for me to admit that this whole cowboy thing you have going on is a very good look.”

            His deep, rich laugh made her smile. “You do realize I’m not trying to make a fashion statement, right? This is my livelihood.”

            “Of course, I get that you’re not dressing up in a Halloween costume,” she said. “But it does work well.” She tilted her head to the side and tried to hide her smile. He was fun to tease and flirt with and she enjoyed making him laugh. There always seemed to be a hint of surprise on his face when he let go and laughed.


            She tried not to smile as she raised her eyebrows, signaling for him to continue.

            “I find you irresistible. You are insanely gorgeous and since our night together at the cabin I have thought of you all day, every day. That night ended way too soon. All I want to do is taste you, feel your body against mine. And if you have any doubt…” He paused, his brown eyes holding hers with their intensity. He took her hand in his warm one and placed it over his heart. He held it there and she squeezed her eyes shut as she felt the rapid beating of his strong heart. “If you have any doubt, know that this is what happens the second you walk into a room.”

You can learn more about Victoria and her books on Facebook, her website,, or follow her on Twitter @vicjames101.  

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Q&A with Author Natalie Charles: The Burden of Desire

I've been looking forward to this interview since I first read this manuscript more than a year ago, and it is an honor to be chatting once again with my oldest friend and critique partner, Natalie Charles, on her captivating and highly entertaining new release, THE BURDEN OF DESIRE.

Former lovers become partners in Natalie Charles's new novel of the perfect crime…

On the eve of trial, prosecutor Sally Dawson has all the evidence she needs to convict a man of killing his wife—until the "victim" reappears. Now, alone and pregnant, to save her career she must trust the very man who broke her heart—her sworn enemy, Ben McNamara.

The case confounds Ben, a former marine JAG, but not the attraction budding between him and Sally. Their mutual desire never died. Can Ben prove to her that he's a changed man? He may never get the chance, because the closer Sally gets to the surprising truth, the closer she gets to a desperate killer….

AMAZON  | Barnes & Noble

Congrats on your new release, THE BURDEN OF DESIRE. Can you tell us a little about the book? 

Prosecutor Sally Dawson is having the worst day of her life. Not only is she stuck working with her ex, Ben McNamara, but the murder case she was working on has just blown up in her face. To save the job she loves, she needs to swallow her pride and accept help from the man who broke her heart. Sally is certain of three things: she works best alone, she's done with men, and she despises the arrogant Ben…so how is it that working with him calls all three of those convictions into question?
Where did the inspiration for this book come from? 
I've been a little obsessed with forensics for years, and I once watched something about a real-life case in which a man was successfully tried for murder when no one could find the victim's body. My immediate thought was, What if the fail-proof forensic science was all wrong? From there, I developed the suspense part of the book. 
As for the romance…after my daughter was born, I joined a group to socialize with other new moms and met a single woman who'd conceived her baby through intrauterine insemination. Of course I listened with rapt attention as she explained the process of choosing a father for her child, and then she kind of shrugged and said, "I figured I wasn't getting any younger, and it was now or never." It was such a bold, brave statement, and I knew at that moment that I had to write this book.
This is your second novel. In what ways was the writing experience different than with the first? 
I found the experience of writing the second book extremely difficult. Maybe that's because I wrote my first book after winning a competition, but I had this anxiety that I was a one-hit wonder. It reached a point where I struggled with every single word, imagining the manuscript collecting dust in a drawer. I resisted writing, and then when I neared the end, I resisted finishing. If my editor, Rachel, hadn't prodded me for another manuscript, I'm not sure how long I would have taken. Now that it's finished, I love the book, but I was experiencing second book syndrome every step of the way.
Now that you have your debut under your belt, do you feel like a "real" writer? 

In my mind, real writers lounge by the pool and breezily work on their manuscripts. My process is more like pounding coffee and staying up too late just to get another 500 words in. Real writers are much more glamorous in my mind than I could ever hope to be.

Is there a particular character or scene that you most connect with in this story?
I do love Sally. I'm not nearly as dramatic as she is (maybe some would disagree…) but I relate to her struggle to assert herself and be taken seriously in a tough profession.
You're a lawyer by day, and your procedural knowledge shines through in your books. Can you tell us how your professional training has changed the way you approach your creative work? 

Law school teaches you about the power of words. Lawyers analyze commas and obsess over meaning and intent, and I'm in a job where we get downright pedantic about language. Words matter. I call on my professional training to understand how lawyers might approach a case or a problem, but I think that most of my training appears behind the scenes, where I edit my work like crazy.

THE BURDEN OF DESIRE has some page-turning plot twists. When you sit down to brainstorm a new book, which comes first, the suspense or the romance? 

They kind of evolve together, to be honest. Some days, the romance is easier to write and I focus on that, and other days the suspense comes easier. I enjoy shifting between the two plots and playing one off the other. As for plot twists, I've always started off knowing whodunit. Getting my characters to figure it out is a completely different matter. I'm never quite sure how that will happen.

Tell us, why is your hero the perfect man for your heroine? 

Ben is Sally's worst nightmare. He is the person who out-performed her in law school, broke her heart, and now threatens to displace her in her workplace. Ben also sees right through Sally's armor to her essence, and this, more than anything, terrifies her. It's what Ben does with that power that makes him perfect for Sally. I hate to give specifics because I don't want to spoil the book, but let's just say that Ben spends the entire book surprising Sally.

What are you working on now and what can readers look forward to reading by you next?

My next book for Harlequin Romantic Suspense, When No One is Watching, will be out in September. Aside from that, I'm currently working on something a little different – one of those projects that has been haunting me for years, so I need to get it out of my system. I promise I'll make an announcement as soon as I am able to share more details!

You can find out more about Natalie's books on her website,