First, a huge thank you to Jessica Hart for her blog last week. And to those of you who emailed her in droves in the hope of winning a copy of LAST MINUTE PROPOSAL.
Generously, Jessica is sending a copy of the book and a tote bag to everyone who took part so well done all of you!
Next, I'm directing you to Romance Junkies Halloween competition -- loads of prizes to be won. Dive in and have some fun with recipes, spookie stuff and everything you'd expect of the season.
Now it's time to welcome as my guest this week the fabulous Ally Blake who has not just one, but two books to give away.
Ally, who is not just a wonderful writer, but a web sign designer par excellence as well and a busy mother, is having a stellar year and I know you're going to enjoy the excerpts she's posted.
Jump in and then respond to Ally's question with a comment on the blog. Enquiring minds want to know...
LIVING WITH A SPLIT PERSONALITY
September, October and November sees the release of three books of mine in a row in North America. Phew! I feel exhausted just thinking about it! Especially when they are coming out in two very different lines.
THE MAGNATE’S INDECENT PROPOSAL finished it’s worldwide jaunt last month as a Harlequin Presents. Next, (out now in the UK as well!) is a Harlequin Romance, HIRED: THE BOSS’S BRIDE.
And last but not least is my bad boy book, A Night with the Society Playboy, a Modern Heat, out in the UK right now and next a Harlequin Presents.
Are your eyes crossed? Think how crossed mine are writing one kind of book, then another, and back again! Heck even my fingers are feeling a little twisted.
Writing for two different lines could well lead some down the path to having a split personality. Especially someone like me who actually prefers writing two books at the same time.
Head-hopping from one character’s point of view to another is hard enough, how about hopping from one line, one tone, one voice to a very different one? Okay, the very thought is giving me a headache.
So how is it that with all the finger twisting, and head hopping, and voice morphing I find writing for two lines soooo much fun? Here’s why…
I’ve given you two excerpts, both examples of how my heroines Veronica and Ava view their respective heroes, Mitch and Caleb for the first time.
Veronica glanced back over her shoulder. Whatever predicament she had landed herself in, the answer came down to Mitch Hanover; the man who had her future firmly in his long-fingered hands.
Kristin had called him a slave driving stuffed shirt on more than one occasion. Veronica had thus pictured a balding, overfed, pompous, pasty, married guy on daily blood pressure medication. Compared with her last boss, personable, clean-cut, and ultimately indiscreet Geoffrey, that combination of traits had sounded like her salvation.
Salvation, as it turned out, had been offered to her in the form of a man whose dark grey suit, dark tie and crisp pinstriped shirt were pressed to the point of agony. But it was the stuff stuffed inside the shirt that made the bigger impact.
Mitch Hanover was beautiful. Like Ken from Ken and Barbie fame beautiful. The kind of beautiful a young girl with dreams of princes and fairy wings and all that jazz would go weak at the knees for.
A shade over thirty, a bit more over six feet tall, with matinee idol looks, an assemblage of dark preppy hair, sharp jaw, and persuasively curved mouth. Stuck in a room with a young Cary Grant and Paul Newman he would have held his own.
But the things that had hit her first, last and every moment in between were his eyes. He had the kind of deep grey eyes that gave her the feeling it wouldn’t take all that much to make them sparkle.
Unfortunately she hadn’t managed it. Yet. But since he hadn’t turned her on her heels and sent her packing she had time. All for the sake of getting the job, of course. That was why she’d come home. Not to ogle, or allow herself to be consistently ogled by, a colleague. Supremely ogle worthy though he might well be.
Downstairs Kristin began whispering to her boss animatedly, arms flailing, going pink in the face, no doubt talking her up, while Mitch remained cool, aloof, unflappable. It didn’t ease Veronica’s mind any.
In fact watching him standing there surrounded by all that gilded finery, his fine mouth pressed into a straight line, his eyes unreadable, his whole mien making him seem like he took life far too seriously, he made her feel distinctly nervous. Little butterflies came to life in her stomach and she slid a hand beneath her t-shirt and tried her best to silently talk them down.
As though he knew he was being watched Mitch chose that exact moment to glance up at her, his intense grey eyes sending the tummy butterflies into hysterics.
Car payments, car payments, car payments, she repeated inside her head.
She slid her hand from her tummy and casually waved it at a random picture on the wall, some great hulking green monstrosity that looked like it had been painted by a blindfolded monkey. She poked out her bottom lip and nodded, feigning great appreciation.
Mitch’s gaze trailed away, lingered for a moment on the painting, then shifted back to her. From that distance she could have sworn his eyebrows raised a very little, and that his already enticing mouth turned upwards into the lightest of wry smiles, as though he wasn’t of the mind to take the thing home and stick it on his wall either.
But then he blinked and once again became a wall of poised professionalism. Shame, she thought.
And here's Ava...
A pair of hazel eyes snagged Ava’s. Caleb again.
Guests’ heads bobbed between them cutting off her view, but every few seconds that hot hazel gaze sliced through the air, unreadable at that distance, yet aimed directly at her.
She hadn’t needed his earlier warning to take heed where he was concerned. It had taken no more than a second in his company to see that just as she’d changed over the years, the boy she’d known, in all his varied incarnations, was no more.
There was apathy in his overly relaxed stance, arrogance in the angle of his chin, and the glimmer of barely restrained sensuality radiating from those disarming hazel eyes.
And despite the distance, despite the string quartet playing the perfectly respectable Claire de Lune, and despite the two hundred odd elegant party guests chatting up a storm between them, under his watch she began to feel warm and restless all at once.
She ought to have looked away. To have let her eyes slide past his as though she hadn’t even noticed.
But after the month she’d had, having a man who looked like Caleb Gilchrist looking at like she was some kind of exotic dish he’d once tasted and now was deciding if he wanted to go back for seconds was like an elixir. Like a balm to the great gaping wound in her own self-worth she was trying her best to conquer.
She cocked her head in question. A leisurely smile lit his eyes. The heat of it leapt across the marquee and burned her cheeks.
She hadn’t heard from him in ten years. Yet she’d often wondered if he thought of that night fondly or with regret, or if he thought of it at all. Right then her question was answered; her old friend was not reminiscing about pulling her plaits.
Her heart responded, thumping hard and steady against her ribs, making her feel soft and breathless and interesting, not the great big loser with bad judgement in her past and big trouble in her future who’d jumped on the plane in Boston because spending time with her unhinged family had felt like the lesser of two evils compared with the situation awaiting her back at Harvard.
He made her feel like her blood was so much lemonade. Always had. And it was the exact kind of feeling she needed right now.
She licked her suddenly dry lips and Caleb’s smile grew until she could see a pair of pointy incisors. It was the slow easy sure smile of a predator who knew exactly what his prey was thinking. Ava was almost glad somebody did as right then she had no idea.
The hand holding the champagne glass shook ever so slightly. Enough so she sought out a table and placed the half-empty flute out of reach.
Okay so did you pick up the difference? To my mind my Harlequin Romances are sweeter, brighter, sunnier. They remind me of wrapping myself in a dressing gown and wrapping my hands about a hot chocolate on a cool winter’s morning. Or like the scent of summer shooting off Sorrento beach at the beginning of summer. Of possibility, and hope, and vulnerability and beating a path to happiness for happiness’ sake. They are all about warmth.
And my Modern Heat’s which are now coming out in North America as Harlequin Presents are a little darker, moodier, and definitely sexier. To me they are about that moment when you lock eyes with the hottest guy you’ve ever seen across the dance floor of a hot, noisy club. About walking through the city and seeing only a sea of great-looking, super-successful men in suits coming the other way. About fantasy and secret thrills and daring your imagination to go one step further than you ever would in real life. They are all about heat!
So how do I feel about having to split my personality and my writing voice in two? I feel darned lucky!
I have signed copies of both books to giveaway. So for the chance to win ‘em, tell me which kind of romance novels you most love reading - warm ones or hot ones - and why.
THE MAGNATE'S INDECENT PROPOSAL out now! Sexy Sensation Aus/NZ ~ Harlequin Presents, North America Sept 08
HIRED: THE BOSS'S BRIDE, Harlequin Romance, North America & UK Oct 08
And if you want to learn more about Ally and how she writes, you'll find her here, under the SPOTLIGHT.