Wednesday, October 08, 2008


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...


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.

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.

Here's Veronica...

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.


Liz Fielding said...

I do hope no one is hoping for sweet, bright and sunny in my latest HR, Ally!

There is a difference in the series. The ModEx's I've read still have that terrific emotional tug, but they are obviously speaking to and off a generation who are too young to have confronted many of the traumas that are faced by the characters in Romance.

The Romance series covers such a wide range of moods and storylines that it's much tougher to pin the books down in a simple strap line.

I love them both.

Ellen said...

Gosh darnit don't make me choose between the two --- I love them both depending on the mood I'm in. Ok, let's face it I'll read just about anything except horror and erotic. I just love to read and now that I am retired after teaching teenagers for 35 years I can indulge myself.

Snookie said...

Like Ellen, I'll read any line as long as the story is good.

I do tend to go for the tender romance although i do like some of the HPs. I prefer the Desire line over the presents. I don't mind the heat if the storyline is good.

I usually avoid presents mostly because I don't like a lot of the chauvinism (and downright bullying) that I find in some of the Presents line. I will buy certain authors that I like automatically though, no matter what line they write, even erotica (although with erotica, I usually skim over some of the erotic scenes)!

I like your voice Ally, I can see where it might be a little difficult to write both lines at teh same time, but if you're really into you characters heads, I can see how you do it. Both of your excerpts sound great and make me want to read both of those books!

Mostly I'm limited in my reading by available book buying funds! So I go for the authors I know and like no matter what line they write for (you're one of them). Then I go to the tender romance because you don't really get the chauvinism/bullying type behavior that you sometimes do in the Heat lines, then I go to historicals that sometimes have the same chauvinism/bullying problem, but something about the time period makes it more pallatable! I guess I'm a hypocrite!

Anyway the short answer to your question is that I like the tender romance better as a line, but it really depends on the author!

Jane said...

I like both. Sometimes I'm in the mood for a sweet read and sometimes I want to read a hot story that leaves nothing to the imagination.

Michele L. said...

Hi Ally,

Well, my all time favorite books are romantic comedies with a HEA! I love books that make me laugh, smile and leave me feeling happy. Thus warm romances are my top favorites!

Although, I do like mysteries, hot and sweaty romances, paranormal romance, chic lit, historical romance, fantasies, and young adult books. I loved the Harry Potter books! So, I like a multitude of genres but my favorite is warm romances.

Congrats on your new books and thanks for including the excerpts! I always enjoy reading them!

Have a fantastic Wednesday!
Michele L.

Ally Blake said...

Hey Liz! Thanks for having me!

And you are SOOO right about the Romance. I'm not sure that any other line has the scope and range of light and shadow. But no matter what you can count on the emotionaly tug to draw you through. I, of course, could be biased ;).

My end of the range is sunny and sweet with a wallop of emotion. I hope.

And I cannot wait to read your "Wedded in a Whirlwind". I ADORED meeting Miranda in your last book, so shadowed, so secretive, but so vulnerable.

Happy 50th Book!!!


Ally Blake said...

Hi Ellen.

Well now you're absolutely allowed to love both ;). I do!

And boy am I jealous on the amount of time you now get to read. With an eleven month old crawling about my feet I don't get time to do much beyond being a mum. Which, I have to admit, is pretty fabulous!

Keep reading for me!


Ally Blake said...

Awww Snookie, so glad you enjoyed my excerpts. Both books were great fun to write.

Veronica and Mitch in "HIRED: THE BOSS'S BRIDE" are absolute favourites. I'd like to be her in my next life.

And Ava and Caleb in "A NIGHT WITH THE SOCIETY PLAYBOY" had such history it was hard keeping them apart. All that brimming tension is so much fun.

And buying for the author not the line is just what we authors love to hear. Keep up the good work!!!


Ally Blake said...

Jane, how fabulously succinct. And so spot on.

Differently toned books fit in with different reading moods. My mini TBR pile which has made it to the top of my bedside table has a Natasha Oakley Presents, an old Liz Fielding Romance ;), and a Cormac McCarthy which keeps getting shuffled down the list por thing.

But I often read 2-3 books at once to match my mood.


Ally Blake said...

Howdy Michele L.

What a fab, diverse range of tastes there. Ditto!

But I'm with you that nothing can beat a warm fuzzy romance with a HEA.


Avi J said...

Hard question. I actually like both hot and tender romances. There are days that l feel like a tender romance will suit my mood, then there are days that a really passionate read are to my liking. My first tender romance was liz fielding The bridemaid reward. Liz really did a great job, l will never ever part with that book.

Anonymous said...

l love romance novels with a softer tone. The HEA factor is really demonstrated to the max in these books. I love your romance books and your heat books too, but the romance ones take the cake.


Avi J said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Hot reads are my favourite books, the upbeat, page turning scenes followed by the HEA, just makes my day.


Dina said...

A tender romance is my top pick. I really like these books because they have emotions packed into them that really touch my heart.

Anonymous said...

l will pick up a hot read anyday. l find that the being in my mid twenties l can really relate to the issues written. The passion is a bonus.


Anonymous said...

Both type of books appeal to me. ln romances, the setting is sweet and tender and a after work read. The hot reads are more for weekends to indulge in and just lose myself.


Anonymous said...

l like sweet romances. The way issues are dealt with between the two characters are just heart warming


Anonymous said...

I totally love passionate books. Alpha males, my favourite kind, are best expressed in these books. Taking charge and then there are the strong heroine to just set him in order.


Gina said...

Sweet romance reads are my favourite. They capture the essence of a unique relationship and adds excitement and emotional depth into the mix.

Anonymous said...

A hot read is my kind of book. Ally your magnate book is divine. Any chance he is real (lol) That book made me wish l could meet someone like that in a restaurant.


Angela said...

I like the red hot ones. They make my heart race (all the exercise I need :) , and take me out of my ordinary day into a world of sizzling excitement!

Anonymous said...

I absolutly love hot reads. lt really captures my attention and brings a story to life. l tend to find l like the warm reads from authors who write for hot lines, like you, Nicola Marsh, and Lucy Gordon.l love liz books and the tension between characters.


Anonymous said...

A warm read is my choice. l love the way it will tug at my heart. The stories are always uplifting.


Monique Wood said...

Hi Ally,

I love both types of romance novels - warm and hot!

The sweeter it is, the more it seems to focus on the emotional side of the the relationship, which I like. When it's spicy it focuses more on the sexual chemistry between the characters, which is a lot of fun to read!

As long as there's humour and a great pace to the story, I'm there!

:-) Monique Wood

Anonymous said...

Hi Ally

l love both of then. They are exciting and delightful.

Anonymous said...

I like reading all kinds of romance stories but lean toward the warm and fuzzy ones. Occassionally I read a really hot romance but it all depends on how the story goes.
I've read so many love stories, I really don't need to read alot of description about the sex-I have a vivid imagination so I want to use it.

Anonymous said...

Warm romances are my kind of books. I feel that I can relate to the issues the stories are based on. Someone here mentioned liz's book the Bridemaid reward, I always struggled with my weight and this book was so on target in how it was based on weight issues, and accepting yourself regardless of what others may say. I learned alot from it. Thanks you liz for a wonderful book.


Mau J said...

I actually like the hot reads. I find that it covers a lot of questions concerning intimacy between couples, without having to ask embrassing questions to family members. My first hot read was you book Ally, Steamy Surrender. And being a Virgin Bride it helped with alot of questions. Now I just love it because they are great reads.

Anonymous said...

Hot reads are my favourite books. They set in such beautiful locations it is like virtual travel from the comfort of your room. The passion between the characters are just breath taking


Carol said...

Both warm and hot read appeal to me. I just can't choose. They both draw me in and make me feel as if I am the heroine, I just love them.


Meg said...

I love warm reads. They are emotionally stimulating, and are a great way for me to relax after a hard day at work.

Dena said...

Hi Aly, Good to see you here. I like them both depending on my mood. Sweet is always nice sometimes too.

robynl said...

I love the 'warm'ones, the ones with happiness and hope and a HEA. I love the warm comfy feeling you get; feeling like the characters sure could be your friends in real life.

CrystalGB said...

I like both. It depends on the mood I am in. Some days I want to read a hot and spicy novel and others I want a tamer story. :)

Anonymous said...

I prefer warm reads. They are such emotional engaging reads that really just touch your heart. l love the HEA about these books as well.


Ally Blake said...

Wow! A girl has a couple of days off the internet and comes back to this.

Waving to all you lovelies were have been sweet enough to leave a response.

You know what I find really exciting? The range of answers, lovers of heat, lovers of warmth, and the reasons why are so diverse. I just love that reading tastes are so varied as it means wonderful new writers will always find a place on book store shelves.


BethRe said...

I love secret baby stories I don't know why I just do. I read all kinds of romances I like a variety. I read paranormal and sweet and erotic you name it if the story is good I enjoy it

Michelle Douglas said...

Love the excerpts, Ally. That's another two must-have books for my tbr pile.

I love reading across the lines - but which is my fave? Hard to say, but most of my all-time favourite romances come from the sweet line, so I guess it wins the race by a nose (for me at least).


Ally Blake said...

Thanks so much to all you lovelies who came along and said hi. It's so nice to chat to you all.

I hope you enjoyed my excerpts and keep on enjoying reading roamnce novels for a long time to come.

A big congrats to Veronica for winning my contest!!!


Anonymous said...

Yea, thanks Ally, l sent the info.