WITH THIS FLING...
New year, new series. January sees the launch in the UK of RIVA, a brand new look for romance fiction with a line up of great authors of the "Modern Heat" and "Romance" and as you'd expect from them the result is...
"Sparky, sassy stories of life and love ... from first flicker to burning flame. Delightfully tempting, these books are must haves for passionistas everywhere."
My debut book for the series, "Tempted By Trouble" - the one formally known as "Scoop!" - won't be published until June, but in the next couple of weeks I'll be introducing you to the four launch authors and giving them a chance to tell you about their books. And for you to win a copy of each of their books for yourself.
First up is Kelly Hunter, whose book WITH THIS FLING I'm reading at the moment and I'm suffering author envy over her heroine, Charlotte and as for Grey, well, you're going to have the read the book yourself to check out his appeal. Here's the back blurb...
"With this fling… Successful archaeologist Charlotte Greenstone has no time for men, so invents a convenient one – who bears a highly inconvenient resemblance to sexy stranger Greyson Tyler! To protect her mortifying white lie, Charlotte begs Grey to act as her temporary fiancé… I thee bed? One glimpse of Charlotte’s killer curves, and Grey can’t resist making his own outrageous proposition – he’ll pretend to be her fiancé…if they can enjoy all the benefits of being a couple! Smoking hot Grey is definitely fling material, but Charlotte knows that’s all it ever can be… Can’t it?"
And here's Kelly herself, on the subject of inspiration.
The spear made me do it. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Inspiration for writing With This Fling... started with a ceremonial spear from Papua New Guinea and a burning desire to write a back-from-the-dead hero. Not a tortured back-from-the-dead hero, mind. A confident, hungry, sexy adventurous one - as per Riva hero guidelines.
As for the spear, it lived in the farm shed - a relic from a long ago trip my husband had made up PNG's Sepik river. The spear (and the dogs) went everywhere with me for days. The dogs favoured the tennis ball and the neighbours probably favoured a straightjacket but I had found my muse and the beginnings of an idea.
What if my erstwhile heroine had invented a fake fiance and then killed him off when he was no longer needed?
What if he - or someone very like him - then turned up in her neighbourhood and everyone thought he was her back-from-the-dead fiance? Nothing tortured about that. Plenty of room for a light touch - especially if our girl's fictional fiance had been a paragon of manly perfection and our fake back-from-the-dead hero clearly... wasn't.
If you're still reading this - which probably means you don't mind a bit of batty on the side - here's a taste of the kind of conversation you can expect if you tell a basketful of lies about a fake dead fiance. Charlotte is our reality challenged heroine. Gil is her dead fictional fiance. Millie is a friend from work. Derek is Millie's friend.
'The crispy pork does not sound good,’ said Millie. ‘Have the beef. Or the duck. No mistaking duck for anything but duck.’ Millie’s face disappeared behind her menu. ‘Remember what I told you about the long pig incident,’ she muttered to Derek as quietly as she could, which wasn’t nearly quietly enough.
Derek slid Charlotte a lightning glance and promptly disappeared behind his menu too. ‘Where’s the duck?’ he said.
‘Halfway down the specials list,’ murmured Millie. ‘Have it braised.’
‘Why not barbecued?’ Derek whispered back. ‘You’re just assuming he was barbecued. They could have braised him. They could have boiled him.’
‘You’re right,’ muttered Millie. ‘Order the vegetable combo.’
At which point Charlotte reached across the table and pulled Millie’s menu down past eye level. ‘Psst.’
‘What?’ Millie eyed her warily.
‘Millie, let the poor man eat pork. I don’t care if he wants it crucified, I promise I won’t see it as a metaphor for him eating Gil.’
Derek’s menu dipped slowly. Derek’s eyes appeared, followed by a nose, very nice cheekbones, and a wide wry smile.
‘I knew she was saner than you,’ Derek told Millie and barely winced when Millie’s menu clipped his shoulder. They were very broad shoulders. Millie might just have to keep this one.
‘So what was he like?’ asked Derek. ‘Your fiancé.’
‘He’s hard to define, but if I had to sum him up I’d probably go with useful,’ said Charlotte. Nothing but the truth.
‘Useful as in “Honey could you fix the hot water system?”’ asked Millie.
‘I’m sure he could have fixed the hot water system,’ said Charlotte. ‘Had it needed fixing.’
‘Can’t every one?’ countered Derek.
‘Sadly, no,’ said Charlotte.
‘I daresay Gil was modest too,’ said Millie, glancing pointedly at Derek.
‘What?’ said Derek. ‘I can be modest.’
‘Of course you can,’ murmured Charlotte, eyeing Derek’s frayed shirt collar and shaggy hair speculatively. ‘Gil was a snappy dresser too, in a rustic, ready for anything kind of way.’
‘Window dressing,’ said Derek. ‘It’s the body beneath the clothes that counts and don’t either of you try and tell me different.’
‘Wouldn’t dream of it,’ said Charlotte. ‘But just for your information, that was superb too.’
‘Well, it would be,’ said Millie. ‘What with all that paddling up the river. I bet the man had fabulous upper body definition.’
‘I was a lumberjack once,’ said Derek.
‘Of course you were,’ murmured Millie consolingly.
A youthful waitress stepped up to their table, smile at the ready as she asked them if they were ready to order.
‘I’ll have the pork,’ said Derek. ‘But could I have it beaten first?’
‘Chef runs it through a tenderiser,’ said the waitress. ‘You know – one of those old fashioned washing machine wringer things with the spikes?’
‘Perfect,’ said Derek.
‘Unlike some things around here,’ murmured Millie.
‘No man is perfect,’ said Derek. ‘Especially in the eyes of women. A determined woman can turn even a man’s good qualities into major flaws of character given time and motive, and half the time the motive is optional. It’s just something you do.’
‘There’s got to be an ex wife in your past somewhere,’ murmured Charlotte. ‘C’mon, Derek. Spill.’
‘Maybe an overcritical mother,’ said Millie.
‘I’m an orphan,’ said Derek. ‘Never knew my parents. Never got adopted. Ugliest baby in the world, according to Sister Ramona.’
‘That explains a lot,’ murmured Millie. ‘Though it doesn’t explain how you got to be quite so handsome now. In a craggy, hard-living kind of way.’
‘Thank you,’ said Derek blandly.
They finished ordering their meals. They started in on their drinks.
‘Here’s to the wonderful Aurora Herschoval,’ said Charlotte. ‘The best godmother an orphan could have.’
‘Hear hear,’ said Derek. ‘Good for you. And here’s to Useful Gil. May he be blessed with more brains in his next life.’
‘Derek!’ said Millie, aghast. ‘We can’t toast to that.’
‘Why not?’ said Derek, aiming for an expression of craggy, hard-lived innocence. ‘Sweetie, he may have been handy, handsome, modest, and built like Apollo but let’s be honest here… the man got eaten.’
To read the whole of the first chapter, you can click on the "browse this book" link below. And for a chance to win a copy, why don't you tell us about something weird in your own garden shed or attic that you think might inspire a romance writer with Kelly's vivid imagination! (Don't forget to come back and check if you've won - or subscribe to my blog by email - the link is at the top of the sidebar- so you won't miss Jessica Hart, Nicola Marsh and Kimberley Lang, who'll be my guests in the next couple of weeks.)
It is, of course, also available as an eBook. And US readers will find it published in the Presents Extra series.
And as a final treat, you'll find one of Kelly's RIVA titles free to download here at the Mills and Boon website.