Character Interview – Toby Dunkirke from The Noble Hearts trilogy

Jun 28, 2016

I’m continuing my series of character interviews today with one of my most beloved characters. Toby Dunkirke is a supporting character in my very first books: The Noble Hearts series (The Loyal Heart, The Faithful Heart, and The Courageous Heart). I stopped writing Medieval Historical Romance years ago, but Toby and his friends have always kept a special place in my heart. Let’s find out why…

 

The Loyal Heart_smallMerry: Hey Toby, it’s great to see you again!

Toby: And do be seen. I really appreciate you bringing me off the shelf, so to speak. It means so much.

Merry: And you mean so much to me. So tell me, what is it like being a major secondary character in other people’s books.

Toby: It’s a bit of a relief, to tell you the truth. I get to be a part of the stories and play a pivotal role, but it keeps me out of the center of attention. I’m not very good at being the center of attention.

Merry: So you’re sort of a loyal side-kick then?

Toby: Loyal and in some cases long-suffering. I tell you, Ethan…I mean, Lord Ethan…can get into all sorts of trouble. He’s a bit full of himself sometimes, my master. But that’s to be expected when someone is born into the position they’re born into only to lose everything.

Merry: But you stuck with Ethan through thick and thin, right? You were faithful through the whole thing.

Toby: Oh, absolutely! I couldn’t be anything but faithful to Ethan. Well, except for… (blushes) No, at heart, I have always been faithful to Ethan. We practically grew up together, you know. Ethan and my sister, Joanna, and I.

Merry: I understand you accompanied Ethan to the Crusades as well. That was awfully courageous of you.

Toby: (scoffs) I don’t consider myself courageous, not at all. I didn’t fight. Not really. My role in the Crusades was more that of squire.

Merry: And after? When you came home?

The Faithful Heart_smallToby: Ah, afterwards, my role was…my role was babysitter, I suppose. Of course, Lady Aubrey was incredibly happy to see Ethan when he returned, but things weren’t the way they used to be. In fact, so much had changed that it’s a wonder we didn’t get into even more trouble.

Merry: Did you enjoy getting into trouble with Ethan?

Toby: Heavens, no! I would have been content to stay at home, eating Joanna’s cooking and maybe tending a small vegetable patch. I never set out to be a hero.

Merry: But you became a hero, right?

Toby: I certainly wouldn’t put it that way. I merely did what I needed to do.

Merry: What do you think about Sir Crispin?

Toby: (frowns) That’s difficult to say. Sir Crispin caused so many problems for Ethan…er, Sir Ethan…right from the beginning. And he was the lackey of Buxton, you know. But I always thought the man could be something more. It was interesting to watch the way he changed along with everything else that was changing.

Merry: How do you feel about playing a central role in one of the most emotional scenes I’ve ever written? One that I still cry over every time I read?

Toby: (blushes) Oh, well, that. I only did what I had to do, that’s all. I’m flattered that you would find it so touching. But by that point I knew what had to be and what could never be, so I did the only thing I could do. I think Joanna would have been proud of me. And Ethan, of course.

Merry: So what do you have to say about the criticism that your story sounds a lot like the Robin Hood legend?

Toby: Well, that was sort of the point, wasn’t it? In a vague way?

The Courageous Heart_smallMerry: It was, actually.

Toby: I mean, there are certain iconic stories that stay with us through the ages. Different people have played with those stories in different ways throughout the centuries. We actually like to see familiar motifs turned into something else. The familiar keeps us grounded and the new elements, the unfamiliar, expand our minds into new territory. What’s not to like about that?

Merry: My thoughts exactly! But let’s let the readers decide for themselves.

 

You can read all about Toby, Sir Ethan, Lady Aubrey, and Sir Crispin in The Noble Hearts trilogy. They should be read in order, beginning with The Loyal Heart. Exclusively available on Amazon and for Kindle Unlimited!

Release Day! – His Remarkable Bride/Elspeth: The Remarkable Bride

Jun 24, 2016

It’s here! The sixth book in The Brides of Paradise Ranch series is here! The spicy version (and it got a little extra spicy this time) is His Remarkable Bride, and the sweet version (still as sweet as sugar candy) is Elspeth: The Remarkable Bride. And here’s how both versions start….

HisRemarkableBride_Elspeth

Haskell, Wyoming – 1876

Everybody in Haskell, Wyoming knew that Athos Strong, the town’s stationmaster, widower, and father of eight children, needed a new bride. Everybody in Haskell had been encouraging him to petition Charlie Garrett, Virginia Piedmont, and Josephine Evans to send for a mail-order bride for him from Hurst Home—a harbor for women who were endangered or had been ill-used—in Nashville, Tennessee. Everybody clucked and shook their heads behind Athos’s back, worrying that his vast brood was getting out of hand without a mother to guide them, and that Athos’s sister, Piper, could only do so much to keep the children in line. But it wasn’t until after church on a breezy day in April that matters finally came to a head.

It was the first post-church, potluck lunch of the season to be held outside. Everything started out innocently enough. The spring air still had a nip in it, but the sun was out, the grass was beginning to turn green and reach for the sky again, and the men were talking baseball.

“The Haskell Hawks might have won the league last year,” Solomon Templesmith, the town’s banker, a black man of distinction, and one of the town’s wealthiest citizens observed, “But with all the babies you lot are having or are due to have, I can’t imagine you’ll have the time for adequate practice.”

“Not to mention the fact that one of our star outfielders up and moved into town,” Mason Montrose, the Hawks’ captain, grumbled.

“I’ll be playing for the Eastside Eagles this year,” Travis confirmed, slapping his brother’s back, then shifting to stand next to Solomon. “Although Wendy is due halfway through the season.”

Travis grinned from ear to ear as he looked out over the sunny churchyard to his wife, Wendy. Sure enough, Wendy’s middle rounded in a good-sized bump. A few months more, and she would bring her and Travis’s first child into the world. She wasn’t the only one. Wendy stood talking with Corva Haskell, wife of Franklin Haskell, son of the town’s founder, cradling her newborn, while Eden Chance was showing off her own brand-new baby. Libby Montrose rounded out the trio of new mothers, though her little girl was a few months older.

Athos Strong grinned along with the rest of the men, but a different kind of emotion rose up through his gut. It was warm and tender, but also hollow and lost. He glanced past the new mothers to his own children. All eight of them were lively and excitable. The younger ones were tearing around the churchyard with their friends—perhaps a little too close to where the adults stood talking or helping themselves to plates of food that had been set out for the potluck. The older ones were in mischievous spirits themselves, by the look of things. Sixteen-year-old Hubert was in a huddle with his buddies, Freddy Chance and Noah Kline, discussing something Noah held, with little Minnie Faraday looking in. Fourteen-year-old twins, Ivy and Heather, were loitering around the church’s front stairs with Muriel Chance, Henrietta Plover, and Penny Albee, most likely giggling about boys. Vernon was off in the tall grass with Petey and Matthew Simms. Which left Lael, twins Geneva and Millicent, and four-year-old Thomas, the youngest of the Strong brood, charging through the after-church gathering like a thunderstorm.

“We don’t have that problem on the Bonneville Bears.” Athos only barely registered Rex Bonneville’s comment as he watched the children playing. “I’ve been strict about letting my men associate with any ladies. Well, other than Bonnie’s girls. A man has to have some female attention.” He smirked at Bonnie Horner herself, who held Rex’s arm with resignation. She gave him a brittle smile in return.

“Your men will play ball again someday,” Solomon went on, speaking to Mason. “Take Athos here, for example. His kids are older. He could play easily. Right, Athos? Athos?”

“Hmm?” Athos snapped his thoughts away from his precious, lively, wild children and focused on the conversation.

Solomon, thumped him on the back. “I was saying that you should join the Eastside Eagles this year. We could use your strong arms to replace Charlie’s, now that he’s retiring.”

“You’re retiring from baseball?” Athos turned to Charlie Garrett, another of the town’s more successful businessman and owner of Hurst Home.

Charlie chuckled. “These old knees have had enough of running bases. It’s time a younger man with muscle replaced me.” He nodded to Athos.

Conscious that he looked a bit silly doing it, Athos glanced down at himself. True, working as the stationmaster, loading and unloading crates and shipments and luggage all day, every day had bulked him up, but perhaps there was a little too much extra bulk around his middle. And while he was at it, his clothes were shabbier than they should have been. The hem of his jacket was starting to fray. Perhaps Piper would have some time to fix— No, Piper barely had time to put up her hair in the mornings, let alone mend his clothes on top of the kids’.

Athos shook his head. “I wish I had time to play baseball, but the train schedule is full and I only have so many hands and hours in the day. I can barely get home for supper every night as it is. I couldn’t ask Piper to give up her few free hours just so I could play baseball now and then.”

“Yes, but do you have any free hours?” Charlie asked, studying Athos and rubbing his chin.

Athos laughed. “No, no I haven’t had free time for, oh, nearly ten years now. After the fourth was born, Natalie and I barely had time to say hello to each other, there was so much to do. And of course it’s four times busier now. I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have Piper. The whole house would come crashing down.”

As if on cue, there was a loud rip, then a crash, and a trio of female screams. The men jerked and twisted, looking for the cause of the disturbance.

Across the yard, one corner of the tent covering the tables of food had come down. Underneath it was a pile of silk and lace, petticoats and tablecloths. And more than a few splattered plates of buttered peas, cherry cordial, and apple pie. The screams had come from the four women who had been knocked over and splashed with bright red and greasy green. They struggled to get up, dresses ruined, gloves stained, and faces smeared with the spoiled part of the feast.

It would have been an alarming curiosity to Athos…if it wasn’t Lael, Geneva, Millicent, and Thomas standing around the disaster with wide eyes and dirty hands.

“Oh, no.” Athos winced and rushed toward the scene, along with the men he’d been talking to, most notably Rex Bonneville. It was his daughters who had ended up as the victims of the accident.

“Papa! Papa!” one, or maybe two of them, screamed. It was hard to tell which young ladies were talking underneath all the frills of skirts and underthings, tablecloths and tent. “Help!”

Several men jumped forward to extract the Bonneville sisters from each other and from the remains of the table. Vivian Bonneville leapt into her father’s arms as soon as she was free, squashing half an apple pie between them. Melinda and Bebe Bonneville were helped to their feet—both in tears—and immediately set about picking remnants of peas and pie crust off of what were undoubtedly expensive dresses. Solomon Templesmith reached down to help the last sister, Honoria, to stand. Honoria had been at the bottom of the pile, and although she’d escaped most of the food, she looked decidedly flattened and unwell, and broke into a coughing fit.

“Are you going to be all right, Miss Honoria?” Solomon asked, his arms still half around her to help with her balance.

Honoria coughed and pressed a hand to her pale face, then nodded.

“Get your hands off my daughter,” Rex snapped.

“Rex,” Bonnie tried to both scold and soothe him.

Rex ignored her, grabbing Honoria’s arm and yanking her away. He caused her to lose her balance and almost stumble into the remaining mess on the grass. Rex didn’t notice. He was too busy snapping at Solomon. “Who do you think you are? Money doesn’t make you any less of a trained monkey.”

Solomon straightened his tailored suit, fixed his dark eyes on Rex, and held himself with more dignity than Athos could ever have mustered. But as soon as he opened his mouth to protest, he was cut off.

“It was terrible, Papa,” Vivian wailed. She shifted her stance to stand in such a way that the most people could hear her as she went on. “Those ragged little mongrels charged at us out of nowhere.” She thrust out her arm and pointed dramatically at Lael, Geneva, Millicent, and Thomas.

Athos gathered his kids into a tight group around him, resting his hands on Neva and Millie’s heads as if that could protect them. “I’m sure they didn’t mean anything by it, did you?”

“No, Papa,” they answered.

“We were being a train,” Lael said.

“A runaway train,” Geneva answered, eyes flashing with excitement. “The brave stationmaster was trying to save us by switching the tracks and preventing certain doom.”

A grin tickled Athos’s lips. Ever since they’d read the phrase ‘certain doom’ in a dime novel after supper the week before, Geneva had been using it in all of her games. “Is that so?”

“Yes, we—”

“Those children are a public menace,” Melinda yelped, cutting off Geneva’s explanation. “They should be locked in the town jail.”

“They should be hung, drawn, and quartered,” Bebe added.

“They should be sent off to darkest Africa,” Melinda went on.

“Yes, and fed nothing but gruel and roasted rats,” Bebe finished.

If they had hoped to frighten the Strong children, they were sorely disappointed. From Lael down to Thomas, they all laughed.

“Roasted rats! Roasted rats!” Little Thomas shouted.

“What’s going on here?” Piper came running to join the scene from the other side of the tent. She pulled up short when she saw the Bonneville sisters covered in food and stained with grass and cherry cordial. “Good heavens above.” Before she could stop herself, she burst into laughter, then slapped a hand over her mouth.

“Vagrants, the lot of you!” Vivian shouted. “No good, pitiful, filthy vagrants.”

“Now see here.” Athos stepped forward, intending to defend his children to the death if he had to.

His attempt was cut short by a cracking boom and a high-pitched whiz several yards beyond the tent. Several ladies screamed. A half-second later, there was a sharp fizzle, then the opposite corner of the church tent caught fire. Another rash of screaming followed as women and children dashed out from under the tent and Dr. Dean Meyers and Aiden Murphy grabbed several glasses of lemonade to throw on the canvas. The fire went out quickly, which shifted everyone’s focus to the cause of the sudden conflagration.

It wasn’t difficult to find the culprits. Hubert stood with a box of matches in one hand and a burnt-out stub in the other. At his feet was a stick—the kind fireworks were attached to in order to assure a straight launch. Freddy and Noah stood several feet back. All three boys wore startled expressions on their pale faces.

“Vagrants!” Vivian called, even louder. “The younger ones tried to murder me and my sisters, and the oldest tried to burn down the—EEK!”

Her tirade came to an abrupt halt as Vernon rushed into the crowd to see what was going on, a grass snake in each hand. It was the Bonneville sisters’ bad luck that he squeezed between Vivian and Melinda to get a good view of the fuss. Only, Vivian’s shriek shocked him just enough for him to simultaneously jump and let go of the snakes. One fell on the ground and slithered under Bebe’s skirts, but the other leapt right for Melinda’s bosom. It just so happened that with her bodice sticky with apple pie, the snake stuck to her for the split-second it took for her to clap a hand to her chest in fright. The snake used that split-second to wriggle against her hand and up through the row of buttons on the front of the dress, disappearing under the fabric.

The shriek that erupted from Melinda was loud enough to wake the dead. “Get it off me, get it off me!” She bolted from the crumpled side of the tent in hysterics, ripping at her bodice.

Two of Bonneville’s ranch hands chased after her and began helping relieve her of her bodice by tearing through it. It was only when the snake plopped to the ground and raced away that Melinda realized two rough men had divested her of part of her clothes. She let out an even more piercing scream and slapped the one closest to her with a resounding smack.

Bebe, meanwhile, had broken into a flat-out run, wailing in misery, “It’s in my petticoats! Help! Help!” as she took herself as far as possible from the spot of grass her snake had landed in.

“This is an outrage,” Rex Bonneville boomed. He advanced on Athos, fist raised.

Athos’s first and only reaction was to throw both arms wide to shield his children. “It was an accident.”

“Vivian is right,” Bonneville went on. “Those children are conniving, evil-minded, wretches.”

“They are not!”

“They’re no better than beggars in the street, and you, sir, are unfit to be a father to them.”

“Rex, calm down,” Bonnie hissed from the side. She was ignored.

All of the grit and energy Athos had saved up to defend his children deflated under Bonneville’s comment. As much as it hurt, the man might have had a point.

“My brother does the best he can,” Piper stepped in to defend him. “He’s a good father and a hard worker.”

“Ha!” Bonneville barked.

His exclamation was underscored by Vivian’s weeping and Melinda’s and Bebe’s continued shrieking as they fled the scene. Honoria—who had been standing by Solomon’s side, watching the scene with wary eyes—hesitated, then rushed after them.

“You’ll regret this,” Vivian shouted, pointing a cherry cordial-stained finger at Athos. “The whole pathetic lot of you will regret this! Tell them, Papa.” She didn’t wait for her father to speak. She lifted her ruined skirts and fled after her sisters.

“You will regret this,” Bonneville vowed in a far more menacing voice. He narrowed his eyes at Athos, taking one last threatening step toward him, then turned and stormed off, head held high.

 

Be sure to pick up your copy of either super spicy His Remarkable Bride or lovely, sweet Elspeth: The Remarkable Bride today!

His Remarkable Bride is coming soon to iBooks, B&N, and Kobo too! Elspeth: The Remarkable Bride is exclusively at Amazon and for Kindle Unlimited.

(Unless otherwise noted, links are for Amazon. B&N and Kobo links coming soon!)

 

 

Character Interview – Dr. Daniel Thorne from the Grace’s Moon series

Jun 21, 2016

I’m continuing with my series of interviews with characters from my novels today. Right now I’m going to bring up a character you may not even know exist from a series that I would give my eye teeth to have more time for. I’d like to introduce you to Dr. Daniel Thorne from the Grace’s Moon series. I’ve only had a chance to publish two books from this series, Saving Grace and Fallen From Grace. Let’s talk to Danny about it…

 

MF_SavingGrace_2_smallMerry: Hi Danny. Thanks for being interviewed today, and I’m sorry that I don’t talk about you more.

Danny: That’s perfectly all right. I understand completely. And honestly, I’d rather stick to the shadows anyhow.

Merry: Ooh! Mysterious! Why do you suppose I don’t talk about you all that much?

Danny: Most likely because my books are not romance novels, and that’s what you’ve become most known for. My stories, Grace’s stories, are Science Fiction. They involve the sabotage of a ship carrying some of Earth’s first colonists to another planet.

Merry: You didn’t have anything to do with that explosion, did you?

Danny: … No.

Merry: Okay, then! What makes the Grace’s Moon books different from most Science Fiction?

Danny: For starters, they’re not really about futuristic technology and spaceships. There are no aliens, no magic powers, nothing too weird. Just a group of people who crash on another, virgin world and have to figure out how to build a society there. It’s actually more like a Historical novel than a Science Fiction novel.

Merry: How do you mean?

Danny: Well, when a couple hundred people find themselves stranded on a new world with no way to communicate with Earth, the advanced technology they have will eventually wear out and stop working. That means that they’ll eventually end up reverting back to some kind of earlier society. Without refineries to make the metal for computer parts and without anything close to plastic, they’ll likely end up at a more medieval level of technology.

Merry: Is that what happens?

Danny: … Your readers will have to pick up the books to see. But there are other, more pressing concerns that we ran into right off the bat.

Merry: Such as?

Danny: Such as the fact that three escape pods landed on the new world, but they contained members of two competing factions. It was pretty much war from the moment we stepped out of those pods.

Merry: And that was it? Just you guys from the pods?

Danny: …Yes.

Merry: I see. And what about Grace? Everything ends up revolving around her, doesn’t it?

Danny: It does, but mostly because Grace is a take-charge kind of woman. She was sent along on the mission as a logistics coordinator, so naturally she stepped in to organize things when the pods crashed.

Merry: But she was important before that, right?

Danny: True. Grace was involved in a few key incidents before the transport ship crashed.

Merry: Interesting. The first book, Saving Grace, begins with your escape pod crashing. Do we ever find out what happened on the transport ship?

MF_FallenFromGrace_small

Merry: Is that you, Danny?Danny: Yes, it is!

Danny: Yes, you get to see some of that in flashbacks.

Merry: So what exactly is your relationship with Grace? Are the two of you a couple?

Danny: (takes a long time to answer) No. We’re not a couple.

Merry: But you’re close?

Danny: …Yes.

Merry: Is there a reason why you don’t want to talk about the exact nature of your relationship with Grace?

Danny: … There is a reason, yes.

Merry: Some people have complained that a lot of men who crash with you seem to want Grace, and that that makes her a little unbelievable.

Danny: (laughs) Well, Grace is unbelievable for several reasons. But no, every man who crashed does not want Grace. … Just three of us.

Merry: A three-way love triangle?

Danny: (hesitates) It’s not really about love. Well, not for all of us. Some of it is about power. Think of Grace as the queen on a chess board.

Merry: Oh really?

Danny: (pauses) Maybe I’ve said too much. Oh, and the moon that we crashed on also seemed to have had some properties that made people…amorous.

Merry: Okay! So, do you think I’ll ever have time to write more about Grace’s Moon?

Danny: I sure hope so. I know that our story doesn’t end after only two books. I also know that you put in a lot of work on the third book in the series, only to realize an important part of the plot was physically impossible.

Merry: That’s true, but I might just have come up with a way to work around that recently.

Danny: So do you think you’ll have time to write more in our series? I know you have ideas for generation after generation of inhabitants of the moon and their stories.

Merry: I do! We’ll just have to see if enough people bug me to keep writing them!

 

So there you have it! The books in the Grace’s Moon series do need to be read in order. Saving Grace comes first, then Fallen from Grace. They’re available exclusively at Amazon and for Kindle Unlimited.

Weekend Excerpt – His Remarkable Bride/Elspeth: The Remarkable Bride – First Look

Jun 18, 2016

It’s the weekend! Which means it’s time to take a look at what’s coming up from me. I know a bunch of you have been eagerly awaiting the next Paradise Ranch book. Well, we’re only one week away from the release of His Remarkable Bride (spicy version), aka Elspeth: The Remarkable Bride (sweet version). I gotta tell you, I absolutely fell head over heels in love with these characters as I was writing, and I think you will too. Here’s a sneak peek….

HisRemarkableBride_Elspeth

When Athos finally ended the chapter on a cliff-hanger—causing the children to whine in protest and to beg for one more chapter, but to no avail—eight tired little bodies finally dragged themselves off to their own rooms. Ivy and Heather shared a room and hinted to Elspeth that they would stay up reading their own books for a little while longer. Hubert, surprisingly, shared a room with little Thomas and carried him off, already half asleep. The younger twins shared a room and Lael and Vernon shared the room which doubled as the upstairs wash room.

“I don’t know how you managed to find places for them all,” Elspeth commented through a yawn as she retired to her own room.

“It is tight,” Athos agreed, following her. “But we’ve managed to make it work. There’s a bit more room in the attic, but Piper has claimed that entire floor as her domain.”

“Your sister lives in the attic?” Elspeth asked, lips twitching as she tried to decide if that was practical or mad-capped.

“She does,” Athos chuckled. “She’s made things much nicer up there than you would expect.” He closed the door behind them, then shrugged out of his suspenders.

Shock coursed through Elspeth as he undressed. A second later she shook her head at her ridiculous reaction. Somewhere in the confusion of the day she’d forgotten that she and Athos were married. Of course they would share a room. She peeked at the bed out of the corner of her eye. Of course they would share a bed.

Heat flooded her face. She tried to shake that off as well. It wasn’t as if she was some blushing virgin who had never known a man’s touch. No, a man’s touch was what had gotten her into this life in the first place. And even though Craig Valko had broken her heart and left her destitute in a foreign country, she was forced to admit she’d enjoyed her scandalous nights with him. At least at first. She reached for the buttons of her blouse, rolling her eyes at herself for her shaking hands. Athos was a good, kind man, as far from the man Craig turned out to be as possible. Pleasing him in bed was the least she could do for him.

Across the room, Athos stopped halfway through taking off his shirt. His eyebrows tipped up as he studied her, then he burst into chuckles as if he’d grasped the punchline to a joke. “No, no, no, don’t worry about any of that.” He resumed undressing.

“A-any of what?” Elspeth winced at the tremor in her voice, but forced herself to continue removing her clothes.

That.” Athos shook his head and unfastened his trousers. “I don’t expect anything resembling…” He cleared his throat, a flush coming to his cheeks. “Anything like a wedding night, now or ever.”

“Oh?” Elspeth let her hands drop to her side.

“No.” He stepped out of his trousers, folded them, and lay them across a chair on the other side of the room. Then he crossed back to the bed and pulled back the covers. “I’m exhausted after today, and I can only imagine how tired you are. I saw you yawning while I read The Outlaw’s Last Stand.”

“I didn’t mean to be rude.” She shrugged out of her blouse, turning toward her trunk, which Hubert had set against the wall earlier. At some point, she would have to make time—and space—to put away her things.

“You weren’t rude at all.” Athos laughed as he settled on his back in the bed. “Eight children is entirely overwhelming. Piper usually passes out before we read each night. You’re a good sport for staying up with us.”

“It was my pleasure.”

It felt a little odd to change into her nightgown with a man in a bed potentially watching her just a few feet away. When Elspeth turned to the bed, though, Athos was carefully looking away. Like a gentleman. As soon as she slid in beside him and pulled the covers up to her chin, he turned back to smile at her.

“Honestly, as wonderful as being married and sharing a bed as a married couple is, and as much as I enjoy sexual relations—” He paused, flushing. “That was probably more than you need to know.”

“It’s all right,” Elspeth said, feeling herself flush. “I-I’m not a virgin.”

He glanced up at her. He didn’t look surprised. “As nice as all that is,” he went on, “to tell you the truth, I haven’t had two spare seconds to think about anything like that in ages. There’s too much work, too many children to see to, too many trains. I didn’t send for you because I wanted someone to warm my bed.”

“You sent because you needed someone to share your load.” She realized the truth of it as she spoke.

Athos laughed and settled on his back. With a sleepy sigh he said, “These days I’m more of an automaton, put in motion to make sure everyone else is taken care of.”

If there was more to his thought, he didn’t speak it aloud, even though Elspeth waited. She didn’t have to wait long before Athos’s breathing turned steady and deep with sleep.

A strange sort of sadness filled her heart as she adjusted her position and stared up at the ceiling. An automaton was nothing more than a machine. There was something tragic about hearing the same man who had just spent a lovely evening with his children referring to himself as a machine. And yet, what could she do about it?

 

His Remarkable Bride/Elspeth: The Remarkable Bride will be out and ready for purchase on Friday, June 24th!

Character Interview – Tasha Pike from Summer with a Star

Jun 14, 2016

Today I’m continuing my series of interviews with characters from my books. Older characters, newer characters, I’ve got them all here, ready to get to know you! Today I’m talking to Tasha Pike, the heroine of Summer with a Star, the first book in my Second Chances trilogy-for-now and the first contemporary novel I published.

SummerWithAStar

Merry: Hi Tasha! Thanks for coming around to be interviewed.

Tasha: Thanks for interviewing me! It’s nice to be seen again, although I’ve been getting a lot of press lately.

Merry: That’s certainly true. Ever since I made Summer with a Star free, you’ve been being read by a lot more people. Why do you think that is?

Tasha: Well, a lot of people love Contemporary Romance. They love to read about heroes and heroines that are not so far removed from the lives that they themselves live. And it’s nice to be able to read people speaking in modern language about stuff we’ve all been through.

Merry: So why do you think it was important that the first contemporary heroine I wrote be a teacher?

Tasha: (laughs) Well, I know that you know a lot of teachers in your life. We all do. Everyone encounters a teacher at some point, whether it’s as a student, as the parent of a student, or, well, if that’s the job they do. Teachers are the Everywoman of modern society. They’re someone that we can all relate to, and whose struggles we can all imagine easily.

Merry: Exactly. And how do you feel about your story being set at the beach?

Tasha: The beach is wonderful! Everybody loves the beach in some way. And even if they don’t, the whole idea of summer vacation, taking time off, relaxing and setting aside our normal cares is appealing.

Merry: But you don’t really get to set aside your normal cares in Summer with a Star, do you?

Tasha: Well, no, not at first. I dreamed of renting Sand Dollar Point for more than a decade, and I saved up for it through all those years too, but being the mean writer that you are, as soon as I was about to achieve my dream, you went and threw a wrench in it.

Merry: Yeah, but you have to admit, Spencer Ellis is a cute wrench.

Tasha: He is cute, that’s for sure. He’s got that movie star charm and those good looks that any woman would die for. But did you have to go and have him crash my dream by occupying my beach house at the same time that I was supposed to.

Merry: Of course! What’s a good story without a little complication. And things with Spence got very complicated, didn’t they.

Tasha: They sure did. I mean, I was just trying to enjoy my summer vacation as best I could, but how was I supposed to be content lounging around reading romance novels with that luscious hunk of a man parading around.

Merry: Yeah, but Spence is actually a really sweet, considerate guy.

Tasha: He is, but it took me forever to see that. At first I was just too angry that my summer had been spoiled to give him a fair chance.

Merry: So what changed all that?

Tasha: You said it. He’s actually a profoundly decent guy. Although it was a little disconcerting when I realized he had his eye on me.

Merry: Disconcerting? Why?

Tasha: Well, because of everything I’d been through with my ex-boyfriend. Because I was just a plain old teacher and Spence was a big-time movie star. We all dream of ending up in our Hollywood crush’s arms, but, come on. How realistic is it? I was just trying to be a realist.

Merry: Some people would argue that you had low self-esteem.

Tasha: I suppose I did. But can you blame me? After everything that my ex put me through? I think we all have those moments of self-doubt, especially when something as mind-boggling as a movie star being interested in us comes along. Everyone has low self-esteem now and then, it’s how we get out of those funks that matter.

Merry: Too true! So, as a normal, boring teacher person, how did you feel about all that hot sex?

Tasha: (gasps and laughs) I can’t believe you’re asking me that! I can’t believe you wrote all those steamy scenes for me either. But man, I’m sure glad you did. Spence and I really enjoyed ourselves. I was determined to live the fantasy, if only for the summer.

Merry: And how did that work out for you? How did you handle things when the end of the summer finally came?

Tasha: Do you really want me to answer that? Or wouldn’t you rather have your readers read about it themselves?

Merry: Good point!

 

You can find out more about Tasha and about Hollywood star Spencer Ellis and the amazing summer they spent together in Summer with a Star! It’s free right now on Amazon, iBooks, B&N, and Kobo!