Thanks for having me back to JQ, Nancy! It’s such fun to be here. <<NRT: Happy to have you, Michelle!>> Living in Colorado during the winter that might never end, you hear lots of ski terms bandied about–first tracks, back bowls, fresh powder, bluebird days. Friends use these phrases to caption Facebook photos where they are smiling from the top of some mountain resort. These people are about to launch themselves down an icy, snow-covered slope with oversized popsicle sticks strapped to their feet and…they are grinning. It sort of makes me want to push them.
I don’t have time to smile when I ski because I’m too busy praying to make it down the mountain in one piece. Yep, I ski. Despite the constant trembling in my knees, the stomachache that starts as soon as I put on my (never flattering) ski pants and an internal monologue that involves lots of cursing, every few weekends we pile the kids into the car and hit the slopes. Why? For the same reason moms do most things we don’t want to – for the kids.
This season my daughter broke through her fear (unlike me) and now we’re taking lifts to the more advanced blue runs. My son is busy detouring into the trees and looking for jumps as we hurtle toward the bottom. I can barely keep up and I love it! Because it means soon I’ll achieve my ultimate ski dream—to be the mom camped out in the corner of the toasty warm lodge surrounded by coats and gear, sipping hot cocoa and wearing boots I can walk in without feeling like I’m going to fall over. I have happy visions of a full Saturday spent alternating between my laptop and Kindle while I smile at the cold, wet, red-faced suckers who take a break from risking life limb on the mountain. I’m going to be the best lodge mom ever.
Among friends my views on skiing put me in the minority, and I sometimes wonder if I’m a total wimp. I probably am a total wimp, and I’m okay with that. But I’m also curious how people outside of ski-crazy Colorado feel about it.
Would you be carving the slopes or hanging in the lodge? Either way, I’ll have the hot cocoa waiting.
I’ll be drawing two winners from the comments for a copy of my March release, A Second Chance At Crimson Ranch. The heroine, Olivia Wilder, has come to Crimson, Colorado to find place she can feel at home. Lucky for her, there’s a new (and a few years younger) contractor in town that might be the perfect guy to help her. I’m excited to invite readers back to Crimson because it’s a town filled with wonderful people and lots of opportunities for falling in love (yes, there is a ski mountain but I haven’t forced any my characters onto it…yet).
As a kid I didn’t always fit in. I was tall for my age. No, I mean tall. I was five-feet-four inches in third grade and wore a size 7 ½ shoe. My teacher also wore a size 7 ½. When her heels hurt her feet, we’d trade shoes.
The other problem was that I moved a lot. We moved every six months for a while, so just as kids got used to me, I’d leave and be the freak at a new school.
Kids were either afraid I’d beat them up or they teased me unmercifully. I had a wool beanie hat with a cat face on the little puff ball at the top, and I was so lonely that sometimes I’d walk around the playground, cradling my kitty hat and talking to my “friend.”
As I got older and kids grew taller, I made more friends. It helped that we moved to Texas and stayed put. And, just in case you’re wondering, I stopped growing. I’m five-seven. Here’s me with the Jaunty Quills in 2013. I’m in the middle back in red, between Kirstan and Robyn.
I know what it feels like not to fit in. I still know what it’s like not to fit in for lots of reasons—one of them is that I have a stop-the-conversation profession.
Readers often ask me where I get my ideas. The idea for a character who doesn’t fit in came very naturally to me. In Earls Just Want to Have Fun, which is out tomorrow, Marlowe is a thief from the slums of London. She’s not overly tall, but she might as well be a giant because she sticks out in the refined world of Mayfair and the ton, where she ends up.
To make matters worse, the man charged with keeping an eye on her is none other than the Earl of Dane, a man known for opposing any sort of aid or Parliamentary reform that would help the poor. To say they don’t get along is an understatement.
Marlowe just might be the long-lost daughter of a marquess, but even if she is, does that change anything for her? She can’t snap her fingers and suddenly fit in. You can’t erase years of your life, just like I often feel like I’m too-tall, even though I’m only a little taller than average.
Some things are just ingrained into us.
So what happens to Marlowe? Let’s just say Dane goes from her worst enemy to her best chance at finding a common ground and a place where she belongs.
Have you ever felt you didn’t fit in, or maybe you’re that rare breed who can mix and mingle with any crowd. One person who comments will win a digital copy of Viscount of Vice, a novella that’s related to Earls Just Want to Have Fun.
Restrictions: Must be able to read the novella on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Google Play, or iBooks. Winner announced Sunday!
His heart may be the last thing she ever steals…
Marlowe is a pickpocket, a housebreaker-and a better actress than any professional on the stage. She runs with the Covent Garden Cubs, a gang of thieves living in the slums of London’s Seven Dials. It’s a fierce life, and Marlowe has a hard outer shell. But when she’s alone, she allows herself to think of a time before-a dimly remembered life when she was called Elizabeth.
Maxwell, Lord Dane, is intrigued when his brother, a hired investigator, ropes him into his investigation of the fiercely beautiful hellion. He teaches her to navigate the social morass of the ton, but Marlowe will not escape so easily. Instead, Dane is drawn into her dangerous world, where the student becomes the teacher and love is the greatest risk of all.
Buy (Pre-order) Links
Second chances. We all want them, right? The chance to say we’re sorry to someone we hurt, the chance to take a risk that we’d said no to out of fear, the chance to go back and spend time with a dear friend or family member no longer with us.
And, sometimes, we’d like a do-over in love, the chance to take that leap into the unknown with that special someone—someone we walked away from years ago for reasons that no longer seem to make sense.
How to Plan a Wedding for a Royal Spy, my new historical romance out this week, is about that second chance at love. Captain Will Endicott, soldier, spy, and illegitimate son of a royal duke, walked away from his childhood sweetheart in order to please his father and to pursue a career in the military. In doing so, he broke Evie Whitney’s heart, and she’s never quite gotten over it. Oh, she’s moved on, but the pain is still there—and so is the love, which actually frustrates Evie no end. She’s certain she should be over Will by now, so she has no intention of throwing herself in his path.
But now Will has a second chance at love with Evie, and he’s determined to take it. There’s just one problem—his former sweetheart is suspected of involvement in a criminal conspiracy and Will’s father has ordered him to spy on her. Needless to say, they’re going to have an interesting courtship!
Here’s a snippet from the book:
He moved one hand to her jaw, cupping it while tilting her head back. Her mouth opened, whether in protest or shock, he couldn’t tell. But it didn’t matter, because he finally gave in to the desire he’d been battling from that first moment he’d seen her on the lawn behind Maywood Manor. Bastard that he was, he took ruthless advantage of those parted lips to slip inside, taking her mouth captive. She made an odd, squeaky noise before freezing in his grip.
Her paralysis lasted but a few moments as he desperately searched for the girl who’d never shut him out before. Who’d once kissed him with a shy, innocent fervor he now realized he’d never forgotten. And when she finally responded relief flooded through him, as honest and true as what he’d felt on the battlefield when he realized he lived to fight another day.
As her arms stole up around his neck and she trembled within his embrace, the echo of their sweet, youthful kisses faded in the clamor of blood pounding through his veins and his heart hammering against his ribcage. Because it wasn’t a girl he pulled close—it was a woman. And it wasn’t just the feel of her generous breasts pressing against him that inflamed his senses, it was the way she opened up to him, responding to his invasion with an enthusiasm that both startled and thrilled him.
If he’d ever needed confirmation that Evie was not the young girl he’d once known and that she was all grown up, this was it. Anything that had ever happened between them in the past couldn’t begin to compare with this moment.
As you can see, Will is quite happy to leap for his second chance at love!
How about you? Are there any second chances you wish would come your way? One person who comments will win a copy of the first book in my Renegade Royals series, Secrets for Seducing a Royal Bodyguard.
You can buy How to Plan a Wedding for a Royal Spy at bookstores and other stores where books are sold, and on-line.
We all have vices. Henry Flynn, the Viscount of Chesham, has a few more than the average person. Don’t believe me? Here’s an introduction.
He was going to hell. Shame, Flynn thought, dangling from the third-floor window of a town house in exclusive Grosvenor Square. It was his birthday tomorrow, too. Actually, given the time of night, he’d already attained his twenty-seventh year.
His hand slipped, and he felt the moisture gathering on his fingers. He could not hold on much longer. Perhaps his death was for the best. It wasn’t as though anyone would mourn him. It wasn’t as though he had anything to live for.
Still, it seemed harsh even for one such as Beelzebub to claim him when he was hanging naked from the window of one of the most prestigious addresses in Mayfair.
I must admit, Flynn was a lot of fun to write. There’s something about indulging all of your vices–vicariously–that’s quite liberating. Flynn’s vices tend toward spirits, women, and making dangerous choices. My vices lean toward chocolate, like this yummy cake from Lemon Sugar.
I also love fashion and clothes. I buy far too many for Princess Galen and love the chance to dress up myself!
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t share my inspiration for Flynn. Handsome men are something of a vice too…
What’s your vice?
One person who comments will receive an advance copy of Earls Just Want to Have Fun, the next in the series.
Google Play: http://bit.ly/1y6M0ou
And hopefully on iBooks by the end of the day!
Lily Palmer is in for the Christmas of a lifetime! When the nanny signs up to watch Dr. Cullen Dunlevy’s four foster kids, she’s got her hands full. The Thomas clan is the most mischievous group of youngsters she’s ever had to wrangle, but Lily loves the job. After all, what girl wouldn’t adore spending the holidays with a warmhearted new family—and their irresistibly handsome foster dad?
Cullen doesn’t mind Christmas, but his Scrooge-like facade is there for a reason—to protect himself. His tough childhood caused him to hide behind his work and avoid entanglements at all costs. That includes avoiding falling for the deliciously tempting new nanny that Santa left for him this year…
* Where did you get the idea for A CELEBRATION CHRISTMAS?
The Sound of Music has always been one of my favorite movies. I saw it for the first time when I was very young. Later, I shared it with my daughter. I hope someday she’ll continue the chain. In the meantime, I wanted to write a book that was a nod to that classic story that shows that with love and family you can overcome just about anything.
Of course, I changed it up enough to make it my own. First, it’s set during the holidays. Cullen, the hero, is a doctor rather than a wealthy navy captain; and Lily, the heroine, is a teacher rather than an aspiring nun. There are four kids rather than seven. Actually, in the first incarnation of this book, I gave Cullen seven foster children, but then I came to my senses. He and Lily were grateful because as it turned out, four feisty Thomas children were more than enough.
* Tell us about the hero and heroine of the book? Why will we want them to fall in love?
We met both Cullen and Lily in previous books. I introduced you to Lily inCELEBRATION’S BRIDE (she was the woman who won the wedding of her dreams, only to have her fiancé back out on national television). Cullen first appeared inCELEBRATION’S FAMILY. He was the stern chief of staff at Celebration Memorial, who insisted that the hero of that book participate in the bachelor auction that raised money for the hospital’s pediatric wing.
Lily’s nurturing, never-give-up-on-love spirit softens Cullen’s hard exterior and together they realize that through love and family they can heal hurts of the past.
* Is there any particular significance in the setting?
I think Debbie Haupt of RT Book Reviews said it best, “Thompson takes us back to Celebration, Texas to check in on old friends and create new memories.”
* What was your favorite scene to write?
This book was so much fun to write, that it’s difficult to pick just one scene, but I guess the scenes with the kids were my favorite…or maybe the scenes at the Holiday market…or maybe when the hero and heroine go to the Christmas ball… Wow! Choosing is kind of like naming my favorite child.
* Were there any real-life inspirations for a particular scene or character in the book?
I infused several personal details into the book. Like Lily, I lost my mother and was exceptionally close to my grandmother. My grandmother’s recipes are very special to me. I cook her food when I’m missing her.
My father remarried a wonderful woman, who was first generation German American and my lovely step-mother shared her mother’s recipe for a German Christmas bread called stollen, a confection filled with dried fruits and marzipan. In the book, the stollen recipe came from Lily’s grandmother and to bring some holiday cheer into the house, she teaches the kids how to make it.
* Do any beloved characters from your previous books show up in this one?
Oh, yes! Sydney and Miles from CELEBRATION’S BRIDE and Pepper and A.J. from Celebrations, Inc. Catering Company among others. It was fun revisiting everyone.
* Any interesting tidbits of information you discovered while researching this book?
I wanted Lily to tell the children the story of Christmas stollen and when I was researching it, not only did I learn all about where stollen came from (Lily will tell you all about it in the book), I learned there used to be an annual stollen festival in Germany. They’ve recently revived it and now it’s called Stollenfest.
That makes me wonder about your holiday traditions. I know it’s a little early for some of you to talk about Christmas and Hanukkah, but we are getting close to Halloween and Thanksgiving. What are some of your fall/winter traditions?
I will give away an ARC of CELEBRATION CHRISTMAS to one person who posts on this blog.
If you’d like another chance to win, I’ve joined with a group of authors from Tule and we’re a prize package worth $500 in the Great Thanksgiving Giveaway. Follow the link for details on how you can win.
I can’t wait to hear about your fall/winter traditions!