I confess that I’m a devoted follower of the ISWG (aka the Insecure Writers Group), a community of writers whose purpose is “to share and encourage” each other. It’s a place where “writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!” If you haven’t discovered #ISWG, click the link above and check us out!
The first Wednesday of every month is #ISWG Day. Members post a response to a pre-determined question, reaching out to readers and fellow group members, sharing their thoughts, support, encouragement, doubts, and fears about a writing-related topic. This month’s question is,
What are your pet peeves while reading/writing/editing?
Be sure to visit their blogs and see what they have to say!
And, after I’ve shared a few of my personal pet peeves, feel free to comment with your own, as a reader, writer, or both.
Pet Peeves While Reading…
I know I’m not alone in this one, but being interrupted while I’m reading is the worst. Sometimes I resort to putting my noise-cancelling headphones on, if for no other reason than to broadcast that I’m not available for conversation. Or texts, phone calls, cooking meals, or basically anything other than running from a fire. I will signal my willingness to be interrupted by closing my book. Until I do that, approach at your own risk.
Pet Peeves About Writing
Again, interruption is the worst, and in our house, with an extrovert husband, a greyhound, and two neurotic lap cats, it’s nearly impossible to avoid. I unplug the landline, turn off notifications, activate my Freedom App, and even post a sign outside the door, but some days I’m lucky to get a paragraph done without interruption. I’ve found that I write best on a long airline flight, because, again, noise-cancelling headphones, and a look that says, “back away slowly. There’s nothing to see here.”
I have one other writing peeve, and this one concerns being a writer. Simply put, I’ve found that many folks just don’t think writing is a serious job that requires work and time. Lots of work, lots of time, all the time. When someone asks what I do for a living, and I say, “I’m a writer,” I can feel the blank stare before I see it. And those who show enough interest to ask what I’m writing seem to have no idea what to say when I tell them it’s a contemporary romance. Even when talking about writing with other authors–presumably those who don’t write or read romance–I’m usually on the receiving end of a sigh, followed by an awkward pause. And then there’s the inevitable, immediate assumption that I write smut, which I don’t . . . but if I did — and I might someday — deserve the same respect that every other writer does. Whether it’s Hemingway-level prose, a travel blog, a children’s book, poetry, or Writing for Dummies, it’s hard work. Even more, to serious writers, it’s an investment of the mind, heart, and soul.
**steps off soap box**
And Finally…Pet Peeves About Editing
1) Editing Causes Wrinkles
2) Editing inevitably includes an extended period of time during which my insecurity comes out to play. But I’m not alone in that, either …
Having said all this, the truth is I live for the experience of reading and writing. (Editing my own work, not so much, so I work with an amazing editor who “gets me.”) But, despite the drawbacks, the awkward moments, and the crippling self-doubt, when my debut novel is finally published, it will be totally worth it.
If you’re so inclined, you can read the first few, unedited chapters of my work-in-progress,Where Angels Sleep, on Wattpad and Goodreads.
To celebrate the launch of Divine Magazine’s new author service, Divine Promotions, readers & authors are invited to join their Summer Blog Hop, July 25-August 8!
The theme for this blog hop is: Your favorite summer memories, summer tips, destinations, recipes or activities.
There’s a great GIVEAWAY, with a Grand Prize and several other enticing surprises; authors & bloggers are also hosting their own giveaways, so join the hop, and enter today!
18K Gold Filled Crystal Pearls Heart Party Dress Jewelry Set
Divine Promotions – 10 Days Promo Tour ($90)
Divine Promotions – 3 Day Release Blitz ($35)
$75 credit from Dreamspinner Press
$30 credit from Dreamspinner Press
I decided to focus today’s post on GREAT SUMMER READS. I never go anywhere without a book, and I never have. Reading is and always has been my escape – from the heat, from boredom, from airport noise & crowds…there’s nothing that a good book can’t cure!
My favorite summer reads are usually shorter, “lighter” reads, generally in the romance genre — but not always. Some of the books on my favorite summer reads list this year are anything but light – but others are absolutely hilarious. Most are reasonably shorter, easier reads — I tend to hold back on reading complex stories, thrillers and ‘heavier’ fiction until the days get shorter and cooler.
Here’s a partial list of books I’ve loved this year – and a few that are on my TBR list for the rest of the season. Check them out, then enter the Summer Blog Hop Giveaway at the end of the post!
(hunky farmers, snarky heroines….fun, funny, sexy and sweet!)
The True North Series: Bittersweet and Steadfast, by Sarina Bowen (deeply romantic, with beautifully conflicted heroes and strong heroines…sexy and literally ‘bittersweet’ – with guaranteed HEAs)
The Royals Series: Paper Princess and Broken Prince, by Erin Watt (the pseudonym for two best-selling, favorite authors — Elle Kennedy & Jen Frederick!) Heartbreakingly beautiful, incredibly hot, and intense. There are cliffhangers, but don’t let that stop you from reading these books now!
Going Down, by Katherine Stevens, a new author you need to read! (She also contributed to Felony Ever After, below…) – This is #1 of her Elevator Series, and I laughed until I cried.
Felony Ever After– Thirteen fantastic authors, and one hilarious story! Authors include Helena Hunting, Debra Anastasia, Liv Morris, Vi Keeland, Nina Bocci, Penelope Ward, Tijan … and more!
Hard Luck, by Liv Morris – Baseball is THE summer sport here in the U.S., and in Hard Luck, cocky chases sassy around the bases. Prepare to laugh. Hard. (<— pun intended.)
M/M Erotic Romance:
Him (2-book series), by Elle Kennedy and Sarina Bowen. This story is unforgettable. A sports romance with humor, tenderness, and so much more. Your heart will swell, and break a little, but you’ll laugh so often it won’t matter. I’ve read these more than once and will read them again before summer is over. If you’ve never read a M/M romance before, start here.
The Burns-Fitzgerald Mysteries – a boxed set of 4 novellas, and two recent releases by Erin O’Quinn. A historian and a cop solve mysteries together, but the greatest mystery of all is their relationship. Set in Scotland, the series weaves a tapestry of deep passion and suspense, with compelling characters and lyrical descriptions that bring their stories to life.
Some other great debut authors & books to discover this summer:
QUAKE, by Jacob Chance – A private investigator discovers more than he bargained for…it’s sexy and funny on the outside, suspenseful and tender on the inside. Erotic Romance.
Like A Boss, by Logan Chance – Yes, he’s Jacob’s brother, and writing talent runs in the family! A workplace romance set in Miami’s South Beach…this book has all the feels, and is as hot as the Florida Sun. Erotic Romance.
Billionaire Takes All by Jackson Kane – Two brothers face a crazy challenge to claim their inheritance…and the results are as wild as the terms of their father’s will. A story of second chances. Erotic Romance.
122 Rules, by Deek Rhew — Crime, Witness Protection, Breath-taking Suspense…this book has it all. A stunning debut novel by a promising author. Mystery-Suspense, with a hint of romance yet to come…
I’m starting the year on Cloud Nine of Reader’s Heaven with some new favorites by a few of the best contemporary romance authors I know. Hyperbole? Maybe – but it’s sincere. Some of these I’ve read, some I’m currently reading, and the rest are sizzling on my Kindle waiting to be savored. And the best part? It’s not even a complete list – it’s only the beginning. Read along with me in 2016 and discover some new favorites of your own.
Authors & Bloggers – If you have some new releases coming that aren’t on my list yet — please call them out in the comments, or email me at email@example.com, and I’ll feature them the next time around!
January & February Releases
January 2nd: ABRUPTION, by Riley Mackensie
I’m absolutely in love with this story, by favorite authors Riley Mackensie. I received the ARC and it’s my first “official” read of 2016. I’ll be posting a review tomorrow – but in the meantime, don’t wait — one-click it today. If you love sweet, sexy, highly emotional romance novels with unforgettable characters – but especially if you love medical heroes & heroines — these authors, and this book, will NEVER disappoint.
Everyone has a plan. Dr. Guy Hunter secures his dream fellowship with a beautiful free spirit by his side. Two unexpected blue lines don’t even shake his resolve—he is on his way to having it all. Until he isn’t. Abruption: a sudden breaking off Jules Chiappetti loves her boisterous over-involved Italian family but is determined to pave her own way. An MBA and boardroom job is her ticket out. Until it isn’t. Abruption: an unexpected event Four years later, Guy is consumed by the challenges of being a single father, still struggling with the aftermath that derailed his life and left his son with special needs. He doesn’t realize his world went dark the same day his wife’s did, until Jules, his son’s new nurse, shows him the light.
Favorite author Emma Chase is releasing the third and final installment of her Legal Briefs series, APPEALED, on January 19th. I’ve read the ARC and it’s a perfect ending to a great collection of steamy, tender, often hilarious stories about a group of attorneys that practice in Washington, DC. In true Emma Chase style, each hero is a keeper, and Brent Mason is no exception…he meets his match in Appealed, and his journey from player to lover to partner is well worth experiencing. Each book in the series may be read as a standalone, so read them in any order you like, although I think the stories build especially well when read in order. Review to follow on release day.
When Brent Mason looks at Kennedy Randolph, he doesn’t see the awkward, sweet girl who grew up next door. He sees a self-assured, stunning woman…who wants to crush the most intimate – and prized – parts of his anatomy beneath the heels of her Christian Louboutins.
Brent has never let the loss of his leg in a childhood accident affect his ability to lead a fulfilling life. He sets high goals–and then he reaches them.
And now he has his sights set on Kennedy.
When Kennedy looks at Brent Mason, all she sees is the selfish, Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue-worthy teenager who humiliated her in high school to join the popular crowd. A crowd that made those years a living hell.
She’s not a lovesick social outcast anymore – she’s a DC prosecutor with a long winning streak behind her. Brent is the opposing attorney in her next case and she thinks it’s time to put him through a little hell of his own.
But things aren’t exactly working out that way.
Because every fiery exchange has her wondering if he’s as passionate in the bedroom as he is in the courtroom. Each argument and objection only makes him want her more. In the end, Brent and Kennedy may just find themselves in love…or in contempt of court. APPEALED is a sexy, humorous romance about first crushes, second chances and the final verdict of the heart.
January 24th: PUCKED OVER, by Helena Hunting (Pucked, #3)
Grab a glass of wine, crawl between the sheets and warm up your winter nights with the latest installment of the PUCKED series, by Helena Hunting. This hockey-themed series of romantic comedies is at the top of everyone’s list, with some of the most outrageous – and drop-dead sexy, snarky characters you’ll ever meet. Again, you can read these out of order, but to really enjoy them, start at book one and don’t stop until you’re panting for the next in the series. Forever Pucked is coming later this spring!
Lily LeBlanc isn’t versed in the art of casual sex, but after seven years in an on-again, off-again relationship, she’s definitely willing to give it a shot. And who better to try it with than her best friend’s boyfriend’s best friend? What could possibly go wrong? Nothing at all.
NHL player, Randy Ballistic, lives up to his last name on the ice and in the bedroom. His best friend and teammate has recently given up the puck bunnies and traded them in for a real girlfriend. And she just happens to have a seriously feisty, extra-hot best friend on the rebound. Randy’s more than happy to be Lily’s spring board back into the dating scene.
Casual sex is only casual until those pesky things called emotions get involved. Once that happens, someone’s bound to gets pucked over. Buy it on Amazon|Add it to Goodreads
February 11th: THE SCORE, by Elle Kennedy (Off Campus, #3)
The Off-Campus series continues with THE SCORE, another sexy, funny, sweet new adult sports romance featuring hot hockey players, by Elle Kennedy. Each may be read as a standalone, so start anywhere, but don’t miss a single one. If you love relatable characters, a little bit of angst, a lot of humor, and some steamy, sexy college boys … look no further. I’ve got the ARC, and am loving the story. Will be posting a review closer to its release date. Stay tuned.
He knows how to score, on and off the ice …
Allie Hayes is in crisis mode. With graduation looming, she still doesn’t have the first clue about what she’s going to do after college. To make matters worse, she’s nursing a broken heart thanks to the end of her longtime relationship. Wild rebound sex is definitely not the solution to her problems, but gorgeous hockey star Dean Di-Laurentis is impossible to resist. Just once, though, because even if her future is uncertain, it sure as heck won’t include the king of one-night stands.
It’ll take more than flashy moves to win her over …
Dean always gets what he wants. Girls, grades, girls, recognition,girls…he’s a ladies man, all right, and he’s yet to meet a woman who’s immune to his charms. Until Allie. For one night, the feisty blonde rocked his entire world—and now she wants to befriends? Nope. It’s not over until he says it’s over. Dean is in full-on pursuit, but when life-rocking changes strike, he starts to wonder if maybe it’s time to stop focusing on scoring…and shoot for love.
February 2nd: THE SHADOW (Florentine Series #2) by Sylvain Reynard
Sylvain Reynard is, hands-down, one of my top 3 favorite authors of all time. I can’t shorten the list to just one author, because all three of my favorites are so very different in their approach to storytelling that it seems unfair to say one is better than the others. The Florentine Series builds on the beauty of his infamous Gabriel series and takes it to an entirely new level, blending art, history, literature, music, poetry, mythology and romance exquisitely with the mystery and breath-taking suspense of the paranormal. Truly a unique and unforgettable combination. I have the ARC for The Shadow, and have read just enough to know that I won’t be able to put it down when I finally have the time to savor it. It’s not just a book, it’s an experience. The final installment of the series is underway, and SR reports that he is already working on his next collection. I’d order it TODAY if I could.
From the New York Times bestselling author of the Gabriel trilogy comes the hotly anticipated follow-up to The Raven, a sensual novel set in Florence featuring the dangerously intoxicating coupling of Raven and William…
Raven Wood’s vampyre prince has returned, pledging his love and promising justice for every wrong done to her. In the wake of their reunion, Raven is faced with a terrible decision—allow the Prince to wreak vengeance against the demons of her past, or persuade him to stay his hand. But there is far more at stake than Raven’s heart…
A shadow has fallen over the city of Florence. Ispettor Batelli will not rest until he uncovers Raven’s connection to the theft of the priceless art from the Uffizi Gallery. And while the Prince hunts a traitor who sabotages him at every turn, he finds himself the target of the vampyres’ mortal enemy.
As he wages a war on two fronts, he will need to keep his love for Raven secret, or risk exposing his greatest weakness…
I have been an avid fan of Liv since I read her Touch of Tantra series. I’ve re-read it more times than I care to admit, lest I be labeled a certified Liv stalker. But if you love alpha billionaires and the kick-ass heroines that make them see the light of day … do not miss this explosively erotic and tenderly passionate story. Trust me on this.
A Sneak Peek at M-S-K:
There are two men in my life.
I’m marrying one, want to screw the brains out of another, and by the time this love story is complete, you may want to kill me.
Marry Screw Kill
The choices are still pending…
You’ll have to wait a while, but it will be totally worth it. Releases on my birthday – September 13, 2016!
A delicious, sexy, laugh-out-loud modern romance about a newly single woman and her journey to find love again, from New York Times bestselling author Alice Clayton and debut author Nina Bocci.
Avery Bardot steps off the plane in Rome, looking for a fresh start. She’s left behind a soon-to-be ex-husband in Boston and plans to spend the summer with her best friend Daisy, licking her wounds—and perhaps a gelato or two. But when her American-expat friend throws her a welcome party on her first night, Avery’s thrown for a loop when she sees a man she never thought she’d see again: Italian architect Marcello Bianchi.
Marcello was the man—the one who got away. And now her past is colliding with her present, a present where she should be mourning the loss of her marriage and—hey, that fettuccine is delicious! And so is Marcello…
Slipping easily into the good life of summertime in Rome, Avery spends her days exploring a city that makes art historians swoon, and her nights swooning over her unexpected what was old is new againromance. It’s heady, it’s fevered, it’s wanton, and it’s crazy. But could this really be her new life? Or is it just a temporary reprieve before returning to the land of twin-set cardigans and crustless sandwiches?
A celebration of great friendship, passionate romance, and wonderful food, Roman Crazy is a lighthearted story of second chances and living life to the fullest.
So many books — so little time! 2015 was a wonderful year for new & old favorite authors, debut authors, new and continuing series, standalones … and the list goes on. It was nearly impossible to narrow down my list of favorites – so, as usual, I procrastinated. But I’m so eager to share my favorite reads – and hopefully introduce you to some books & authors that are new to you, that I’ve done my best to compile a list of “winners” and “honorable mentions” from my favorites in every romance genre.
I’d love to read your comments on this list – and your recommendations for some 2015 books I can add to my TBR for 2016.
My sincere thanks to the bloggers, publishers, publicists and authors who introduced me to their new books this past year – and I look forward to reading and reviewing more from these and other authors in the new year.
The Best of the Best: Favorite Reads in All Romance Genres
Indie: G. G. Carver – is one of the most promising new male authors I’ve read in the past year. I had an opportunity to meet G. G. at signings in the UK in 2015. His stories have great depth, with unforgettable characters. Check out Whiter Than White, his best-selling erotic debut novel, and Lucky Numbers, another Amazon best-selling contemporary adult romance.
Traditionally Published: My all-time favorite female author is Deborah Harkness; her All Souls Trilogy literally changed my life. She didn’t publish in 2015, but has a new series in the works based on All Souls, and if I could order it TODAY, I would.
That being said, this has to be THE most difficult category of all for me. I have so many favorite female authors – authors that I would one-click before I even read the synopsis or see the cover – it’s nearly impossible to select only one. But I did it anyway, and this year it’s Emma Chase, author of the Tangled Series and the Legal Briefs series. All of my honorable mentions are among the best of the best, in my passionate opinion – and there are some best-selling traditionally published authors I’ve yet to read (they are on my TBR, my Kindle and my bookshelf at home).
Indie: Because she published not only one best-selling book, but three – an entire series – this one goes to Kendra Leigh
Honorable Mentions: Stephanie John– Salvation, book 1 of the Heal Me series, has some of the steamiest scenes – and one of the sweetest billionaire BBFs ever.
Favorite Book Cover: This is a totally subjective category – visual appeal is not universal. The book cover is the first thing that attracts me to a new read, and I want it to promise me something about the story – something I’m looking for, more than the cover model – the “feeling” of the book.
Indie: The Bound Trilogy, by Kendra Leigh – an erotic romance/suspense/mystery/thriller with complex characters and a riveting storyline that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Explosively erotic, stunningly suspenseful – this series has it all.
Traditionally Published Author: *TIE* – Beautiful Secret, from the by Christina Lauren;The Record of My Heart, from theWordsseries by Georgina Guthrie* (* this is one of my top 3 all-time favorite series, by the way…)
Indie Author: Bound For Nirvana, from theThe Bound Trilogy, by Kendra Leigh – one of the most heart-pounding conclusions I’ve ever read – with everything you want at the end — namely, the Happy-Ever-After.
Traditionally Published Author: *3-way TIE* Daniel Grant, (just his name makes me sigh)-The Record of My Heart(The Words Series, Georgina Guthrie); Jake Becker – the reluctant, uber-sexy hero of Sustained (Legal Briefs, Emma Chase); and the dark prince,William York, The Florentine Seriesby Sylvain Reynard..the second hottest vampire I’ve ever read…and the series isn’t finished yet.
Indie Author: Ethan Wilde, truly one of the hottest BBFs in the indie world – and the alpha billionaire fromThe Bound Trilogy, by Kendra Leigh
Honorable Mentions: Traditionally Published – Alex Waters and “Buck” Butterson from thePucked series, by Helena Hunting – two of the sexiest, funniest sports romance heroes anywhere. Indies – Thomas Fitzgerald, my very favorite M/M hero – an Irish cop with a passionate soul and a body to die for, fromtheBurns Series, byErin O’Quinn; Nate Blake, the tender, sexy, smitten billionaire from Salvation, by Stephanie John; and Donovan Hart, another hot billionaire fromA Gentleman’s Fate, the fourth and final installment of the Gentleman’s Series byindie author AJ Linn.
Favorite Female Lead Character:
Traditionally Published Author: Violet Hall, who takes sass and snark to a new level inPucked, by Helena Hunting
Indie Author Author: Angel Lawson, one of the most tragic heroines I’ve ever read, from The Bound Trilogy, by Kendra Leigh
Honorable Mentions: Chelsea McQuaid, the strong, sassy heroine fromSustained(Legal Briefs, Emma Chase)
Ugly Cry: You’ll need more than a box of tissues for these reads – a stack of towels might do it.
Ugly Laugh: You’ll need towels and tissues for a different reason in this category…I cannot read this book without choking up until I can’t breathe and can’t speak: Fire Down Below, by Debra Anastasia (this book DOES come with a warning…).
Honorable Mention: Pucked, by Helena Hunting (The Locker Room scene is one of many that will embarrass you in public)
Other Favorite Reads, by Genre
Action/Adventure: Marked, by Charisse Spiers – a gritty, erotic suspense story that will make you tingle in all the right places.
Honorable Mention: Mastered, by Maya Banks. Drake Donovan is a powerful, dangerous man, and an ultimate alpha. He’s also a tragic hero that will capture your heart. Dark, suspenseful romance that comes with a WARNING – there’s a cliffhanger that might make you cry – but the sequel is coming – the sooner the better.
M/M Romance – Standalone: Him, by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy – a beautiful, tender, sexy, funny and sometimes heart-breaking story of best friends who become lovers when they are reunited for a summer at hockey camp. Utterly amazing – and there’s a sequel coming in 2016!
Paranormal Romance: The Raven, by Sylvain Reynard – A dark, thrilling romantic adventure set in Florence, Italy, this book – and this series has everything. It’s prequel, The Prince, bridges the best-selling Gabriel trilogy and the new Florentine series, bringing the beloved Gabriel and Julia Emerson back to the Uffizi Gallery, where the action begins. Forbidden love? Art? Music? Literature? Vampires? What’s not to love? You can pre-Order the next book in the series, The Shadow, right now – and experience for yourself one of the most anticipated novels of 2016.
So, Charming Man…tell me a few facts that your readers might have discovered about you yet…
“Music is my passion, I love to play drums, in several bands and I love The Smiths, Morrissey, The Cure and Echobelly, to name a few. I can often be heard drumming at my desk when I’m supposed to be hard at it, working on my latest project; I also tap away incessantly to music on the steering wheel of my car too!”
“I love comedy and wish it was something I could’ve broken into in a professional capacity when I was younger. I’m inspired by the likes of Woody Allen and the Monty Python team. I often make my kids laugh with my silly sense of humour. I have a habit of creating my own characters and voices, and act them out while I’m in the kitchen; my children fall about with laughter, although I often question if they’re laughing with me or at me.”
“I have a passion for red wine, cheese and Danish television dramas. I love to combine all three of an evening after a hard day at my desk, although my children often place bets as to how long I’ll stay awake once I’ve sat down; it’s tiring work being creative all day!”
“I’m a die-hard West Ham United supporter.”
“From a purely physical perspective, Keira Knightley is my ideal woman, and I hope one day to bump into her at a West Ham game.”
“I’ve lived in many different places around the world including Denmark, France, Italy and Belgium to name a few. I still have a house in rural France, and I hope to one day retire there and see out my days writing in the tranquillity of the scenic French countryside.”
“It was often said I bear a resemblance to the actor Christopher Lambert. I may have done once, but I think we’ve both moved on in recent years.”
<—–Note from the interviewer….I considered that statement a challenge…could I find just the right photo of Christopher Lambert to make Charming Man’s point?
“I’m not a huge fan of cooking, but I’ve been told I possess exemplary baking skills. Apparently banana cake and Bailey’s (Irish cream) cheesecake are my forte!”
“As a young boy, I had a huge crush on Hayley Mills, but who didn’t?”
Today … celebrate the release of First Encounters with Charming Man at his Facebook event, here:
I think I surprised my feisty interviewer with the answer to her last question; her eyes flashed to mine, a quizzical look on her face. Certainly whatever research she did before the interview didn’t prepare her for that.
“Describe your perfect woman…what is she like? Have you met her yet?”
“My perfect woman? Someone strong in character, for sure. And have I met her yet?
I think I have…”
“Very interesting, Mr. Curran. So describe your ideal first date with that perfect woman,” she asked.
I smiled. “Dinner to start. I like to see a woman eat, Paula. It tells me how confident they are. Do they push their food around their plate or do they actually eat their food?”
“Of course you must realize you have quite the reputation as a ‘player’. I’ve heard from some of my journalist colleagues that their lunches – and dinners – with you have been very… erm… stimulating. So I have to ask…do you ever take women seriously, Travis? Would you want your daughter to date a man like you?”
Somehow I felt like I had just received a punch to the gut. I really liked this woman and she had just called me out. Is that what people thought of me? Go back a few hours and I would have laughed, heck no, I would have been over the moon to be known as a player. But not with Paula. I wanted her to respect me.
I took a deep breath, totally unprepared for that question.
“I’d kill any man like me if he thought he could date my daughter.”
Perhaps Paula saw the discomfort in my eyes, the realisation that I didn’t want her to think of me that way. Her features softened when she looked back up at me and smiled.
“Let’s lighten this a little. If I asked Robert to describe you in three words, what would they be? And what would Brooke say about you in three words?” she asked.
I leant back in my chair.
“ Wow, you’re putting me through the mill here, aren’t you? Three words from Robert… Loyal, brother, keeper of secrets. Not technically three words, but true. As for Brooke, well…grumpy, she calls me that a lot, protector, family,” I replied.
“What three words would you use to describe yourself?”
I laughed as I replied.
“Would you believe me if I said reformed? Maybe I’ll throw in another loyal and misunderstood.”
“If you could change one thing about yourself – past or present – what would it be?”
Paula seemed very interested hearing the answer to this. She rested her arms on the oak table and leant slightly towards me.
“Nothing, I wouldn’t change a thing. I am the man I am today because of my past. This is me, Paula. You’re the first person – stranger – that’s actually getting the truth. Don’t ask me why, but for some reason I don’t want to lie to you.”
There was a pause before Paula glanced down at her notes and continued with her questions. For the second time I wished I could have kicked myself. What a dumb thing to say.
“Fair enough, Travis. I have some readers who might enjoy a bit of fantasy, something I’ve heard you’re very willing to indulge. Let’s test that. You seem like an adventurous man…so, what’s your favorite kind of kink? Or are you more a vanilla man?”
“What the fuck…? Where did that question come from?” I laughed.
“In answer, Paula, I’m a ‘any which way that pleases you’ kind of guy. Despite what you might have heard about me, my priority in the bedroom is to ensure you have a great time. Whatever your kink is, it becomes mine.”
Now we were moving onto my kind of questions.
“What is the most unique and unforgettable sexual experience you’ve ever had? Was it your idea, or hers?” she asked with a glint in those amazing blue eyes.
“This might shock you, Paula. I want to make love to someone, not just fuck them. Making love to someone would be a unique experience for me, one I’ve yet to achieve. As for unforgettable, I imagine that would be experienced at the same time.”
To say the look of shock that crossed Paula’s face was obvious would be an understatement. I wanted to pump my fist in the air – Suck on that, Miss Radell. No, maybe I shouldn’t have those thoughts. My cock was straining painfully against my pants. She leant towards me, her voice lowered to a near whisper.
“Does the thrill of being caught in the act make you uncomfortable, or aroused?”
I noticed her checking me out, she would know I was aroused right then. I turned in my chair so I was fully facing her, I wanted her to see the effect she was having on me.
“Another strange question. The thought neither thrills nor arouses me. I’ve been ‘caught in the act’ many times. Believe it or not, as I’ve already said, my focus would be on you, not where we were or who was about to interrupt us — other than that one. That one would sure put a dampener on things,” I said as I glanced towards the boardroom door.
Evelyn smiled as she entered, pleased to see her cousin. For the first time in my life, I was not pleased to see Evelyn, bad timing. Paula leant back in her chair, her hand pushed away a strand of hair that had fallen across her face. She cleared her throat and bit her lower lip to conceal the smile.
“Ev, great timing,” I said as she took a chair opposite us. Her eyebrows raised in question as Paula greeted her with a smile and glanced quickly at her notes.
“I think we are nearly done here, Evelyn. One more question if I may, Travis. Is there anything else you want to tell the world about Travis Curran?”
“You haven’t heard the last of me yet,” I gave her a wink as I stood.
I held the door open while Paula made her way from the boardroom followed by Evelyn, who hesitated, leaving her cousin to walk a few paces in front. She looked at me, her eyes narrowed. I leant my head to her ear.
“I’m going to marry her,” I said, then stood and walked away, leaving Evelyn looking open-mouthed at me.
In the final installment…I’ll switch points of view.
Check back and see what I really think of Travis Curran as I give my account of our ‘interesting’ interview.
“Travis, my readers are completely entranced by the “man behind the man” – and very curious about what makes you tick. Let’s give the readers what they want, shall we? Although I know you’re American, I swear I hear a hint of Irish when you speak. Am I right? And if so, were you born there, do you have any memories of Ireland?”
“I’m not sure why your readers would be entranced by me but thank you. You’re right, I guess there is a slight twang to my accent. I was born in the States, my mother was heavily pregnant when she arrived. As for the accent, I guess I didn’t really have an education, not in the traditional sense anyway. I was brought up in an Irish community, surrounded by the accent so I suppose it was natural that I adopted it as I learnt to talk,” I replied.
“Do you ever think you might visit Ireland, and if so, what would you want to do?” she asked.
I swallowed hard and thought for a moment. I remembered back, as a child my sister would tell me stories, folk stories about giants warring. I felt a pang of sadness.
“No, Paula. I don’t think there is anything in Ireland that I’d want to see.”
“Tell me as much as you can about your job at Vassago. You are obviously more than Mr. Stone’s driver…what is it that you do to help run the family business?”
Interesting question and I kicked myself for not finding out what she knew about us. Being related to Evelyn must have meant she knew who we were, surely?
“I guess you could say I’m a jack of all trades. I’m involved in security, troubleshooting, problem-solving even,” I said. I’d let her decide what any of that meant.
“Other than your brother, Robert, who would you say has had the greatest influence on the man you are today?”
“Your cousin, Paula, has to feature quite high on that list. Both Robert and I have a lot to thank her for. She found us, she helped us get off the streets. She’s probably the kindest woman I know,” I answered.
There was something very different about this interview. It felt serious for a start but watching Paula as she spoke, she hardly referred to her notes and she took down my answers in some sort of shorthand as I spoke.
“What’s your drink of choice after a long day at the office? What’s your go-to favorite meal?” she said.
“Mmm, I think I prefer a bottle of beer — Robert’s your wine man — and favorite meal? I have two answers, but let’s stick with the sensible one – anything Evelyn prepares for me.” I smiled, pleased at my restraint; however, I felt a twitch in my pants as I thought about what I’d really like to eat…
“What else do you do to unwind, besides sparring with Robert?” Paula said.
“Miss Radell, did you just wink at me?” I was starting to really enjoy this exchange. “I have many ways of unwinding, all are very pleasurable.”
“If you could live anywhere else in the world – and, come to think of it, you probably could – where would it be, and why?”
“I haven’t been outside the US, I don’t even own a passport, Paula. So I guess my answer would be right here. I love DC, my family is here. I’d live where ever my family are.”
Paula put down her pen and turned her whole body towards me. I took in the sculptured neck, a neck I wanted to run my tongue over. I took in those piercing eyes, eyes I wanted open and on me as I… No, I wasn’t going there.
“When you meet a woman for the first time, what is the first thing you notice about her?” she asked.
Shit, what a question. Do I answer honestly?
“It depends on the woman, Paula. You, for example, the first thing I noticed was the colour of your hair and eyes.”
That atmosphere had changed, there was a current flowing around us and the air felt charged.
“Describe your perfect woman…what is she like? Have you met her yet?”
“My perfect woman? Someone strong in character, for sure. And have I met her yet? I think I have…”
Come back tomorrow for Part 3…Travis has more to share.