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Today, I’m thrilled to host my good friend, fellow Roguer and national best-selling author Marina Adair! Marina’s book, Summer in Napa, released the day after Long Simmering Spring, and we thought it would be fun to interview each other. We made a deal: we’d ask each other the exact same questions, we’d swap blogs, and we’d give away a copy of each other’s book. (You can find my interview with Marina here.) The giveaway information is at the end of the post! And with all that said, let the fun begin!

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Welcome, Marina! Please tell me about your latest release. What’s coming down the pipeline next?

Marina & Elisabeth

Marina & Elisabeth

First off, thanks for having me here, Elisabeth!

As for my latest release, SUMMER IN NAPA is the second book in the St. Helena Vineyard series. It follows the next to youngest DeLuca brother, Marco, and is out now. This book was so much fun to write because my hero and heroine are not only fighting the need to get naked every time they see each other, they are also fighting against their past—Lexi’s cheat of an ex-husband just so happens to be Marco’s childhood best friend. Finding a good reason for Marc to break man-law and fall for—and into bed with—his best-bro’s ex was entertaining.

Then the third book in the series, AUTUMN AT THE VINEYARD, releases October 2013 and centers around Nate, the brother who always has a well-laid plan for every occasion. Until he lands the most sought after vineyard in the Napa Valley and finds himself locked in a land dispute, and forced to cohabitate, with a hot-headed, irrational, and incredibly sexy woman, who doesn’t have a logical bone in her luscious body. Nate is surprised to discover that chaos could be so much fun—especially when she sleeps in nothing but lace.

Tell me something most people don’t know about you and would be surprised to learn.

When I was a kid I had a pet chicken named princess. She was an indoor/outdoor chicken and would follow me everywhere. We had tea parties, roller-skated, played Barbies, we even used to watch Highway to Heaven and Magnum PI together on the couch.  Which is funny because my daughter had a pet chicken too, Autumn, and to date it was her favorite pet.

So far, what has been the most rewarding moment in your writing career?

I always thought it would be the moment I saw my book in paper or had my fist book signing or five-star review, but it wasn’t. It was overhearing my daughter tell her friend that her mom was an author and when she grew up she wanted to write stories too. Later that week, on the way home from school, she told me her idea for a book she wanted to write and asked if maybe this summer we could write a story together.  That moment will stick with me forever.

SPEED ROUND:

Go-to snack when writing?  Eggo Waffles.

Favorite all-time favorite movie? This is a hard one … Sabrina

Chocolate, cake, or chips? White cake with white frosting. YUM!

Childhood fictional-crush? Remington Steel and Magnum PI. Oh, and Face off A-Team

How long have you been writing? I started my first novel in summer of 2008

How long did it take you to get published? Sold my first book in January of 2012

Summer in NapaJust because she is awesome sauce, Marina is doing a GIVEAWAY!

One e-copy of her Summer in Napa can be yours!! I loved the childhood fictional crush question (which Marina totally thought up), so in the comments section, tell me YOUR childhood fictional crush, and one random commenter will be chosen. To win, please like Marina on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. Contest ends on May 26, 2013, at 9pm Pacific.

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The winner has been chosen, and it is Kris! Thanks everyone for leaving a comment!!

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Prepare yourselves for something a little different. Today, I am taking over Jennifer Probst’s blog and she is taking over mine. Who is Jennifer Probst, you might ask? Well, I’ll tell you: Jennifer Probst is the New York Times, USA Today  and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Marriage to a Billionaire series, which includes The Marriage Bargain, The Marriage Trap, and The Marraige Mistake. She is also a Mets fan (something that Mr. B is super happy about), a mom of two, and all-around funny lady. For our swap, we decided to tell tales of motherhood and do a giveaway! Without further ado, please let me present: the Blog Swap!

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Jennifer Probst 3 with watermarkHoliday Breakdown by Jennifer Probst

Ah, motherhood.

Aint’ it grand? Most of the time. There are special times around the holidays that I savor and make me feel incredibly lucky to be a mom. My two young boys adore the festive season of Thanksgiving through Christmas. They love feasting on turkey and spending time with their cousins. Look forward to putting up the tree, scrambling through boxes and re-discovering their handmade ornaments and favorite decorations. Adore marking up the huge Toys R Us catalogue with their lists for Santa. Long lists. Really, really long lists.

But let’s be honest. The holidays are also a time for major breakdowns. Can’t even blame the poor kids – there’s too much going on and their poor little brains misfire. Sparkling lights, endless commercials toting the latest gadgets, desserts cramming space in their bellies. The result?

Meltdown.

The other day, I had to drag my kids into the store – which I try not to do around this time of year – and sure enough my older son caught sight of a large box with a glittery sign screaming Slushie Magic.

Oh. My. God.

“Slushie Magic!” he screamed at the top of his lungs. He hugged the box and lifted his beautiful face to mine. I looked into the melty brown eyes. “Mommy, please! I NEED to have this.”

“OK, I’ll get it for you.” He shook like in a convulsion. “For Christmas,” I said firmly.

NOT the right answer.

He dragged in a tearful breath. “No! I can’t wait for Christmas – that’s years away!”

I wheeled the cart  past the box and tried to jolly him along. “Let’s go, sweetie. Christmas is only a few weeks away and I promise you will have it under the tree.”

He didn’t budge. Pulled himself to full height. And said: “I want it NOW.”

My head scissored like the Exorcist. My kids know one thing about me. I am a huge pushover and get them way too much stuff. But the moment they act like a spoiled brat, I lose it. “Enough,” I snapped. “I told you before – no gifts till Christmas. Now stop acting badly or Santa won’t come at all.”

Thank goodness for threats of the big guy. But this time it didn’t work. My poor son just lost it.

He burst into tears and started screaming: “I want Slushie Magic! I want Slushie Magic.”

And so it began. I ended up dragging him down the aisle, while he cried with snot dripping from his nose. My little one stuck up for him and began crying too. I pushed the frikkin cart back down the aisle to the checkout, ignoring him completely while other moms shook their head in judgment AND sympathy. Let’s be honest, there’s nothing like a bratty kid that’s not ours to make us feel like a hell of a better mother. The cashier eyeballed us in horror, and I did the walk of shame to the parking lot while my usually sweet boy demanded his damn slushy.TheHolidayHoax_w7038_300

So, let me pose the question to you my dear fellow mothers. What is YOUR breakdown story this holiday season? Hell, if you don’t have one for this year, I’ll let you comment on a previous one to be fair.

I’m giving away a free ebook of my holiday short romance, The Holiday Hoax.

Enjoy your season of presents, family, and tantrums!

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Jennifer, it has been awesome having you here! Thanks for joining me!

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Today, I am very happy to welcome Natalie Bahm to my blog. Natalie is the author of The Secret Underground, a children’s novel she chose to publish as a fundraiser (with the blessing of her amazing agent, Sara Megibow) to support one very special, very sick little boy. She is also a debut author! I encourage you to read Natalie’s take on young romance, explore her site which has more information about the fundraiser, and purchase a copy of The Secret Underground. Without further ado, here’s Natalie:

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Everyone Loves a Little Romance

I’m a children’s writer.  I write stories about adventure and growing up, and explore how family and friends play a role in those things.  My characters try to figure out where they fit in the world and learn to speak for themselves.

And I also like to include a little romance.

There are plenty of people who believe middle grade fiction is not the place for romance.  Those people clearly do not remember what it’s like to be an eleven-year-old! When I was eleven I had crushes on boys.  I daydreamed about my own happily ever after and wondered what kissing would be like.  I enjoyed books with a little fun and adventure, but my biggest requirement for a great read was that it included a love story.

Middle grade romance is obviously different from grown up romance and even young adult.  My stories tend to focus on feelings that are based on admiration rather than lust (there’ll be plenty of time for that later!)

I also don’t include a whole lot of physical stuff.  I think in the five books I’ve written there are may be two handholding scenes and one kiss. But there’s plenty of teasing and compliments and goose bumps and butterflies—all the things that make first love fun.

For me, no story is complete without a little love—and that’s true whether a reader is nine or ninety.

My first book, The Secret Underground has a sweet little romance.  It’s an adventure about a girl who discovers her little brother is digging tunnels along with all the neighborhood boys (including the cutest boy in her class).

It’s a very special project that my agent, Sara Megibow, and I put together as a fundraiser for a little boy who’s been in the hospital off and on since birth.  You can learn more about the book and the project HERE.  I hope you’ll consider buying a copy for a child in your life.

The paperback version is available on Amazon.  The eBook can be purchased just about anywhere eBooks are sold.  You can buy the audiobook through iTunes, Audible, and Amazon.  The paperback will be available through more booksellers soon.

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Thank you, Natalie! I hope the fundraising goes well. Please come back to chat any time!

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Today, I am thrilled to welcome Jessica Scott to my blog! I’ve been a guest on Jessica’s blog twice, most recently last month, and this is her first time here. I’m very glad to return the favor, because Jessica is what they call “good people.” Have you ever meet someone you know is a complete straight-shooter? Well, that’s Jessica. And regardless of whether we have the same vocabulary, we definitely speak the same language.

Now, a bit about my guest. Jessica made her debut with Loveswept (yay!) with the moving military romance Because of You. The sequel, Until There Was You, comes out on October 8th! Jessica joins us today with exclusive bonus material, a giveaway, and some swearing! <gasp> Yes, swearing on my blog!

Welcome, Jessica!

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So when I first met Elisabeth at RWA this year, it became clear like within 5 seconds that she and I were from completely different backgrounds. We’d be having a conversation and while I generally try to keep my jargon to a minimum, she was constantly interjecting with wait, what does that mean. She had me cracking up on multiple occasions because I’d say something like well my duty day starts at six thirty for PT and she’d stop me with something like what’s PT.

It’s kind of a running joke between us but what’s really awesome is that regardless of where we come from, we still both speak the same language when it comes to books.

In all seriousness, when you find fellow writer peeps who get you, who do actually speak the same language, you should hold on to them for everything they’re worth. Elisabeth was there for me through some pretty rough spots when writing this book and I’m incredibly grateful.

In honor of our language barriers, I thought it would be really appropriate to post the deleted first chapter of my next book UNTIL THERE WAS YOU with Elisabeth because, well, I’m quite certain she’ll laugh when she reads this and then send me a bunch of notes asking me what the heck that means (Elisabeth also doesn’t cuss, which leads to much hilarity between us).

(yes something along these lines has happened to me at multiple points in my military career. No, I’ve never burned down a large portion of Fort Hood).

So here goes! Enjoy!

Three years and two deployments later

“What the hell happened, Captain Montoya?”
Claire Montoya stood at the position of attention looking at a point over the top of her brigade commander’s head and the smoke coming out of his ears. Okay maybe that wasn’t exactly true but Claire was trying to distract herself.
Otherwise, she might just piss her pants.
She’d had ass chewing before. Epic ass chewings. But never like this. Never this quiet fury mixed with utter disappointment from a man Claire admired and looked up to. He’d always been hard on her but she’d always performed. Always made him proud of her.
Now? Now she was ashamed. And humiliated because that Evan Loehr stood off to one side, looking completely self-righteous. She could not believe she’d ever thought kissing him was even remotely close to a good idea. The smug bastard had turned her in.
She should know better by now. Three years and two deployments had shown her exactly what Evan Loehr was made of. How could he stand there, looking so smug knowing he turned in one of his former platoon sergeants? Who knew Captain America was such a prick?
He was everything Claire wasn’t and the bastard made sure she knew it every time she walked into the room. He never laughed. He never took risks. He wouldn’t deviate from the plan if it meant he pissed down his own leg instead of veering off to find a latrine. How had the same war taught them both such dramatically different lessons?
Claire took a deep breath and tried to find the words to explain, in very simple sentences, the epic disaster at the weapons range earlier that day. “Sir, I had the wrong ammunition. It was my assessment that it was more important to get the soldiers qualified on their weapons than to worry about some civilian employee shutting us down because of the risk the tracer rounds held.”
There was that smoke again. Accompanied by a dark shade of purple creeping up Colonel Richter’s neck. It would probably be a bad time to ask him if he’s taken his blood pressure medication. Then again, he never really appreciated her sense of humor. Probably better to keep that question to herself.
“So you and the other Wonder Twin set Clear Creek Rifle Alpha machine gun range on fire because your assessment was that the troops needed to fire more than we needed to oh, I don’t know, not burn down Fort Hood?” His voice was deadly calm.
Claire felt two inches tall and covered in slime. Next to her, Sergeant First Class Reza Iaconelli, a man who had been her partner in crime since Claire had been a private more than a decade ago, shifted uncomfortably. The movement drew Colonel Richter’s gaze and his anger.
“Sarn’t Iaconelli, I’ve known you a long time and you’ve pulled some stupid stunts in the past but this is pretty much the dumbest thing you’ve ever done. What, were you drunk?” Colonel Richter shook his head and held up a hand. “Don’t answer that.” He took a deep breath. “I can’t believe I’ve got to do this.” He pinched the bridge of his nose then jabbed his index finger in their direction. “You two are going to Fort Carson. And you better not do anything to discredit this brigade or I will hang the both of you.”
Claire opened her mouth to argue. She had plans right here at Fort Hood. Plans that did not involve freezing to death in the dead of winter in Colorado Springs.
Colonel Richter slammed his hand on the desk, cutting off whatever she’d been about to say. “Not a word, Captain. I tolerate your flaws because you’re a natural tactician, but I have had it with your constant cowboy antics. You will go to Colorado and you will get our support company ready to deploy with the Palehorse Brigade and you will adhere to the plan for once in your life or I will personally end your military career. Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes sir.” Her voice didn’t waiver but it was a close thing. Next to Colonel Richter, Evan lifted his chin. The only other sign of life was the slight flare of his nostrils as he inhaled slowly. Anger and humiliation wrestled in her belly at being dressed down in front of Evan.
“And you.” Colonel Richter turned his cold blue eyes on Reza. “You’re lucky to still be in the army.”
“Thank you, sir,” Reza said quietly. Claire wanted to punch him. Now was not the time for sarcasm.
Colonel Richter let the comment slide. “There are limits to what I’m willing to overlook. Do I need to say anything else?”
Beside her, Reza stiffened slightly. “No sir.”
“Get out.”
In sync, she and Reza saluted and executed a rigid left face and marched from the office. The door closed quietly behind them.
“Well, that was fun,” she said as they walked down the hallway. “I don’t know about you but I lost about five pounds off my ass.”
“Meh. You’ve taken worse. Remember Iraq?”
Yeah, she remembered. That ass chewing had almost ended in court martial. Battalion commanders didn’t generally approve of captains violating orders in the middle of a battle. Good times. She looked up at Reza. He might not be standing there today if she had obeyed those orders. It was worth it then and it was worth it now.
Reza looked down at her. He’d been her rock her entire career and sure enough, he’d stood by her today. That kind of loyalty was hard to find. Claire didn’t do trust. Not easily anyway. The war had shown her too many people’s true colors.
But Reza had always been stalwart. No matter what.
“So. Looks like we’re going to Fort Carson,” he said.
“Pack your sweater,” Claire muttered. She was going to need more than her cold weather gear. She needed a full blown miracle because if Colonel Richter said he would end her career, he wasn’t kidding. She was like a cat on her last life.
And she was was well and truly screwed because for an officer, Claire was terrible at following instructions.

#

“Has the fire been contained yet, Loehr?” Colonel Richter asked once the door closed behind Claire and Iaconelli.
How had that woman manage to make it through Officer Candidate School, let alone the last two deployments unscathed? If she knew the inside of a single Army regulation, he’d eat his Stetson. She had a mouth that could make an infantryman blush and Evan wondered if he’d ever stop thinking of her mouth on his all those nights ago. The echo of that kiss and the epic mistake it had turned out to be still stung sharply. It was a memory he’d been unable to banish.
He’d never admit to a living soul that seeing her standing there, soot marking her cheek, looking disheveled and defiant aroused a deep longing inside him. One he’d been ignoring since that first – and only – kiss.
Then there was her whole lack of following orders thing. She’d driven him just this side of bat shit crazy when they’d been deployed this last time. She did what she wanted. Evan simply didn’t work that way. He could not fathom disobeying orders. Or lying.
Or burning down half of Fort Hood. Which took a lot considering Fort Hood was the largest military installation in the free world. He could not believe the brigade commander hadn’t fired half the dynamic duo yet. Even after today. But in a private part of his heart, he admired her guts, her willingness to take risks. He simply could not operate the way she did. Full speed ahead and damn the consequences.
There were always consequences.
“Sir, Range Control called right before we came in. They’ve contained the fire.”
“Anyone else hurt?”
“No reports of further casualties.”
Colonel Richter rubbed his hand over his jaw and mouth. “Three months home from combat and we’re still sending troopers to the hospital,” he murmured.
Evan said nothing, the weight of the non combat injuries weighing on him despite not being a company commander any longer. He’d done his time. That didn’t mean he still didn’t miss leading soldiers.
“Sir, what’s going on in Colorado?” he asked after a moment.
As quickly as it had appeared, the thoughtful mood passed and Colonel Richter pinned him with a hard look. “Pack your gear. You’re in charge of this little boondoggle.”
Evan’s guts clenched and he swallowed the sudden dryness in his mouth. He did not want to go to Colorado. Ever again. “Sir?”
“Because our support company was the first group back from our deployment, they’re being attached to Palehorse Brigade. They’re deploying in less than 90 days. You’re going to oversee their training to make sure they’re good to go before they ship out.”
Evan simply stared, unable to give voice to the concerns slamming through his brain. Sadly, it looked like he needed to work on his poker face because Colonel Richter pinned him with a hard look and said, “What’s on your mind, son?”
Evan searched for the right words. “I’m worried about Captain Montoya on the mission, sir.”
Colonel Richter nodded thoughtfully. “Claire is the best officer for evaluating their convoy techniques and you know it. Maybe, instead of talking to her like she’s one of your lieutenants, if you treated her like a peer, you two could stop arguing all the damn time and get some work done.”
Evan opened his mouth to argue the point then snapped it shut abruptly. They may have the same rank on their chest but she was not his peer. No, he did not have dark, primal fantasies about his peer. And he was lying to himself. He didn’t want to talk tactics with her. He wanted something else entirely from Claire Montoya. But he’d never, ever act on that impulse and he kept his thoughts to himself. To argue that with his brigade commander was just…childish. He breathed deeply. “Roger, sir. I’ll get the rest of the order from Major MacLean, sir.”
“Good man, Loehr. I need you to keep the Wonder Twins out of trouble. They’re a damn good team but they need guidance. Keep them from blowing anything up or getting someone hurt. Colonel Bill Danvers is the brigade commander down there and when I say he’s risk averse, I mean he won’t take a piss without a risk assessment.”
Which meant Colonel Danvers was a coward, but Evan didn’t say that out loud either. There were things one simply did not say to full bird colonels.
“Roger, sir.”

From the back cover:

Jessica Scott returns with an all-new contemporary eBook original romance, following last fall’s release of her sizzling debut novel Because of You.
He plays by the rules, she’s not afraid to break them. Now these two strong-willed army captains will prove that opposites attract . . .

A by-the-book captain with a West Point background, Captain Evan Loehr refuses to mix business with pleasure—except for an unguarded instance years ago when he succumbed to the deep sensuality of redheaded beauty Claire Montoya. From that moment on, though, Evan has been at odds with her, through two deployments to Iraq and back again. But when he is asked to train a team prepping for combat alongside Claire, battle-worn Evan is in for the fight of his life.

Strong, gutsy, and loyal, Captain Claire Montoya has worked hard to earn the rank on her chest. In Evan, Claire sees a rigid officer who puts the rules before everything else—including his people. When the mission forces them together, Claire soon discovers that there is more to Evan than meets the eye.

He’s more than the rank on his chest; he’s a man with dark secrets and deep longings. For all their differences, Evan and Claire share two crucial passions: their country and each other.

You can order UNTIL THERE WAS YOU at these ebookstores or wherever ebooks are sold!

B & N | Amazon | Powell’s| iBookstore

BIO:
Jessica Scott is a career army officer, mother of two daughters, three cats, three dogs and two escape-artists hamsters, wife to a career NCO and wrangler of all things stuffed and fluffy. She has commanded two companies, served in Germany, Korea, Fort Hood and Iraq, and been lucky not to get fired. She is a terrible cook and an even worse housekeeper, but she’s a pretty good shot with her assigned weapon. Somehow, her children are pretty well adjusted and her husband still loves her, despite burned water and a messy house.
You can find her online at
Website: http://www.jessicascott.net
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jessicascottauthor
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jessicascott09
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5131118.Jessica_Scott

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Jessica is also doing a Rafflecopter giveaway. Prizes include a Kindle Fire or Nook Color, and digital copies of Until There Was You. Click on the link to enter!

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Today I am thrilled to welcome fellow Loveswept author Ruthie Knox, super sharp, super mom, super writer-and-editor extraordinaire to my blog! Ruthie has the distinction of being my first guest, and luckily (for me), she really knows her stuff! Ruthie has a rabid following, and for excellent reason – her first novel, Ride with Me, was published to acclaim, and her second about-to-be released book, About Last Night has already garnered some rave reviews! And now, without further ado, Ms. Knox and I will start discussing the juicy stuff!

Elisabeth: Hi Ruthie! I’m so pleased that you agreed to join me today as part of your blog tour. I’ve had the pleasure of reading both Ride with Me and About Last Night, and both were outstanding reads. I must admit, however, to having a soft spot for Nev.

Ruthie: Thanks, Elisabeth! I, too, have a soft spot for Nev. Roughly the size of Nevada. I have a feeling that the release of About Last Night is going to divide my entire nascent fan base into Team Tom and Team Nev. At which point I’ll fan the flames, as one does. (But secretly: Team Nev.)

Elisabeth: Oh, yes. I am not-so-secretly Team Nev!  He’s just delicious. Like really, truly, delicious. And I’m not the only one who thinks so! There are others….many others.

All right, I have a ton of questions to ask, so let’s get down to it, shall we? Of course I want to start with Nev, or shall I say, the perception of Nev?

Cath (the heroine in About Last Night) is convinced that Nev is a good guy. Too good. And so was I, when I started the book. Yet he spends a good bit of time stating that he’s not. Now here’s the kicker: I’d say it’s a trope (as some in the industry say) that women must fall for men who appear bad, but who are actually good. Nev, on the other hand, not only appears good, but is good. This makes him less desirable in bad-girl Cath’s eyes. It’s only when he shows her his artistic side – his naughty side, if you will – that she starts to get interested. And he plays this up, telling her repeatedly that he’s not good. At least, at first. Was it your intention to flip the script here?

Ruthie: Not precisely, but how clever you’ve made me look!

I’ll admit to being preoccupied, as a writer, with characters’ first impressions of each other. Cath only ever sees Nev at the train station and when they pass each other jogging in the park, but she’s certain long before she meets Nev that she knows what he’s like — so much so that she’s downright smug about it. And the version of Nev she’s so dismissive of is his public face: the suit-wearing, briefcase-carrying banker on the train platform. He’s a well spoken, well educated, ridiculously handsome man, and guys like that just aren’t for her.

What interests me about Nev is that he is all those things, but he doesn’t want to be only those things — and particularly not to Cath. He wants her to see the interior version of him, the one who’s more rebellious, less fettered, and sometimes downright wicked. That’s the place where all his talk about not being good in the early chapters comes from. And ultimately, the impulse to be bad for Cath, if you will, is good for him, because it leads him (eventually) to becoming a more authentic version of himself.

Elisabeth: Nev is a bit wicked! There’s one sex scene toward the end of the book where Nev’s naughtiness really comes into play. It was extremely well-written and very, very hot. When I first read the scene, I read it as him being wicked for her. Now I can see that his flash of naughtiness is there, all along, underlying his very proper exterior.  I think that’s why I like Nev so much; he keeps a lot hidden and he blossoms with his desire for Cath.

Now let’s talk about our heroine, Cath. I think the one word I would use to describe her is “damaged.” I’m not saying that is a bad thing; she’s fully functional, despite her very difficult past, which just speaks to her strength. In fact, the more I realize what she’s been through, the more I think “heroine” is an apt word. Care to comment?

Ruthie: Yes, absolutely. Cath is one of those characters who’s more broken than she looks and less broken than she thinks — if that makes any sense at all. She’s had a difficult life, and because of it she’s made a choice to be different, to leave her past behind and be New Cath. I didn’t want to write a character who was caught in the past, moping and broken. Part of what “heroine” requires for me is a woman who takes what life throws at her and fights back. Cath carries on — bravely, I think — and she’s managing to make her way in the world. But sometimes the best you can do on your own isn’t nearly as good as the best you can do with the love and support of another person, you know? And that’s why she needs Nev.

Elisabeth: And from the start, Nev instinctively gets this. That she needs him, even though she’s telling him she doesn’t.

Ruthie: Yes. I love that about Nev — he has excellent instincts about Cath, and he doesn’t push. The alpha heroes of contemporary romance frequently have a very entitled, obnoxious way of insisting that their beloved heroines share Every. Single. Thing with them. If Nev had tried that with Cath, she would’ve walked out on him, and he knows it. Cath needs a lot of time and space to trust him, and even more to start trusting herself. The novel divides quite neatly in half around those two journeys.

Elisabeth: Okay, let’s get back to this alpha thing. I’ve talked with you about the fact that some people (you included?) thought Nev was more on the beta side. I totally disagreed, based in large part on the fact that Nev won’t take no for an answer when it comes to Cath. He doesn’t barrel through, but he has some creative work-arounds to get Cath to see things his way. Have you reconsidered your initial thoughts about the alpha/beta thing?

Ruthie: Well, yes and no. To a certain extent, the labels are useless, in that “alpha” often becomes shorthand for all positive male characteristics, and “beta” means “weenie.” We all develop our own sense of what these terms mean. I happen to like beta heroes. I like alpha heroes, too. Let me tell you another secret: I like men. All sorts.

So let me hasten to say that even if I think Nev is fairly beta, that doesn’t mean he’s a weenie. There’s no question that he’s strong and determined. He knows what he wants, and he goes after it. But I suppose I think of a beta hero as being a more fundamentally nurturing person — a man who’s more a facilitator than a take-charge warrior. Nev is a younger son in a powerful family. He’s the number two guy at work. And in his heart of hearts, he has no secret, burning desire to run the show. What he has a secret, burning desire to do is play rugby on the weekends and paint and have lots of hot, sweaty sex with his girlfriend.

Elisabeth: Okay, so how are you defining beta?

Ruthie: I guess I define it in terms of (a) tendency to lead and (b) tendency to nurture. I think the stereotypical “alpha male” is a leader who has to learn to nurture the heroine — or perhaps who doesn’t instinctively nurture, but is compelled to care for the heroine. Whereas my idea of a stereotypical “beta male” is someone who’s more of a follower, who nurtures instinctively. And while both alpha and beta heroes are strong — they wouldn’t be heroes if they weren’t — beta males are less likely to impose their will on others, and particularly on the heroine.

There’s a moment in the novel where Nev is thinking about Cath, frustrated with all the walls she puts up between them. He remembers every strategy he’s tried to win her trust, and he’s afraid he’s running out of ideas. He thinks, “If that didn’t work, he’d just have to–”

How would an alpha finish this sentence? “He’d just have to make her”? “He’d just have to kidnap her and take her to a Greek isle and seduce her into revealing her secrets”? “He’d just have to hire a private investigator to find out what she wouldn’t tell him”?

Nev thinks, “He’d just have to start begging.”

And that’s why I love him.

Elisabeth: Yes, but Nev doesn’t beg. He simply goes about achieving his “yes” in a different way, in this case, going for the grand gesture, which I don’t think is begging at all; it’s his own interpretation of their past….and their future. Is Nev maybe more alpha than you think? Am I reading too much into the character that you created? :)

Ruthie: Well, he does beg a little, but I kept it mostly off-screen. But you’re right about the ending — Nev finds a different way to achieve his “yes,” and in the end, his victory is about persuading Cath to see herself through his eyes — the way he’s already (finally) learned to see himself through hers. The romance catalyzes a metamorphosis for both characters that helps them find their way to being more authentic, more settled, happier versions of themselves, together.

Elisabeth: Well, you’ve pretty much summed up why I read romance! Ruthie, it has been a pleasure to have you as a guest. Please tell us where readers can learn more about you, and About Last Night (did you like my wordplay)?

Ruthie: I always like your wordplay. You’re so cute. Readers can find all the details about About Last Night, as well as news about me and my blog tour and whatnot, on my website, www.ruthieknox.com. I also have a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ruthieknox, and I’m on Twitter constantly using the handle @ruthieknox.

About Last Night is available for preorder through Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and after the release date (June 11) it will become more widely available at e-booksellers in the United States. Foreign versions (English-language) usually start showing up online a couple weeks after the U.S. release.

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