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Lora Leigh Shares Her Inspiration for Hunky Heroes

Romance author Lora Leigh shares how she finds inspiration for her hunky male leads. Her latest book, Ultimate Sins, is on sale now.

Lora leighWhere does the inspiration for a hunky hero come from?

Television. The movies. A particular book.

Or when you see a man jogging in the park, sweat sheening his dark flesh as he runs with a steady, powerful stride, wearing nothing but sneakers and jogging shorts that fall just a little too low below his navel. His muscles moving, flexing while the breeze flirts with his dark hair and his green eyes seem fixed on some point in the distance.

He’s snagged my attention now and my imagination is off and running, because the potential for “hot” is just shimmering around that far too gorgeous body like waves of heat rolling off asphalt.

He’s not really handsome. He’s not a pretty boy or some young poser. He’s a man. Mature.

Mentally, I’m rubbing my hands together in glee because my imagination is painting pictures for me and some wicked little imp is just pecking out the words as if the challenge to keep up with how fast the picture is coming together is just too great to pass up.

The jogger passes me, his jogging shorts brief, not hugging his body, but comfortably covering it. Black shorts, white sneakers. A white knight at the very core, but a really bad boy when he gets intimate.

I notice, the day is starting to get really hot. Where’s that July Polar Vortex the weather man promised? I’m anything but cool.

As I watch him jog away from me, my heart’s racing and there’s a heroine jumping above the others in my imagination, waving her hand and shouting, “Here I am! Here I am Lora! He’s mine!”

Because already an image is beginning to form of a hero.

He’s a man most women would shy away from. A good girl knows better than to look, let alone touch. But the good girl in the heroine demanding him has already made the mistake of looking.

The man she sees has seen life, lived it, glimpsed the darkness and knows it. He’s a man that when he touches, he knows where to touch, how to touch, for optimum pleasure. He’s a man that understands the fragility of a woman’s body, but he still has to learn the strength of a woman’s heart.

But she knows he seen her. From his periphery. He’s watching her as he jogs by.

He knows she’s there and he knows all her inner most secrets. There’s no hiding from him. There’s no hiding from the hunger he’s keeping carefully banked, the dominance that’s not really hidden in that sharp gaze. And he’s there, because of her.

He’s seen her before. He’s a man not used to telling himself “no,” but he’s also a man who has no idea what to do with a good girl.

This isn’t the type of woman he normally associates with. She’s not hard, bitter, and just looking for a few hours of pleasure.

This woman, he knows, will take hours. He’ll demand hours. He’ll demand forever…

Damn…I really didn’t have time to add a book to my list, but I think this isn’t just added—it’s heading for the top.

That’s what I get for going to the park to ponder the question, “What makes a hunky hero?”

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A.C. Arthur and Donna Grant on Writing Paranormal Romance

Romance authors A.C. Arthur and Donna Grant discuss their favorite parts of writing paranormal romance. A.C. Arthur's latest paranormal romance, "Shifter's Claim," is on sale now. Donna Grant's latest, "Burning Desire," is also available now.

  Shifter's claimA.C. Arthur – Whenever I sit down to write a blog post I always wonder where to start, what to say, what my tone should be. It’s the same when I start reading a book that takes me into a new world. 

Donna Grant - I definitely agree. For me, there's nothing more exciting than developing a new world - or getting to stay in one that I've already created. It's like starting with a blank slate. You get to craft your adversaries, allies, and everything else in whatever way you want. My favorite part of crafting a new world in paranormal romance is making my villains horrible, evil sociopaths. I've also been known to redeem a villain or two along the way. What's your favorite part?

A.C. – Growing up I could not wait until I was old enough to do what I wanted. Of course, I found out the hard way that grown-ups have a few guidelines they have to follow as well. But what I love most about building a paranormal world is creating the rules and adding characters that will ultimately break them.

Donna - Isn't it so much fun to weave these intricate worlds? I love when I add something that I don't Burning desirerealize could be detrimental to the characters. Until it is. In my Dark Kings series featuring dragon shifters set in Scotland, they are the ultimate protection for our planet against other supernatural beings. Yet they keep their true selves hidden from humans after a woman betrayed them. They've used magic to keep from falling in love with mortals, and yet love prevails. 

A.C. – This is so true about adding something to a world and then finding out how damaging it can be later in the series. For instance, in my first Shadow Shifter stories about the half human, half jaguar species that live among humans, the most important rule is complete secrecy. Yet, in Shifter’s Claim, the hero is forced to reveal himself in order to help the human he is desperately in love with.

Donna - I love when characters must choose between their world and love. It puts them in some amazing situations. In my book, Fire Rising, the hero, Tristan, has to show her his true form as he saves her from certain death. Then he does the unthinkable and brings her back to Dreagan for protection. Which doesn't sit well with some of the other Dragon Kings.

A.C. – I am sure the Dragon Kings were not happy to see her or to know that their secret was out! Another interesting aspect about world building is how we deal with the changes these new relationships prompt. My hero, Sebastian, is adamant that his mate—despite being human—remain by his side, even though he knows the rules. The Assembly Leader has to choose between killing the human and losing one of his soldiers and adapting to the situation. It’s not an easy choice because this will ultimately change the premise of their world and beliefs in future stories.

Donna - I love when one act changes everything for the characters and their world!

A.C. – Just as one decision can change everything in the real world. I think these are some of the elements that draw readers into paranormal stories. The way we combine the new with the old to bring about a happy ending each time can be very rewarding.

Donna - So true. With every book I write, something else develops in the world I created that I never saw coming. It's always so much fun to put our characters through the ringer, only to give them an HEA [happily ever after] at the end.

A.C. – Yes, it’s definitely all about the HEA ending!

Readers, what’s your favorite part about reading paranormal romances? Is it the wonderfully wicked villains, the intricate new worlds, or the hero and heroine who find love no matter what? Leave a comment and let us know. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Lori Foster on Her Love of the Alpha Male Hero

New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster shares why her favorite parts of romance books always involve the alpha male heroes. Her latest book, No Limits, is available now. 

No_limitsAlpha males are fun to write, which is why I chose Cannon Colter as the hero of my new book, No Limits, which will be followed by books about Denver, Stack and Armie in my new Ultimate series featuring MMA fighters. But alpha heroes are also my favorite to read. The guys can vary from young to mature, dangerous to domestic. But they need to be strong leaders and they have to be honorable.

In other words, they must be alpha.

I’ve read some really memorable hunky heroes lately, the kind that stick with you long after the book is finished.

Top of my list is West Young in Katie McGarry’s most recent release, Take Me On. I’ve loved every single one of McGarry’s books, but West was extraspecial—and he’s my new favorite. This young man is badly misunderstood by his family but remains notably honorable in his actions and emotions, very dedicated to those he loves, and so incredibly sweet with how he fell for Haley. :::sigh::: In all of Katie’s books, you experience the wonder of first love. It doesn’t get any better than that.

I can never think about alphas without remembering sexy demon Cadeon Woede, in Kresley Cole’s Dark Desires After Dusk. Being a rage demon, Cadeon is more alpha than most, with abilities well beyond mortal men. But he was still so utterly human in how hard he fell in love with Holly Ashwin, how badly he suffered over past mistakes and his extreme determination to claim what was his.

Dangerous Ty Garrison from Jill Shalvis’s Lucky in Love totally hooked me on the Lucky Harbor series. Ty is one alpha who knows how to make readers laugh, sigh and quickly turn the pages. He was so terrific about putting up with all the busybodies in the town, and he was so protective of Mallory—and so sexy—how could anyone not get hooked?

Heroic Staff Sergeant Mike Kowalski in Catherine Mann’s Shelter Me epitomized the real-life hero, those awesome men who serve our country. I got Shelter Me as an advance reading copy, and I’m so glad I did. Mike Kowalski returned from Iraq with battle stress, but instead of shutting himself away, he brought a dog from overseas to comfort the family of his fallen commander—who also happens to be the father of the only woman Mike’s ever loved. Then Mike did something I really loved—he moved into the McDaniel family's loft apartment (in a barn converted into an animal rescue) to help with everything from making home repairs, assisting the mom with doggie adoption events, helping the grandfather with Alzheimer's come to grips with his own PTSD and even guiding a deeply troubled teenage boy through coping with the loss of a father. How could the heroine—Sierra McDaniel—help but fall in love with Mike? How could we help but love an alpha hero who's so in charge yet so tender? To make it even better, the author included some scenes from the dog’s POV. I loved it.

For more tales about alpha heroes, be sure to check out these great Lori Foster titles: No Limits, Dash of Peril, Getting Rowdy, Bare It All and Run the Risk.

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Sarah Price's Inspirational Roots

Romance author Sarah Price discusses how her upbringing inspires her writing. Her latest book, An Amish Buggy Ride, is now available for preorder.

AmishbuggyrideSince I first learned how to write, I have always been creating stories. At first, I wrote with a pencil in little bound books, an eraser at the ready in my left hand. Later I graduated to an old Selectric typewriter, a present from my parents who encouraged my passion for writing. When I turned seventeen, I went to college and had access to my first real computer. The stage was set for the passion to pour out.

We live in a fast paced world, a world with plenty of highs and lows. While relationships seem to be easier to make, they can also prove harder to keep.  There is a heavy emphasis on individual rights vs. individual duty--I believe the media is calling this the "me generation". As I watch the younger generation, I worry about their future as husbands, wives, mothers and fathers.

That's one of the reasons I am so drawn to writing about the Amish. Having been born into a Mennonite family, I never had that "ah-ha" moment about the Amish and Mennonite culture or religion. They were just people that have always been a part of my life. However, with the increasing reliance of the world on technology, I find it amazing how the Amish culture, centered so staunchly on their religion, continues to survive with very little change.

Over the years, I have spent countless days and weeks living among several Amish communities. I’ve lived over mules sheds, stayed in Amish homes, attended worship service, and even held an elderly woman as she passed from our arms into God’s. For thirty years, this culture and religion have been a deep part of who I am. My acceptance within the different communities has come after many years and by demonstrating respect (and sometimes awe) for these amazing people.

In watching the children grow up, get married, and start their own families, I realized something very important: Romance doesn't have to be boy meets girl, they fall in love, have a conflict, and then resolve it. Romance can be dealing with inner struggles, overcoming personal affliction, and helping others deal with their own problems. Romance can be questioning life or dwelling on life-changing events. The key thing is that the people I write about -my characters- apply God's Word to help others as well as themselves. If they are able to represent, willingly or not, a righteous affection for the outside world while balancing the challenges of the Amish world, to me, that is inspirational and romantic.

My goal is to share my personal experiences with other readers, readers who most likely may never make cheese with an Amish woman or chase a kitten with an Amish girl. Yet, I want my readers to taste the horsehair that flies through the open buggy window and smell the amazing scent of freshly baked bread in an Amish kitchen. And, even more, I want my readers to fall in love, not just with my characters but also with the culture and the religion of the Amish, as an antidote for our overly fast paced world.

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Sherryl Woods Discusses Small-Town Mystique

New York Times bestselling author Sherryl Woods talks about small-town charm and why she—and readers—love it. Sherryl Woods' latest release, The Christmas Bouquet, is available for pre-order now.

Sherryl_WoodsOver the thirty-plus years of my publishing career, I've written a lot of books set in small towns. During most of that time, I've lived in a very big city—Miami. I grew up in another very big city, a suburb of Washington, D.C. And when I went to college, I landed at Ohio State University, which at the time boasted over 40,000 students.

So, how on earth did this fascination with small communities come about? I have several theories, one of which revolves around my childhood love for the Little House on the Prairie books. Not only did those books tell stories about a simpler time, but they focused on family and community. People cared about one another. Survival often depended on other peoples’ kindness.

During the same years I was reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, I was lucky enough to spend my summers in Colonial Beach, a tiny town on the Potomac River in Virginia. The year-round population was fewer than 5,000 people. It still is. My friends were local kids, rather than "summer" kids, so I got a real taste of small-town life.

While in the city, my spare time revolved around organized activities at school or church. What a difference in the summer, when we devised games to keep ourselves entertained, when we wandered up the street to get ice-cold soft drinks from a cooler in a neighborhood store barely bigger than a closet. Seriously. The building's still there and I marvel at how much seemed to be stocked in such a tiny space.

Sure, summer is a carefree time anywhere, but in a small town with all the entertainment relying on our own imaginations, it seemed magical. I desperately wanted to live there year-round and go to that small school and attend bible school in the summer with my friends. I thought my dad, who worked for the federal government, could surely find some sort of job at the small naval base near town. I thought my mom—an executive with a direct mail advertising company—should be a waitress at one of the local restaurants. Needless to say, they saw some serious shortcomings in my plan.

Still, I dreamed of living in that close-knit community where everyone seemed to know one another; where relatives lived down the street, not miles away; where parents kept an eye on all the kids in the neighborhood and where bingo on the boardwalk or a July snowball fight (crushed ice is a dangerous alternative, trust me on this) was excitement.

To this day my friends from that time in my life are among the closest I have. I still spend my summers in that same tiny town. And I can't go anywhere without running into somebody I know.

This background provided the basis for Seaview Key, for Chesapeake Shores, for Whispering Wind, Wyoming, for Serenity, South Carolina—the home of the Sweet Magnolias—and for all the other small towns I've created over the years.

That's all about me, but what about readers? Well, of course I have a theory about that, too. In today's world, many of us live far from our families. The sense of community we all desperately want may be harder to come by as we race from home to work, to obligations, then home again. Demands are many. Time to ourselves to read, to walk barefoot in the grass or catch fireflies on a summer evening, is at a premium.

Books set in small towns, whether mine or those created by so many other wonderful writers, fulfill our longing for a sense of community. Catching up with characters we've come to love is just a little bit like connecting with friends or family who live far away. It's reassuring. It's comforting. And it reminds us of a simpler time, when family and community mattered above all else. It seems to me that's something worth remembering.

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Exclusive Excerpt: "The Resolution of Callie and Kayden"

New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Jessica Sorensen shares an exclusive excerpt from the upcoming book, The Resolution of Callie and Kayden, #6 in the Coincidence Series. Get a sneak peek and pre-order before The Resolution of Callie and Kayden releases on September 30th.

Callie and kaydenCallie is standing in the middle of it the frosted trees and lights, staring down at the snowy ground. Her forehead is creased like she’s thinking about something deeply. She has a coat on, gloves, and boots pull over her jeans. Her hood is down and snowflakes cover her long, brown hair. She’s simply beautiful. Perfect. Amazing. And I give myself a moment to appreciate everything that’s her before I walk toward her. She must hear my boots crunch against the snow because she glances up, startled. Tiny snowflakes dot her eyelashes, her cheeks flushed, and she has a smile on her face, her eyes so full of love I seriously about turn around and look over my shoulder to make sure there’s no one else standing there.

“Hey you,” she says still smiling at me. But she shifts her weight, appearing nervous, which makes me nervous as well. Why would she be nervous?

“Hey you back.” My feet move toward her on their own, wanting—needing to be near her. “Why are you standing out here in the freezing cold?”

She holds up her finger, indicating to wait just a second. Then she walks toward the leafless, snow-bitten tree beside her and ducks behind it. A heartbeat later, music surrounds me. When she steps back out, she’s still grinning. The snowflakes swirl around us, almost moving with the slow rhythm of the song.

“What do you have back there?” I ask. “An iPod dock or something?”

She shakes her head as she hikes through the snow toward me, reducing the space between us, something I’m so grateful. In fact, I want it all gone—not a single drop of space left between our bodies. “No, it’s Luke’s stereo. Seth borrowed it from him so I could use it for this.”

I shake my head, a smile touching my lips for the first time today. “God, he’s so weird with all that old crap he keeps around, right?”

“Like all his mixed tapes?” she says with a soft laugh as she reaches me.

I nod, slipping my arms around her waist, eliminating the space between us. Suddenly I become warm in the midst of the cold. “I seriously think he belongs in the 80s.”

“Maybe he does.” She loops her arms around the back of my neck and draws me closer. “What era do you think we’d belong in if we could go live in a different one?”

“How about the 60s,” I suggest.

She smiles. “We’d be all about the peace, love, and happiness.”

“I think that sounds a lot like you.” I tuck a strand of her damp hair behind her ear. “I’m not sure about me, though.”

Her forehead creases as I stroke her cheek with my finger, memorized by the softness of her skin. “You’ve seemed a little bit down lately… has something been bothering you?”

My smile falters. “I’ve just been thinking about some stuff.”

“About family stuff?”

“Yeah… I can’t help it… with the holidays coming and stuff. It’s just got me thinking.”

“About your family?”

I swallow the lump in my throat. “Yeah, about my lack of one.”

“You have me,” she says quietly. “You always will.”

My heart tightens in my chest. “I know I do,” I say, then lean into kiss her, unable to take the little amount of space between us any longer.

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Romance Authors' Favorite Summer Reads: Part 2

In part 2 of our summer reads post, romance writer Susan Wiggs, author of the Bella Vista Chronicles and the current release The Beekeeper's Ball, shares highlights from her beach-read list. Click here for part 1.

41wsMwAvYnL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_The long lazy days and cool breezy nights of summer are the perfect time to relax and renew the spirit with a great read. If you’re familiar with my books, you might think my reading tastes reflect the topics I write about with such passion—romance, family, friendship, food and the immutable power of love to change a life.

And it’s true that I do love books in that vein, but when it comes to reading, I am a dedicated omnivore. Depending on my mood and interests, you might find me engrossed in a thriller, reading aloud to one of my favorite kids, reading a memoir, a book of poetry or even a cookbook.

I’m a dedicated true-crime junkie and a history buff, so Blood Royal by Eric Jager satisfies both of those urges. Although it’s a true account of the murder of Louis of Orleans by a gang of thugs, the story reads like a classic gumshoe detective novel. Think Sam Spade goes to fifteenth century Paris.

The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand is a deeply moving and ultimately uplifting novel of a woman whose giving spirit knows no limits. Bonus: The book is set on the author’s home island of Nantucket, which is one of those places we all dream about—roaring waves, sea breezes, an enduring history and every booklover’s paradise—a proper Atheneum.

A story that starts with a letter from a fan to a renowned author is always going to get my attention. I was completely smitten by That Part Was True by Deborah McKinlay, a pen-pal relationship sparked by a shared love of food and France—which happen to be two of my favorite things, as well. 

There is no reading quite so rewarding as sharing a book with a child. A well-written children’s book is one that holds both the listener and the reader in its spell, and this season brings some real gems. My school-age stepson and I are huge fans of Suzanne Selfors, who writes hilariously about boys, dogs, adventure, fantasy and friendship...and then the characters sneak up behind you and touch the heart. Her latest series—the Imaginary Veterinary stories—features every kid’s favorite mythical creatures. Check out the latest: The Rain Dragon Rescue.

And finally, it’s a little-known fact that Holly Hobbie is an author, not just an iconic doll in a bonnet. As a first-time grandmother, I’m excited to share my favorites with the adorable Clara Louise, who likes to read at least a book or two before every nap. The Toot & Puddle series is perfect, and “You Are My Sunshine” is one of the few songs I know from start to finish. It’s the perfect baby-read.

Enjoy the summer, the sunshine and most of all the stories that inspire your heart and mind. Don’t forget to laugh, cry, dream...and read.

Susan Wiggs

We want to hear from you--What have been some of your favorite romance reads this summer? Let us know in the comments.

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Romance Authors' Favorite Summer Reads: Part 1

In part 1 of our 2-part post (click here for part 2), romance author Barbara Freethy gives us her list of must-reads for the rest of the hot summer season. Her latest novel, That Summer Night, is on sale now.

ThatSummerNightSummer is my favorite time of year. I'm a California girl, so we have a lot of days that feel like summer, but there's nothing like those few months when the light lasts until nine o'clock and a warm breeze swirls around you late into the night. I love to set books in the summer and my latest, That Summer Night, stars a young doctor and an ex-soldier who discover that saving the world first means saving themselves and falling in love. 

If you're looking for some good books to read this summer, I hope you'll check out That Summer Night, but here are some of my favorite summer reads by other authors. Some of the books are brand new and others have been out awhile, but I think you'll enjoy them all:

Christie Ridgway – Take My Breath Away (Cabin Fever Book #1)

Christie Ridgway is one of my favorite contemporary romance writers. Her stories are always fun, sexy and a little bit sassy. I really enjoyed the first book in her new Cabin Fever Series called Take My Breath Away where a single mom meets a former teen idol and sparks quickly begin to fly.

Ava Miles – Nora Roberts Land

This book intrigued me just by the title alone. Have you ever dreamed of finding a hero in real life like you read about in romance novels? Who hasn't? Well, a new contemporary romance writer Ava Miles gives us just that kind of story in her novel, Nora Roberts Land. Her heroine, a newly divorced journalist, returns to her small town to debunk the Nora Roberts romance novels her ex-husband blamed for their divorce only to discover happy endings do exist--with a hero who could have starred in a Nora Roberts novel. With Nora Roberts' blessing for the use of her name, Ava's story is witty and charming, making it one of my favorite summer reads. This book kicks off Ava's Dare Valley Series.

Nora Roberts – The Collector

Nora Roberts' latest romantic suspense, The Collector, was also one of my favorite reads this summer. I love books that mix romance, suspense and even a little adventure, and The Collector does all three. A house-sitter witnesses what looks like a murder in the building across the street and is soon thrust into a dangerous mystery. The hero, a sexy painter, becomes her ally and together they risk it all to find the truth and fall in love. Don't miss this one.

Barbara O'Neal – The All You Can Dream Buffet

First of all, I love this title. It immediately made me hit the buy button, but I also love Barbara O'Neal's books. She writes beautiful women's fiction stories that are charming, poignant, filled with emotion and charm. In this book, she ties together food and friendship as a popular blogger and foodie queen invites three of her closest online friends to the Oregon wine country. She wants to find an heir to sustain her life's work, and hopes that one of these women will fit the bill. If you enjoy women's fiction, this is the book for you.

Bella Andre – Just To Be With You (Seattle Sullivans)

Bella Andre is my go-to author for sexy romance and her latest title, Just To Be With You, part of the Seattle Sullivan Series is the perfect mix of sexy fun and charming romance. Ian Sullivan, a wealthy and powerful CEO, falls for Tatiana London, a hot Hollywood actress, and the passion between them sizzles. This one will steam up your summer sunglasses.

Ruby Laska – Black Gold (Boomtown Boys Series #1)

This series starter has everything I look for in a sweet romance: a hunky alpha hero, a sassy heroine who's easy to root for, a touch of humor - and just enough quirky twists to make it stand out from the pack. A glimpse into the country music business and a fresh new setting--the North Dakota oil fields--add up to a real page turner.

I hope you'll enjoy checking out some of my favorite summer stories. Don't forget to check out my newest book, aptly titled That Summer Night.

Happy Reading,

Barbara Freethy

 We want to hear from you--What have been some of your favorite romance reads this summer? Let us know in the comments.

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Maisey Yates Gives Us An Excerpt from "One Night to Risk it All"

In One Night to Risk it All, best-selling author Maisey Yates offers us a sassy heroine's perspective who finds herself whisked away to Cannes by a sexy Greek while carrying another man's baby.

MaisyYatesIt’s hard to argue with a Greek billionaire. Which is why I’m here in Cannes, avoiding the champagne, thank you very much, as I’m gestating a human being. Which is not exactly where I thought I’d be in my life right now. Things like this don’t happen to Jane Cooper. I’ve been called Plain Jane (very original) for most of my life for a reason.

Plain Jane finds herself dateless on prom night. She finds herself waiting tables instead of using her scholarship for a university across the country so that she can stay close to home and care for her mother while she’s sick. Plain Jane does not find herself caught in some weird cross fire between two billionaire brothers.

But you know…life surprises us.

It was shocking enough, getting into this arrangement with Nikos Christakis, but then his older brother, Theo, showed up at Nikos’s mansion and demanded I accompany him to Cannes (something about an emergency).

Well, that wasn’t strictly the case. He tricked me.

Turns out he thinks I’m a gold digger, which would be funny if it weren’t so close to the truth. I mean, considering where I’m at in life, it’s a tough one to dispute.

Pregnant with his brother’s baby, holed up in a luxury house on his private island. And all for a chance to improve my circumstances. I can’t really argue with Theo’s accusations. But Nikos is aware of what I want, and more than that he was the one who proposed the arrangement, so it’s not like I’m evil.

Though it’s clear Theo thinks I might be. Every time we get close he moves away like he might get burned.

The scary thing is, when he’s close, I feel like I might get burned. He makes me feel warm, from the inside out. Like everything in me is melting. It’s disturbing to say the least. As if the early stages of pregnancy aren’t making my body weird enough, I have to negotiate whatever it is that happens to me when Theo gets close.

Last night, he almost kissed me. He was looking at me like I was the vilest thing to have ever crawled into his hallowed home, and then suddenly it all changed. The spark that was burning there, with hatred and distrust, caught fire and it burned out of control. Into something else entirely.

No man has ever looked at me like that before, and I can honestly say that, even though I shouldn’t have wanted to lean in and press my lips to his more than anything in the world.

But it didn’t happen. He came back to his senses, which was for the best because I was lost completely. He turned away from me, swearing, cursing his own name and mine. And he told me he could never touch me, because I belonged to Nikos. I belonged to his brother and was carrying his child.

I wonder if things would change if he knew the truth. If he knew that I really was doing this for the money. That Nikos has never touched me. That I’m pregnant because of a medical procedure, not because of passion. That I’m a surrogate, and not a mistress.

He would either turn away from me forever…or he would give in to everything burning between us.

And I honestly don’t know which one frightens me more.

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Q&A with Jill Shalvis

Romance editor Alyssa Morris spoke with author, and 2014 RITA nominee, Jill Shalvis about her popular "Animal Magnetism" series, the Romance Writers of America (RWA) conference, and her love of writing relationships.

Then Came YouAlyssa Morris: First, I just finished Then Came You. I loved it. Wyatt is amazing. So I’m excited—can you tell us what’s next in the Animal Magnetism series?

Jill Shalvis: Well next is Wyatt’s two sisters, Zoe and Darcy.

AM: Yay!

JS: Darcy is next, I just turned her in. She’s a wild one. She’s like a tumbleweed rolling through town and she finds her happily ever after, of course, the hard way. As Darcy does everything.

AM: I was really hoping when I was reading it that that was where we were going.

JS: That’s where we’re going. And she comes out in April, and it’s Still the One. That’s the title. Zoe will come out in October but I don’t quite have a title for her yet.

AM: What in your own life provides inspiration for your novels? Is there a small town you go to or do you live in a small town?

JS: I actually grew up in a very large town, one of the largest, Los Angeles. And a small town to me was always a fantasy. In Los Angeles you can go and never be recognized. You could never see anybody you know. So, you go to the grocery store for days and never see anyone. I always wondered what it would be like, because you read in these small town things how you can go to the grocery store and you see your dentist and you go to the gas station and you see your next-door neighbor. So that was always the fantasy and that was why I started writing it. It’s just a coincidence that now I live in a small town and so, because I grew up in a big town and now live in a small town, I find all these small town idiosyncrasies funny, you know? That’s my inspiration.

AM: You’re kind of more primed to notice it?

JS: Correct. Because now I go to the grocery store and I see five people I know. You used to be able to go to the grocery store in your pajamas and bunny slippers and no one would care, but now you can’t because everybody knows everybody. So I enjoy pulling the humor out of those sort of things.

AM: I saw you’ve recently gotten into Supernatural.

JS: Oh my god! Can we talk about that for the next three hours?

AM: Are you still catching up?

JS: Yes I’m on season 5, and I resent [the RWA] conference because I haven’t gotten to see a single episode. Are you into it too?

AM: I haven’t gotten quite sucked in yet but I have a feeling it’s coming.

JS: Oh it’s coming. It’s addictive—you just can’t stop watching. Yes, I’m in love with Supernatural.

AM: I feel like I’ve had to put off watching it for a long time because I know that once I start--

JS: It will be all over, trust me.

AM: Do you feel like this will influence your work at all? Is it inspiring you to write a paranormal?

JS: Not necessarily paranormal, although I would love to do that some day very much. I would love to write witches. Or ghosts. But what I am finding is that the characters—at the core of Supernatural what really draws me isn’t the ghost, isn’t the demons, it’s the brothers’ relationship with each other. And that to me is so amazing and so touching—even though they are either beating the heck out of each other or they’re mad at each other. I have daughters and I understand and recognize that relationship. It’s OK to mess with your own sibling, but it’s not OK for anybody else to mess with that sibling. And I love the romance. I just love men and their relationships with each other. I always do that in my books. And I think that is what draws me to Supernatural. And you will see the influence of that.

AM: What’s your favorite part of coming to RWA?

JS: For sure going to the signings and meeting people who read my books. You know, we work alone all day long and you’re alone with your laptop and your characters and you don’t get a lot of feedback unless you go online and read reviews, and I don’t necessarily have the time for that. I have a very full life and I feel very separated from what readers do and think, so when I come to conferences, that’s my favorite part, is hearing feedback.

AM: So paranormal and witches…is there another genre of romance that you would like to try your hand at?

JS: Definitely paranormal, that draws me. That’s probably it. Other than that—I mean I love writing and reading contemporaries so I’m gonna stay there to the end of time. But some day I will dabble in paranormal, I think.

AM: I think it’s interesting now how a lot of people are kind of branching out from their genres and giving their own spin on something else. And I think readers really like seeing that.

JS: I do, too. And also, it’s always a mistake to write to the readers, but I am a reader at heart, so I feel like I have the same taste that readers have.

AM: That makes sense. Is there anything you’ve been reading lately that you really loved?

JS: Well I go through spurts. I’m a pop culture fanatic, frankly, I mean I love TV, I love books, I love magazines, I love movies. But I go in spurts. So either I’m reading or I’m watching TV. Right now I happen to be marathon-ing tv, but I’ll get back to books.

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