Thursday, June 30, 2016

LET'S HEAR IT FOR OUR HEROINES!

If you visited our blog on May 16th, you might have joined in on the fun with Catherine Lanigan, Karen Rock, Amy Vastine and me by trying to match pictures of our heroes with excerpts from our books and our July releases.

We had such positive response to that post that we decided to do the same thing with our heroines. Of course, what would a contest be without a giveaway!

Today, we are asking you to match:

·    the picture of the heroine,

·    the excerpt, and

·    the book.


We had a number of correct answers when we tried this with our heroes, so it shouldn't be too difficult!

Let's start with the pictures of our heroines . . .


If the cover has a clear image of the heroine, we went with an alternate image, or it would have been too easy! Now, here are the excerpts (and please note we changed names to pronouns in some cases, otherwise that would have been too easy, as well!) . . .

Excerpt 1
    Although it was an unusually foggy evening, she pulled on her running shoes, determined to fit in a run around the three-mile running trail that circled the lake. It had been a rainy and cold early June, and before that, she’d felt as if winter would never end after a record four-foot snow pack that stayed until late March. Still, she hadn’t missed a single day’s run since she’d taken up the sport two years ago to keep her weight under control and her mind off Louise Railton’s extra creamy homemade ice creams. The city had installed LED street lights all along the trail that allowed fanatics like SHE to run in just about any kind of weather.

She had invested in the best running shoes, clothing and gadgets to track her fitness, and she’d downloaded moti­vational podcasts to listen to while she ran. There was noth­ing like starting her workdays or evenings with inspiring mantras to help her reinvent her life.

And these days, she was all about reinventing, restructur­ing, realigning and rebooting herself.

Ever since she’d kissed a very reluctant Scott Abbot in first grade, she’d been labeled the town flirt. For most of her life, she hadn’t minded the moniker at all. She liked boys. A lot. She liked flirting and dating and being around men. She liked living in a man’s world and she liked being as good as any man in her job. She thought that men were more interesting than women, or at least she’d been telling herself that since high school because she’d never had many girlfriends. She was too busy dating two, three, four different guys in a single week. SHE always took it upon herself to explore whatever world it was that her newest guy was into. Baseball, football, track, cars, boating, weight lifting. She didn’t care. They liked her because she was “interested” and she loved their attention. The truth was that SHE learned to be good friends—and often more—with all the guys she knew. They liked holding her hand and stealing kisses on the Tilt-A-Whirl at the county fair.

However, the moment anything started to get serious, she moved on. It had been the only way to handle her life when she was in school. She’d been dead set on obtaining her degree, and nothing and no one could stand in her way.

When she graduated, she’d spent a year at a hospital in Grand Rapids then moved back in with her parents to help them with her aging grandmother. What she thought was going to be a single summer at home while she applied to top hospitals in Chicago and Indianapolis had evolved into an entire year. One year had turned into five. Her biggest surprise had been landing her dream job with Dr. Caldwell and Nate Barzonni.

In all that time, her modus operandi for dealing with men never changed. She was an expert at getting a man’s attention, but once she’d landed him, she threw him back. Catch and release.

She had come to realize that her commitment pho­bia and the lighthearted, devil-may-care persona she put on for the world to see, was just flat boring. Like a hamster in a cage, she was spinning her wheels and getting nowhere with her life.

The problem was that in a small town where everyone knew everyone’s business and had very long memories, her flirtatious ways had caused her to lose many people’s respect. And that was unacceptable to her.

Sticking her earbuds in her ears, She smiled to herself. She bent down to press her nose to her knees as she clasped the backs of her thighs. She’d made some real changes over the past year.

Excerpt 2
     The only thing that could pull his attention from these tempting cookies was the woman who’d made them. Faith slipped another cookie sheet into the oven. Her hot-pink apron was tied around her slim waist. Again, he was struck by how grown-up she looked. Where had the time gone? What would Addison have looked like at thirty years old?
     He shook off thoughts of his baby sister. He couldn’t go there. Not when they threatened to unleash feelings he had successfully boxed up and put away years ago.
     “Do I smell whiskey?” he asked, finally putting his finger on the mystery scent.
     Faith jumped, clutching her chest and shrieking loud enough to be heard for miles. Before he had the opportunity to apologize, she whacked him with her spatula.
     Dean tried to protect himself. “I’m sorry! Stop. Stop!” he pleaded.
     She gathered her wits and appeared remorseful. “Oh my gosh, I’m sorry.” Then quickly added, “But you really shouldn’t sneak up on people like that.”
     Keeping a safe distance, Dean tried to explain. “I wasn’t sneaking up on you. You didn’t even give me a chance to say good morning before you went postal on me.”
     She pushed some stray strands of hair that had fallen out of her ponytail behind her ear. “I’m not used to people walking around the house like mice. Sawyer whistles everywhere he goes, so I always know when he’s coming.”
     “Well, I apologize for not being a noisier guest. I’ll be sure to stomp through the house so you hear me coming from now on.” He reached for a cookie, figuring she owed him that much for attacking him. He was so hungry and the smell was so mouthwatering…
     Faith smacked his hand with the spatula before he could grab one.
     “Ow!”
     “Sorry,” she said, her cheeks turning red. “Just don’t touch my cookies.


Excerpt 3
     He placed the steaks on the barbecue and checked the potatoes again. He swirled the asparagus spears in their marinade and set them aside. He had a few minutes before they needed to go on the grill. When he finished his preparations and turned around, his gaze was immediately drawn to her.

     He liked the way she was dressed. White jeans that weren’t too tight, a royal blue short-sleeved blouse and espadrilles. Her dark hair was straight and loose, and cascaded down her back.

     She was wandering along the perimeter of his yard, her back to him. She paused here and there to lower her nose to a blossom or trail a finger along a velvet-smooth petal. She stopped by a large sycamore tree where he’d hung a wind chime. With a fingertip, she set it tinkling.

     As he watched her, she tucked a strand of it behind her ear. When she spun around and her gaze met his, there was a smile on her lips and in the depth of her deep blue eyes.


Excerpt 4
     “Excuse me,” a young woman’s voice called from the open door. “Are you still open?”
With a suppressed sigh, Aiden glanced up and spied an unsteady woman bracing herself in his doorway. He tried not to stare, but she looked like she’d face-planted in a puddle then fallen asleep in it. With her eyes at half-mast, her nose and cheeks red, and the ends of her blond hair dripping, she reminded him of his cat, Grinch, when he got caught in the rain: woeful and bedraggled in a way that made Aiden chuckle and then scold himself…and want to make it better.
“Come in.” He strode forward, his pace quickening as she swayed. No one passed out in his bar. Especially not a lady. His hand snaked around her waist and held fast as her exotic scent washed over him.
There was no other way to describe it: she looked and smelled expensive, from the satiny feel of her coat to her leather purse. In fact, noticing the designer plate plastered across the top of the bag, he remembered seeing the same kind in a Fifth Avenue window, a purse his sister had pointed out. Three thousand bucks. Enough to pay for Connor’s braces, Ella’s much begged for dance classes, or remodeling the bathroom with safety gear for his Alzheimer’s- afflicted mother.
Pick a bill, any bill, he’d often thought, after his father had died ten years ago and Aiden started struggling to keep the family and their business afloat as the eldest of seven children. Sometimes it seemed like he was the one drowning; his feverish, crazy work schedule was all that kept him and his family above water.
The woman blinked up at him with wet-spiked lashes and the sudden flash of blue eyes knocked the wind out of him. “I need to dry off.” Or at least he thought that was what she said. She slurred slightly, enough to make him wonder how many bars she’d visited before wandering into his. Uptown girls didn’t usually venture into a small operation like the White Horse.
“This is the place for it.” He helped her to a wooden bar stool, the dampness of her coat seeping through his shirt and slacks.
She blew her nose and swiped at the water dripping down her cheeks. “I look like a drowned rat.” Was it his imagination, or were there tears in her eyes? He’d seen plenty of people weep into their cups at his tavern, one of the many reasons he never imbibed himself. Yet her sorrow looked deeper than that.
“Here.” He handed over a bar towel and squinted at her. “And you don’t resemble a rat. A cat maybe,” he mumbled to himself, then clamped his lips shut. What an idiot. “I’m Aiden.” He flicked his eyes her way, but she seemed lost in her own world, running the cloth over her hair and face. In her state, she’d never remember what he said.
“I’m Rebecca. So how do I look then?” She shoved back her hair and peered at him with questioning eyes.
Under the soft glow of the antique light fixtures, her skin gleamed, her heart-shaped face prettier than he’d first thought. Her small nose flared above a mobile mouth with a generous upper lip. And those eyes. He couldn’t look away from them. “Fine,” he blurted, then hustled behind the bar.
“Loose lips sink ships,” his grandmother had always said. And his life was already the Titanic. He needed distance from his new customer. She was short-circuiting his brain, one already over-taxed with handling his chaotic family and hectic business.
He had no room in his life, or thoughts, for romance. Letting himself imagine otherwise was a fool’s path he’d gotten lost on once before. He’d never risk it again. But a lost girl caught in the rain had a way of making a lonely man dream.
©©©

Finally, the books . . .







©©©
It’s just as easy as it was when we asked you to match the heroes, isn’t it?! <grin>

Here's the best part. You don't have to get all four books correct! We will each give away a signed book to a person drawn at random from those who match our heroine and excerpt to our July release correctly. (Books to be given away are shown below; US and Canadian residents only; e-book if international.) Please leave your answers in the comments section below and check back here on Saturday morning, for the announcement of the winners at the bottom of this post.



Thank you, once again, for playing along with us!

And don’t forget, you have until 11:59 PM ET today, June 30, 2016 to enter our Summer Lovin’ sweepstakes by preordering/purchasing anyone of our July releases and registering your purchase here for a chance to win a fabulous prize pack valued at US $250!


Good luck with the matching and happy reading!

Amy, Catherine, Karen & Kate

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

CELEBRATING THE 4TH by Marion Ekholm


Our town, Mahwah, New Jersey, was one of those chosen for a two year celebration of the Bicentennial, and a special parade was planned for July 4th, 1974. The churches were asked to participate. My husband was going to a church meeting and told me he didn’t want us to work on it. He’d been asked to be in charge and had said no. I was warned under no circumstance was I to volunteer. Fine. I wouldn’t volunteer.


While he was off to the meeting the phone rang. It was from a friend who was also at the meeting, and she had talked to my husband about doing the float. All she needed was my approval. I thought my husband must have reconsidered, so I said sure.

OMG!
World War III started when my husband came home. Why had I agreed, especially when he told me we shouldn’t get involved? Fine, he said, “If you want to do it, you can very well do it without my help!” My reaction – fine, “I’ll do it by myself,” because I didn’t want to let the congregation down (although I was ready to k… my friend for tricking me into this). World War III continued during the following weeks.

I contacted a friend about borrowing a trailer for the float. Since this was for the Lutheran Church, I visualized a cross with a Martin Luther flower which was prominent in so many stain glass windows. My husband did come around to lift the heavy cross made from railroad ties, but he offered little encouragement. I constructed the chicken wire form for the flower under the leaning cross. Numerous volunteers arrived the night before the parade to assemble the float – in the pouring rain. We kept the crepe paper and tissue paper roses covering the chicken wire dry under a tent. Fortunately, our garage was clean enough to back the float under cover. 

The next day the sun shown. Our children marched in the parade, and I drove the vehicle that pulled the trailer. The place where we parked the floats was only a quarter of a mile from my house so I walked home with a migraine. I told my mother-in-law I had a headache and no one should disturb me. I stayed in bed, even when someone came to the door to say our float won first prize for the churches.

Two years later, on another sunny day our town celebrated the Bicentennial, one of my most wonderful memories (so different from the one two years before.) Just down our street the area was closed off for all the events scheduled.

My family walked there in the Colonial clothing I made, and we were photographed by everyone with a camera. That cast on my son’s arm was for real. He broke it three days before and won a special medal for best boy's costume.

Special medals were made at the foundry. A limited number of brass ones were made as prizes (one my son is wearing) and the silver colored ones we could buy. An eagle representing the bicentennial was on one side and the railway museum on the other. My daughter won a cake on the cakewalk; my husband shot his black powder rifle out over the pond along with another man in costume; we danced on the tennis courts and watched fireworks later in the evening. Wonderful time.

Have you had a memorable Fourth of July? Or maybe a memorable headache?

 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Patricia Johns: Is Love Absolutely Necessary?





If you ever talk to married people--I mean really talk, and listen between the lines--you'll find out that people get married for a variety of different reasons.


1. Some marry for passionate, romantic love, because they can't imagine their life without this person, and they can't wait to make it legal. Being together is the goal, and they are willing to face anything in order to achieve it.

2. Others marry for convenience--he was older, kind, good to her, and she could learn to love him in exchange for some financial security. (That happens with men and wealthy women, too.) There are many social benefits to being married.

3. Some marry for mutual life goals--they both wanted the same things out of life, like social status, education level or lifestyle. Life is just sweeter when you achieve your life goals.

4. Sometimes people have reached an age where they're simply ready to be married, ready to have kids, ready for that stage of life, so they find someone who is also ready for those things and move toward marriage. Would a different person who is also wanting a domestic life also be an acceptable match? Sure, but this person will do just fine. Send out the invitations!

Affection is a factor, as is compatibility, but when getting married, being deeply in love isn't always a necessity to every couple.



Kim A. Calvert wrote an article for the Washington Post where she outlines her reasons for considering marrying a good friend. This man isn't anything more than a friend, but they get along very well, want the same things out of life, and want the benefits that come with marriage. Both have been married before, and while he has children from his first marriage, they are already grown and she has no desire to raise kids. If people can get married for a variety of non-love-related reasons, then why not simply embrace that and marry someone she cares for and respects? Why should she miss out on the benefits of marriage because she hasn't found someone she feels passionately about?

In the past, marriages have been arranged for all sorts of different reasons--love never once entering the equation. Some of these marriages have been highly successful unions of two people who respect and care for each other. Some have left both people miserable. But regardless of how society has treated marriage in times past, there are some basic human experiences that remain universal: childbirth, parenthood, friendship, family ties, and falling in love.

I would argue that Kim's idea of marrying a good friend has one basic flaw: what happens when one of you falls in love? The experience of really falling for someone is incredibly powerful. Wars have been waged for love. Lives have been uprooted, people have chosen to die in defense of the person they love. So just because one or both of you haven't experienced this yet, doesn't mean it won't happen. And how heartbreaking to finally fall in love with someone else after you've married for convenience!

Marriage is a personal choice. If you wait too long and never do fall in love, will you regret not "settling" for the sweet guy who proposed? If you marry the guy who curls your toes, will you live to regret not looking closer at the issues that could potentially drive you apart? Marriage is a risk--there is no way around it--but in this author's humble opinion, it's a risk best taken with someone you adore.

What do you think? Is passionate love an absolute necessity in marriage? Could you marry someone you both liked and respected, without a passionate connection? I'd love to hear your take on it!

You can find me on my blog: PatriciaJohnsRomance.com, and on Facebook. I write for three different Harlequin lines: Love Inspired, Western Romance, and most recently, Harlequin Heartwarming.

Patricia Johns
Harlequin author


Friday, June 24, 2016

The Importance of Allowing Yourself to Grieve by Roz Denny Fox



I’ve decided to do at least one more blog centered on life advice. This one on the cycle of grief isn’t easy to write and it’s tough to navigate. However, I consider it lucky that when I was much younger I had the privilege of attending a lecture in Seattle by psychiatrist, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross on death and dying. She wrote a book by the same name that’s one of few that honestly deals with the same subject. Maria Shriver has also written a good book about helping children deal with death. Today I want to talk about the importance of grieving, and the steps one takes to get through the process.

First, know it’s okay if grief for the loss of a loved one never goes away. But it does change and allows the person left behind to feel the full effect and to heal. Accept that friends and family may be uncomfortable with your grief. As the griever you’ll be busy going through a series of “firsts” without your loved one—birthdays, holidays, and other milestones to name a few. Others may not understand if you have a “down” day for seemingly no reason. But it has meaning to you.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross outlined 5 stages of grief that not only come about due to death, but also other disruptions in life such as divorce, job loss, house fire, retirement, becoming an empty nester, a natural disaster, etc. Recently I read an article that talks about an extended grief cycle. Instead of 5 stages, some people go through more like seven stages. I’ll give a brief break-down of those steps.

  1. Shock stage: This is the initial paralysis at hearing the bad news. **not in the original 5**
  2. Denial and Isolation: At first it’s natural to want to avoid the truth. It’s a coping mechanism to help you survive the loss. This stage encompasses feeling overwhelmed, or numb. Often this is when friends and neighbors feel you are unwilling to talk about the loss, which adds to their not knowing how to help and therefore gives the impression they’re uncomfortable. This stage ultimately passes for everyone, because eventually stage you must face the inevitable.
  3. Anger: This emotion can be overt or covert. It is the result of bottled up emotions. It’s actually considered a “safe emotion” because it keeps the grieving person from being sad, feeling despair, fear or anxiety. While it’s likely a person feels guilt or shame about the anger, studies show it’s normal, so try to not judge yourself.
  4. Bargaining: Seeking in vain for a way out. After anger often comes a feeling of helplessness and vulnerability. This is often called, “the if-only stage”. If only we’d seen a doctor sooner. Or if we’d prayed more. Even---if I’d been a better person. Recognizing this stage helps a person turn negative thoughts into positive ones. It’s easy to get stuck in this phase, so it’s important to be active not passive. Start each day by affirming to smile at someone. Delve into things that in the past have made you happy.
  5. Depression: If you actively work on affirmations in the bargaining stage, it’s more likely that this stage will be milder. Expect to sometimes feel less energy. There are times you will opt out of usual activities. It’s also true that this stage can debilitate a person. Severe depression can come in feeling totally hopeless. In an inability to get out of bed, or eat and sleep. While being depresses is a recognized stage, if your sadness lingers significantly, do seek professional help. If you think you can’t go on, it’s time to have a frank discussion with your doctor. And he or she will hopefully set you on a path to the…
  6. Testing stage: This is where you seek realistic solutions. **also not in the original 5** This stage often doesn’t come easily. So much depends on how successfully you navigate the previous stages. It’s here a person can slip backwards. It’s common to think life has dealt you too many blows; that you’ll never be whole again. Sometimes it’s helpful to seek out a good grief support group. (Note here that I say a good group) Some grief counselors allow group members to cycle and recycle through the anger and bargaining stages which isn’t helpful to reach stage seven.
  7. Acceptance: The ability to see reality and finally find a way to move forward. This is where you face your loss and all of its implications. This doesn’t mean you no longer miss your loved one, miss being married, miss your old job, etc. It means you have accepted your life as it now is. Just know that going through some form of each previous stage is necessary to help you overcome the trauma of life’s loss.
    People who work in the field that deals with grief say that trying to avoid it altogether can have a negative effect on your health and ultimate happiness. Cultures that have wakes, and wailing, and singing out of the lost souls, are found to get through the grief process better than many who see it as a weakness to mourn.
    I really hope my blog doesn’t turn you off or ruin your Friday. I really think it’s an important life cycle that we should face and discuss.  
    I recently read a book that is such a story of love and courage I want to recommend it. Partly a line from the book states it’s for our death-avoidant culture. I add, such an honest look at the philosophy of life by a gifted neurosurgeon, who is diagnosed with virulent lung cancer before he finishes residency. “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi is simply beautiful.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

"Let the Sunshine..." or "Gosh, my life is dull"

Realizing I was scheduled to blog Wednesday, I started thinking about my topic. The morning news suggested the perfect idea with a calendar reminder. Two days ago, June 20, was officially the longest day of the year, meaning the sun stays with us longer than any other time. Conversely, December offers the shortest day of the year. Normally I don’t think about that extra few minutes of sunlight but this time I did and decided to keep track of my activities with a purpose of using my precious sunlight well. So here’s list of what I accomplished on Monday, June 20.

First, I got up early, walked the dog and headed to Metro PCS to have my phone fixed. Yay, my voice navigation works again. Then I went to the pool (I live in hot, humid Florida) and did 40 minutes of water aerobics. Now, hours later, everything on my body hurts but I’m thinking one day all this effort will be worth it. Had lunch, took a short nap, and signed into an online author summit with the Heartwarming editors and staff of the Harlequin Heartwarming line. Thanks editors for your time and knowledge. I actually managed to sign on with minimal frustration and I was inspired to think about my next book proposal.
.
Then I trimmed my trees, disposed of the palm fronds and sucked an obnoxious palm needle out of my finger. Checked the tiles on my back patio and decided they need a thorough scrubbing. Didn’t do it, but definitely realized it needed to be done. Was supposed to go out to dinner with a friend, but instead cooked a light meal and spent the waning hours of the day on my kinda dirty patio where I looked up at my happy outdoor lights instead of down at the tiles. And until the sun went down, I read a book – a Harlequin Heartwarming naturally. And may I remind you that this month’s offerings are really good! I hope you’ll think the August books are worth your time too, because that’s when my next book comes out, The Bridesmaid Wore Sneakers.

As I look back at my longest day, I understand that nothing I did will change the world. Heck, nothing I did changed anything really except my trees look better. But I used up all that extra sun and look forward to doing it again next year. What do you do with your extra hours of sunlight during daylight savings time? We still have the whole summer ahead of us with dazzling sunlight and lots of opportunities. Are you glad you don’t live in one of those areas where the sun only shines a few hours a day? I know I am. (You people in hot, HOT Arizona are excluded from answering if your A/C isn't working and you currently have your heads in the fridge. :-)

Cynthia

                         My happy trees, my happy reading spot, my happy Sparky.







Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Fit at Any Age...with T.R. McClure

I'm a Survivor fan. Maybe the last surviving Survivor fan because when I mention the show I get blank looks. But it's been on the air for 16 years so somebody besides me is watching it.
In Survivor: Kaoh Rong, one of the contestants was a 71-year-old former FBI agent. I was amazed at how well he did in the challenges. But, hey, he was an FBI guy. They're supposed to be in shape. Then this morning I saw a news clip on the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. Twelve teams left London last August to sail around the world. Forty thousand nautical miles. Two months left to go.
Except for the skipper, the entire crew is amateur. One of the sailors is a 69-year-old woman. She's the rigger, which means she must climb 100 feet up in the rigging to make sail repairs. She could give Tarzan a run for his money. She got in shape over the past year by taking Pilates and pole-dancing classes.
So, I decided right then and there that age is not a factor when it comes to being in shape. Starting tomorrow, I am exercising (can I still write for Heartwarming if I take up pole dancing?) and eating right. No, wait, make that the next day. We still have leftover donuts from Father's Day and well, Grandma always said "waste not, want not". Obviously, she wasn't thinking "waist" at the time.
Don't forget to check out my first Harlequin Heartwarming Wanted: The Perfect Mom, which debuted this month and is just to the right of this column. While you're in the browsing mood check out my new website background at www.trmcclure.com.
Enjoy the reads!
T.R.

Monday, June 20, 2016

In Memory of James Ralph Ingram


This post is in memory of James Ralph Ingram, beloved husband of Harlequin Executive Editor Paula Eykelhof and beloved father of Emma Ingram

 A life well-lived. A man well-loved.

April 28, 1947 - May 30, 2016
It's so hard to summarize a life. Jim was many things to many peopleloving husband to Paula, proud father to Emma, affectionate brother to Russell and Gay. He was very fond of his nieces and nephewsJack, Sara and James, Erik, Hayley, Eli and Sarah, and Adrianand a caring brother-in-law to Alex, Hyacinthe and Josephine.

Jim was a good friend and companion, someone who not only enjoyed the company of others but contributed interesting ideas and unfailing humor to any conversation. He was an artist, whose photographs hang on many walls. He had a fascination with history, especially the US Civil War, and often walked the battlefields of Gettysburg. He loved music, from Dylan to jazz, classical and blues.

Jim worked at the University of Toronto Library in different capacities and, after his retirement, maintained his connections with former colleagues.

His travels were a source of enjoyment (and photographs). And it must be mentioned that he loved his cats and dogs.

Jim and Logan
As his daughter, Emma, says: He was an artist, storyteller, lover of music and books. The best kind of man to have a drink with, talk about art, ideas, life. He had a world view shaped by curiosity and his clever sense of humor.

Jim is loved, missed and will never be forgotten.

Donations in Jim's honor can be made to
The Princes Margaret Hospital Foundation or The Toronto Humane Society.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Sit Down Saturday with Tara Randel



Today we’re celebrating the release of The Bridal Bouquet.

So, Tara, where did you get the idea for this novel?

I have an ongoing series, The Business of Weddings, featuring wedding professionals, so of course a florist was a must. I knew I wanted the hero, Dylan, to be in some sort of law enforcement. Turned out to be the DEA. I also knew I wanted the heroine, Kady, to be in a floral competition at a convention, so when I sat down to the plot the book, it all fell together. Showing characters in the midst of their jobs is always so interesting to me. I also love stories with a suspense element and this is the first Heartwarming story I’ve added that layer.


 

In looking at the cover, if you could add a caption or captions, what would they say?

I’m getting married!

 



 How long did it take you to write?

The book took about four months. I so enjoyed the characters and had a such a clear vision of how the story was progressing, it didn’t take long.

What is your favorite scene?

I have so many! Spoken like a true author.

There is one scene in the book where Dylan’s mother ( Kady’s competition nemesis) asks him to pick up props for her floral lecture. He ends up dragging a full-sized Cupid cut-out to the workshop, along with bags of candy and flowers. Did his masculinity take a hit? No way. Sure, he didn’t hear the end of it from his brothers after his mother sent them pictures, but he fulfilled his mission. The fact that Dylan would do this for his mother made him swoon-worthy in my eyes.



After pulling out her notebook, Kady waited for the lecture to start. Jasmine seemed preoccupied. What was going on? She was just about to ask the woman sitting next to her when a commotion sounded from the back of the room. She turned, catching sight of Dylan dragging something down the aisle while balancing local store bags hanging from either arm.

He met his mother and she whispered in his ear. His head dropped and Kady got the distinct impression he didn’t like what his mother said. She sat back, enjoying the show. Her afternoon was looking up.

He placed the bags on the long table behind the podium and wrestled with the big thing he’d dragged in. As he righted the object, Kady realized it was a life-size cutout of Cupid. Arrows and all. Just then Dylan looked up. His gaze scanned the room and finally collided with hers. He stopped, and she could have sworn his ears turned pink. She pressed her lips together to keep from laughing out loud as Dylan moved to help his mother empty the shopping bags.

He looked at her again, his metal-colored eyes warning her not to say a word. Oh, she would, but later, when she had him at her mercy.



Who was your favorite character and why?

Dylan was a different hero for me. He had vengeance on his mind and would go to great lengths to avenge his partner, who was killed by a drug dealer.  His protective nature, and loyalty to his family, made him a multi-layered character.

This is your fourth book in The Business of Weddings series for Heartwarming. Exactly what does that mean to you?

I absolutely love writing books including weddings. There’s so much joy and drama! Perfect for fiction. My next Heartwarming will focus on music, so of course there will be a wedding band. The next will feature a photographer.

What do you plan to work on next?

I’m working on a Christmas novella right now and after that, a mystery, then back into another Heartwarming.

What are you reading for pleasure right now?

Reading for pleasure? Is there such a thing? LOL. My TBR stack is growing taller, but I can’t wait to dive into other Heartwarming books I’ve been collecting.




Tara Randel is an award-winning, USA TODAY bestselling author of twelve novels. Family values, a bit of mystery and, of course, love and romance are her favorite themes, because she believes love is the greatest gift of all. This is her fourth book for Harlequin Heartwarming. Visit Tara at www.tararandel.com. Like her on Facebook at Tara Randel Books