Flirting with Disaster by Ruthie Knox

Flirting with DisasterBook: Flirting with Disaster

Series: Camelot Series

Author: Ruthie Knox

Review by: Onnica

Basic Story: Katie Clark has decided to start over by returning to Camelot, where her family and old friends still live. Recently divorced from her selfish ex, Levi – and experiencing something of a drought in the love department – she’s keen to get her mojo back and her new assignment in her brother’s security firm could provide the opportunity she’s been looking for. The job: to look after famous musician Judah Pratt and find out who’s been sending him threatening mail. The downside: working with Caleb’s surly, silent and sullen colleague, Sean Owens. It’s not that she has a problem with him; quite the opposite. She’s been trying to pierce through his stony veneer for months, but to no avail. He won’t speak to her or even look at her if he can help it. Instead, he prefers to lose himself in computer coding and avoids any personal contact with her at all costs.

Determined that they will at least be civil during their assignment, she confronts him one night and finds that there is much more going on with the sexy computer whizz; most importantly that he doesn’t hate her – at all. In fact, he’s been crushing on Katie since high school, where he’d stare at her from the back of the class. He’s dealing with a lot of feelings he thought were buried. He’s back in Camelot to tie up loose ends with his mother’s estate and struggling to move on. Both confused and relieved by his admission, Katie wants to throw caution to the wind. A casual fling with a colleague before he returns to his life in California, while protecting a difficult and spoilt celebrity with his own problems; what could possibly go wrong?

Why you should read it: Hallelujah, a heroine I actually liked and could root for! They’re rarer than the red squirrel these days. Katie, despite her past mishaps is fun, with a great attitude and an open heart. I loved her – she owns her feelings and may indulge in the odd pity party, but it never lasts long and she doesn’t make others suffer from it. Sean – what can I say about Sean? He’s hot; he’s mostly silent, with so much bubbling under the surface. His silence is due mostly to the stammer he thought he’d conquered years ago. He has many layers and I really enjoyed getting to know him. There’s humour and sentimentality in equal measure in this story – both characters are masters of the one-liner and their vulnerability at times made me tear up – which doesn’t happen to me very often.

What you might hate: I don’t see there was anything to hate – Sean’s behaviour isn’t always stellar but there are reasons for it and I think are perfectly understandable – by the end all is forgiven!

Rating: 4/5 for a sexy, funny and absorbing story about love, how your parents can really do a number on you and the fact that it’s never too late to start over. I loved it – and I’m sad that we’re nearing the end of the Camelot series (with only one novella left) – I really like these characters for their depth and realism.

Flirting with Disaster is out on June 10th.

Come Alive by Jessica Hawkins

Book: Come Alive

Series: Cityscape #2

Author: Jessica Hawkins

Review by: Onnica

Basic story: Three months have passed since Olivia ran from David’s bed in a state of panic and guilt. Struggling to be the perfect wife and friend while coping with the death of her mother-figure Davena has sent Olivia spiralling into depression and everyone is worried about her. Unable to admit to anyone what is consuming her every thought, she remains closed off. Convinced she’ll never see David again, she buries herself in her work, avoiding her husband Bill, whom she cannot look in the eye without the guilt washing over her.

Determined to draw a line under what has happened and make her marriage work, Olivia is dumbfounded when she comes face to face with David at her friend’s wedding. What is he doing there? He’s accompanied Dani, her friend’s sister as a date. Unable to cope with her feelings of jealousy, she struggles to take the higher ground. This is how it’s supposed to be: her with Bill and David with someone who isn’t married. If she keeps telling herself that, she may end up believing it.

Instead of putting ghosts to rest, the meeting has the opposite effect. David is worried by Olivia’s appearance – she’s lost weight, is clearly unhappy and he wants to help. This time he doesn’t intend on letting her go. Olivia comes to the realisation that in order to be happy, she will have to make a life-altering decision; work on her marriage and give into the demands of her husband or take the chance on something more with David.

Why you should read this: If you read and were sucked in by Come Undone, then you’re seriously going to want to read this next instalment. Seriously, trilogies are notorious for the second book just being filler, where not a lot happens. This is NOT the case with Come Alive. We get to know Olivia, David and Bill in greater depth in this book and the lines between good and bad are so blurred you’ll find yourself rooting for the couple causing the pain. I couldn’t put it down and read it all in one go until I finished it. At some points in the book I thought Olivia was going to turn into one of those heroines who spend chapters and chapters repeating the same inner monologue about who to choose, but when she decides to be honest with everyone – it completely knocked me on my ass and I totally respected her!

What you might hate: Ok, so the story IS based on an adulterous relationship. But you knew this already – if that’s not your bag then this whole series may not be for you. However, the way the author has presented the characters is so real, so engaging and so powerful, that you’ll end up thinking, ‘I know this is wrong, but…’ You’ll ask yourself questions like, should you remain in a marriage because you vowed to, even if it isn’t working? I’m not absolving Olivia and David completely though. There are times when I wanted to shake the pair – they don’t always make the right decisions and at one point near the end of the book I really didn’t agree with what they did or the way they did it. (But then I reminded myself that it is fiction, so I unclenched!)

Rating: 4.5/5 I was blown away (and I never give half points!) as I thoroughly enjoyed the journey these characters are on. The writing is honest, non-judgmental and allows the reader to make up her own mind about what is right and wrong. I just want everyone to be happy in the end! I’m in serious danger of becoming a massive Jessica Hawkins fan-girl.

Come Alive is out on May 30th. For the chance to win a copy, click here.

Tangled by Emma Chase

Book: Tangled (ARC unedited copy)

Author: Emma Chase

Review by: Onnica 

Basic story: Drew Evans has it all – he’s young, handsome, wealthy and well-connected; a big splash in the world of investment banking. He lives to work and loves to hook up with anonymous females on a regular basis, never sleeping with the same woman twice. No attachments and no looking back. EVER. A self-satisfied, smug alpha – he’s about to be taught a very valuable lesson.

On a night out, he meets a woman who will change his outlook on life forever. She gently rebuffs his advances as she’s engaged – not like he’d let a fiancé stand in his way! They part and he’s intrigued. Nobody ever says no to the mighty Drew Evans.

The following Monday at work presents new challenges. His father and boss wants him to mentor the new starter; a bright and successful new investment banker. His heart sinks. He hasn’t got time for this – until he’s introduced to Katherine Brooks, his new colleague; the woman from the bar. His attitude suddenly adjusts and he can’t wait to ‘mentor’ her.

Slowly, the pair are thrown together in more and more work situations. When Kate’s star (which is on the rise) threatens to eclipse Drew’s ambitions, he demonstrates just how competitive and ruthless he can be. Kate isn’t a woman to be messed with however, and she can be just as ruthless and single-minded. Let the games begin. (Think War of the Roses.)

Why you should read this: The story is told from Drew’s perspective – it’s very male and I for one think it’s refreshing to get the male point of view for a change. Every thought is delivered in lurid detail and certain parts of the book really made me laugh out loud by how the male mind works. The style of the book was interesting too – he tells the story as if it were a film and he’s watching the action back. The reader is there with him to witness it all. I think Emma did a great job of getting inside the head of an arrogant, d-bag male.

What you might hate: This book has been billed as the next Wallbanger – which is fine, except for the fact that it’s nothing like Wallbanger! Wallbanger was one of my favourite books of 2012, so perhaps my expectations were set way too high. The book is NOT subtle and pretty crass in places – which is entertaining but tends to grate after a while. I didn’t find Drew’s character sympathetic. AT ALL. I’d say he’s more of an anti-hero – don’t get me wrong, he’s not a bad guy, he’s just immature, petulant and spiteful! Even the love of a good woman who is more than his equal couldn’t soften my feelings towards him. He’s a brat.

Rating: The writing was great. I think Emma really nailed the worst aspects of the male psyche. The book had a lot of humour, making it a light and enjoyable read.  It won’t leave you feeling warm and fuzzy, but it does show that even the worst womanisers are capable of redemption. For the writing, I give it 3/5. For the likeability of the characters – 2/5. Tangled is out on May 21st.

A note from the author: Anyone purchasing Tangled on 5/21, email your Amazon, Nook Kobo, or Chapters receipt to giveaways@emmachase.net to be entered to win a $25 Amazon, Omnific or B&N Gift card.

Author Interview: Jessica Hawkins and Come Undone Giveaway!

Hey everyone, I’m feeling very lucky today as I get to ask one of my favourite breakout authors of 2013 a few questions! Jessica Hawkins is with me to talk about her new bookCome Alive Cover Come Alive, which is Book #2 in the Cityscape Series.

Onni: Jessica welcome!

JHawk: Thanks for having me.

Onni: So I’m just going to jump right in – I read your bio at the end of Come Undone, and you’ve pretty much given up your day job to work on writing full-time. What pushed you to do this? Weren’t you scared?

JHawk: Well, I have this ’30 under 30′ list that I started in college, but it only has two things on it: write a book and swim with sharks. After school, I moved to Costa Rica for almost two years, where I picked up surfing. Well – picked up isn’t right – more like fought and flailed and struggled until I finally got the hang of it. When it was time for me to move from the white-water to the line-up, I was scared out of mind. And that was why I knew I had to do it.

Onni: And writing a book?

JHawk: This was sort of the same thing. Quitting my job was, and still is, scary. Writing this book was scary. Putting it out into the world… well, it was worse than making the leap to the line-up. But every time I hopped on my board and rode a wave, it was worth every minute. And if there are people who connect with my story, who really get it, then it’s worth it too. I have one year left to swim with sharks. (I sincerely hope I never unknowingly surfed with sharks!)

Onni: I re-read Come Undone to refresh my memory for this interview and I didn’t think it would be possible to like it more, but I did! Olivia is a complex character, but a sympathetic one. Can you give any insights into the journey she’ll face in the next book(s)?

JHawk: Thank you, what a compliment! Olivia is definitely complex, and she becomes even more so as the story continues. Her journey won’t be easy… trust me, I wanted to baby her, but I couldn’t. Come Alive is dark and emotional. Olivia’s already come undone, but before she can come out the other side, she has to come apart – and some difficult questions will be raised.

Onni: Olivia has a ‘difficult’ (to put it mildly) relationship with her mother that was touched on in Come Undone – will we meet her in the Come Alive?

JHawk: Yes and no. Neither of her parents actually appears in the second book, but the reader will learn more about Olivia’s relationship with her mom and where she comes from. But as we know, Olivia isn’t one to give it up easily – so their issues will be covered further in the third book.

Onni: What prompted you to write a story about deception, passion and love? Adultery is a topic that authors these days generally steer clear of, yet some of the best love stories (e.g. The English Patient and the End of the Affair) have included forbidden, star-crossed lovers. How did you go about making them sympathetic and not simply the ‘bad guys’ doing bad things?

JHawk: That’s a great question. I’ve done research and I know adultery is a tough topic. I think it scares people, so I find it utterly fascinating. Cheating is one of the worst crimes a person can commit, so I had to know – why do it? What’s the rationale? In love, nothing is black and white. Adulterers are branded with a scarlet “A”, but things aren’t always what they seem. I wanted to show another side to it. I wanted to tell a real story, not something with sugar on top.

Which leads me to the next part of your question – it was very tempting to make things easier on myself by having Bill & Olivia be engaged or dating rather than married, or by turning Bill into an unsympathetic jerk. That would’ve been the easy way out, though. I continually refer back to a Tolstoy quote that goes something like, “The best stories don’t come from ‘good vs. bad,’ but from ‘good vs. good.’”

Onni: So what does romance mean to you?

JHawk: I’ve always thought one of the most romantic things is knowing that out of everyone, somebody chose you. To them, you’re not just anyone. The first scene of the book, Olivia and David have this moment where, in a crowded room, they are inexplicably drawn to each other. But Olivia is jarred back to reality by her husband. So what happens when there’s someone else in the picture? That’s where things get complicated. Do you honor this commitment no matter what? And if not, how can you know if what you feel is only passion or something more? This concept will take a front seat in Come Alive. I hope readers will ask themselves what they’d do in Olivia’s position. There are no right or wrong answers, but I hope it gets people thinking.

Onni: How are you hoping to develop both Olivia and David’s characters in the coming books?

JHawk: I want to put Olivia through the ringer. Then I want the reader to transform with her. It’s important to me that every character develops naturally and realistically. Each will be faced with hardship, and so we’ll get to see their true selves emerge in the process. They’ll break rules, do immoral things. Does that make them bad people?

Bill (Olivia’s husband) becomes more of a person in the second book. He has to, in order for the reader to understand what’s happening in Olivia’s mind. And David has his own past to face. He can’t get away so easily with the reputation he has. What does he actually want from Olivia? He’s got to go through the ringer a bit too.

Onni: Moving on to you now – who are your favourite authors and why?

JHawk: I like authors that aren’t afraid to push boundaries, to “go there.” I tend to jump around, so I don’t necessarily have favorites, but I do have favorite books. Gone with the Wind: I didn’t know the story and hadn’t seen the movie when I read it a couple years ago, so I was going crazy up until the last sentence. I consumed that book. I also love Anna Karenina. It wasn’t necessarily my inspiration for this story, but I really connected with that book and so there are some similar themes between them.

Onni: And lastly: any plans beyond the Cityscape Series you’d like to share?

JHawk: I have been so totally immersed in Cityscape that no, not really. I do keep a file of ideas when they come up, so I definitely have some thoughts, but nothing concrete. One book I have in my mind would more likely veer toward contemporary fiction, rather than romance and even more likely, it would deal with a very controversial topic – even more so than adultery.

Onni: Well, I can’t wait for Come Alive and anything else you turn your hand to. Thank you so much for chatting to me today – it’s been great!

Come Alive will release on May 30th, but you can win a copy of Come Undone here.

Long Simmering Spring by Elisabeth Barrett

LSSBook: Long Simmering Spring

Author: Elisabeth Barrett

Series: Star Harbor #3

Review by: Onnica 

Basic Story: Julie Kensington is finally realising her dream as a small-town doctor. She’s returned to her hometown of Star Harbor and is killing herself by working all hours in order to meet the demands of her new practice. She has no time for a social life or being part of the community, but she loves her work. The day her work puts her in the path of Cole Grayson, (the town’s Sheriff and former-hellraiser) she knows instinctively that her work ethic and her plans for the future do not include him. Having known him in High School, she isn’t convinced that he’s changed all that much and is determined not to be derailed by his smouldering good looks and intimidating presence.

Since hearing that Julie Kensington had returned to sleepy Star Harbor, Cole has been keen to get closer to her. Knowing that she still thinks of him as the surly, arrogant boy from High school, it becomes important to him to show her the real him – even the damaged, dark parts of him, which are a lasting reminder of his harrowing time in Afghanistan.

After agreeing to a date with the intense Cole, Julie is surprised by what she finds. Gone is the trouble-making rebel and instead, there’s a responsible and devastatingly handsome man in front of her. Perhaps she can stand to have a little fun – without losing her heart. Cole is happy to oblige, but before long, he isn’t content for their relationship to remain just a fling. He wants the real deal and the only way to convince Julie of that is to let her in on all of his secrets. Will she be able to accept what she finds there?

Why you should read this: Ok, so it’s no secret that I’m loving this series. Sleepy Star Harbor makes me want to emigrate! The Grayson brother series keeps getting better and I felt that this story had more depth to it – Cole is damaged and needs help and Julie is the perfect partner for him. She’s strong; she’s compassionate and makes a great heroine. Some of the other heroines in the series have had me tearing my hair out, but Julie was perfect. Cole is sexy as all get out – he’s my new favourite brother! It’s also a nice change to have a vulnerable hero, rather than a broken heroine for once.

What you might hate: If you’ve been following the series and enjoying it, I really don’t think there’s anything to hate. The pace is fast and there’s an adventure subplot running through the story, which makes it a real page-turner.

Rating: For me, the story keeps on getting better. I give this 4/5 for this imperfect love story between Cole and Julie. Long Simmering Spring is out on 13 May 2013. I am really looking forward to the last in the series (sniff, sniff) Slow Summer Burn, which is Val’s story – out in August 2013.

Taking Shots by Toni Aleo

Taking ShotsBook: Taking Shots

Author: Toni Aleo

Series: The Assassins Series (Book #1)

Format: unedited ARC

Reviewed by: Onnica

Basic Story: Elli Fisher is finally living the life she’s struggled for while keeping past spectres at bay. She has a thriving photography business and when she gets to combine taking photos with her passion for hockey, she’s in seventh heaven. Due to her strong reputation, her next job is to photograph the entire Nashville Assassins hockey team. A lifelong supporter, Elli is determined to pull it off, even though coming face-to-face with her idol, Shea Adler, scares her to death.

Shea Adler, captain of the Assassins, known playboy and all-round American superstar loves his life. He has a strong family unit; a twin sister who he cares about more than anything and his nephew and niece. Too busy for anything else, women are just a diversion to pass the time and help release pent-up energy. That is until he’s called to a team photo session for the new season. When he locks eyes on Elli (even though he can barely see without his contacts) he is thrown. He has to know her. She’s bashful and talented and not like any of the women he’s known before. Elli is sweet and instantly attracted to Shea; however, her past relationship left her self-esteem in tatters. Her lack of family support has left her insecure and feeling unworthy of love. She wants to believe that Shea could be part of a happier future, but can’t shake the feeling that she’s just not good enough for the mighty Shea Adler.

Why you should read this: It’s a pleasant read in many respects, set in the world of hockey. Shea is ideal book boyfriend material – he’s kind, considerate, never puts a foot wrong. Always says the right thing.

What you might hate: I really wanted to like Elli. Truly I did. I understand that she’s had a turbulent past but honestly, her tendencies to whine about not being pretty enough, or good enough for Shea were repetitive and self-indulgent. It also made the book twice as long as it needed to be in my opinion. Her relationship with her mother also seemed a little far-fetched, but it did build the suspense. Also, for me this book lacked structure – it was pleasant but it didn’t seem to be heading anywhere until the final chapters where the couple finally faced conflict and the boy lost the girl.

Rating: Sadly, I was disappointed – I had high hopes for this book and it just didn’t do it for me. Hopefully the later books in the series will be different. I give it 2/5 for the meandering storyline at times and the exasperating heroine. This is the first Loveswept story that has failed to sweep me away. Hot cover though.

Emancipating Andie by Priscilla Glenn

Book: Emancipating Andie

Author: Priscilla Glenn

Format: ARC

Review by: Judith

Basic story: Andie Weber knows what she wants out of life and she always always plays by the rules. She has the true love of a wonderful man named Colin, a stable job, and dreams of one day becoming a writer (though she keeps that to herself). The only glitch in her otherwise perfect world is Colin’s best friend, Chase – a free spirited and hilariously unfiltered photographer who thinks she is way too uptight for her own good. When they end up driving to Florida together for a wedding, Chase decides to show Andie just what she’s missing out of life by being so rigid. In only 48 hours he manages to rock her to her very foundations and forces her to reevaluate what is most important.  Once the wedding is over however, Chase, Andie, and Colin find themselves back home and each of them must deal with the ramifications of Andie’s awakening.  With all these new ideas of what’s right and wrong, will she choose Chase or Colin? And most importantly, will she be happy with her choice and what the future brings with him?

Why you should read this: She’s done it again! Priscilla Glenn smacks us upside the head with awesome in this book and will make you question why we really love people and what it takes to make us happy in life. She is the master of gorgeous, effortlessly written prose and when you reach the end of this one, you’ll say to yourself, “wha…? It’s over?! ALREADY??? Now I gotta go read sub-par crap again? Wahhhh!” With this book, her characters are fleshed out and described so beautifully that you feel for them as they grow and mature naturally. Like I said above, everything that she writes is effortless. It’s as if her words were a lens and we’re able to see into these people’s lives through it.  It’s an amazing and unique experience.

Chase is undeniably clever and hot. His interactions with Andie will have you laughing out loud and yearning for more simultaneously. He’s everything obnoxious and brash but when we finally learn more about him and hear his whole backstory, we discover that he’s not abrasive just matter of fact. I’m tired of all the Alpha males running around these days and Chase is definitely not one. He lays his cards out there on the table and is just a raw, refreshing character. You will swoon all over him!

What you might hate: Their trip down to Florida was way too short! I wanted to see more of Andie getting out of her comfort zone because what we do get is exhilarating. Priscilla’s books are all very real and in today’s romance world of vampires, humongous packages, and marathon sexy times, some of you may not want to read about things that could actually happen. And this book is all about reality. There’s no explosive action or men with huge muscles fighting over the girl. It’s a very raw look at emotions and the ties that bind us to other people.  A true love story. It’s also a standalone which many people might dislike cause it means they’re investing time and emotion into a story that will end.  Many people love series and this is a wholly contained world. (Personally I loved that!)

Rating: 4.5/5. The writing is gorgeous, the characters are extremely real and likable, the story just flows. This is a love story at its core but also a tale of redemption and maturity where the heroine finds her happily ever after not only in love but also in all the other aspects of life. Read it now!

Cover Reveal: ‘Come Alive’ by Jessica Hawkins

Hi everyone – Onnica here. I’m super-excited to share with you the new cover of ‘Come Alive’, which is Book #2 in the Cityscape Series.

The sequel to ‘Come Undone’ should be with us in a matter of weeks (release date is pencilled in for 30 May) and I’m trying to be patient. (Really I am!) If you haven’t read Come Undone yet, get on it!

ComeAlive_Cover

Cover Photo: © iStockphoto.com/VikaValter

Curious to know what’s in store for the Olivia and David in this instalment? Here’s the synopsis:

Determined to move on with her life, Olivia Germaine has vowed to forget David Dylan. Struggling to keep her head above water, she focuses on her new promotion and refuses to drown in the memory of their night together.

But when Olivia realizes what life without David means, she must decide if she is willing to risk everything for him . . . and if she is ready to reopen the wounds of her past.

Can Olivia move forward with her marriage despite her feelings for David?

And can David stay away like he promised?

Coming soon: Watch this space, as we’ll be interviewing Jessica and I’ll be asking her about love, romance and her inspiration for the delectable David…don’t miss it!

Penthouse Suite by Sandra Chastain

Penthouse SuiteBook: Penthouse Suite (A Loveswept novel)

Author: Sandra Chastain

Review by: Onnica

Basic Story: Since nursing her mother through ill-health and following her subsequent death, Kate Weston has decided to take some time for herself, travelling around the US doing odd-jobs as plumber and general all-round handywoman. The plan is to never stay longer than a couple of months; never form attachments or roots, as there lies trouble as far as Kate’s concerned.

After scoring a temporary job in a luxury hotel, Kate sets to work fixing all the electrical and plumbing issues. She is summoned to the penthouse suite to fix the leaking shower and gets more than she bargained for when she bumps into the hotel manager, Max Sorrenson, emerging from said shower. All thought escapes her. Far from middle-aged and balding, the manager Max is young, virile and with a body for sin. The more time she spends in his company, the more determined she is not to overstay her welcome and leave the job when the usual handyman returns. Her attraction to Max frightens her but it will not derail her plans to move on. But will head or heart win out for the couple?

Why you should read it: This is a fun, short read, full of light-hearted moments and the role-reversal element is charming. Both characters are likeable and engaging.

What you might hate: I didn’t realise it when I requested the book, but I feel I should highlight that this book is VINTAGE. It originally came out in 1989 – therefore the references to pop culture are a little um, shall we say dated? I don’t know about you, but when imagining Max’s body, I didn’t really want to picture Sylvester Stallone or Chuck Norris! The ending was also a little abrupt – but a satisfying read nonetheless.

Rating: It was a short, entertaining story that I finished in little time – I’m feeling generous, so I’d say 3/5. Definitely needs updating however, as it bears no resemblance to other contemporary Loveswept novels coming out.

Author Interview: Jade Hart

Hi, Onnica here. I’ve recently been blown away by the writing of Jade Hart. Last year, she wrote Ocean Kills, which told the story of a young and deadly teleporting assassin, Ocean Breeze. (Yes, that’s really her name and she’s not a fan of it either!) This year, there’s plenty more from Jade to look forward to.Jade Hart

We recently reviewed Coffee and Cockpits, which is the story of flight attendant Nina Poppins and what happens to her when faced with a life and death situation. It’s a complete departure from Ocean Kills and after reading it, I really wanted to ask Jade some questions. She kindly agreed…

Onni: Jade, thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions – especially as we’re on VERY different time zones!

JH: My pleasure.

Onni: When I finished Coffee and Cockpits, I read through your bio and you mentioned that you draw quite heavily on your own experiences for aspects of your writing. Can you tell me how much of “you” is in your characters?

JH: Oh, tricky question. I suppose I put quite a lot of myself into the characters I write. Ocean Breeze is darker, more broken than I could ever be, but some of her thoughts are my own – against the sickness in the world, and things that shouldn’t go on. With regards to Nina Poppins, there is a lot of my past in her (dancing, flying, being an air-hostess) but I don’t share her personality. I’m not as ‘fluffy’!

Onni: Yes, you were a flight attendant in the past – and could’ve written your typical, garden-variety contemporary romance in that setting but didn’t. What made you take it in a different, more fantastical direction?

JH: Well, funny enough – and this no one else knows, but it started as a sexy romance dealing purely with the love triangle. Nina can’t chose between Liam and Nikolai and she ends up *cough cough* having both of them. Unfortunately, as much as I liked the heat, the storyline didn’t work as I got to know the characters. So the direction changed and the story evolved into what it is. I didn’t sit down and say “I’m going to do that” – the story arched that way and I went along for the ride. I knew when I did it that some people would love it, and some wouldn’t. I was willing to take that risk.

Onni: It certainly arched in a way I didn’t expect – I didn’t see it coming at all! I love when that happens. So, I know this is a bit like asking who your favourite child is, but which of your characters holds a special place in your heart?

JH: Umm, that is a tough question. (Laughs.) I’d probably have to twist your question and give you two answers. Ocean Breeze holds a special place in my heart. I love her, and love the growth she’s undergoing in Ocean Slays (sequel to Ocean Kills) However, I hold a very soft spot for Callan. I love him. He may be a part of my imagination, but I just feel sorry for him with what Ocean did, and love to watch him grow into his temper and become a fiery match for her.

Onni: I was gobsmacked by what Ocean did to Callan and she’s definitely going to have to do a lot to redeem herself. And to the readers who have no idea what we mean – read Ocean Kills!

As you’ve already mentioned Callan Bliss, hero extraordinaire, that leads me to my next question: writing stories from a male point of view must be one of the hardest aspects for a female writer. How did you approach Callan and Liam’s characters? Did finding their ‘voices’ come easily?

JH: That is true – writing from a male pov is hard, and I don’t know if a woman can ever get it exactly right. But Callan is more ”alpha” whereas Liam was more ”in tune with his sweet side.” I love both of them, but I’m writing a dark (as in dark-dark) contemporary romance currently called Octopus Lotto and the main guy in that – Dashiel Rossen is a hard one to write. He’ll be the hardest one with his demons, attitude and past.

Onni: Which brings us nicely to your future plans. What’s next for you? More fantasy, or contemporary romance?

JH: Yes, I’ve got quite a lot happening! In May 2013, Mirror Amour will be coming out – an erotica novella based around the threesome I had to delete from Coffee and Cockpits. As I already mentioned, there’s Octopus Lotto, a dark, contemporary romance which will be a personal fave of mine. Loka, which is based on Hindu mythology and Jets and Joysticks, which is a companion piece to C&C. It’s Joslyn and Nikolai’s story.

Onni: And of course there’s Ocean Slays…

JH: And there’s Ocean Slays! I think that’s it for now (laughing).

Onni: So when you’re not writing, who do you like to read?

JH: I have a fairly large reading library. I LOVE Liani Taylor’s writing in Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I love George R R Martin’s storytelling in Game of Thrones. I loved Jean M Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear for it’s indepthness, and also enjoy the romance in Crosstitch series by Diana Gabaldon. Quite different books. I also really enjoy all the NA stuff that has been released recently.

Onni: Wow – that is pretty eclectic! So, now is the moment for the big reveal. You’ve offered us a sneak peak into the first chapter of Ocean Slays – which had me doing a pretty undignified happy-dance (it was horrible, really, thank God I was alone). Thank you for this as I know NOBODY else has seen it yet! So here’s an exclusive:

Chapter One: Ocean

You left him to rot, you little bitch.

I clutched my hair, tugging against the vile voices inside my head. Adrian Mathieu: My rapist, family’s murderer, and overall black stain on my soul taunted me.

His voice dropped to a whisper-whiplash. You think you’re better than me. You’re not. You’re filth. Blood leaks from everything you touch. You left someone to take your punishment. If that doesn’t show how fucked up you are, then I don’t know what will. In fact, little bitch, you’re worse than me.

Yes, worse than all of us. Atsu Bazeer’s Afrikaans accent threaded with Adrian’s Australian twang.

You’re the scum. Kill yourself. Go on. Do it.

I ripped a handful of hair out, screaming soundlessly. My lungs strained to evict all the darkness writhing inside.

Blessedly, the taunts stopped, and I blinked through tear-fogged eyes, panting, trying to calm my galloping heart.

I’m fine. It was over. For now.

The oozing, pressuring guilt at leaving Callan, settled over me with the weight of a hundred elephants. No matter how evil the men who lurked inside me were, they were right.

I was scum.

The burn of hope since Maurice noticed a black splodge missing on my spine, cindered under the weight of hatred for myself. Who cared if Maurice thought I might not be damned? That I might find freedom from the malevolent murmurings of psychopaths?

It didn’t matter.

I wasn’t worthy of the gift my body unwrapped for me. A good person wouldn’t have left an innocent to suffer the consequences. I kidded myself if I thought I was worthy of Callan’s love and adoration. At the first test, I ran, leaving him with a corpse.

My nerves jigged and jagged at the thought of what Callan suffered. Where was he? What happened? I should go back. Now.

Yes. Go. You need to redeem yourself. Then kill him. Atsu Bazeer sneered.

I hung my head in my hands, my scalp smarting from ripping out a handful. What if I ported to rescue Callan, only to find he’d gone? Or show myself to others like the security guard who’d arrived the split second before I disappeared? What if Callan looked at me with hatred and scorn?

I gulped. What if I went to help him, but the voices inside over-powered me and I ended up hurting him, instead?

My heart quashed against my ribs. I rubbed my chest, trying to dispel the agony of knowing how much I fucked everything up. Callan would never forgive me.

My eyes bounced around my room, almost as if I could summon him from empty air. The harsh glow from the laptop screen heralded my eyes. I stared at the email left open.

Tariq Hunter.

Who the flying fits was Tariq Hunter?

(Disclaimer Unedited. Copyright JadeHart2013)

A massive thanks to Jade – I’ll keep you posted on when Ocean Slays is released.