As of this moment, I’ve written nine complete books. And my poor critique partner—Mia Sosa, a talented author and cherished friend—has dutifully read and commented on every single of them. So she’s seen a lot of smitten heroes, independent heroines, quirky secondary characters, sex on library property, and potty-mouthed banter. But if you ask her which of my heroines she still loves the most from those nine books, she doesn’t hesitate a moment.
Angie. After all this time, Mia still loves Angela Burrowes, Battlefield Library branch manager and heroine of MY RECKLESS VALENTINE, more than any character I’ve written. Because, Mia says, Angie seems real to her. Fun. Like someone who’d always have your back. Because Angie’s confidence is genuine, but also helps mask her hidden vulnerability.
And that vulnerability—the contrast between the carefree, rebellious face she presents to the world and her inner turmoil—is precisely why I too adored Angie as my heroine. I wanted to write about a woman who made real mistakes and self-destructive decisions despite her intelligence and accomplishments. A woman who slapped on a brave face and acted outrageously to cover her pain at the disapproval of her loved ones. A woman deserving of a hero who’d see past her untroubled façade and worship her, flaws and all.
Angie tugged at my heart in so many ways, and giving her a happy ending delighted me. I hope I did her justice.
If she seems like the type of heroine you’d enjoy too, you might want to pick up MY RECKLESS VALENTINE. You also might want to peruse a couple of other books I love and would highly recommend. They’re two of my favorite reads from the past year or so, and neither is particularly expensive (for now, at least!).
SILK AND SCANDAL by Cassandra Dean
Oh, I adored everything about this historical romance. The epistolary sections of the book, in which wealthy Lady Nicola corresponds with her former neighbor and friend, prospective barrister Thomas. The way Nic stumbles into international scandals because of her loneliness and boredom. Thomas’s unwilling devotion to the woman who could ruin his burgeoning career through her improprieties. How Nic’s cheerful mask finally shatters, revealing her pain and grief. I cried reading this wonderful book, which is a particularly impressive accomplishment given its brevity.
HER BEST WORST MISTAKE by Sarah Mayberry
Defiant Violet and her best friend’s stuffy fiancé, Martin, don’t get along. At all. Until the engagement ends and there’s suddenly nothing standing between two people who thought they despised one another. Violet’s fragility beneath her careless attitude and the way Martin grows to understand and love her…it slayed me. Sexy and funny and wrenching, Her Best Worst Mistake broke my heart and then healed it in the space of a single book. (I finally gave up and positioned a box of tissues next to me on my couch, by the way.)
TEMPTATION FROM A TO Z
Library manager Angie Burrowes is in trouble again. Her superiors have never approved of her unconventional methods, but the latest warning is serious—another complaint from the administration or a patron, and she’s fired. With a steamy Valentine’s Day contest to conceal and her career on the line, the last thing Angie needs is a near-accident while driving home. At least, until she meets the tall, dark, and sexy stranger responsible for her very own spicy plot twist…
Straight-laced Grant Peterson has only one thing on his mind: making a good impression as the new Director of Branch Services at the Nice County Public Library. On the eve of his first day, however, a lusty encounter with Angie unleashes a desire unlike any he’s ever known. Their tryst may be one for the record books, but when he learns he’s Angie’s new boss, will Grant need to check out on love?
While I was growing up, my mother kept a stack of books hidden in her closet. She told me I couldn’t read them. So, naturally, whenever she left me alone for any length of time, I took them out and flipped through them. Those books raised quite a few questions in my prepubescent brain. Namely: 1) Why were there so many pirates? 2) Where did all the throbbing come from? 3) What was a “manhood”? 4) And why did the hero and heroine seem overcome by images of waves and fireworks every few pages, especially after an episode of mysterious throbbing in the hero’s manhood?
Thirty or so years later, I have a few answers. 1) Because my mom apparently fancied pirates at that time. Now she hoards romances involving cowboys and babies. If a book cover features a shirtless man in a Stetson cradling an infant, her ovaries basically explode and her credit card emerges. I have a similar reaction to romances involving spinsters, governesses, and librarians. 2) His manhood. Also, her womanhood. 3) It’s his “hard length,” sometimes compared in terms of rigidity to iron. I prefer to use other names for it in my own writing. However, I am not picky when it comes to descriptions of iron-hard lengths. At least in romances. 4) Because explaining how an orgasm feels can prove difficult. Or maybe the couples all had sex on New Year’s Eve at Cancun.
During those thirty years, I accomplished a few things. I graduated from Wake Forest University and earned my M.A. in American History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I worked at a variety of jobs that required me to bury my bawdiness and potty mouth under a demure exterior: costumed interpreter at Colonial Williamsburg, high school teacher, and librarian. But I always, always read romances. Funny, filthy, sweet—it didn’t matter. I loved them all.
Now I’m writing my own romances with the encouragement of my husband and daughter. I found a kick-ass agent: Jessica Alvarez from Bookends, LLC. I have my own stack of books in my closet that I’d rather my daughter not read, at least not for a few years. I can swear whenever I want, except around said daughter. And I get to spend all day writing about love and iron-hard lengths.
So thank you, Mom, for perving so hard on pirates during my childhood. I owe you.