My autumn has been pretty much like anyone’s. The minute I rake the leaves, a fresh wind comes by and dumps a new layer of them across the lawn. Except in my case, I’ve had three books come out in just under six weeks. I’m launching a book then turning around and going, wait. What? Again? Okaaay.
I realize it’s a nice problem to have and raking leaves on a fall day is far from the worst thing in the world. Sometimes it can be that last hurrah of nice weather before you’re bundled into the house for the winter. In my case, I’ll have a nice long break until my first book breaks out in the Spring.
And my line up of books lead nicely into winter, so I can’t complain. Hometown Hero takes place in October, Blame The Mistletoe is obviously a Christmas book, and The Russian’s Acquisition is (technically) spring in Moscow, but of course the city is under a coat of ice.
How did I wind up with this traffic jam? First, by working with two different publishers. The first two stories are small town novellas set in Marietta, a fictional town created by Tule Publishing Group under their Montana Born imprint.
Hometown Hero is actually the third of five in a multi-author series during Homecoming. I had originally thought it would be a summer book, so I made my hero a baseball player. Boys of Summer is one of my favorite songs. (“Don’t look back, you can never look back.”) But homecoming actually worked out better for Chase, the hero, since he did not want to return to Marietta. Here’s the blurb:
Skye Wolcott planned to marry, have children, and live happy ever after in her hometown of Marietta, Montana. Then her marriage imploded in a cloud of scandal. Now she’d be happy if people would just stop talking about her.
Chase Goodwin worked hard to get away from Marietta, where poverty colored his past. Living his dream as a major league baseball player, he has no reason to return beyond helping his half-brother escape as successfully. The last thing Chase would consider is staying.
Then he sees Skye Wolcott, a girl he always had a thing for in high school. They get off to a rough start, but are soon carrying on like high schoolers. Chase wants her to join his fast-paced, larger than life world, but Skye’s a small town girl at heart. Can she convince him that Homecoming is more than a game,
and he’s back where he belongs?
Then I happened to be the first person to turn in my Christmas story so Blame The Mistletoe wound up first in their line up for “A Marietta Christmas.” I open the story at a Christmas cocktail party hosted by Skye and Chase, so if you like to read in order, Hometown Hero is first.
I have personally struggled with the stress of Christmas over recent years, mostly because I’m a workaholic trying to get a writing career off the ground. (Really Dani? Because you’re releasing three titles in six weeks. We totally wouldn't have guessed.)
Yes, it’s true. I was a Grinch due to being over committed. The last thing I’ve wanted to do is decorate a tree and make a big dinner. So in Blame The Mistletoe I made a point of really looking at the best things about Christmas and putting them on the page so I could come to love it again, just as Liz does. (She’s been disappointed in the past. This one turns out really well for her.)
Here’s the set up for Blame The Mistletoe:
Liz Flowers has never enjoyed Christmas, but this one is shaping up to be the worst by far. She let her ex take her daughter to Mexico while she stays behind in a strange town, sitting her former mother-in-law’s high strung little dog. It’s an opportunity to meet new people, but this California girl doesn’t have much in common with the ranchers in small town Marietta.
Blake Canon perks up with male interest when he sees a new face at his friend’s Christmas cocktail party. His son is away and a light affair would take his mind off his financial troubles. Then he realizes he knows Liz. She was once married to the brother of his ex-wife.
Their children might be cousins, but Blake and Liz do the kissing—under the mistletoe. It’s the beginning of a new view of Christmas for Liz, but when their children arrive home unexpectedly, and family secrets are revealed, Liz isn’t sure she’ll stay in Marietta for Christmas after all.
As for The Russian’s Acquisition, releasing November 1st as a Harlequin Presents, it was actually a manuscript I wrote before I sold to the editors in London. After selling about eight or nine titles to Harlequin, I got cocky enough to think I could revamp this previously rejected manuscript.
To be honest, they never rejected it. It’s a long story as to why I didn’t revise it one final time when they requested more changes, but I wound up shelving it and moving on to another story. When I resurrected it, I saw right away what it needed. A further round of revisions with my editor and it made the grade.
I love this story (as I love all my Presents) for its glamor and exotic locales. For this one I researched St. Petersburg and even though I set the story in the winter, I yearn to go there in the summer, at the height of White Nights. (Which was a famous movie about ballet featuring Mikhail Baryshnikov.)
Now, before I get to the blurb for The Russian’s Acquisition, I have to tell you that it was written by the team in London. I laughed aloud when I first read it because it’s perfect for the story, but takes you aback. Here it is:
Subject: Contractual Offer
You will find $100,000 in your charity's account today, provided I find you in my bed tonight.
Aleksy Dmitriev is after the ultimate revenge. Yet his plan backfires when he discovers that his new mistress, Clair Daniels, is a virgin who could not have been her former employer's lover.
Revenge may be out the window, but that won't stop Aleksy from enjoying the perks of his purchase…. But Clair is destined to be more than just this Russian's acquisition!
I’m running out of room for excerpts, but here’s a snippet from The Russian’s Acquisition:
He knew what he was doing to her. A smug gleam lit his narrowed eyes as his gaze dropped to her lips. He started to lower his head.
Jerking hers back, she gasped, “I haven’t agreed.” But did she really want to step onto the street at midnight with her meager possessions and become one of the homeless? Her few shallow friendships were all with people she worked with. They wouldn’t take her in for fear of losing their jobs. She didn’t have a cushion of savings, just a credit card she couldn’t pay off if she didn’t have an income.
The direness of her situation began to hit home. At least this afternoon she’d been sure she could find some kind of menial work, but not now. Any character reference out of the firm after today would be career-stoppingly negative. Flicking a look from his set jaw to his penetrating eyes, she whispered, “You’re a real piece of work, you know that?”
“I lost my redeeming qualities years ago,” he agreed, something dark flickering in his gaze. “Which means there’s no appealing to my better nature. Make this easy on both of us and give in, Clair.”
She was tempted to. She didn’t have anything to lose and no one to answer to while he was dangling—what? A night? A reprieve at any rate, one that advertised a fringe benefit of physical satiation she had never expected to want. The emptiness of a one-night stand was, well, empty enough to make her ache, but she wasn’t in the market for a real relationship, so…
“Why extend your takeover to include me?” she asked in a voice more husky than the disparagement she was aiming for. “Didn’t you get enough out of scooping up the firm from a dead man?”
“He was still alive when I started proceedings and no, I didn’t get anything near what I wanted. Don’t make out like you’re some kind of prey just because you’re used to being the predator. You get to keep the money,” he taunted softly.
“No matter what?” The jerky toss of her head was supposed to convey brash confidence. The question was real, though. She couldn’t help being seduced by the prospect of running the foundation her way, without needing approval on every detail. Without having to reveal that each of those details touched her personally and that was why she was fighting so hard for them. “I’m not into anything kinky,” she warned. “If you’re looking for someone to spank you, move along to the next girl in the secretarial pool.”
“I’m not the submissive in any relationship,” he assured her dryly. “I like straight sex and lots of it. I don’t hurt women, ever, if that’s what you’re dancing around asking. I might play with dominating one, controlling her…” He flexed his hands on her elbows, making her breasts press into his chest.
Excitement returned with a spear of pleasure straight into her loins. She gasped.
“If she likes it,” he murmured.
She struggled, but he held fast and to her chagrin the short tussle only caused her heated desire to kindle into a shivery anticipation. His vital strength was incredibly sexy and she must have had a kinky strand after all if she responded to having pleasure forced upon her. No guilt, she supposed.
“Too bad the money hasn’t cleared,” she said with breathless regret. “Go back to your own suite. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.” After she’d had time to talk herself out of the rash agreement she was considering.
He slowly let his hands release her, his fingertips oh so slightly brushing the sides of her breasts, making need pierce her belly and leaving her shuddering with longing.
“So you can disappear with my money? I don’t think so. Van Eych might have been teased into giving without return, but I don’t tolerate cheats or thieves. Fetch your passport and we’ll take whatever you’ve left in that case. I have properties around the world. Lady’s choice where we go, but by the time we land, you’ll have your money and then—” He skimmed a proprietorial glance over her. “I’ll have you.”
~ * ~
What has your autumn been like? Are you just about ready to snuggle up indoors with a book? The Russian’s Acquisition is the only book of the three that I have in print, but I would love to send a signed copy to one lucky commenter. Tell me about how you prepare for winter and Christmas.
Award winning author Dani Collins writes Harlequin Presents, romantic comedy, medieval fantasy, erotic romance, and lately, small-town rancher novellas. Whatever the genre, Dani always delivers sexy alpha heroes, witty, spirited heroines, complex emotions and loads of passion.
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