Today it is my pleasure to welcome New York Times bestselling author Susan Andersen to HJ!
Hi Susan, Welcome to HJ!
Susan if you had to summarize ALL SHOOK UP for the readers here…
A Man With a Past
A Woman With a Reputation
Falling in Love. . .and All Shook Up
J.D. and Dru thought they knew everything their lives had to offer–until they met. Can a failed good girl and a guy who never caught a break learn to believe in one another long enough to trust their feelings?
Please tell us about the characters in your book
J.D. Carver learned life’s tough lessons on the streets, so when an unexpected inheritance sends him to Star Lake Lodge in Washington State to claim his portion, he’s expecting trouble. Being greeted with open arms by the entire Lawrence gang–menopausal Aunt Sophie and calm Uncle Ben, clearly off-limits Dru and her young son Tate—just convinces him they’re working an angle, and he’s determined to uncover it. Even though a tiny part of him longs for the home-and-hearth life they have.
Dru Lawrence has finally beaten her bad-girl reputation in tiny Star Lake, and although life at the Lodge may not be exciting, she’s fiercely protective of her quiet home. Hard-eyed J.D’s ability to push all her buttons—some of which haven’t been pushed in way too long—just proves how wrong he is for her. So why does her son hero-worship the guy? And why does her heart clench whenever J.D. gets that “nose pressed to the candy shop window” look on his face?
What scene did you have the most fun writing? Why?
I gotta tell you, I had a great time with most of this book. But this scene was fun because it illustrates Dru’s body image plus her opinion regarding J.D. in the early stages of their acquaintance.
“C’mon, J.D.,” Tate said. “You can’t miss Grandma Soph’s crème brulee. It’s the best!”
J.D. looked as if he planned to refuse. Dru prayed for it, tried for all she was worth to access some telekinetic power to influence him in that direction. Then he glanced her way, and she just knew that her feelings must be on her face, for he suddenly flashed those white teeth at her in a feral grin, shrugged, and said, “Sure. Why not?”
Damn. Damn, damn, damn! She bared her own teeth back at him as she picked up the towel Tate had dropped and wrapped it around her hips. When J.D. stood aside for her to go by as they filed off the dock, she insisted he precede her. She’d put up with his company because she had no choice and because, her recent behavior to the contrary, she really was an adult. Double-dyed damned, however, if she’d allow him to walk behind her while she trailed puddles of water and swished her big old butt in his face on the trial up to Ben and Sophie’s house.
There were simply some places where a woman had to draw the line or seriously question her own intelligence.
On the other hand, having him go first meant she had to watch his tush flex as he climbed the short trail ahead of her. God, life was unfair sometimes. It wasn’t bad enough that his mind was small and tight—his butt had to be, too? Even all covered up, it didn’t take a genius to see it was one of those hard-as-concrete numbers with the sucked-in cheeks. She’d kill to have one half so nice.
Aunt Sophie met them at the door. “Oh, thank goodness you were available. Hello, darling,” she said to Tate, catching a flying peck on the lips before he raced past her, headed for the back of the house and the television set. “Come in, come in! J.D.! I’m so glad you’re here to help us eat the crème brulee I made. I told Ben if I had to eat it all by myself he was a dead man.”
“Why?” J.D. asked. “Did he hold a gun to your head and force you to make it?”
Ben choked and Dru simply gaped at J.D., stunned. They’d all grown accustomed to tiptoeing around Sophie lately to avoid setting her off. Not that there was any predicting what would do so; the things one might suppose would anger her often didn’t faze her in the least, while the most innocuous remarks could send her into the red zone.
But Sophie merely laughed. “I didn’t say it was rational, dear. My uncertain temper these days is the uncharming by-product of my rampaging hormones. Or perhaps that’s failing hormones; I’ve never gotten it quite straight. In any case killing Ben is something we want to avoid at all costs. I’m rather fond of the man, so thank you.”
Then she turned to Dru. “Drucilla, you’re covered in goosebumps. Go put on something warm.”
“Drucilla?” J.D. said incredulously. “Someone actually named you Drucilla?”
Dru’s hands hit the towel tied low around her hips. “Oh, like J.D. is the name for the millennium,” she snapped back. “What does that stand for, anyway—juvenile delinquent?” She raked him in a head-to-toe once-over. “From what I’ve heard, that would certainly be appropriate.”
“Drucilla!” Sophie stared at her as if she’d suddenly grown fangs.
The appalled wonder in her aunt’s voice recalled Dru to her manners, and to the fact that she and J.D. weren’t the only ones in the room—something she’d momentarily forgotten. She blinked. And just when the heck had they gravitated so close to each other? Suddenly aware of the heat radiating off his large body, she took a giant step back.
“I apologize,” she said grudgingly. “That was exceedingly rude. Excuse me, won’t you? I’ll just go throw on some clothes.”
She felt his gaze like hands running up and down her body. “Don’t feel you have to do so on my account,” he said.
And even though his tone was perfectly respectful, she still managed to read all sorts of innuendo and suggestiveness into his words.
What scene was the hardest to write? Why?
I don’t know if this is cheating, but it’s been so long since I wrote this that I don’t really remember which scenes were tougher than the others. So I’ll give you a snippet from the bar scene where Dru went out with an old friend whom her best friend Char keeps insisting has no meaning to her. Then Char and J.D. also turn up.
“Look who I found at the bar,” Char said, stroking her hand down J.D.’s arm.
“J.D.” Dru prayed her impersonal smile wouldn’t suddenly degenerate into a snarl. She was shocked at the unprecedented urge she had to break her best friend’s fingers.
“Drucilla,” J.D. replied, and his eyes were anything but impersonal as they touched upon her loose hair, her bare shoulders and chest, and lingered for the briefest moment on her cleavage. Then he forced his gaze away and gave Kev an abbreviated, cool nod. “Bronsen.”
Kev’s response was every bit as chilly. “Carver.”
Without waiting to ask who was sitting where, J.D. circled the postage-stamp-sized table and set his beer down on it. He pulled out the chair Char had been using all evening and dropped down next to Dru. Hands stuffed in his jeans pockets, he sprawled back in his seat, big shoulders encroaching on Dru’s space, hard thighs spread wide, one leg pressing hers from knee to hip. Dru’s temperature immediately skyrocketed into the spontaneous-combustion zone.
Char shrugged at having her place usurped and sat next to Kev. “Well, say now,” she said brightly. “Isn’t this cozy.”
Kev made an impatient move, as if prepared to push back from the table, but Char ignored him as she’d been doing all evening and leaned toward J.D. “Wanna dance?”
“Sure, why not?” He stood and waited for her to circle the table. Then, placing a hand lightly on the bare skin at the small of her back, he guided her to the dance floor.
Swallowing hard to rid herself of the bitter taste of a jealousy she’d love to deny, Dru looked at Kev across the table. “I feel like I should apologize. This isn’t at all how I envisioned the evening going.”
He shrugged. “You win some, you lose some.” But his gaze barely left the dance floor. A couple of minutes later, he stiffened, his eyes going bleak. “Christ, not the octopus again.”
Dru turned to see what he was staring at. A man had cut in on J.D. and was dancing off with Char. Dru swiveled around as J.D. sauntered back to the table.
Presenting him with her back didn’t deter him in the least. Warm hands suddenly slid beneath the fall of her hair and he gathered it together in a loose ponytail, which he used to tilt her head back. She looked up into his face, looming upside down over hers.
“Want to dance?” His voice was low, gravelly, and it sent hot shivers chasing down her spine.
She opened her mouth to refuse. “Okay.”
Who would you cast in the role of your characters if your book was optioned for a movie?
I’d cast Bobby Cannavale for J.D. (J.D.’s eyes are a dark hazel green, but I could live with Bobby’s brown if they wanted to make a movie of it. ;-D
I picked Kat Dennings for Dru mostly because of her body type. Dru is full figured and at first is self-conscious around J.D. who, being a buff guy, has like zip body fat.
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned for 2013 into 2014?
I’m on the downhill race toward completing NO STRINGS ATTACHED, which is Tasha and Luc’s story in the Razor Bay/Bradshaw Brothers trilogy. It hits the shelves July 29th.
But, Wait! There’s More! The reissue of Baby, Don’t Go will be released on March 26th.
Where can readers get in touch with you?
or I’d love it if you’d join me on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/SusanAndersenFanPage
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
GIVEAWAY: print copy of THAT THING CALLED LOVE
To Enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and post a comment to this Q: I love the bad boy/good girl storyline, and this is a variation of that. Dru had a kid out of wedlock. Big deal in this day and age, right? Well, in tiny Star Lake it kinda was. So she’s basically a good girl who made a mistake that the town she lives in took its sweet time forgiving. What’s your favorite story line? Five’ll get you ten that I’ve probably written it in one book or another.
2nd scene from Chapter One
Dru thanked the front desk clerk and hung up the phone. Oh, God, he was here. She straightened in her chair, aware of her heart rate bumping up a notch. J.D. Carver was out in the lobby. He wasn’t supposed to be here until tomorrow.
She’d believed she was fully reconciled to the new situation. She’d honestly thought she was prepared to meet Edwina’s beneficiary and welcome him into both the business and the Lawrence clan. But if the sudden, apprehensive tripping of her pulse was anything to go by, she’d merely been fooling herself.
Standing, she checked to see that her sleeveless white polo shirt with its discreet lodge logo was neatly tucked into her walking shorts, then smoothed her hands over the crisp hunter-green material that skimmed her hips. She took a deep breath and blew it out. Okay, she was ready. She just wished he hadn’t arrived early; it destroyed their plan to greet him as a family.
Dru squared her shoulders. Big deal; she’d just have to tough it out on her own. She’d been meeting and greeting people professionally since she was sixteen years old. Besides, Aunt Soph and Uncle Ben were just over at the cabin they’d reserved for Carver’s use, putting on a few finishing touches to make him feel at home, so she’d have backup shortly. Not that she’d need it. She headed for the lobby. Just think of him as a long-lost cousin.
Easier said than done, Dru decided a few moments later as she looked at the man squatting in front of the massive fieldstone fireplace. Even from the back, he didn’t look like her idea of a cousin.
He appeared to be one supercharged mass of muscularity—from the spot where his dark hair brushed the tanned skin of his neck, right down to his work-boot-clad feet. A pristine white T-shirt stretched across wide shoulders and clung to the narrowing wedge of his back until it disappeared into a worn pair of jeans that hugged his muscular thighs and butt. Her heartbeat inexplicably picked up.
She cleared her throat. “Mr. Carver?”
He twisted to look at her over his shoulder. His dark eyebrows met over his nose, and for just a moment he seemed to still. But it must have been her imagination, for he said in a neutral tone, “Don’t call me mister. My name’s J.D.” He rose to his feet in one smooth, powerful movement.
He was downright intimidating at his full height when faced head-on. His T-shirt hugged the planes of his chest and the six-pack of muscles in his abdomen; it stretched thin over his biceps. Energy poured off of him in almost palpable waves. Dru took a reflexive step back.
Then she caught herself and thrust out her hand. “J.D., then. And I’m Dru Lawrence. I’m the general manager here.” Looking up into his eyes, she discovered that what she’d mistaken for brown was actually a dark hazel-green, ringed with an even denser green. “Welcome to Star Lake Lodge.”
Nerves zinged when he wrapped his callused hand around hers and shook it firmly, and it was all she could do not to jerk free. What was the matter with her? She’d met plenty of well-built guys before, for heaven’s sake— it wasn’t like her to act like a high school girl confronted with the star jock. Resisting the urge to rub her hand down her shorts to remove the heat that lingered when he relinquished his grip, she dragged her think cousin advice to the forefront of her mind and mustered up a courteous smile.
He indicated the fireplace with a jerk of his square chin and didn’t bother smiling back. “That andiron is nearly in two pieces. It needs to be pulled out and soldered back together.”
Good God, the man certainly didn’t lack brass— he hadn’t even been here ten minutes and already he was offering criticism? An uncharacteristic impulse to invite him to kiss her rosy red cheeks— and she wasn’t talking the ones she could feel glowing with temper here— surged up Dru’s throat. “I’ll make a note of that,” she said evenly, and forced another smile. “Is this your bag?”
She’d already bent to pick up the canvas duffel when his hand whipped the bag out from under her nose. Stuffing her own hands in her shorts pockets, she straightened. Smacking him would not be an auspicious way to start off the partnership. “I’m sure you’d like to freshen up after that long road trip. I’ll show you to your cabin.”
“Dru!” Sally Jensen, their front-desk manager, rushed up. She flashed an apologetic smile at J.D., got hung up gawking at his chest for a moment, then dragged her gaze back to Dru.
A genuine smile quirked Dru’s lips for the first time since she’d clapped eyes on her new partner. Whew. For a moment there she’d thought she was sliding into something risky, and she didn’t do risky. Clearly, J.D. Carver was simply one of those men who elicited strong female reactions— she probably would’ve had more to worry about if she hadn’t noticed his hunky body. “J.D., this is Sally Jensen, our desk supervisor. Sally, J.D. Carver, the new part owner.”
J.D.’s dark eyebrows drew together, but Sally had already turned back to Dru. “Brian Kebler just called in sick.”
“Wasn’t he scheduled to take a party of waterskiers out today?”
“Yes, the Jacobsen clan at three o’clock. I’ve already tried to get a replacement from the backup list, without any luck. If you can’t think of anyone else I can call, we’re going to have seven disappointed kids.”
“How about Monica White? Is she working the lunch shift today? She’s been driving boats since she was old enough to see over the steering wheel, and she expressed an interest once in filling in.”
“I’ll check to see if she’s here. If she’s not, I’ll give her a call at home to see if she can come in. But what do I do if she’s unavailable?”
“Comp the kids an ice-cream party in the Eagle’s Nest.”
“Okay; that might work. Thanks.” Sally spun on her heel and hustled off.
“Oh, Sally, wait.” When she turned back, Dru said, “Make Uncle Ben Plan B instead of the ice-cream party. He might be available if Monica can’t do it. If neither of them is free, though, go to Plan C.”
Sally flashed her a thumbs-up.
Dru turned back to J.D. and found him watching her with those aloof hazel eyes. He had a strong blade of a nose, the bridge of which looked as if it had been broken more than once, and a wide mouth with a full bottom lip. “Are you ready?”
He shouldered his duffel and nodded curtly.
“You’re not exactly Smiley the Social Hound, are you?” Oh, shit, where had that come from? Generally she was diplomacy personified, but something about this guy just breezed right past the guards she normally placed on her tongue.
His gaze did a fast slide over her, then returned to her eyes. “Depends on the situation.”
Dru shrugged and headed down the hallway to the wing exit. It was no skin off her tush if he never smiled. Maybe he had bad teeth or something.
Which didn’t quite explain this sudden compulsion to flap the neckline of her shirt to promote a little air circulation to the overheated skin beneath.
Injecting an almost military erectness into her posture, she coolly informed him, “Star Lake Lodge has been in business since 1911.” Dru opened the door to the stairwell. “It has thirty-one rooms, including four suites, and we have eight cabins, seven of which are available this summer. The one we’ve prepared for you was put out of commission this past winter when it sustained storm damage.” It most likely would’ve remained closed had they not been pressed for a place to put him up. In recent years, repairs and maintenance had turned into their largest headache, since craftsmen who could handle the jobs were scarce around here. “I’m afraid the porch roof is still a mess.”
J.D. shrugged. “I can live with that.” He pulled his gaze away from the sway of her hips as she preceded him down the interior staircase, and focused instead on the fat, glossy brown braid that hung down her back. “I expected you to just stick me in a room somewhere.” Like in the cellar, maybe.
She spared a glance over her shoulder. “This and the ski season are our busiest times, which means we’re booked to near capacity. And that means you’d be forced to move from one room to another every couple of days, which isn’t a whole lot of fun. We want you to be comfortable.”
Yeah, right. He was suspicious as hell of do-gooders. Dru’s fine, upstanding great aunt had seen to that.
Not that he’d been perfectly content before Edwina Lawrence had barged into his fourteen year old life and turned it upside down. Bouncing from foster home to foster home was less than ideal for any kid, but at least there had been a pattern to his life; he’d understood the rules. And rule number one had been: don’t get too comfortable. For sooner or later— and usually it had been sooner— he’d be out on the street again.
Not getting your hopes up was the first rule of survival, but Edwina had been different, and it had sucked him in, lulled him into forgetting a lot of hard-won lessons. She’d chosen him— he hadn’t been foisted on her by an overworked social worker. And the fact that she was unlike anyone he’d ever known had been a seduction all on its own.
They’d met the day he’d tried to steal her purse. It had been one of his stupider moments, but he’d listened to his friend Butch’s pitch of easy money and had given in to the lure.
The fragile looking little old lady had taught him that crime didn’t pay, though. Not only had she hung onto her purse, she’d gotten a good grip on him, to boot. The only way to break loose would have been to hurt her. When Butch had taken off running, leaving him to face the music on his own, J.D. had heard the mental clang of barred doors slamming shut, and thought he was headed to juvie hall for sure.
But instead of turning him in to the cops, the way any right thinking individual would have done, she’d taken him home. Then she’d made arrangements to foster him, and had offered him the run of her place.
He’d fallen in love with her that day.
She’d taught him there was an entire world far removed from the decaying streets and alleyways of the inner city, which was all he’d known up until then. But what she’d offered with one hand, she’d taken away with the other, at the very moment he’d finally relaxed his guard and begun to believe he was worthy of the clean new life she offered. And where once he had idolized her, he’d begun to bitterly resent the very breath she drew.
Shit. J.D. nearly tromped on Dru’s heels as he blinked the past back where it belonged— in the past. That was twenty years ago,Ace. Get over it.
Dru pushed open the outer door at the bottom of the stairs and the evergreen-laden scent of the country rushed in.
“You mentioned a ski season?” he said. “I didn’t see any lifts around here.” And although this was an alpine lake area, it wasn’t the type of terrain he associated with ski resorts.
Dru glanced at him over her shoulder, and the blue of her eyes was electric in the sunlight. “That’s because we feature cross-country skiing. See that trailhead over there?” She pointed to a hiking trail that disappeared into the woods down the side of the mountain. “That’s called Treetop, and it connects us to over a hundred kilometers of trails that can be hiked and biked in the summer or skied in the winter.”
She casually touched his forearm, and a muscle under his skin jumped as if he’d received an electric shock. Face carefully expressionless, he stepped away, slanting a quick look at her.
“Come on,” she said, clearly oblivious. “Your cabin is down this way.” She began to head toward the lake.
J.D. rubbed at the band of heat left behind by her touch. What the hell was that all about? He’d like to blame it on the fact that he wasn’t accustomed to being touched, but that didn’t explain the similar jolt he’d gotten when he’d turned around and seen her for the first time in the lobby. His initial reaction had been: want it. She’d looked so soft and round, standing there. Round eyes, round cheekbones, round breasts, round ass. He didn’t understand it— hadn’t then, didn’t now. She was pretty enough, in a subtle outdoorsy, girl-next-door sort of way. But she sure as hell wasn’t his type, so that covetous shock of awareness seemed out of place.
Rat City didn’t imbue a taste for subtle or girl-next-door, and he liked his women brassy. Big hair, big tits, clothing spray painted on to show every curve.
Watching her stride down the trail in front of him in her shorts and Keds, J.D. tried to figure out what had caused that uncharacteristic craving. He had to admit she had a body that would probably be dynamite in tight clothing. But it didn’t take a genius to see she wasn’t the type to wear it. She was too… fresh-faced. She had that silky, swingy hair, those freckles across the bridge of her nose, those big, guileless, startlingly blue eyes. He’d bet his last buck she wasn’t a woman to hang out in bars, waiting for some stud to come along and buy her a drink, like the barflies he associated with. She looked more like one of those happily-ever-after, put-the-ring-on-my-finger types. And— he checked— she wasn’t wearing one.
They rounded a curve in the trail and the lake was suddenly laid out in front of them in all its splendor. Shaped like a Christmas stocking, it was placid and blue. The sounds of kids splashing and laughing, the sprong of a diving board, and the occasional shrill blast of a lifeguard whistle cut through the silence of the woods.
“There’s a roped off swimming area and float around the next bend,” Dru said over her shoulder. She veered onto a short spur trail, and a moment later they emerged from the sun-dappled track into a small clearing, across which stood a cabin with half its porch roof missing. A man who looked to be in his mid fifties sat with one hip perched on the railing, smoking a cigarette, while a little boy in a Star Wars Phantom Menace t-shirt wielded a light-saber against an imaginary foe.
The kid saw them first and his face lit up. “Mom!” he yelled and, the plastic light-saber clattering to the floor of the porch, launched himself off the steps. A second later he hung like a monkey from Dru’s front, skinny legs around her waist, grimy hands linked behind her neck as he leaned back to give her a huge goofy grin.
“Whoa, you’re getting way too big for this.” Staggering under his weight, she nevertheless grinned back and kissed him on the nose.
It was a scene like a hundred others J.D. had observed as an outsider looking in. Crossing his arms across his chest, he watched mother and child and congratulated himself on his acumen. There you go, Bud. All that’s missing here is the carpool-mobile.
It doesn’t get any further from your type than this.
About the Author:
Susan Andersen writes contemporary romantic suspense peopled with hot, edgy men and the women who tame them. She’s also known for her sassy, sexy, often humorous novels of opposites attract. Her books have spent many weeks on the USAToday and New York Times bestseller lists, and have twice been included in RWA’s Top Ten Favorite Books of the Year. the proud mother of a grown son, she’s a native of the Pacific Northwest, where she lives with her husband and two cats.