Hi Jennifer and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Drive You Wild!
I’m so happy to be here with the awesome ladies of the Harlequin Junkies!
Please summarize the book a la Twitter style for the readers here:
Please share your favorite line or quote from this book:
Trevor Stark, the hero, is known for being cool as ice when he plays. But Paige soon learns he’s a closet romantic:
There’s no part of you that doesn’t feel perfect to me. It’s like you’re the only woman I can see. The only woman I want to see.
Please share a few FUN facts about this book…
- I was playing with titles like “Home to You” and “Safe with You” as I was writing, but my editor didn’t like any of those. When I came up with “Drive You Wild,” she loved it. The funny thing was, in the scene when Trevor and Paige first meet, she rescues him with her rental car. She’s driving! Wildly! So it was perfect.
- One of my big inspirations was a book called “The Soul of Baseball,” about Buck O’Neil, a famous scout and Negro League player. That book really spoke to me because it brought to life a time before the big modern-day contracts and hype. Those players were so talented, and they didn’t get the recognition they deserved, but they loved the game. I modeled Trevor’s coach Grizzly after Buck and named Paige after Satchel Paige, the great pitcher.
- I have to say also that my favorite drink plays a big role in this book. My fave drink isn’t just a margarita — it’s a margarita with girlfriends. Friends make everything better!
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
Trevor Stark is an enigma on the Catfish. Unbelievably talented, but every time he gets close to getting called up to the majors, he screws up. As it happens, he’s doing it deliberately because the spotlight of the “Show” would bring unwanted attention his way. His family was involved in a crime when he was sixteen. Since then his goal has been to stay under the radar to protect his sister.
Paige Taylor is pretty intuitive, and she’s fascinated by Trevor. It doesn’t take her long to realize that her father’s best player is hiding something. She has come back to Kilby to lick her wounds after a painful divorce. The last thing she wants is to get involved with an arrogant, crazy-hot ballplayer. But when she sees how much more there is to Trevor, she finds him impossible to resist.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
I mentioned the wonderful book that I devoured (The Soul of Baseball), but another fun piece of research I did was about the baseball record that Trevor sets. For this book, I wanted him to do something dramatic. Once he stops sabotaging himself and gives his talent full rein, he’s phenomenal. I wanted to show that in dramatic fashion, so I searched for a record that had been standing for a very long time. I found one that had lasted since 1902.
The First kiss…
“Are you afraid of the mighty Crush Taylor?” She took another step closer. “He’s not as bad as he seems, you know.”
“I’m not afraid of him.” He placed his hands on her shoulders to keep her from coming any closer. Her warmth carried into his skin, into his being, as if it was igniting him from within.
“And I’m not afraid of you.” She ducked underneath his hands in a quick move right out of the NBA. He took a step back and his calves hit the bench situated next to the lockers. She reached out in apology and suddenly they were right smack against each other, chest-to-chest.
Fire flashed down his spine, hot and urgent. He hauled her against him—oh, sweet Jesus, she felt good. Soft and firm and shapely and alive and fresh and . . . then her mouth was under his, her lips parting, her breath warm against his mouth, her flesh lush and sweet. It wasn’t a kiss so much as a head rush.
Her breasts pressed against him, soft and enticing. He growled and walked her backward, pinned her against a locker. Lifted her legs to wrap around his waist. Pressed his sudden, extreme erection into the warm space between her thighs. His lack of pants meant the bare skin of her legs slid against his, a smooth friction that sent more blood to his groin.
She trembled in his arms and grabbed the back of his jersey. “Touch me,” she whispered wildly. “Just touch me.”
Was there a scene in this book that was harder to write than others?
Trevor can be a real jerk when he needs to be, and those scenes were tough to write. Here’s a snippet.
“Spying on me?” The ice in his voice made her shiver. So this was the side of Trevor that intimidated pitchers so much they lost five miles off their fastball. “Or were you checking up to see if I told you the truth? Maybe I didn’t. Who knows? You’ll never be sure.”
Paige took a tiny step back, her conviction faltering. She didn’t know this cold, hard man who looked like Trevor Stark. It was impossible to believe that only a few hours ago he’d been licking her naked body in a tack room. “I wasn’t spying, I was trying to find out what that man is up to now. Maybe he’s dead and you don’t have to worry anymore.”
“Playing girl detective? That’s adorable. Did you crack the case yet?”
“Don’t be like this, Trevor,” she whispered. “Why are you so angry?”
“Do I seem angry?” He shrugged, tossing aside the towel, then prowled toward his clothes drawers. “Maybe I should call up Hudson Notswego and see if I can get him to divorce Nessa Brindisi. That would solve all your problems, right?”
She recoiled, feeling as if he’d slapped her in the face. “What’s your point? Why bring Hudson into this?” She couldn’t understand what was going on. Her mind was moving so sluggishly. It felt as if she was missing big chunks of the situation, as if Trevor was operating at light speed while she chugged along in a dune buggy. She couldn’t take her eyes off him as he roamed the room in search of clothes. Maybe this was how mice felt while a cat batted them around.
Maybe this was what Trevor did to pitchers—he drove them mad, in slow, deliberate steps.
“The point is, don’t you have your own life to fix? Maybe you should stop messing around in mine. What does it matter to you if I play baseball or don’t play baseball?” He snapped his fingers, as if it all made sense now. “I got it. You’re here working for Crush. He wants me to stick around so I can help win that fucking championship. And you . . . you’re in Kilby because you want a pat on the back from your daddy. It’s all falling into place like a chain of dominoes.”
The blood rushed from her face. “I’m not here working for Crush. I’m here because I—” She was about to say something crazy. Something about what she felt for him. That she . . . God, that she loved him. Yes, that ache in her heart, the magic she felt only with him, that was love.
Where was the Trevor who’d captured her heart? Was he still in there somewhere, buried under this horrible icy behavior?
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would be absolutely crucial to include and why?
I’d LOVE to see the climactic baseball scenes in a movie. I don’t want to give away too much, so here’s just a taste.
Trevor strode to the plate, glared at Crush Taylor, and slammed the first pitch so hard it knocked a light out of the scoreboard, sending a spray of sparks into the velvety night air.
Home run number seven. Tie game.
The crowd sat in awed silence for a long moment, suspended in disbelief at what they were witnessing. Trevor jogged around the bases, not cracking a smile. Even the Storm Chasers offered tips of the cap as he passed. At third base, he held up, just for a moment, to look at Paige. Tears streamed down her face.
Crush had finally come to his feet, clapping slowly while the rest of the crowd exploded into an ovation.
Trevor put his hand to his heart, held Paige’s misty blue gaze, then dove into the dugout.
“The display of power and consistency we’ve seen tonight is unlike anything I’ve seen in this game,” the play-by-play guy raved from a radio within Trevor’s hearing. “We always knew Trevor Stark possessed the sheer strength and ability to hit homers. But what we have here isn’t about strength. It’s about focus and will and consistency. If the Friars don’t call him up to San Diego, stat, they’ll have a fan rebellion on their hands.” The radio was turned to maximum volume. In baseball, when something historic happened, everyone gathered around their radios or TVs or streaming feeds, whatever they had available. It was a shared experience, and it humbled Trevor to have inspired this moment.
He put his elbows on his knees, leaned forward and stared at the dugout floor, which was littered with sunflower seeds and infield dirt from people’s cleats. The weight of what he’d done pressed onto him. He’d just grabbed a piece of history.
What do you want people to take away from reading this book?
I just hope people enjoy the ride! I had so much fun writing this book, I hope some of that joy comes through for readers. Also, there’s that saying, “Be kind, because everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” That saying makes me think of Trevor. And one more thing. If there’s a way in which you’re sabotaging yourself, maybe think about that and whether it’s truly the best thing for the world and the people you care about.
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned for 2016?
In late September I’ll be debuting a new series that I’m incredibly excited about called Jupiter Point. It’s about a crew of rough-and-rugged hotshot wildfire fighters that gets moved to a quiet tourist town known mostly for its stargazing. The hero of book 1, One Hot Night, left Jupiter Point in disgrace, so he’s back now to prove himself. But first he’ll have to deal with the girl he left behind. I should mention that Jupiter Point first appears in a novella called Seeing Stars, that actually just came out today! It’s a Kindle World novella in the Hope Falls series by Melanie Shawn. Exciting day!
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Thank you so very much for having me!
Giveaway: 2 Love Between the Bases gift packs with signed copies of each paperback (All of Me, Caught by You, Drive You Wild), a Kilby water bottle, and a set of hero trading cards.
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: I love baseball movies — actually sports movies of all kinds. Bull Durham, Draft Day, and Bend it Like Beckham are a few of my favorites. Do you have a favorite sports movie?
Excerpt from Drive You Wild:
“Trevor Stark! Crush wants you in his office.” The clubhouse attendant broke the news with an evil grin on his face. “Sounds pretty bad. Three F-bombs and a C-word.”
Trevor decided to book it to Crush’s office right away and get it over with. Pants or no pants. That would teach the domineering owner to call him in so close to game time. He strode past the gape-mouthed attendant, ignoring the hoots from the other players.
Crush’s door was open, so Trevor stalked right in. He’d never seen Crush actually sit at his desk like a normal person. Today he leaned one shoulder against the plate-glass window that overlooked the field. Crush Taylor inspired respect in every ballplayer with a sense of history. That included Trevor, who knew every detail of his record. The man was a legend. A living icon.
He could have sworn that he saw one corner of Crush’s mouth lift in a smile. “No pants, I see.”
As always, they launched into a sparring match that rivaled Ping-Pong for speed.
“It sounded urgent.”
“So are pants.”
“That’s not what they say.”
“Listening to gossip?”
“Listening to my manager. Apparently someone went after you with a BB gun.”
“I handled it.”
“According to the security tape, someone in a white car handled it.”
That made Trevor pause. If the mysterious Paige was on tape, maybe he could locate her. By license plate or something.
“This isn’t a problem.”
“Videotape says your arm got nicked. Your five million dollar arm.”
“Just a bruise.”
“Bend your elbow.”
Trevor tried, but truth was, he had some swelling and it wouldn’t close all the way.
Crush cursed freely. “One of these days someone is going to hit a vital organ.”
“I wear a cup.”
Someone snorted from the corner of the room to his right. He wanted to see who but was too locked into his glare-down with Crush to turn away.
“Paige, stay out of this,” said Crush, not looking away either. “Observation only today. I didn’t think you’d be observing someone without pants, of course.”
Slowly, the words penetrated. Paige. Trevor swiveled to the right.
She sat with her long, long legs crossed, her wild hair in a ponytail, her eyes bright with laughter. True blue, deep and sweet, like the petals of a delphinium. She wore tomato red shorts, a T-shirt with some Italian words on it, flip-flops, and electric blue polish on her toenails. A composition notebook was propped on her lap, as if she was taking notes on this conversation. She wore a charm bracelet around one ankle; crescent moons alternating with stars.
Not that he noticed every detail or anything.
“That’s my daughter, Paige.”
Ho-ly. Shit. She was Crush’s daughter? He had a daughter? No one had ever mentioned a daughter. Especially one so . . . so . . . He tried to drag his gaze away from her but couldn’t.
Crush kept talking. “She’s going to be working around here for a while. Remember her face so you can make sure to leave her alone.”
Eye roll from Paige. From his brief experience with her, Trevor figured the chances of Crush being able to control her were pretty much zero. Her gaze traveled down his body, stalling somewhere around his bare thighs.
Right. No pants.
Well, now she’d seen just about the whole package—no shirt last night, no pants today.
“It’s costing me good money to fix the fence and install extra security cameras around the parking lot,” Crush continued. “For some reason, none of that was necessary before you came to Kilby.”
“Safety first. A wise choice.”
Crush rubbed the skin of his forehead as if smoothing out five decades’ worth of wrinkles, then turned to Paige. “Yesterday I stood in front of the entire sports media and announced that I intend to win the Triple A national championship.”
She plucked a pen from behind her ear and made a note in her little book. “There’s a championship in Triple A?”
“Yes, but there’s a reason you’ve never heard of it. No one cares. This year, I do.”
He turned back to Trevor. “If there’s one thing I hate, it’s looking like an ass. If there’s another thing I hate, it’s losing.” He ticked the items off on the fingers of one hand. “And if there’s yet another thing I hate, it’s watching a talent like you fuck up his life.”
Crush stopped him with another gesture. “Something else I hate. Getting interrupted. Know what else I hate?”
Paige spoke up. “Is this open for anyone, because I’ve been compiling notes all my life.”
Trevor glanced over and their eyes met, the sparkling sapphire of hers filled with sexy mischief. Once again the fact slammed him in the face. Daughter. She was Crush’s daughter. And he’d come on to her outside his hotel about ten minutes after they met.
Excerpts. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Kilby Catfish left-fielder Trevor Stark is a ballpark legend. With his good looks, hitting records, and played-for-the-fans arrogance, Trevor makes women lose their minds and men lose their cool. But every time the major league team comes calling, Trevor purposely keeps himself in the tiny Texas town. Why is heart-tuggingly top secret. Until the team owner’s daughter comes to Kilby . . . trying everything up her sexy sleeve to make Trevor talk.
Divorced and disillusioned at twenty-four, Paige Mattingly Austin Taylor is suddenly starting fresh as an intern at Catfish Stadium. She should want nothing to do with the sinfully hot ballplayer her dad warned her to stay away from. But when she discovers what Trevor is hiding from everyone, she realizes there’s much more to him than his face and multi-million-dollar arm. There’s a heart she seriously hopes to win.
Meet the Author:
Jennifer Bernard is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance. Her books have been called “an irresistible reading experience” full of “quick wit and sizzling love scenes.” A graduate of Harvard and former news promo producer, she left big city life in Los Angeles for true love in Alaska, where she now lives with her husband and stepdaughters. She still hasn’t adjusted to the cold, so most often she can be found huddling with her laptop and a cup of tea. No stranger to book success, she also writes erotic novellas under a naughty secret name that she’s happy to share with the curious.
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