Hi Erin and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Getting Worked Up!
Thanks so much for having me back! I love chatting with you girls!
Please summarize the book a la Twitter style for the readers here:
Getting Worked Up in a fun, light summer read that takes you to an fictitious little town that encompasses everything wonderful and wacky about living in a small town. It will take you right into the heart of living and falling in love “country style” with the stories of people who could easily live next door.
Please share the opening lines of this book:
“Naked in his bed when he gets home, wearing the engagement ring on a chain around my neck.”
Phoebe Sherwood wrote the words as she spoke and then folded the piece of paper and put it in the beer mug Hailey Conner held out for her.
She bent her head to write again. “On one knee on his porch with the engagement ring—and pizza—when he opens the door.”
She folded option two and put it in the beer mug.
On the third piece of paper, she wrote, Public proposal in the town square during the festival.
After Phoebe added the scrap of paper to the mug, Hailey put her hand over the opening and shook the tiny squares before pulling her hand back and grinning.
“Okay, pick one.”
Please share a few Random facts about this book…
Getting Worked Up is book two in this series (Sapphire Falls) and when I wrote book one, Joe was *not* the hero I thought would star in this book.
The town of Sapphire Falls is based on the town where my grandparents lived when I was growing up.
Phoebe’s tattoo was inspired by a tattoo one of my readers has and told me about during a contest for another book.
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
Phoebe Sherwood is feisty and fun, she knows who she is– flaws and all. She plots and plans and sticks her nose into everything, but with a big heart and the best intentions. Joe Spencer is a rich playboy who is sophisticated and charming and is completely in over his head in Sapphire Falls and with Phoebe. She mixes him up instantly and he knows he needs to stay away– which is the last thing he can actually make himself do.
I think what surprised me the most is that Phoebe is confident and sassy in *almost* everything— but she truly doesn’t believe that a guy like Joe could be attracted to her and crazy about her. I loved helping her realize that.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
I didn’t have to do a lot! This story could have happened in my own backyard! These people are just like people I know and love, the town is the kind of town I’ve been in all my life. I actually really love that about this series!
The First kiss…
“There is this certain mixture of characteristics that is my weakness.”
She should ignore this whole thing. She should take him to Adrianne and Mason’s, dump him on the porch, ring the doorbell and run.
Instead, she took a big gulp of strawberry booze, tossed the bottle toward the bucket in the back of the truck that was there to collect bottles and cans from parties, and leaned in, bracing her hand against the truck bed next to her hip.
She couldn’t help it. She’d never been the prettiest, the smartest, the funniest or the sweetest. She’d never been the est anything, ever. Except the best friend.
The idea that a guy like Joe—even drunk off his ass—was attracted to her was too fun to not delve into a little. She could be forgiven for that, surely. And he might not remember the conversation tomorrow anyway.
“What characteristics?” she asked.
Joe fingered one of the curls that had come loose from her ponytail. “Your mouth.”
His gaze dropped to her lips again and Phoebe fought the urge to lick them.
“And I don’t mean your physical mouth—that’s a whole other discussion—but your mouthiness.”
Yeah, too bad he wouldn’t remember saying that. Most people chalked her mouthiness up in the negative column.
But he wasn’t done. “The way you make everyone light up when you’re around. The way you laugh out loud—like you’ve never heard anything funnier each time. How you sing loudly to your favorite song even though you’re terrible.”
She cocked an eyebrow. That didn’t sound like something that would be attractive, but he was looking at her like it really was. This was getting weirder and weirder. He’d been watching her at the bar for like an hour. Clearly, he’d been paying attention. Why?
“The way your eyes sparkle when someone flirts with you. The way you twirl your hair when you’re flirting with them.”
“You do,” he said. “And I also like that when you flirt, you don’t think anyone notices.”
“I like that you treat everyone like they’re your best friend. No matter who it is or what they want, you treat them like you’re happy to see them and that everything they say is witty and brilliant.”
“I…do?” She didn’t think she really did that. Not on purpose anyway.
“You treat all those poor guys who are madly in love with you like they’re all special.” He frowned.
She opened her mouth to reply when he went on.
“No, actually, that irritates me. I don’t like that part.”
“Nobody’s in love with me,” she said. Then thought about who she’d seen and danced with earlier. “Okay, John might have a little crush.”
Joe laughed. And it wasn’t one of his usual chuckles. This was an outright laugh. “I do like that, though,” he said. “That you’re completely clueless about the fact that every guy there tonight wanted you.”
She shook her head. “We’re all friends.” Then she sighed. “I’m everyone’s friend.”
“See, you make all guys crazy. I mean, they must be crazy to be around this amazing woman for years and not do a damned thing about it.”
For just a moment, she didn’t care that he was a virtual stranger, or that he was in town for another woman, or that he was a Borcher’s Booze virgin and was definitely feeling the effects. He had been watching her and thought she was amazing for some pretty…amazing reasons.
She leaned in, grabbed the front of his shirt and pulled him close. Then she kissed him. Not because she wanted to get him naked, not because of the liquor, but because he’d made her feel kissable for the first time in a while and she really liked kissing.
And she didn’t think he’d mind.
There wasn’t even a second of hesitation on Joe’s part. He tunneled his fingers into her hair, tipped his head one way and hers the other and completely took over the kiss.
His mouth was hot and hungry. He slicked his tongue along her bottom lip and then sucked it lightly into his mouth. When she moaned, he took advantage and boldly stroked his tongue along hers. He tasted like strawberries and sex. Two of her favorite things.
Did any scene have you crying or laughing while writing it?
I grinned a lot while writing this one. And Phoebe’s vulnerability and the way she realized that Joe really was crazy about her, touched me.
Here’s part of one of my favorite scenes:
Joe groaned as Phoebe led the way to the booth.
He was so not at his best right now. Meeting the town did not seem like a good idea at the moment. Or any of the moments in the foreseeable future.
But Phoebe stopped before they slid into the booth and called out—loudly of course, “Hey, guys, this is Joe.” The woman even walked loudly. She was wearing flip flops that slapped against the tile floor as she walked. He could only imagine how noisy she’d get in heels.
There was only one other table occupied this early and it was actually made up of four tables pulled together. The chairs haphazardly circling the tables were filled with men who looked like they ranged from old to damned old. They all wore jeans, T-shirts, dirty work boots and caps.
“Hey, Joe,” several of them called back. He also got saluted with a couple of coffee cups. Then one yelled, “Whatcha doin’ here, boy?”
Joe didn’t think he could yell loud enough to be heard without his head exploding. He braced himself and opened his mouth, but Phoebe pushed him into the booth. “He’s workin’, Frank. Leave him alone. He doesn’t feel so good this mornin’.”
“He get into Borcher’s Booze or somethin’?” the guy called back.
Phoebe snickered. “You got it.”
“Good for you, boy, way to jump right in with both feet.”
Joe gave him a weak smile and a wave. If he felt better after breakfast, he’d go over and try to make nice, but right now he needed to hydrate.
Phoebe took a seat on the bench across from him and crossed her arms on the table top. “You gonna make it?”
He lifted a shoulder. “I’ve been worse off than this. But it usually involves way more liquor, a couple cigars, staying up until the sun comes up and—” He caught Phoebe’s wide eyes and shifted on his seat. Maybe that was too much sharing too early on.
“And a couple of blonds and brunettes on the side?” Phoebe asked.
He cleared his throat. “Past life. That’s over. I’m turning over a new leaf.”
Phoebe gave him a knowing look. “That’s not a denial on the multiple girls.”
“Past life,” he repeated.
“Ah.” She nodded. And certainly didn’t seem shocked or disgusted. “Well, you’re gonna have to change your ways if you’re gonna live here,” Phoebe said. She was studying the back of the booth beside his shoulder with a frown.
“What do you mean? If Borcher’s Booze is a regular thing around here, you’re all way wilder and tougher than me,” he said lightly.
Phoebe looked up. “Well, there is that.”
“Then I should be fine.”
“Sure, as long as vanilla is your favorite flavor, you’ll be great.”
He leaned in. “Are we talking about vodka, ice cream or sex?”
She leaned in too. “Do you like vanilla in any of those things?”
“Nope. Vodka isn’t my drink and I like some flavor and even a few add-ins with both ice cream and sex.”
“Add-ins?” Phoebe repeated.
“Like crushed up Oreos and colored sprinkles.” Joe made note of Phoebe’s bright blue sleeveless top. He also knew that her capris were yellow, as were her flip flops, though they had blue rhinestones that glittered from the straps.
He really did like colored sprinkles.
“You use Oreos and colored sprinkles during sex?”
He grinned. “Sure. Or chocolate syrup. Or edible body lotion. Or other add-ins. You know…toys, handcuffs, naughty costumes. That kind of stuff.”
Phoebe licked her lips and Joe couldn’t look away from the shine on her bottom lip. “What kind of costumes?” She was practically whispering now.
Phoebe Sherwood never whispered. He’d known her fewer than twenty-four hours and he knew that.
He liked this. He lowered his voice too. “I’ve always been partial to naughty teachers.”
He liked that too. It was probably almost as rare as the being quiet thing. But he didn’t know why she’d be blushing. “Do you have a naughty teacher costume?” he asked, so hoping the answer was yes.
“I am a teacher.”
He thought about that, his grin growing. “And here I was gonna say that I thought my new favorite might be a naughty farm girl.”
She blushed brighter at that and he laughed.
“You shouldn’t be flirting with me,” she finally said.
He sighed, his smile fading. “Yeah, you’re right.”
“You can’t really help it though, huh?”
“It tends to get the better of me.”
“You’re gonna have to tone it down.”
“Hanging out with you isn’t going to help me there.”
They sat looking at each other. Joe honestly didn’t know how he should feel at that moment. Maybe apologetic, but that didn’t seem to be sinking in.
Phoebe opened her mouth, snapped it shut and pressed her lips together.
Yeah, Phoebe biting her tongue also didn’t likely happen often.
“What?” Joe asked.
“You were going to say something.”
“Nah, it was nothing.”
“Phoebe, come on. You can say it.” He dropped his voice again. “Especially if it’s something dirty.”
She took a short breath. “There you go again,” she said.
“Told you I can’t help it with you.”
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would be absolutely crucial to include and why?
This is the scene where Phoebe is talking to her girlfriends and hatching the plan that throws her and Joe together:
“Joe is the answer to your problem, and he needs your help.”
“He is? He does?” Phoebe asked, but her wheels immediately started turning. She looked over at Mason and Joe. They were drinking and chatting. They watched the dancers on the dance floor and the band, Mason kept an eye on Adrianne and…Phoebe sat up straighter as she realized that Joe was checking her out.
“What did you tell him about me?” she asked Adrianne.
“Nothing. I didn’t even tell Mason why I thought tonight was a good night for them to have a beer together. But it’s perfect.”
Hailey leaned in, one of her I’m-not-convinced-I-care-but-I’m-willing-to-hear-more frowns in place. As mayor of Sapphire Falls she wore that expression a lot when confronted in the grocery store or post office by citizens with concerns. “Go on. I’m intrigued.”
Phoebe was frickin’ intrigued too. Any plan that didn’t involve her getting naked in the public square to convince Matt how she felt sounded great to her.
“Isn’t it obvious?” Adrianne asked.
“Yes,” Phoebe answered. It was to her.
“Spell it out,” Hailey said.
“He tells Nadia how he feels, sweeps her off her feet, she breaks up with Matt and he’s all mine,” Phoebe said.
“Sounds easy,” Hailey said. “But if she’s in love with Matt—”
“Look at him,” Phoebe said, gesturing toward Joe’s table. “Come on.”
Hailey laughed. “I thought you thought Matt was the epitome of all men.”
“He is,” she agreed. “But—” she glanced at Joe again, “—that’s gonna be hard to say no to if he’s coming at you with romance and sex, you know?”
Hailey nodded. Adrianne nodded. Even Lauren nodded.
“Plus, Nadia’s known Joe her whole life. She’s known Matt for six months. That’s totally to Joe’s advantage, just like me knowing Matt so well. It’s pretty hard to ignore someone who’s been there with you through so much for so long.” At least, she hoped that was true. She and Matt had a lot of history. That had to count for something. Of course, she didn’t really know anything about Joe and Nadia’s relationship. Still, he’d known her for a long time. Unless he was a moron, he knew stuff about her that would matter when it came right down to it.
Lord, she hoped he wasn’t a moron.
“Oh, and there’s something even better,” Adrianne said excitedly.
“Awesome, what ya got?” Phoebe asked.
“Apparently, Nadia’s had a crush on Joe for years.”
Okay. Now they were talking. “I can totally work with that,” Phoebe said enthusiastically. “Him, looking like he looks, a history with her and a past crush? Oh, yeah, this will be a piece of cake.”
“So you’ll have him sitting here waiting for her when she gets home?” Lauren said. “You really think she’s just going to dump Matt like that?”
“Well, see, here’s the brilliance,” Phoebe told her, the entire plan coming to her like magic.
Because Nadia was Matt’s girlfriend and Matt was Phoebe’s best friend, Phoebe had heard Nadia gushing about her new life in Sapphire Falls plenty of times. She loved it here. Phoebe suspected that eighty-percent of Nadia’s feelings for Matt actually stemmed from her feelings for his hometown, friends and family. “Nadia is in love with Sapphire Falls. She’s crazy about our little town. Matt embodies everything she loves about it, and with him she’s smack dab in the center of everything from the town festival to the baseball team’s championship win to the park rebuilding project. She’s nuts about all that stuff. She likes the simple life, the sense of belonging, the laidback good times. And Matt’s the king of all of that.”
Matt was involved in every aspect of life in Sapphire Falls—volunteer fireman, Little League coach, president of the alumni association.
“Good point,” Hailey admitted. She knew perfectly well that there were only three people in Sapphire Falls who could take the job of mayor away from her if they wanted it. Matt was one of them. Phoebe and Adrianne were the other two.
It wasn’t that Phoebe thought Nadia was aware that her affection for her new home and lifestyle had spilled over to the guy who embodied that home and lifestyle.
But Matt deserved better. He needed a woman who knew and loved all his layers, not just the Crown-Prince-of-Sapphire-Falls layer. Phoebe had known him since they were four. She knew every endearing and annoying thing about him. That was real love—knowing every way the other person would irritate the crap out of you but wanting to be with him anyway. Phoebe could absolutely say she knew every way Matt was less than perfect. No way could Nadia feel the same way about him. She’d known Matt for six months. Anyone could look good for six months.
“So what does that mean for Joe?” Lauren asked. “He’s not from here and he’s definitely not a Sapphire Falls golden boy. That guy grew up in the city. He has dinner with politicians. He’s a charmer, but not in the good-ol-boy way Matt and the guys here are. He’s charming in the slick and sophisticated I-can-sell-ocean-front-property-in-Iowa way.”
Phoebe grinned. “But he’s going to hang out with me. And I’ve got two weeks until Nadia gets back from Haiti. I’ll turn him into a Sapphire Falls favorite son with a week to spare. If we combine everything she loves about Matt into that package, and add the cherry on top—the fact that she’s wanted him in the past—Brainiac Barbie won’t have a chance.”
Hailey raised an eyebrow in an expression that was rare indeed—she looked impressed.
Figuring that meant she was as ahead as she was going to get at this table, Phoebe finished her margarita and shoved her chair back. “Okay, I’m going to go introduce myself to my new best friend,” she said with a smile.
It wasn’t going to be a hardship spending some time looking at Joe Spencer over the next few days, that was for sure. She just hoped his charm and polish could be adapted to small-town Nebraska.
If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be and why?
I’d tell them both that what you think that you want and what seems to make sense, isn’t always the way your heart is going to lead you– and to just go with it! 🙂
What are you currently working on? What other releases so you have planned for 2014?
I’m excited to be re-releasing my very first published novel, No Matter What, in November for it’s 5th anniversary! New cover, a few enhanced scenes… AND two more books to make it a fun, sexy, billionaire triology! Book two, What Matters Most will be out in December and All That Matters comes out in February 2015!
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: I’m giving away FIVE e- copies of the first book in the Sapphire Falls series, Getting Out of Hand and ONE set of both e-books, Getting Out of Hand and Getting Worked Up along with a $10 gift card to the winner’s choice of Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: What is (or what do you think would be) the best part of living in a small town like Sapphire Falls?
“I need the guys around here to look at me differently. So I need to literally look different.”
“You look great the way you always do. I liked the flip flops this morning.”
She couldn’t help but smile. That was sweet. “Thanks. I love those shoes.” Then she shook her head. “But I have to do something different to get their attention on me as a woman, one they want to sleep with, not just a girl they’ve known forever and who they respect because I cheat at poker.”
“And when you say they, you mean Matt,” Joe said, with a frown.
She sighed. “Yeah.”
“He doesn’t think of you as a woman?”
“Not as a woman. When the guys here think of me, they think of their good friend, Phoebe.” She didn’t care what Adrianne had said about their crushes. If one of them really wanted her, he would have made a move. “I’m the one who’s helped them ask girls out, who’s helped them get girls back after they’ve screwed up, who’s helped them understand what happened when a breakup sticks. I’ve helped them write love letters and plan romantic dates, and I’ve helped a few break up with girls without hurting their feelings.”
“You’re like their own personal Dear Abby,” Joe said.
She smiled. “Something like that.” And it sucked when it came to her own love life.
“And Matt sees you this way too?”
“Worse. I’ve given him plenty of girl advice too, but Matt also sees me as the girl who could always kick his ass at video games, who likes to go fishing, who wasn’t afraid to pick up snakes and bugs and frogs. He knows about the time I wrote a sappy poem for a guy I liked from another town and how he passed it all around and I was turned into some kind of crazy stalker. He knows about the time I was going to ask a guy to Homecoming and ended up puking on his shoes instead. He knows about the time I was going to someone else’s prom and twisted my ankle on my high heels in the parking lot and ended up in the emergency room with a broken ankle and ruining the guy’s prom.”
Joe’s elbows were propped on his knees and he was staring at her, a slightly horrified look on his face. “Wow.”
“I know. So you can see why Matt might not look at me romantically and sexually.”
Joe scoffed at that. “Phoebe, I promise you that most of the guys in this town, and probably all the others, want to take you to bed. Even Matt. Maybe especially Matt. He knows you so well, gets to spend all that time with you—”
“No,” she cut him off. “I appreciate your flattery, but I know he doesn’t think of me sexually.”
“Trust me,” Joe said firmly, “that isn’t true.”
“It is,” she insisted.
“Phoebe—” Joe started to argue.
“He could have licked me this morning and he didn’t,” she said quickly.
Joe’s face was a hilarious combination of confusion and intrigue. “What?”
She slumped down on the coffee table facing him and told him about that morning at Matt’s mom’s. “So there I was with frosting, ready and willing, no one else around, and he didn’t do anything.”
Joe sat looking at her for several seconds before he sat back and draped his arms along the back of the couch again. “Fine. Turn once more.”
Relieved that he was finally listening, she stood, moved behind the coffee table and executed a smooth pivot. He looked her over from head to toe and Phoebe fidgeted under his concentrated gaze.
“You look fantastic,” he finally said.
“I don’t know about fantastic but—”
“That skirt says, ‘run your hand up here and see if I’m wearing panties or a thong.’ And it shows off legs that make me think about how they’d feel wrapped around my waist.”
She sucked in a quick breath. That was…not what she’d been expecting.
“But,” Joe went on, still studying her with a strange objectivity in spite of his words. “Something’s not right. What else do you have?”
Phoebe couldn’t stop thinking about wrapping her legs around his waist. “Um, yeah, okay.”
She came back out a few minutes later. “Better?”
She stopped by the coffee table and twirled.
Again, Joe took his job seriously and checked her over inch by inch.
She worked on not shifting her weight from foot to foot, but she felt very exposed under his careful examination. “Nice.”
The white top was Lauren’s and it hugged Phoebe’s breasts fondly. The bodice sparkled with tiny shimmering threads and plunged between her breasts and also past her shoulder blades in back. She’d paired it with black capris that flared at mid-calf but left her feet bare, unable to figure out which of the shoes she’d pilfered from Hailey’s closet would be best. Shoes were so not her thing.
“You like this better?” she asked, smoothing her hand over the soft fitted bodice.
“Well, the top will make the guys wonder if the material is stretchy enough to pull down to get to your nipples.”
Heat flooded through her even as she scowled at him. He was teasing her.
The top was pretty, but her breasts were so on display she felt like she needed to stand with her arms crossed over her chest. The black capris were cute and short, but she felt like maybe it seemed she was trying too hard.
“Stop it,” she said firmly. “That’s not helpful.”
He met her gaze. “I thought you wanted me to be honest. That is honestly what I thought when you walked out here.”
She propped her hands on her hips. “It is sexy or not? Seriously. No teasing.”
Joe looked annoyed. “It’s sexy. But still not right.”
She stomped to her bedroom and stared at the bed. Some of it was absolutely not going to work. Hailey and Lauren were both taller and slimmer than she was. She finally pulled on a chocolate-brown dress that was as fitted as the white top but fell farther down her thighs than the black skirt. One shoulder was left bare but the cleavage display was modest and it zipped up far enough that she could wear a strapless bra for support.
Joe was already nodding as she took her place in front of him. She turned around and then stood watching Joe’s gaze travel over her. Again, she was barefoot because she didn’t know what to put with it other than something brown—and she hadn’t grabbed anything brown from Hailey.
“I like that too.”
“Gee, it doesn’t make you want to rip it off of me?” she asked dryly. Imagine that.
“It makes me want to bend you over the back of that couch.”
Phoebe felt that sudden wave of heat wash over her again. “It’s…” She had to clear her throat. “It’s a loveseat, actually.” He was sitting on the couch.
“Trust me, it’ll work.”
Phoebe Sherwood is in love with the perfect man. Well, except for the fact that he’s in love with someone else. But Phoebe isn’t the type to let a little detail like that keep her from getting what she wants.
And as she’s plotting how to get him back, she meets the perfect solution—Joe Spencer. The city boy is in town to retrieve his sort-of fiancé—the woman who stole Phoebe’s man— and when he hears Phoebe’s plan to reclaim their respective soul mates, he’s in
Bright and sparkly. That’s Joe’s first impression of Phoebe. He’s always been attracted to sparkly things—like neon casino signs, sequined evening gowns and Porsches. In fact, his affinity for those things, and the trouble they can cause, are exactly why he’s determined to change his habits and settle down.
But if he’s going to win his girl back, he’s going to need to learn a new way of life. Country line dancing, guzzling homemade moonshine and getting rid of his custom-made suits are what it takes to fit into Sapphire Falls… and he’s got some work to do.
Thank goodness Phoebe is the perfect coach.
Erin Nicholas is the author of sexy contemporary romances. Her stories have been described as toe-curling, enchanting, steamy and fun. She loves to write about reluctant heroes, imperfect heroines and happily ever afters. She lives in the Midwest with her husband who only wants to read the sex scenes in her books, her kids who will never read the sex scenes in her books, and family and friends who say they’re shocked by the sex scenes in her books (yeah, right!).
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