Hi Jennifer and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Hot and Bothered!
Thank you so much for inviting me back! I always love being here!
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
Hot and Bothered is about Ben and Julie, two high school sweethearts who had a terrible breakup years ago. They’re both back in the same town now and trying like hell to avoid each other. But they quickly find all those feelings are still there–in full-throttle adult form!
What’s your favorite line(s) from the book?:
She was quite proud of herself, really. It was a feat of strength, not falling for Ben again. The Saga of Ben and Julie, Part Two: The Casual Years.
The problem was that he HAD met the right girl. He’d just never recovered from it.
“Oh my God. This is incredible. I’d say it’s better than sex, but, well…it’s not, quite.”
“I’d say I’m insulted, but I’m not, quite.”
When you sat down to start this book, what was the biggest challenge you faced? What were you most excited about?
The biggest challenge with this book was finding reasons Ben and Julie couldn’t be together again. Their connection is so strong that once they broke the ice, it was hard to keep them apart. 🙂 But that was actually one of the most exciting things about the story too. Can two people who loved each other passionately in the past find a new way to be together, once they’ve dealt with their history?
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
In this series, all of the Knight brothers, each in their own way, are dealing with the aftermath of their father’s unsolved murder 12 years ago. Ben Knight was only 18 at the time, and he left for the Air Force shortly afterwards. What surprised me was how his outward toughness hides the pain he still feels over what happened. There’s a hole in his heart, is how he thinks of it. He’s kind of a beta hero in alpha hero’s clothing, so to speak. And Julie deGaia surprised me with her strength. She’s pretty much alone in the world, and has had to fend for herself for a long time. But she’s resourceful and tremendously caring.
What have you learned about your own writing process/you as an author while writing this book?
I’ve always been a “plotter,” for the most part. I make an outline and stick to it pretty closely. But with this book, I decided to really let the characters relate to each first and foremost — and let that guide the story. There are some key plot elements, such as the search for Ben’s father’s killer, that I had to work in. But mostly I wrote this book as “pantser,” and I really loved doing it that way. So I think what I learned from this book is confidence that the story will come together even if I don’t plot it all out ahead of time.
The First kiss…
Ben and Julie’s first kiss is a flashback scene …
A visceral memory came over him of the first time they kissed. He remembered exactly how fresh and tender her lips tasted. It was behind the lifeguard shack at the beach. She’d worn her regulation lifeguard swimsuit, which had revealed just a shadow of cleavage that drove him absolutely mad with lust…
He’d brought her a soda and a bag of barbecued corn chips, because she was a junk food addict at that point. She’d grinned and accepted his gift with a hug. The sensation of her sun-warmed skin was like an injection of adrenaline into his veins.
“What are you doing here, Knight?” At that point, they weren’t yet boyfriend and girlfriend. They were “hanging out.” Which he loved and hated. They joked and talked and even shared a few secrets. But she had those pretty legs, and those breasts, and that skin, and those lips, and he lusted after her hard.
So, he’d leaned forward and touched his mouth to hers, as if it was pre-ordained. Destined. The sweet sweep of his flesh against hers filled his senses. A quick draw of breath echoed in his ears, amplified by the blood roaring through his veins. Her breath? A gasp? Had he gone too far? Ruined everything?
Almost afraid to know, he opened his eyes. She was staring at him, mouth open, touching her lips with her fingertips. “You kissed me.”
“Yeah,” he said cautiously. “Is that…are you…I’m sorry…”
“I thought you liked Savannah.”
“Savannah? Why did you think that?” He was almost insulted. Ever since he’d met Julie, he’d barely remembered that Savannah existed.
“Because she’s…” She flapped her hand, chasing the thought away. “It doesn’t matter.” She lifted her chin and leaned toward him. “Will you do that again? It’s so much nicer than I even imagined.”
He laughed a little, thrills of joy racing through him. “So, you imagined kissing me?”
“Um, yes. A few times. Now shut up and let’s try it again. But like, longer this time.”
So, they kissed longer, and deeper, and it was amazing and arousing and maddening and satisfying, all at once. After that, they were officially boyfriend and girlfriend.
Until she left.
Did any scene have you crying or laughing (or blushing) while writing it?
This scene made me both laugh and blush … it’s when Ben and Julie make love for the first time as adults.
The pleasure was insane. How could such a light touch have such an intense effect? It made no sense. She swayed on her feet, her eyes drifting half-closed as she drank in every pulse of sensation created by his sure finger.
An iron band behind her back stabilized her. Scratch that. It was his arm, the other one, the one that wasn’t attached to the hand currently teasing her nipple until it throbbed. “God, Ben,” she whispered. “I missed this so much.”
“Me too,” he murmured. “Your breasts were my obsession for all of junior year. I don’t know how I’ve managed to live without them.”
She nearly choked on a bubble of laughter. “You’re so ridiculous.”
“I’m serious. And now they’re hiding behind a damn bra. Do you mind?”
She shook her head, relaxing in his arms as he unfastened her bra from behind and slid it off her body. He cupped her breasts in both hands. His exaggerated groan of appreciation made her smile. “They’re just breasts,” she noted.
“Oh no. These are not just breasts. These babies are an important part of my psyche, I’ll have you know.” He filled his hands with her flesh, using his thumbs to elicit more delicious sensations from the tips. “If you knew how many fantasies they starred in. Between your swimsuits and your sports bras and those little belly shirts you used to wear…oh my God. I swear, these boobs are like my long-lost BFFs.”
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters?
I think this scene shows some of the tension between Ben and Julie that still lingers from the past. They have a lot to get through before they can be together–as seen here.
Finally, he and Julie were alone.
“Thank you for doing—”
“I’m glad you guys came—” They both spoke at once, then laughed. Ben shoved his hands in his pockets and breathed in the comforting smell of fuel oil and hand cleanser that permeated the hangar. This was his home turf. His comfort zone. His little kingdom. Nothing could hurt him here, not even an awkward moment with the former love of his life.
Julie fiddled with the end of her belt, and he realized she felt just as awkward as he did. To put her at ease, he reached for her arm and gave it a comforting squeeze. Mistake. The feel of her body brought too many lost emotions rushing back. He snatched his hand back. “Sorry.”
“No. Please, don’t be sorry. I mean, I should be sorry. I am sorry. Ben, we need to talk—” He took a step away, his back bumping up against the Piper Matrix. This didn’t seem like the best moment for talking. Touching her arm had rattled him, and he was about to have six lives, including his own, in his hands. If thoughts of Julie had been distracting him in the air, what would actual Julie do? “
How about some other time,” he muttered. A quick wince flashed across her face. “Oh sure, I didn’t mean now. I just…there’s a lot to say. And the longer we wait, the harder it gets.”
“It’s waited twelve years; how much harder could it be?” He meant the words lightly, but they didn’t come out that way. They came out harsh and edgy. She flinched, and cinched her belt tighter. “Ouch Maybe this isn’t such a good idea after all.”
And then—ridiculously—he hated that she was backing out of it. “What isn’t, talking? Flying? Coming back to Jupiter Point? Acting like you didn’t walk out on me when I needed you most? Pretending like everything’s normal? You’re going to have to be more specific.”
Her face went white, and he instantly felt like the biggest ass in the world. Why was he getting so hot and bothered? He was over her. None of this should matter to him anymore.
“Sorry,” he muttered.
She opened her mouth, but nothing came out. Her gaze dropped to the floor. He followed her glance. Concrete stained with old diesel, scuff marks. “Don’t be,” she whispered. “I guess I deserve that.”
No, she didn’t. Or maybe she did. He didn’t know anymore. A stew of emotions boiled inside him, turning his stomach. Anger—so much anger. He thought he was through with that. He’d worked it out in basic training, at the flight academy, in long pounding sessions at the gym, in hundreds of late-night study sessions. But it wasn’t just anger haunting him…there was plenty of hurt, too. Not to mention confusion. What had he ever done to deserve the way she’d treated him? But still, the stunned look on her face tore at him. This was still Julie, no matter what she’d done twelve years ago. Before, he never would have spoken to her in such a nasty way. Then again, before—he wouldn’t have wanted to, because he loved and trusted Julie with all his heart. Not anymore. When he looked up, she was studying him closely. “You’ve changed, haven’t you?”
“Of course I’ve changed. I grew up. Stopped believing in fairy tales.”
Stopped believing in love—that was what he really meant. Stopped believing in miracles, in happy endings, in “everything’s going to be okay.” Of course everything wasn’t going to be okay. Just look at all the terrible things that had happened. How could that ever be okay? She smiled sadly. “There’s one fairy tale I believe in. ‘Humpty Dumpty.’ All the king’s horses and all the king’s men, couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again. I have a feeling that’s us, Ben.” Before he could protest the idea of comparing their relationship to a giant talking humanoid egg, Mr. Reinhard charged into the hangar.
Readers should read this book….
…to spend time with a different kind of hero, a man who’s not afraid to express emotion, who feels things deeply, and is willing to open up again to someone who hurt him. It’s also about the families we create for ourselves, because Julie is someone with no family, who makes her friendships and other relationships a top priority in her life. Also, if you want to be amused by two people doing everything possible to avoid each other–and failing utterly!–you should read this book.
What are you currently working on? What are your up-coming releases?
I’m currently working on the next book in the Jupiter Point (Knight Brothers) series, which is called TOO HOT TO HANDLE. This one is fun because it’s Cassie’s story, their sister. She’s now a mechanic who rolls her eyes at testosterone-loaded men — until Knight and Day, the family flightseeing business, hires a new pilot, who also happens to be a single dad. It’s slated to come out in April. After that there’s one more brother in the Knight family who needs a happy ending! I’m aiming for June for his story.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: 3 downloads of the Jupiter Point Hotshot Box Set, which contains Books 1-3 of the Jupiter Point series.
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: Ben Knight is a pilot who runs a flightseeing business and performs rescues. Have you ever flown in a small plane, such as the Cessnas he pilots?
Excerpt from Hot and Bothered:
Julie was thrilled to take Felix to the ice skating party. This was what he needed—a chance to connect with the kids here, to find out how different life was in a slower-paced town like Jupiter Point.
It was the last place she would have expected to see Ben.
But of course, with her luck, there he was, helping a dimpled little blond girl skate for the first time. The girl was younger than the kids at the party, and she and Ben were at the opposite end of the rink. Julie shrugged it off and focused on helping Felix with his skates, then assisting the birthday boy’s mother in the snack room.
As she blew up balloons and taped up streamers, she kept an eye on Felix inching around the rink. When he drew close to Ben, the little girl spotted him. Smiling incandescently, she tried to skate toward Felix. Halfway to him, she fell on her butt and burst into tears.
Ben skated after her, then helped her up and brushed ice crystals off her snow pants. Felix watched the entire episode patiently. As soon as the girl stopped crying, he showed her his method of staying upright on skates.
Ben straightened to his full height and watched, arms crossed over his chest. From the snack room, Julie feasted her eyes on him. She didn’t care about the vanilla buttercream cake or the birthday snacks. All she wanted was to watch Ben on the ice, the way he glided close to the two kids, dropping an instruction now and then, the way his wool sweater clung to his muscles, the way his jeans cupped his ass.
Her heart ached and she realized, crystal clear, that she was not over Ben. Not even close.
The birthday boy’s mother—Candy—caught her looking. “That’s one of the Knight brothers. I’m pretty sure he’s the single one, too. I can handle things here if you want some rink time.”
“No no. I’m good here.” She picked up another balloon and blew air into it. Stare at the red latex, not at the hot guy on the ice. Don’t think about how adorable he is with that little girl.
This was a serious problem. If she kept running into Ben like this, she’d be in love with him all over again in no time. These little glimpses of him in his real life, relaxed and casual, were torturous. In another world, he’d be giving their child skating lessons. It was the kind of life they’d always known they wanted, filled with ordinary, everyday joys.
But that world never came to be. Instead, she lived in this world, where she and Ben circled each other like planets whose orbits kept colliding.
Ugh. Gah. Why was this so hard?
She blew a little too hard on the balloon and it burst out of her hands. Zooming across the table, it narrowly missing the birthday cake. The air fizzed out of it with a high whine until it landed in a pile of red limpness on the floor. Honestly, she couldn’t think of a better visual metaphor for her and Ben.
Excerpts. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
From USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Bernard comes a second chance to fall in love …
Ben, the most romantic of Jupiter Point’s smoking hot Knight brothers, knew from the moment he met his high school sweetheart, Julie deGaia, that she was the one for him. Marriage, kids…he wanted forever with Julie—until the moment she skipped town without a word. Then Ben’s father was murdered, and his life was irrevocably changed. Now, after twelve years, Julie’s back. Ben’s over her, of course. They’re completely different people now.
Right. If they’re so different, why do his feelings for her seem so damn familiar?
And how, after all this time, can she still make Ben so hot and bothered?
Julie was never supposed to return to Jupiter Point. It’s only by staying away that she’s ensured her safety. But she owes a huge debt to the wealthy and demanding Reinhard family, who took her in as a child. What the Reinhards want, they get, so here she is, dodging a handsomer-than-ever Ben Knight. Her former sweetheart has turned into a hunky pilot who aims that sexy smile at everyone except her—until he learns the truth about why she left in the first place.
If the past can’t keep Ben and Julie apart, a deadly threat in the present might. As for that idyllic future they always dreamed about? It might take some Jupiter Point magic to put this star-crossed couple on the road to happy ever after.
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 cuddling 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.
Website | Facebook | Twitter |