Hi Jennifer and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Salazar’s One-Night Heir!
Hi there! So happy to be back with you at Harlequin Junkie 🙂 One of my favourite places to be!
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
When billionaires Antonio Di Marcello, Stavros Xenakis and Alejandro Salazar are challenged to survive two weeks without their wealth, power and status, they can’t resist the chance to prove they are more than their bank accounts. They leave behind their billionaire lifestyles and take on “ordinary lives” as part of undercover assignments as a mechanic, pool boy and stable groom. But they’re about to meet the real challenge—the women who will steal their bachelor hearts.
What’s your favorite line(s) from the book?:
I have to give you the lead up because it sets the moment up. Early on in the book Cecily, who’s ultra vulnerable, having been betrayed by her ex fiancé, begs Alejandro to give her one night to experience the passion they share. After she realizes he’s betrayed her, it takes them a long time to build their trust in each other back, but the heat and memories of that night have been smouldering in the background. Finally, it’s the night of their friend, Sebastien’s, big anniversary party and they have rebuilt their bond.
They’re on the dance floor at the end of the night. Cecily is nervous as hell about what is about to happen and Alejandro is trying to figure out why:
Alejandro drew back, his gorgeous, inky black eyes glittering with amusement. “Are you all right, querida?”
“Fully recovered,” she murmured, “from this afternoon at least. This campaign you are waging has me distinctly on edge.”
The grooves on either side of his mouth deepened. “You seduced me last time. Surely turnabout is fair play?”
“I seduced you…the operative words. I knew what I was doing then.”
“Now I have no idea what I’m doing.”
“Yes you do,” he said softly. “You know this is right. Why so nervous, angel?”
“Because,” she whispered, so caught up in him she was a lost cause, “it was…magical.”
When you sat down to start this book, what was the biggest challenge you faced? What were you most excited about?
I was so excited to begin this book, I could hardly stand it. I knew the story, it had come to me like a film script. Two enemy dynasties, star crossed lovers, very Romeo & Juliet. I loved the concept for the Secret Billionaires series Dani, Rachael and I got to write, having our billionaires go two weeks without their wallets in undercover assignments. What I struggled with was how to start the story after the prologue which appears in all three books from each hero’s perspective – which introduces how the challenge came about. How do I shift from it to the actual start of my hero’s assignment? I could have started the book with Alejandro showing up at the Hargrove ranch, discovering his stable clothes and boots and the short stack of money he’s been allowed, that he’s finally going to be able to take his revenge on the Hargroves, but instead I wanted you to meet Cecily because I think her and Alejandro’s first showdown is so fiery and it was the scene I envisioned starting the book with. So instead of making the perhaps obvious choice of starting with Alejandro’s arrival, I went with it. Which you’ll get to read later.
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
Cecily was a different heroine for me. She’s been hurt by life so many times and she competes in such a tough sport in world class show jumping, she’s developed this hard shell that many people mistake for a bitchy demeanour. But she’s really just protecting herself. Deep inside, she just wants to be loved—craves it so badly it hurts. It was so amazing for me to watch Alejandro bring out the real Cecily—to inspire her to be courageous and want to love again.
Alejandro to me was so dreamy to write. He’s the high octane CEO of his family’s Brazilian coffee company, but he’s also this amazing horseman who learned from the best in his famous, equestrian grandmother. He grew up working on her horse farm in the summers in Belgium and although he chose to lead his family’s company because he was given no other choice, in many ways his true love is the horse world. His way with horses was so sexy to me, such a wonderful flip side to his driving ambition. This love of his really expressed itself as I wrote the book.
What have you learned about your own writing process/you as an author while writing this book?
To trust my instincts. To go with my first instinct in most cases. I wrote a lot of scenes more than once in this book and ended up, almost every time, going with my first draft. I think I could have been a lot more efficient with the writing. But I always want my books to be so perfect!
The First kiss…
Cecily knows she needs to ignore her attraction to Alejandro (who at this point in the book she thinks is talented horseman and drifter, Colt Banyon) because she’s set on making the world championship team and she isn’t letting anything get in the way of her dream, especially a man. Colt’s the type that will be here one day and gone tomorrow and she knows from experience how much a man like that can hurt her. She takes him riding with her one day because she isn’t allowed to ride alone (but really, of course, because she wants to be with him) and they go on a picnic. One thing leads to another and their attraction can’t be denied. I adore the fact that she takes the lead in this scene. I’ve included it in my excerpt below.
Did any scene have you crying or laughing (or blushing) while writing it?
The scene that gets me every time in this book is the scene where Cecily and Alejandro fall in love. It’s often intangible in a book when a couple fall in love, but with this book I could just see it happening on the page. Cecily and Alejandro have such chemistry and their relationship is very sensual leading up to this moment, but this is where they both give in to the emotions that have been lurking at the edges for both of them. Although they try so damn hard to fight it!
Cecily has lost her beloved horse, Bacchus, when her father banishes her from the Hargrove ranch, and in the scene before this one, Alejandro gives her a horse he raised with his grandmother as an engagement present and steals her heart:
Cecily didn’t know what to do with her heart on the walk back to the house. It thumped in her chest in the strangest of ways and refused to stop as she and Alejandro climbed the stairs to their suite of rooms that overlooked the lake.
He murmured something about having to work and plopped himself down in front of his computer in the sitting room. She showered and pulled on a filmy blue nightie, her mind still caught up in the very personal, undeniably special gift he’d just given her. He kept doing these things that melted her heart. Coming on the heels of last night’s passionate, explosive encounter between them, it put reckless thoughts in her head. Like maybe they could be more, because she was sure he felt something for her.
Or maybe, she conceded, running a brush through her hair in a ruthless stroke, she was just seeing what she wanted to see. If she were smart, she knew, she would ignore this pull between her and her fiancé just as he was doing right now. Give them both time to breathe. But there were too many questions raging through her head for her to think straight.
Had her mother known about Zeus? What had her parents been arguing about that morning she’d died?
A vice gripped her chest. She couldn’t stand for one more thing to not be as it seemed…for one more piece of her life to come careening apart, because her memories of her mother were all she had.
She tried to tell herself how fragile she was. How much Alejandro was coming to mean to her. How dangerous that was to her. But right now, he seemed like the only real thing in a sea of uncertainty. Nothing could seem to stop her feet from moving as she put down the brush and walked into the sitting room where he was working.
To hell with the consequences.
Slipping behind him on the sofa, she ran her hands up the taut, muscular skin of his back. The heat, the masculinity of him, singed her fingertips beneath the well-worn material of his T-shirt. Sent her pulse racing.
She set her mouth to his nape.
A tremor ran through him. “Cecily—”
She trailed open-mouthed, sensual kisses over the hot, salty skin exposed by the neck of his shirt. Slid her arms around his waist, imprinted her breasts against the muscled skin she’d just been touching. “You sure you want to work?”
“I need to get this report finished before—”
She dropped her hand to the hard length of him beneath his jeans. A curse left his mouth. He was steel beneath the denim, sizzling her blood in her veins.
She was upside down, thrown over his shoulder, Alejandro headed toward the bedroom before she had a chance to breathe.
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters?
Oh the opening scene, for sure. It’s each character in full personality and there’s so many sparks. Cecily has just had a horrible performance in a training session that’s putting her hopes of making the world championship team in jeopardy. She’s terrified it’s all over for her after her and her horse’s accident last year and feeling the pressure. Which is when Alejandro (impersonating Colt Banyon, talented groom) enters the picture:
Pulling Bacchus to a halt in front of the groom who stood lounging against the stable door, she slid off and threw the reins at him with more force than she’d intended. He caught them with a lithe movement, pushing away from the door. Hands clenched at her sides, she spun on her heel and turned to leave.
“You don’t cool your horse down?”
The unfamiliar low, slightly accented drawl stopped her in her tracks. Spinning around, she took its owner in. The new groom she’d seen with Cliff earlier, presumably. She’d been so preoccupied she hadn’t paid any attention to him. She wondered now how that had been possible.
Tall, well over six feet, he was pure, packed muscle in the T-shirt and jeans he wore. Slowly, furiously, she slid her gaze up that impressive body and found the rest of him was equally jaw dropping. His black hair worn at a slightly rebellious length, days-old stubble lining a brutally handsome, square-cut jaw, his eyes the most sinfully dark ones she’d ever seen.
Her stomach flip flopped, a moment of sizzling hot, sexual chemistry arcing between them. She allowed herself to sink into it for a moment, to absorb the shimmer way down low, because it was something she hadn’t felt in a long, long time, if ever.
His blatant stare didn’t waver. Unnerved by the intensity of the connection, she sliced it dead.
“You’re new,” she said icily, lifting her chin. “What’s your name?”
A dip of his head. “Colt Banyon, ma’am. At your service.”
She nodded. “I’m fairly sure then, Colt, Cliff will have explained the finer points of your job to you?”
“Why then, do you think it’s okay to question how I handle my horse?”
He lifted a shoulder. “It seems to me you were having some trouble out there today. In my experience, spending some bonding time with your mount can help with the trust factor.”
The pressure in her head threatened to explode through her skull. No one dared talk to her like that. She couldn’t believe his audacity.
She took a step closer, discovering just how big he was when she had to tip her head back to look up at him, his dangerously beautiful eyes a rich whiskey fire lighting an inky black canvas.
“And from which school of psychobabble does that come from?”
His sensual mouth curved. “My grandmother. She’s a magician with horses.”
The smile might have taken her breath away if the red haze creeping across her brain hadn’t taken complete hold of her now. “How about this, Colt?” she suggested, voice dripping with disdain. “The next time you or your grandmother achieves a top one hundred world cup ranking, you can tell me how to handle my horse. Until then, how about you keep your mouth shut and do your job?”
Readers should read this book….
If you love a sexy, passionate romance and fans of Romeo & Juliet for sure!
What are you currently working on? What are your up-coming releases?
I’m currently working on a trilogy called The Powerful Di Fiore Tycoons. I loved writing my first trilogy, The Delicious De Campos, so much and I’ve missed that brother dynamic. I adore these three Italian-American brothers. The first book, Nico’s story, Christmas at the Tycoon’s Command, comes out in December. Hope you enjoy!
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: Two signed copies of Salazar’s One Night Heir – open internationally
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Excerpt from Salazar’s One-Night Heir:
Distracted, he brought his gaze back up to hers. The reminder he wasn’t who he’d said he was, that this couldn’t happen, should have been enough to have him ending this right now, but the hesitant look in her blue eyes commanded him instead.
“That night in the barn—was I imagining that you wanted to kiss me?”
Ai por Deus. How was he supposed to answer that? Lie and he would hurt her, something he wasn’t willing to do. But telling her the truth wasn’t an option either.
“I don’t think I should answer that question.”
“Because I work for you. Because it isn’t appropriate.”
“This is already past appropriate,” she murmured, eyes on his mouth. “And you’ve already answered my question by not answering.”
“Then we should consider the subject closed.” He reached up to disentangle her arms from around his neck.
She kept them where they were. “I think I should test my theory out.”
“That you will be a better kisser than Knox.”
Oh no. He shook his head. “I think we should leave the answer to the theoretical realm.”
“I don’t.” She curved her fingers around the back of his neck and drew his mouth down to hers. He should have stopped it right there, should have exercised the sanity he should have had, but he wasn’t going to reject her—not in her ultra vulnerable state. And, if the truth be known, he wanted to kiss her. Badly. Had since that night in the barn.
Lush and full, not quite practiced, the brush of her lips against his sent a sizzle over every inch of his skin. This was such a bad idea.
He relaxed beneath her touch, allowed her to play. He’d give it a minute, make it good and get out of Dodge.
“You have an amazing mouth,” Cecily breathed against his lips. “But you aren’t kissing me back.”
“Self preservation,” he murmured before he splayed his fingers around her delicate jaw, angled her mouth the way he wanted it and took control.
Excerpts. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
The challenge: take revenge for a decades-old injustice…
Tycoon Alejandro Salazar will take any opportunity to expose the Hargrove family’s crime against his—including accept the challenge to pose as their stable groom! His goal in sight, Alejandro cannot allow himself to be distracted by the gorgeous Hargrove heiress…
Her family must pay, yet Alejandro can’t resist innocent Cecily’s fiery passion. And when their one night of bliss results in an unexpected pregnancy, Alejandro will legitimize his heir and restore his family’s honor…by binding Cecily to him with a diamond ring!
Meet the Author:
Jennifer emerged on the publishing scene when she won Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write global writing competition in 2012. She is the Romantic Times Magazine Reviewer’s Choice Best Harlequin Presents of 2014 winner for her book, The Magnate’s Manifesto.
Jennifer’s career in journalism and PR, including years of working alongside powerful, charismatic CEOs and traveling the world, has provided perfect fodder for the fast-paced, sexy stories she likes to write, always with a touch of humour.
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