Today it is my pleasure to welcome New York Times bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken to HJ!
Hi Rachel, Welcome to HJ!
Hey! Thanks for having me!
If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title of the book should be? Why?
The plan that went awry? LOL sounds weird, but I was one of those people who went to college and knew what I wanted to do. I was going to be a counselor and work with corporations and couples, and then all of a sudden my career path took a very different turn. Im so so so glad it did!
Would you rather…be invisible or be able to read minds? Why?
OH WOW! I think I’d rather read minds.
Let’s talk about your newest release:The Bet
If you had to summarize the book for the readers here…
The Bet is a book about a girl who grew up with two brothers. One was the annoying irritating one with a stutter and the other was her best friend who she eventually fell in love with. One horrible decision later and her best friend and her had a falling out. Fast forward to college graduation, she meets the ex best friend and he asks her to pretend to be engaged to him to help save face for his new company…he also tells her that his dear sweet grandma is dying. She has trouble saying no especially when he offers to pay off all her student debt if she just makes an appearance for the weekend. What she isn’t counting on? To fall in love all over again…with the wrong brother 😉
Please tell us about the characters in your book.
Kacey is the female lead, she’s strong but has been trying to go at it alone…she lost both parents when she was in college so the fact that someoens willing to help her really calls to her…Jake is a total play boy, he’s used to getting what he wants all the time and right now he wants Kacey. Travis, the older brother has loved Kacey all his life but has always been regarded by her as being a total loser. Finally, we have Grandma Nadine, the glue that holds the family together. Everything the woman says is in appropriate, but she’s what I think readers really enjoy about the books.
As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
The fact that I REALLY wanted to redeem him–thus the second book in the series.
What scene did you most enjoy writing? Why?
I know it sounds silly but I really enjoyed the beginning…I feel like it helped suck readers in a bit 😉
Kacey searched his eyes for any hint of amusement. He couldn’t be serious, not Jake. Jake never took anything seriously. She quickly raised her hand to feel his forehead and inwardly shuddered. Why God had blessed such an arrogant man with the face of a movie star was seriously beyond her realm of understanding.
But there he was, a regular Adonis, staring back at her as if his eyes didn’t make mortal women uncomfortable.
“Are you drunk?” she whispered, leaning in closer, all the while cursing the expensive aftershave floating off him.
Jake slapped her hand away. “No, I’m not drunk. Geez, Kacey, you’re acting like I’m propositioning you for sex or something.”
“That’s the example you come up with? Sex? Really? Because to be honest, Jake, this is so much worse!” Her hands shook as she tried to level her breathing to a normal pace. At this rate she was going to have a full-on panic attack.
“How is this worse?” His voice rose a few octaves as other patrons of the coffee shop looked in their direction.
Kacey leaned back against the leather chair and groaned.
“I’m dead serious, Kacey. It’s the only way to convince them.” Jake leaned forward, his bronzed muscular forearms flexing against his rolled-up sleeves as he rested his hands across the table.
“You do realize your parents have known me since I was three? Furthermore, I’m convinced that your mother would be able to see right through us. And don’t even get me started on that grandmother of yours.”
Jake’s stone face cracked into a smile.
“Don’t laugh! I’m serious, Jake! The woman should have worked for the FBI.”
“It’s her eyes.” Jake shrugged. “They always get me.” He shuddered. “But you’re getting off-topic, Kacey. I’m desperate.”
“Oh, wow. Well, when you put it that way, how could I turn you down? You’re desperate! Romantic man you are not. I have no idea how you managed to become the city’s most eligible bachelor, and at twenty-one. Impressive.” She shook her head in disbelief.
“Really, you don’t know?” He leaned forward, his biceps tightening beneath his gray button-up shirt, ready to burst through at any minute. His clean-shaven face held a hint of a five o’clock shadow, and his dark hair fell in waves across his forehead. Clear green eyes[CE1] gazed back at her, and she couldn’t find the strength to look away from his lips as his tongue ran across them.
Crap. She was actually sweating just looking at the guy. It didn’t help matters that this was the first time she had heard from him since the incident. Not that this was the time to bring that up.
“Fine.” Kacey told her heart to stop beating so fast and closed her eyes again. “Jake, it won’t ever work. Why don’t you get one of your stripper girlfriends to do it for you?” And please, for the love of God, leave me alone. Too many memories stared back at her through his eyes, and she wasn’t sure she could stomach it. Not after hearing that the restaurant her parents had owned just opened up two new locations, one of them in Seattle. The wound seemed to open all over again. She shuddered and let Jake continue to plead his case.
“Um, because they’re strippers?” Jake lifted his hands into the air and shook his head. “Do you want my grandmother to die? Because, I assure you, that will do nothing more than cause another stroke.”
Kacey paused. “Another stroke? As in she’s had a few?” Is that why Grandma Nadine hadn’t written her in a month?
Jake winced. “Yes, it’s been getting worse.” He ran his hands through his thick hair. “Will you help me or not? I’ll pay you—”
“You’ll pay me?” Kacey snorted. “Just like you pay your strippers? Why do I feel like I’m getting nothing out of this?”
Jake grinned. “Wow, I hate to pull out the big guns, but you owe me.”
“I owe you?” Kacey repeated. “Oh, please tell how I owe the great Jake Titus a favor. I’m dying to know, really.” She raised her eyebrows and tapped her manicured nail against the cup of cold coffee.
“Fine.” He leaned back and crossed his arms over his chest. “Fifth grade, you wanted a dog. Your parents said no. So I, being the good friend I am, went to the store and bought you one.”
“Doesn’t count,” Kacey interjected. “You named him after yourself.”
“He had dark hair,” Jake argued. “Besides, you slept with him every night.” His grin was shameless, and Kacey wanted to punch him in the face for it.
She opened her mouth to say so, but he interrupted her.
“Eighth grade,” he repeated with a wink. “You had a crush on Stevenson Merrit. I, being the friend that I am, told him that you were the best kisser in the entire school. You guys went out for a year before you dumped him for greener pastures.”
“Ah, so that’s how you refer to yourself nowadays. Greener pastures.” Kacey smiled patronizingly.
“Yeah, well, it’s true.”
“Not good enough.” Kacey sighed. He was so close she could smell his shampoo. A spicy masculine mix of mint and cinnamon that teased her senses with visions of a man she would never have again. Scratch that. Never had in the first place.
“Fine.” Jake shook his head. “I didn’t want to have to do this.”
Feigning boredom, Kacey merely stared back and waited.
“Your first year of college, you had a fish, named him Stuart. Ugliest fish that ever lived.”
“Hey!” She glared. “He was my best friend.”
“Who you also left at school for two weeks, assuming your Mother Teresa roommate would take care of it for you.”
“She always did hate that fish,” Kacey grumbled.
“So who took your fish in?”
Kacey looked down at her hands.
“Who took in the fish, Kacey?”
With a large sigh she answered, “You took in the fish, Jake.”
“So I win. And again, you owe me. Plus, do you really want my grandma to die? The very same grandma who helped you win homecoming queen? The one who actually wore your macaroni necklaces? It really is quite simple. Just do it for the weekend and I’ll be out of your hair.”
Refusing to answer him, Kacey stared at the coffee table and licked her lips. Maybe if she looked pathetic enough he’d just leave her alone. Just being in the same room with him was enough to cause her heart to clench.
“Kace,” Jake groaned. “You have no idea how important my image is to me.”
“Wow, so not helping your case,” Kacey snapped.
“I need this.” Jake reached across the table and grabbed her hand. His hands were always so large and warm, as if by holding them, he could take away all her pain. But she knew the truth, those same hands destroyed her, ruined her, and in the end, those selfish hands never handed back her heart. “I’ll pay off your student loans.”
“How do you even know about my student—”
“I know everything.” He winked. “It’s my job to. Come on, you need to finish your senior year of college, Kace. It’s been three months since graduation. Do you really want to be left behind while everyone else is out there making something out of themselves?”
What scene was the hardest to write? Why?
I’m not sure I had many scenes that were extremely hard, but I did struggle with a few of the scenes where I really wanted Travis to say how he felt rather than just kiss her and allow her to think it was lust. Here is an example:
Oh God, it felt so good. So damn good. What the hell did he do in his past to deserve such punishment as to have the one girl who he’d had a crush on for practically his whole life sleeping in his bed?
He fought for control of his lust, knowing it was a losing battle. But what would she think if he suddenly attacked her? No doubt he would get stabbed.
So, after two restless hours, Travis finally fell asleep with dreams of Kacey in her nightgown dancing in his head.
What the…? Travis jolted awake as Kacey punched him in the gut. He recoiled and brought his knees to his chest in an effort to protect his manhood. “What are you doing!”
“Oh, sorry,” Kacey said groggily. “My hand slipped.”
“Your hand slipped, my ass…,” he grumbled, managing to scoot away and drift back to sleep.
Within minutes he was again awakened by Kacey, this time talking in her sleep about cheese and then alphabetizing all of the different types. “G stands for gouda, and…”
He clamped his hand across her mouth in hopes of silencing the shrew but instead she continued mumbling under his hand, all the while stretching her body beneath the blankets.
Could he help that his eyes naturally went to the curve of her breasts? Or that his blood heated just at the sight of her creamy skin clad in her tank top and short shorts?
He told his eyes to move.
He begged his mind to stop playing images of what she would look like without that tank top covering her.
Truly, he was trying to be a gentleman, and then the inevitable happened, not because he was planning on it, rather because they were in a bed, and he was exhausted and she was…there.
Really, it didn’t have anything to do with his feelings or love for all things Kacey.
With a curse he pulled his hand away from her mouth and crushed his lips against hers. His hands gripped her shoulders and then he was on top of her, straddling her. Aggression poured out of him as he slammed her arms against her sides and continued his attack.
Kacey whimpered, and then sprang to action, thrusting her tongue into his mouth with such a fiery hot need that he was half-tempted to fall to his knees in ecstasy; then again he was already on his knees, straddling the goddess as she reached behind his head and pulled his neck closer to hers. Lying across her, he knew it was going to happen, probably because it was the next logical step.
Logic, logic, what was the meaning of that word again? And then…then someone was at the door.
“What the—?” He pulled away from Kacey, abruptly landing on the floor in a tangle of sheets. “Yes?” his agitated voice was clipped.
“Sorry, honey, it’s Mom…”
“Oh no!” Kacey shrieked, tripping on the same sheet and crashing down on top of him. Her eyes widened, and her mouth opened. Travis slapped his hand across it and gave her a death glare.
“I just woke up, Mom. Did you need something?” What the hell was the time?
“Oh, no. I just thought I heard some commotion, like a person screaming, or snoring, or…I don’t know. It’s probably my imagination, but I wanted to make sure you were okay.”
“I’m fine, Mom,” he said, silently pleading for her to leave.
Kacey moved on top of him, and then placed a wet kiss across his lips.
He was going to strangle her.
And then she straddled him.
“…And I know how you don’t have your bunny anymore.” His mom’s muffled voice came through the door. “Funny how I hadn’t thought of that until Kacey brought it up tonight.”
“I don’t…,” he said between kisses. “Need…” Oh God, her mouth was so hot. “…the damn bunny!” he all but yelled.
Who would you cast in the role of your characters if your book were optioned for a movie?
For sure Betty White would be Grandma Nadine…whats funny is I always take my real Grandma who the character is based off, to my book signings, swear people get them confused. Both are hilarious….;) As far as the three main characters, I always envisioned Kacey getting played by Kristen Bell, as far as the two guy characters? I’m not sure, I’ve been asked this a lot and I still draw up a blank!
If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be and why?
Trust your instincts and know that everyone and I do mean EVERYONE grows up one day….people will always surprise you.
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned for 2014?
Right now I have Entice releasing in a few weeks, after that the third book in The Bet series (The Dare) releases in July as well as a few titles from my backlist 😉
Where can readers get in touch with you?
Facebook. I’m really active on Facebook and try to respond to everyone RIGHT away.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
GIVEAWAY: 2 print copies of THE BET
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and post a comment to this Q: Hey Readers! My question is this…who do you root for? The underdog or the guy who has it all? In The Bet we have both male characters with these characteristics. What’s more attractive to you? And why 😉
He pulled the ladder down and balanced the tequila and mix in his left arm as he hauled himself up. Travis set the drink stuff inside the door of the tree house and, still grasping the top rung, turned around to grab the glasses from Kacey below.
Her eyes were glued to his ass.
He would have been flattered had she gasped or sighed or done anything except scream.
“Crap! Crap! Crap!”
“Kace, what the hell is wrong with you?”
“G-g-giant spider! On your ass!”
“GET IT OFF!” he shouted in a not-so-masculine voice.
Kacey moved away from him, slowly dropping down the ladder to the bottom rung. “I can’t! You know I’m afraid of spiders! What if it lunges at me!”
“Better it lunge at you than take a chunk out of my ass! Now, scare it!”
“If I scare it, it’s going to eat you, and I can’t have that on my conscience.” Kacey’s eyes widened again. “Oh gosh, it’s moving! It’s so gross! Can’t you just like, flex your butt or something?”
“Why, yes.” Travis clenched his teeth. “Why don’t I just clench my butt muscles in hopes that it will shock the spider enough to crawl back into the hellhole it came out of.”
“You don’t have to be mean!” Kacey argued. “Okay, um. I’m going to grab a stick. Do you think that will work?”
Did he think a stick in his ass would work? Well, so much for impressing her. “Just kill it!” His muscles tightened as he kept himself positioned on the ladder.
“Found one!” Kacey announced. “Okay, now don’t move. I’m just going to smack it against your jeans.”
Travis laughed. He couldn’t help it. It was one of those moments that he wished he would have caught on camera, so that others could enjoy the ridiculousness. And then…searing pain.
He cursed, loud, dropping in a few inappropriate words that would cause his mom to smack him. What the hell kind of stick had she grabbed?
“I did it! I did it!” Kacey squealed.
Travis turned and glared.
“I killed the spider!”
“You almost killed the man too! What did you use? A baseball bat?”
Kacey blushed. “It was all I could find.” She lifted a wooden bat in her hands as if sacrificing it on the altar before him.
After a few more curses, Travis wordlessly reached for the tequila, opened the bottle, and took two gulps. “I’m going to have a giant mark on my ass for months.”
“But I killed my first spider in a year, so that should at least make it worth it, right?” Kacey’s grin was beautiful. White teeth peeked out from her pink lips.
“Fine. Good job, Kacey. We’ll do a toast to your victory. You’re such a hunter.”
“Thank you, good sir.” Kacey did a little curtsy and followed him up into the tree house.
It was absolute torture watching her lips close around the tequila bottle. Thankfully, they brought actual glasses to make the drinks on ice. If she was going to drink out of the bottle each time, he would lose his sanity, not that he wasn’t already dangerously close, what with being beaten senseless all within an hour of bringing her into the house.
“So…” He needed to change the subject or he was going to make a complete ass of himself. “Jake? Married here? Think he’s going to flip?”
Kacey groaned and placed the bottle on the wooden floor of the tree house. “What are we going to do? Your parents don’t know. They think it’s our childhood fantasies come true!”
Travis shook his head. “Um, no, they think it’s your childhood fantasies coming true. Mine, however, had nothing to do with playing dog while watching you guys kiss and have se—”
“What the heck kind of house playing are you referring to, Trav? We did not pretend to have any sort of”—she waved into the air—“relations, and frankly, I’m a little concerned for your childhood if those were the thoughts going through your head while playing dog.”
“In my defense, I really didn’t have anything else to do but watch.” Oh God, that made it sound so much worse, as if he were daydreaming or something.
Kacey leaned in. “Are you already drunk?”
“Nope, just beaten. Thanks, by the way, for that lovely bruise. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be on the opposite end of your scorn.”