Hi Barbara and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, THE UNEXPECTED HONEYMOON!
Hey Sara! Thanks for having me back.
Please summarize the book a la Twitter style for the readers here:
Carlos Chavez thinks love died with his first wife. Jilted bride Larissa Boyd is on a honeymoon for one. The two loneliest people in Mexico are about to find love when they least expect it.
Please share the opening line of this book:
Please share a few Random facts about this book…
1. The resort in this book doesn’t exist. I took the best parts of five or six luxury resorts that I couldn’t afford to save my life and merged them into one fantasy Mexican getaway
2. Larissa and Carlos go swimming in an underground cave, or Cenote. My husband actually did this when we went to Mexico ten years ago.
3. The Mayan wedding ceremony in the book is a modern version of the real deal. You can hire a Mayan priest to conduct your ceremony.
4. My original title for this book was Honeymoon for One.
5. Larissa has appeared in three books – THE MAN BEHIND THE MASK, SWEPT AWAY BY THE TYCOON and this story. She was jilted in SWEPT AWAY
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
Carlos Chavez is a widower whose wife accidentally drowned, He manages the most romantic resort in Mexico, but he himself thinks romance doesn’t exist. Without giving too much away, his first wife destroyed his belief in love. The problem is that as much as he claims to be anti-romance, he surprises Larissa with a lot of romantic gestures.
Larissa meanwhile, is a total romance addict. She’s all about the a fairy tale wedding. While I knew she was romantic from the moment she appeared in MAN BEHIND THE MASK, she didn’t tell me why until this book. Turns out she was a neglected little girl raised in her grandmother’s bridal salon. Without a whole lot of love in her life, it’s no wonder she confuses romance with love. I like to think she does some growing up in this book.
What, in your mind, distinguishes this book from other books out there in the same genre?
I loved setting this book in Mexico. There’s something so breathtakingly exotic about mangroves and jungles. I hope readers feel transported to the Yucatan when they read this story.
i also think readers will discover that behind all the fluff and romance is a deeply emotional story about what it really means to love someone with all your heart. There are a lot heavy themes in this story – death, depression, loving through sickness – I hope the emotion touches people’s hearts as much as the romance.
The First kiss…
He reached down to grab her by the hand. “Your lips are turning blue. Come out and towel off.”
“My lips are not blue,” Larissa protested. She grabbed his hand anyway, marveling at how effortlessly he pulled her up. Once out of the water, the cold air hit her skin and the comfortable body temperature she’d been enjoying disappeared into a fit of shivers. Instantly, a fluffy towel settled around her shoulders. “See?” Carlos said. “Blue.”
He tightened the terrycloth cocoon, then brushed the damp hair from her face. The sensation of his fingers caressing her skin ignited a new set of shivers.
“You must miss her very much.”
“I miss—She shouldn’t have died.”
“No, she shouldn’t have,” Larissa replied. What were the words he bit back? Did he think she wouldn’t notice the sorrow in his words? The man could shutter his expression all he wanted, but clearly, he hurt and hurt deeply. With good reason. The love of his life died too young. Still, something about the way held back made her think there was more to the story.
“You stayed in too long, querida,” he told her.
“Did I?” Based on how her insides were trembling, she wondered if she should still be swimming.
“Si. You need to be careful. Too long, and you’ll grow weak from the cold.”
“I’m not cold.”
“Your shivering says otherwise.”
Larissa looked him in the eye, her gaze telling him what they both already knew: that her trembling had nothing to do with the water. His hands slowed, the touch becoming sensual. “I don’t…I’m not…” He struggled for words to caution her no doubt but the way his gaze dropped to her mouth even as he spoke left no doubt as to what he wanted.
“Me neither,” Larissa whispered. This was purely physical. Two people giving into an attraction and nothing more. That her heart pounded in her chest in anticipation meant nothing.
Carlos cupped her jaw. “Tan bella,” he murmured. “Me vuelves loco.”
She wanted to ask the translation, but his mouth slanted over hers, erasing all thoughts of conversation. He kissed like he moved, confident and masterful, his lips coaxing a response without effort. Her eyes fluttered shut. Tom’s kisses never felt like this. Carlos’s kiss pulled the ground out from her feet. It made her head spin. She was dizzy, breathless, aching for more.
And then it ended, broken by a need for air. Carlos’s breath was ragged as he rested his forehead against hers. A solitary Spanish oath escaped his lips. Larissa didn’t need to translate the hoarsely whispered word. She felt the same way. Just what that feeling was, she couldn’t say for sure, but all of a sudden, to call their attraction purely physical, sounded very inadequate.
Did any scene have you crying or laughing while writing it?
I’ll give you two:
1. When Larissa first arrives at the resort, she drowns her sorrows in Cristal – forgetting she’s getting room service in the morning….
The coffee smelled horrible. Apparently, the resort considered strong a synonym for burnt. Holding her breath, Larissa lapped at the hot liquid. The acidy taste burned her esophagus before joining the war in her stomach.
Check that, the coffee was still debating whether it wanted to join. She put the cup on the desk.
Meanwhile, her dark-suited guest was helping himself to a cup. “That’s correct,” he said. “We are in between coordinators at the moment. Which is why I’m making a point of working with our VIP customers personally. I want to make sure their experience with us is exactly as they anticipated.”
“Little late there,” Larissa replied. This trip already wasn’t what she expected.
Realizing his faux pas, the manager cleared his throat. “That is why I decided to visit you first. I noticed—”
Carlos! His name rushed back. Unfortunately, so did the coffee. Larissa grabbed a nearby waste bucket.
And promptly threw up.
Later in the book, we learn a little more about Carlos’ marriage and why he is so anti romance….
Giving her forehead a kiss, Carlos eased himself away from her. The absence of his body made the bench a cold and lonely place, and she drew her knees close to stay warm. She watched as he poured himself a glass of water, graceful even in distress. “I suppose you think I’m heartless for saying so.”
“No, I don’t.”
In fact, she understood better than he realized the questions those left behind were stuck dealing with. Why did she leave? Weren’t you enough to make her happy? Hadn’t she asked all those questions herself as a child? When a person walked away, the betrayal lingered.
“You’re angry with her.”
“Angry is not a strong enough word for what I feel.” He jammed the bottle into the melted ice. “I loved her. I worshiped her. But my love wasn’t enough. She always needed more. Excitement, fireworks. She wanted the honeymoon to never end, and I obliged. I gave and I gave until I was drained dry. And it still wasn’t enough. I wasn’t enough.” The sentence came out close to a sob.
Her poor, poor Carlos. His cynicism made sense now. How else could he feel when he gave his heart, only to come up short.
“I was such a fool,” he said. “I believed love would solve everything. But no. Love does nothing. And now…” He looked away with a sigh. “And now, I can’t love anyone anymore. I’m empty.”
“No,” Larissa whispered. “That’s not true.”
“Yes, querida. I am. Best I can do is a night like this.”
A wonderful, magical night. He wasn’t empty. Far from it. The ache in her heart shifted, deepened. If only she could make him see. Knew the right words to say. She opened her mouth, but inspiration didn’t come.
Without words, she’d have to use the next best thing. She closed the space between them. He looked so beautiful standing in the dim light, his skin streaked by shadows. Unable not to, she traced the patterns with her finger. Across his collarbone, down his breastbone. The beat of his heart rose up through his skin to greet her. Strong, full. Not empty at all.
For three days, she’d been standing on the edge of an emotional crevasse, and now the gap wrenched open, propelling her over the edge. She pressed her lips against the sound, and gifted his heart with her own.
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters?
I think I would use the opening scene for the audition. It’s clear from the start that Larissa isn’t going to be like anything Carlos has ever dealt with before….
Having grown up in the hospitality industry, Carlos Garcia Chavez thought he’d seen everything. But nothing prepared him for the blonde standing in the doorway of the Presidential Villa. With her tight white dress and messy halo of platinum blond hair, she looked like she’d stepped out of a black-and-white newsreel. So much so, he half expected to hear her call him Mr. President. in a husky stage whisper.
What he got was a big, overly bright smile that sent awareness shooting through him. Something else he was unprepared for. He adjusted his grip on the wine bottle cradled in his arm and pushed the unexpected reaction aside.
“Buenas tardes, Señorita Boyd.”
“Oh, right, you say tardes in the afternoon. My bad. I’m still on East Coast time. I’ll catch on eventually.
Carlos refrained from pointing out that East Coast time would place her later in the day, not earlier. After all, the guest was always right, no matter how wrong they might be.
Meanwhile, this particular guest leaned. She leaned a hip against the door frame, a position that drew further attention to her curves. “So what can I do for you, Señor…?”
“Chavez. Carlos Chavez. I’m the general manager here at La Joya del Mayan.”
“Did you say general manager? Damn. I knew this was too good to be true.”
“There is a problem?” he asked, tensing. Carlos tensed. Errors were the kiss of death in the hotel industry. Mistakes led to bad reviews. He had enough on his plate keeping La Joya’s current woes under wraps; he did not need to add to his troubles.
“Lucky for you, I haven’t unpacked yet.” He followed, trying not to stare at the way her bottom marked her steps like a white silk pendulum. “I mean, Delilah and Chloe might be generous, but seriously, this? Doesn’t matter if they are married to millionaires. Well, Del’s married to one. Chloe and her boyfriend aren’t married yet, although anyone with two eyes in their head can see they’re going to be. They’re absolutely crazy about each other. Do you want some champagne?” She lifted a bottle from the coffee table.
“No, thank you.” Judging from her rambling friendliness, she’d had enough for both of them. “You said there’d been an error?”
“I’ve never had Cristal before. This stuff is really good.”
“I’m glad you approve.”
“Oh, I do.” She took a long drink, nearly emptying the glass. “I definitely do. I should have served it at tomorrow’s night—I mean tomorrow night’s reception.”
“We can upgrade the menu if you’d like.”
She snorted, for some reason finding his suggestions amusing. “Little late for that.”
“Not at all. We can make changes right up to the last minute. So long as you’re happy.”
“Because everyone knows, it’s the bride who matters, right?” A shock of blond curls flopped over one eye. She swiped them away with a sloppy wave of her hand. “Long live the bride.”
Her groom was going to have his hands full tonight. Come to think of it, where was her groom? According to their records, Señorita Boyd booked one of their famed wedding packages, but the front desk said she’d checked in alone. Most guests arrived either as couples or with a gaggle of family and friends.
Only unhappy brides drank alone.
If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be and why?
Don’t be so certain you are unloveable. Both Carlos and Larissa come to the resort certain their only chance at happiness has passed them by. Both of them have to let go of certain preconceived notions – like the idea that love can’t happen.
What are you currently working on? What other releases so you have planned for 2014?
This is my last release for 2014 – however, I’m hard at work at my next duet for Harlequin. I’m hoping the stories will be as well received as this trilogy as been.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: THE UNEXPECTED HONEYMOON is book 3 of a three book trilogy. I’ll give away one complete set – THE MAN BEHIND THE MASK, SWEPT AWAY BY THE TYCOON and THE UNEXPECTED HONEYMOON.
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Leave a comment for Barbara on your thoughts about the book.
The lobby was quiet when he opened the door.He must have been lost in thought longer than he realized. Gone were the sun-worshippers and sightseers. The soft flop of sandals had been replaced by the click of high heels. Guitar music and laughter drifted through the terrace porticos. The bar was in full swing. Both trestaurants would be, as well. Nighttime had arrived. He gave a few parting instructions to the night manager, and with Paul Stevas’s proposal tucked under his arm, set off for the day’s final inspection.
He wasn’t looking for Larissa Boyd, he told himself as he passed the hotel’s open air restaurant.. He wasn’t. If he was scanning the tables at the open-air restaurant, it was simply to double-check service. Her presence leapt out at him purely by coincidence. How could a man not notice her? She was the only woman dining alone.
What a difference from the woman he left this morning. Gone were the smudged makeup and floppy hair, replaced by a thick blonde bob. The strands brushed just below her jawline, the restaurant lighting turning the color silver.. Perhaps the lighting was why her skin looked more radiant, as well. The waitperson said something, and she smiled with such enthusiasm, Carlos swore her face glowed.
Before he realized, he was halfway across the dining room floor..
She was gazing out the window when he approached the table. Mindlessly sipping from her champagne glass. A fringed shawl, so delicate a strong breeze would carry it away, covered her shoulders. Every time she raised her drink, the material would slip, revealing a sliver of white shoulder. Not much. Only enough to make you want to see more. Reminded him of the morning’s terrycloth robe, modest and tantalizing at the same time. Like this morning, his body reacted appreciatively.
His voice was uncharacteristically hoarse when he spoke. “Enjoying your dinner?”
She turned quickly, liquid spilling over the rim of her glass. “Señor Chavez! You startled me.”
“Lo siento. I didn’t mean to sneak up on you,” he said, retrieving the handkerchief from his breast pocket. “And if I’m to call you Larissa, you should call me Carlos.”
It dawned on him she was the only guest he’d ever suggested use the familiar term. Oddly, the suggestion felt completely natural. “I take it, our view has claimed another victim.”
“Afraid so. I thought my villa cornered the market on beautiful, but I was wrong.”
“Paradise through every window.”
“For once, the advertising brochure doesn’t exaggerate.” She slipped the cotton from his fingers with a smile, a little shyer than the one she gave the waiter, but bright nonetheless. “You must think I’m a horrible klutz. Every time we meet, I’m stumbling or something. I swear I’m usually more graceful. Not much, but definitely more than you’ve seen.”
“This spill I’ll take the blame for. The others we’ll blame the champagne.”
“Oh, I blame the champagne for a lot of things, including not seeing my hairy visitor sooner. Cristal definitely does not come up as smoothly as it goes down.” His eyes must have flickered to the glass because she hastily added, “Sparkling water. My drinking alone days are finished.”
Good to know. Perhaps now she’d stop occupying his thoughts so much.
Or perhaps not, he thought, scanning her length. Worry certainly wasn’t what he was thinking at the moment. “You certainly look like you’ve recovered from your ordeals.”
“I have, thank you.” She handed back his handkerchief, now damp. “Amazing what a long soak and a five-hour nap can do for your psyche. I’m ready to start this trip fresh.”
“I’m glad. I hope your stay is everything you envisioned.”
“Well, that ship sailed six weeks ago, but I do plan to make the most of it. Who knows when I’ll get back to paradise?”
There was that smile again. The muscles in Carlos’s cheeks tightened, making him realize he was smiling broadly in return. “Well, let’s hope it’s not too long between trips.”
This was the point where he normally moved on, to greet another set of guests, to complete his perimeter check. “By the way, if you haven’t ordered yet, I recommend starting with the ceviche. It is Frederico, our head chef’s, specialty.
“Oh, I intend to. Along with the sopa de lima and the pollo ticul.
He recognized the menu immediately. “You’re having your reception dinner.”
“Of course. I planned it. I’m paying for it. By God, I’m going to eat it.”
“You’re a woman on a mission, then.”
“Damn straight. And after dinner, I plan on having two pieces of my cake. Diet be damned.”
Just as he hoped, she was stronger than she first appeared. Carlos’s appreciation grew stronger. Did she had any idea how attractive a quality resilience could be? “In that case, I hope the meal is everything you hoped for. Buenas noches.”
Finally, his legs moved and he took a step toward the next table.
“Carlos, wait.” Her fingers brushed his cuff, stopping him in his tracks. Turning, he caught her peering up through downcast eyes, the blue still vivid in spite of the mascara curtain. Her lower lip worried between her teeth. Simultaneously erotic and shy, the gesture turned his entire body alive with an awareness he hadn’t felt in half a decade.
“I don’t suppose you’d like to join me?” she asked.
A holiday to remember…
Widower Carlos Chavez manages La Joya del Mayan, the most romantic resort in Mexico. On good days, the romance passes unnoticed; on dark days, it only reminds him of his loss.
But the honeymoon suite’s latest guest, Larissa Boyd, has rocked his steadfastness. Stunningly beautiful, she seems lost. And no wonder…she’s on a honeymoon for one!
Award-winning author Barbara Wallace first sold to Harlequin Romance in 2009. Since then her books have appeared throughout the world. She’s the winner of RWA’s Golden Heart Award, a two-time Romantic Times’ finalist for Best Harlequin Romance, and winner of the New England Beanpot Award.
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