Spotlight & Giveaway: A Year with the Millionaire Next Door by Barbara Wallace

Posted August 11th, 2020 by in Blog, Spotlight / 34 comments

Today it is my pleasure to Welcome author Barbara Wallace to HJ!

Hi Barbara and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, A Year with the Millionaire Next Door!

Hello Everyone! Thanks for having me back.

To start off, can you please tell us a little bit about this book?:

This book is the third in an unofficial trilogy about the Collier family of London. I say unofficial because there was no formal decision to write a trilogy. I simply decided I wanted to keep writing about the same family. The first book was Their Christmas Miracle and the second one was Her Convenient Christmas Date.

This book focuses on Linus Collier, head of R&D for his family’s soap company. The poor guy has been carrying around some heavy duty guilt regarding a former girlfriend and become convinced he isn’t capable of having a true relationship. He’s sworn off dating until he can become a better person.

His dating sabbatical, however, is complicated by the arrival of his neighbor, Stella Russo. Stella’s on a sabbatical of her own. A mini breakdown has caused her to leave her stressful finance job in New York City and take a year-long position in London. Linus recognizes her high-strung personality as a recipe for disaster and takes it upon himself to help her learn how to relax.

Of course, you all know what happens. Let’s just say his good intentions turn into something much more intimate.

Please share your favorite lines or quote(s) from this book:

“In my experience,” Linus replied, “whenever you ask yourself if you should have another drink, the answer is always no.”

She flung herself back against the sofa, back to the security of Linus’s proximity. “Now you know why I need to do the best job possible while I’m here. I need to show them that what happened in New York was an anomaly. To prove I’m not a disappointment.”

“One would think you’d be happy for me,” he said to her. “I’m in a platonic relationship with a woman.”
“Break out the champagne. Hell hath frozen over.”

“Holy Cow. Toffee owns Downton Abbey!”

He, Linus Collier, had fallen in love with the American next door.
And she didn’t love him back.


What inspired this book?

So truth? This entire trilogy came about because I’m inordinately fascinated with the actor who plays Thomas Barrow on Downton Abbey. He inspired the first Collier sibling, Thomas, in Christmas Miracle. From there, the family grew. I picture Linus as a young version of Linus Roache from Vikings.

Now THIS book came out of a joke with my editor. I told her that I was going to write a book about a millionaire cat. She thought I was joking, but nope. I wanted a millionaire cat.


How did you ‘get to know’ your main characters? Did they ever surprise you?

Since this is a trilogy, I’ve known the Colliers for a while. I’ve known that Linus had a secret. He was way too cheeky and charming to be single otherwise. It wasn’t until I started the story however, that I discovered he had an ex- girlfriend who committed suicide. He kept that fairly hidden during the first two books.

Stella surprised me a lot. Initially, I intended for her to be all about business. I didn’t expect that she had a secret love of history. It didn’t come out until she started looking through Dame Agnes’ collection of memorabilia.


What was your favorite scene to write?

Hands down, it was the scene in Avebury underneath the Tolkien tree. I saw the tree when I visited England a few years ago, and have desperately wanted to use the area in a book. I love this scene because it says so much about Linus and Stella. You see Stella’s sadness and confusion regarding her life, and you see the first signs of Linus falling in love.

(Snippet. Forgive the capital letters; the original is in italics.)

…Even if she didn’t believe in wishes, the surroundings called for honesty. She knew what she’d wish for, for him.His ensuing silence lasted for so long, she was afraid he wasn’t going to answer. Finally, in a soft voice, he said, “I would wish tone better. A better brother. A better person. Just better.”

Oh, Linus. What he should wish for was the ability to forgive himself. As faros Stella was concerned, he was good enough as is.

“What about you?” he asked. “What is your heart’s desire.


The thought sounded clear and loud in her head. Stella pushed it aside. The thought didn’t even make sense. “To be happy,” she said instead. Again, thee thought came out of nowhere. What she should have said was “to become a major player in the world financial market.” Something concrete and in keeping with her goals. Wishing for happiness was a nebulous as wishing for peace on earth.

She started to clarify herself when Linus’s hand settled on the back of her neck. Cold skin met cold skin, sending warm shivers down her back. her knees very nearly buckled. “I hope you get your wish,” he said. “I want you to be happy, too.”

And then he kissed the top of her head.


What was the most difficult scene to write?

Um, every scene? LOL. I put a lot into every scene I write, so that isn’t a joke. However, the hardest is always – believe it or not – the first scene. It’s important that the scene capture the intent of the story. You want your characters to be relatable, you want to hint at the back story, and you want the first meeting to be memorable. It usually takes four or five drafts of that one scene before I’m ready to move into the rest of the book.

Stella stood on the rooftop terrace and breathed in the warm summer air. Before her lay Belgravia, the London neighborhood whose stucco mansions and crescent-shaped streets once played home to Neville Chamberlain and Ian Fleming. ow she would walk in their footsteps.

She allowed herself a satisfied sigh. “Congratulations, Stella. You finally made it to the penthouse.” And it only took a nervous breakdown to make it happen.


Would you say this book showcases your writing style or is it a departure for you?

Good question. I’m going to say both.

I think the style of this book is a departure for me in that the action unfolds over an entire year rather than a few weeks. It takes several months for Stella and Linus to go from friends to friends to benefits to lovers. I wanted to make sure the transition was believable.

Moreover the conflict focuses on inner demons as much as it does the romance. I’m finding more and more that my books involve journeys of self-discovery. My characters don’t just fall in love, they learn to love themselves. This is a departure from my earlier books, but, I think, represents my current voice.

In other words, I think this book showcases my style, but also shows that I’m trying new things.


What do you want people to take away from reading this book?

I want people to identify with Stella and realize that everyone needs to define success in their own way. Stella spends much of the book trying to please her parents even though doing so makes her profoundly unhappy. Falling in love with Linus, while awesome, isn’t the solution to her problem. Rather, it’s the reward. It’s not until she learned to live HER life on HER terms that she finds true happiness.


What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned?

The pandemic was a productive one for me. I finished both a cozy mystery and another Harlequin romance. Backyards Have Bodies, the second Sadie McIntyre mystery, will be out September 1. Meanwhile, The Return of Her Blue-eyed Billionaire will be out in February.

At the moment, I’m working on a writing project that’s deeply personal. I haven’t contracted with a publisher, but when I do, I’ll let you all know.


Thanks for blogging at HJ!


Giveaway: I am giving away two sets of the entire Collier trilogy: Their Christmas Miracle, Her Convenient Christmas Date and A Year with a Millionaire Next Door. The contest is open to US and Canadian residents only.


To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: Since this whole book started with a millionaire cat, I have to ask: Would you leave your fortune to your pet? My two cats are very eager to hear your answers. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Excerpt from A Year with the Millionaire Next Door:

STELLA STOOD ON the rooftop terrace and breathed in the warm summer air. Before her lay Belgravia, the London neighborhood whose stucco mansions and crescent-shaped streets once played home to Neville Chamberlain and Ian Fleming. Now she would walk in their footsteps.

She allowed herself a satisfied sigh. “Congratulations, Stella. You finally made it to the penthouse.” And it only took a nervous breakdown to make it happen.

Her parents would say she was being overly dramatic. They preferred the term burnout, or better yet, no term at all, as if her freezing in midtown traffic had never happened. Whatever the term—or lack thereof—she was here, in London, living in a luxury penthouse for the next twelve months. A pretty decent perk if she said so herself.

“What do you say, boss? Should we continue unpacking?” she asked.

Etonia Toffee Pudding lay across the top of a bespoke velvet sofa as if she owned it—which she did. Until this morning, the Angora had been bunking with Peter Singh, the estate’s attorney, and upon returning home, she had wasted no time reclaiming her space. She blanked her mismatched eyes in response to Stella’s question.

“I’ll take that as a yes.” Stella adjusted the band that was keeping her hair out of her face. The chin-length bob was supposed to be low maintenance. Unfortunately, no one told her bangs were not.
Across the room, a portrait of Dame Agnes Moreland looked down from over the mantel, a sleepy-eyed smile playing on the late actress’s lips as though she was laughing at a bunch of humans kowtowing to her pet.

“I may talk to her, but if you think I’m going to start carrying the animal around like you did, you’re crazy,” Stella said. Taking care of the cat was part of the job, same as managing the estate’s property and investments. The cat wasn’t a pet. “Right, kitty?”

A knock on the door interrupted the conversation. Sharp, loud raps that made Stella jump. “What the…?” The apartment occupied one half of the top floor and was accessible only by private elevator. The only other person up here would be her neighbor from across the hall.

The knocking continued. Etonia Toffee Pudding disappeared under the sofa fringe.

“I’m coming!” Stella called. If this was how the person planned to introduce themselves, it was going to be a long year.

Looking through the peephole, she saw a man in a tweed jacket. He had thinning gray hair and blotchy skin, the kind of complexion that came from spending too much time indoors. He didn’t look like the kind of neighbor who popped in for a cup of coffee. If he even was her neighbor. To play things safe, she slid the door chain in place before opening it.

The man’s eyes looked her up and down through the opening, clearly unimpressed with her cutoff shorts and Big Apple T-shirt. “My name is Theodore Moreland,” he announced, the words reaching Stella on a waft of pungent mint. “Is the estate manager available?”

So, not the neighbor, but Dame Agnes’s nephew. Peter had warned her about him.

“I’m the estate manager,” she answered. “Stella Russo.”

Moreland scowled. Stella tamped down the flutter of insecurity that always bothered her when facing disapproval.

His opinion doesn’t mean anything, Stella. You’re the one in charge.

Lessons from her childhood kicked in—when in doubt, act as if you don’t care—and she lifted her chin. “What can I do for you, Mr. Moreland?”

“To begin, you can open the door and let me inside,” he said.

No, Stella didn’t think so. At least not until she talked to Peter Singh. According to all accounts,
Theodore Moreland had taken the terms of his aunt’s will very poorly and was actively working to have the will declared invalid. Letting him inside would only invite disaster.

“I’m not really prepared to receive guests today,” she told him. “I’m still unpacking and getting acquainted with my new boss.”

“Are you refusing to let me enter my aunt’s home?”

“You mean Etonia Toffee Pudding’s home,” she said, “and yes, I am.”

Moreland’s jowls flapped as he worked his jaw up and down. “How dare you. You have no right—”

“Actually, as the estate manager, I do. I’m in charge of all comings and goings, in fact.” She made a mental note to talk to the downstairs security guard about calling before sending visitors upstairs. “Perhaps in a day or two, when I’m settled in, you and Peter can come by and we can talk.”

Stella had never actually heard a man harrumph before. His mottled skin turned cranberry, calling attention to the veins crisscrossing his nose. The color reminded Stella of the drunks that used to sleep on the benches in central London. For that matter, so did the sheen in his eyes.

“Well, I never,” he said in a minty huff. “I insist you let me in in this instance.”

“I’ve already said no. You’re going to have to come back next week.” No longer feeling polite, she went to shut the door in his face, only to have him jam his foot between the door and frame.


“Is there a problem?” a voice asked.

“No,” she and Moreland replied together.

A face appeared behind Moreland’s shoulder. This one was far more attractive, with eyes the color of the Atlantic Ocean. The newcomer looked back and forth between them. “Causing trouble, Teddy?”

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Book Info:

One year in England…

A lifetime in love?

Stella Russo fled across the Atlantic for a distraction-free escape from her high-pressure finance job. Mission accomplished. But it’s somewhat complicated when she spies the dreamboat next door… Wealthy scientist Linus Collier’s also on a self-imposed hiatus from the opposite sex, so Stella’s his own unwelcome but oh-so-delightful distraction… Their mutual temptation might begin from a distance, but soon they can’t resist acting on it…up close and personal!
Book Links: Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo | Google |

Meet the Author:

Barbara Wallace has written over two dozen romance and cozy mystery novels. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, attempting to ruin her husband’s diet through baking, or herding cats. She and her husband currently live in Massachusetts. They have one son and one very patient daughter-in-law. You can stay up to date with Barbara’s releases through her newsletter (sign up at or on Bookbub.
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34 Responses to “Spotlight & Giveaway: A Year with the Millionaire Next Door by Barbara Wallace”

  1. Sonia

    Yes and in the unfortunate event that my dog dies then it goes to a local pet shelter:)

  2. courtney kinder

    No I would not. I would just make sure he had a loving home to go to.

  3. janinecatmom

    My three cats are my children. I do plan on leaving everything to someone to care for them and give them a good home, like they are used to, until their final days.

  4. dbranigan

    Since I don’t have any pets, I guess my answer is moot. I don’t think I would actually will money to an animal.

  5. Lori R

    I would if it directly went to taking care of my pet and later gave money to the person who took care of my pet and the rest could go to the animal shelter.

  6. Glenda M

    If I didn’t have children and nieces I would leave them a huge part of it – and to a designated guardian. The rest would go to shelters. We actually have money set aside for our pets and their care in our wills. I’ve seen a ton of animals go to shelters because their owners dies and no one would/could care for them.

  7. Pamela Conway

    No I don’t think I would leave my fortune (if I had one lol) to my dogs.

  8. penneyblog

    Great review. I don’t think our crazy dog would care about money unless someone took him to Pet Smarts and he gets to pick out a toy at 6 years old he still loves his toys

  9. Pammie R.

    I don’t think I would leave the whole fortune–if I had one– to my 4 dogs, but I would leave enough to make sure they had very long, happy lives. The rest of the fortune would go to some kind of animal charity to make sure other dogs had the same chance.

  10. Kathleen Bylsma

    Yes, for their upkeep and the living expenses of the caretakers-within reason-and the residual going to no kill shelters after the critters died!

  11. Kay Garrett

    My answer is two fold. Sort of a yes-no answer. Our 15 year old chihuahua furbaby is everything to us. Admittedly, he has his own health issues and may not outlast us. However, in our will his custody is addressed to the human executor of our estate as well as how his lifestyle is to continue until he quality of life is no more. So yes we left money for him, but no not to him directly (since it’s kind of hard for him to cash a check or go to the grocery story for his treats).
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  12. Kim

    No. I would probably leave the money to someone to take extremely good care of my cat, and have in place a system to make sure it was actually done.

  13. Jana Leah

    Not my whole fortune, but enough to make sure they’d be well taken care of.

  14. Nicole (Nicky) Ortiz

    I think I would have some money set aside for their care
    Thanks for the chance!

  15. Karina Angeles

    No. I have two kids and would like them to be settled. However, I would leave a stipulation that they would have to take care of Kitty and Cupcake Chicken Nugget to get the money.

  16. Patricia B.

    No, I wouldn’t leave my fortune (if I had one) to a pet. It would have to be managed for someone and they would be the real beneficiary. If I wanted to leave something to them, I would first line up good homes for them and leave a tidy sum to the new owners for their care. The balance of their “inheritance” would be donated to animal welfare groups caring for rescues and finding them good homes. All this would of course assume there were no human heirs involved.

  17. Nancy Payette

    I would leave money to a sanctuary to help as many animals as I could.

  18. Angela Smith

    no i wouldn’t…i would find someone i trust to leave my pet to and set up an allowance for his care.the rest i would find several honest/trustworthy rescues to leave the money too