Hi Amy and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, All’s Fair in Love and Chocolate!
To start off, can you please tell us a little bit about this book?:
When a big city chocolate shop chain store moves into small town Marietta, the cat is really set amongst the pigeons. For Viv, opening new stores for Delish is her job but the locals see her as a threat to their beloved Copper Mountain Chocolates. All except deputy sheriff, Reuben, who see hers as the mysteriously sexy woman he had a recent one night stand with and who he hasn’t been able to stop thinking about since.
Please share your favorite lines or quote(s) from this book:
In a Bozeman bar in faded blue jeans and a button-down shirt, Reuben had looked casually virile. Lying stark naked on her hotel sheets after he’d made her come four times, he’d looked sexily rumpled. Striding toward her in his sheriff uniform, he was something else altogether.
Like Thor, Captain America and John freaking Wayne all rolled into one.
What inspired this book?
Jane Porter approached me about writing a Christmas romance in Marietta but she really wanted to shake things up and get some rivalry going in the town. Other than that it involved a lot of Googling of chocolate 🙂
How did you ‘get to know’ your main characters? Did they ever surprise you?
Nothing really surprised me, I usually know my characters quite well when I start.
Reuben is a laid back, easy going kinda guy who knows what he likes and isn’t afraid to go after it. He grew up in Marietta and loves living in a small town. Viv is the perpetual rolling stone – opens a store then moves on six months later to open the next one. She grew up yearning to travel and this job allows her to do just that and, after her six months in Marietta, she’s moving on from there too. So, her and Reuben can never be anything serious, right?
I got to know my characters through a lot of mental mulling and making a Pinterest board for them! https://www.pinterest.com.au/amyandrewsbooks/mareitta-xmas/
What was your favorite scene to write?
I really like the playfulness in this scene –
It had turned decidedly chilly and Viv was pleased she’d switched from her pencil skirts to tailored pants as she pulled on her long wool coat. It was a mustard color, and it tied at the waist and fell just below the knees. Large funky mother-of-pearl buttons and huge lapels drew the gaze to where it crisscrossed in front to form a flattering V-neckline.
Viv always felt sexy in this coat—even when she was weary. It hid the evidence of her daily chocolate consumption clinging to her ass and dimpling the tops of her thighs while emphasizing her smaller waist, her décolletage and the long stretch of her throat.
It was certainly the pick-me-up she needed, today.
As was the vision of Reuben farther down the Main Street boardwalk, striding in her direction. He slowed and whistled and, despite the disapproving glares she could feel coming from all sides, it put an extra swing in her hips.
They both slowed and stopped when they drew level. He shook his head. “I should arrest you for wearing that thing in public.”
A smile quirked Viv’s lips. “On what grounds?”
She laughed. “Am I causing any bother?”
“Well I can’t speak for anyone else but I’m pretty bothered. The dreams I’m going to have about you and that coat.” He shook his head again.
Viv’s lips twitched. “Officer Price.” She feigned genteel affront. “Is that any way to speak to a member of the public?”
A broad grin split his handsome face as he tugged on the brim of his hat. “Sorry, ma’am.”
Except he didn’t look remotely sorry. In fact, Viv was pretty sure he was picturing how good she might look in nothing but the coat.
“You want to go for a drink?” he asked.
One part of Viv the naked-under-the-coat Viv wanted that very much. But she was exhausted and more than that, she was tired of being on. Of being the face of Delish where she had to be teeth-achingly polite to unfriendly, sometimes downright rude, people.
She was done letting it all roll off her for today.
Thank you for the offer but my feet are killing me and I’m looking forward to putting them up in a hot bath, pouring a glass of wine and chilling out in front of some Netflix.”
He gave a little half groan as he clutched his chest. “Putting those pictures in my head is just plain cruel.”
“I’m sure you’ll survive,” Viv said dryly.
“Okay, how about this.” He dropped his hand. “While you relax in the bath—” His Adam’s apple bobbed as if he was trying very hard not to go there and failing. “I make you some dinner. Something quick and easy. I’m great with pasta. Then, while you’re watching the TV, I give you a foot massage. I’m also really great with foot massages—no strings. I promise. Purely as a friend.”
Viv quirked an eyebrow even as her insides dissolved into goo at the suggestion. “I’ve never had a friend give me a foot massage.”
“Not even at all those high school slumber parties where you and your gal pals had naked pillow fights?”
She laughed. “You are a deviant.”
Unabashed, he shrugged. “You say deviant, I say active imagination.”
Viv snorted but regardless of Reuben’s wild imagination, his proposal was tempting. Even taking the potential for sex—for which, she knew, there was a lot—out of the equation, it sounded dee-vine.
Fed and watered and pampered. And they had taken the pledge. Except…
In any other town or city in this country she wouldn’t have hesitated in accepting but this was Marietta, where she was already a homewrecker. “Look…Reuben—”
His nod cut her off. “You don’t want to be seen with me, do you?”
Viv sighed. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to. It just seemed wiser from a business stance to not actively antagonize her potential customer base. She felt like every person who had passed them as they’d been standing here were judging them—or her anyway—and clearly not approving.
“You know pretty much everyone thinks we’re sleeping together anyway, right? Whether we’re seen together or not.”
Well…that hardly seemed fair. Viv did not like feeling that she was damned if she did and damned if she didn’t where Reuben was concerned. And hell if that didn’t suddenly make her mad as hell. “Actually, you know what? Screw it. We know the truth and who I choose to share a meal with in the privacy of my rental has nothing to do with anyone else and should not have any damn thing at all to do with Delish.”
He smiled. “You’re singing to the choir, baby.”
“And I do love pasta.” Just ask her thighs. And her hips.
“Mine will make you weep.”
Viv laughed. “I was thinking that would be more likely the foot massage.”
Oh no, that won’t make you weep…”
He let the sentence trail off deliberately and, as had clearly been his intention, her head filled with thoughts of what else it might do. Viv waggled her finger. “Hey, no strings. We took the pledge, remember?”
“Yeah. I remember.” He sounded like he regretted it but held up his hands in surrender. “You have my word.”
What was the most difficult scene to write?
Honestly, I don’t ever really find any scenes difficult to write. Once I decided what I’m writing (which can sometimes be difficult) I just get it down – one word after the other. The hardest part of a book to write for me is the very last line. Wrapping it up just right with the right line/tone/sentiment for the particular situation they’re in, is surprisingly difficult! Much more difficult than the first line IMHO. And no…I’m not giving away the last line lol
Would you say this book showcases your writing style or is it a departure for you?
I think it’s right in the Amy Andrews pocket! Funny and sexy and flirty but with warmth and emotional depth.
What do you want people to take away from reading this book?
The same thing I always do – a few hours’ worth of enjoyment and, hopefully, to tell all their friends about it!
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned?
I have my Sydney Smoke/ Credence crossover book – Playing With Trouble – coming out on the 30th November. And an indie medical Christmas romance – Prognosis Christmas Baby – coming out on the 15th of Dec!
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: An ebook copy of All’s Fair in Love and Chocolate & 3 Tule ebooks
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: Tell me, what’s your chocolate preferences? Dark, milk, white? Or anything else?
Excerpt from All’s Fair in Love and Chocolate:
Sunday, mid-September in Bozeman…
Reuben Price’s weekend had been a blur of big hats, big bulls and even bigger egos. He hated it when the rodeo came to town. Even though the Copper Mountain Rodeo was twenty-four miles away in Marietta, Bozeman still got a bunch of cashed-up cowboy wannabes and their groupies mixing beer and bullshit together in a haze of testosterone and dick-measuring that never ended well.
He wasn’t sure how many bar fights he and his partner had broken up but he did know he was getting too old for this shit—and he was only thirty. Maybe he should see if a sheriff’s department somewhere down in the Keys had an opening. Somewhere with palm trees. Where drinks came with tiny umbrellas. And women came with tiny bikinis.
No snow, no blizzards, no mountains.
No damn rodeos!
He sighed. The truth was, Reuben liked rodeos and mountains. He loved the big sky country of Montana. And he hated sand. That shit got everywhere. He was just…well, it had been one of those weekends and the big-ass cherry on top had been Clementine, his long-term girlfriend, dumping him over brunch on Friday just before he’d started his weekend from hell.
He really hated brunch.
Okay, yes, sure…they weren’t exactly a hot couple. He doubted they’d ever been. But after a lifetime of growing up in small-town Marietta together they’d fallen into a friends-with-benefits relationship three years ago that had just kinda…continued. It had been monogamous and mutually satisfying.
Reuben liked easy. Too much stuff in life was hard—which was fine; he didn’t mind working hard—but it was nice when it wasn’t. It certainly made him appreciate the things that were easy a whole helluva lot more.
But he and Clem were over and now he was going to have to face the wrath of his mother. And Clem’s. Despite neither him nor Clem giving their moms any hint or encouragement, the two Marietta stalwarts had been picking out china patterns for a while and discussing names for grandchildren.
“We’re not getting any younger, Reuben,” his mother had said the day before that fateful brunch, which felt like a year ago now.
Yeah…they were going to be pissed.
Several people greeted Reuben as he strode into his favorite bar in Bozeman. A couple were locals who preferred a quiet place to drink but also some folks he recognized from Marietta. Probably trying to escape the testosterone fog that tended to hang around for a few days after the rodeo left town. He nodded to them politely but in a way that told even the most oblivious person he wasn’t up for a chat.
He just hadn’t wanted to sit at home staring at the four walls, either.
What Reuben needed—craved—tonight was the distraction of people but not the company. Which was why this was his favorite bar. It was in the lobby of a local hotel that was off the beaten track and frequented mainly by businesspeople passing through town on their way to somewhere else.
Essentially it was nothing like the louder more crowded bars on the main street. They had their place for sure but he’d spent all weekend in loud, crowded bars trying to stop drunk idiots from hurting themselves and each other and that didn’t appeal tonight.
“The usual?” the bartender asked as Reuben approached and sat on a stool, his elbows sliding onto the polished top.
Reuben drummed his fingers as Mike, who had been two years ahead of him at school, poured the cold ale and set it down in front of Reuben before departing. For a bartender, Mike never said much.
People really should be more like Mike.
The cold beer tasted like liquid gold and he actually sighed as he swallowed, closing his eyes as he savored the moment for long seconds. There were few things better than that first sip of cold beer at the end of the day.
This was the life. No bar brawls. No idiot amateurs trying to prove they can last eight seconds on the mechanical bull with a skinful of booze on board. No Dear John chats. Just him and his beer. The simple life.
“I’ll have what he’s having.”
Reuben’s eyelids sprang open at the low, husky voice. A woman had sat down on the stool next door. She was smiling a big smile with red lips that glistened under the overhead lights. The tips of her straight blond hair sat forward over the thrust of her breasts encased enticingly in a satiny blouse, the two buttons at her cleavage appearing to be under a little extra strain. The dark skirt she was wearing also pulled taut across a nicely rounded ass and generous thighs that filled it out just right.
Reuben had always thought he’d been a women-in-blue-jeans-and-boots kinda guy. Apparently women-in-tight-skirts also did it for him.
Her face was quite square with a broad forehead and big, buggy eyes of a nondescript brown. There was a slight ski slope lift to the end of her snubby little nose. None of her features individually added up to a hill of beans but together they made one hell of an interesting face.
The type of face that made him want to keep looking.
One thing was for sure—she didn’t look easy. She looked complicated as all fuck.
He smiled. “Beer?”
“Is that all?” She grinned now and her teeth were nice and white but there was a slightly crooked one in the front that was fascinating. “You made it sound like it was the elixir of life.”
“It could be argued that beer is the elixir of life.”
She nodded slowly regarding him with those steady brown eyes and, in his peripheral vision, Reuben could see the enticing brush of her hair across her breasts.
“I would have to respectfully disagree with you there.”
The light tease in her voice made its way to Reuben’s groin. If only some more dudes this weekend had respectfully disagreed instead of being loud and obnoxious. “Okay, let me guess.” He regarded her as thoughtfully as she’d regarded him although maybe part of his brain—the one in his pants—was trying to decide whether the tips of her hair covered her nipples or sat just above.
Which would probably get whatever beverage she preferred dumped over his head.
She cocked an eyebrow as she tsked but she was obviously not too insulted by his gender-based assumptions of her drinking habits. “You don’t think I can shoot whiskey?”
Reuben wasn’t sure why that sounded so dirty. It just did. “Can you shoot whiskey?”
“I have been known.”
The second beer was placed on the mat and Reuben absently said, “Thanks, Mike.”
Picking it up she also said, “Thanks, Mike,” and smiled at the bartender as she tilted it toward him in salute. Then she took two long swallows, those red lips pressed to the rim of the glass before placing it back down on the mat, her tongue swiping froth off her top lip as she turned slightly toward Reuben.
Hot. As. Fuck.
Her brown eyes were full of mischief—like she knew exactly what that sexy little lip lick had done to him. “So, if it’s not beer or wine or whiskey,” he asked, “what is the elixir of life?”
“Chocolate, of course.”
Reuben laughed. Why did that answer not surprise him? Like chocolate, there was something lush and decadent about this woman. Like she appreciated indulgence in all its many-splendored ways. The satin blouse, the tight skirt. The full jut of her breasts, the generous curve of her hip.
That red, red mouth.
“I hate to come across as a dreadful bore…” Reuben said because he liked talking to this woman and there hadn’t been a lot to like about this weekend, but a point of order was required. “Would it not have to be liquid to be an elixir?”
“Ah.” She gave him a beatific smile. “That’s the beauty of chocolate. It can be solid or liquid.”
Reuben’s brain shorted out as he thought of all the advantages of liquid chocolate and where it could be applied as the woman beside him calmly drank more beer.
Reuben dragged his attention from her lush red mouth to the person standing on the other side of him. “Hey,” he said to the guy who’d come to the bar to fix up the bill. He couldn’t recall the guy’s name but Reuben’s father knew him and they made polite conversation mostly about the rodeo until the bill was sorted and the other guy departed.
When Reuben turned back to his companion she stuck out her hand and said, “Hi, Reuben. I’m Vivian.”
He slid his hand into hers. It was warm and soft. “Hi. It’s really nice to meet you.”
She smiled making no attempt to retrieve her hand, her brown eyes trained firmly on his face. “I’d have to say the feeling is entirely mutual.”
Reuben met a lot of women through his job, many of whom openly flirted. It was the uniform thing—he got that. But he’d never been tempted to follow through. Mostly it was just plain inappropriate but even when it hadn’t been, he had a girlfriend and Reuben didn’t cheat.
But he did not have a girlfriend now. Clem had been very specific about that. Where was the harm in a little flirting with a woman who was clearly keen to go there, too?
“So,” she said, her hand eventually sliding from his, “what’s a hottie like you doing drinking in a hotel bar all alone on a Sunday night?”
Reuben barked out a laugh. “I could ask the same of you.”
She shrugged. “I travel a lot. This is a pretty standard Sunday night for me. The hotel thing,” she clarified, “not the flirting thing.”
He appreciated the clarification but didn’t need it. What Vivian got up to, and when and where and with whom, was entirely her own business. He was just exceedingly fucking glad she’d picked him to flirt with on this night.
“So…why all alone?” she asked. “Tough day? You look like you’ve had a tough day.”
“I do?” Reuben finger-combed his hair, absently rubbing his short locks.
Her gaze drifted over his hair. “Yeah.”
Dropping his hand, Reuben said, “Just a busy weekend at work.” He didn’t want to elaborate on his job. Some women got kinda freaky about it. “And…my girlfriend dumped me a couple of days ago as well.”
Reuben blinked. Being a cop was off the table but splitting with Clementine was up for discussion? What the fuck, dude?
Maybe there was something in that whole, easier to talk to strangers thing.
Vivian, who’d lifted the glass to take another drink paused with her lips a whisker from the rim. “Is she blind?” she asked, smiling a little as she touched her mouth to the rim and drank.
He laughed. “You’re good for my ego.”
Someone patted him on the back as they walked by and said, “Howdy, Reuben,” mid stride to the booths on the opposite wall.
“Hey, Wallace,” Reuben returned recognizing the guy from the Bozeman auto shop before turning back to Vivian who was still sipping on her beer.
“Was it unexpected?” She placed the glass down. “The split?”
“Yeah. Well…no. I mean…” It hadn’t been expected but Reuben hadn’t been surprised either, which spoke volumes. He certainly wasn’t angry or upset. Just a little…miffed. But he couldn’t work out if that was because he was going to miss Clem whom he loved and respected and gave him something to do on his nights off or the inevitable motherly flak he was about to face. “We weren’t really heavily serious I guess.”
“And she wanted more?”
No, it hadn’t been that. “She said we both deserved more.” Reuben sat a little straighter as something suddenly occurred to him. “Do you think…she found someone else?”
She shrugged. “You know her. You tell me.”
Reuben thought for about two seconds then dismissed the thought. “Nah. She wouldn’t do that. And if there’d been somebody else, she’d have just come out and said it.” He took a couple of swallows of his beer. “Sorry.” He put his almost-empty glass down. “I don’t know why I’m telling you any of this. You probably don’t get random guys in bars unloading their latest breakup woes on you.”
“True.” She grinned. “Mostly they try and hit on me.”
Reuben grimaced. “Sorry.”
“About men hitting on me, or about you not hitting on me?”
“Um.” Reuben felt a little like Arnie Schwarzenegger in the first Terminator movie scrolling through choices inside his cyborg brain for the most appropriate response. He’d been out of the game too long, obviously. “Both?”
She laughed then and the husky vibrato was as lush and decadent as the woman. “Your pickup skills could really do with some work.”
Reuben’s breath stuttered to a halt. “Is…that what I’m doing here?” Is that what she wanted him to do?
A small smile played on those red lips. How was it possible that she’d consumed three-quarters of her beer and the red sheen on her mouth seemed untouched? He wondered just what amount of wear that lipstick could take.
“I sincerely hope so.”
Reuben watched as she drained the remainder of her drink, his gaze zeroing in on the long milky stretch of her throat as it undulated. He wasn’t going to lie, it turned him on a little. Until a woman from his mom’s quilting group approached from his left. That was like two bricks to his nuts.
“Hey, Reuben. If you see your mom before I do, could you tell her I picked up that fabric already?”
Taking a deep breath, he dragged his eyes off Vivian’s throat. “Hey, Mrs. Phillips. Sure, I’ll pass that on.”
“Thank you,” the older woman said giving Vivian a curious up-and-down look before departing again.
“Do you know everybody in here?” Viv asked with obvious amusement.
Reuben glanced around. “About half. Either directly or indirectly.”
She laughed. “A true local, huh?”
Bozeman wasn’t a small town; it had a population just shy of fifty thousand, but Reuben had been born and bred in Marietta and he’d been with the Bozeman Sheriff’s Department for the last five years. People knew him.
“You—” he tipped his chin at her empty glass “—want another?”
She nodded slowly, her gaze not leaving his. “I have beer in my room.”
The invitation in her eyes was clear but the cop inside made Reuben hesitate. He didn’t want to be the hey, little lady guy but it seemed inherently unsafe for her to be picking up complete strangers in bars and taking them back to hotel rooms.
Christ, he could be anybody. For that matter—so could she.
“Aren’t you worried I might be some kind of…serial killer on the prowl?”
She laughed. “I don’t think too many serial killers talk to their mother’s friends about fabric at a bar on a Sunday night. And besides I hit on you, remember?”
The thought was utterly arresting and he grinned. “You did, huh?”
“If it wasn’t obvious then my pickup skills need some work, too.”
Reuben’s gaze roved over her face and, now it was clear where this night was heading, he let it wander a little lower, to the way her blouse cupped her breasts. “There’s nothing about you that needs work.”
She smiled. “Good answer.”
“I was just trying to say you can never be too careful about these things.”
“Reuben, I don’t know whether you’ve noticed or not, but I’m a woman.”
“Oh yeah.” He grinned. “I noticed.”
She returned the grin. “So if you think I haven’t been raised from birth to be constantly vigilant about my safety, constantly on alert for danger then you don’t understand what it is to be a woman at all.”
As a cop Reuben was relieved that Vivian was smart about her safety. As a man it sickened him that women had to always be on guard.
“I’m thirty years old and I’ve developed quite a good sixth sense for members of the opposite sex and you don’t tweak my radar at all. At least not in a bad way.” She grinned at him with what was almost a leer before her smile turned indulgent. “But…” She glanced at the bartender. “Mike?”
Mike, who’d been slicing lemons looked over his shoulder then ambled toward them. “What can I get you?”
She ignored his question. “Do you know this guy?” She tipped her head at Reuben.
Mike eyed Reuben up and down clearly bemused by the question. “Yes, ma’am. Known him most of my life.”
“So, would you say it’s okay for me to take him back to my hotel room and do dirty, unspeakable things to his body without fear of him chopping me into little pieces and poking them down the drain hole in the bathtub?”
Reuben wasn’t sure if Mike was more shocked by the detail of the question or the fact she’d been so frank. But he got over his shock quickly with a bark of laughter. “I think you’ve got to worry more about his—” Mike wiggled his little finger at her with a grin. “And his rumored lack of err…” He dropped his voice. “Staying power than any homicidal tendencies.”
“Thanks, dude,” Reuben said as he left and Vivian laughed. Clearly Mike needed to be more like Mike right now.
“You need any more convincing?” she asked, but before he could answer she leaned in and pressed her lips against his in a brief, yet somehow cataclysmic, kiss. Pulling away, she offered him her hand. “Shall we?”
And it was that easy. Just the way Reuben liked it.
Draining the rest of his beer, he threw some bills on the bar for Mike who grinned and saluted and then he slipped his hands into hers and stood.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
When it comes to love and chocolate, it’s game on…
When traveling chocolatier Vivian Dawson comes to Marietta to open Delish, a chain chocolate shop, she’s unfazed by angry locals. She’s not looking for friends—she’s the competition, and her target is Sage O’Dell’s Copper Mountain Chocolates. To create marketing buzz and a friendly rivalry, Vivian declares Delish’s hot chocolate the best in town and will prove it at Marietta’s Christmas Stroll. Everyone takes a side, and Vivian hopes a certain deputy will take hers for another unforgettable night.
Sheriff’s deputy Reuben Price can’t believe his luck when the woman he’s been thinking about since a rebound one-night stand opens a shop in town. He’s shocked when Marietta’s normally friendly citizens become hostile, but he’s ready to welcome Vivian with open arms and more.
As Vivian is seduced by the charming town and the sexy deputy, she wonders if she’s finally found a home. But when tragedy strikes before Christmas, will Vivian run like she always has or will her growing feelings convince her to stay?
Meet the Author:
Amy is an award-winning, USA Today best-selling Aussie author who has written sixty plus contemporary romances in both the traditional and digital markets. She’s sold two million books and been translated into over a dozen languages including manga.
Her books bring all the feels from sass, quirk and laughter to emotional grit to panty-melting heat. Yes, her books feature lots of sex and kissing. You probably shouldn’t try one if you think the sexy times belong behind closed doors – Amy rips the door right off the hinges.
She loves good books and great booze although she’ll take mediocre booze if there’s nothing else. She has two grown kids who have flown the coop for distant shores which is awesome because now she has a good reason to travel instead of because I want to.
At sixteen she met a guy she knew she was going to marry and she did. He’s the kind of guy who can start a fire with nothing but two stones, construct a dwelling from half a dozen tree branches and a ball of string, mend anything that’s broken with weird fixit juju and navigate home blindfolded with both arms tied behind his back but will also happily eat cornflakes for dinner when a deadline is looming. True hero material.
For many, many years she was a registered nurse. Which means she knows things. Anatomical things. And she’s not afraid to use them!