Hi Susan and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Fly Away With Me (Blue Moon Harbor #1)!
Hello! Thank you so much for this opportunity to connect with readers!
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
When Ottawa lawyer Eden Blaine’s mother sends her to a tiny Pacific Northwest island on a quest to find her long-lost aunt, little does she imagine that destiny – in the shape of Blue Moon Air pilot Aaron Gabriel – is calling.
After breaking up with her boyfriend of four years, Eden’s priorities are clear: first and always, her family; second, her career with a charitable foundation. Though perhaps she could squeeze in a rebound fling with a sexy, charismatic seaplane pilot…
A fling is all that the rugged, self-contained Aaron ever offers a woman. Having never lived in a loving home, he knows better than to pin his hopes, or his heart, on love. The only people in the world who truly matter to him are his sister and her baby. And yet, there’s something about Eden that cracks the protective shell around his heart.
Eden can’t help but be drawn to the lover who introduces her to new adventures and ideas. Still, the fact remains that he’s as tied to his life on Destiny Island and to his tiny family as she is to her own family and her career in Ottawa.
Can Eden risk her heart again? Can Aaron risk his for the first time? Will it end in disaster—or is love their destiny?
What’s your favorite line(s) from the book?:
This was going to be an adventure, and adventure was definitely not her middle name.
Or maybe this one: “I have to wonder,” Aaron said, “does your conscience whack you upside the head every time you contemplate taking a little time to just enjoy life?”
When you sat down to start this book, what was the biggest challenge you faced? What were you most excited about?
The answer to both questions is the same: the setting. I was born in the Pacific Northwest, have lived here all my life, and in summer I go boating among the Gulf Islands near Victoria, British Columbia. I love this part of the world: the tiny islands with their rugged, picturesque scenery, the way life is oriented to the rhythms of the ocean, and the unique character of island communities. I was excited that Kensington, my publisher, agreed to my proposal to set a series on a fictional Gulf Island. And then my challenge was to bring that setting to life. Sometimes when you know something so well that it’s in your blood, it’s hard to focus on what outsiders – readers – need to know. I do hope I’ve done Destiny Island justice!
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
Eden Blaine is the first child of wonderful, well-educated, socially responsible parents. She grows up with high parental expectations, and she fulfils them. She’s loving and generous, intelligent and analytical, goal-directed, responsible, and reliable. She’s found her ideal career: working as a lawyer for a foundation that funds charities and non-profits. With a great family, a great job, and a great long-term boyfriend, her life’s pretty much ideal. Until . . . a whole bunch of harsh things happen. Her grandmother dies, her mom is diagnosed with breast cancer, and Eden and her boyfriend break up. She weathers each blow and forges ahead. Then her mom finds a long-lost letter, saying that her runaway sister joined a commune on a tiny Gulf Island back in 1969. That starts Eden on the quest that leads her to Destiny Island, Aaron Gabriel – and her destiny!
Aaron Gabriel never knew his father. His mother was a drug addict and prostitute. He grew up in poverty, with no security, and he devoted himself to protecting his younger sister, Miranda. When their mom OD’ed, her parents on Destiny Island grudgingly took the kids – and made sure they knew what a burden they were. Aaron has learned that it’s futile to yearn for a happy, loving home. But he’s found the place he loves to live, and the career of his dreams, owning his own seaplane business. He’s still doing his best to look after Miranda, who’s now a single mom with a two-year-old daughter, Ariana (who is named after Aaron).
As for surprises, to be honest I can’t think of any. I had a pretty good idea of their characters before I started to write, and they stayed more or less true to character.
What have you learned about your own writing process/you as an author while writing this book?
Actually, not very much. This is my 31st published contemporary romance since 2006 (24 100,000 word novels and 7 novellas), and I’ve pretty much figured out my process. It’s not particularly efficient and it’s certainly not stress-free, but in the end it works. The biggest stress is that I almost always bog down in the middle and start to think my writing totally sucks. But I force myself to forge ahead and then when I’m finished the first draft and I start editing, the book actually reads really well. The first few times I suffered that crisis of faith, I got pretty anxious about it, but now I’ve learned to accept it as part of my process and not worry. At least not worry too much!
The First kiss…
“Even if it’s not blue tonight, the moon is so clear. And the stars.”
“No city pollution.”
She drew a deep breath. “It’s clean and bracing, the scent of the ocean.”
He turned so he faced her and finally gave in to the urge to raise a hand and smooth waves of hair back from her face. Then he cupped the sides of her face in both hands and tilted it up toward him. “You’re going to like it here, Eden. You might not have come here looking for a good time, but that’s what Destiny and I are going to give you.”
Her voice breathier than usual, she said, “I’m starting to believe you.”
He leaned down slowly, giving her a chance to back away. But she stood her ground, and he touched his lips to hers. So soft they were, and he treated them gently. Caressing, coaxing until she gave a tiny sigh and kissed him back. She seemed tentative, as if she wasn’t convinced this was a good thing, or maybe she was just learning the shape of a different male mouth.
After a couple of minutes, he slid his tongue against the crease between her lips, and they parted for him. He put his arms around her and she moved closer until the fronts of their bodies brushed. She felt so damned good. He wanted more, so much more, but was afraid that if he pushed too hard, he’d scare her away.
So he settled for slow, sensual kisses, not too deep or passionate, and for running his hands up and down her back, stopping just above the sweet curve of her ass.
Eden’s head was back, her eyes closed, and she seemed totally focused on the kiss. Her hands didn’t roam; her body didn’t wriggle against his.
He heated up the kiss, probing her mouth demandingly and tugging her closer into his arms so she couldn’t help but feel the thrust of his erection beneath the fly of his jeans.
She gave a soft moan, met his tongue with her own, and now her hips did swivel as she pressed herself against him needily, telegraphing her own arousal.
After a few more wonderful minutes, Eden’s eyes popped open and she stepped back. Crossing her arms over her chest, she said, “Oh my. That was…well, it was wonderful. But I…I don’t think we should, uh…I mean, I just met you today and I’m not ready to, you know.”
He was disappointed but not surprised. Occasionally, he’d hooked up with a woman on the day they’d met, but Eden was different and, he suspected, worth waiting for.
Did any scene have you crying or laughing (or blushing) while writing it?
This is one that made me cry (actually, it still makes me cry whenever I read it). Not only because of what Eden and her family are going through, but because my mom, like Eden’s, had cancer. The lessons Aunt Lucy teaches are ones I learned from my mother as she went through chemo and radiation and attended a cancer support group. (And yes, she survived.)
In this scene, Helen is Eden’s mom and Lucy is Helen’s long-lost sister. They’re finally reunited, when Lucy travels to Ottawa. (Kelsey is Eden’s younger sister.)
Note: I’ve made one tiny change in this scene, compared to the one that’s actually in the book – and that’s to avoid it being a spoiler. If you read the book, you’ll understand what I mean!
“So far tonight,” Lucy went on, “we haven’t talked about Helen’s cancer, but it’s time we did.”
“Oh, Lucy,” Eden’s mom said, her voice having lost its earlier animation, “let’s not. This is so perfect, having you here. Let’s not spoil it with talk of illness.”
Lucy smiled sympathetically at her sister. “My intent isn’t to spoil it.” She glanced around the room at the rest of them, giving Eden a slight nod. “But there’s something I need to say, and I’m not big on beating around the bush, so I’m just going to come out with it. It’s time you all got rid of the elephant in the room.”
Looking puzzled, Eden’s dad said, “Elephant?”
Lucy replied calmly, “I’m referring to the fact that Helen is afraid she might die, and that it’s a valid fear.”
Eden’s mom gave a small gasp and her dad’s face hardened. “We don’t talk that way in this house.”
His wife clutched his arm. “Listen to her, Jim.”
“I think it’s time you talked that way.” Lucy’s tone remained even and nonaccusatory as she told him and Kelsey the same things she’d discussed with Eden the previous morning.
Tears slid down Mom’s thin face and Eden was terribly afraid this had been a mistake, but then her mother said, “Thank you, Lucy. Thank you so much. I didn’t know how to say it. I didn’t want to let them all down.”
“Let us down?” Dad hugged her close to his side. “You could never let us down. We love you.”
Kelsey slipped forward to kneel in front of her mother and rest her hands on her knees. “We do. We only want what’s best for you. That’s what we’ve been trying to do.”
Mom touched her hand. “I know. You’ve all been trying so hard. I have, too, but sometimes I run out of steam and I get so damned scared. I don’t want you to be scared, too, and yet I really want to be able to talk to you about it.”
“Mom,” Eden said, moving forward to kneel beside Kelsey. Having had more time to process Lucy’s ideas, she hoped she could bring the rest of her family to the same understanding she’d reached. “We can’t help being scared any more than you can. I think what Aunt Lucy says makes sense. Being able to share the fear is better than each of us keeping it locked up inside and trying to deal with it. And failing.”
“I know it would be better for me,” her mom said. “I hope it would for you.”
“It would for me,” Kelsey said, blinking teary eyelashes. “Sometimes I feel like a little girl again, scared of monsters. When I was a kid, I could run to my mommy and daddy, but now I cry alone in my bed.”
Eden leaned over so her shoulder touched her sister’s. “Kelsey, I’m so sorry. I should have known and been there for you. We could have cried together.”
“And now you can run to your mommy,” their mother said, smiling through her own tears. “And your daddy?” She aimed the question at her husband, and before he could answer, she went on. “Jim, even though we’re a loving family, in some ways we’ve all been isolated little islands, holding our misery and fear inside ourselves. I believe Lucy’s right, and if we’re honest and share our feelings, share our tears, we’ll all be stronger for it.”
He drew a ragged breath. “That sounds pretty good to me.”
Eden guessed how hard this was for him and her heart filled with pride. And relief.
His shoulders squared, and despite the red rims of his eyes, he already looked stronger than he had in a while. “No more pretending. Not from any of us. Total honesty from now on. Right, girls? Right, Helen?”
“Right,” they all echoed.
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters?
Eden spends almost a week on Destiny Island, on a futile search for her mom’s sister. On the last day, she wants to visit the location of the long-abandoned commune, and Aaron drives her there. I’d choose this scene because Eden and Aaron have spent a lot of time together and, even though they both wanted and agreed on a purely casual relationship, they’ve developed feelings for each other. Feelings that both of them are fighting. That gives this scene an emotional complexity that I’d love to see good actors bring alive.
Her beautiful eyes sparkled up at him, brighter than the stones in her new earrings.
“You dazzle me,” he said, the words jumping out of his mouth. The kind of compliment he’d never before given.
Her eyes widened and then her lips made a tentative curve. “You kind of dazzle me, too, Aaron Gabriel.”
“Then why are you acting different today? It feels like you’re pulling away.” Oh God, he was mouthing girlie, needy shit. Still, he didn’t take it back.
“I… Pulling away? What do you mean?”
She’d given him a chance to retreat, but he didn’t take it. “You’re acting different. Not sharing stuff the way you usually do.”
She blinked, gazed down for a long moment, and then looked back up at him. “You’re right.” Another blink, but then she held his gaze. “The truth is, I realized I was coming to…well, maybe more than just like you. Even though that’s not what we agreed, or what either of us want. I guess it’s the danger of a rebound relationship.” She pressed her lips together.
So he was just a rebound relationship. She’d have felt the same for any guy she hooked up with. Again, why should that bother him?
Because for him she wasn’t just another fun hookup. Eden was special. Clearly, she didn’t feel the same way about him.
She unpressed her lips. “But then I realized I was being silly. You’re a great guy, but not the type of man I’d be looking for if I wanted a serious relationship.”
Hurt and pissed off, he was about to ask what the hell was wrong with him, and then he remembered he had zero interest in a serious relationship. That must be what she meant. “No, I guess not, eh?” He managed a small laugh.
“I want a man who sees life in more of a serious, responsible way, rather than being all about having a good time. One who’s passionate about things other than the outdoors, flying, and, well, sex. A man who does have depths and is willing to share them with me.”
“Yeah, that’s not me.”
She blinked again and said quietly, almost sadly, “You kept telling me that, and I finally realized I should listen.” Another blink, and she spoke more briskly. “Anyhow, I also thought about how you told me I needed to lighten up and have fun. That’s what this week was supposed to be about. You’ve taken time off work and gone to all the effort of helping me look for my aunt, which I truly appreciate. In return, did I give you fun?”
Being with her had been different. Not as frivolous as times he’d spent with other women, but in truth more fun. He was trying to figure out how to respond when she went on.
“Not so much, right? I was forever dumping family stories and work ones on you. Just as I’d do if I were seriously dating someone. I guess I don’t know how else to act. So I’ve decided to take my cue from you and lighten up on the heavy stuff. I’m not great at it, but I’m trying.”
I liked you the old way. She might say lighten up, but he felt as if she’d erected a barrier between them.
Just as he did, between him and the rest of the world.
“I get it,” he told her. “But don’t stress out over it, okay? I’m not changing for you and I don’t want you changing for me. Relax and be yourself and we’ll have a nice evening.”
A smile bloomed, and again he was dazzled as she said, “Sounds good to me.”
Readers should read this book….
To drink wine at sunset, kayak with seals, fly a seaplane, and visit with old hippies. To be part of the developing relationship between a heroine and hero who are both decent people, trying to do their best for the ones they love as they explore their growing love for each other – and trying to figure out if that new love could possibly be compatible with their other commitments.
And, of course, for the happy ending!
What are you currently working on? What are your up-coming releases?
I’m continuing the Blue Moon Harbor series. The next story is “Blue Moon Harbor Christmas” in “Winter Wishes,” a holiday anthology (October 2017) that also contains novellas by Fern Michaels, Jules Bennett, and Leah Marie Brown. Then “Come Home With Me” will be out in late December, and “Sail Away With Me” in the fall of 2018. I’m just finishing the manuscript of “Sail Away with Me” now. And pitching another book in the series: “Come Dance With Me.”
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: I’m giving away an autographed print copy of “Fly Away With Me.” The giveaway is open internationally.
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: Aaron and Eden have difficulty juggling their priorities: romantic relationship, family, careers, friends, and other commitments. Is this something you struggle with as well? Do you have any advice to share?
Excerpt from Fly Away With Me (Blue Moon Harbor #1):
“My priority is finding out what happened to Lucy. My mom…well, it’s really important to her. She’s been feeling, uh, intimations of mortality, I guess you’d call it.” Her voice firmed. “Not that she’s going to die. She’ll be just fine. But she gets worried and depressed, and it’s been nagging away at her that she hasn’t seen her sister for half a century. She needs to know Lucy’s okay, to reconnect their lives. She wants my aunt to know my dad and my sister and me and she wants to know Lucy’s family, if she has one.”
He respected that Eden wanted to help her mother. “I get it. But is there any reason you can’t have some fun while you’re trying to track down your aunt?”
He glanced over, saw her scrunched-up forehead, and figured she was well on her way to getting a frown line. “You sound as if you don’t know the meaning of the word.”
When she frowned even harder, he laughed. “Relax, Eden. Let me help you. Help you find your aunt and help you loosen up and have a good time. You’ve had a tough year and you could use some R and R.”
“I’m not sure what you have in mind,” she said stiffly.
“You’re an interesting, attractive woman. I’d like to spend some time with you, show you the island, see where things go. Things, to clarify, meaning man-woman things. Just for this week. You don’t want to invest in a relationship, and I am, to use that trite expression, a confirmed bachelor.”
“Oh.” He’d clearly taken her by surprise. “Oh, I, uh…I don’t know what to say.”
“You could say you find me interesting and attractive. That you’d like to spend time with me and see where things go.”
The corners of her mouth tugged upward and a spark of awareness flamed in the amber depths of her eyes. “You don’t waste time, do you, Aaron Gabriel?”
Smiling as he refocused on the sky, he said, “Think about that expression. Waste time. What’s the point in wasting anything?”
“Hmm. You make a good argument.”
“Is it a winning argument, lawyer lady?”
Excerpts. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Known for its rugged beauty and eccentric residents, tiny Blue Moon Harbor is big on love…
For busy lawyer Eden Blaine, a trip to a Pacific Northwest island she’s never even heard of is far from a vacation. Eden’s ailing mother has tasked her with finding her long-lost aunt, who once had ties to a commune on the island. Still reeling from a breakup with her longtime boyfriend, romance is the last thing Eden is looking for. But her gorgeous seaplane pilot has her wondering if a carefree rebound fling is exactly what she needs…
Aaron Gabriel has no illusions about happily ever after. His troubled childhood made sure of that. But he does appreciate a pretty woman’s company, and Eden is the exact combination of smart and sexy that turns him on. Still, as he helps her search for her missing aunt, the casual relationship he imagined quickly becomes something much more passionate—and much harder to give up. Can two people determined to ignore romance recognize that their heated connection is the kind of love destined to last?
Meet the Author:
International bestselling author Susan Fox, who also writes as Susan Lyons and Savanna Fox, “knows what women want in a contemporary romance” (Publishers Weekly). Her books have won numerous awards and “Love Somebody Like You” was a RITA® finalist.
Susan is a Pacific Northwester with homes in Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia. She has degrees in law and psychology, and has had a variety of careers, including perennial student, computer consultant, and legal editor. Fiction writer is by far her favorite, giving her an outlet to demonstrate her belief in the power of love, friendship, and a sense of humor.
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