Hello, I’m Taryn Elliott and I’m hijacking HJ today!
Sara asked me to do a character interview with my new Hero, Ben Hartley. He’s a rather delicious specimen of male. He’s got a bad boy look with the heart of a Boyscout wrapped in Christmas lights with a side of long, slow pine-scented kisses.
He’s the kind of guy that would go out of his way to make a woman smile whether she’s 9 or 90. He’s the kind of guy that would take his one day off and decorate an entire store because someone needed his help. He’s the kind of guy that you’re proud to have on your arm for a host of reasons.
TARYN: Hi, Ben. Thanks so much for taking time out of your day to talk to us.
BEN: *twirls mechanical pencil between fingers* Sure. I’ve got a little time before I go Christmas bomb Darcy’s living room.
TARYN: Is she aware of this?
BEN: *innocent look* Of course.
TARYN: Uh huh. *side eye*
BEN: You were saying?
TARYN: Um…right. In HOLIDAY SPARKS you have an affinity for all things Christmas, how did that come about?
BEN: I come from a single parent home and my mom really enjoyed Christmas. I loved the look on her face when she would see the house after I decorated it. Every year it got just a little bit bigger and eventually the decorations couldn’t do exactly what I wanted them to do, so I started designing my own. After my mom passed away it became my way to honor her.
TARYN: Aww. That’s very sweet. My mom loved Christmas too.
BEN: *taps sketch pad* Coincidence?
TARYN: Now that you have your very own Scrooge in your life how have things changed this year?
BEN: Well, first of all Darcy isn’t quite the Scrooge she pretends to be. I think she secretly likes Christmas. But I don’t mind playing Elf to her Scrooge sometimes. I also got a few more Christmas decorating jobs this year thanks to Blackstone’s. *sigh* If my efficient and organized Darcy has her way I’ll have another business by next year. She still can’t wrap her brain around the fact that I do the decorating gig because it’s fun, not to rule the world. But I get a kick out of winding her up and letting her explore all the possibilities. I think that’s my favorite part of her. Her brain is always working out all the angles.
TARYN: Doesn’t that kill some of the spontaneity?
BEN: Darc isn’t spontaneous. That’s my job. Coercing her along for the ride, now that’s the real fun. I convinced her to get a bigger tree for the store this year and we had to use the cage accessory on the forklift to get to the top of the tree. I may have lured her into the cage with me and started a new tradition with us putting the star on top of the tree together. As well as a strategically placed sprig of mistletoe for a bonus kiss.
TARYN: See…now that’s my kind of Christmas tradition. Have you started any others?
BEN: *wide grin*A few. But ones that I can talk about? Not yet. We’re blending the family this year. Darcy and I have been together for a year now. Britzilla and John get to meet her mom and step-father. The Christmas and the non-Christmas crew are going to start new traditions this year I think.
TARYN: I think that’s really the most important part of the season. Family. I really miss that part.
BEN: My niece, Britzilla, really kept John and I together after my mom passed away. Work and life can get in the way unless you consciously put family first. I have to remind Darcy to relax and go out with her mom for dinner sometimes.
TARYN: Sounds like you do a lot to keep Darcy from getting too serious.
BEN: I do. But in the same respect, she keeps me in line. Sometimes I get too excited about a project and forget the practical things like grocery shopping or sleeping. She’s really good at leaving me post-it notes. She’s even got them color coordinated. *Shakes his head with a happy grin* I love her madly.
TARYN: One more thing before you go. Do you have a present in mind for her this Christmas?
BEN: I do. I have this friend that designs one of a kind jewelry. I think she might be in for a very special surprise.
TARYN: I like the sound of that.
BEN: Let’s hope she does too.
TARYN: Thanks so much for stopping by and talking with us. Have fun Christmas-bombing her house. Let’s hope she reacts a little better this year.
BEN: I know how to get around her moods.
TARYN: I just bet you do.
And because Sara let me take over her blog today I’m giving her readers an exclusive excerpt.[blockquote cite=”Holiday Sparks”]
She stopped beside the ladder. Ben stood above her and from this angle she could see more of the tattoo, but still not enough to read it. She seriously had to stop looking at him as if he were one of her dark-chocolate caramel swirl ice-cream bars. It was getting ridiculous.
“You have your jacket on and you’re back on the ladder.”
He looked down, the corner of his lip tipped up in amusement. “You’re observant, Darcy. Did I ever tell you that?” He buried his arm into the limbs of the tree until his face disappeared into the foliage.
What the heck was he doing? Looking to take a sap sample? She rolled her eyes. “Aren’t you going out for supplies?”
“Yes ma’am. I just need to figure out how much more I need. This spruce is a big mother.” He climbed down quickly. The squeak of protest from the ancient ladder made her nervous. There wasn’t an ounce of fat on the man, but he was…well, strapping was a good word. Dense muscles flexed and flowed under his skin. His jeans hugged massive thighs.
Don’t think about his thighs.
“You’ve got lights wrapped around every branch. Is it going to be too much?”
“No, I need to manipulate each branch for the music.”
He stepped down to the floor. He was so close she could feel the warmth of his skin and the tantalizing scent of pine and leather swirled around her. “Do you really want to know how I use channels and create the sectors that the music will be manipulated through?”
Wow. Vastly underestimating her neighbor’s prowess with electronics was going to get her into trouble. Bad boy look and brains to spare? Nope, not at all good for her peace of mind. “Engineering degree?”
“Nope, my degree is on the streets, darlin’. I learned everything I know from friends and acquaintances, with a side of trial and error.”
Her belly twisted. She knew all about on-the-job training instead of college, but for this kind of thing? She wasn’t sure it was a good idea. “This is going to work, right?”
He tapped the tip of her nose. “I’m going to blow you away.”
She folded her arms. “You’re a cocky one.”
“Nah. Just aim to impress the pretty girl.”
She could feel the heat of her cheeks. Damn fair skin. “I need Mr. and Mrs. Blackstone impressed, not me.”
“Yeah, but you’re the one I want to impress.” He clicked his boot heels together and gave her a snappy salute. “I’ll be back and you are going to sit down with me for at least twenty minutes and eat.”
He cuffed her wrist with his forefinger and thumb. “It’s going to be a long night, Darcy. You’ll need your strength.”
Gosh, she hoped he couldn’t feel her pulse hammering away as though it were a rabbit on meth. One touch and she was a frazzled mess. And he was right. She needed her strength to get through the night. And dinner. “Is that offer still open?”
His lids lowered. The hooded look made her think of anything but the possible sandwich he was bringing back. “Which offer is that?”
The smile was slow and anything but innocent. “Of course.”
The entire night with him? She was so freaking screwed.
I’m also doing a very special giveaway. 2012 has been a rather awesome year for me. This is my first year in publication and I also managed to have three books come out! That’s pretty wild for a new author.
So I’m giving away ALL three of my books to ONE reader. I have them in all formats so this is open to all HJ readers both in and out of the US.
To win all you have to do is tell me what ONE of your HOLIDAY TRADITIONS is. It doesn’t have to be just Christmas either!
Enter on the Rafflecopter for extra chances to win![divider_advanced color=”#3200DB”]