Hi Regina and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, How Not To Mess With A Millionaire!
Hi, Sara and HJ readers! Always a pleasure to be here.
Please summarize the book a la Twitter style for the readers here:
A battle of wills between a sassy American interior designer and brooding Italian restauranteur over who gets to stay in a villa that should be big enough for two–but not for these two.
Please share the opening lines of this book:
It was a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman, recently dumped by her cheating scumbag of a boyfriend and fired by her two-faced, design-stealing boss, must blow a healthy portion of her life savings to run away from it all, preferably to some exotic, foreign shore like Italy’s Amalfi Coast.
Or if it wasn’t universally acknowledged, in Zoe Ryan’s opinion, it damn well should be.
Please share a few Fun facts about this book…
- Houdini the runaway pig who keeps showing up at Bella Vista, the villa Dante and Zoe reluctantly share, was originally supposed to be a goat. My editor asked me to change him to a pig because Dante and Zoe bring him to Rome at one point in the story, and she didn’t think goats belonged in the city (but a pig was okay because George Clooney had one LOL).
- I set a scene at the Trevi Fountain in Rome because my parents met on a trip to Europe. When we were kids, my dad used to read us my mom’s travel diary, and one of our favorite lines was “walked around the Trevi Fountain with Warren (my dad), very romantic.” I still have that diary, and I pulled it out several times for inspiration while writing.
- I’m half Italian (both of my mom’s parents immigrated to the United States from Italy), and I drew on my Italian heritage especially when writing the character of Nonna, Dante’s grandmother.
- The hardest part of writing this book for me was getting the hero right. Dante is my first foreign hero, and in early drafts, he came across too stilted and formal, probably because I was trying too hard to make him sound worldly and European. Thank goodness for editors!
- The setting of this book–primarily Positano, Capri, and Rome–is really almost another character. I’ve been to Italy–but only to Venice and the Dolomites, never to the Amalfi Coast or Rome. I did most of my research on the internet, and I had a beta reader that helped me make sure I got the details right. But now I really want to go there. Hopefully with travel restrictions being lifted I’ll get that chance soon. I hope reading How Not To Mess With A Millionaire gives you a taste of the region and makes you want to go there, too.
What first attracts your Hero to the Heroine and vice versa?
This book has a naked meet-cute, so the attraction is definitely physical right from the start, at least for Zoe, who walks in on a dripping wet Dante, fresh from skinny dipping in the villa’s pool. For Dante, it’s Zoe’s feistiness that attracts and intrigues him. She doesn’t back down from the challenges he throws at her. As much as that frustrates him, it draws him in, too.
Using just 5 words, how would you describe Hero and Heroine’s love affair?
Heated, passionate, intense, playful, romantic.
The First Kiss…
That was it. He was only human. No mortal man could be expected to resist the gift she was offering so sweetly, so willingly. A noise came out of him that he couldn’t quite identify—something like a groan mixed with a sigh, with a hint of a triumphant growl thrown in for good measure—and he surrendered to the need to kiss her. Time seemed to stop as mouths melded, tongues tangled, and hands explored.
He’d kissed women since Nicole. He was a man, not a monk. Some of them had been more worldly than Zoe. Some more experienced, more confident. But none more desirable than this funny, feisty, frustrating-as-hell woman he was seconds away from taking on the tile floor.
Zoe moaned into his mouth, and he framed her head with his hands, angling it so he could deepen the kiss. She tasted wild and intoxicating, like a fine, full-bodied wine or rich, dark chocolate.
Delicious, but dangerous.
From the other side of the room, the pig squealed, giving Dante the excuse he needed to break off the kiss before things got even more heated.
“Wow.” Zoe touched a finger to her kiss-swollen lips. “That’s some way to declare a truce.”
Without revealing too much, what is your favorite scene in the book?
Oh, it’s gotta be the first appearance of Houdini, the mini potbellied pig with a penchant for escaping from a neighboring villa. I love this little guy!
Something cold and wet brushed against her ankle, making her wobble unsteadily. She flailed her arms like a windmill in a category five hurricane, desperately attempting to regain her balance. That lasted all of two seconds until she landed hard on her ass, barely missing a squealing mass of coarse black-and-white hair.
“Ow. What the—?”
A tiny piglet sat on the paving stones that made up the terrace, staring up at Zoe with intelligent, gray-green eyes. “Where did you come from?”
The pig let out an adorable grunt and climbed in Zoe’s lap, curling into a ball.
“Don’t go playing the cute card now. You interrupted my workout. And made me fall.” She reached back to rub her left butt cheek.
The pig, undeterred, lifted his snout and grunted again.
“Okay, you win.” She scratched between the animal’s ears. The pig rewarded her by licking her hand. “I’ve heard of goat yoga, but not pig yoga. Maybe we could start a new fad. What do you say? We could be famous. Appear on the Today Show. Meet Kathy Lee and Hoda.”
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would be absolutely crucial to include?
It would have to be the late-night opera scene:
He pointed the remote at the stereo again and hit the arrow to increase the volume. Once, twice, three times until the music was so loud he could feel the vibrations through the floor. Then he took a cigar from a wooden box on the side table—Cuban, of course—cut it, and lit it. Lifting it to his lips, he took a puff and savored the flavor, sweet and fruity, with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg, while he waited for the inevitable.
It didn’t take long.
“Do you know what time it is?” Zoe shouted over the music, hands on her hips as she glared at him from the step leading into the recessed room. “Turn that racket down.”
“I don’t care if it’s Elvis Presley risen from the grave. It’s after midnight, and decent people are trying to sleep.”
“Are you saying I’m not decent?” He glanced down at his outfit—crisp white T-shirt and dark jeans—then raised his eyes to hers. “I’m fully clothed.”
“This time,” she snapped. The hands at her hips balled into fists. “Are you going to turn the music down or not?”
He took a long draw on his cigar, blowing the smoke out in a long, thin stream. “I hear the rooms at Hotel Montemare are soundproof.”
“You’re not getting rid of me that easily.”
As if to prove her point, she flounced into the living room and planted herself on the armchair opposite him.
“Have it your way.” He surreptitiously lowered the volume a hair. The mother of all headaches was building behind his temples. He wasn’t used to listening to opera at full blast.
“So, Puccini, huh?” She tucked her legs underneath her and settled deeper into the cushions, making her look like a lost little girl. “Who’s he?”
“You’re kidding, right?” What was she doing? She was supposed to be running for the hills, not hanging around questioning him about his taste in music.
She adjusted the overlong T-shirt that apparently doubled as pajamas so it covered her knees. “I’m more of a hard rock kind of gal than an opera fan.”
“At least you recognize an opera when you hear one.”
“Is Puccini the guy singing?” she asked, absently twirling a long, blond ringlet around one finger.
“No.” Did she have to do that? It was damn distracting. Made him want to bury his hands in her thick curls to see if they were as soft and springy as they seemed. Instead, he satisfied himself with puffing on his cigar. “He’s the composer. The singer is Jose Carreras.”
“What language is he singing in? Italian?”
“Naturally.” Dante rested his cigar in the crystal ashtray on the table beside him and crossed an ankle over his knee. “All of the greatest operas are in Italian.”
They listened in silence for a few minutes before Zoe spoke again. “He sounds sad.”
“He’s in love. With Mimi, a beautiful seamstress who shows up on his doorstep asking him to light her candle. Then she faints and drops her key.”
Zoe snickered. “You mean like how I showed up on your doorstep and tossed my cookies in your downstairs bathroom?”
“Tossed your cookies?”
“An American expression. It means—”
He held up a hand, stopping her. “I think I can work out what it means.”
“Please tell me he doesn’t open the door buck naked.”
Dante fought off a smile. She had guts. And grit. He couldn’t help thinking how much his grandmother would like her.
“Hardly,” he drawled. “This is opera, not a cheap porno.”
Readers should read this book …
Because let’s face it folks, the past year has been craptostic. Who doesn’t need a little pick me up? A light, fun, sexy, low-angst read? Then there’s the added bonus of the luxurious setting. So you can get whisked away to Italy with Dante, Zoe, and Houdini.
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned?
I’m currently working on the next book in the Mediterranean Millionaires series, How Not To Marry A Millionaire. This one is Miguel’s story. He’s one of Dante’s Oxford classmates and poker buddies. I’ve also got another book coming out in August that I’m really excited about. Showstopper is part of Sarina Bowen’s World of True North. It’s a new adult, male/male romance between a hockey player and a theater geek, and it’s my very first single title romance, clocking in at around 80,000 words.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: A $10.00 Amazon gift card and an ebook copy of winner’s choice of books from my backlist
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: When Zoe loses her job and her boyfriend and decides that she needs a break from he overly dependent family, she runs away to Positano, Italy. Given the chance, where would you run away to?
Excerpt from How Not To Mess With A Millionaire:
He blinked and tried to focus so he could scan his living room. Or what he thought was his living room. But nothing was where it should be. The couch, obviously, had been pulled to the middle of the room. The Persian rug his grandmother had brought back from Nepal was rolled up in one corner. And the artwork Nonna had spent years collecting in her younger days, when she’d traveled the world as a high-end fashion model, had been taken down and sat propped against the walls.
In the center of it all stood Zoe in skimpy denim shorts and a bright orange halter top, hands on her curvy hips, surveying everything with a look of intense concentration he found strangely arousing.
He mentally beat back the arousal and let annoyance bubble up in its place. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“Redecorating,” she answered without missing a beat, not bothering to look at him.
“And who gave you permission to do that?” He glared at her back. “Or have you forgotten who owns this place?”
She swiveled her head, fixing him with those pale, yellow-gold eyes that made his insides twist into nervous, needy knots. “How could I, with you stalking around like a wounded bear?”
The knots tightened. Yes, he wanted her gone. But part of him—a big part—couldn’t help wondering what Nicole would have thought of his boorish behavior. No, that wasn’t true. He knew exactly what she’d think. She’d think he was being an ass and that Bella Vista was more than big enough for him and Zoe to share.
But she’d be wrong. Yes, the villa had sixteen rooms, six bedrooms, and four and a half baths. But somehow, no matter how far apart he and Zoe were physically, he was acutely aware of her presence. It was like he had some sort of strange sixth sense that made his skin sizzle when she was near.
“Have I been that bad?” he asked, suddenly conscious of the way the hair on his chest was standing at attention. Why hadn’t he taken the extra few seconds necessary to throw on a T-shirt?
“Worse.” She bit her lip and frowned thoughtfully. “I think this”—she pointed to one of two overstuffed chairs— “should be over there.”
She indicated a spot in front of the white marble fireplace. “Would you mind helping me?”
“You still haven’t answered my question.” Dodging his inquiries was becoming a common theme with her. It should irritate him. But instead, he found himself liking the challenge.
“What question was that?” Zoe batted her long lashes, all fake, wide-eyed innocence.
“Who gave you permission to do this?” He waved a hand around the room.
He should have known. Nonna. She’d do anything to keep Zoe at the villa, even if it meant letting her rearrange the furniture.
“She called this morning to make sure I was enjoying my stay,” Zoe continued. “We got to chatting, and when I told her I was an interior decorator, she suggested I take a crack at freshening the place up. I tried telling her you don’t mess with a genius like Alberto Pinto, but she insisted. Said she knew him personally and that he would have liked nothing more than one of his admirers putting her own spin on his vision. She wanted me to tackle the whole house, but we compromised on the living room. And I took plenty of pictures before I started moving stuff around so she can have someone put it back the way it was if she doesn’t like what I’ve done.”
Right. She was an interior decorator. Another factoid for him to file away in his subconscious. Not that he was interested in her. It was the Sun Tsu know-your-enemy theory rearing its ugly head again. No, enemy was too strong a word. Rival. Or maybe adversary. That sounded more civilized. Less hostile.
“So, what do you say?” Zoe gestured to the chair, snapping his thoughts back from the detour they’d taken. “Can you help me move this thing? I almost threw my back out wrestling with the couch, and if it’s all the same to you, I’d rather not risk that again.”
“Of course you wouldn’t. That would put a stop to your morning yoga.”
She pursed her temptingly plump, pink lips. “Is my exercise routine bothering you?”
“Not at all,” he lied. It was bothering him, all right. But not in the way she thought. He could handle waking up with the sun. Watching her contort her body in figure-hugging spandex—that was another story.
Excerpts. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Interior decorator Zoe Ryan’s life resembles a bad country song. Her boyfriend dumped her, her car died, and she was recently handed a pink slip. What’s a girl to do? Leave everything behind for a bit….in Positano, Italy. And when she gets there, she finds a surprising extra—millionaire restaurateur Dante Sabbatini in the kitchen. In his underwear. Making coffee. It’s suddenly not only hot outside, but exactly what is he doing inside, in her temporary kitchen?
Dante’s plan was to escape to his family’s beach house for some quiet and privacy. What he didn’t know was that his meddling, matchmaking nonna rented the entire house to a sexy stranger at the exact same time as his stay. It took him months to clear his schedule—there’s no way he’s leaving now.
With both refusing to leave, Zoe and Dante agree to be temporary roomies, but secretly aim to try to drive the other out. He plays his music as loud as he wants and will wear as little clothing as possible, and she’ll just go ahead and adopt that pig she fell in love with in town. But suddenly their game of one-upmanship takes a very sexy detour, and they can’t believe what happens next.
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Meet the Author:
Regina Kyle knew she was destined to be an author when she won a writing contest at age 10 with a touching tale about a squirrel and a nut pie. By day, she writes dry legal briefs, representing the state in criminal appeals. At night, she writes steamy romance with heart and humor. She is a two-time winner of the Booksellers’ Best award, in 2016 for Triple Dare and in 2018 for The Billionaire in Her Bed.
A lover of all things theatrical, Regina lives on the Connecticut coast with her husband, daughter and a melodramatic cat with an insatiable need for attention, especially during deadline crunch time. When she’s not writing, she’s most likely singing, reading, cooking or watching bad reality television.
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