Hi Jenny and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, How to Kiss Your Grumpy Boss!
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
How to Kiss Your Grumpy Boss is the second book in my How to Kiss a Hawthorne Brother series. It’s about the oldest Hawthorne brother, Perry, who has recently endured a pretty terrible divorce and is jaded and, well, just GRUMPY. But deep inside, he longs for a second chance at love, for the kind of family he grew up in. Which brings us to Lila, his virtual-turned-in-person assistant who is waking him up! But Lila comes with her own complications. She’s a single mom with a five-year-old son, so even spending time alone is tricky! But these two–they are totally meant for each other. Their chemistry and connection is strong, and even though it takes them a minute to figure it out, they’re both looking for the same thing!
Please share your favorite line(s) or quote from this book:
“When I first saw you, of course I noticed how beautiful you are. But I also noticed your curves. It made you more enticing to me, not less. After hearing how Trevor treated you, I want you to know how beautiful you are, JUST as you are.”
Just as I am? This man cannot be real. If I wasn’t touching him, I might wonder if he were a mirage. Some fantastical figment of my imagination embodying everything I could possibly desire.
Please share a few Fun facts about this book…
- Fun facts! So, this book is set in Silver Creek, NC, which is an imaginary town based on Saluda, NC, which is just outside of the town in Western North Carolina where I grew up. Western North Carolina is a HUGE area for apples, so including orchards on the Hawthorne family farm seemed like a no-brainer. I learned so much about apple cultivation as I wrote. I did not know, for example, that apples are ALL picked by hand because otherwise, they’ll bruise. So every single apple you see in the grocery store was pulled from the tree by a person. I really love that.
- I love writing settings that almost feel like another character in the book, and the North Carolina mountains make that really easy for me, because I love them so much! I wish Stonebrook Farm was a real place instead of just something I imagined in my head!
What first attracts your Hero to the Heroine and vice versa?
So, Lila, our heroine has a slight advantage on our hero, Perry, because she’s seen pictures of him before she meets him person. He comes from a family of very handsome brothers, one of whom is very famous, so they have a bit of a reputation. Perry, on the other hand, believes Lila is an elderly grandma for the first weeks of their entirely online interactions. He’s totally surprised when he meets her in person and realizes she is definitely NOT elderly! As for what sends off those first sparks, Perry immediately notices Lila’s eyes and her curves. He also appreciates her sense of humor. Lila loves they way Perry handles a conversation with her son, Jack, appreciating that he didn’t dismiss or ignore all of Jack’s questions.
Did any scene have you blushing, crying or laughing while writing it? And Why?
So, the very first scene I imagined before I’d written a single word happens toward the end of the book. Lila, who has been raising Jack for three years on her own, is getting him ready for a special breakfast at the school. Jack is supposed to wear a tie, and Lila has no idea how to tie one. Perry arrives and steps in, lifting Jack onto a chair and helping him tie his tie while Lila watches on. Even before I’d written the scene, I had SO MANY EMOTIONS surrounding how this might make Lila feel, to see Perry stepping in, filling in the gaps. Falling in love can be such a powerful experience, but when you layer in the complications of motherhood, of knowing whoever you fall in love with has to also fall in love with your kid? I just really wanted to highlight the complexity of how that might feel.
A tiny snippet of Lila’ s reaction to this moment:
Perry is already inside, looking handsome as ever in a navy-blue suit. He’s standing in front of the entryway mirror, Jack perched on a chair in front of him. Perry’s arms are encircling Jack from behind, his larger hands shadowing Jack’s smaller ones as he walks Jack through the steps of tying his tie.
“Like this?” Jack says, his little voice barely loud enough to reach my ears.
“Just like that,” Perry says patiently. “You’re doing great. Good. Now just loop it through that hole and slide the knot up.”
My heart in my throat, I watch Jack’s reflection in the mirror as Perry slides the tie into place. Jack’s eyes light up. “I did it!”
“Great job, kiddo,” Perry says gently. “Now let me see.” He takes Jack’s shoulders and turns him so they’re facing each other. He adjusts Jack’s tie, then smooths down his hair. “All right. Looking good. I think we’re ready to go.”
It’s hard to quantify what’s happening inside my heart right now. To see them together like this, to see Perry teaching Jack, guiding him, loving him like a father would. I resigned myself a long time ago to the possibility of muddling through all the parenting milestones on my own. I’m not the best person to teach Jack how to understand what’s happening to his body when he’s going through puberty. I don’t have any personal experience shaving my face or working up the courage to talk to a pretty girl. But I was willing to try. To arm myself with videos on the internet and whole lot of gumption to do the best I could.
But to see Perry stepping up, voluntarily taking this tiny piece from me?
Tears fill my eyes as an ache fills my chest.
I want this so much.
I want Jack to have a dad.
I want us to be a family.
Readers should read this book….
I feel like I’ve talked so much about the serious parts of How to Kiss Your Grumpy Boss, but it’s actually a very light and fun read! There are lots of apple puns and an enormous pig with a vendetta against our horo, and an ensemble cast of teasing brothers who banter with their brothers. The brothers are actually my very favorite part of this entire series. If you’re looking for a quick escape, this is a book that will give you one!
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have in the works?
Right now I’m simultaneously working on book two in my co-authored Oakley Island RomCom series, Merritt and her Childhood Crush, and book three in my How to Kiss a Hawthorne Brother series, How to Kiss Your Enemy. Both should release early in 2023.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: I’d love to give away a signed paperback of How to Kiss Your Grumpy Boss. Available in the US only.
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Excerpt from How to Kiss Your Grumpy Boss:
Okay, this is a scene in which Perry is trying to take a selfie to upload as his profile picture on the app he and Lila (who is his virtual assistant) use to communicate. Now that he’s met her in person and discovered and beautiful she is, he’s trying to up his game a little!
I run my fingers through my hair a few times and roll my shoulders. This shouldn’t be that difficult. It’s just a picture. I just need to take it, post it, and be done.
I hold up my phone, force out a breath, and take the picture.
Annnnd I look like an ax murderer. Why are my eyebrows furrowed? And why do I look so angry?
“So I need to smile,” I say out loud.
I pose again, this time smiling in a way that makes me look like I’m smelling bad cheese.
I drop my phone onto my desk with a sigh and press my face into my hands. No smiling. I just have to make a serious look work. That can be attractive too, right? Broodiness? Not that I necessarily want to look attractive. This is for work. It’s better that I look professional. Not smiling should be just fine.
I open up the camera app on my phone and flip it around to face me. Maybe with one hand on my beard, if I turn sideways and look back . . .
“What on earth are you doing?”
I jump when my brother’s voice sounds from my office door, and my phone goes flying, clattering to the wood floor beside my desk.
Lennox reaches it before I do and wastes no time pulling up my photo gallery. “Oh, man,” he says with a chuckle. “These are so good.”
“Why do you look like you’re smelling something?”
“Maybe I was. You were on your way here.”
Lennox drops onto the chair opposite my desk. He’s wearing casual clothes—jeans and a Red Renegade band T-shirt—and I realize how long it’s been since I’ve seen him in anything but his chef’s coat.
“You aren’t working today?”
He shakes his head, but his eyes don’t lift from my phone. “Gave the staff the day off. They’ve been working hard. They deserve a break.”
“Have you hired everyone you need?” The restaurant opening has been delayed twice now—mostly because Lennox is such a perfectionist—but the plan now is to be ready for a soft opening the weekend before the harvest festival.
“I’m interviewing pastry chefs tomorrow,” he says with an ease I’ve always envied. Lennox is a perfectionist, but he isn’t a stressed perfectionist. He’s very good at rolling with hiccups and setbacks, adjusting his schedule accordingly. Though I’m sure it helps that he’s got Stonebrook’s working capital backing his efforts, so his open deadline isn’t exactly do or die. I’ve told him if he doesn’t open by Christmas, he has to work the first three months for free to help offset the cost of paying his ever-growing staff when the restaurant has yet to generate any income.
“Relax. The restaurant will open by festival time,” he says, as if sensing the thoughts running through my brain. “It’s going to be fine.”
I lean into my chair. It will be fine. Olivia and Lennox have worked hard on the restaurant opening, and I trust them. They’re good at this. They’ve thought of everything. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a near-constant doomsday narrative humming at the back of my brain. If there is any possible way to fail, my brain will think it up.
As long as I don’t think myself into panic attacks, it’s actually a pretty useful skill.
You need someone to preemptively troubleshoot your idea? Tell you all the ways it might possibly fail? I’m your guy. It’s why my consulting firm did so well, back before Jocelyn cleaned me out, and I came back home to run the farm. I don’t have problems shooting holes in things, though Olivia insists I could at least do it with a little more optimism and a little less glee. Pointing out someone’s weaknesses is one thing. Projecting their imminent failure is another thing altogether.
“What about you? Is everything with the festival okay?”
I swallow the list of things that could still possibly (but probably won’t) go wrong and nod. “For the most part. There’s still a lot to do.”
“What about taking bad selfies? Is that on your to-do list too?”
I drop my phone onto the desktop in front of me, suddenly too tired to be defensive. “Were they really that bad?”
“I mean, maybe depending on who you’re trying to impress.” His eyes narrow. “Who are you trying to impress?”
“Liar. Try again.”
I shift in my chair. “It’s nothing. It’s the software I use to communicate with my virtual assistant. There’s a place for a profile picture, and I never put one up.”
He nods his head, his expression inscrutable. “Your virtual assistant, huh?”
I turn to my computer and pull up my email. If I look busy, maybe Lennox will leave me alone.
“You met her, right? She’s the one who helped you with your flat tire?”
“Thanks to you,” I mumble. “Did you put my jack back?”
“Stop changing the subject. What does she look like?”
He rolls his eyes. “Your assistant. Don’t play dumb on purpose.”
I shrug. “She looks like a woman.”
He heaves out an exasperated sigh. “Young? Old?” He pauses. “Beautiful?”
My eyes lift to his, and he grins.
“So she is beautiful.”
“That isn’t what this is about.”
He chuckles. “Right. I’m sure it isn’t.”
“I just want things to feel a little more personal,” I argue, though I don’t sound very convincing. “It was nice of her to come out and help. I haven’t exactly been kind to her so far, and I’m trying to do better. I don’t want to lose her. She’s very good at her job.”
“All very respectable reasons for wanting to update your profile picture. I still don’t believe you.”
I breathe out a sigh. “Please don’t make this something it isn’t.”
“Okay. I won’t. But if you start to date her, I’m going to say I told you so.”
“I’m not going to date her. She has a kid.”
“So you have thought about it. Also, a kid is not a reason not to date someone.”
“Also not a disqualifier.”
“Maybe not generally, but for me? I don’t need complicated, Lennox. You know that.”
He studies me. “I hate to break it to you, man. But life is complicated. You avoid complicated, you might as well hang up the idea of dating altogether.”
“I’m not thinking about dating Lila. Can you please let this go?”
“Only if you admit that seeing her impacted your desire to add a profile picture.”
I eye him, hating his smirk. Mostly because I don’t want him to be right, and I’m afraid he is.
“I’m not saying I want to date her,” I grind out. “But seeing her might have influenced my desire to upload my picture.”
Lennox’s voice shifts, like he’s talking to one of those tiny yappy dogs people carry around in their purses instead of his older brother. “Cause you’ve got such a pretty face, Perry. Yes you do.”
“Stop it. She’s already seen what I look like. That’s not—I just want things to feel a little more personal.”
“I’m just saying. If you did want to date her, objectively, having your picture in your profile to remind her of your prettiness isn’t going to hurt. You’re prettier than all of us. Except maybe Flint, but he has a whole team of people to make him pretty.”
“Whatever. We all know Brody’s boyish charm wins.”
Lennox purses his lips as if considering. “True. It was probably better for all of us that he fell in love so young. Taking himself out of the game might be the only thing that made it possible for the rest of us to ever get a date.”
I roll my eyes. “Yeah. You really struggle, Len.”
He flashes a smile. If Lennox has a superpower, aside from his abilities as a chef, it’s his confidence. Though I expect the confidence helps with the cooking, too. He’s never afraid to take a risk.
“Come on.” He reaches for my phone. “Let’s take a picture. I’ll help.”
“No. I can’t do it with you here. I’ll feel like an idiot.”
“When have you ever cared about looking like an idiot in front of me? Come on. You either let me help you, or I’m calling Liv and telling her what you’re doing.” He holds the phone up to my face to unlock the screen, jumping back when I try and wrench it out of his hands.
He stands and backs away from my desk, grinning. “Okay,” he says, holding my phone up like he’s some hotshot photographer. “Maybe try swiveling your chair around so the mountains are visible through the window behind you. And like, lean forward, maybe? Your weight resting on your elbow?”
Somewhere deep in my gut, I feel like I’m going to regret this, but I also really want a good picture to post. “Like this?” I twist my body and lean onto my arm.
“If you want her to think you’re a used car salesman, sure. Give us a thumbs up and a cheesy grin, and you’re all set.”
I let out a frustrated breath. “Then what? I did exactly what you told me to do.”
Lennox sits back down in the chair across from me and mimics my stance. “This is what you’re doing. You’re stiff and awkward. Just relax.” He loosens his shoulders and gives his arms a shake. “Make it more like this.”
That does look better. I shift my body so I’m sitting exactly like Lennox.
“Yes! Better,” Lennox says, jumping up. “Now, don’t move. Except, maybe tilt your head down a little? And put your hand on your jaw like you’re thinking.”
“Should I smile? Olivia tells me I don’t smile enough.”
“Can you smile without the weird expression?”
“I don’t know. Does my smile always look like that?”
“You never smile, so how would I know?”
“Never? I’m not that bad.”
“You are that bad. The line between your brows says so. But yes. Let’s try a smile.”
I reach up and touch my forehead, frowning even deeper when I feel the deep crease between my eyebrows. I stretch my forehead and try for an easy smile, but it feels so forced, I don’t hold it for long. “This is stupid. There’s no way I don’t look stupid right now.”
“You don’t look stupid. Think of the moment when Lila first showed up to help you. What did you think when she got out of her car?”
My mind goes back to that moment, to the surprise I felt over her not being a little old lady. Then the moment shifts to when she first lifted her sunglasses, revealing the deep blue of her eyes. She has visible freckles, which I like, and a wide, friendly smile.
“Oh man,” Lennox says, lowering the phone. “You like her.”
I shake myself and relax my pose. “I do not. I hardly know her.”
Lennox cocks his head. “You’ve been working with her for what, two weeks now? Three?”
“Almost three. But it’s not the same thing. I’ve only seen her in person once.”
Lennox sets the phone on my desk and slides it toward me. “All I’m saying is I haven’t seen that expression on your face in a very long time.”
I look at the picture Lennox just took. My expression is—I don’t know what it is. I’m not quite smiling, but I still look happy. Or content, maybe?
“Post it,” Lennox says. “You look hot. She’ll eat it up.”
“That’s not the point.”
I look at the picture one more time. It isn’t half-bad. Good enough that I probably will post it. But not with Lennox watching.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Perry Hawthorne is my boss. Only my boss. And I do NOT have a crush.
When one of THE Hawthorne brothers—known by their chiseled jawlines and their family-run farm and event center—hires me to be his virtual assistant, I do everything I can to keep him firmly in the work zone.
His grumpy demeanor helps.
His smoking hot profile picture does not.
But even if I do have a crush (a very tiny one), I can’t catch real feelings for a million different reasons.
Besides the whole business part of our relationship, I’m a single mom. I have to think about what’s best for my son, Jack. And my grumpy, divorced, humorless boss isn’t exactly giving me “ready to be a stepdad” vibes.
When Perry upgrades me from virtual to in-person assistant, I wonder if I’ve gotten him all wrong. He’s actually pretty great with Jack. And with me? Let’s just say the chemistry crackling between us might vaporize all my reasons for keeping my distance.
Trouble is, after his messy divorce, I’m not sure Perry’s ready to bet on a new relationship. But it isn’t just my heart that’s on the line. It’s Jack’s, too. And after everything we went through before my husband died, I’m not sure that’s a gamble I’m ready to take, no matter how desperate Jack is for a daddy.
How to Kiss Your Grumpy Boss is a sweet romantic comedy with all the sizzling kisses you want in a closed-door romance but no explicit scenes.
Book Links: Amazon |
Meet the Author:
Jenny Proctor was born in the mountains of Western North Carolina, a place she still considers one of the loveliest on earth. She and her husband currently reside in the Charleston, SC area and stay busy keeping up with six children and a growing assortment of pets. She loves to hike with her family and spend time outdoors, but she also adores lounging around her home, reading great books or watching great movies and, when she’s lucky, eating delicious food she doesn’t have to prepare herself. Jenny’s romantic comedy LOVE AT FIRST NOTE was a 2016 Whitney Award Winner in the Contemporary Romance category. To learn more about Jenny, visit her webpage at www.jennyproctor.com.
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