Today it is my pleasure to Welcome USA Today bestselling romance author Caitlin Crews to HJ!
Hi Caitlin, welcome back to HJ!
What is your favorite trope to read, one you will never get tired of?
I don’t like the term “trope,” maybe because I don’t have a favorite? I like them all. If it’s well-executed, I’ll read absolutely anything. There’s no one thing or another that I gravitate toward or avoid, I don’t think. Just great stories, well-told, with characters I can’t forget and the possibility I might cry a little bit, too. Bliss.
Let’s talk about your newest release: Not Just the Boss’s Plaything
If you had to summarize the book for the readers here
Two broken people find something whole and beautiful together.
Please tell us about the characters in your book?
Nikolai Korovin is so bad he was the villain of the book I wrote about his brother, Ivan: No More Sweet Surrender. He’s also the character who got the most mail, bar none, of any I’ve ever written. Everyone who wrote was really, really invested in Nikolai getting his happy ever after–and this despite the fact that in No More Sweet Surrender, he’s pretty awful to his brother and his brother’s brand new love.
But the thing is, I was already invested in Nikolai myself! When I was writing No More Sweet Surrender, Nikolai stole every scene he was in. He was so broken. So convinced he deserved to be. So dark.
So when I thought about who he’d end up with, I knew she had to be bright. That her smile had to confound and bewitch him. And most important, that she had to laugh in the face of all his black, brooding Russian moodiness. And that was how I found Alicia, who had something pretty awful happen to her in the past that she’d blamed herself for ever since, but still managed to have that core of goodness and a smile so big it could knock even a cynical guy like Nikolai sideways.
Was it love at first sight for your characters? If not what was the pivotal moment of change?
Alicia literally crashes into Nikolai in a club her friend dragged her to. They would never have met otherwise. And yes, it’s love at first sight, though neither one of them is ready to admit that for a while…
If your characters could go back in time and change one thing what would it be? Why?
I think Nikolai would claim all the things that happened or that he did were inevitable, but if he had it to do over again, I think he’d start with keeping his parents alive. That would mean that he and his brother wouldn’t have ended up in their uncle’s vicious home–but, of course, it would also mean neither one of them would be who they are or where they are today.
If Alicia could change something, I think she would have refrained from getting drunk that one fateful night in her past. What happened to her wasn’t her fault by any stretch of the imagination, but she’s spent years beating herself up for being so drunk that she put herself in a situation where someone could take advantage of her state. For a long time, she assumed she was a willing and enthusiastic participant, which sickened her. Of course, the truth is that predators are predators, but I think Alicia will always feel she’s at fault anyway.
What scene did you have the most fun writing? Why?
Alicia and her roommate have a favorite romance novel that plays a huge part in how Alicia decides to handle Nikolai at a critical point in their relationship. Romance novels have certainly taught me all kinds of things. How to love. How to stand up for myself. How to forgive. How to love someone when they can’t love themselves. How to let someone love me when I don’t know how. So many things. I really liked writing a scene where someone did the same. Where the romance she read taught her how to act:
Alicia picked up the paperback romance again, flipping through the well-worn pages to her favorite scene, which she’d read so many times before she was sure she could quote it. She scanned it again now.
“Love can’t hinge on an outcome. If it does, it isn’t love at all,” the heroine said, directly to the man she loved when all was lost. When he had already given up, and she loved him too much to let him. When she was willing to fight for him in the only way she could, even if that meant she had to fight every last demon in his head herself. “Love is risk and hope and a terrible vulnerability. And it’s worth it. I promise.”
“You either love him or you don’t, Alicia,” she told herself then, a hushed whisper in her quiet room
And she did.
What scene was the hardest to write? Why?
Nikolai is a hard man. He’s been through so much. His parents died, then he was brutalized by his uncle. His older brother abandoned him to his fate–not really, but that’s how he experienced it. His only escape was to join the army, where he became part of an elite unit and learned how to kill. He was an alcoholic, he married the wrong woman, he ruined his relationship with his brother… And this all happens before the book opens!
What this all meant was that digging into him was very difficult. Opening him up felt impossible at some points, but I like to think I did it–that Alicia did it, with that tremendous warmth of hers. To Nikolai, Alicia is nothing but light, bright and beautiful. But like all darken places, it takes a while for the eyes to adjust when the light hits. There was some squinting.
How did your character spend the week just before the story starts?
Nikolai was busy being very rich and important and cold. He was also looking for his awful ex.
Alicia was on a business trip.
They had no idea they were about to crash into each other and change their lives!
Who would you cast in the role of your characters if your book was optioned for a movie?
I made a whole Pinterest board for that very purpose!
You can see it here:
What are you currently working on? What other releases so you have planned for 2013 into 2014?
I’m currently just about done with the first of a Presents duet that will be coming out in October of this year, with the second following in December. In the meantime, I have something I’m not allowed to talk about yet coming out in July that I’m VERY excited about–can’t wait until I can discuss it! And I have a Presents coming out in August called Undone By the Sultan’s Touch. Here’s that Pinterest board, should you want to see what’s in store:
And you can always help yourself to books written under my other name, Megan Crane.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: Three books. Not Just the Boss’s Plaything/A Devil in Disguise And they’re 2in1s, so they’re especially delicious.
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: Do you believe in love at first crash? Why/ Why not?
Alicia overbalanced because she was laughing too hard to pay attention to where she was going, and then, moving too fast to stop herself, she slipped in a puddle of spilled drink on the edge of the dance floor—
And crashed into the dark column of a man that she’d thought, before she hurtled into him, was nothing more than an extension of the speaker behind him. A still, watchful shadow.
He was hard and male, impossibly muscled, sleek and hot. Alicia’s first thought, with her face a scant breath from the most stunning male chest she’d ever beheld in real life and her palms actually touching it, was that he smelled like winter—fresh and clean and something deliciously smoky beneath.
She was aware of his hands on her upper arms, holding her fast, and only as she absorbed the fact that he was holding her did she also fully comprehend the fact that somehow, despite the press of the crowd and the flashing lights and how quickly she’d been on her way toward taking an undignified header into the floor, he’d managed to catch her at all.
She tilted her head back to thank him for his quick reflexes, still smiling—
And everything stopped.
Alicia felt her heart thud, hard enough to bruise. She felt her mouth drop open.
But she saw nothing at all but his eyes.
Blue like no blue she’d ever seen in another pair of eyes before. Blue like the sky on a crystal cold winter day, so bright it almost hurt to look at him. Blue so intense it seemed to fill her up, expanding inside of her, making her feel swollen with it. As if the slightest thing might make her burst wide open, and some mad part of her wanted that, desperately.
A touch. A smile. Anything at all.
He was beautiful. Dark and forbidding and still, the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen. Something electric sizzled in the air between them as they gazed at each other, charging through her, making her skin prickle. Making her feel heavy and restless, all at once, as if she was a snow globe he’d picked up and shaken hard, and everything inside of her was still floating drowsily in the air, looking for a place to land.
It scared her, down deep inside in a place she hadn’t known was there until this moment—and yet she didn’t pull away.
He blinked, as if he felt it too, this terrible, impossible, beautiful thing that crackled between them. She was sure that if she could tear her eyes from his she’d be able to see it there in the air, connecting their bodies, arcing between them and around them and through them, the voltage turned high. The faintest hint of a frown etched between his dark brows, and he moved as if to set her away from him, but then he stopped and all he’d done was shift them both even further back into the shadows.
And still they stood there, caught. Snared. As if the world around them, the raucous club, the pounding music, the wild and crazy dancing, had simply evaporated the moment they’d touched.
At last, Alicia thought, in a rush of chaotic sensation and dizzy emotion she didn’t understand at all, all of it falling through her with a certain inevitability, like a heavy stone into a terrifyingly deep well.
“My God,” she said, gazing up at him like he’d become the whole world. “You look like a wolf.”
Was that a smile? His mouth was lush and grim at once, impossibly fascinating to her, and it tugged in one hard corner. Nothing more, and yet she smiled back at him as if he’d beamed at her.
“Is that why you’ve dressed in red, like a Shoreditch fairy tale?” he asked, his words touched with the faint, velvet caress of an accent she didn’t recognize immediately. “I should warn you, it will end with teeth.”
“I think you mean tears.” She searched his hard face, looking for more evidence of that smile. “It will end in tears, surely.”
“That, too.” Another small tug in the corner of that mouth. “But the teeth usually come first, and hurt more.”
“I’ll be very disappointed now if you don’t have fangs,” she told him, and his hands changed their steely grip on her arms, or perhaps she only then became aware of the heat of his palms and how the way he was holding her was so much like a caress.
Another tug on that austere mouth, and an answering one low in her belly, which should have terrified her, given what she knew about herself and sex. On some level, it did.
But she still didn’t move away from him.
“It is, of course, my goal in life to keep strange British women who crash into me in crowded clubs from the jaws of disappointment,” he said, a new light in his lovely eyes, and a different, more aware tilt to the way he held his head, the way he angled his big body toward her.
As if he might lean in close and swallow her whole.
Not Just the Boss’s Plaything
A very personal performance plan
From the moment Alicia Teller tripped and fell into Nikolai Korovin’s arms, her iron-clad control started to slip!
While Alicia’s tantalizing curves might drive Nikolai to distraction, business and pleasure are not two things this legendary tycoon has ever mixed…until now.
A Devil in Disguise
Playing with fire!
Drusilla Bennett’s job from hell will soon be over. Ready to take her life back, she plucks up the courage to say “I quit!”
Caitlin Crews discovered her first romance novel at the age of twelve and has since began her life-long love affair with romance novels, many of which she insists on keeping near her at all times. She currently lives in California, with her animator/comic book artist husband and their menagerie of ridiculous animals.
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