Hi Karina and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Redemption: a Rock Solid romance!
Hi everyone, great to be here.
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
This is a story about a rock icon and an academic who fell in love while she was writing his biography. Now they’re learning to be a couple under the full glare of publicity and discovering that intimacy is more than great sex. Both have secrets that threaten the life they’re building together.
Please share your favorite line(s) or quote from this book:
He was finally being heroic and there was no one here to appreciate it.
Which suggested he’d never be a saint.
“Zander was home and intimacy was terrifying. It was a paradox she was still learning to embrace.”
Please share a few Fun facts about this book…
- I’ve always wanted to write a story about what happens after the happy-ever-after and Elizabeth and Zander have more hurdles than most couples. His infamous past includes celebrity stalkers and publicity-hungry exes; she is touting In Bed With A Rock God and trying to keep her academic career alive. No question that they love each other, but is love enough when the world is waiting for you to fail? Falling in love is the easy part. Learning to live together, that’s when the real commitment kicks in.
- But there’s also a lot of fun writing a famous rock icon trying to become a regular guy. So I have Zander reading what he calls ‘relationshit’ books to learn to be more considerate, thoughtful, a better listener…. He knows he’s arrogant and is willing to change for Elizabeth.
- This is the first time I’ve written a sequel for a couple (Elizabeth and Zander’s first book is Rise). The other challenge was making sure it could be read as a standalone. Which meant being very sneaky with how I added backstory. Like salt, a little goes a long way.
- Another first for me as a writer– adding a stalker subplot. It was great fun to plot, and I’m confident no one will guess the identity of the stalker until Zander does.
What first attracts your Hero to the Heroine and vice versa?
Here’s Zander’s take on that: “He hadn’t been attracted to Elizabeth when they’d first met because she was so other, with her muted makeup, her as-nature-made-me body and her open friendliness.
Most of the women he’d dated wouldn’t dream of showing him who they really were. Elizabeth hadn’t been immune to his charisma, but she saw it for what it was—his get-out-of-jail-free card.
Her self-assurance intrigued him. Her clear-sightedness turned him on.
Only when he dared her to kiss him, did he understand how dangerous desire could be when you were attracted to the whole person. ”
And here’s Elizabeth’s take on Zander:
“I love this body, but who wouldn’t.” Strong, muscular, a visual and sensual feast. She laid her hand over his breastbone, marveling that the solid thump under her palm had become as vital as the beating of her own. The fragility of life, of being mortal, was never as real as when she lay with Zander. “I love your big heart.”
She touched her lips to his warm skin, simply to feel the vibrations, teasing the nipple ring with her tongue, before rising to trail her mouth over his collarbone and along the tendon in his neck. He arched to give her better access. The man was nothing but a big cat.
“I love your wily brain.” Lightly, she bit his earlobe. “I love your stubbornness and arrogance.” She bit it again, harder.
“I love your energy, your curiosity and your daring.” She kissed it better. She wished she could kiss all his pain better.
“I love the way you look at me and how you love me so recklessly and completely. I love every part of you, even the dark places you’re ashamed of, your griefs and your misplaced guilt.”
Did any scene have you blushing, crying or laughing while writing it? And Why?
I laughed a lot writing my bondage scene, and having my done-it-all rock star nervous about my heroine’s motives. She’s been approached by one of his ex lovers and he’s trying to make her feel better by offering to… well read on.
“You asked if there was anything I hadn’t done with a woman in bed. I won’t be tied up. Any bondage games go the other way, always.”
He watched her process that.
They’d played that game themselves because conquering was stamped into his nature, and Elizabeth brought her inquiring mind wherever she went. Whenever she’d suggested it was his turn, he’d distracted her.
The only benefit of fucking too many women was how good he’d gotten at distraction.
“I’ve never let a sexual partner restrain me because I’ve never trusted anyone enough.” He was all in with this woman, but words were cheap. Zander sucked in a deep breath. “I’ll let you do it.”
“Tie you up?”
She put down her cup. “You’ll sacrifice yourself?”
He struggled to read her expression. “If you want to…if it’ll help.” Hopefully, the offer would be enough.
For a long moment, Elizabeth studied him. Then her mouth curved into a smile of sultry mischievousness that was for him alone. Usually, that look hit him in the chest. In this context, it made Zander nervous.
“Someday we could do it,” he qualified.
She laid a reassuring hand over his heart and he breathed a sigh of—
“Ooph.” He toppled backward onto the mattress.
“No time like the present.”
“Oh shit, you’re still mad, aren’t you?”
“Let’s find out,” she said.
“Tell you what,” he hedged. “I’ll buy restraints for your birthday next year.”
“I’m sure I can improvise.”
She disappeared into their walk-in closet and he heard the clatter of coat hangers. A minute later she emerged holding a fistful of sashes she must’ve yanked off robes. Satin and fleece; silk and terry cloth.
“Sexy,” he said, because he was feeling a little bit threatened by the glint in her eyes. “Damn shame there’s nothing to tie me to.”
The headboard was a smooth curve of dark wood that scrolled backward to meet the wall. Elizabeth had always called this room the Huntsman’s suite because of its solidly crafted dark wood furniture, and color palette of blood-red and forest green. His male ego had liked the term…until now he was Bambi.
Her answer was a grin that might have been feral. Crossing to the bedroom door, she crooked her little finger. “Follow me.”
Readers should read this book….
Because it’s a laugh/cry read, and we all need more of those.
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have in the works?
I’ve got English language rights back to one of my former Harlequins, What The Librarian Did and will be republishing it in January.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: An ebook of Redemption AND Rise.
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: What’s your (current) favorite romance and why?
Excerpt from Redemption: a Rock Solid romance:
Zander sang into his upper register and his voice cracked like the foil inside a packet of Marlboros.
The vocal therapist leading him through his post-op exercises frowned and made a note on her tablet. “I expected more improvement by now.” Even in her seventies, she had the ramrod back of someone who would never cramp their diaphragm by slouching. “What did the specialist say when you saw him last week?”
“I forgot our appointment.” Through his library’s bay window, buds were forming on the spindly new wood of the jacaranda. “Life’s been crazy busy since Elizabeth and I returned to the States.”
Her frown deepened. “At this stage of your rehab, it’s vital to remember appointments.”
“I couldn’t agree more.” If he’d remembered their appointment, he would have canceled and spared them both a wasted hour. He glanced at the bronze roman numerals on the vintage wall clock. Which, thank God, was up. “Looks like we’re done here.” He stood, forcing her to rise with him.
“Let’s schedule our next meeting now.”
Despite their non-disclosure agreement, she only needed to mention his name to a colleague who told a friend and next thing the press would be knocking on his door, undoing his good work of convincing the world that his singing voice was never coming back.
“I’ll ask my PA to call you.”
Except with Dimity juggling Elizabeth’s book tour and managing her fiancé’s band, Zander was doing his own scheduling.
“Let me help you with your coat.” He picked it up from the arm of the couch.
Only his inner circle knew his singing voice had recovered; only they would. He had different priorities now.
After shepherding the therapist off the premises, he returned to the library and checked the time again before digging his cell out of his pocket to reread Luther’s recent text. Venue secured. Crowd orderly. Book signing underway. Everything is under control.
His finger hovered over the call button.
All his life, he’d been the guy who made things happen. Today, all he could do was wait.
Wait to hear from Elizabeth when her event was over.
Wait to hear from Dimity on how it really went, because Elizabeth glossed over the impact of her decision to go to war for him.
Wait until his head of security phoned him with an update.
Bookstore signings and media interviews were one thing. Large crowd events another. For every person added, the odds increased that there might be someone present who hated Zander’s guts; someone disturbed, paranoid, unhinged. Someone exercising their constitutional right to bear arms…
He had to stop letting his imagination conjure his worst nightmare.
With an immense effort of will, he re-pocketed his cell. Luther was busy doing his job and would call when he damn well had time to.
He circled the library, feeling like a shark in an aquarium.
He’d already worked out in his home gym, jogged around the grounds, taken the skimmer off the pool guy and cleared the leaves from the pool’s surface, annoyed his executive housekeeper and offended his cook by questioning whether she’d picked the best cut of steak for the grill tonight. Yeah, probably better to avoid the kitchen until Consuela left for the day…
A cardigan of Elizabeth’s lay across the arm of the couch. He folded it before he did what he wanted to do and held it to his nose.
“Us is the one thing I can’t fail at. I have to get it right.”
She’d told him he couldn’t fail a test he’d already passed. He didn’t believe her. Life had proved him a master at screwing up his closest relationships. His mother, his brother, his ex-girlfriend Stormy—
For fuck’s sake, do something productive.
Replacing the cardigan, he settled behind his broad mahogany desk and chose a book from the stack he was doggedly reading his way through. Nice Guys Come First.
Talk about a contradiction in terms.
He picked up a pen and scribbled “Shouldn’t” between “Nice Guys and “Come First.” Then scanned the contents page, he started with the chapter called Investing in love, hoping it was about finance.
He skipped to the next chapter.
Nice is not a four-letter word.
Okay, this guy was an ass. He tossed the book onto the floor, hoping the fall would break its spine. Grabbing another book, Intimacy Skills for Dummies, which came with a worksheet, he read the first question.
“Try to understand what your feelings are telling you.”
Finally, something easy. Zander wrote: Love is hard.
“Reflect on recent actions. Were they only serving your interests, or did they factor in the relationship?”
No matter how much he hated sitting out Elizabeth’s book tour, it was the right thing to do.
“Write this down. Personal interactions are not about winning.”
“Annnnd you’ve lost me again.”
A collection of antique globes sat on one corner of his vast desk. He set them all spinning.
The half dozen books he’d bought on making a romantic relationship work weren’t teaching him the one thing he most wanted to know: How to deserve Elizabeth.
He would kill for a cigarette. He clenched his fist to stop himself from reaching for the desk drawer and the packet of Marlboros he still kept there.
He’d given up smoking ten months earlier to protect his voice, but the urge had returned with Elizabeth’s first public engagement. Which reminded him…
Reaching under his shirt, he yanked off the nicotine patch that kept the craving at bay. She was coming home, and the patch didn’t fit with what he wanted to be for her through this. Her oasis in a desert of crazy.
After checking the clock, he opened his laptop and pulled up his stalker file, one Elizabeth would never see.
Over his twenty-two-year career, he’d had plenty of overzealous fans and two serial stalkers, but he’d never let fear stop him living his life exactly how he wanted. He paid for the best security—ditching them when he needed to—and got on with his life.
Now Elizabeth was in the ring, dealing with his old world. For him. To help him. Her fearless compassion was one of the many reasons he loved and respected her, and if he’d thought he could get away with chaining her in the basement to stop her doing this, she’d be there now.
Reflexively, he checked the clock—still seven hours until she was safely home—then reread the email that had pinged into his inbox an hour ago from the cyber stalker who’d been plaguing him for five months.
Nice try blocking me, you prize piece of shit, but I’ll always find a way through. Other people may have forgotten that you disrespected our flag and spat in the faces of our military, but I don’t forget, and I don’t forgive. One day, when you’re alone, justice will be served.
He hadn’t forwarded it to Luther yet, unwilling to divert his attention from Elizabeth’s security. Which was also why Zander wasn’t traveling with her. He would do nothing to encourage this asshole to redirect his venom.
If he’d had a choice, they would have stayed in New Zealand until his stalker was identified and contained. Unfortunately, Elizabeth’s contract tied her to promoting this fucking book about him.
So, they were stuck with it—the deal, the book tour…her unspoken hope that it would salvage his reputation. Zander didn’t want redemption. He didn’t trust himself with it.
Closing the email, he opened new tabs and started scrolling through Rage’s fan boards looking for clues—similar language, threats, anything that might be a lead. He paid experts to do this, but maybe he’d see something. He knew his fans better than anybody.
The messages were tough reading—reflecting the disillusionment, grief, regret and anger he’d been processing himself since the scandal.
Terrible people can make great art.
The music stands, and his genius stands.
I don’t listen to his music with the same joy.
The worst part of this whole experience was seeing his fans turn on each other. Watching the Rage family implode.
Does one mistake trump a legacy? He did what he thought was right. Give him a break.
I’d love to give him a break…arm, leg, neck?
His career is over, that’s punishment enough. Go troll someone else.
Zander stopped reading and took a screen shot, adding them to a file to pass on to Luther. In fifteen minutes, he collected a half dozen.
If only his damaged vocal cords had held out; if only he hadn’t lip-synced; if only his bad-boy history hadn’t predisposed the world to doubt his motives…
The ringing of his cell disrupted his dark thoughts. One glance at caller display lightened his mood. “Hello?”
“Can I come over?” a childish voice whispered.
He smiled. “Who is this?”
“Me!” Madison Walker said indignantly. The almost six-year-old daughter of Rages’ former bassist didn’t suffer from a lack of self-confidence. Since she’d discovered his number on Mommy’s cell, she phoned whenever she managed to sneak away with it. “I need to see if the pool is ready for my party tomorrow.”
Her parents had downsized their home while her daddy formed a new band and a swimming pool was no longer in their budget. Maddie now considered Zander’s pool her personal property.
“Does Mommy know you’re asking?”
“I’ll tell her when you say yes.”
Always the pragmatist. “And where’s Mommy now exactly?”
“She’s having a shower and I’m watching Rocco.”
“And what’s Rocco doing?”
“Find your brother Maddie.”
A minute later he heard her scold in a grown-up voice. “That’s naughty… He’s got Mommy’s lipstick.”
“Take it off him and then go tell Mommy I’m sending a car for you.”
He’d barely rung off when Kayla phoned back. “Are you sure? We’re already crashing your reunion with Elizabeth by holding Maddie’s birthday party at your place tomorrow.”
“I like your noisy brats, and I need entertainment until Elizabeth gets home.” Though he was busy enough songwriting, mentoring, reorganizing his finances and dabbling in producing, there was still a void where singing used to be.
“Two weeks apart, you must be dying to see her.”
“It’s made me appreciate what it was like for you when Jared was touring with Rage.” He hesitated. Those days nothing had mattered but the band. Wives and families were inconveniences. “I owe you an apology. I finally understand how hard it is being the one left at home.” He hadn’t just screwed up his personal relationships, his selfishness had nearly destroyed the Walkers’ marriage.
“Come to think of it, you haven’t suffered enough for that,” Kayla said. “Our kids are on their way.”
After the call, he stared at his laptop screen a moment longer, then shut it down. Bottom line? He couldn’t change his past, only leave it behind him. Stay focused on building a new life with Elizabeth.
And keep her safe.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
From rock icon to house husband.
From academic historian to raunchy memoirist.
They changed their lives for each other.
Now they need to change them back.
He gave up the world for love. The world isn’t ready to let him go.
Fame is a destroyer.
Which is why rock icon Zander Freedman quit music.
These days its moderation in all things, except Elizabeth Winston.
But building an ordinary life with an extraordinary woman isn’t easy.
For one, she’s deep in the snake pit he left behind.
For two, he has a stalker that stops him being by her side.
Loving her is easy.
Letting her love him is something he works on every day.
How hard does Elizabeth’s life have to be before she regrets choosing him?
What follows happily-ever-after? Love gets real.
Like every woman newly and emphatically in love, Elizabeth Winston figured she’d fix Zander’s emotional problems with her shiny, all-encompassing acceptance.
Even though she’d heard her minister father counsel couples throughout her childhood, she forgot the take-away. You can’t force someone to heal before they’re ready.
Now she’s five thousand miles from the man she loves and hawking intimate details of their relationship to salvage his legacy.
Struggling to keep her own identity, and increasingly unsure whether Zander’s even on board.
Can she redeem his reputation while holding onto her career, or is she making things worse on all fronts?
And that’s before she makes a mistake that changes everything.
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Meet the Author:
New Zealander Karina Bliss has written a biography for a rock star, swapped identities with her twin, raised three orphaned children with her ex husband, worn a cow costume to a Bachelor and Spinster ball, considered marriage for the sake of a baby, and been mayor of a small town.
Oh wait, that’s her characters.
Outside her imagination, she’s always been a professional writer, first as a travel journalist and then as a romance author. Her deeply held convictions include: love conquers all; yoga pants are daywear; and what a woman really wants is a man who cleans. Unfortunately, she does not live with one, (nor indeed has raised one). Please buy her books so she can pay for one.