Hi Karen and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Tempted by Scandal!
Hello, HJ readers! I’m so excited to be here to talk about Tempted by Scandal.
To start off, can you please tell us a little bit about this book?:
Tempted by Scandal is Book 1 in a brand new super-sexy series for Harlequin Desire, called Dynasties: Secrets of the A-List. There are four books in the series, each by a different author. Books 2-4 are by Cat Schield, Reese Ryan, and Joss Wood, respectively. There’s a romance in each book, plus a romance that plays out over the course of the series. The whole series, including my book, has a big cast of characters, some wild storylines, and lots of soap-opera-esque elements. One reviewer sent me an email after reading that said, “You didn’t tell me it was Dynasty meets Dallas on speed!” That made me laugh. My book is about Matt and Nadia, who are boss and admin. That can be a tough type of story to write, but I enjoyed finding ways to show Nadia’s power in the romance. The secondary romance in my book is between Matt’s best friend, Liam, and Teresa. I really enjoyed writing the scenes between Matt and Liam. I love guy BFFs.
Please share your favorite lines or quote(s) from this book:
These are my three favorite lines from the book.
Here’s Matt after Nadia tells him that he can get away with anything because he has so much power:
“If you understood how badly I want you right now, you would know that the power is all yours.”
Matt’s best friend Liam, after Matt has explained that Nadia is the only person in his life who cares about him.
“I care. I just don’t need to sleep with you to prove it.”
Teresa and Liam, after they had a rough start and Matt insisted that they have a drink together and declare a truce:
“Fine. We will declare a cease fire,” Liam said.
“Not a truce?”
He shook his head. “I’m not sure I trust you enough for that.”
Teresa stirred her drink again then looked over at him, their gazes connecting. Liam felt as though she was drawing electricity from thin air and sending it right through him. “Then we’re even. Because I don’t trust you, either.”
What inspired this book?
Secrets of the A-List is what Harlequin calls a continuity, which means that their editorial team comes up with the basic premise and characters. It’s up to the authors to flesh out the storyline, characters, and bring it all to life. A lot of what I had to do involved introducing new characters and injecting a few plot twists. I found that watching Jane the Virgin was an amazing source of inspiration. That show is so well-written. They do a great job of taking people who hate each other and turning them into allies then back to enemies. Plus, it’s so much fun to watch!
How did you ‘get to know’ your main characters? Did they ever surprise you?
I always get to know my characters by first exploring their backstory and asking myself lots of questions. What have they always wanted? What are they scared of? What was their worst moment? Biggest achievement? Once I know the answers to questions like that, the only real way to know them is to write your way through it. As I write, I often end up going back to the beginning and tweaking dialogue or reactions early in the book. When you know your characters better, you’ll realize that things they did or said earlier in the book just weren’t quite right.
The characters in this book surprised me a lot, in part because the pressure was there to build a plot with lots of twists and turns. The best surprise was the way the relationship between Teresa and Nadia grew. Their interactions at the beginning were all business, but as the story progressed, they both got pulled into each other’s lives. It only made sense that they would band together, and their friendship really grew out of that.
What was your favorite scene to write?
I have way too many favorite scenes from this book, and a lot of them are later in the book and would involve spoilers. So I’ll share a sliver of the very first scene between Matt and Nadia. They slept together the night before after months of crushing on each other. But she’s not willing to put her job on the line. This is their first in-person interaction, the following day.
“Mr. Richmond.” Without making eye contact, Nadia swept into the room and set her purse and laptop bag down on the coffee table, then strode over to the desk. She immediately began straightening the papers he’d left strewn about. “You’ve been busy.”
He followed her, walking through the heavenly wake of her perfume. Her wavy blond hair was up in a twist and he caught himself wanting to pull it out. Instead he stuffed his hands into his pockets. “You don’t have to do that.”
“You have a very busy day and you work better when you’re organized.”
He couldn’t help but smile. “You know me better than I know myself.”
“It’s my job to know you.” She turned and finally looked at him, but her eyes weren’t warm and inviting like they’d been last night. Now they were full of worry. “Which makes me wonder what you were thinking when you had the hotel put me in the room next to yours. That doesn’t seem like a good idea.”
“What? I had no idea. You made the reservation.”
“And the Richmond Hotel Group manages the hotel.” She took in a deep breath. “Look, Mr. Richmond…”
He reached out and placed his hand on her arm. The connection to her was immediate. He craved her the way he needed to breathe. “You’re going to call me Mr. Richmond now? After the things we did together? We’re alone, Nadia. Please, call me Matt.”
“Fine. Matt. Last night was a mistake.”
What was the most difficult scene to write?
There were a few difficult scenes, some of which also include spoilers. But this scene between Teresa and a man we come to know as “The Fixer” was tough to write. Teresa’s younger brother is a troubled young man and he’s gotten himself into hot water. While I was writing this, I could only think about how protective I am of my own siblings.
“Ms. St. Claire,” The Fixer answered, his voice rich and calm. Teresa had never understood how the man could stay on such an even keel. He did terrible things, mopping up scandals and covering up lies. He made people disappear if necessary. “I wasn’t expecting to hear from you.”
“It’s my brother. Joshua. I got a call from a man today saying Josh is in trouble again and owes seven million dollars.”
“I see. And what would you like me to do about it?”
She nearly asked if the line had broken up while she was talking. Seven million dollars and he hadn’t missed a beat. “I’d like you to check on him and see if he’s okay. I left him a message, but he hasn’t called me back yet.”
“I’m not a babysitter, Ms. St. Claire.”
“I realize that. I… You know I can’t be there. I’m in Seattle. I can’t just hop on a plane to the east coast. My job won’t allow it. Don’t you have someone who can do it for me?”
“Always. I do want to remind you that I’m not a charitable organization. I do work for a fee.”
However much The Fixer wanted, she was sure it would be less than seven million dollars. “Yes. Of course. Whatever you want.”
“You’re working for Matt Richmond right now, aren’t you?”
The Fixer’s ability to know everything about everyone was uncanny. And a bit terrifying. “I am.”
“Keep those ties in good shape. I might need a favor.”
Teresa had no idea what that could possibly mean, and the thought of owing this man anything was unsettling at best, but she wasn’t about to argue. She’d worry about that down the road. “Sure. Yes.”
“Okay, then. I’ll have one of my associates check on Joshua’s safety and look into exactly what sort of trouble he’s gotten himself into.”
Teresa felt so relieved, it was as if someone had removed lead weights from her shoulders. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. I do want to point out one thing, though.”
“Your brother is usually the sort of person I’m hired to get rid of.”
A chill charged down Teresa’s spine. “Excuse me?”
“He’s a liability. Someone who could make a publicity nightmare. Let’s be honest. That’s the real reason you’re calling. You don’t want word to get out about your little brother. It could get you fired from working for Matt Richmond.”
Would you say this book showcases your writing style or is it a departure for you?
Stylistically, this book is very much like the other Desire books I’ve written. It has my voice and my sense of humor. Plot-wise it is a bit of a departure, or maybe it’s just far more involved than my usual storyline. There are a lot of threads and crazy things going on. I don’t want to say more or I’ll spoil it!
What do you want people to take away from reading this book?
I want readers to have fun with this story. There’s a lot of high drama, but it’s all in the name of a fun, romantic, and sexy escape.
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned?
I’m currently putting the finishing touches on A Christmas Rendezvous, Book 4 in the Eden Empire series for Desire. That series is about sister heiresses running their grandmother’s department store. It’s very heroine-focused, but the heroes are extra swoon-y. Book 2, A Cinderella Seduction, comes out July 1. Book 3, A Bet with Benefits, comes out September 1. That last book comes out November 1. Then in 2020, I’ll have a book in the all-new multi-author Seven Sins series, and will launch a trio for Desire, called The Sterling Wives.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: I’m giving away a signed paperback copy of Tempted by Scandal. Open internationally!
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: Readers are comparing this series to Dynasty, Dallas, and Empire. Do you watch daytime or nighttime soap opera-esque shows? Which ones are your favorites?
Excerpt from Tempted by Scandal:
This scene takes place at a big party organized by Teresa. One of Nadia’s best friends from high school is in town, Hideo Silva, who is a male model. Nadia brought Hideo to the party because everyone thinks she’s sleeping with her boss, Matt. Matt is struggling in this scene, stuck in a conversation with Shayla, the woman who does his PR, while watching Nadia and Hideo on the dancefloor.
Across the room, Matt spotted Nadia, making her way from the ladies’ room back to Hideo, who was standing at the one of the high cocktail tables, staring at his phone.
“You’ll have to excuse me,” Matt said to Shayla, not offering any further explanation. He walked double-time, not bothering with the charade of his phone. He had to talk to her before she reached her date. “Nadia.” He grasped her arm, but quickly let go, even though he didn’t want to.
“Matt. Hi.” Nadia’s gaze flew to Hideo, then returned to Matt. She frantically scanned the room, obviously trying to take note of who saw them together. She kept her distance from him, which made part of him die on the inside. All he wanted to do was touch her. Kiss her. Hold her in his arms. He was in trouble. He knew he shouldn’t be feeling this way.
“How’s your night with Hideo? Shayla thinks he’s hot.”
“Shayla thinks everything with a penis is hot.”
Matt laughed, which at least lightened his mood. “Very funny.”
“It’s true. I’m sure she has the hots for at least five or six guys at work. I’m positive she has the hots for you, although every woman at work has some sort of thing for you.”
Was she trying to deflect to make him feel better? Was she trying to make a point that if he couldn’t have her, there were plenty of other women he could have? “Shayla used to date my brother, Zach. If that’s true, I don’t notice it.”
“Of course you don’t.” Nadia sighed and looked away for a minute. “I should probably get back to Hideo.”
Once again, Matt was saddled with disappointment. “Don’t go. Stay for a minute. Talk to me.”
Nadia cast him a look that made him feel foolish. “Matt. What kind of person would I be if I just stranded him? He’s here from out of town. He doesn’t know anyone.”
She was right. Matt needed to get a grip. But he also had to get these feelings off his chest. It felt like he was being crushed by them. He made sure no one was looking and took her hand, leading her to a corner. “I need to tell you one thing. I felt sick when you were dancing with him. I couldn’t handle it. I can’t handle it.”
She narrowed her eyes on him and cocked her head to one side, her beautiful blond hair cascading down her shoulder. “Seriously?”
“Honestly? I was surprised how much it bothered me.”
“You don’t strike me as the jealous type.”
“I’m not. But apparently all bets are off with you.” He dared to step closer, hoping the darkness of this corner of the room afforded them at least a little privacy. “I saw his hand on your back and all I could think was that my hand is the only one that belongs there.”
“Matt, we talked about this. I like you a lot, but we both know this won’t work. I can’t lose my job and you’re not the kind of guy who gets serious, anyway. I’m a one-man woman and I don’t do well with casual. It’s just not in my DNA.”
Matt swallowed hard, his mind racing. She had such a talent for pointing out every obstacle between them. “What if it was more than casual?”
“What? That’s crazy? Like announce it to the company? You do not want to do that.”
No. He wasn’t ready for that. It would be reckless and premature. But he might be ready for something else—anything to prove to her that he really was serious about his feelings for her, even when he couldn’t see a way to make it work between them. “I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about us taking a step forward behind the scenes. Away from the public eye.”
“Meet my parents. Come have dinner at their house.”
Nadia didn’t speak for several moments, just blinked like crazy. She turned away for an instant and when she turned back, she looked scared. “Shayla was right around the corner. What if she heard us?”
“I doubt she heard a thing. The music is loud. Just tell me if you don’t want to do it and I’ll never mention it again.” Moments like this were the real reason he never put his heart on the line. He couldn’t stand the thought of rejection.
“No. I mean, I’m not sure. Let me think about it, okay? I’ll call you tomorrow?”
“Please. Think about it. I’m serious about the invitation.”
“Okay.” She stepped closer and kissed him on the cheek. “Try to have a good night, okay?”
“I will,” he said, then watched her disappear into the crowd. Of course, that was a lie. Matt wouldn’t have a moment of fun in the same room while Nadia was with another man.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
As her billionaire boss, he had everything.
“I don’t have you.”
Nadia Gonzalez has too much at stake to fall for her boss. But billionaire entrepreneur Matt Richmond has a way of getting past her defenses. Too bad what’s amazing in the bedroom is bad for Richmond Industries—especially when tabloid rumors threaten to destroy Nadia’s career. Can she trust Matt to stand by her…or must business come first?
Meet the Author:
Karen Booth is a midwestern girl transplanted in the South, raised on ’80s music and repeated readings of “Forever” by Judy Blume. Karen writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction, almost always about the dreamy guy you’d never thought you’d get. Her stories are full of breathless kisses, tearjerker moments, family dynamics, and more than a few things she’s hoping her mother hasn’t read.
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