Hi Donna and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, The Heiress’s Pregnancy Surprise!
Hi! It’s great to be back!
Tell us about the book with this fun little challenge using the title of the book:
The Heiress’s Pregnancy Surprise is the second book in the HEIRS TO AN EMPIRE series. Charlotte is the twin of the hero of the first book, and she’s spreading her wings by handling the company’s presence at New York Fashion week solo. She’s been receiving some threatening messages, though, so her trip is contingent on having a bodyguard during the trip.
Jacob is former SAS who now runs a security agency for VIPs. He’s supposed to be on a long overdue vacation, but when one of his staff is ill, he steps in to do the job himself. And the rest is…chemistry.
What’s your favorite line(s) from the book?:
There’s a scene (I’ve excerpted it below) where Stephen plays big brother and he and Jacob have this conversation that was so fun to write. Charlotte is appalled at the staking of territory going on, and Stephen finally looks at her and says,
“Seriously, he used to be Special Forces. I’m not that dumb.”
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. What first attracts your Hero to the Heroine and vice versa?
The book opens with Charlotte and Jacob flying first class from London to New York. Jacob is a bit resentful that he’s even on this assignment as he was supposed to be on vacation, and he thinks Charlotte is a bit of a princess. He starts to change his mind when she slips on her glasses and is glued to her laptop instead of sleeping. Maybe she isn’t as pampered as he thought…and she’s incredibly beautiful. His impression really changes, though, during their first day of shows and interviews and the busy schedule. Charlotte works very hard and he respects that, even if he doesn’t understand her world.
Charlotte quickly recognizes Jacob’s physique…she works in fashion and recognizes the cut of a good suit and the body beneath it. He’s brawnier than the type of man she’s used to, with an edge of danger, and she finds that alluring. But she’s also really attracted to his integrity, even if it drives her crazy.
When you sat down to start this book, what was the biggest challenge you faced? What were you most excited about?
Honestly, it was Fashion Week. This isn’t something I normally follow! That being said, I loved writing the bits set in New York. I’ve been several times, and I love how the glamour of 5th Avenue can instantly change into the “greenness” of grass and trees in Central Park, and then just as quickly you can pop into a diner for the best sandwich in the world or a Michelin-starred restaurant. Manhattan has so many different personalities.
What, in your mind, makes this book stand out?
I’m having so much fun writing this series. It’s a bit different for me, really stepping into “the glam” as it were. The Aurora, Inc. family are titled, rich, and privileged, but they are also hardworking, with their own insecurities and troubles. In each book I like examining their baggage and delving into who they are as people, with that wonderful setting as a backdrop.
Charlotte’s story is a little different because there’s also an element of danger – who is sending her the messages, and why? Resolving that subplot was fun for me.
The First Kiss…
Her hand shook as she entered the security code for the apartment, then stepped inside.
The foyer was dark, and soft light from the living room beckoned them in. Before Charlotte could move, though, Jacob was there, easing the wrap off her shoulders. The air was cool on her skin, and she broke out in goose bumps. But Jacob merely dropped her wrap on a small table and put his hands on her shoulders. His wide, warm, slightly rough hands.
He was touching her, finally. She drew in a shaky breath, wanting to prolong the moment, yet wanting to turn around and launch herself into his arms.
“Charlie,” he murmured, and a full-on shiver erupted down her body as his warm breath touched behind her ear just before his lips touched the skin of her neck ever so softly.
Charlie. No one had ever given her a nickname before. She had always been fully Charlotte. The sound of it was strange to her ears, but so very welcome. It was fun and a little quirky and made her feel just a bit special.
“Mmm.” She arched her neck, making room for his lips, and he didn’t disappoint. Her nipples hardened into points at the light, seductive contact. He ran a finger just behind her ear, holding her hair back so he could access the tender skin better. A gasp escaped her lips as his tongue touched her earlobe. And yet all contact was slow and perhaps even a bit hesitant. Testing.
She swallowed tightly as he made no further move, because she understood what he was asking. He’d made his play, but he was waiting for consent. For reciprocation. Her heart tumbled at the knowledge. Jacob Wolfe was perhaps the most ethical man she’d ever met. He spoke to her plainly, without worry about her feelings or coming off well. Just honesty and a trust that she could take whatever he was going to say. He treated her…as an equal.
Today she might have crawled into a hole and cried about what had happened with the show. Instead she’d stood tall and carried on. Jacob had said he admired that. Now he was nuzzling her neck and she had never in her life felt more empowered than she did at this moment.
She turned around so that she was facing him, and met his gaze. The gray of his eyes was like lightning, full of need and restrained power. That he was capable of such gentleness was seductive in itself.
“Kiss me,” she whispered.
“You’re sure this is what you want?”
She nodded. “You’re not my bodyguard anymore, Jacob. You’re just a man. A man I’ve wanted to kiss for days. Please don’t make me wait any longer.”
She’d expected something grand and passionate, something that burned hot and incinerated her into ash. She didn’t expect the tender way he cupped her face in his large hands, or stared into her eyes as he lowered his head. His lashes went down and she got a glimpse of their sandy color before she closed her eyes, too, and his lips touched hers.
It was gentle, reverent, decimating.
His mouth moved over hers, sampling, tasting, making her feel cherished and loved and hungry for so much more. She put her hands under his overcoat and pushed it off his shoulders and to the floor; neither of them cared that it dropped in a black heap of fabric. He’d looked so devastating in his tuxedo, and as he kissed her long and deep, she reached for the bow tie and released it, dropping the strip of silk on top of his coat. Then the tux jacket, the fine threads of it beneath her fingers, was discarded, too. His hands rested on her ribs, but she pressed up against him, feeling his taut, strong body, reaching for his hand and placing it on her breast.
“Charlotte,” he gasped, sliding his mouth off hers. “This is—”
“Charlie,” she said firmly. “I liked it when you called me that.”
“Charlie…” Her name sounded on a sigh. He ran his lips over her jaw and she shivered again, with anticipation and desire. “We should talk about this…what we expect…”
She reached up and placed her hands on either side of his face, forcing him to look at her. “I don’t want a bloody contract, Jacob. I only have one expectation, and that is for you to please rock my world.”
“That’s a very clear affirmative.”
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters and why?
I really like the scene near the beginning when she leaves the apartment after being instructed not to. They have an argument about it and it’s a bit of a battle of wills.
Here’s a snip:
She was humming something rather tunelessly when she opened the door to the apartment and came face-to-face with an irate Jacob.
His eyes were that flinty gray that she was quickly coming to understand meant he was displeased. Displeased was putting it mildly. A tick in his jaw told her he was furious.
“You left the apartment. After I explicitly told you not to.”
She tried a disarming smile and lifted the paper bag. “You were working out. I got bagels.”
The fire in his eyes made her lower her arm, because he looked like he wanted to rip the bag from her fingers and throw it across the room. He didn’t, though. He remained perfectly steady. She wasn’t afraid of his anger, she realized. It was his job to protect her. She lifted her chin. “I was gone ten minutes. Maybe fifteen. There was a small line. And look! Nothing happened.”
He let out a slow breath. It appeared as if he was counting to ten.
When he finally spoke, his voice was measured, but with a hard edge that told her he was, indeed, furious with her. “Since I can’t trust you to follow my instructions, now I’m going to be on your six every damned minute. And I’m not giving up my workouts while I’m here, so that means tomorrow morning you’re up at five and going to the gym with me.”
Her mouth dropped open. Five a.m. gym times were Bella’s thing, not hers. She preferred an extra hour or so of sleep, and then coffee. Lots of coffee.
“You seem to be forgetting that you work for me, not the other way around.”
He smiled then, and she wondered if she was being forgiven. “No, love. I work for your mother. I’ll be happy to send her a report after the first twenty-four hours letting her know that we didn’t even make it one day without you going off on your own.”
“You’re going to tell on me to my mother.”
“I’m obligated to, as per my contract.”
He was immovable. She knew that as sure as she knew she was breathing. She realized he’d given her a test and she’d failed spectacularly because she’d thought a quick trip out wouldn’t hurt. And it hadn’t! But it did have consequences. Jacob Wolfe was now going to be with her all the time.
“The press will pick up on this for sure. You truly don’t have to be on me like…like a barnacle.”
He stepped back and his shoulders relaxed. “Respectfully, that sounds like a you problem. And since you’re running PR, it shouldn’t be that hard to spin.”
He shrugged. “I’ve definitely been called worse.” He looked down at his watch. “And your time would be better spent getting ready and having one of those bagels if you actually eat breakfast. We’re leaving at eight ten sharp.”
She glared at him. He really could not be moved. Then again, he was former SAS. She supposed he’d stared down people a lot tougher than her.
She took the bag to the counter, put all the blintzes on a plate, took the compote, a napkin and a fork and knife, glared at him, and marched to her room.
If your hero had a sexy-times play list, what song(s) would have to be on it?
Oooh, this is not something I’ve thought about! Jacob’s more of a rock kind of guy…but I kinda get the feeling he’d like something edgy and female, like Evanescence or Halestorm.
What do you want people to take away from reading this book?
Early reviews have pointed out a really great thing: Charlotte has agency and Jacob isn’t jealous of that. Her status (daughter of an earl) doesn’t intimidate him and neither does her high-powered job. She’s allowed to be herself, and if anything, Jacob’s support gives her the strength to step into her own even more.
What are you currently working on? What are your up-coming releases?
I’ve just finished book 4 in this series and am waiting for the official title, and then I’m writing books 5 and 6. Book 3, WEDDING REUNION WITH THE BEST MAN, is out in May, and is Bella’s story. Bella was injured in a car accident as a teen and was left very scarred. When she’s forced to face Burke, her brother’s best friend who was also in the car that night, she starts to realize she’s been hiding away for too long.
Book 4 is Christophe’s story – Christophe is a cousin who went to live with the Pembertons at age 9. It’s a Christmas story with a fake engagement, and it was so fun writing the holidays at Chatsworth Manor and in Paris. I’m keeping mum on book 5 as it reveals a bombshell of a secret…and in the final book, Stephen will finally get his happy ending, after having been left at the altar in book 1.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: International Giveaway! I’m giving away a copy of the first book in the series, SCANDAL AND THE RUNAWAY BRIDE. Stephen, the new Earl of Chatsworth, is left at the altar. His brother, William, is charged with finding the bride and doing damage control. William hides Gabi away from the tabloids…and falls in love with her instead.
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: In THE HEIRESS’S PREGNANCY SURPRISE, the characters are really attracted to qualities in the other person: integrity, work ethic, courage. What do you find to be the sexiest quality?
Excerpt from The Heiress’s Pregnancy Surprise:
Jacob rose and held out his hand. “Jacob Wolfe.”
Stephen shook it firmly. “Stephen Pemberton. Earl of Chatsworth and Charlotte’s big brother.”
They dropped hands and to her surprise Jacob smiled at Stephen’s obvious staking of territory.
“Of course. Shall I address you as My Lord?”
“Only if you hurt my sister.”
Jacob’s grin widened. “Join us for dinner, won’t you?”
Through all this Charlotte had remained silent, but now she spoke up. “Actually, Stephen, Jacob and I were having a private conversation.”
“Which we can continue later, can’t we?” Jacob looked down at her. “It’s okay, Charlie. We have time. It’s all going to work out fine. We want the same things.”
Oh, she doubted it, but she understood what he meant. Stephen took the seat opposite Jacob and flipped his napkin open before putting it on his lap. Another meal appeared for Stephen, who sighed with appreciation.
“I’ve missed the food here,” he admitted.
Charlotte nodded. “It’s good. Why are you here, Stephen? I didn’t recall seeing anything on the family chat.”
“I’ve got to be in London next week, and thought a weekend here would be a nice break. We don’t come here as much since…”
He stopped, but she knew the end of the sentence. Since Dad died.
“Anyway,” he carried on, “I didn’t realize you’d be here or I would have given you your privacy.” He looked at Jacob. “You are the father, yes?”
Jacob’s gaze was even and unflappable. “Yes.”
“We should meet for a drink later this evening.”
“Stephen, I really don’t think—”
“Of course. I’d like that.”
She cleared her throat. “As long as you stay away from the antique dueling pistols. Stephen, I can handle myself.”
He put on an innocent face. “Of course you can.”
She leaned closer to him. “And your interference with Will and Gabi was not appreciated. Hint-hint.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Entirely different situation.” He looked back at Jacob. “I’m sure you can understand, that since our father is no longer here…”
“I understand completely. If I had a sister, I’d feel exactly the same.”
“Good.” Satisfied, Stephen tucked into his meal as if he hadn’t eaten all day, and to her surprise, so did Jacob. It was like they’d spoken some secret male language and come away with a satisfactory conclusion. Puzzling. And she didn’t like it, either. She called her own shots. Still, Stephen had been through a lot the last several months. Probably better to let him flex his big-brother muscles and then talk to Jacob again once it was over.
Dessert was another of her favorites, treacle tart, which Jacob exclaimed over and then sat back and patted his belly. “I haven’t had a meal like that in a very long time,” he said. “My compliments.”
“I’ll be sure to pass them along. Now, are you two going to be all archaic and take cigars and brandy in the study or something?” Sarcasm dripped from her lips, but she couldn’t help it. Stephen’s behavior was so cliché. Still, she knew it came from a place of love so she didn’t protest too much. She’d need her family in the weeks and months ahead. Besides, maybe Jacob did need to have a conversation with one of her brothers. He was going to be connected to their family now forever.
Stephen rose and put his napkin on the table. “No cigars for me, but I wouldn’t say no to a drink. Jacob?”
“Ugh.” Charlotte rolled her eyes. “Stephen, of all the times to play Lord of the Manor…”
He put a hand on her shoulder. “I am lord of this manor. And you are my sister. I’m just going to talk to him.” He gave a squeeze. “Seriously, he used to be Special Forces. I’m not that dumb.”
Excerpts. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
A VIP assignment…
…an unexpected consequence!Former SAS officer Jacob Wolfe’s latest job, as aristocrat Charlotte Pemberton’s bodyguard, is pushing him to his limits. Never one to step over the line, he’s determined to ignore their intense connection. Until a single dance leads to a forbidden kiss…and Jacob is tempted to break all his rules. But when their resulting night together has an unexpected consequence, Jacob finds himself with a whole new assignment—daddy!
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Meet the Author:
While bestselling author Donna Alward was busy studying Austen, Eliot and Shakespeare, she was also losing herself in the breathtaking stories created by romance novelists like LaVyrle Spencer and Judith McNaught. Several years after completing her degree she decided to write a romance of her own and it was true love! Five years and ten manuscripts later she sold her first book and launched a new career. While her heartwarming stories of love, hope, and homecoming have been translated into several languages, hit bestseller lists and won awards, her very favorite thing is when she hears from happy readers.
Donna lives on Canada’s east coast. When she’s not writing she enjoys reading (of course!), knitting, gardening, cooking…and is a Masterpiece Theater addict. You can visit her on the web at www.DonnaAlward.com and join her mailing list at www.DonnaAlward.com/newsletter .
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