Pick of the Month Reads – October 2011 & Giveaway!

Pick #1: Lauren’s Eyes by Norah Wilsonlaurenseyes

Lauren’s Eyes though a 2010 release made its way towards my Pick of the Month reads of October 2011 because lets face it, Norah Wilson writes romances that are hard to forget.

As Norah herself would say it, Lauren’s Eyes is a book that seriously deserves some review love & I have to completely agree with her on this one as it is one book that people seriously overlook.

So as usual, I had the lovely Norah answer a couple of questions about my October’s pick Lauren’s Eyes, in the hopes that it entice you to enter the giveaway to win an e-copy of the book!

MBR: So lets start with how you came up with Lauren’s Eyes. Its pretty emotional & deep, not just your usual run of the mill romance with a bit of suspense and paranormal in the mix. So what made you click on your word processor and start typing away?

Norah: Actually, the decision to write a cowboy hero was a bit of a cynical one. I’d grown frustrated with my inability to sell to a New York publisher. At the time, I was targeting series romance, and cowboys, babies and brides were de rigueur. I knew I’d be a bust at babies and brides, so cowboys it was. But a funny thing happened. When I started to research cowboys and ranching and rodeo, I got hooked. I mean, I genuinely fell in love. LOL!

MBR: Callum Taggart by far I think is the most “forceful” hero I have read from you. And boy is he tortured enough to make your heart practically bleed for him. And yet he is fiercely sensual and I just LOVED that about him. Whose your inspiration for Callum’s character? Are you planning on writing more like him? Please say yes?

Norah: Thank you! That’s exactly what I was trying to do with Cal. I wanted him to have some serious edge, but I wanted readers to see the vulnerability beneath. The loss of his mother so early, being raised by a stern, authoritarian father, and having run away to life on the streets… All the experiences I gave him eroded his ability to trust. And I’m not just talking about the trite man-who’s-been-burned-and-can-no-longer-trust-a-woman thing. Cal’s issues go deep. He truly feels he can rely on no one but himself. And maybe his bull rope. ,-)

I actually modelled Callum on an actor by the same name – Callum Keith Rennie. (You may think you don’t know CKR, but I’m pretty sure you do. Do a Google image search. Yeah, that guy.) I often have a physical model in mind when I write, but rarely does the model coincide so completely with what I want my character to project. And it’s not just his look; it’s the way he talks, the way he walks…. He was the perfect model for my Cal. And he definitely has the edge I wanted.

MBR: Lauren Townsend just raced her way to my favorite heroines shelf. I have identified the fact that you tend to write heroines who don’t dillydally much and constantly go back and forth about their feelings towards the hero. Even with Callum making it so hard for her to get emotionally close to him, Lauren still manages to do just that and tear the walls down. Where do you think you draw the inspiration from to write heroines like Lauren?

Norah: Again, thank you! What a high compliment!

Writing heroines who are strong, grounded and sensible is sort of my way of fighting back against the romantic suspense heroine who is TSTL (too stupid to live). It’s not that my heroines never take risks that could put them in jeopardy, but if or when she does, I hope by then the reader will have come to trust her judgment and appreciate that she’s weighed the risks. That includes emotional risks. Lauren’s a smart woman. As she unravels Cal’s backstory, she clearly sees his emotional limitations. But she also sees his strength and inherent goodness.

MBR: Lauren’s Eyes is one of my favorites because you seem to have really outdone yourself in the sensual aspect of the story. I loved, loved & loved some more the escalation of passion between Callum and Lauren and those oh so tender moments in between that just grabbed me in a way it hasn’t in a long time. And I think the level of heat between Callum and Lauren was such an integral part of the story that portrayed how their feelings towards each other grew as the story progressed. How do you handle the sensual and heat aspect of a story? Do you decide beforehand that the book would contain this amount of sex scenes and go from there or do you let the story and the characters decide that for you?

Norah: Oh, wow – again, thank you!

I definitely let the story decide how much sensuality the book will have. As I’ve said, I made a rather cynical decision to write a cowboy book so I could improve my chances of selling to the series market. But as readers will have guessed from your preamble to this question, the heat level in LAUREN’S EYES is very mainstream, as are some other elements. It truly was the characters who dictated that path. Once I’d fully developed them, it was clear that sex was going to play a big role in their journey. At that point, I sort of knocked the editor off my shoulder and went for it. I reasoned that an editor would have more confidence that an author could ratchet back over-the-top sensuality than pump up tepid sex scenes. As it turned out, Dorchester bought this book and there was no editorial ratcheting back involved!

As for the tender scenes, that might be my very favorite part of writing romance. I think romance readers are extremely savvy. They intuitively understand the way love works, and our job as romance writers is to reflect that back to them. First comes sexual attraction and that intoxicating infatuation, but it’s in the sexual union and post-coital aftermath that the bonds of monogamy are forged. You know, the point when it segues from “God, that feels good!” to “God, I’d die if I lost this, if I lost her.” If I can get a few truly tender moments in per book, I’m a happy author.

MBR: Before I ask this, I know I already DM-ed you about this on Twitter. And I think I’m the only one who would dare ask this question, but I have just got to ask, do you ever envision writing a story for Callum’s ex-wife Marlena and Brady? I cannot resist asking because I just know that their’s could make a really angsty read!

Norah: I would sooo love to write Marlena and Brady’s story. For those of you who haven’t read LAUREN’S EYES, Marlena is Cal’s ex wife. By the end of the story, she’s recognized that she needs treatment for her drug and alcohol addictions, and Cal (ever responsible for everything and everyone) is footing the bill. But prior to reaching this epiphany, Marlena had been stringing along one of Cal’s hands, the considerably younger and infinitely more impressionable Brady. Of course, I’d have to let some time to elapse before bringing them together again, to allow Marlena to get her feet under her in sobriety, and to allow Brady to mature into a wiser young  man who could step it up and become believable hero material. A sober Marlena would be ashamed and embarrassed at her earlier use of him, and while she might have to make amends for her program, he’d be the dead last guy she’d want to get involved with. He would have to be gently persistent and patient and steady and persuasive to overcome her resistance. Yet he would also have to demonstrate that he’s a man now, not the boy she seduced, and can more than hold his own against her.

And here’s some exciting news – I’m actually in negotiations with a New York publisher to acquire the rights to LAUREN’S EYES right now, so hopefully Marlena and Brady will get that happily ever after sometime in the future!  

MBR: Which book(s) are you currently working on at the moment? Any tentative release dates set for them?

Norah: I’ve always got something in the works. I expect to release NIGHTFALL, the second in my Vampire Romance series, in late October or early November. And if you liked Cal, I think you’ll really like Aiden. He’s like Cal on steroids! While he’s a lot better adjusted on the surface, the man has some crazy dark baggage.  

And before Christmas, I expect to publish Book 3 in the Dix Dodd Mystery series, written with my sometime writing partner Heather Doherty under the pseudonym N.L. Wilson. (We figured it was easier to package the series on my Norah Wilson platform than to start completely from scratch.) I’m not sure how much cross-readership it’ll have, as Dix Dodd is a funny cozy mystery, somewhat in the vein of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. It’s almost the antithesis of the sensual romantic suspense and paranormal romance I write and the dark literary that Heather writes, but OMG, it truly is laugh-out-loud funny! I can’t even think about Dix Dodd without smiling.

Thank you for having me, and for making Lauren’s Eyes your pick for the month. I read your reviews religiously because of your knack for cutting right to the heart of every book. And I am a serious fan of many of the writers you’ve reviewed here. Thus I am doubly humbled that you chose mine from among so many worthy candidates.  

MBR: Now it’s my turn to say THANK YOU for that lovely compliment. And it’s always such a pleasure having you here Norah. And I am making a promise to myself to delve into your YA romances and the Dix Dodd Mysteries of which I have book 1 in my TBR pile!

Pick #2: Until There Was You by Kristan Higginsuntiltherewasyou

Anyone who has read my 5-star review of Kristan Higgin’s October release Until There Was You would know just how much I enjoyed reading her latest contemporary romance.

Until There Was You is a book that has got so much heart that you can’t help but be drawn into the story and its characters and fall in love with each and every single one of them when you are done!

So it’s not a surprise that of course this one ends up as one of my picks for the month of October 2011!

Since I already did an author interview with Kristan when my review went live, I am not going to include one here, but just add that I flat-out loved this romance!

GIVEAWAY!!! GIVEAWAY!!!

As it is the custom of my giveaway posts, you can find below what you need to do in order to enter for the giveaway of the Pick(s) of the Month for October 2011! An e-copy of both Lauren’s Eyes by Norah Wilson and Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins is up for grabs. And the good thing about the giveaway? You can enter for both of them!

Giveaway rules:

  1. Open a page of the current book that you are reading. (If you are not reading a book at the moment, open a page of the book that’s nearest to you.) And give me 3 sentences from the page you open up. Please do not forget to mention the book title and author as well. And tell me whether you like what you have read so far!
  2. Leave a valid e-mail address for a way to contact you in case you are the winner!
  3. Help spread the word about the giveaway! Tweet and earn 5 extra entries, recommend this post on Facebook & earn 5 extra entries. And don’t forget to mention in your comment whether you have tweeted or recommended the post on Facebook.
  4. Like my page on Facebook to gain 5 extra more entries. If you are already a member of my page, just state so and you would gain your 5 extra entries.
  5. Giveaway will end at 18:00 hours Maldivian time on the November 4, 2011. Winners will be contacted soon after and announced here on my blog!
As always, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for making MBR’s Pick of the Month Giveaways a huge success! Please don’t forget to enter the giveaway and tell your friends while you are at it 😉

3 Comments

  1. This is two months in a row that your picks are books I already have!!! Why are you doing this to me?! I knew my good luck wouldn’t last this long ;-D… Ah well, maybe next month!

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  2. Hi MBR!
    I haven’t read a book by Norah Wilson yet but boy, it sounds really good! 🙂

    I’m currently reading Liberating Lacey by Anne Calhoun. I know it’s not a current release but I’ve read so many raving reviews about this book that I simply had to read it finally. And I don’t regret it. I’ve a hard time putting it down. Emotional, sexy and the hero is to die for.
    “He’d been skin to skin with Lacey in every sense of the word. How could he expect to keep this woman at arm’s length?” Good, isn’t it? 🙂

    Thank you for the giveaway!

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