How long have you been writing for?
I’ve been writing for almost ten years now.
What’s the name of your latest release?
Under the Covers, which is Book 3 in The Texan Quartet. Each story in the quartet is a complete story and readers don’t need to have read the previous books for this one to make sense.
Where did you get the idea for this story?
I’d been thinking about George’s story while writing All that Sparkles, and wondering what type of woman would suit him. Then I wrote a scene in All that Sparkles where Christian runs into a woman he did pro bono work for, and I realized she would be perfect for George. Elle’s backstory wrote itself and before I knew it, I had the story.
Do you imagine a particular person you know, or are in the public eye when creating your main characters?
Not at all. I have a character profile that I now use and I work through that when creating a character. Occasionally a character trait of someone I know will work its way into my hero or heroine, but generally I focus on what is true to that character’s past and where they need to get to by the end of the story.
Of all the characters in your books which is your favourite and why?
That’s a hard question! I have different favourites for different reasons. I liked Remy, Imogen’s father from All that Sparkles, because he was so easy to write, and I really enjoyed writing Toby in Under the Covers because he often surprised me with what came out of his mouth. If I had to choose a favourite for his character alone, then I would choose George from Under the Covers. He is such a wonderful guy and always has his heart in the right place, even if his actions are sometimes not the best.
When writing, are you a planner or a panster?
I’m mostly a pantser. Before I start a story I will write character profiles for my hero and heroine so I have an idea of what they’re like (though I don’t always stick to them). I also usually know how they meet and I work out their goal, motivation and conflict. After that I just write and see where the story takes me. If I get stuck I’ll brainstorm what could happen next and then continue writing. Occasionally I’ll have to cut whole scenes or rearrange things, but generally it all works out.
What are you reading at the moment?
I’ve just finished reading a cosy mystery, Nefarious Doings by Ilsa Evans. It’s been a while since I’ve read a mystery and I really enjoyed it.
If you could be anyone for a day, who would that be?
Gosh, I don’t know. I’m quite happy being me!
Complete this sentence; I’m indifferent to…
What if the one time you didn't want love was when you truly needed it?
Forced to flee her abusive ex, alone with no support, Elle is determined to rebuild her life and protect her five-year-old son. Not one to take the easy road, she opens a bookshop café, but opening day almost ends in disaster. In the midst of this chaos, the last thing she needs is a man as charming as George Jones getting in her way.
George has always been a sucker for a damsel in distress, and Elle ticks all the boxes. But Elle's not interested in being rescued by anyone, especially not him. She knows her taste in men can't be trusted, but fighting George's charisma is harder than she expected. And George, who is not one to ignore an itch, has found there's something about Elle that's got under his skin.
When Elle's ex turns up to cause trouble, George must overcome his boyish flirtatiousness if he's to convince Elle to trust herself and let him into her life. But can Elle put her past behind her before it overwhelms her present?
Elle owns a bookshop café and wants to have musicians on the weekend to add a bit of ambiance. George has put together a list of his artists and they are meeting to discuss whether any are suitable.
Elle flitted around the shop, brushing non-existent dust off her books and wiping already-clean tables again. She checked the clock for the tenth time – five to four – and cursed the fact that for the first time all week, the café was quiet, with only a few customers.
The tables were set, the books were restocked, and the sugar containers were full. Any other day she’d send Nora home now, but George was due to arrive any minute.
He was the reason she was in such a state.
Calling George hadn’t gone the way she’d hoped. Initially she’d intended telling him all his artists were unsuitable, but damned if he hadn’t chosen wonderful voices that would be lovely in her shop. She wanted her business to succeed too much to refuse them because she didn’t want to deal with George again. But then she was sure they could have arranged it over the phone.
No such luck.
To give herself a boost of confidence, she’d changed out of her uniform and dressed in the one business suit she owned. She wanted to portray the image of a successful business owner. Checking her reflection again in the display cabinet, she huffed out a breath. She was being ridiculous.
Annoyed with herself, she turned to head out the back to check the kitchen – and the chime on the door sounded.
He was dressed in a gray suit with a white shirt. The tie he wore took the look from completely professional, adding a bit of fun with its bright, colorful cartoon knight.
Elle’s heartbeat increased and she swallowed. While he searched for her, she started forward, determined to be polite, professional and to the point.
“Elle, nice to see you again.” He held out his hand as she approached and she had no choice but to take it.
“George.” His hand was warm, strong but gentle as she shook it. She ignored the zing that shot up her arm, or tried to. “Can I get you a coffee?”
“A latte would be great.”
Glad for the excuse to distance herself, she said, “Why don’t you take a seat over there and I’ll bring it right out?” She pointed to the table she’d set up ready for their meeting and hurried away.
Nora walked over as Elle put the required amount of coffee in the scoop. “What do you need?”
“Two lattes,” Elle told her and put the cups under the nozzles.
“Let me finish them. You go and start your meeting with George.” She nudged Elle away from the coffee machine. “If you’re nervous, pretend he’s naked.”
Elle’s eyes shot towards George and heat filled her face. She was relieved he wasn’t close enough to hear, or see her reaction. That image was the last thing she needed. She rolled her eyes at Nora, who was grinning at her. “Thanks a lot.”
Elle stepped away from the machine, took a moment to make sure the flush was fading, and then she sat down across from George. “Nora will bring the coffees shortly.”
“How’s business going?” George asked.
Elle ignored the instinctive defensiveness rising up in her. He was making polite conversation, not challenging how she was doing. “Very well so far,” she said and forced herself to smile. “Your mother’s book club had a lovely meeting here and must have spread the word because I’ve had a number of other clubs contact me to ask if they can hold their meetings here. I’ve had to work out a calendar roster as most of them meet monthly.”
“That’s great.” He seemed genuinely pleased for her.
“I’ve put up an expressions of interest form to start my own book club as well,” she added and then immediately wished she hadn’t when he said, “I might put my name down for it.”
That was the last thing she needed. “It will be during the day,” she told him.
“A benefit of working for yourself,” George told her. “You can choose your own hours.” He grinned and Elle couldn’t help smiling in response. It was infectious.
Nora served the drinks.
“Thanks, Nora,” George said. “How’s Miranda?”
Nora beamed at him. “She’s doing swell, though a little obsessed by horses at the moment. I’m going to have to find somewhere to take her.”
“My niece Kate went through a horse phase,” George said. “It didn’t stick.”
“Well I hope this doesn’t stick. I can’t afford to feed a horse.” Nora laughed and went to serve another customer.
Elle sipped her coffee. “The red-haired girl who came in on opening day? I thought she was Adrian’s niece? Are you brothers?” Piper had said George was his manager.
“Foster brothers,” George answered. “Kate’s father, who was Adrian’s brother – and my foster brother – died in a car crash eighteen months ago.” He was silent a moment. “Kate’s mother died too, and Kate lives with Libby and Adrian now. She’s always been like a niece to me.”
How awful, but Elle was intrigued. She wanted to know more about how they came to be foster brothers, because she’d met George’s sisters the other day – there were already four Jones kids. What would make his parents take on another two children?
She couldn’t ask though. She could hardly pry when she wasn’t willing to tell him anything about herself. “I’m sorry to hear about Kate’s parents.”
He acknowledged her sympathy with a small nod. “She’s been amazing. What about you? Any siblings?”
This was veering into territory she needed to avoid. “An older brother.” Her heart squeezed when she thought about James, who’d always been her protector and her hero when she was younger. Until Dean came into her life.
She doubted she’d ever be able to fix their relationship, and James had never even tried.
“What fees will you charge for these artists?” she asked, pushing the CD toward George.
George raised his brows at the abrupt change of topic, but answered smoothly with an amount. “That’s for a two-hour acoustic set on the weekend. Do you want the same artist on Saturday and Sunday?”
“I’ll go with just Saturday,” Elle told him. “On Sundays I might do poetry readings, or author talks or something similar.”
Pride surged up in her. She’d thought it was a good idea as well. She wasn’t sure if it would work, but she’d try it.
George took out a computer tablet and tapped on it. “I’ve got a few availabilities.”
They discussed dates and times until they locked in what suited them both.
“I’ll send you an email with all the details,” George said as he switched off the tablet.
“Thanks.” Elle had her scribbled notes but she wanted to check and confirm everything before she signed.
It was close to closing time and she was far too comfortable sitting across from George. He was surprisingly laidback and easy to be with. He wasn’t scornful of her ideas, and if he disagreed, he did so politely, but let her make her own decision.
“Now the business is done,” George said, giving her a wicked grin that made her skin prickle, “what do I have to do to convince you to go out to dinner with me?”
Elle sat back, shocked. She’d been comfortable, relaxed and he had to throw this curve ball at her.
“You’re so pretty when you get flustered.”
Heat rushed to Elle’s cheeks. She didn’t know what to say, but she had to get out of there.
The bell over the door rang as a customer came in.
She half stood, looked over and froze.
It couldn’t be.
What the heck was she doing in Houston?
Thanks for dropping by, Claire. :)
Thanks for dropping by, Claire. :)