Thursday, April 27, 2017

Interview, Excerpt & Giveaway ~ THE VIP DOUBLES DOWN by Nancy Herkness

The VIP Doubles Down (Wager of Hearts, #3)
by: Nancy Herkness
Series: Wager of Hearts
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 18, 2017
Publisher: Montlake Romance

In the witty, sizzling finale to award-winning author Nancy Herkness’s Wager of Hearts series, a haunted writer conquers his demons with the help of a feisty muse and a passion that doesn’t play by the book.

Gavin Miller, the billionaire author of a bestselling thriller series, struggles with a grim secret: he hasn’t written a word in more than a year.

Writer’s block is killing his spirit and jeopardizing his contracts with his publisher and his Hollywood producers. Prodded by his agent, Gavin reluctantly agrees to see Allie Nichols, a sassy physical therapist tasked with treating the novelist’s severe neck and shoulder pain—and maybe his writer’s block, too.

The tempestuous Gavin and no-nonsense Allie soon find themselves entangled in a steamy affair that sparks Gavin’s creativity again. But their manipulative ex-lovers and Gavin’s lingering childhood scars threaten their happily ever after. Can Gavin and Allie find their way to love when the stakes are high and the obstacles are overwhelming?

Hi Nancy.  Welcome back to Read Your Writes Book Reviews.  How are you?
Many thanks for having me here. I always enjoy your intriguing questions.  

I’m a little frazzled from a busy launch week for The VIP Doubles Down, but that’s a good problem to have. The reviews and reader responses have been so wonderful that they sometimes make me cry tears of joy because this is a book of my heart so I want folks to like it.

That’s good.  Congratulations on being able to share Gavin with the world.  I recently finished reading The VIP Doubles Down, the third and final book in your Wager of Hearts series.  I have to say the book was full of surprises.  The first being the opening scene.  Why did you choose to make it different from the two previous books?
I love that The VIP Doubles Down surprised you. That’s a huge compliment to a writer.

I’m so glad you asked about the opening scene. For those who haven’t read all the books, the first two, The CEO Buys In and The All-Star Antes Up, have a prologue of the same scene setting up the wager of hearts, but told from a different point-of-view each time.

My plan was to do the same scene for The VIP Doubles Down, but from Gavin’s point-of-view. I even started to write it. However, I realized that I was a little bored with the scene, so I was afraid my readers might feel the same way. In addition, I was concerned that a reader might even think she had read this book already after seeing the scene twice before. I know that I could easily feel that way.

Since Gavin’s story was set several months after the first two books, I felt that a new scene, set in the same bar, but including the events that had transpired in the first two books, would work better. It allows the reader to see the two earlier heroes farther along in their lives, as well as deepening Gavin’s issue with writer’s block.

I hope it worked for you!

I honestly wanted that scene.  I just wanted to know what Gavin’s deal was. But you took care of that later in the book.  So I’m not going to pull any punches here.  Gavin Miller throughout this series comes across as being a rude, condescending ass.  But there’s more to him.  BIG SURPRISE! How hard was it for you to write his story and reveal his many layers?
Oh my goodness, I loved writing Gavin’s story…because I knew his snarkiness masked so much pain and vulnerability. I allowed him to reveal a hint of his softer side in The All-Star Antes Up when he helps bring together Miranda and Luke. Gavin is a romantic at heart, which is why he builds such a protective shell around himself.

Did you know about the depth of his pain, before you started writing his story or was that as big of a surprise to you as it was/is to readers?
I knew his writer’s block put immense pressure on him, as well as stifling the creativity that keeps a writer’s soul intact. So that part of his pain I understood right from the start.

What I did not know before I started writing his book was the full story behind his writer’s block. I had no idea how loveless his childhood had been and how much that had damaged his ability to trust anyone. This is a man who craves love, yet cannot believe that it could happen to him…because it so rarely has.

As you mentioned, Gavin has writer’s block throughout this series.  He credits Allie with breaking it.  How do you handle writer’s block?
Honestly, I have never had the kind of writer’s block Gavin has where he cannot write a single word. Thank heavens!

I’m what’s known as a “pantser” because I write by the seat of my pants rather than outlining the book ahead of time. I start with my two main
characters on page one and write straight through so I can find out what happens just like my readers do.

Which means that I sometimes have to fight my way into a book because I need to understand my main characters and their conflicts before I can really get going on a story. If I don’t spend enough time thinking about them first, I can do a fair amount of wheel spinning.

This is a series spoiler….There’s no surprise babies!!!!  With one of your couples consistently going at it, I was sure it was going to happen.  I actually kind of liked that there wasn’t.  What do you think Nathan, Luke and Gavin would be like as fathers?
None of my characters are parents yet because I felt that they had things to do in their lives before they were ready for the responsibilities of children.

My theory about all three of my heroes is that they will be total softies as fathers. Their wives will have to provide the discipline and structure.

My vision is that Luke and Miranda will have three daughters, and Luke will teach them all to play football. Nathan and Chloe will have brilliant, nerdy kids; parents and children will spend lots of time in their home workshop/lab doing experiments of various kinds…with a few explosions thrown in.

I see Gavin and Allie taking their brood white water rafting and camping down in West Virginia, where she’s from. When the kids are young, I picture Gavin rolling around on the floor, playing with them. He will envelope them in the kind of love he didn’t have growing up.

I love that ! I’ve fallen in love with this man that I don’t really know anything about.  I know he’s a doctor.  I’m pretty sure he’s nice and attractive as all get out. (Not that I really know that means.)  I just know that I light up when he appears.  Do you have any plans to write a story for Ben Cavill?
Wow, I had no idea Dr. Ben would be so popular with readers! Many folks have asked me that. The good news is that I’m pretty fond of Ben myself, so I’m trying to figure out how to make him a hero in my new series. I think it will happen.

(I’m doing a happy dance here!!)  Readers are never satisfied.  Yes, I’m pointing at myself.  What are you currently working on at the moment?
It’s a wonderful thing that readers are never satisfied! Otherwise who would read the next books that I’m writing?

My new series is called “Second Glances” because each story is about a second chance at love. The series kicks off with Second to None, my novella releasing on September 12th.  It’s even up for pre-order already, although there’s no cover yet. In fact, my editor and I are working on the cover design right now and having the best time with it. I can’t wait until it’s done so I can share it with my readers.

The series features very wealthy men as the heroes once again (which means you’ll see characters from the Wager of Hearts series in it since billionaires hang out with each other). But I decided to shake up my heroes with the kind of chaos and warmth that only kids and dogs can create.

So the stories revolve around an after-school care center (where all the heroines work in different capacities) with a unique program called K-9 Angelz. The children at the center take care of rescue dogs. Some scenes can be emotional and heart-wrenching, but I assure my readers that all turns out well in the end. (My critique partners begged me not to let the dog die in Second to None. Honestly, did they really think I would do such  
a thing?)

You had me because, you know you’re you.  But you said K-9 and rescue dogs.  I can’t wait to read it.  Nancy, thank you soooo much for the interview!

Miranda smiled. “I have something to share about Gavin. He helped bring Luke and me together.”

Gavin waved dismissively. “It was inevitable.”

“We’re both pretty stubborn, so I’m not sure about that,” Miranda said.

“As soon as he won that Super Bowl, he would have swept you off your feet,” Gavin assured her.

“I might not have made it to the Super Bowl without Miranda.” The quarterback strolled up behind his wife’s chair and bent to drop a kiss on the side of her neck. “I wasn’t in great shape when I met her.”

“What did Gavin do?” Allie asked. “I can’t picture him playing Cupid with a bow and arrow, wearing nothing but a diaper.”

Luke lifted an eyebrow. “He told me I was an idiot.”

“That sounds more like him,” Allie said.

“And he told me to admit my feelings to Luke.” Miranda tilted her head up toward her striking husband. “It didn’t go well.”

Luke’s face grew serious. “You had more courage than I did.”

“This is becoming nauseating,” Gavin said, taking her hand and pulling her upright. “Time to get you home.”

Luke put a hand on his wife’s shoulder. “Miller hates for people to know that he’s a romantic at heart.”

“And Archer likes to kick a man when he’s down. Comes of being a football player, I suppose.”

“I never kicked a man,” Luke said. “I had defensive players to do that.”

Gavin snorted and put his hand on Allie’s back again. She was pretty sure her skin was sizzling underneath his touch as he moved her toward their host and hostess.

They departed with a flurry of exchanged cell phone numbers so everyone could keep in touch. Allie imagined her phone felt like a gold ingot with the weight of all those billionaires’ private contact information. Gavin was silent as the elevator glided downward to the garage. Allie made a few attempts at small talk, but he had retreated into monosyllables again. That left her to consider the unexpected revelation that he had intervened in Miranda and Luke’s romance in such a significant way. She cast a sideways glance at his brooding profile while something inside her softened at the kind of insight and caring his intercession showed. Not many people would risk involving themselves in someone else’s love affair.

When they stepped out of the elevator, he wrapped his arm around her shoulders to guide her toward the Maserati, which stood waiting for them. Allie gaped in astonishment. “Are the valets psychic?”

“Ed called down as soon as he saw we were leaving.” Gavin waved the valet aside and opened the door for Allie.

“What a way to live,” she said, shaking her head as she slid into the leather seat.

“The rich aren’t really different,” Gavin said. “They’re just insulated from the normal wear and tear of life.”

As he folded himself into the driver’s seat, she said, “Where do you park your cars?”

“In a garage down the block.” He steered the car out onto the street. “I’m not going to apologize for having money, Allie, because I sweated for every penny of it. I shared a hellhole of an apartment with multiple roommates for two years before I sold my first book. I choose never to live with cockroaches again.”

“I’m not criticizing you. I’m just—what’s the right term?—overawed.”

“Good word choice,” he said with a flash of a smile.

“High praise from a writer.”

Gavin wove through the late-night Manhattan traffic with the skill of a race-car driver. Too soon they arrived in front of her apartment. Amazingly, there was an empty parking place a few doors down, so Gavin could pull in.

“Thanks for the ride,” Allie said before she remembered the question she desperately needed an answer to. “We haven’t talked about what time I should come on Monday.”

“And we’re not going to.”

Panic and despair felt like fists tightening around her throat. “You said that the treatment is working. Why wouldn’t you want to continue?” She swiveled toward him in her seat.

His hands were still gripping the wheel, but he was staring at her with an intensity that made her skin prickle.

“I don’t want to be your patient any longer,” he said.

“I know you feel better, but you have a ways to go before you’re back to normal.”

He shook his head. “I don’t want to be your patient,” he repeated, “because I want to do this.”

He released the wheel and leaned toward her, reaching behind her head to cup it in one hand as he slowly brought his lips to hers.

The kiss was a question, asking if she wanted this, giving her time to say no. But the moment she felt the firm heat of his mouth against hers, she knew she wasn’t going to stop him. She might have to share Pie’s cat food when she ran out of money, but she craved the kiss of this fascinating, pain-damaged man the way she craved chocolate. It was bad for her in so many ways, but the flavor was so darned delicious.

She softened into him, putting her hand on his chest so she could deepen the contact. The moment he felt her yielding, he buried his fingers in the coiled bun of her hair and angled her head so he could lay a line of kisses along her jaw and against her neck.

“Allie, you taste like innocence and sin all mixed together.” His breath whispered against the sensitive skin behind her ear, and she purred like her cat.

“Don’t mistake hillbilly for innocent,” she said, turning her face so their mouths met again. She teased his lips with the tip of her tongue, loving the firmness of his skin, the mild rasp of his whiskers against her chin, the crisp, herbal scent of his shampoo. She slipped her fingers into his hair, remembering the thick, slightly coarse feel of it from their treatment sessions. It had a strong texture that suited a powerful man.

In return, he unraveled her bun so her hair cascaded down over her shoulders. “You should always wear your hair down,” he said, stroking it. “No, you should wear it up so men can fantasize about tearing out the pins and watching it fall down like a curtain of fire. And picture it spread over the pillows on their beds.”

He took her mouth again, his hands sinking into her hair on either side of her face. She moaned as the touch of his tongue stirred a deep, simmering longing. She clutched at his shoulders to press against him, the delicious contact sending sparks into her belly.

He lifted his head. “We need more space. Let’s go inside.”

“What?” She thought of the three cramped rooms of her apartment with the treadmill in the bedroom and the kitty-litter box in the bathroom. “No! My apartment will remind you too much of the days before you sold your book.”

“Does it have a bed?”

“Only a double.”

“Then we’ll have to get very, very close together.”

Purchase The VIP Doubles Down from:

The Wager of Hearts Series:
(Click on the book covers to purchase from Amazon.)

The CEO Buys In ~ Review
The All-Star Antes Up ~ Review
The VIP Doubles Down ~ Review

You can read my interview with Nancy here, where we talk about the series in general.

Nancy Herkness is the author of the award-winning Whisper Horse series, published by Montlake Romance, as well as several other contemporary romance novels.  She is a two-time nominee for the Romance Writers of America’s RITA® award. Her new series, Wager of Hearts, follows the romantic adventures of three very wealthy men who make a life-changing bet.
Nancy is a member of Romance Writers of America, New Jersey Romance Writers, and Novelists, Inc. She has received many honors for her work, including the Book Buyers Best Top Pick, the Maggie Award for Excellence in Contemporary Romance, and the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award.  She graduated from Princeton University with a degree in English literature and creative writing.
A native of West Virginia, Nancy now lives in suburban New Jersey with her husband, two mismatched dogs, and an elderly cat.  

Places to find Nancy Herkness:

As a token of my appreciate for having me on your wonderful blog, I’m offering an autographed copy of The VIP Doubles Down to one lucky commenter. I’d love it if your readers would include the answer to a question for me: What is the main reason that makes you decide to read a new-to-you author?

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. It's a combination of things, tbh. First, does the cover draw me in. Yes, I will openly admit that I do judge a book by it's cover. Sorry/not sorry. Second is the blurb. Is the blurb interesting? Does the book fall into a genre that I like to read? Next are reviews. What do the reviews say. If there aren't reviews, I use the look inside feature on Amazon to determine whether I want to read it. If I'm unsure, I see if my library has it and if so, I'll check it out. If not, it depends on my budget and if I can afford it.

    1. Rhi, I'd be disappointed if the cover didn't draw you in. After all, authors and publishers work really hard to design covers that will do that. I love my Wager of Hearts covers SO much, so I'm glad you judge by the covers.Thanks for the thorough, thoughtful answer!

    2. I loved your answer Rhi.

      Honestly, I saw The CEO Buys In before it came out. I really wanted to read the book, because the cover grabbed me. I just didn't have time to read it when it first came out.

  2. I usually read a "new to me author" by getting recommendations from friends or blogs. The cover and blurb also help me decide to read the book too.

    1. Janine, I've always heard that word of mouth is the best advertising. Glad to hear you trust terrific bloggers like Kim. Thanks for responding!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Maybe Ben, like Frankie, could at least be a Novella and please, in his story, tell us about Grandmillie. I'm worried about her.

    1. I haven't read Frankie's story, yet. It is on my list. But I need a full story on Ben. I know I'm never going to want it to end.

    2. Martha, please don't worry about Grandmillie. She is fine and dandy...and enjoying her winters in a gorgeous home in Florida. She'll be down there until early May when she returns to New Jersey. ;-)

    3. Kim, I hope you enjoy Frankie's novella. It was great fun to write. I loved working with an older heroine and hero.

  5. The story line! I just recently found Author Nancy Herkness and read the first book in this series, I loved it! The CEO Buys in. Thank you

    1. Linda, I'm just delighted to hear that you enjoyed THE CEO BUYS IN. There's nothing more exciting than knowing that I've won a new reader. Hope you find the rest of my Wager of Hearts books equally enthralling.

    2. Hi Linda. I'm glad you enjoyed The CEO Buys In. It's one of those reads that once you start, you don't want to put down. I hope you enjoy the rest of the series!

  6. Hi Nancy! I started reading your books last year. I found you on Facebook. What attracts me to want to read a book is the genre and the book cover!!

    1. Linda, it's so interesting that you found me on Facebook. May I ask how? Thank you so much for letting me know how you decide to read a book. I appreciate it.

    2. Maybe it could have been a Facebook party or another author mentioned you on Facebook?

  7. Okay, for my two cents....

    I'm a visual person, so covers draw me in. I usually HATE when a cover is a stock photo, because I sometimes think that I've read the book before, since I remember the cover.

    If the cover grabs my attention I move on to the the blurb. If it's a new author and the cover grabs my attention, but the blurb doesn't tell me anything or doesn't draw me in, then I don't read the book.

    1. Kim, my publisher tries to get exclusive rights to the stock photos they use for just that reason. Sometimes it's not possible so they try to crop it, flip it, and recolor it to make it look very different.

      I'm a visual person, too, so I'm really happy that my publisher allows me a lot of input into the covers of my books. We go through a lot of iterations trying to get it right.

  8. If the description of the book sounds interesting, I will try a new author.

    1. So you put more weight on the blurb, right from the start. Thanks for your input, Jeanna!

  9. What draws me to a new author are a gorgeous book cover and a great blurb.

    1. That works for me too, Tanja. :-) Now the question is: what makes for a great blurb? What do you look for in one?

  10. What attracts me to a new author is recommendations from others and the blurb. I loved The Wager of Hearts series!

  11. What usually attracts me to a new writer is from what I see on social media and hear from my friends.

  12. I read New authors all the time because I have a very hard time remembering who I like. I pretty much will try and read anything, I've only ever put one book down and never looked back. I also follow a lot of blogs on Facebook and when they describe books and the emotions they felt reading it, I usually buy it.

  13. I like new authors for a new way of telling a story. Different fresh and fun to read.

  14. I like to try new authors to see their style of writing

  15. I like to try new and different reads and plus i love to read


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