Thursday, October 3, 2019

Interview & Excerpt ~ BOMBSHELL FOR THE BLACK SHEEP by Janice Maynard


Bombshell for the Black Sheep (Southern Secrets, #3)
by: Janice Maynard
Series: Southern Secrets
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 1, 2019
Publisher: Harlequin Desire
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He shouldn’t have said yes…

After their one night together,
there are explosive consequences.


When he disappeared after their last sizzling encounter, artist Fiona James vowed to forget rebellious billionaire Hartley Tarleton. Now Hartley has returned to Charleston to deal with the skeletons in his family’s closet—and maybe turn his searing chemistry with Fiona into more than a one-night thing. But now she's pregnant with the heir Hartley swore he'd never have!


Hi Janice. Welcome to Read Your Writes Book Reviews. How are you?
I’m great, Kim. Thanks for having me!

You are more than welcome. Congratulations on the release of Bombshell for the Black Sheep, the third and final book in your Southern Secrets series. I’m new to you and this series. What can you tell me about it?
I enjoy setting books in the south, and Charleston is a city I love. As I began toying with ideas, I came up with three siblings who had dealt with a not-so-idyllic childhood, despite the family wealth. As adults, they are wary of relationships because of what they have witnessed. So I had to find the perfect heroines (and one hero for the sister) to shake things up.

Great. I LOVE the cover and blurb. I just realized the title, Bombshell for the Black Sheep, could have two meanings. What’s the meaning behind the title? 
Actually, it can be read both ways. But the real impetus behind the title is the reveal of some dark secrets that have affected the entire family.

I mentioned this is the third and final book in the series. Are the books standalone reads, with past characters making an appearance or two? 
The books are definitely standalones, but as you mentioned, the characters show up in the other books. The release dates for this trilogy were spread out. Harlequin, however, has decided to release my next trilogy in back-to-back months. I hope readers will enjoy not having to wait! (May, June, July 2020)

Tell me about Hartley Tarleton and Fiona James.
Fiona is one of those heroines who seems fragile at first glance, but who has a core of steel. Hartley is his own worst enemy. He’s impulsive, and he assumes he knows best. But in this instance, his tendency to leap without looking has alienated his family. Fiona gives him the strength to mend fences.

Tell me how and why these two first met.
They met as part of the wedding party of mutual friends. A passionate one-night-stand impacts them both strongly. But Hartley does something dumb, and he has to win Fiona’s trust when he sees her again.

Authors always have that one character who refuses to play nice and go along with the story. In Bombshell for the Black Sheep, which character was that and why? 
In this case, it was the off-screen mother. When I began the trilogy, I had a vague idea that something bad had happened to her. But I waded into the writing without knowing. Could have turned out badly! Fortunately, I was able to make all the dominoes fall the right way.

You have written close to 50 books and novellas. How do you manage to keep your ideas fresh and new? 
It’s not always easy, particularly when I’m writing for a series line that has certain expectations. Desire heroes are always wealthy and alpha. So often, I shake things up with the heroines I choose.

How do you come up with character names, and how do you decide to give a character a certain name?
I have two huge alphabet grids, one for first names and one for last names. That forces me to see if I have used too many J names or too many M names, etc. With a new book or series, the very first thing I do is select my character names. That way they start to become real to me as I flesh out their bios. Occupations are important, too. (And I have two baby-name books that are well-read!)

Here’s a dreaded question...Have you ever finished a book, released it and thought this book isn’t good? Especially when everyone else seems to love it? 
Not that exactly, but I did have one book that didn’t seem to meet reader expectations. A very early (successful) book called THE BILLIONAIRE’S BORROWED BABY was supposed to be a single book. But there was a brother in the story, and later my editor asked me if I’d like to write that book. The hero in the second book was a workaholic who (in his 30s) had suffered a mild heart attack. He’d been sent to a quiet cabin in the Smokies to recuperate. It was a Christmas book and had a baby, but it never sold as well as the first brother’s book. So sometimes I don’t honestly know what will resonate.

You had me at Christmas. What’s your favorite part of a book to write?
I love beginnings! And since Desires are shorter books (50,000 words), I like to have couples who already know each other. Doesn’t always happen that way, but it helps me cut to the chase. When they meet up again, perhaps in an odd situation, they already have a history.

Can you tell me about any books or projects you are currently working on?
In 2020, I have 5 releases. A Texas Cattleman’s Club book in April (multi-author series), the new trilogy set in Maine (May/June/July), and late in the year, a book that is part of a new Desire venture – The Seven Sins continuity. I also have a couple of things “out there” that are not Desire, but no news to report yet.

You have been VERY busy! Janice, thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions for me. I’m looking forward to reading Bombshell for the Black Sheep. I’m especially looking forward to reading Blame it on Christmas. I love Christmas romances. 
I’m a sucker for Christmas romances, too! This has been fun. I appreciate “meeting” you.

She flung open the door, breathless and panting, momentarily dazzled by the bright sunshine. The man standing on her porch was definitely not a delivery man. Nor was he a stranger.

It took her a full five seconds to process the unimaginable.

“Hartley?” Her shock quickly changed to anger. “Oh, heck no.” This man had bruised her ego and maybe even broken her heart.

She slammed the door on instinct. Or she tried to slam the door. One big foot—clad in a size-twelve Italian leather dress shoe—planted itself at the edge of the door frame. The foot’s owner grunted in pain, but he didn’t give up his advantage.

“Please, Fiona. I need your help.”

There it was. Her weakness. Her Achilles’ heel. Growing up in a succession of pleasant but unexceptional foster homes had taught her that becoming indispensable to the family in question secured a roof over her head.

She’d been self-sufficient for over a decade now—ever since she had aged out of the system. She had money in the bank, and her credit rating was unblemished. This perfect little house was almost paid for. Pleasing people was a habit now, not a necessity. A habit she had vowed to break.

But when she actually peeked at Hartley’s face, her resolve wavered. “You look terrible,” she muttered, still with her hand on the door blocking his entrance. Her statement wasn’t entirely correct. Even haggard and with dark smudges of exhaustion beneath his eyes, Hartley Tarleton was the most beautiful man she had ever seen. Muscular shoulders, slim hips and a smile that ought to be outlawed on behalf of women everywhere.

They had first met more than a year ago at the wedding of mutual friends, Hartley a groomsman and Fiona his matching attendant. He had escorted her down the aisle during the ceremony. Later that evening, after a raucous reception that involved copious amounts of extremely good wine and plenty of dancing, he had removed her ghastly fuchsia bridesmaid dress…in her very own bedroom. Where she had invited him to join her.

That night, their physical and emotional connection was immediate and seductive—impossible to resist.

When she woke up the following morning, he was gone.

Today, his coffee-colored eyes—so dark as to be almost black—glittered with strong emotion. “Please, Fee.” His voice was hoarse. “Five minutes.”

What was it about this man that tore down every one of her defensive barriers? He’d walked out on her not once, but twice. Was she a masochist? Normally, she didn’t fall for stupid male flattery. But she had actually believed Hartley had been as caught up in the magic of their tantalizing attraction as she’d been.

Sighing at her own spineless behavior, she stepped back and opened the door wider. “Fine. But five minutes. Not six. I’m busy.”

It was a pitiful pretense of disinterest. When he stepped past her, the familiar crisp, fresh scent of his shave gel took her back to a duet of nights she had tried so desperately to forget.

Hartley crossed the room and sprawled on her sofa. She remained standing, arms folded over her chest. The first time they met, he had worn a tuxedo befitting his inclusion in the wedding party. Nine months later when he had shown up on her doorstep without a word of explanation for his long absence, he’d been in faded jeans and a pale yellow cotton shirt with rolled-up sleeves.

Today, his hand-tailored suit screamed money. Despite his almost palpable misery, he looked like a rich man. In other words, not the sort of person Fiona should date. Or sleep with. Or include in any kinds of future plans.

The silence stretched on. Hartley leaned forward, elbows resting on his knees, head bowed. He was a man who always knew what to say. The kind of guy who could summon a woman’s interest with one mischievous, wicked quirk of his eyebrow.

Now that she had let the big, bad wolf into her house, he was mute.

The uninterrupted, empty silence finally broke her. “What do you want, Hartley?”

The five words were supposed to be inflected with impatience and disinterest. Instead, her voice trembled. She winced inwardly, hoping he hadn’t noticed. If ever there was a time for a woman to seize control of a situation and play the hand on her terms, this was it.

He didn’t deserve her sympathy.

At last, he sat up and faced her, his hands fisted on his thighs. There were hollows in his face that hadn’t been there before. Unmistakable grief. “My father is dead,” he croaked. The expression in his eyes was a combination of childish bewilderment and dull adult acceptance.

“Oh my God. I’m so sorry.” Despite her anger, her heart clenched in sympathy. “Was it sudden?”

“Yes. A stroke.”

“Were you in Charleston?” They had discovered at the wedding that they both lived in the beautiful low-country city, but clearly they moved in different circles most of the time.

“No. But it wouldn’t have mattered. He was gone in an instant.”

“I don’t know what to say, except that I’m very sorry, Hartley.”

“He was old but not that old. It never occurred to me I wouldn’t get the chance to say goodbye.”

She wanted to sit down beside him and hug him, but she knew her own limits. It was best to keep a safe distance. Sliding into Hartley Tarleton’s arms made her reasoning skills turn to mush.

His jaw firmed. “I need you to go to the funeral with me. Please.” He stood and faced her. “I wouldn’t ask if it weren’t so important.” The muscles in his throat flexed as he swallowed. He needed a haircut. When one thick lock fell over his forehead, he brushed it aside impatiently.

She had seen him naked. Had felt the gentle caress of his big, slightly rough hands on every inch of her sensitive skin. That other Hartley made her body sing with pleasure…made her stupid, romantic heart weave daydreams. But she didn’t know him. Not really.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea, Hartley. We’re nothing to each other. You made that abundantly clear. I don’t want to go with you to the funeral,” she said firmly, trying to sound tough and no-nonsense and not at all like the type of woman who let a man disappear for days and weeks on end with no explanation and then three months ago took him back into her bed…again.

“You don’t understand.” He moved a step in her direction, but she held him off with a palm-out stance.

“No touching,” she said, reading his playbook. She wouldn’t let him soften her up.

He shrugged, his expression harried. “Fine. No touching. But I need you to go to the funeral with me, because I’m scared, dammit. I haven’t seen my brother or sister in over a year. Things have been strained between us. I need a buffer.”

“Charming,” she drawled. “That’s what a woman wants to hear.”

“For God’s sake, don’t be difficult, Fee.”

His scowl would have been comical if his behavior hadn’t been so atrocious. “I’m perfectly reasonable and rational, Mr. Tarleton. You’re the one who seems to have lost your mind.”

He ran a hand across the back of his neck, a shadow crossing his face. “Maybe I have,” he muttered. He paced restlessly, pausing to pick up a nautilus shell a friend had brought her from Australia. It had been sliced—like a hamburger bun—with a fine-gauge jeweler’s saw to reveal the logarithmic spiral inside. Hartley traced the pattern with a fingertip, the gesture almost sensual. “This is beautiful,” he said.

“I just brought it out of my studio. I’ve been working on a series of four watercolors…a galaxy, a hurricane, this perfect shell. The pattern occurs in nature more often than you might think.”

He closed his palm around the opalescent wonder and shot her a look. “And the fourth?”

Her face heated. “Oddly enough, it’s a kind of broccoli…Romanesco.”

For the first time, the tension in his broad shoulders eased visibly, and a trace of his trademark grin lightened his face. “I’ve never met anyone like you, Fiona.”

She bristled. “What does that mean?”

“You’re special. You see the world in a way us mere mortals don’t. I envy you that.”

The quiet sincerity in his voice and the genuine compliment reminded her of all the reasons she had fallen for his charms the first time. And the second. His habitual smile was an inexplicable combination of sweet and sexy. For a man who stood six three in his stocking feet and carried himself like an athlete, the hint of boyish candor caught her off guard again and again.

What could it hurt if she accompanied him to his father’s service? It was an hour of her life, maybe less. She sighed inwardly, already losing the battle. “What day is the funeral?”

Now he definitely looked guilty. “Today.”

She gaped at him. “Today today?”

“In an hour and a half.”

Her temper ramped to a slow boil. “And you seriously thought you could simply waltz in here, demand my cooperation and get what you want?”

“No,” he said forcefully. “No.” The second denial was quieter. “I was hoping, Fee. Just hoping.”

He shoved his hands in his pockets, and he didn’t move. She gave him points for that. Everything in her past interactions with him suggested that he could indeed get what he wanted with little more than a kiss. But Hartley didn’t try any funny business. All he did was ask.

Before she could formulate an answer, he grimaced. “I know I owe you explanations for my behavior. If you’ll do me the kindness of standing beside me this afternoon, I swear I’ll tell you whatever you want to know afterward. I won’t run out. Not this time.”

She searched his face for the truth. “Why are things awkward with your siblings? Isn’t your brother your twin? I seem to recall you telling me that. Aren’t twins supposed to be tight?”

“I did something to upset my father and Jonathan, my brother. I was written out of the will. And to be honest, maybe I deserved it. But I love my family. They’re everything to me. I would like to heal the rift…if that’s even possible.”

He could have wheedled. Or flirted. Or even pressured. Instead, he simply stood there. Looking at her. So intently that her nipples tightened beneath the soft cotton of her bra. She hadn’t imagined the physical connection between them. It was as real today as it was the other times he had blasted into her world. As real as the mantel clock that ticked a steady rhythm.

“Okay. I’ll go with you.” A platonic date to a funeral didn’t mean she was capitulating a third time. “I can be ready in half an hour. Will that do?”

He nodded. “Thank you, Fiona.” His gaze was sober. “I appreciate it.”

“Wait for me here. If the doorbell rings, please answer it. I’m expecting some packages.”

Purchase Bombshell for the Black Sheep from:

The Southern Secrets Series:

Janice Maynard knew she loved books and writing by the time she was eight years old. But it took multiple rejections and many years of trying before she sold her first three novels.

After teaching kindergarten and second grade for a number of years, Janice took a leap of faith and quit her day job. Since then she has written and sold over forty-five books and novellas. Her publishers include Harlequin, Kensington, Penguin, and Berkley.

Janice lives in east Tennessee with her husband, Charles. They love hiking, traveling, and spending time with family.

Places to find Janice Maynard:

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5 comments:

  1. Sounds really interesting cant wait to read it.

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  2. So just curious..why Charleston for the setting? Sounds very intriguing

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  3. Great interview. Your books are amazing. Thank you for the chance

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  4. I love Christmas romances I actually got married on Christmas in the 1990s

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  5. I love this book. I need more. Thank you for sharing this.

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