Angel Whittaker earned his scars the hard way, but the scars that can’t be seen are the ones that haunt him the most. Since he moved to Fool’s Gold, California, he’s cobbled together a life for himself as a bodyguard trainer. If he’s not exactly happy, at least his heart is safe.
Working with pro-football superstars taught tough-talking PR woman Taryn Crawford one thing—she can go toe-to-toe with any man. But then dark, dangerous former Special Ops Angel targets her for seduction…and challenges her to resist his tempting kisses.
Even in four-inch heels, Taryn never backs down. Unless, somehow, Angel can convince her that surrender might feel even better than victory.
Read an excerpt:
Series: Fool’s Gold (Book 13)
Number of Pages: 352 pages
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Publication Date: April 29, 2014
SUSAN MALLERY is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 80 novels, with more than 25 million books sold worldwide. Mallery is known for creating characters who feel as real as the folks next door, and for putting them into emotional, often funny situations readers recognize from their own lives. Susan’s books have made Booklist’s Top 10 Romances list in four out of five consecutive years. RT Book Reviews says, “When it comes to heartfelt contemporary romance, Mallery is in a class by herself.” With her popular, ongoing Fool’s Gold series, Susan has reached new heights on the bestsellers lists and has won the hearts of countless new fans. Susan grew up in southern California, moved so many times that her friends stopped writing her address in pen, and now has settled in Seattle with her husband and the most delightfully spoiled little dog who ever lived.
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Q&A with Susan Mallery
WHEN WE MET’s hero Angel Whittaker appeared in your 2005 book Living on the Edge. What made you decide to bring him back?
I never forgot about Angel, and I always knew I’d write a book for him when I found the perfect woman for him. When I started brainstorming this year’s Fool’s Gold romances, Taryn Crawford came to me. She’s a very powerful, confident, self-made woman. She started her PR firm from nothing, and she is the clear leader over her three NFL-star partners. She needed a man who was equally strong, someone who would stand up to her when need be, and someone who would cherish and protect her when she wasn’t feeling all that strong. Angel, who’d been hovering in my subconscious for years, stepped forward and claimed her.
The idea was a little disconcerting, to be honest, because Living on the Edge is a romantic suspense, and Fool’s Gold is sooooo not a suspense-y series. Which meant Angel, this very serious, hard-core sniper type was going to have to move to a quirky small town in California. I paired him up with buddies from the military who opened a bodyguard academy in Fool’s Gold last year.
Angel grew up in a small town, so in some ways, Fool’s Gold felt very familiar to him right away. After a few months of living there, he decides that he wants to give something back, to contribute, because that’s what people do in small towns. A decision he lives to regret… the project assigned to him by the all-knowing Mayor Marsha isn’t exactly what he has in mind. I think readers are going to really laugh when they see what he’s gotten himself into. Fortunately, Taryn will help him over the rough spots.
What book would you love to take a weekend vacation inside of?
I’d love to spend a weekend on Debbie Macomber’s Blossom Street. I wouldn’t even have to travel far—I live in Seattle, where that series is set. I’m hopeless at knitting, but since this is fantasy, let’s pretend that I’d whip up a gorgeous sweater during my weekend visit.
With the release of WHEN WE MET, as you look back, what was the biggest surprise that occurred while you were writing the story?
I was a little surprised by how hot things got between Angel and Taryn. I tend to write sexy, but Angel and Taryn are a little older than my typical hero and heroine—40 and 34, respectively—and significantly more experienced. They know what they want, and they’re not afraid to ask for it. There were times when these two were so in-your-face with their sexy repartee that I was sort of gasping and laughing as I wrote.
What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to face or as a writer? How did you overcome it?
The hardest part of what I do is making sure each book is better than the one before. In the beginning, when I was still learning, it was pretty easy to improve. But now, after over 100 books, it’s challenging. But that’s always the goal. That the characters are more real, the dialogue funnier, that the story draws you in even faster. There’s not a single day that I sit down to write without thinking about how to do it better than I did yesterday.
You wrote in a recent Facebook post that you started writing a new Fool’s Gold book for 2015 and rewrote the beginning a few times because you didn’t know the heroine well enough yet. Can you explain this process and how you are able to finally get to “know” the character you’re writing?
I first start thinking about a book somewhere around 18 months to two years before it’s released. This is particularly true with a series like Fool’s Gold. I need to know what’s coming so that I can set up the stories in advance, so the characters feel naturally integrated into the town.
When I’m ready to really get started, I write until the characters click for me, usually about a chapter. I have to know who they are so that I can know how they will react to whatever might happen in the book. Once I know them, I stop writing and thoroughly plot the story.
Because of all the prep work, once I get to the actual writing of the book, I can write pretty fast. But it’s kind of like when you ask an artist how long it took them to create a beautiful painting—a few hours… plus years of practice and study.
You often turn to your fans to help you come up with names for your characters. What makes you decide to do this and how do you pick?
Oh, I loooooove asking my friends at facebook.com/susanmallery to help me brainstorm, whether it be character names, business names, or even country music song titles for a heroine who will be coming to Fool’s Gold next year! Sometimes a character comes to me complete with a name, but mostly, they come with heart and soul, and I have to think of a name. I could easily look at naming websites for ideas, but I think my Facebook friends love being involved, and it’s fun for me to see what they come up with. I choose the name that I think best suits the heart and soul of the character in my head. Whenever possible, I give that character the last name of the reader who suggested the first name I selected.
If WHEN WE MET were made into a movie, who would you have play Angel Whittaker and Taryn Crawford?
Have you heard of an actor named Sullivan Stapleton? He’s British, but with an American accent, he’d be perfect as Angel. Tall and dark, with a dangerous edge. His pale gray eyes are almost hypnotizing, like the cobra in Jungle Book. Except, you know, sexy guy, not at all a snake.
For Taryn, I’ll go with Sandra Bullock. Taryn’s a high-powered fashion plate. She likes what she likes, she wants what she wants, and she makes no apologies for it. Everything she has, she has earned. She’s not just smart, she’s street-smart.
What makes Taryn stand out from the other heroines you’ve written?
Contradiction is what makes any character come alive, and Taryn is full of them. On the surface, she has it all together. She runs a very successful PR firm. She has a wardrobe that couture fashion models would envy. Your first impression of Taryn is that she wants for nothing… but she went through a lot of pain to get where she is today. She’s a survivor. She has pulled herself up from very tough circumstances, and to do that, she has had to guard her heart. But there’s a softness, a vulnerability inside her that no one but Angel can see. He will treasure her forever.
What’s next for the town of Fools Gold?
Up next are BEFORE WE KISS and UNTIL WE TOUCH, featuring two of Taryn’s partners at Score PR. In BEFORE WE KISS, Sam Ridge, a former NFL kicker, has to hire Dellina to help him plan a major company bash. He’s very reluctant to work with her because a few months ago, they had a little fling that went terribly (and comically) wrong. Dellina’s going to make him pay a little bit before she forgives him. So much fun to watch a strong man grovel!
At the start of UNTIL WE TOUCH, former quarterback Jack McGarry is shocked when the mother of his personal assistant and best friend Larissa Owens tells him to fire Larissa because the big-hearted beauty is in love with him. That’s news to Jack… and when he tells Larissa what her mom said, it’s news to Larissa, too! She’s not in love with Jack. Except, just by saying the words, her mom has opened both their eyes, and things between them suddenly get very hot.
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