Today it’s my pleasure to welcome over Vicki Crum, author of Once in a Blue Moon, a Paranormal Romance.
Publisher: Rebecca J Vickery
Date of Publication: May15, 2015
Number of pages: 171
Word Count: 70,000
Cover Artist: Joshua Shinn
Casey Montgomery’s lifelong addiction to “bad boys” has brought her nothing but heartache. Just as she swears off alpha males forever, a brief, torrid encounter with one of the hottest, Harley-riding, leather-jacketed hunks she’s ever seen leaves her reeling---and worse, jeopardizes her carefully laid plans to meet and fall in love with a nice, dependable nerd.
Jake Benedict has been around the block enough times to recognize his mate when he meets her, a gorgeous werewolf with a case of latent genes who doesn’t have a clue about her true identity. Jake is just the were to teach Casey about her ancient heritage and coax her feral side into revealing itself.
While Casey can’t resist the intense physical attraction she feels for Jake, she’s determined to freeze him out emotionally. Can Jake break through Casey’s defenses and prove to her once and for all that he’s one bad boy who’s playing for keeps?
What inspired you to write this book?
When I first sat down to write this book, I was feeling frustrated and grossly unappreciated after getting several rejection letters on a previous project—kind of fed up and rebellious! I started writing with a little “attitude” sitting on my shoulders and just let the words flow. It was a bit of a naughty fantasy—that’s how it started out.
How did you come up with the title?
The manuscript went through several edits and about three different titles before it was done. The title, Once in a Blue Moon, just hit me one night, sort of out of the blue, as they say. No pun intended. I thought it captured the werewolf element and the sassy/fun tone of the book.
What made you choose the main setting for your book?
My heroine, Casey, owns a clothing boutique with her best friend, and I modeled it after some of the clothing stores in the charming downtown area of the city where I live. When Casey first catches sight of Jake as his motorcycle roars by her on the street, the vision of my hometown was there again and it all just fit. So the setting of the book is Manhattan Beach, and I used some of the actual businesses, sights and surrounding communities throughout the story. So it’s an authentic setting.
If you could spend an hour in real life with one of your characters, who would it be and why?
Oh, it would definitely be Jake. Not only is he gorgeous, he’s intelligent, charming, and lots of fun. And he’s a werewolf—what’s not to like?
Tell us a little bit about the conflict in your story.
Casey’s always been attracted to the “bad boys”, the uber-alpha males, and has gone through enough heartache in her life to put her off of them forever. When Jake roars into town on his Harley, she feels an instantaneous, earthy, and instinctual connection to him that threatens her determination to change her ways. What Casey doesn’t know is that she’s genetically predisposed to seek the alpha. Jake recognizes Casey as one of his own, though he’s certain that Casey’s species of werewolf is a very rare, very noble breed on the verge of extinction, and that Casey is blissfully unaware of her true heritage. It’s a puzzle that Jake has to solve because, like it or not, Casey is Jake’s mate and he has every intention of claiming her.
If you had to sell your book based on one run of dialogue (start quote to end quote), which would it be?
Her gaze darted around the shop as if she expected to see the cavalry come riding to her rescue from behind the racks of clothing. She stole another glance at Jake and wondered if this was how Daniel felt, facing down a cave full of hungry lions. Her palms began to sweat.
"Do you have a minute?" he asked. "I thought we might talk." His seductive smile arrowed straight to her heart and left her momentarily speechless.
He strode to the stack of pastel garments piled high on the table next to her, and picked up a silk turquoise tank top with ultra-thin straps, rubbing the filmy material between his fingertips. "Nice," he said, and Casey was hit with a wave of heat so intense it made more than her palms sweat. "Sexy." He tilted his head. "Where might a woman wear something like this?"
"To bed." The words were out of her mouth before she could stop them. Damn. Casey could feel the blush starting at the roots of her hair and spreading downward. "They...they're pajamas."
"Ahh." The knowing look in his eyes left her feeling naked...vulnerable. As usual, the man had managed to put her at an immediate disadvantage.
Clearing her throat, she said, "So...what did you want to discuss? If this is about the money..."
"Money?" It was less a question than an accusation.
"Yes...you know, to pay for all the work the men did yesterday. I think the insurance is going to cover most of it, but if your uncle doesn't want to wait I could—"
Jake cut her off with a wave of his hand. "Don't be ridiculous. It has nothing to do with that."
"Oh. Well, then."
He came toward her, and it took all the control Casey possessed not to step back, to go into retreat mode. Instead, she squared her shoulders, tilted her head up, and met his gaze head-on. Why did he have to stand so close? She had an insane urge to plant her hand in the middle of his chest and shove him back a little. If she weren’t so afraid of touching him, she might have seriously considered it.
"I'm getting the distinct feeling that you don't care much for me," he said. "Could it be because of what happened the other day? You know, your aversion to me didn't seem so strong then. As a matter of fact, if that was your idea of a welcoming gesture...I think I'd have to give it a solid ten."
Casey took a deep breath and summoned what little composure she could muster after that smart-ass remark. "Look, I realize I came on a little strong that day. Correction—I acted like a total sl—"
"Now, now. Let's not get carried away."
Casey wouldn't have thought Jake could get any closer, but he did. Their knees were almost touching now, and she had to throw her head back just to maintain eye contact. "I'd appreciate it if you'd just accept my apology and be done with it. Let's just forget it ever happened."
"What's the point in fighting an attraction like ours? You acted on impulse and, let's face it, there's some pretty strong chemistry here." His fingers came up to toy with the lacy collar of her blouse. "Why not explore those feelings and see where it leads?"
Casey wasn't sure she liked this new arrangement, with Jake pursuing her. Call her a control freak, but she preferred it when she was the one making the moves. It felt safer...less threatening. And she really didn't like Jake's intrusion into her personal space.
She poked him in the chest with her index finger, and it felt so good she did it again. "Back off, Sparky. I've tried to apologize for chasing you down and...." letting you kiss me senseless. "It was a momentary lapse of judgment. I acted on a whim." She tried to shrug, but her shoulders felt stiff and unresponsive. "You shouldn't make more of it than it is."
Jake's fingers captured hers and brought them to his lips. At the same time, he backed her against a rack of expensive designer jeans. "You know what I think? I think I get to you in ways you don't begin to understand. And it scares the hell out of you."
Tell us about your book cover and how it relates to your story.
I loved this picture the minute I saw it because it represents all the elements of my story. The blue jeans and t-shirt, hot hunky guy, and a hint of mystery with the shadowy background and barren tree silhouette. It seemed like a classic bad boy image with a possible hint of werewolf.
Are you currently working on another story? If so, we’d love some details.
I’m working on Casey’s older brother’s story now. Reed’s an eligible bachelor, about to meet the one woman who’s going to rock his entire world. While Casey and Jake are werewolves, Reed is not, and he doesn’t much care for the fact that his little sister and his best friend, as it turns out, are creatures best left to storybook monsters and Hollywood legend. Imagine his shock when he eventually learns that the woman he can’t live without is a werewolf, too!
What sort of personality does your hero have?
Jake is highly intelligent and a very astute businessman, who has managed to turn his advertising agency into a multi-million dollar corporation. Yet money is just not that important to him. He’s a humble, easy-going guy, who is at the stage of his life when finding the perfect mate and settling down with a family of his own is top priority for him. And he’s not the type of man to be content with mediocrity; he won’t settle for less than that perfect mate.
What sort of personality does your heroine have?
Casey has a tendency to fly by the seat of her pants. She’s always jumped first, looked later. But her “bad boy” addiction has caused her nothing but heartache, and she finally acknowledges that it’s time to throw off her wild girl ways and start behaving like a grown-up. Easier said than done. Especially for Casey, who has a genetic predilection for hot-blooded alpha males—and a natural propensity for getting into trouble.
Did you enjoy writing one scene above all the rest? If so, share.
I have a few favorite scenes, but one of them is the first time Casey and Jake make love. I think it’s fun, sexy and romantic all in one---at least I hope that’s how it comes across!
Tell us about your favorite writing environment. Is it indoors, outdoors, a special room, etc.
I have my own office at home, with a desk, computer, TV, sofa, and lots of toys for my two grandchildren when they come over. That’s where I do most of my writing—though not when the kids are there. Then I’m on the floor playing with them! I have to write in silence, with no distractions---except when I run errands. Then I compose in my mind, most often dialogue, and scribble notes at red lights and in the market or mall parking lots. I love it when I get home from being productive and have a page or two of new material to type into the manuscript. Multi-tasking at it’s finest!
What sources do you use for research?
I’ve gotten to be quite good at online research. You can find almost anything you need online. Although, in one chapter of the book my characters take a ride to Malibu one evening on the Harley, and I actually drove from Manhattan Beach to Malibu (road trip!) and made a note of all the streets I wanted my characters to take, fun sights and landmarks all along the way, to make the chapter as authentic as possible. Though I’d made the trip before, I did it that time as if it were my very first, and tried to take in all the little details I thought would make it interesting.
It’s time to promo. What is your favorite marketing tool?
My website and Facebook page:
Casey Montgomery snapped to attention, her gaze darting toward the street, as the snarling roar of a motorcycle engine ripped through the tranquil morning. There were two things guaranteed to make Casey sit up and pant like a puppy. One was the deep musky scent of well-worn leather, and the other was that sound—the sound of speed and power that had her blood sizzling like hot oil and a wicked vision of vibrant, seductive man shimmering in her brain. It was a conditioned response she didn’t seem to have any control over.
Casey’s gaze latched onto the bike, and the broad, leather-jacketed back of the guy who guided it deftly through traffic as though he and the bike were one. She ached with the need to see him better, to learn something about him…where he’d come from and where he was headed. To climb up behind him and hang on tight, feel the warm wind caressing her face and whipping through her hair.
Heaving her purse into the back of her lime-green VW convertible, Casey slid behind the steering wheel, cranked up the engine, and squealed backwards out of her parking spot. It was fortunate that someone was waiting to pull in behind her, slowing the flow of traffic on the busy downtown Manhattan Beach street.
What madness spurred her to dash in and out of traffic for the next half-mile or so until she was directly behind the motorcycle, pursuing it down the coastal road out of town, she would never know. But pursue it she did, as if every last brain cell she possessed had turned to rot. For as long as Casey could remember, she’d had a weakness for bad boys. Her affliction went beyond mere feminine curiosity, or even a fascination with what some might call the masculine mystique. No, what Casey suffered from was a serious case of throw-your-good-sense-out-the-window-and-jump-right-in syndrome when it came to this particular brand of men.
The stranger sat the bike with the confidence and poise of a man certain of his place in the world. He had an aura around him, something indefinable, some kind of mysterious X factor that filled Casey with a wild, reckless yearning to be near him.
When the road widened, she hit the gas and swung out into the left lane, drawing abreast of him just as a red light up ahead forced them both to slow to a stop. All she wanted was a look at his face. She willed him to turn and look at her, and when he did her breath got all balled up in her chest. His eyes were hidden behind mirrored sunglasses, but what she could make out below the line of his helmet—lean cheeks and a strong, masculine jaw—Casey had to bite her lip against a raw, almost feral surge of attraction.
The light turned green, and he shot Casey a smile as he revved the powerful engine and took off. She was so rattled by the brief encounter, it was all she could do to keep the VW in her own lane as she stomped on the gas pedal and shot forward after him.
Dear Lord, what was happening to her? She’d suffered through enough disastrous relationships with alpha-male types that she’d long since sworn off anyone who could even remotely be classified as a bad boy, a maverick, a renegade. A man whose inbred machismo blinded him to any other needs but his own. Even at her lowest point, she’d never behaved quite this irrationally.
Releasing her death grip on the steering wheel, one shaky hand at a time, Casey dried her sweaty palms off on her skirt. As she did so, she spotted a place to pull off the road in a secluded little turn-out and regroup. With her heart still careening along like an out-of-control bobsled, she steered the tiny convertible over into the right hand lane and off the road.
After bringing the car to a too-sudden stop, Casey turned off the engine and flipped down the sun visor to squint into the small rectangular mirror. Sure enough, her cheeks flamed as bright as a blood-red sunset. What a mortifying turn of events. Dare she hope the man hadn’t observed her chasing him down like a wild beast?
Casey fanned her face with one hand, while taking a surreptitious glance around. She was parked in a shady nook across the road from a popular local beach. The lure of the ocean and the warm Southern California sun had drawn the usual crowd out to enjoy the early summer day. Ripples of laughter could be heard from across the way, mingled with the occasional bark of a dog and the ever-constant roar of the surf tumbling against the shore.
Casey’s pulse rate had almost returned to normal when her stomach leapt at the familiar purr of a fine-tuned Harley coming from over her left shoulder. The powerful machine came to a halt about fifteen feet away in a rolling cloud of loose dirt. Casey wet her lips as she watched the most gorgeous man she had ever laid eyes on swing one denim-clad leg over the leather seat and dismount. Her mouth fell open as he ambled toward her, pulling off his helmet to reveal a healthy head of sable brown hair highlighted by an occasional streak of gold. The streaks in his hair and his deeply tanned skin testified to what she already knew—he was accustomed to spending a lot of time outdoors.
“You all right?” he asked, casually dangling his dark blue helmet from long, lean fingers.
He stood not three feet from her car, hip cocked to the side, tall and solid and so strikingly handsome Casey thought he must be a mirage.
Easy enough to find out, she thought, opening her door and stepping out. She’d come too far. There would be no retreat from this humiliating predicament, so she might as well bluster her way through. She reached up with the intent of removing his sunglasses and quickly found her wrist caught in a firm, yet gentle grip. The sharp sound her breath made as it got stuck in her throat echoed loud in the silence.
“I just wanted to see your eyes,” she said, her voice nothing more than a faint puff of air.
One dark eyebrow rose above the thin metal rim of his shades. “Yeah? I was wondering why you nearly ran yourself off the road back there.” He punctuated his teasing comment with a deliciously sexy grin.
Who cared about his eyes? That smile was enough to turn her insides to pureed squash. That and the aroma of leather that jumped out and blind-sided her as he moved in close. Leather and something even more feral. Whatever it was invaded her bloodstream and set every cell in her body on fire.
He let go of her wrist to cup the side of her face. Casey was ridiculously touched by his gentleness even as her desire to be as close as humanly possible to this man raged out of control.
His need suddenly seemed to rear up and collide with hers. Yanking her into his arms, he pressed close, close enough that she could see every minuscule line and tiny freckle on his face. Then his mouth crashed down over hers.
About the Author
Vicki Crum writes both contemporary and paranormal romance. She lives with her husband of 40 years in a small, enchanted seaside community in Southern California. She has two grown daughters and two adorable grandchildren, Bella and Jackson, whom she loves to distraction. Vicki loves to talk to her readers.