I am excited beyond words to have Nicki Elson stop by to discuss a subject dear to my heart. Don’t get me wrong, I love bad boys. I fell for one hard the night I met him. With his motorcycle, long hair, and ability to bench press like a competition weight-lifter, he was my Dad’s worst nightmare. But as I got to know my future husband, I realized t he was a truly great guy. And a NICE guy. While he still doesn’t put up with BS, he’s loving, kind and funny. In other words, a keeper! So… I’m very excited about Nicki Elson’s new book, WHEN IT HOOKS YOU. Take it away, Nicki!
Crimes against Romance
Thanks for having me over, Nancee, to share a bit about my new release. WHEN IT HOOKS YOU. You’re so wonderfully supportive, and I’m grateful we met during our adventures in publishing.
I love to write love stories, but sometimes I feel like I’m breaking “the rules” of romance. Like, isn’t the romance supposed to be introduced in the first chapter? Is it okay to make readers wait until, say, the fourth chapter to meet the male lead? Y’see, my girl Trish has some whacked out rules for dating, and I want you to be able to arrive at those rules along with her. After that, we’ve got to have a little bit of fun watching her struggle to implement them, am I right?
I also know romance readers love ‘em some alpha male—but is there room in their hearts for a beta? A man doesn’t have to be a brute to be strong. And isn’t there something kinda cute about a shy guy? One who’s not afraid to let the lady take the reins?
Since Nancee has so sweetly opened her blog door to me, I won’t make you wait to meet my beta guy. Here’s an excerpt from his first encounter with Trish.
Nicki’s Website – Spicy fiction with a sweet and dreamy center
Excerpt from Chapter 4 – WHEN IT HOOKS YOU
As Trish approached the hand dryer in the office bathroom, she heard the faint tones of “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” floating in from the lobby. She’d left her phone at her desk and now rushed to answer before the song stopped playing. It was her new ringtone for Lyssa.
“Hey,” she said, somewhat breathless.
“Hi. Sorry. Hope it’s okay to call. This was too complex for text.”
Trish flicked her eyes around the reception area and saw she was alone. “Now’s fine as long as you’re fast. I’m expecting a client at any moment.”
“Great. I’m packing my entire life and getting rid of what I can. A truck from the church rummage sale is stopping by at six to collect donations. Before I give it all to them, I was wondering if you’d want…” She went on to list various pieces of small furniture and accessories, only a few of which Trish said she’d take.
They got through the list quickly, and the client still hadn’t arrived, so Trish figured it was safe to chat until the elevator dinged. “I’ve cracked the code on my guy troubles.” She’d kept Lyssa apprised of her latest revirgination disasters. “I don’t tell the guy anything. He doesn’t need to know I’ve set a three-date maximum. We go out one, two, or three times, and if he tries to get in touch after the third, I blow him off. Easy peasy. This way we don’t waste any valuable date time haggling over my neuroses.”
“Plus you’ll leave the door open for a fourth date if he’s worth it.”
“No, no, no! Absolutely no more fourth dates for me.”
“Have you cracked the code on the sex thing?”
“I’m still not planning to sleep with any of them, if that’s what you mean. But I did crack the seal on a new toy from The Pleasure Chest last night. It has this add-on that gets right up in—” She halted when a noise sounded from behind the tall bush between her desk and the elevator. When she continued, her voice took on a warning tone. “I’ve gotta go. Unless the plant in my office has grown a throat and just cleared it, I’ve got an eavesdropper.”
From behind the highest frond, a man’s head emerged. His dark blond hair was straight and mostly swept back from his elegant, handsome face. As he leaned forward, a stray wisp fell over his forehead. Trish didn’t recognize his long, angular features. She guessed him to be in his mid-thirties at the oldest and noted a touch of suntan to his mid-tone complexion. His tall, lean form moved around the plant with his arms bent and hands half raised in surrender.
“Talk to you later.” Trish clicked off the phone, keeping her gaze locked on the new arrival.
“I’m sorry. It’s my first time in the Chicago office.” The boldness of his rich, plummy voice was surprising against his abashed demeanor. “When I saw the reception area was vacant, I went back to the elevator to make sure I had the right floor. You surprised me with the phone. I heard you say you’d be quick, so rather than interrupt, I intended to wait until you finished. Then…”
His eyes darted away and Trish’s face warmed at remembering exactly when he’d cut her off. She’d initially assumed the throat-clearing had come from Levi or one of the building maintenance guys she often joked with. That would’ve been something to laugh at. Talking about shoving things into her naughty bits in front of a client she’d never met before, however, was nothing short of mortifying.
She pulled on the most self-assured expression she could muster. “I’ll let them know you’re here.” Pressing the line of Michael Gutierrez, one of the partners, she announced. “Mr. Helms has arrived.” After getting instructions and hanging up, she forced herself to look the client straight in the eye. “Someone will be here to bring you back in a few minutes. Please have a seat while you wait.” She gestured toward the couches by the window. “Can I get you something to drink? Water or coffee?”
“No, thank you.” He stayed where he was, not making a move toward the couches. His gaze fixed on her desktop. By the way the fingertips of one of his hands tapped against his thumb, she gathered he had something more to say to her.
She preempted him. “I’m sorry for what you overheard. It was unprofessional of me to have a conversation like that at the office. It won’t happen again, Mr. Helms.”
He lifted his eyes and she saw they were a light golden color with touches of green—or was that the hue of his suit reflected off them?
“I’m the only one who need apologize,” he said. “I should’ve made my presence known sooner. I’m sorry to have caused you embarrassment.”
She arched an eyebrow. “So you’re not going to rat me out to my bosses?”
His lips twitched into a small smile. “It stays between you, me, and whoever was on the other side of the phone.”
She smiled in response, inciting his grin to grow larger. She wasn’t sure if it was because of her relief or the sudden warmth of his expression, but she felt drawn to the alluring man in front of her. There was something old school about his slimness and height, his crisp suit, and the formal way he talked. Yet the wisp of hair that he hadn’t yet smoothed back revealed an impish, less polished side to him.
“Please, call me Adam,” he said.
“I’m Trish Cerise.” She stood and reached across her desk. It wasn’t until he took her hand that she remembered her rush to answer the phone. Swiftly pulling back, she explained, “My hands aren’t usually this damp. I hadn’t finished in the bathroom. Oh! Not like that. I meant I hadn’t finished washing my hands. No! I’d finished washing, just not drying them and…” She sank into her chair and fisted her offending hand in her lap. “I’m going to stop making words come out of my mouth now.”
“And deny me the best entertainment I’ve had in weeks?”
She laughed, caught in Adam’s amused gaze. She realized now that it was the intensity behind his eyes that pulled her in, making her more intrigued by him than their brief conversation should warrant.