Roped into the cycling equivalent of a blind date by his sister, Tom doesn’t want to ride with a chatty, go-by-the-map kind of woman, and he certainly doesn’t want to want her. Too bad the sight of Lexie with a bike between her thighs really turns his crank.
Even Tom’s stubborn determination to keep Lexie at a distance can’t stop a kiss from leading to endless nights of hotter-than-hot sex. But when the wild ride ends, where will they go next?
Cath Talarico knows a mistake when she makes it, and God knows she’s made her share. So many, in fact, that this Chicago girl knows London is her last, best shot at starting over. But bad habits are hard to break, and soon Cath finds herself back where she has vowed never to go . . . in the bed of a man who is all kinds of wrong: too rich, too classy, too uptight for a free-spirited troublemaker like her.
Nev Chamberlain feels trapped and miserable in his family’s banking empire. But beneath his pinstripes is an artist and bohemian struggling to break free and lose control. Mary Catherine—even her name turns him on—with her tattoos, her secrets, and her gamine, sex-starved body, unleashes all kinds of fantasies.
When blue blood mixes with bad blood, can a couple that is definitely wrong for each other ever be perfectly right? And with a little luck and a lot of love, can they make last night last a lifetime?
Ruthie: I know — I wish everyone could get them! The short answer is that I sold Ride with Me and About Last Night to Loveswept, the new “digital-first” imprint at Random House, and that means both books come out in digital editions first (and possibly last). Right now, there aren’t print editions planned of these books, but fingers crossed that they will happen eventually. I would love that.
Lisarenee: At the end of 'Ride With Me' you mention your book won a Maggie Award of Excellence by the Georgia Romance Writers Association. Was it through them that you got your first book published? If so, how did you first decide to enter the contest? If not, is there a fun story about how you managed to get your foot in the door and get published?
Ruthie: Winning the Maggie was great! It did get me some attention from a few publishers and agents — but by the time the contest judging was over, I’d already landed an agent and sold Ride with Me and About Last Night to Loveswept, so it turned out not to be a game-changer for me.
My first sale story is probably only exciting to one person — me! I started writing romance in October 2010, and I wrote three full manuscripts in short order. The third was the first manuscript I felt was good enough to get published, so it was the first one I used to query agents. Meanwhile, I also entered a few contests, including the Maggie (which was a great experience — very well-run contest, with great feedback).
I got an agent in April of last year, and she had an offer from Loveswept for Ride with Me by June. About Last Night was the second manuscript I’d written, though I completely rewrote it from scratch after I finished Ride with Me. I think I sold About Last Night to Loveswept in August. So it all happened very quickly.
Lisarenee: I think what I like most about your books is they just seem so 'fresh'. What I mean is they just seem a little different from main stream romances which can sometimes have a cookie cutter feel to them. It seems like you look for unique situations like a cross country bike trip or meeting someone you've seen over and over again at a train station but never bothered to talk to. I have to confess the train situation made me smile. I commuted for a year to San Francisco from Sunnyvale when I lived in California. There were so many people I felt I knew, but truly didn't because we never talked to each other. We just kind of acknowledged one another. How do you approach your stories? I once had an author basically say she just writes the same story over and over again just varying characters and settings and situations (this screams cookie cutter to me), do you feel the same way or do you feel each story is unique unto itself?
Ruthie: So fun to hear that about your train experience! I actually spent nine months living in London while I was researching my dissertation, and unlike Cath, I didn’t get swept off my feet by some hot Englishman. I didn’t even make friends. Nobody talked to me! But I’ve always been a big people-watcher, and I enjoyed observing people on my commutes to the archives and home again. It was probably my favorite part of living overseas.
As for the question, no, I can’t imagine feeling that I was writing cookie-cutter stories. How depressing. I tend to approach books first with an inciting situation in mind, and then I develop the characters. The plot comes afterward, and grows from what I need these two characters to experience. Ride with Me was “What if two people got stuck crossing the TransAmerica Trail together, and they hated each other?” About Last Night was “What happens if a drunk, vulnerable American girl ends up being rescued from the train station by a hot, repressed, aristocratic Englishman”? Then I kind of go from there.
Lisarenee: I noticed you insist "a decent romance requires at least three good sex scenes." I confess I have read books and wondered, 'Where's the romance already?' because it's not until almost the end the couple finally gets together. So we can be assured we'll get plenty steamy scenes in your books?
Ruthie: Yes! Probably. I mean, sometimes the sex can overtake the story, and I’m very deliberate about sex scenes. I find them boring if they’re not actively affecting character development—both boring to write and boring to read—so I try not to do that. It’s possible that I’ll come up with a story sooner or later where the characters really need to not have sex until the end. But I doubt it. :-) I do enjoy reading steamy books, and I do love writing the steamy parts, so I don’t imagine I’m going to give up on it anytime soon.
Lisarenee: The other day I came across an interesting book blog called Wonk-o-Mance (http://wonkomance.com/) with the tag line "Fooked-up people bonking? Hooray!" To my utter surprise and joy, I noticed you are one of several authors running the blog. In the Wonk-o-Manifesto is written, "Here at Wonk-o-Mance, we want to read stories about how lust and love make screwed-up people do stupid, stupid things. Because they do. Ohhh, they do. But they make us change, too. They make us better. People are strange. Life is weird. Love is weirder. And fooked-up people deserve happy endings, too." Is that something you try to carry over into the romances you write? Do you like to keep your characters more 'real' with imperfections and all?
Ruthie: Ha—yes, I’m one of the Wonkomantics. And I’ll confess, I wrote that manifesto, so the sentiment is definitely near and dear to my heart. As a reader, I love nothing more than romance that pushes the boundaries of genre convention or shakes up the fantasy-land of romance in new ways.
That said, I try to write stories people will like to read, too, and that my editor will want to publish. So I have to try to skate that line between delightful wackiness and “Whoa, Nelly, this one’s way too strange.” One of my upcoming books has an alcoholic philandering ex-husband villain in it, and I would so love to make him the hero of another story. But Agent Emily says, “Let’s focus on this other idea, shall we?” And I agreed, because, well, she knows what she’s talking about.
But at the same time, some story ideas are just too important to me to abandon, and those are the ones that will probably end up getting written regardless of their marketability. Like that first-person, chronologically wonky Vegas wedding buddy romance with spanking that I wrote in a rush of happiness one month...yeeeah.
Lisarenee: 'Ride With Me' and 'About Last Night' are both contemporary novels, do you think you'll stick with the contemporary romances or will you expand to perhaps historical or other romance subgenres?
Ruthie: I’m pretty sure I’ll stick with contemporary. It’s my favorite genre to read by far. But I do also like historicals, and my degree is in history. While I don’t want to write a historical right now, sometimes I have ideas for great historical romances that I want someone else to write. It’s possible one of these will eventually get its hooks into me so far, I’ll have no choice.
Lisarenee: While reading about Cath's tattoos I was reminded a little of those on Lisbeth of 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo'. Not that the stories or characters are really all that similar, but I was wondering if there was any possibility that it might have sparked the idea for Cath's tattoos?
Ruthie: You know, it’s possible! I did read all those books a few years ago. I’d never really thought about it, but you’re right, Lisbeth and Cath have a fair bit in common. There’s also a goodly dash of someone I knew in college in Cath, as well as (I will confess) the teensiest, tiniest bit of Lady Gaga. There is this moment in the video for “Telephone” where Gaga is in prison, strutting down the hallway in her bra and underpants and boots on those skinny little stick legs of hers, and I watched it several times, thinking, Damn, that’s sexy. How does she even pull that off? It’s a confidence thing, and Cath has that same self-presentation.
Lisarenee: Do you have a favorite author? A favorite book?
Ruthie: Oh, I’ve never been any good at choosing favorites. I like lots and lots of authors and books. I’m an easy reader, really, willing to fall in love with any book if it makes a decent effort to suck me in. I think the last book I fell head over heels for was Judith Ivory’s Black Silk—a very refined, slow-paced, crazy-frustrating, beautifully written historical set in Victorian England. But I also fell down the wormhole of Kristen Ashley’s Sweet Dreams recently, and those two books are about as different as they could possibly be. I’d recommend Delphine Dryden’s upcoming Theory of Attraction (Carina Press, out in July), Charlotte Stein’s Sheltered, and Cara McKenna’s Curio for anyone looking for smart writing and new and all-around fabulous voices in romance/erotica writing.
Lisarenee: What do you think is the most important element in a Romance novel besides a good chemistry between the characters?
Ruthie: Interesting question! I’m a very character-driven writer and reader, so I think I’d have to say character development. I will follow characters I’ve invested in anywhere, no matter how outlandish the journey—but a fast-paced, tight, interesting plot can’t rescue a story with cardboard cutouts for characters, in my book.
Lisarenee: Do you have any other books in the works, and if so, can you tell us a little about them?
Ruthie: I do, I do! I have a two-book series coming out with Loveswept next year, currently titled Man for the Job and Man for the Moment. The books revolve around a brother and sister, Caleb and Katie Clark, and Caleb’s security company in the small town of Camelot, Ohio. The Man books are going to be bigger in just about every way than my first two releases — 40 percent longer, with more characters and subplots and craziness — but they’re similar in style, with the same humor and sexy shenanigans. And I’m hoping there will be one or two novellas, too, that are also part of the Camelot Security thing.
In other departments, I’m working on a sequel to Ride with Me that’s about Tom’s sister, Taryn. I’ve already written a “prequel” story, so I know the characters and conflict and plot. It’s going to be a plot. My working title is Pedal to the Meddle, but no doubt my editor will change that to something more saleable and less corny. Titles aren’t my strong suit.
Lisarenee: Thanks for joining us today, Ruthie.
Ruthie: Thanks for having me visit.
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