Today I am thrilled to welcome one of my favorite authors, Heidi Betts! I have been a fan of Heidi’s books for a while now and am really excited about this new one.
Heidi has been a guest here on the blog before and today she is here to discuss her latest release, Tangled Up in Love, a book that also happens to be February’s Book-of-the-Month here on the blog (check yesterday’s post for details)!
First here’s the blurb for the book:
ARE THEY FIT TO BE TIED?
Ever since Dylan Stone beat Veronica Chasen out of a prime position at the Cleveland Herald, they’ve been bitter rivals, engaging in a very public war of words in their competing newspaper columns. They routinely challenge each other to go bungee jumping, white water rafting, or into tattoo parlors to see who will wimp out first. But Veronica’s latest taunt may be Dylan’s toughest assignment yet: She dares him to learn to knit.
OR WILL DESIRE UNRAVEL THEM BOTH?
Dylan is not going to let something his grandmother can do scare him off. He’s man enough to make a scarf—and attend Veronica’s weekly knitting circle. But when the infuriatingly handsome Dylan shows up at the craft shop and charms all the ladies, Veronica begins to get all knotted up in something that feels a lot like love… But will the two ever stop needling each other?
Now, here’s Heidi….
Hello, everyone! And thank you, Jennifer, for once again inviting me to chat. I’m very excited to be with you today to talk about the first book in my “Chicks with Sticks” trilogy, TANGLED UP IN LOVE, which will hit the shelves February 3rd. (It feels like forever that I’ve been waiting for this book to come out, so I’m very, very excited. J)
I have so much I want to share about Dylan & Ronnie’s story that I’m not sure where to begin. So let me start by saying that this story is super-sexy, super-funny, & definitely like nothing you’ve ever read before where knitting is concerned. As my editor & I are fond of saying, “This is not your grandmother’s knitting romance”—although I would certainly love to hear that grandmothers are, indeed, reading & loving TANGLED UP IN LOVE. J
What else? Well, you can read an excerpt at my website, if you’d like. And you can also visit my brand new knitting and romance blog, which I created in honor of the “Chicks with Sticks” series, Must Love Yarn.
Aside from that, I thought I’d let the characters of TANGLED UP IN LOVE speak for themselves, and have invited our hero, Dylan Stone, to chat:
Heidi Betts: So tell me, Dylan, how are you enjoying your job at the Cleveland Herald?
Dylan Stone: It’s—
Don’t you mean the job he stole from me?
Heidi: Oh, hello, Veronica. I didn’t realize you were going to be here.
Veronica Chasen: Please, call me Ronnie.
Heidi: All right. Ronnie. What’s this about Dylan stealing your job?
Dylan: [eyes rolling] Yeah, right. Like she had a shot in hell of landing it.
Veronica: And you’re so brilliant? Please. I once saw you shoot beer out of your nose.
Dylan: That happens to be a rare talent, one you wouldn’t understand. And I won fifty bucks that night, thank you very much.
Veronica: [snort] Oh, yes, you’re obviously quite gifted.
Dylan: Yeah, well at least I—
Heidi: Guys! Can we please get back to the interview before someone calls the cops?
Heidi: Thank you. Now, tell us about this competition the two of you have going, where you dole out challenges through your respective newspaper columns.
Veronica: [with a smirk] Mr. Stone, here, apparently thinks men are better than woman.
Heidi: Oh, really?
Dylan: That’s not true. What I said was that men are just naturally more qualified for some jobs than women are. You’re the one who decided to turn it into a game of Anything-You-Can-Do-I-Can-Do-Better.
Veronica: I wouldn’t call it a game. I think of it more as defending the reputation of superior members of the species.
Dylan: And bungee jumping is the best tactic you could think of, huh?
Heidi: What’s that noise?
Dylan: [with a smirk of his own] I think Ronnie’s head might be imploding.
Veronica: Going bungee jumping wasn’t my idea, if you’ll recall. But at least I did it without squealing like a girl. I have it on good authority that the same can’t be said of you when you had your legs waxed.
Heidi: [clearing throat & becoming decidedly uncomfortable] All right, well… It sounds like you two have a very…um…touchy & complicated relationship. I do have the numbers for a couple of really good therapists, if you’re interested. In the meantime, can you give readers an idea of what your next challenge will be?
Dylan: [shrugging & looking decidedly uncomfortable] Don’t know, it’s her turn to pick.
Veronica: [grinning madly] That’s right. And I have something wonderful in mind.
Heidi: Can you give us a hint?
Veronica: Oh, I’ll do better than that. I’ll tell you. I’m going to challenge him to learn to knit.
Veronica: That’s right, newsboy. Let’s see you how much of a man you are with a couple of needles & a lap full of yarn.
Dylan: Jesus, why don’t you just kick me in the crotch & get it over with.
Veronica: Well, if you insist…
Heidi: O-kay. I think that’s enough for today. [hand on Ronnie’s shoulder, keeping her in her seat; can’t help but notice how quickly Dylan crosses his legs…] Thank you both so much. I look forward to seeing how all of this works out.
So there you have it. Who says yarn can’t be sexy, right? *g* And I guess sparks are inevitable when two such stubborn individuals come up against each other. As for just how hot those sparks get…well, I guess you’ll just have to buy the book to find out. J
I don’t have copies of TANGLED UP IN LOVE yet, but three is one of my favorite numbers, there are three books in the “Chicks with Sticks” trilogy, & TANGLED is actually being released on the third, so I’d love to have Jennifer pick three winners from today’s comments & let them each pick an autographed title from my backlist. (You have to scroll down the page a bit to see them all, and the HOTTER THAN HELL anthology is included, even though it’s still a little higher up at the moment.)
Thank you again for having me as your guest today, & for giving Dylan & Ronnie a chance to get some of that off their chests. (Sigh. I really can’t take them anywhere, it seems. :P) I hope you’ll all run out & pick up a copy of TANGLED UP IN LOVE next week. Then, after you’ve had a chance to read it, be sure to drop me a line & let me know what you think of this funny, sexy yarn.
Love and stitches!
Thanks Heidi (and Dylan and Veronica) for being here today!
Readers, as Heidi said, three lucky commenters will get the chance to win a book from Heidi’s backlist. Just leave a comment or question below to enter!
***CONTEST HAS ENDED, BUT FEEL FREE TO COMMENT!***
In the meantime, keep reading for a fabulous excerpt from Tangled Up In Love courtesy of Heidi:
“I hate that man with the flames of a thousand fiery Hells,” Ronnie spat as she returned to her table of friends and started refilling glasses from the pitcher of slushy, pale green margarita that shook in her hand.
She said it. She meant it. So what was with the strange sense of exhilaration she always felt after one of their sparring matches? Even now, with adrenaline pumping through her system and rage burning in her brain, she almost wanted to dive back in for Round Two.
“What man?” one of them asked, glancing around the bar as though the offender would be standing under a spotlight.
“Who do you think?” Grace said. Blond and beautiful, she was the picture of calm, never a hair out of place, never an emotion left unchecked. Only her close friends knew she had a sharp wit and a tongue like a razor blade. “Only the same guy Ronnie’s been bitching about for the past year—Dylan ‘That Arrogant Jackass’ Stone.”
“Let’s just call him ‘The Jackass’ for short,” Ronnie clipped out, filling her own glass to the brim before plopping down on her chair with very little finesse.
“I don’t get it,” Grace said. “You’re such a nice person otherwise, and get along with just about everyone you meet, but put you within a ten mile radius of Dylan Stone, and you turn into a slavering she-witch.”
Ronnie’s eyes narrowed as she finished filling glasses and set the pitcher aside. “Payback’s a bitch,” she quipped, “and you’re looking at her.”
“So what did he do this time?” the petite, short-haired Jenna inquired.
“He asked if my new tattoo was sore.”
“Of course it is,” Ronnie grumbled, taking a long, fortifying drink of her deliciously frothy tequila-laced concoction. “It throbs like a suffering bastard and rubs against my clothes all day, every day.”
“Did you tell him what it means?” one of the other girls asked. The rest of the group chuckled, because they knew. Ronnie had divulged that little secret at their first knitting meeting after having the body art done.
“No way. Let him wonder.”
“Fuck him, right?” Grace teased.
A cocky, knowing grin spread across Ronnie’s face and she reached around to pat a spot high on her left buttock. She didn’t even wince at the added sting it caused. “That’s right.”
“So it’s your turn to send him out on a dare. What are you going to make him do?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t thought of anything yet that’s adequately dangerous or embarrassing.” Her brows knit in a scowl. “He’s so obnoxious about thinking men are braver and more accomplished than women. I feel like daring him to walk into traffic blindfolded. A nice Greyhound bus to the temporal lobe would knock some of the smugness out of him.”
She lifted her head and met the gaze of each and every one of her friends around the table, her eyes conveying her desperation. “Any ideas?”
“You could figure out a way for him to go through simulated childbirth,” Melanie, a mother of two, offered flatly. “That would shut him up and have him bowing down to every woman he met from now until the end of time.”
“You could send him for a bikini wax.”
Ronnie flinched slightly at that suggestion. “Don’t remind me. I still have that landing strip in my panties that is in no way ready to wave in approaching air traffic. Plus, I don’t want to repeat myself, and I already made him get his legs waxed.” She smirked. “Wonder if his hair has grown back yet.”
“You could dare him to meet you at some no-tell motel for hot, sleazy sex, then leave him tied to the bed until the maid finds him the next day. And you could be there to capture his degradation on film.”
Ronnie laughed with everyone else, but inside, her stomach had clenched, and picturing Dylan tied to the bedposts, beneath her and at her mercy, sent an odd fluttering through the rest of her body.
Which was ridiculous, because he was a jerk, and if she was going to be attracted to any man at the moment, it certainly wouldn’t be Dylan Stone. She was only having this reaction because it had been so long since she’d had any type of sex that didn’t require batteries. After such a long dry spell, it was completely natural to have a physiological response to anything even remotely suggestive.
“How about walking across hot coals or dressing in drag and going down to the red light district?” one of the women asked, bringing her focus back to the matter at hand.
“If you really want to trip him up on the men-versus-women thing, then he should have to do something women do on a regular basis and are really good at,” Melanie spoke up again. “Like cleaning the house, getting a kid ready for school and to the bus stop on time, or making a Halloween costume from scratch.”
Reaching under the table, she retrieved her purse, which was oversized and stuffed to the gills. She pulled the knitting needles and skein of yarn she’d been working with earlier that evening off the top and set them aside, then continued to remove items one at a time.
“Do you know any men who have to carry around the crap women do, especially ones with kids? They grab their wallets and keys and take off. The rest of us have to make sure we have tampons, tissues, make-up, and nail files. And if you have kids, then you have to walk around with a steady supply of Band-Aids, baby wipes, antibacterial lotion, snacks, toys . . .” She punctuation her words by pulling every one of those things from her purse, including a couple of strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups and a tiny yellow dump truck that was missing one wheel.
“Yikes,” Jenna commented, blanching at the pile of junk cluttering the tabletop.
“So what are you suggesting?” Ronnie asked. “That I challenge Dylan to carry an overstuffed lady’s handbag everywhere he goes for a month?”
Melanie’s mouth twisted as she started loading things back into the purse, making its seams stretch and bulge. “He’s certainly welcome to carry mine. It’s no wonder women end up with osteoporosis. Most days, I’d swear I’m going to be a hunchback by the time I’m forty.”
She squinted an eye and twisted her mouth, lifting one shoulder much higher than the other in a near-perfect imitation of Quasimodo. “You guys will come visit me in the bell tower, won’t you?” she inquired in one of the funniest voices they’d ever heard.
They all laughed, and Ronnie nearly choked on her ill-timed sip of margarita.
“If we’re not already there with you,” Jenna promised, deliberately straightening her spine and throwing her shoulders back, the model of perfect, chiropractor-approved posture.
A moment later Grace said, “I have a better idea,” so quietly Ronnie almost didn’t hear her.
Her attention was immediately drawn back to what had started this thread of the conversation—her ongoing feud with Dylan Stone. “What?”
One side of her friend’s mouth quirked up in a sly, conspiratorial grin and she inclined her head in Melanie’s direction. Or more accurately, to the bag balanced on Melanie’s lap, a tangle of pale yellow yarn and two shiny, metallic blue needles sticking out of the top.
Ronnie looked at the purse . . . then back at Grace . . . then back at the purse.
And finally comprehension dawned. A slow smile spread and lifted her lips until she was grinning like an idiot.
“Grace, I love you, I really do. That’s it! It’s perfect. Not only will he hate it, but there’s no way he’ll ever manage it in only a month’s time.”
She sat back, the discomfort of the tattoo on her rear end forgotten as she laughed and began to mentally plan the text of her upcoming column, where she would stump Dylan but good.
“The next round’s on me, girls,” she announced, reaching for the near-empty pitcher and raising it over her head. “To my partners in crime. And The Jackass’s crushing defeat.”