Sunday, July 29, 2012

Hell In Heels by Layssa Hart: Sneak Peek, Interview & Excerpt


Jenni Bracken - a young woman with the courage to go after her dream

Twenty-four year old Jenni has made no bones about her intention of marrying Craig and no amount of advice from her older twin brothers has persuaded her from that goal. After seven years of failure she finds herself living in close quarters with Craig. Where can he run to now? When Craig leaves Australia with the American he's planning to marry, Jenni accepts that her dreams are dead in the water.

Craig Davenport - a man torn between loyalty to his friends and a need that defies reason

At 34 Craig Davenport is the Golden Boy of the film industry. A successful film director, he's been best friends with the Bracken twins since infants' school, and for years they've been threatening to tear him limb from limb if he ever gets ideas about their kid sister. When he finds himself closeted with Jenni in the New South Wales hinterland, Craig's resolve is tested to the limits. But he's holding on - just. Then he and Jenni dance the Argentine Tango...

This is the link the book’s page on Layssa's website: -

Note that the eTailer buy links will be added to the page at the end of August when book is released. The media player on the book’s page contains the tracks that are referenced in the story.

Readers can use the subscribe link on Layssa's website if they want advance info regarding the release date or other new releases.

JENNI spent Sunday morning tucked up in the window seat in the library.  She was trying to read a book.  Well, trying to divert her mind from its preoccupation with Craig.  Not that she was having any luck.  Snapping the book closed, she set it down on the padded seat.
After their tango last night he'd avoided her like the bloody plague.  The great lump had just taken her hand and walked her back to Mark - only he hadn't seemed at all willing to relinquish her hand; and she'd had to wriggle free of his vise-like grip while trying to appear like she wasn't trying to do just that!  When she'd finally freed her hand, the moron had just looked at her like he was looking right through her, then turned on his heel and walked off! 
Not that she'd been allowed to wallow in misery after his ill-mannered defection.  The only time she hadn't danced was when she'd pleaded the need to sit one dance out to give her feet a chance to rest.  No, she hadn't lacked for willing partners, but Craig hadn't come anywhere near her.  Nor had he taken to the dance floor again.  Just lurked in the crowd and whenever she glanced his way, saw his face – so hard and grim – and quailed.
She really and truly hoped his mood was vastly improved before she ran into him again. 
The door swung open making her jump like a scared rabbit, then her stricken gaze clashed with Craig's across the width of the room.  Crap!
"What are you doing in here?" he bit out.
Feeling every icy barb in his voice, Jenni lifted her chin.  "Minding my own business."  She unfurled her legs and slid off the seat.  "But I will go and mind it someplace else and leave you to whatever" she added and determined not to let him see her distress, crossed the room towards the door.  He was blocking the doorway.  And he seemed so god-awfully big!  Threatening somehow - which was silly because he wasn't scary at all.  Usually.  "You reckon you could just move aside, please?" she asked coolly.
"Don't take that tone with me" he snarled.
O-kay...  Jenni took a tiny backward step.  "It was a simple request, Craig" she pointed out, her voice flat.  The tension that had entered the room with him was so tangible she could have cut it with a knife and served it up on little cake plates complete with silver cake forks and-
"Well?  What are you waiting for?" Craig grated and saw her gaze jerk up to his.  Damn the woman – she could cut him down to size with just a glance!  Pity she couldn't shrivel his bloody libido while she was at it.
"If you would just get out of the way, I'll be more than happy to leave" she said.
Craig didn't miss the hint of anger that had crept into her voice.  "And where will you go next?" he fired back with a dark bark of laughter.  "Straight to Mark?  Or is Simon coming over?"  He heard the venom in his own voice but didn't give a damn.  "Or maybe you have someone else in mind?"  Bewilderment drenched her golden eyes.  He was too wound up to care.  "So how many potential boyfriends did you acquire last night?"
"That's none of your business" Jenni chided without heat.  Seeing no change in his expression, she tilted her chin.  Best to deal with the elephant in the room and just be done with it!  "You're angry about what happened in Brisbane" she stated.  "Well, I wasn't solely to blame for that-"
"Crap!" he exploded and in an instant, his rage seemed to crowd the room.  "You just couldn't leave things be!  You just had to keep pushing, didn't you?  And to hell with how others might feel about it!"
Jenni was stunned by the bitterness; the accusation in his voice.  "I never forced you to make love to me" she protested and saw something truly dark flare in his glittering gaze.
"Don't kid yourself" Craig snarled, lips peeled back from his teeth.  "It was sex!  Down and dirty sex- and it had nothing to do with your silly romantic notions of love or any other finer feelings, for that matter!"  He raked her with the closest thing to a sneer Jenni had ever seen.  "I would have had to have been bloody dead to turn down what you've been offering!"
Jenni recoiled, and feeling the sting of tears behind her eyes, darted backwards in an instinctive need to put some distance between them.  Craig was quicker.  The moment she moved he kicked the door shut; seized her arm and jerked her towards him.  As soon as her body collided with his, his hands snapped up to seize her head.
Lips mutinously clamped shut, Jenni pushed against his chest and tried to break away from the savage pressure of his mouth.  Scant seconds later his lips softened and gentled into a languid and deliberate assault on her senses, but with all the ugly things he'd just said still ringing in her ears, she kept telling herself that this was folly.  Clinging to that thought, she screwed her eyes up tight and wished rather desperately that he would release her head.   If he would just try to hold her properly, she thought while he continued his increasingly sensual assault along the seam of her mouth.  Oh please… She could give him the slip the moment he let go of her head…
Next thing she knew he'd caged her with one arm; plucked her off her feet and they were moving backwards across the room, then – oof! – her back was plastered to the wall, and as he pressed his full weight against her, the shocking hardness of him made her gasp.
And just like that – he was in; and like ice cream in the midday summer sun she melted; resistance evaporating like water on a sizzling hot griddle and any capacity for thought gone with it.  There was just the urgency; the scorching pleasure; the tormenting hands now exploring her; claiming her; branding her.  She dragged his shirt free of his denims but when he didn't move back to let her at the buttons of his shirt, slid her arms around his neck and arched closer. 
Without warning, he jerked himself free of her.  Stunned, Jenni forced her eyelids up - the stupid things seemed to weigh a bloody ton.  He was standing several feet away; his stance screaming an aura of alertness that baffled her.  Then she heard it: voices outside in the atrium.  Hastily restoring some order to her clothes, she dived for the window seat and was seated; her drawn-up legs crossed at the ankles when the study door opened and Cam peered into the room. 
"Either of you seen Meg?"
"No" said Craig.
"Uh uh" was all Jenni could manage.
The old man sighed.  "Okay."  He withdrew, closing the door behind him. 
Jenni's relief was so immense she slumped against the bay window.  Not that doing so helped her avoid the sexual tension vibrating in the room.  How had Cam missed it?  All at sixes and sevens, she risked a glance at Craig and found him watching her; the blistering intensity in that gaze curling her toes.
"I'm leaving in the morning." 
The announcement – and announcement it was – caught her broadside.  He was running away again...  "Are you?"  A hint of the sadness curled through her.  He looked dreadfully pale now; his eyes almost black; deep lines bracketing his mouth.  She summoned a smile.  "When will you be back?"
Craig balled his hands into tight fists at his sides.  "I won't be back" he said coldly.  "I'm moving to the States with Gaye.  I won't be back" he said again and abruptly walked out.

Welcome Layssa!  Thanks so much for taking time to let us find out a little about you and your books.  How did you start your writing career?

Sitting up in a hospital bed with oxygen tubes in my nose and three lots of antibiotics going into my veins.  It was right before Christmas 2011 and I was going bonkers in hospital (it had been five weeks by then).  I was reading a fantasy novel someone had given me, and not too far into the book I thought that even I could do better than that.  Next thing I knew I had coloring pencils and papers and was drawing up my fantasy world; the characters; the buildings/locations etc.  After getting all the visuals drawn up, I suddenly thought 'hang on... maybe I should see if I can write first...'

My brain was functioning on only 47% oxygen (I still haven't made it back to the 90% mark yet - but I'm trying).  So I wrote this story, edited it; proof read it; slapped a cover on it and published it.  Then I started on the next story, and suddenly the minor characters in that one led to the Bracken Series and the third book in that series is about to be released any day.

Does travel play in the writing of your books?

No, but travel has helped my writing.  I lived in the UK and Europe for 10 years, and those experiences gave me a rich resource to draw on when I am writing.

Tell us about your current release.

Hell In Heels is Jenni Bracken's story and it will be released in a couple of weeks.  She's had Craig - her big brothers' best friend - in her sights forever, but she's getting nowhere real fast.  The problem is her big brothers (identical twins) who've been warning Craig off for years; and Craig himself who's always believed he's nowhere near good enough for Jenni because he was born damaged goods.

Tell us about your next release.

Ahh - now that will be the first of a series of Regency romances.  At this stage, it looks like there will be seven stories in that series unless I get really tough and eliminate some of the characters sometime soon...  The first story will look at just how totally women were at the mercy of their menfolk; pawns to be used for whatever purpose was most expedient to the family at that particular point in time.  In this story, the heroine - who's due to marry for love three days hence - is forced into marriage with her betrothed's cousin.

The newlyweds are forced to flee to Europe.  When the man she was to marry learns of his betrothed's sudden marriage to his cousin, he becomes a thoroughly embittered man whose attitude towards women becomes cavalier at best; and whose good humor morphs into a sarcastic and cruel wit.

But when the heroine is widowed six years later, she finds herself a very wealthy woman with an inheritance that will always pass down the female line.  To ensure the wealth does not pass out of the dead man's line, our jilted hero finds himself forced into marriage with the heroine for the purpose of siring not only an heir, but female offspring.

The hero longer trusts the heroine and will never forgive her for her betrayal six years ago.  Our heroine, who knows telling the truth will condemn someone close to her to death, must endure in silence.

So the story is about far the hero will go to uncover the truth and what he will do with that knowledge.

This is a story of personal loss; of finding in the depths of despair and emotional devastation one's capacity for compassion; of learning to trust when the odds appear stacked against you.  More than that though, I think it's a story of the enduring quality of the human heart and its power to overcome even the most insurmountable of obstacles. 

Who is your favorite author?

I have so many favorite authors!  David Baldacci; Robert North Patterson; Dan Brown; Jane Austen;  Maria Snyder; Amanda Hocking; Nicholas Sparks;  Patrick Rothfuss;  Karen Brooks;  Georgette Heyer;  Jasper Fforde and on and on we could go.

When in the day/night do you write? How long per day?

I write during the night.  I'm unable to sleep at night, so I have plenty of time on my hands during the night.  I used to paint, but since my battle with pneumonia my lungs haven't been able to cope with the smell of pigments and solvents.  So it's a good thing I discovered writing!

What is the hardest part of writing your books?

Saying 'The End'!  I swear, I could spend the rest of my life editing each of the books I've written to date and I would never be entirely satisfied with them!  There would always be something I could do better!

Where do you research for your books?

At the National Library of Australia, or I go hunting down source material by trawling through the bibliographies at the bottom of related online articles.  And books - I have collected lots of books over the years - particularly on the Regency period.  Other than that, I have a varied work background which has given me lots of experience in diverse fields.

How do you describe your writing style?

I hope I'm a show, don't tell type - I'm certainly perverse enough to be inclined to show rather than tell.  I don't have the patience to waffle on for pages describing the intricate details of a room and its furnishings and what have you - I want to tell the stories of the people the story is about.  I want to get down to their thoughts; their feelings; their problems, hopes and fears.  I enjoy writing dialogue; and I enjoy writing from multiple POVs.  So I hope readers find my characters well rounded and 'real' too.

Do you have a favorite quote, quip, or saying? What is it?

You should never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.

Thanks so much.   I enjoyed talking to you and finding out a little more about you.

Layssa was born in a glass bottomed boat off Green Island on the Great Barrier Reef, and grew up as the black sheep of the family and the eldest of six kids in small towns in Queensland. 

So far she's been a nurse; teacher; international flight crew; artists' and repertoire co-ordinator for a record label; secretary; policy developer/writer; graphic designer; DJ at sea; project manager in the construction industry; and a judge in the equestrian world.  In a voluntary capacity she's convened eisteddfods; been a bushfire fighter; a Deceased Victim Identification officer; and senior team leader with the State Emergency Services who handle everything from storm damage; road rescue; search and rescue; forensic evidence searches; crowd control; flood rescue and the like. 

Layssa lives in Canberra with her beautiful daughter and two arrogant and demanding felines.

 Two years ago - after a health crisis - she discovered she could draw and paint; and seven months ago - after another health crisis - discovered she enjoyed writing.  Her work colleagues are now waiting to find out what new talent she'll discover with her next health crisis!

Bottom line - she never considered writing before last Christmas.   But her motto is "Better late than never!" 

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