Turning it On
Red Hot Russians, #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Carina Press
Date of Publication: June 29, 2015
Number of pages: 248
Word Count: 97,760
Book editor Hannah Levinson couldn’t be happier. This “Nice Jewish Girl” is ready to marry the man she’s longed after for half her life. When her fiancé suggests they audition for Last Fling, a steamy new reality show for engaged couples, she lets herself be swayed. Maybe she’ll learn a thing or two.
Vlad Shustov’s fall from a once-bright career as a competitive figure skater was swift. Now trapped by a shameful past and an uncertain future, “Vlad the Bad” strips for cash. Joining the cast of Last Fling could earn him a fortune—or at least enough to finally leave stripping. But to win the show’s prize, he must seduce an engaged woman, something he can't even bear the thought of.
Hannah's not like any woman Vlad's met before. Betrayed by the man she thought she loved and relegated to the ugly-duckling role she’d worked so hard to shed, can she trust there’s more to Vlad than meets the eye? With sleazy TV tactics shattering the last shreds of the contestants' confidence, they'll have to believe true happiness is not only possible...it may be looking right at them.
Hannah sighed and shook her head. “I’m not usually such an emotional mess. It’s just this show. This whole situation! Back there…” she flung her arm wide, in the direction of the mainland. “I’m successful. Accomplished. I have a great job. I live in New York City. Here, all anyone cares about is how hot I am. Or more to the point, how hot I’m not!”
Vlad nodded sympathetically. “It’s TV. Unfortunately, sex sells better than other good qualities.”
“Exactly! I can’t compete. I’m not like those other women, and I don’t even want to be. But I have no choice. Not unless I want to lose my fiancé to a scheming bimbo and have the entire nation talking about what a pathetic loser I am. It’s humiliating.”
“You can always learn to be sexy.” Vlad looked her over. “You’ve got the right equipment. All you need is to learn to use it. I am around sexy women all the time. I could coach you. You know…sexy lessons.”
“Sexy lessons?” She had to laugh at that. “I’ve never thought of sexy as a learned skill.”
“It is, though. All about how you carry yourself.” He adjusted his posture and the set of his broad shoulders conveyed a confidence that was undeniably hot.
“And who better to teach me than a guy named Vlad the Bad who takes off his clothes for a living?”
“As Uncle Ivan used to say, it pays to work with best coach you can find.”
She laughed again, but didn’t entirely dismiss the idea. Putting a little strut in her stuff held surprising appeal. Yet what was the catch? A guy who willingly signed on for a trashy show like Last Fling must want something. “And in return?”
He thought a moment and Hannah tensed, afraid of what he might ask. Then he gave a decisive nod. “I want you to read my book. Not just query, synopsis, “sorry not right for us,” but the whole thing. You don’t have to buy, but I want honest, professional critique of how to make it better.”
Honest and professional? Yikes. What would she say if the book was god-awful, which it likely was? He’d pinned so much hope to it, she couldn’t bear to be the one to discourage him. On the other hand, at least she would be gentle and constructive. And if it was good, this was a chance to help him achieve his dream. She imagined taking the book to her boss. Sales and Marketing would drool over this hot Russian male stripper–turned-literary sensation. As would everyone else. And if it kept Jack from Robynne’s clutches, it was worth the risk.
Vlad narrowed his eyes. “So do we have a deal?”
A bit more certain, Hannah laughed and stuck out her hand. “Deal.”
Today, we welcome Elizabeth Harmon to Musings and Ramblings. Let's all give a big Geeky welcome!
There’s no better welcome than a Geeky one! I’m very happy to be a guest on M&R. Thanks for giving me a chance to say hi and share news of my brand-new release, “Turning It On,” the second book in my Carina Press Red Hot Russians series.
Let's start with some writer specific questions before moving into the fun stuff. That way everyone can really get to know the person behind the writer. We will finish things off with a round of Think Fast. Ready for the interrogation to begin?
Absolutely! Bring it on…
Is your writing style more plotter or pantser?
For the most part I’m a plotter, but some aspects of my story especially character development, can be a bit more seat of the pants. While I love making new discoveries about my characters as I write, planning things out more will help me meet my goal of writing faster.
When is your favorite time/place to write? Do you write structured or patchworked?
I have a wonderful office in my home with a great view of our backyard, but sometimes if the words aren’t coming, it helps to go out to Starbucks for a change of scenery-- and less available internet. I try to write in 90 minute blocks several times throughout the day. Mornings are my best time but life doesn’t always cooperate.
How do you deal with Writer's Block?
Honestly, just power on through it, and get something down on paper, even if what I’ve written is awful. I try to remember Nora Roberts’ famous advice “you can fix anything except a blank page.” Hugging my cat helps too.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I love spending time with my family. I also love relaxing on my front porch and going to the beach, though with working on the next Red Hot Russians book, I’ve had less time for either this summer. I also love ice skating. I take lessons, and even learning simple moves brings a sense of accomplishment.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
Criticism is tough to hear, whether it’s a harsh critique or a less than glowing review, but it’s also part of being a writer and no one is immune, so you try to take what you can from it, and put the rest out of your mind. My best compliments have been from readers who loved my heroes, and found them kind and honorable in addition to handsome and sexy.
What was the last movie/concert/show that you saw?
We saw a touring production of “Newsies” a few months ago, and it was awesome. I’m more of a TV watcher than movie goer, and love “Nashville,” “Downton Abbey” and “The Americans.”
What was the name of the last book you read?
Special Interests by Emma Barry. Love and politics makes for an entertaining combination.
Tell us 2 positive and 2 negative character traits you possess.
I’m a great cook and love making people happy, whether it’s with food, something I’ve written or doing a favor for a friend. On the negative side, I have a tendency to overcommit and get stressed out when I can’t get it all done.
If you were going to have dinner with anyone, past or present, fictional or real, who would it be and why?
They would be successful, prolific authors because I’d love to learn from them. Stephen King, J.K.Rowling, Rainbow Rowell, Nora Roberts, John Grisham, whoever’s available! I’ll even cook.
What would we find in your refrigerator right now?
Carry-out containers from my teenagers’ places of employment, homemade radish leaf pesto (sounds a little weird, but it’s amazing. Try it!), cherries, and many varieties of bread. Gluten-free would be tough for me.
Elvis or Sinatra? Elvis!
Meat or Veggies? Both, please.
Summer or Winter? Winter! Sweaters, jeans and snow. Love it.
Cake or Pie? Pie, especially strawberry rhubarb or pumpkin. I use my grandmother’s pie-crust recipe, and it is the BEST!
Car or Truck? Car… convertible especially.
Thanks for coming by and spending some time with us. Any final words of wisdom to pass along?
Wisdom? Hmm… I’d choose a quote from one of my favorite recent books, “Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell, and it’s this: “Happily ever after…isn’t cheesy it’s the nobelist, most courageous thing two people can shoot for.”
I love stories that give a fresh take on classic themes, and feature characters and locations not often seen in romance. Give me a lovable, if less-than-perfect heroine, a gorgeous hero with a heart of gold, take them a little off the beaten path and I'm a happy girl.
I read a variety of genres-- romance to horror and just about everything in between. I am a member of Romance Writers of America. I have worked as a freelance journalist for a number of local publications and am a contributing writer to Romance Writers Report.
When I'm not writing, I love to ice skate, bike ride, hang out at the beach or on my front porch. I love vintage homes, adventurous cooking, spending time with my family and traveling.
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