Interview with Sophie Renwick & Giveaway

Hey everyone! Please welcome Sophie Renwick to Lovin' Me Some Romance.

This very talented author let me pick her brain a bit regarding her sexy hero Bran, along with his story in the full length novel edition of the Immortals of Annwyn - VELVET HAVEN.

Available in stores now, this dark and erotic paranormal romance stole my reader heart and you can read my review of VELVET HAVEN HERE.

Sophie is also generously giving away a copy of VELVET HAVEN to one lucky commenter. Please see the end of the interview for contest details. Good Luck!

In today's paranormal romance market, coming up with an original world or putting a refreshing spin on a familiar myth, is becoming increasingly difficult. However, Annwyn and her inhabitants are extremely unique. How did you approach the development of the world in VELVET HAVEN knowing this about today's market? Was the idea of sidhe heroes and heroines something you set out to write deliberately or was it a lucky happenstance?

When my editor turned down Trey’s book (I know...booo! :) we discussed options. One of them was that the publisher was looking for an erotic shape shifter series. I immediately balked at it. I had ZERO ideas how to bring in a unique vampire or werewolf to the mix, so I told her I would think on it. And I did think, racking my brain for ideas. I already knew that I wanted to write something related in the fairy genre for Harlequin Spice. All the Celtic mythology research that I was doing for the Celtic Spice anthologies had opened a creative font for me and I was very eager to explore my historical Dark Fey Court.

So, I began mulling over ideas, thinking of things that interested me about the Celts, but that wouldn’t be overlapping for the faeries that I was doing for Spice.

And then it hit me, to combine the Druid aspect of the Celtic culture, and draw on inspiration for Avalon, and the religious aspects of the Celts. That’s when I researched Annwyn, and the kind of animals they revered. I learned about Druidism and the Dark Arts that at once drew them yet terrified them. The Sidhe, I used because I have always had an absorption with them. I made the Sidhe in Velvet Haven, and Annwyn, totally different from the Fey in the Sins and Virtues series, exploring different facets of Fairy folklore to make each series completely different. I knew the Sidhe of Annwyn would need to be more than just fairies. I wanted them magical, but I also wanted them to actually practice Druidism. To have a faith, and beliefs.

When I pitched the idea verbally to my editor, I told her I was going for a dark and sexy, Celt-Druid kind of vibe, with Wyverns, Gargoyles and Goddesses—and Sidhe. She loved the idea, and the first book sold on two paragraphs!

In VELVET HAVEN, not only are you creating this new and exciting world of Annwyn, you're also running this fictional world parallel to a familiar - potentially controversial - realm of Christianity. Writing about such a prevalent religion in paranormal romance can be a scary topic. Why did you decide to incorporate the God of Christianity into your Immortals of Annwynn series? Was there any hesitancy with regards to reader reactions?

What a fabulous question! In a word, religion fascinates me. The bible is filled with beautiful descriptions, with stories of love, faith, devotion, over-coming obstacles. But it can also be a terrifying read. It’s this dichotomy that intrigues me. I was raised Presbyterian—pretty strict, too! As I’ve grown up, I’ve retained my faith, but have also become very spiritual as well. It’s this meshing that made me desirous to combine both thoughts in Velvet Haven.

The early pagans had religion—it was spiritual. They worshipped the stars, moon, sun, elements, trees. And then Christianity came and incorporated many Pagan beliefs and festivals into the Christian calendar. So, to me, I couldn’t not incorporate Christianity into the series. I chose Christianity because I understand it. I know it. I didn’t want to work with other religions for fear of misrepresenting it. I have no wish to offend anyone. Christian or otherwise. I only wanted to present parallels in Celtic religion and those that were presented in the bible. I wanted to bring those doctrines forth to show the mortals, and the immortals, that they’re really not all that different. There is Heaven and Hell, and Purgatory in Christianity, and there is The Summerlands, The Shadowlands, and The Wastelands in Celtic folklore, that mirror the three realms in Christianity. So, they really do parallel each other quite nicely.

At first I had thoughts of ‘uh oh, how is this gonna work’. I was pretty certain that my editor was not of Christian faith—going solely on last names. But that’s not something you come out and ask! So, I was worried on her take. But she came back loving everything about it, and I felt okay with it. We did discuss briefly, reader reaction, and in the end, we decided to go with it, thinking that there really wasn’t a huge religious overtone that overshadowed the Celtic feel of Annwyn.
I’m not planning on getting preachy or really delving into religion as the series progresses, but there will be some mergence of sin and beliefs in life after death etc... To me, that’s pretty much universal doctrine across all religions whether based more on spirituality or a specific deity.

I have had a few reviewers say that the religious parallels were thought provoking and interesting. No back lash, yet!

Sidhe, in general, aren’t your typical paranormal character. Can you describe in more detail who and what they are?

In general, the Sidhe are fairies. Like I mentioned earlier, I decided to explore a jyhthygrfdvc different facet of Fey folklore with this series. I discovered an anecdote in one of my Celtic mythology books about an ancient race called Fomorians that many people believed became the Fey. They were giants, and fierce warriors as well.

Because I was such a huge fan of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, and I wanted some big hunky type heroes, I decided to go with this image. So, the Sidhe are a group of Fey that are fierce warriors—their weapons, ancient magic. They’re tall, powerful, merciless when required. They’re secretitive, and don’t really mix well with the other inhabitants of Annwyn. They tend to keep to themselves.

I made Bran a Night Sidhe because they’re the fiercest of the Sidhe. They’re like mercenaries for hire. But I didn’t want to be ripping off JR Ward’s brotherhood, so I made the Night Sidhe mine in a way. I made them old, with an ancient religion and rules they must play by. Their language is more sedate, rooted in the old world, as opposed to modern slang, which played well into my strengths as a historical writer.

Bran, he's an incredibly dark and tortured hero. I know that you've mentioned that he was difficult to write at times and I did notice that he not much of talker unless he's in the bedroom. And can I say YOWZAA, that man had a mouth on him then! *blushing* He had me squirming on my couch more than once. Can you describe who Bran is to you? Was his darkness something you sought for in his character or did he pour out onto the pages that way? And why does he shapeshift into the Raven? What appealed to about this type of animal?

Bran....ACK! He was a bugger to write sometimes. I threw out about two copies of the first three chapters because he wasn’t working—for either me or my editor.

By far he’s been the most difficult hero I’ve ever written. When I write, I can hear the characters in my head. The men all chatter along in my mind, but Bran, he never talked to me. Never surfaced. I really had no idea who he was when I sat down to write him. I knew what he was, what his role in Annwyn and the book was, but who he was....total mystery.

So, I did something I do a lot when starting a book. A stream of conscious writing. This exercise is basically when I sit down, and say, ‘right, I’m going to type whatever comes into my mind’. I did that, that exercise is now the opening of Velvet Haven, with Bran in his sacred grove, practicing his magic, and religion. It’s where I heard him first—a mixture of modern man, and ancient Fey.

When I sent this to my editor, she knew I had found him. He sounds a bit historical, and I couldn’t write him any other way.

He doesn’t talk much. He never did in my mind, so I decided that it was him. How he was meant to be. I put it down to the fact that he’s a king. He doesn’t really have friends—just allies. He would naturally keep to himself, therefore his social skills wouldn’t be all that hot! So, I guess the round about answer to your question is, he poured onto the page that way, all dark and brooding!

As for his raven form, the raven was the symbol of the Otherworld. There’s much known about the animals the Celts worshipped. The raven, the Celt’s believed, was the ruler of the Otherworld, and the Gaelic meaning of the name Bran is Raven.
So, I used that link to create him.

I loved Mairi and that's not something I often say about a heroine. Her prickly nature combined with her unshakable loyalty really had me bonding to her. Also, her overall necessity to Bran and Annwyn was beautifully choreographed making her originality something that others will be hard-pressed to top in my opinion. How was she different from Bran writing wise? Without giving away her amazing gift, can you say whether or not it was an idea you had been harboring for a long time or was it something that was just as surprising to you as it was to me?

Well, thanks for loving Mairi! Heroines are not my strong suit! Sometimes I really struggle with them, to make them identifiable. But Mairi was a dream to write. Where Bran was closed off, Mairi was just so honest and open. Mairi chatted away, so much so, that I had to cut some of what she said, to make way for plot points!

As for her gift, I knew it all along. My editor when I told her, was immediately intrigued, but a little worried how I was going to pull it off for the reader, once she read the importance of Suriel in Mairi’s life. She thought it was going to really confuse the reader, but somehow, I managed to pull it off!

For me, I love how Bran and Mairi, mortal and immortal, male and female, are completely integral to the other’s existence. It goes beyond love and sexuality. I’m really pleased with how it turned out, and I will say, that I’m tickled no one has come up with it—at least not that I know.

In addition to being Sophie Renwick, paranormal author extraordinaire, you also write erotic historicals as Charlotte Featherstone. Out of your entire combined backlist, which book represents you the most as a writer and why?

LOL! Well thanks for that!

Man, this is hard a hard a question to answer. I suppose the historicals are more me as a writer. I have been blessed with an editor who gets my writing, my style, my use of language for historicals. When you peel back the layers of me, I think you’ll find hidden there, what I put out in my historicals.

That said, the Sophie voice has not been easy to find. My editor for Sophie likes a more clean, stream lined voice, and readers will laugh at this, because that is the total opposite to Charlotte. So, finding the right nuances for Sophie hasn’t been as easy. I always worry that readers who like Charlotte, won’t like Sophie and vice versa. But I’m trying to find that happy medium between contemporary and historical for Sophie. I think, probably where you’ll see some of Charlotte reflected in Sophie’s voice, are the love scene.

As far as backlist goes, I think I’m going to have to cop out and say both Addicted, and Sinful, from Charlotte. There is an incredible amount of introspection in those books, which really is me as a person, and a writer. I suppose I am most proud of those books because I dared to look deep into human behaviour and write about it—warts and all. Neither of those books was easy to write. But as a writer, they’re the ones I’m most proud of—maybe because they were so difficult to write and perhaps, some of the underlying human weakness I share with my characters.

If you could only choose one heroine from all your written titles as your best friend, who would it be and why?

Two heroines came to mind, and I suppose it’s because they were basically written side by side. They are Jane, from Sinful, and Mairi from Velvet Haven. I suppose, if I had to pick, it would be Mairi. I could see me sitting around with her in her apartment, chatting and laughing. She’s prickly, but then, so am I. There are a few facets of her personality that mirror mine, but in all, she is a different person from me, but not so different that we wouldn’t be friends, have a beer, and check out hot guys!

Jane on the other hand, is the heroine who is most like me.

Cailleach, co-ruler of Annwyn with Bran, is a mystery and not only to the reader but to Bran as well. Why does Annwyn need a goddess co-ruler? What was the inspiration for that? Also, she and Bran have a pretty volatile relationship; will that improve now that Bran has Mairi?

Cailleach is a mysterious figure. I like her. She’s a very strong woman. She’s a goddess, and Annwyn, which is based on the Otherworld, and Avalon was traditionally presided over by a Druid Priestess. They taught the ways of the Mother Goddess to females. The world grows and evolves through them and their fertility and magic. So, I definitely wanted that strong feminine figure in Annwyn. But Goddesses divine power through nature, and inner strength. She’s very magical, but she needs a strong, warrior type consort. So, that’s how Bran, and the Sidhe came into play. It’s a symbolic marriage of two races, one ancient and ethereal, and the other dark, powerful, and strong.

I like that the goddess need someone, and that it is a man. I like the imagery it evokes, and of course, the nuances of sexuality it. An ethereal female, with a strong male protector.

As to whether Cailleach and Bran will ever soften to one another. I’ve written the opening for book two of the series, and interestingly it begins with Bran at the Goddess Temple, giving Cailleach the names of his nine warriors. They still seem stiff and unyielding with each other. But Mairi will be a calming influence on Bran, but I still don’t see him softening too much to Cailleach. I think the only person he can truly open up with is Mairi.

In book two, readers will learn much more about Cailleach, and who she is on the inside. She is, of course, not everything she appears to be, like so many in the book, and in Annwyn. We’ll also learn more about Annwyn, and the order of the Goddesses. As well, we’ll learn a bit about the goddesses weaknesses...fallen angels, for one! :0

What's up next for the Immortals of Annwyn? Can you give us some juicy gossip on who the hero and heroine will be as well as their story?

Definitely more time in Annwyn, and learning about the Goddesses. The prophecy will evolve, and the quest for the amulet and flame will be going full force. As well, something sad is going to happen. I’ve already written that scene!

The hero is Rhys, Bran’s mortal nephew who runs the Velvet Haven club. His heroine is a goddess amongst other things. We’ll learn more of Keir, Rhys’ Shadow Wraith, and more about Rowan and who she really is.

And of course, the Soul Stealer, and that mysterious Destroyer will be begin to take shape. I’m expecting book 2 to be a bit more dark, with more scenes of the actual Black Magic being conducted. As well, Rhys, and his heroine, Bronwnn are going to be combustible. I’ve already written TWO scenes for them, and Rhys stole my heart in one. ;)

Me and my blogger friends have a love for what we affectionately call "Hussy Reading Material". Do you have any romance authors that you prefer when or if you're in need of erotic romance reading material?

Argh! There are so many good authors out there, and my reading time has been greatly cut back! But I love, love, Joey Hill, and Shayla Black. Lisa Kleypas, although not erotic, can make me sigh with her excellent dialogue and sexy heroes. JR Ward. Rhage...his book always works for me to get the inner hussy purring! But then, who doesn’t love the brothers?!

Big hugs and thanks to Sophie for taking the time to answer all my questions and for providing the giveaway.


*Contest Open to All*

**Must be 18 or Older to Enter**

***Contest Closes Thursday, March 11th at Midnight U.S. Pacific Standard Time and a Winner will be Chosen Randomly and Announced Friday, March 12th**

68 comments:

sweetsue said...

Ooh-this book sounds sexy!

sweetsue said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Barbara said...

Hi Sophie and VFG!! What a great interview! I really loved reading more about how an author comes to write their stories and what inspires them. As for my, well, I'm a notorious Charlotte Featherstone fan, so I'd have to agree when Sophie says out of her entire backlist Addicted and Sinful were special ;)

Although, I really enjoyed Hot In Here and was sooooo sad to hear Trey wasn't getting his story :( I'm starting VH tonight, I can't wait to see what the story is all about!!

((hugs))

Lori said...

Awesome review! I want to read this book so bad. *sighs*

VampFanGirl said...

Good Luck Sweetsue!!

***

Sigh....SINFUL...ADDICTED...I'm with on that thought Barbara.

HUGS, VFG

***

This book is right up your alley, Lori. I can't wait to read your thoughts on it. Good luck!!

:) VFG

Paige said...

Sounds like a great read!

galeogirl at comcast dot net

Leontine said...

VFG, you really went in-depth with Sophie and loved to read more about how this world and characters came to be. I can't wait for me copy to arrive. Posti, posti, please be quick!!

PS: Love me some bran but can't wait for Suriel to get his own story *grin*

Carol said...

What a great interview. I'd love a copy of the book.

RachieG said...

:) What a FUN FUN interview!! :) I'm a huge fan of Lisa Kleypas and J.R. Ward too. Kleypas can write the best heroes that definitely make me sigh too. I'm gonna have to read Rhage's book again to see if my inner hussy purrs! HA!

Congratulations on the new release, it looks great.

rachie2004 @ yahoo (d0t) com

VampFanGirl said...

Good Luck Paige!

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Hey Leontine! Thanks for enjoying the interview. Oh yeah, Suriel is one hot bad boy! Wait to till you read VH. This guy just takes over everything when he walks in. Scary really.

HUGS, VFG

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Thank Carol! Good Luck!!

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Hi RachieG!

Sigh...Rhage. His book is one of my favorites in the BDB series. And I think your inner hussy will definitely be purring even though its a re-read. Mine does and I've re-read it at least four times!

Good Luck!

:) VFG

Eva S said...

This book sounds wonderful, it's on my wishlist!
Thanks for a great interview!

VampFanGirl said...

Good Luck Eva!

Myra said...

Sounds like a great read!

myra0502@yahoo.com

Laurie (BittenbyParanormalRomance) said...

Hey, VFG! Dont enter me just stopped to read your interveiw, that of course, was excellent. I love to read more about an author. I just picked up my book an hour ago can't wait to dig in.....

Patti said...

Hi Sophie and VFG! This was a terrific interview! I love getting glimpses into an authors thought process as they write.

joder said...

Great interview! Great premise to a story with a sexy hero, I mean c'mon look at that cover, that I'd love to read.

joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com

Jennifer said...

Super interview! I can't wait to read this book!!!

Smokinhotbooks said...

Nice interview VFG - I've been seeing this book around the blogsphere!!!

I was fascinated to learn there was a religious angle in Velvet Heaven.

Blodeuedd said...

..no way blogger ate my post again!
Sighs.

Ok gotta make this fast since I was late like it was. Great interview!
Bran=hunky! Need more Suriel hehe. Love Welsh myths, the Sidhe. Equals surely a great book

mindy said...

this sounds great thanks for the giveaway minsthins at optonline dot net

Lizzielvr said...

I read the prequel to this series in "a Highlander Christmas". The story was great and peaked my interest! Looking forward to the series!

VampFanGirl said...

Good Luck Myra!!

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Hey Laurie! Have fun reading VELVET HAVEN and I look forward to reading your review.

HUGS, VFG

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Thanks for enjoying the review Patti!

:) VFG

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Thanks Joder! LOL! Yeah, how could anyone walk past that cover and not be tempted? For real!

:) VFG

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Thanks Jennifer! Good Luck!

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Thanks KC! Oh girl, you're gonna love Suriel. *shudders*

HUGS, VFG

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Sorry that Blogger is messin' with you Blodeuedd. :( But thanks for lovin' the interview! Love your equation, btw. *wink*

Hugs, VFG

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Good Luck Mindy!

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Lizzielvr, if you loved the prequel, you're gonna love Bran's full length novel. Good Luck!!

:) VFG

mverno said...

from the review i can't wait to get a copy
mverno@roadrunner.com

I Heart Book Gossip said...

Please count me in. Great review.

cindyc725 at gmail dot com

VampFanGirl said...

Good Luck mverno & I Heart Book Gossip!!

tetewa said...

Sounds good, count me in! tWarner419@aol.com

VampFanGirl said...

Good Luck tetewa!

Sophie Renwick said...

Hey guys sorry to drop in late! I've been crazy busy with writing today. Let me go over comments, and address everything.

Cecile said...

Great interview VFG! My copy arrived the other day in the mail... Bran was a little grumpy when I pulled him out of the mailbox but he was okay after I got him in the house. And I can not wait to read it!!!
Great job you two!!!!

Donna [F.D. Ramblings] said...

Oh, Wow! I love Sophie's explanation of her world of Sidhe (I've only read a couple of books on them) and what she's build around heroes in the Annwyn world. Can't go wrong with big hunky heroes. ;) I must get a copy of Velvet Haven. Terrific interview ladies!

Martha Lawson said...

Count me in for this one, please.

I follow

mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

jeanette8042 said...

Fabulous interview and I also love the sexy heroes created by JR Ward and Joey W. Hill!

lilazncutie1215 @ yahoo.com

etirv said...

Enjoyed reading this interview!

delilah0180(at)yahoo(dot)com

Sidhe Vicious said...

Excellent interview! I am now dying to get my hands on a copy of Velvet Haven! I love your take on dark, dangerous, sexy sidhe warriors. Bring them on! :)

sidhevicious(at)shaw(dot)ca

Carol L. said...

Oh this sounds like the start of a great new series :) Book 1 has me intrigued and most definitely have it on my to read list. Great interview.
Carol L.
Lucky4750@aol.com

buddyt said...

It sounds like you might have come up with a new angle of the shapeshifters genre.

I would like to read this and see exactly what you have done.

Please enter me in the giveaway.
Thanks

Carol

buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

409cope said...

This sounds like my kind of read! cardshark42(at)hotmail(dot)com

host said...

Great interview! The book sounds very good :)

Cybercliper said...

This is going to be a fantastic series! I've been patiently waiting for this book since A Highlander Christmas. Congrats on the new release! annhonATaolDOTcom

mariska said...

Love this book and really like to read it since it's first review and interviews :)

uniquas at ymail dot com

Deborah Wellenstein said...

The interview was great. I find the whole paranormal romance genre great fun-way better than all the pioneer romances of the '80's! Thanks!

Alicia said...

Would love to read this.

Thanks for the giveaway >^..^<

bloggyig at gmail dot com

lolahb said...

Please enter me to win this book.

Thanks!
lolahb at gmail dot com

Cynthya said...

I'm fascinated by the Sidhe, so this sounds like a book I'd love. I'm also interested in different religions although I am not religious myself. I like Rhage, too, by the way, but Zsadist is my favorite.

VampFanGirl said...

Thank you again Sophie for the awesome interview!!

HUGS, VFG

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Thanks Cecile!! Can't wait to read what you think of Bran!!

Hugs, VFG

***

Hey Donna! NO, one definitely can't go wrong with big hunky heroes. ;) And Sophie's Sidhe world is amazing. Can't wait for you to read it!

Hugs, VFG

***

Good Luck Martha Lawson, jeanette8042, and etriv!!

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Hey Sidhe Vicious. Wow, with that name, you fit right in here. LOL! Thanks for lovin' the interview and good luck!

:) VFG

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Thanks for enjoying the interview Carol! Good Luck!

:) VFG

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Good Luck buddyt and 409cope!

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Thanks host! Good Luck!

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Good Luck Cyberclipper and mariska!

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Thanks Deborah! I'm glad you loved the interview. Good Luck!

:) VFG

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Good Luck Alicia, lolahb and Cynthya!

:) VFG

Tricia said...

Loved the interview! I can't wait to delve deeper into Annwyn and more of that brooding Bran;) I'm also very curious about Mairi's gift!

VampFanGirl said...

Thanks Tricia! Good Luck!

:) VFG

Ina said...

Hi Sophie!
wow, what a great interview - thanks to both of you :) I really enjoyed it!
after seeing it the first time I can't wait to read Velvet Haven...
greetings, Ina

Jessica said...

Good interview, sounds like an interesting book, would love to have it.

PaintedPony17@yahoo.com

Spav said...

Nice interview. This book sounds great! Count me in, please.

spav05(at)gmail(dot)com

Naomi said...

I wanna have it.This would be great sweepstakes.
naomi20 at live.jp

Anonymous said...

Not really digging Fabio on the cover but do love reading this type of novel.
mckelly74@gmail.com

CrystalGB said...

Great interview. Sophie's book sounds good.

VampFanGirl said...

Thanks for lovin' the interview Ina. Good Luck!!

:) VFG

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Thanks Jessica. Good Luck!

:) VFG

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Thanks Spav. Will do!

:) VFG

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Good Luck Naomi and mckelly74!

***

Thanks CrystalGB. Good Luck!

:) VFG

Melissa B. said...

What a thrilling idea for a story. I would love to read it.

Anonymous said...

I used to have a body like that ( on the cover of the book )!

theyyyguy@yahoo.com

Bookie said...

Hot cover and interesting story. I'm going to put this on my TBR list.

dawnpnr(at)aol(dot)com

Smooshy said...

oh my! enter me!

packerfantimmy said...

This book sounds right up my wife's alley. Please help me be a good husband by picking me so I can give this to her.
titletowntreasures(AT)yahoo(DOT)com

vmkids said...

I would love to read this one. Makes me think I do not read enough!!!!

Daniel M said...

great interview looks like a fun one - regnod(at)yahoo(d0t)com

latishajean said...

This sounds so good can't wait to read this book. nice giveaway thank you.

FDP 4 Life said...

sounds like a great book

amandakbarnes90 said...

This book sounds awesome! I'd absolutely love to read it (:
Amanda Barnes
amandakbarnes90(at)gmail(dot)com

lknott said...

Looks Like a good read. Enjoyed the interview. Thanks for the chance to win!!!



lknott@partnercom.net

Gianna said...

I don't have any current favorites.. just getting started in the subject ;)

purango said...

I loved your interview. The book sounds great. Thanks. garrettsambo@aol.com

ZESTYWONDERLAND said...

I am a big Higlander fan so I know I would be thrilled to read this book.

zestywonderland@gmail.com

 
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