Hi all. Please join me in welcoming today's Guest Diva Heather Long! She has a fabulous new release that I actually read when my son was in the hospital after surgery. I am not lying when I tell you that Armand and Anna got me through that day and night. (my son is fine, btw, and recovering nicely) but Heather is the type of author who never ceases to surprise me with the sheer amount of talent behind her writing. I highly recommend you check it out. --RR
Some Like It…Sexy
Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, and I’m on the road today to spend time with the Houston RWA, and while we’re doing all of that, I thought I would share with you my personal definition of sexy.
So what’s sexy? How do we define it? Sure, we can go for looks. Chris Hemsworth is definitely sexy. He’s hot. Gorgeous. Has stunning blue eyes. And when he’s in his Thor workout mode—hoo boy! But you know what’s even sexier than Hemsworth in Thor mode? Hemsworth in Dad mode when he’s cradling his baby and looks like he hasn’t had sleep in days. That’s sexy.
So is sexy a look or is a state of being?
When we’re talking heroes in books, I find heroes who are thoughtful, willing to sacrifice, and funny to be sexy no matter what they look like. Think about it, for the most part, when we read or even when we write—we can’t visually see the men and women we’re writing about. We imagine them, we construct pictures with our words, pictures predicated on all aspects of their personality combined with their physical traits.
But knowing a hero has dark hair, and dark eyes, and a strong jaw will conjure a different image for everyone who reads it. Close your eyes for a moment, who was the first person to come to mind when you read that description?
Was it Benedict Cumberbatch? What about Tom Hiddleston? Maybe it was Brett Dalton? Or someone else entirely? Sexy isn’t a physical trait, it’s not a physicality at all—it’s a personal preference and how do we determine whether the sexy that is my cup of tea is the same sexy that is your cup of tea?
It’s in how a character behaves, the choices he makes, the things that he says, and the things he is willing to give up—or what drives him to fight. A man doesn’t have to be physically beautiful to be sexy. Hell, he can look like someone hit him across the face with a board or not possess anything beyond “average” physical traits and still be the sexiest man in the world because of how he behaves, how he responds to challenges and how he treats others.
For me, personally, Clark Gregg’s Phil Coulson is incredibly sexy because he’s dry, direct, and unflappable. That’s hot. How do you define sexy?
One of my favorite—sexiest scenes—in the Going Royal series is when the arrogant, stuffy prince gets playful…there was just something about it that made my tummy flutter.
Some Like it Scandalous
Not every girl wants to marry a prince.
After Anna Novak discovered that her fun-loving college sweetheart was actually the Grand Duke Armand Dagmar, she fled. Now, her work directing a scholarship foundation forces her to meet with the lost love of her life. Face to face, her body remembers what her heart has struggled to forget.
Armand regrets hiding his identity from Anna, but cherishes the memory of being loved as a man, not a prince. Unable to resist, he uses his family's influence to see her again and relies on their shared history to bring her back into his arms.
Anna refuses to trust her feelings for a man who never really existed. But when news of their reunion reaches the paparazzi prematurely, the Dagmar family's enemies are paying attention. Scandal and mortal danger are parts of his life that Armand never wanted to share with Anna, but now he may be forced to protect her…even from himself.
Book Two of Going Royal
“Have you eaten?”
She shook her head. “We didn’t exactly have the time.”
Eyeing her, he reached out and took her hand and tugged her toward the kitchen. She was quiet—too quiet—and he let her hand go and opened the refrigerator. “What’s wrong now?”
“Nothing.” Her flattened tone gave her away.
He cut a glance toward her from the corner of his eye. “Uh-huh. I know that nothing. What’s wrong?”
“Nothing is wrong.” She padded around to the breadbox and pulled out a loaf. His coat dwarfed her, but rather than tug it off, she’d slid her arms into the sleeves and hugged it to her like a robe.
“Hmm, it doesn’t sound like nothing.” She chose bread, so he opened the drawers till he found lunchmeats and cheeses. “In fact it sounds a lot like something.”
“No. It sounds like nothing. Because that’s all it is, nothing.” She opened and shut the cabinets until she found plates. He added mayonnaise, mustard and pickle relish—something he enjoyed—to the gathering of sandwich fixings on the counter.
“But you said it with a tone.” A tone he remembered all too well—a tone that said nothing meant everything and ignoring it would just cause a fight.
The last thing he wanted.
She circled the island and made it to the pantry ahead of him. She pulled out three bags. One each of pretzels, chips and dried apple crisps. They circled each other, dodging with an expert ease. Anna added the bags to the counter, setting each item at an exact angle and in the order they’d need to build sandwiches.
“I didn’t say it with a tone.” Her voice climbed a half note with exasperation.
“You did.” He pulled open a drawer and took out a knife. He flipped the bread onto the plates and nudged the drawer shut with his hip. “Your shoulders are stiff, your eyes are tired and there’s tension in your jaw. You were uneasy earlier but willing to work with us. This afternoon, you’re tense, solemn and quiet—ergo, your nothing is definitely something.”
“Oh for the love of God, Charlie. Let it go.” She banged her hands against the island for emphasis.
He cocked his head to the side and met her irritation steadily. “No. This works if we talk—not if we ignore it.”
“What this? Making sandwiches requires conversation?”
Counting to twenty in his head—in three languages—helped. “Being together. We left a lot unsaid—and I’d rather we didn’t add any more items to that list. You’re going to be staying here and we’re going to spend a lot of time together.” He ignored the internal fist pump at the idea—it lacked a certain decorum and he was pretty certain she wouldn’t appreciate the gesture.
He spread mayonnaise onto the bread, added a layer of mustard across it and chose three slices of Swiss and two of the turkey before repeating the process with the top slice of bread.
“We’re working together. There’s a difference.” The deflection was so poor it didn’t deserve a comment.
“We have a personal history that cannot be filed and put away.” He stacked the sandwich together and cut it in half before sliding the plate over to her. Flipping his own bread over, he added the relish and a very thin smear of mustard to opposite pieces of bread. He added turkey, ham and American cheese to his. Sparing her a glance, he found her staring at her sandwich. “Now what’s wrong?”
“You—you—” She stuttered. She never stuttered. It was almost as endearing as the fact that she called him Charlie.
“You still like your water in a bottle, your turkey with lots of Swiss and you hate mustard with any other type of sandwich. Now eat it—you’re too pale.” He released her gaze and finished fixing his, taking the time to put the lids back on the containers. But rather than eat, she put it all away and he sighed.
“This is hard—” She spoke to the refrigerator, but he would take what he could get. She put the items back in slowly, too slowly.
“I know. I wish I could make it easier for you.”
“No—believe it or not, the whole death threat thing, that’s still surreal and not really sinking in. Being here with you—that’s what’s hard.” She rearranged the condiment shelf, putting like with like.
Adding order to chaos.
“I don’t know what to call you. Is your name Armand or is it Charlie? Should I say Your Highness—which apparently you don’t like—or maybe Mister Dagmar? Or is it Andraste…? I don’t know how to do this…” She turned, closing the fridge. Her expression was tense and stricken. “The press was all over that boy’s house and he handled it beautifully. I have a dozen more kids just like him that I have to meet. How do I do that with the press on my heels? What am I supposed to do?”
“You can eat your sandwich.” He set down his and wiped his hands on a napkin before reaching over to open her water bottle and setting it next to her plate. “And you can drink your water. Unless you prefer coffee… I don’t have soda, but I can certainly order some.”
He picked up his sandwich and took a bite.
“That’s it? Just eat my sandwich?” The dangerous tone was back in her voice. The same one she used when she replied nothing earlier.
“For now. You need to eat. You’ve had a lot of shocks to your system—” Mustard splattered him. He blinked and looked down at the remains of the half sandwich that struck his face and dripped down onto his shirt.
She smiled at him and took a bite out of the half she hadn’t thrown at him.
Plucking the bread and cheese and turkey took a moment, he set them down calmly on the edge of his plate and hit the base of the chip bag. The compressed air burst the end and showered her in potato chips.
Her eyes went wide and he smiled.
They both lunged for the water bottle, but between them, it fired the water up and showered it down on both of them. Anna had chips in her hair. Mustard clung to his chin. They both dripped. Their gazes collided and she laughed—a deep, belly-rolling laugh that smashed the tension against the rocks—and he grinned…before hitting her with another douse of water from the unused bottle.