Thank goodness, a Cornish novel where it rains, it storms, gales do blow and overall the weather isn’t brilliant every day! An interesting and complex small town set of characters inhabit this novel, with plenty of gossip and rows and misunderstandings. The only missing character was Aunt Joan - she deserves her own novel! So we have people behaving badly, parties in the 190s fuelled by alcohol and wacky baccky, and the resultant secrets that finally come out. Plus PTSD, bad fiancés, fiancées, university crushes and lots more. Real people, suffering real emotional traumas.
“You had a plan when you walked into my office five minutes ago. What was it?” He gripped the edge of the armrest with both hands, crossing his legs at his ankles. The tiny flame in my chest grew bigger and spread down to my core.
“I had no plan.” I admitted because the extent of my thoughts when he texted was to come in here and have sex. All I could think of was touching him and feeling his weight on me again. But now I was a little pissed. He could’ve been more explicit. Like, hey, I’m just here to work, bring me the report. No sex. Get your mind out of the gutter. He could also wipe that knowing smile off his face. “What makes you think I had a plan?” I crossed my arms over my chest to cover my hardened nipples.
He rubbed the side of his face. “The thigh-high stockings. You know how they drive me wild. Even if I can’t see them, I know that’s the only kind you own.”
If that was true, why was he still five feet away from me? Why had he not ripped my clothes off already and had his way with me on the couch?
“I have a meeting to go to.” I bolted to the door. Before I could open it, his large hand pressed against it, effectively blocking me from leaving.
“I don’t think so.” His voice was deep and so full of meaning. He walked me back to the living area until my butt hit the back of the sofa. “You had a plan. Show me.” He gripped my waist and shifted so he was the one caged in.
I could go, or I could stay and get what I came here for. I slipped my hands inside his suit jacket and pushed it off his shoulders. His dark gaze stayed on me as I removed his dress shirt. A low moan like a hiss escaped his lips when I ran my hands down his muscled chest. His pecs were harder than I remembered. It seemed Derek’s hard body was directly proportional to the amount of stress he had at work. The more they pinned on him, the more time he spent in his boxing ring. These past three weeks must have been hell for him.
“Now you.” His voice sounded strained.
Self-control was Derek’s superpower. I gave up all pretenses and removed my blazer and silky top quickly. My skin felt hot from needing him so much. His lips parted when I finally let my skirt pool at my feet.
He cradled my face and kissed me hard. “Fuck. Valentina. You came to work wearing that underneath?” His mouth was warm, and he tasted of cinnamon gum. I melted into him, fumbling with his belt.
“The door.” I panted in between kisses.
“I locked it.” He gripped my ass and wrapped my legs around his waist as he strode around the sofa and sat with me straddling him. “Valentina. How do you do it? How do you make me forget about everything?” He freed me from my bra and sucked on my aching nipples, switching back and forth until I couldn’t wait anymore.
“I need you now,” I whispered in his ear.
I didn’t care that my voice was laced with desperate desire. He cupped my butt cheeks and lifted me enough to give him room to lie flat on the cushions with his head on the decorative pillow. My thighs rubbed his sides as I rested on top of him, topless and without a clue what to do next.
My confusion must have registered on my face because he placed both hands behind his head and grinned at me. His biceps bulged on either side of him.
He bucked under me to get comfortable, as if he were getting ready to watch a movie or something. The grin that twitched his lip was both infuriating and such a turn-on.
“You want me inside you. Do it.”
Diana A. Hicks is an award-winning author of steamy contemporary romance with a touch of suspense. Book two in her Desert Monsoon series, LOVE OVER LOGIC, won the 2019 Readers’ Favorite Silver Medal Winner in the Romance – Suspense genre
When Diana is not writing, she enjoys kickboxing, traveling, and indulging in the simple joys of life like wine and chocolate. She lives in Atlanta and loves spending time with her two children and husband. Connect with Diana on social media to stay up to date on her latest releases.
Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different and your approach is unique?
I work at a university so I see a lot of college students through my days, weeks, months, and years. I get to know some of them and what they’re struggling with. The 21st Century Austen series are modernizations of Jane Austen books and she wrote about people in this same age group. Modernizing it means considering college students and how different they are from other adults and people the same age who don’t go to college.
Emma, the book that inspired Woodhouse Hall, is about a woman of immense privilege. She has the life she wants without having had to compromise like others around her. She sees herself as skilled at something she has merely been lucky to get right. It’s something common for all of us to understand and happens often in our early twenties. I want readers to see that mistakes and failures aren’t the end of the world but lessons that can help us make better decisions.
How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a note book where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?
Woodhouse Hall happened very quickly. I write my first draft during National Novel Writing Month events. There are three a year: the big one in November and then two smaller ones in April and July. I was going to write a different project in July 2018 but this idea suddenly came to me and I was able to write the whole thing in a few months. I did the research as I wrote and edited, talking to college students around me. From start to release day it took less than a year and a half to work on this book.
I do have a lot of journals and notebooks where I collect my notes, outlines, research, and character details. Each book will take at least one notebook.
How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book?
Research is my bread and butter. I’m a research librarian so I can get lost in the research process because I enjoy it so much. How much time depends on the topic. If I know a lot about it, I don’t spend too much time. The research for Woodhouse Hall required a little research about how buildings are added to the national register of historical buildings and talking to college students about life in dorms. It didn’t take long at all. Another book is going to take place in a candy shop, which I know nothing about. It’s going to take extensive research that will involve eating candy!
What resources do you use? In general and for the last book that you wrote
The resources depend on each book. For Woodhouse Hall I was easily able to find a lot of resources online. The government puts up a ton of information about getting a building listed on the historical register. I also looked up blueprints of dorms and costs so I made sure plot points happened accurately. I like going to places and talking to people as part of the research process. It helps me understand context of things that happen and I get great stories to include. I can also see how people interact with each other in a setting.
Do you have any pets? Do they help you write?
I have a cat and a dog. Neither are helpful when writing. Sabine, the cat, wants to be left alone. Cedric, the dog, wants to be the center of my attention. He likes to sit in my lap, making it difficult to work. I have to leave the house everyday if I want to get anything done. It’s probably why I can write and publish books the way I do. When I go out to write, I can focus and just check items off my to-do list.
Do you have an unusual hobby?
It’s not unusual but I’m also a knitter. Before I decided to start self-publishing, I was doing so much knitting that I was creating my own patterns and still sell them online. I still knit, especially when I’m not writing. I try to make sure I knit at least one item for every story I write. I have so much yarn I just shop in my own house when I’m ready to knit something else.
If you could choose to live in another country/town – which would you choose? And why?
I love Paris and my plan is to retire there in thirty years. My plan is to continue writing full time while I’m there. I love Paris and have since before my first visit ten years ago. I love the food and history. Anytime I can manage a way to insert Paris into what I’m writing, I do. Phi Alpha Pi has a major scene happen there but not Woodhouse Hall.
Do you people watch to find characters for your books? How do you do this? What is the funniest thing you have seen that you have incorporated into a book? Or do you add some traits from your family and friends into your characters?
I do and it often shocks my friends how much I’m paying attention to everything. I was in Boston with some friends, walking to a chocolate shop for a tour. Behind us was a couple who had clearly been on a few dates but not that comfortable with each other. I walked between our two groups, listening to both my friends and the couple. Later, over lunch, we were talking about the couple and they were shocked at how much I had over heard.
Sometimes these things make it into books but usually I watch to see how people talk and what these things show me about them, even if its assumptions people will make. I often think about what people think about me when they see me in cafe’s working. These things work their way in to everything I write.
The funniest thing that ended up in Latkes of Love, specifically, was when a friend and I had lunch in Salem, MA during the Women’s Soccer championships this past summer. There was a guy at the bar there and he was far more enthusiastic than anyone else in the bar. I wrote the entire thing into a disastrous date for a character. I don’t want to spoil it but it was magnificent.
About the Author
Sara Marks is a librarian with two masters degrees and plans to never stop getting over educated. She likes the idea of having all the academic regalia she can ever possess. She cries at nearly every movie she sees (ask her about when she cried at a horror movie), but it’s full-on weeping for Disney animated movies. She loves reading nearly every genre but likes to write women’s fiction, romance, and even horror. You have to balance out the reality of the world if you’re going to be a hopeless romantic! Her heroines are women who don’t want the expected life, rarely worrying about their age, weight, marriageability, or fertility.
This is a story of Maren and autism as an adult – Maren is high functioning on the spectrum, but she lacks social cues and skills and this makes it tricky for her to cope with adult life – especially as she has a family which tends to over-smother and over-protect.
She is employed very gainfully and is great at her job – so long as she is in front of a computer and working alone – or alongside a trusted friend. But general workplace skills and coping are tricky for her to navigate. And then she wants to date and wonders about children and marriage.
This story is told very empathetically and using Maren’s voice to tell it was a great device. It really helps the reader understand her life choices and why she lives by rules. I felt that the author was familiar with the syndrome and I also became familiar as the story progressed and I was privy to Maren’s thoughts and rationales.
A good read and worthwhile for anyone who wants to understand Asperger’s behaviours.
A romance about two troubled souls, both nerdy and brilliant but wit troubled backgrounds and difficult family relationships. She is an engineer and a lawyer, (girls please note this possibility), and he is an IT engineer.
They work together and office rules say no romances with co-workers but.. a nice story with good characterisation.