Welcome back to Under the Covers, Roni! THE ONE YOU FIGHT FOR is releasing this week and we cannot wait for everyone to read this story. You manage to rip my heart out every time and I love every minute of it. 😉
Aww, thanks! <3
Did you always know you wanted Shaw Miller, the brother of one of the shooters, to get an HEA in this series?
I knew early on that I wanted to explore the aftermath for a family member of one of the shooters. Those are people we don’t typically think about except when we’re looking to place blame. They’re often vilified along with the perpetrator, but that’s not so black and white. And after reading Sue Klebold’s A Mother’s Reckoning, I knew that I wanted to dig into that dynamic deeper. That’s when Shaw came to me. He’s the older brother of one of the shooters and had his whole life in front of him, an Olympic hopeful, when his brother committed his horrible crime. So he lost his brother, his dream, his parents (to grief), and took on a lot of guilt for not being around to notice his brother’s problems in time. I wanted to give him a happy ending.
What was the hardest thing about dealing with the ghosts of the past as obstacles to the romance in this book?
This book was the hardest I’ve ever had to write. I actually threw out 35,000 words and started over because I could feel I wasn’t telling the right story yet. There is always a reason why the hero and heroine can’t be together. That’s a romance novel. But this conflict was so huge—he’s the brother of the shooter, she lost her sister in the attack at the hands of his brother, her family hates even the name of his family mentioned. It was a lot. So I think the hardest part for me was making sure the conflict was realistic and not melodramatic. I didn’t want her to blame him for his brother’s actions. He was blaming himself enough and he had a long way to go to forgive himself. But I also knew that she couldn’t just jump into something with him without a big emotional gut check. There was a lot of nuanced emotion and guilt to navigate. I didn’t want to get it wrong.
Friendship is an important part of this series. What’s your favorite thing about the bond between the heroines in this series?
I’m not sure I had the intention to write a series so focused on female friendships when I started this journey. It was something that developed as I was writing, but it’s become the heart of the series for me. I was finishing the fourth and final book last week, and as I came to the epilogue, I realized that it needed to be about the four friends and not more about the couple in the fourth book. This series is romance-focused, but I think it’s equally a love letter to friendship. These four women have each other’s backs one-hundred percent. They put the friendship above all else and have become family to each other. I loved giving these women a safe group in which to be totally themselves and accepted. They’ve been through hell together and now they’re not going to let anything petty get in the way. In a lot of ways, I modeled after the bond I have with my close friends. I’m going to miss writing these ladies.
What was your favorite scene to write without being spoilery?
Speaking of the friendships, I think some of my favorite scenes in this book are between the heroine, Taryn, and one of the other ladies, Kincaid. Kincaid is the sassy southern extrovert who is always trying to push Taryn out of her comfort zone. The two together created some scenes that felt like they were writing themselves. One in particular at a karaoke bar comes to mind. Taryn can be very droll and sarcastic. Kincaid is all over-the-top enthusiasm. So their banter is just a delight to write.
What distracts you the most when you’re trying to write?
The issue of distractions is one I’ve been deliberately working on for years. (I’ve blogged a lot about that journey, if anyone is interested.) So I feel like I’m much less likely to get distracted from writing than I was even a year or two ago. However, that doesn’t mean it’s always smooth sailing. I get writer’s block and have learned I need a lot of thinking time while I’m writing. I can’t rush forward with words until I’ve done a lot of pondering about what comes next. So I’ve started marking down thinking time in my planner so that I recognize that it’s a valid part of my process and does count as work, instead of feeling guilty that I didn’t hit my word count for the day because I had to sit and think for a while.
What are three romance novels on your to-be-read list?
Only three? So hard! Lol. The top 3 sitting on my To Be Read Next pile are At Grave’s End by Jeaniene Frost (I’m just getting into this series and am loving it), My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren (because I always love their books), and Sinner by Sierra Simone (because it was on a best of the year list with my book and I haven’t read her before.)
Name a destination from a book (not one of yours) you’d love to visit.
I’d love to visit Scotland and I completely blame Outlander for that.
What are you working on now and what’s next for you after that?
I’m about to revise The One For You, Kincaid’s book (book 4 of the series), and then I’ll be working on book one of a brand new contemporary romance series that I can’t quite release details on yet but that I’m super excited about. And in between all that, I’ll be launching online writing workshops this year to teach the art of writing romance. : )
Thanks so much for sharing with us today!!
Thanks for having me!
Released: January 1, 2019
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Ones Who Got Away #3
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca
How hard would you fight for the one you love?
Taryn Landry was there that awful night fourteen years ago when Long Acre changed from the name of a town to the title of a national tragedy. Everyone knows she lost her younger sister. No one knows it was her fault. Since then, psychology professor Taryn has dedicated her life's work to preventing something like that from ever happening again. Falling in love was never part of the plan...
Shaw Miller has spent more than a decade dealing with the fallout of his brother's horrific actions. After losing everything―his chance at Olympic gold, his family, almost his sanity―he's changed his name, his look, and he's finally starting a new life. As long as he keeps a low profile and his identity secret, everything will be okay, right?
When the world and everyone you know defines you by one catastrophic tragedy...
How do you find your happy ending?
Shaw ran to his SUV and caught up to the ambulance as it was leaving the park. The red lights flashed in his vision, and sweat dripped down his back. He didn’t know this woman, but he found himself sending up pleas to the universe for her to be okay.
Forty-five minutes later, Shaw was sitting with his hands clasped between his knees in a blue-tinted waiting room with a noisy vending machine. A nurse stopped in front of him, his white shoes interrupting Shaw’s view of the gray floor. “Lucas Shaw.”
Shaw looked up.
The middle-aged man gave Shaw a kind half smile, dutifully ignoring Shaw’s ridiculous costume. “You can come in and see your friend. She’s doing okay now.”
Shaw stiffened. He’d been hoping Taryn’s friend would be here by now, but Rivers had texted that they’d gotten stuck in traffic. Shaw cleared his throat. “Um, okay.”
He followed the nurse down the hallway and into a small room near the back corner of the building. Taryn was inside, awake, her bandanna gone and her fingers clasped in her lap on top of the blue hospital blanket. When she looked up and Shaw stepped inside, surprise crossed her face.
“I brought your friend for a visit,” the nurse said cheerfully. “The doctor should be back soon to give you discharge instructions and then you can go.”
Taryn wet her lips and gave the nurse a wan smile. “Thanks.”
The nurse checked something on a monitor and then left them alone in the room, awkwardness filling the space in his absence.
Shaw folded his arms across his chest and swallowed past the dryness in his throat. “Uh, your friend…the unicorn should be here any minute. Rivers found her and let her know what was going on.”
Taryn winced. “God, poor Kincaid. She’s going to be in a panic. Does she know I’m okay?”
“Yeah, I texted Rivers. He’s riding here with her since I took the car.”
Taryn sighed and rubbed the bridge of her nose beneath her glasses. “Thank you. And not just for that. Thanks for doing this, for helping. I’m so sorry.”
Shaw shrugged and stayed by the door. “Nothing to be sorry for. You needed help. The doc said everything’s all right?”
She shifted on the pillows, looking more than a little uncomfortable. “Yeah, I feel pretty stupid right now. I thought…I thought I was having a heart attack or something.” She looked down at the covers and picked at a stray thread in the blanket. “Turns out it’s just mild dehydration and exhaustion.”
She smoothed the blanket. “Yeah, apparently it’s a bad idea to pull an all-nighter going over research, skip breakfast because you’re running late, and then attempt to break land speed records at a race the next morning when you’re completely out of shape.”
“You’re not out of shape,” he said without thinking.
Her attention snapped to him.
“I mean…” he said, backpedaling. “Well, I saw you running before you fell. If you were completely out of shape, you never would’ve been able to do that. But yeah, that doesn’t sound like a good prerace plan. I didn’t realize exhaustion could cause chest pains. They checked your heart?”
“Yeah, everything looks okay.” Her mouth tilted wryly. “According to the esteemed professionals of this fine establishment, the chest pains were just .” She made a disgusted sound in the back of her throat. “So yeah, I made a complete spectacle of myself, ruined your day, and freaked out my friends, all because I’m apparently a little stressed and didn’t sleep enough.”
Shaw relaxed his stance and stepped fully inside the room. “You didn’t ruin my day. I’m glad you’re all right.”
“You keep seeing me at my very worst,” she said, sitting up higher in the bed. “I’m usually not this much of a disaster.”
“Maybe I’m bad luck,” he said, not entirely joking.
She laughed. “Yes, this is clearly all your fault. Good thing you turned me down for coffee. Who knows what would’ve happened?”
“I didn’t turn you down,” he said before he’d thought out the implication of the words.
Her brows lifted. “No, you’re right. You just…disappeared before I got to hear the no.”
He blew out a breath and leaned against the wall. “I’m sorry. That was a crap thing to do. I guess I just didn’t know what to say.”
She smiled a warm, easy smile. “I’m a big girl, Lucas. I would’ve been able to handle a no. It’s not a big deal.”
“I didn’t want to say no,” he said almost under his breath.
Taryn was quiet for a moment. “Oh?”
How’d he get himself in this conversation? “Yeah, I…I don’t date. Things in my life are too busy right now with the new business to fit anything else in, so I didn’t want to…give a false impression.” “But I also didn’t want to say no, so I left. I’m sorry. I know that was lame.”
Taryn leaned back against her pillow, relief crossing her features. “It’s fine. Believe me, I’m well versed in the too-busy-to-have-a-life school. I’m right there with you. When I got off the phone that night, I was turning around to tell you I needed to offer a rain check if you said yes.”
He chuckled. “The coffee that truly wasn’t meant to be.”
“Maybe we could have one in a completely non-date capacity at some point. I have a lot to thank you for, it seems. I might even get you a pastry. If gym owners actually allow themselves such decadence.”
He could think of a lot of decadent things to do with Taryn, and none had anything to do with baked goods. But he forced himself to remember how good she’d looked in those running shorts and that thin T-shirt earlier today, not to notice how beautiful she was, even worn out, wearing a hospital gown, and without makeup, not to picture how sexy she’d been onstage when she sang. This was not the time, the place, or the woman. Plus, what kind of guy checked a girl out while she was in the hospital?
He cleared his throat. “I am not opposed to the occasional treat.”
“Cool, maybe we—”
But before she could get the words out, the door burst open behind him, and a crowd of people tumbled in, led by the unicorn and followed by superheroes and old TV stars. Taryn’s real cavalry had arrived. Shaw stepped back, trying to melt into the wall and disappear. And after a few minutes, he did just that, slipping into the hallway and not looking back. He had no place here.
Roni Loren is graciously giving away
Set of the first 2 books in the series
(print or ebook)
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