Hello and welcome to my blog for another round of Meet the Characters! Today I am featuring a guest blogger who has graciously agreed to let me do a character interview, which is my favorite kind of interview. Join me in welcoming author, Nancy Gideon w/a Dana Ransom, and her characters from Totally Yours. It’s a fantastic contemporary romance with wonderful characters so without further ado here is the interview with Harlan and Lisa.
How did you first meet your writer?
Harlan: At my favorite type of event, meetin’ and greetin’ at a conference. She was at a publisher’s party and heard rumors of a new line they were starting up around how a sudden stroke of fortune called Lucky In Love. She took the initiative to corner one of the company heads and asked to submit. That’s where I came in as someone with the means to make life changing things happen in her second book of four.
Did you ever think that your life would end up being in a book?
Lisa (blushing): Mine? No! There’s nothing extraordinary about my life. Now, Harlan, he’s got a book deal or two in his future. He’s an entrepreneurial dynamo.
Harlan (laughing): Stop it. Well . . . yeah, I am.
What do you like to do when you are not being actively read somewhere?
Lisa and Harlan (together): Work.
What do you do for a living?
Harlan: After my first run in with success ended with me in a cardiac ward, I made some major changes in my life that evolved into my Total You program for self-improvement of mind and body. Our Midwest chain is about to go national in a big way with Lisa as our campaign’s success story.
Lisa: I’m in insurance sales and after getting overlooked for a promotion, I tried Total You as a last resort to build my confidence and improve my appearance. It worked! I just inherited a book of business and have my own office, and I have Harlan to thank for it.
What are your favorite scenes in your book: the action, the dialog or the romance?
Harlan: I’m a man of action and usually do most of the talking, so it’s the romance, definitely! Something I hadn’t had time to think about for a long, long time. But once I took a look at the Before and After pictures entering Lisa in Total You’s contest for a spokesmodel, I couldn’t think of anything but romancing her. She had me at the Before, though it might take some doing to convince her of that. But I’m a persuasive fella and it’s not like there’s any place she can go on a ship in the middle of an ocean.
Who was your first girlfriend/boyfriend and what do you like most about them?
Harlan: My ex-wife Maggie is the smartest person I know. Our marriage may not have worked but she’s the best business advisor a man could have. There’s no one I depend on more.
Lisa: I never really had a boyfriend. Men always looked right through me because I was overweight. Now, Chuck, another rep in my office, is looking and likes what he sees enough to come with me on this promotional cruise. He’s gorgeous and outgoing and fun to be with. We have separate rooms, but I’m hoping that will change.
What is your greatest fear?
Harlan: Having to go back home again as a failure with my tail between my legs. My folks let me wallow and whine after my first business collapsed, me right along with it. But before long they were kicking my butt and telling me to get back out there. I don’t want to disappoint them or all the others who count on me.
Lisa: That others would think I don’t deserve to be where I am, that I didn’t earn it.
What is your least favorite characteristic your writer has attributed to you?
Harlan: Single-minded ambition. I’ve been told I’m a bit of a control freak. I’ve got a great team but I like to keep a hand in everything that has to do with my business so at the end of the day, I’m the one who answers if anything goes wrong. I’m driven, but I’m not a bulldozer. I got folks depending on me. That’s a lot of pressure on my shoulders. Good thing they’re wide.
Lisa: Am I really that naïve? I never thought of myself as easy to take advantage of.
What embarrasses you?
Lisa: Being the focus of so much attention because of the way I look now. I enjoy being admired for the work I do and for my ambition, but being treated like a celebrity model who parades around in skimpy clothes posing for cameras is really outside my comfort zone.
What do you find most appealing in men/women?
Harlan: Honesty and intelligence. That’s what I look for regardless of gender.
Did you have a hard time convincing your author to write any particular scenes for you?
Lisa: My author and I share that lifelong love/hate relationship with weight and dieting so some of the scenes hit pretty close to home. I think it was the revolving dessert case, even though she had more will power in that instance than I did when faced with it in real life.
What do you like most about where you live?
Harlan (looking rather blank): Live, as in home? The last one I had was with my folks in Oklahoma. I tend to go from office to hotel room these days. I never thought about settling in one place . . . until recently. (Slides a look at Lisa)
What is your most vivid memory of your mother and father?
Lisa: My father’s verbal and mental abuse made our home life one of dread and defeat. My mother hid us both behind the comfort of food. It took a long time for me to recognize those same self-belittling patterns in my own self-talk.
Harlan: But recognizing them and breaking them are two different things. And I’m afraid the message Lisa’s hearing is that changing the outside will fix the inside. Guess I’ll just have to prove to her that there was nothing wrong with her to begin with, not in my eyes. And I’m a trained professional at knowing what’s best for everyone . . . except me.
When a popular self-improvement program gives Lisa Reynolds a smoking hot body, she wins an unexpected prize: a Caribbean cruise as the club’s corporate spokesmodel. Lisa, a hardworking insurance sales rep who prides herself on her brains, hesitantly accepts the siren call of being admired for her figure, too.
But suddenly this new glamour girl faces magnetic CEO Harlan Jameson, whose interest in her matches her attraction to him, except . . . the “real” Lisa isn’t this workout babe he created. And old self-doubts about being loved for herself resurface.
Harlan’s not what she thinks. A self-made success, lonely, and isolated by a busy schedule . . . he’s drawn to Lisa’s honesty and warmth. When he understands her fears, he sets out to prove there’s only one thing he wants her to change for him: her last name.
What revolved in the glass case, displayed on delicate tatting, was chocolate of every shape and form. Tortes, pies, mousse, cake, éclairs, cream puffs. She stood transfixed, watching those forbidden calories take their tempting turn. And from inside she heard her mother’s logic.
Go ahead. It’ll make you feel better.
Go ahead. You deserve a treat after all you’ve been through.
Go ahead. No one will ever know.
Chocolate butter cream, nature’s most perfect tranquilizer. Anticipation spiked through her. She could almost taste it. She could almost—
“You like something, missy?”
She gave a guilty start and immediately blurted, “Oh, I was just looking.”
The small Indonesian steward smiled blandly and nodded.
Her cheeks grew hot with shame. Stop, she commanded. She was slender and in control. If she wanted cake, she could have cake. This man didn’t care if she took a dessert. He wasn’t going to run into the outer lounge and yell it to the world. Would the ship stop dead in the water if he did? Would Harlan Jameson order her thrown overboard? She hadn’t signed her taste buds into slavery along with that waiver to endorse his program.
“I’d like that small piece of brownie.”
He stopped the carousel and opened the glass door. Smells poured out—rich, sinful scents.
“Help yourself, miss.” He supplied a plate and did the unforgivable. He turned away and left her with that open gateway to temptation.
She meant only to take the brownie. But suddenly, it was as if someone else’s hands were loading up the plate, piling on cream puffs and éclairs. Some stronger force urging her to flee quickly with her guilty pleasures before anyone saw what she held.
She was all the way to her room before her sensibilities cleared. And then, there she was alone with four helpings of sheer bliss. So she stepped out of her high heels and went to sit on the foot of the bed, plate cradled on her lap. She didn’t turn on the lamp. Sneak eating, like forbidden sex, was best if done in the dark.
One small taste and she heaved a pampered sigh. She continued to nibble, telling herself she had control because she didn’t devour it in one gulp. She bit off the end of the first éclair. Her eyes rolled. Heaven. She refused to let even the smallest amount of shame encroach upon the moment. She didn’t want to think about her disappointment over Chuck or her confused emotions concerning Harlan. Immediate gratification was its own reward. Just like this trip was a temporary fantasy. Reality waited back in the icy winds of Michigan. Reality was Chuck Webb’s womanizing. Reality was Maggie on Harlan’s arm. It was having only a book of business and a fat gray cat to come home to. She had no man’s arms to keep her warm and now she didn’t even have the comfort of her own personal insulation to guard against the chill of loneliness.
A sudden tap on her door sent Lisa rocketing off the bed, clutching her plate of goodies defensively. Furtive instincts made her shove the half-emptied plate beneath her bed. Brushing at the brownie crumbs that dotted the front of her skirt, she went to answer the door.
“I got worried when you didn’t show up for dinner. I came to offer Dramamine and sympathy if you needed it.”
She smiled, positive he could see those calories settling about her hips. “I’m fine. Just a little overwhelmed by all the socializing.”
“How ‘bout we share a little moonlight together or have you got something better lined up for this evening?” He touched his thumb to the corner of her mouth. It came away with a telltale glob of whipping cream. Lisa cringed, waiting for his lecture.
Instead, Harlan sucked the goo off his thumb and offered his arm. The lure of cream puffs disappeared.
Moonlight drenched the deck. The endless expanse of water no longer frightened her. It was like looking out over a rippling field of dark wheat, bathed as it was in the golden glow of the liner’s running lights. They leaned against the polished rail at the bow, where the vessel smoothly cut through the restless sea, sending up a fine mist they could feel even five decks up.
Harlan angled toward Lisa. “Mind if I get something out of the way?”
She had barely enough time to shut her eyes before his lips touched hers. The kiss was brief, unpressured, and as wonderful as she’d imagined. Her eyes were still closed when he lifted away.
“I can’t resist the taste of chocolate, either.”
When she looked up, her invitation was plain. Help yourself to another sample.
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Nancy Gideon is the award winning author of over 55 romances ranging from historical, regency and series contemporary suspense to paranormal, with a couple of horror screenplays tossed into the mix. She works full time as a legal assistant, and when not at the keyboard, feeds a Netflix addiction along with all things fur, fin and fowl. She also writes under the pen names Dana Ransom and Rosalyn West.
Watch for her Dana Ransom reissues in 2014 through Bell Bridge Books, Love’s Own Reward (May), Totally Yours (July), Lifetime Investment (September) and original contemporary romance, From This Day Forward (November). Under her own name, look for the next book in her “By Moonlight” dark paranormal shape-shifter series, Remembered by Moonlight in October, and reissues of her long out-of-print first three vampire romances followed by the rest of her “Midnight” series, repackaged and rereleased by ImaJinn Books, one per month beginning in March, 2015.
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Thank you for joining us today! I hope you enjoyed this round of Meet the Characters and will join us again next week!