Published by: Destiny Romance
Publication date: January 20th 2015
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Morally Dubious Heroine
Hello, and thanks for having me on your blog!
The heroine Abby in my latest release, Love & Other Lies, is a compulsive liar.
I had the idea for her years ago, but I had to work up the courage to write a morally dubious heroine. From what I’ve noticed, romance readers don’t like heroines that aren’t good for the hero. I’m including myself in that generalisation. I mean, the hero is our man – so the heroine needs to be worthy to receive his love on our behalf 😉
But Abby called to me, and finally, I wrote her story. Now, I’m so happy that she’s found contentment.
Before writing, I asked myself, what would be the most unsuitable match for a (reformed) compulsive liar? Because I’m not going to make it easy on her. She has a past of lying – she’s got to suffer for love! And along came Rue.
A really, really good guy.
Abby is terrified of screwing up someone’s life again, let alone the life of a decent, honest man. He’s the worst possible man to share chemistry with (and boy, do they share chemistry). He thinks the best of people, so never suspects that she’s hiding a dark secret.
I’m not saying he’s a pushover. He’s just a gorgeous beta hero!
My writing buddies find Abby intriguing and strangely relatable. Despite her morally questionable past of lying, I do feel that she deserves Rue’s love.
Do you have trouble accepting characters whose morals have slipped in the past? Or does it all come down to what motivated them? I’d love your thoughts!
Love & Other Lies
Small town vet Abby Benson has fled to the country to put her shameful past behind her. She’s just beginning to find her feet again when handsome stranger, Rue Thorn, arrives in town and begins to stir things up. Rue is gorgeous, kind and thoughtful and the two share an instant attraction. But convinced he’ll despise her if he learns about her history, Abby reluctantly keeps him at arms’ length.
Determined to win Abby over, Rue tries to reshape himself as the sort of guy he thinks she might be interested in. And for a while it seems his act is working. But when he finds out that Abby has been lying to him, it isn’t long before everything start to unravel …
A moving story of trust, forgiveness and the power of love from the author of Uncovered by Love and The Playboy’s Dark Secret.
What Makes a Hero?
In Love & Other Lies, Rue is a good guy hero. He’s kind-hearted, thoughtful, and easy going. Unfortunately this is exactly the wrong kind of man for Abby. She’s a reformed compulsive liar, terrified of a relapse, and can’t bear the thought of dragging a decent man into her mess. She doesn’t consider that he’s exactly the right kind of man for her, because he can see she needs support and gives it without question.
Funny how the wrong man turns out to be her hero!
Now, on the topic of heroes…about a year ago, a friend of mine commented that romance heroes aren’t actually heroes. She believes it’s a misnomer – they’re hardly saving the world. This made me wonder what makes a romance hero heroic? Why are they called heroes at all? I can’t answer on behalf of all lovers of the romance genre – there are many types of romance hero – but there are certain qualities that all the heroes in my books possess to make them worthy of the title.
My heroes are:
Admirable. The hero needs to act in a way that others admire – including the heroine.
Courageous. They always find the courage to fight their demons – and to fight for the heroine’s love.
Strong: My heroes are resilient, often having to endure internal conflict.
Kind: Even burdened by internal conflict, they never act inexcusably.
Combined, these qualities are all it takes, in my opinion!
What are the ideal traits of your perfect hero?
Wednesday morning, Abby checked her watch as she hurried out of the bakery, paper bag in hand, ten minutes late for work. All Rue’s fault. If he would stop being seen around town – browsing the market, enquiring about nature walks, eating lunch with a healing Spindle in tow – everyone would leave her alone. But this was the third morning in a row that she’d been sidled up to and asked whether he’d persuaded her yet.
These people seriously had no shame.
She slid the change into her wallet and glanced up to see Rue leaning against her four-wheel drive, parallel parked on Main Street. She halted, stomach hitching. He was looking away, one ankle crossed over the other, hands in the pockets of those faded denim jeans. He wore sunglasses, the burnt brown lenses and thin gold rims working with the dishevelled hair to push him into clandestine superstar territory.
He’d been detected. Curious faces peered through shop windows, and Tanya loitered on the street corner, typing on her phone with eyes set on Rue. When she noticed Abby, she gave an outrageously obvious wink.
This was going to necessitate an official change in her working hours.
Abby hadn’t seen Rue since he’d visited the vet. Two days with nothing but a light on across the street to show he was still in town. Two days to remember how darkly she could hurt people and know for absolute certain she couldn’t run the risk of hurting him too.
As she considered hightailing it, he spotted her. He pushed off the car and started towards her. His walk was smooth, assured. The possibility that he was going to ask her out again sent nerves sprinting from her heart to her toes and back again.
She would have to say no.
No to that determined stare meeting hers as he shoved his shades onto his head. No to that kind heart and beautiful body. No to everything she wanted. Just no.
When he was a few strides away, she inhaled. ‘Rue—’
‘Hold that thought,’ he murmured as he reached her, sliding a hand behind her head and bringing his mouth down to hers.
Startled, Abby dropped the bakery bag. His body came closer, hand still cradling the back of her neck, the other skimming down her waist to tug her fully against him. Heat and contact met her skin and shot deeper, raging in her chest, tangling in the base of her stomach. He slanted his head and the warmth of his mouth shifted, tongue sliding over her bottom lip, not demanding entrance, but working for it. Working, playing, teasing – whatever he was doing, he did it like no man had before.
She could smell his skin. Hear the pounding of her pulse. His thumb caressed the hollow behind her ear and the tenderness of that touch tore through her body like a scream.
Deafened by it, she opened her mouth and drew him in.
His taste was an ache against her tongue, so pure and perfect that she missed it even as he pushed deeper. She circled her arms around his middle, holding on, feeling her breasts and belly and thighs press against muscle. She felt like she could never speak again and that would be all right, if she could stay right here. No lies, no restraint, just Rue’s kiss and the truth of her body’s response.
He’d probably be okay with that.
Those wide hands slid down to grasp her hips. Holding her steady, he broke away from her mouth and kissed up and along her right cheekbone. Abby closed her eyes as his lips reached her ear, tingles breaking out down her spine.
‘I hardly know you,’ he murmured, nudging the curl of her ear with his nose. ‘So how is it that I feel like I’ll always know you?’
She didn’t speak. Didn’t dare.
‘I can feel you in my head,’ he said, forehead on her temple. ‘You make me feel like there’s something urgent I haven’t done yet, and I can’t put my finger on what it is, but every day that I get closer to leaving this place, I get more uneasy. So I need to do something about it. About you.’
His mouth found hers again and it occurred to Abby that everything Rue knew about her was real. There was a pit of things he didn’t know – but the things he did know, those were real.
She had never kissed a man who knew real things about her.
He pulled back again, tucking hair behind her ear, and her pulse tumbled. ‘You must like being the subject of gossip,’ she murmured.
His back was to the street. A sparkle lit his eyes. ‘Observers?’
‘All armed with opinions about such a lascivious public event?’
‘Over-armed, I imagine.’
‘Friday,’ he said. ‘I’ll pick you up at seven.’
‘Okay, seven-thirty.’ Then, as suddenly as he’d kissed her, he lowered his sunglasses and turned away, cutting past the delighted spectators. Abby watched his retreat, breath short. Arousal kneaded at her body from the inside out, like greedy fingers reaching after him.
As far as truth went, her response to Rue was absolute. It felt whole and untainted, pounding hot through her veins. It felt honest.
‘Well,’ she said, accepting her fate. ‘Seven-thirty, then.’
Online, she calls madelineash.net home, although she does have capricious blogging tendencies so might not always have fresh tea ready for visitors. That’s not to say she doesn’t welcome company.
She writes contemporary romance.
Q&A with Madeline Ash
- How would you describe your latest novel?
Essentially, Love & Other Lies is a redemption story. The heroine Abby has lied pretty badly in the past and feels unworthy of love or companionship. She has pulled herself into a better place, keeping herself in line, and has coping strategies to stop herself from lying again. The hero Rue is a gorgeous ‘nice guy’ type. Initially he seems like her worst match – Abby believes he deserves to love a flawless soul, not a mess like hers. But he is determined to show her that she’s worthy of good love.
- Share something small about your characters.
Abby loves the colour green. She wears it a lot, from dresses down to underwear. This isn’t supposed to be a subconscious reflection of jealousy or anything like that. It’s just her favourite colour!
As for the hero, Rue, he grew up on a vineyard in the Yarra Valley, Australia. He still owns and runs it, although he meets Abby while on a road trip around the country.
- Secondary characters – yes or no?
Yes, absolutely. All my novels have strong secondary characters. Not strong in the sense that they’re on page a lot and dominate the story, but I know their personalities as clearly as that of the main characters. I believe secondary characters bring out traits of the hero and heroine that readers wouldn’t otherwise get to see. We all react differently to different people – I find it important to have the leads interact with a range of characters so that we can see their personalities in all lights.
- Can you provide an excerpt from Love & Other Lies?
Of course! This takes place the day of their first date. Abby has been resisting him, not fully explaining why – she doesn’t want such a good man to know that she’s acted so poorly – but determined not to pull him into her mess. Rue, of course, has other ideas…
Abby ducked out of the examination room mid-afternoon on Friday to stock up on liver treats before her next patient arrived. She pulled the plastic tub from the storage cupboard and dropped it, sending treats all over the tiles.
‘Damn it,’ she muttered, kneeling and starting to scoop up the mess.
She’d been edgy all day, wondering what Rue had planned for that night. He’d kissed her thoroughly in the middle of town, sexy and sure. The onlookers hadn’t thrown him, so Abby was helpless to imagine how confident he would be when they were alone together after dark.
She’d hardly slept. Probably had something to do with wearing his shirt to bed, but she’d been empty with aching and his scent had relieved one of the senses that arousal demanded. But if one sense was all she got, sexual frustration made damn sure she regretted her choice.
It wanted touch, without limitation.
Rue would probably seduce her. At the thought of his palms under her clothes, dragging her against him, she accidentally scattered the liver treats again.
Jasmine spoke from behind her. ‘So, Rue’s here.’ Her subtle Indian accent rolled over his name.
Abby spun around, still kneeling. ‘What?’
The young assistant grinned. ‘You’re doing my job, you know. I’m sure that jar was half full an hour ago.’
‘I need to keep busy. What do you mean Rue’s here?’
‘Out the front. He brought you something.’
She stood, wiping her hands together. ‘He brought me coffee?’
Jasmine nodded. ‘And he looks hot.’
Nerves twisting, Abby followed her out to reception. Rue leaned against the counter, large take-away coffee cup in hand, reading the poster on the wall about dog dental care. Her gut clenched at the sight of him. Workman’s boots, knee-length denim shorts and a loose checked shirt. Calves streaked with dirt, a smear across his sun-tanned forehead. A pencil was tucked behind his ear and a spirit level stuck out of his back pocket. If Adonis laboured for a living, he’d look a hell of a lot like this.
‘Hi,’ she said, finding her voice.
‘Abby.’ He faced her and held out the cup. ‘This is for you.’
‘I, um.’ She took it. Their fingers didn’t touch and still she burned. ‘Thanks.’
‘That’s so nice of you,’ Jasmine said, sitting down at the desk.
‘The opposite,’ he answered, and locked eyes with Abby. ‘I have the selfish expectation that she’ll be staying up late tonight.’
Abby’s breath fled.
Jasmine gave a faint, ‘Oh,’ as Rue turned and left.
Both women gaped after him as he strode across the car park, all self-assurance and wild hair. The coffee cup was hot against Abby’s palm.
‘For pity’s sake, woman,’ Jasmine breathed after a good half-minute. ‘Drink the damned thing.’