It’s taken me a little while to write this post, buuuuut…on Good Friday, I received a phone call to tell me that Her Secret Prince was a finalist for the 2016 RITA® Award’s in the Romance Novella category!
I had no idea the calls would be made so soon – I must’ve sounded embarrassingly blasé, as I assumed it was some kind of RWA admin call. Renee (hugely friendly) said she had some good news for me and I thought, cool, maybe I inadvertently entered a contest to win free membership or something. The RITAs literally did not enter my head. Then she dropped the news and I tried to maintain my composure from where I’d sat suddenly on the floor.
I’m afraid that my first words were a heartfelt, “Oh my God.” So cliche.
Now that I’ve settled down from cloud nine, I realise that I was lucky enough to have my ideal readers judging my book this year. Writing contests are tricky things and being a finalist can boil down to the subjectivity of a judge’s reaction, so I’m very grateful that Her Secret Prince appealed to them.
Just wanting to send out big love to Kelly Hunter for editing this story, Tule for publishing it (Jane, Lindsey, Meghan, Danielle, and Lee for the STUNNING cover), my amazing critique group, and my Royal Holiday series buddies (Melissa, Jeannie, and Kathleen) for making the journey extra special.
I’m still figuring out whether I can make it to the awards gala in San Diego this July, but I’m crossing my fingers that it will be possible.
P.S. I’ve included an excerpt from Her Secret Prince below. Just for fun.
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“Okay, this isn’t working. You need to tell me not to sleep with Jed.”
Dee stood in line for the women’s bathroom at New York airport, on the phone to Alexia. The flight from LA had been excruciating. No touching, no teasing, and with Jed’s minimalist approach to talking, no distractions from her body’s ache to have him inside her. The onward flight to France didn’t bear thinking about.
Nor did her resistance once they landed.
“Don’t sleep with Jed,” her friend answered dutifully.
“No. You need to actually convince me.”
“Give me the reasons why not, because you’ve left me in the dark on this one.”
Dee leaned against the tiles. The blonde woman next in line had shifted to stand side-on, all the better to eavesdrop.
She said, “Backstory: he’s still dazzling. He smiles at me—smiles at things that have made so many other men frown. He’s artistic, and compassionate, and has the sexiest man bun I’ve ever seen.”
The blonde darted a glance at her, frowning.
“His hair,” she specified, lowering the mouthpiece slightly.
The woman blushed, caught out, but nodded. On the other end of the line, Alexia said, “Not sure if you noticed, but none of that’s negative.”
“Exactly why I’ve called you, my friend.”
“Right. How do you think it could go wrong?”
“He’s been back in my life for just over twenty-four hours. Too soon, and he might think we’re friends with benefits. He might think it doesn’t mean anything. He might be happy to pack up and leave me again without a backward glance.”
“Got it. Continue.”
The line inched forward. “Then there’s his track record. He’s already left me once, right after I told him I loved him. Sure, he’s promised not to leave without warning. But he promised that last time, too.”
“Not a man of his word,” Alexia stated, as the blonde shook her head, disapproving.
“He’s never felt settled in one place. He’s a traveler. He can stay still, but he doesn’t like it. Even if something became of us, I could never trust he wouldn’t get itchy feet.”
“To be avoided at all costs. Dee. You can’t sleep with this guy.”
She appreciated her friend’s effort. As the line moved forward again, she said, “And I’ve never been in a long-term relationship. This is the end of flings for me. I want to feel important and for someone to tell me that they love me and not leave afterwards.” To her annoyance, her voice thickened on those last words.
“Oh.” Alexia’s breath sounded sad. The blonde looked sympathetic and gave her arm a quick pat. “I’m so sorry you’ve—”
“Don’t make it worse. Bounce me back up.”
“Um.” Her friend hesitated. “Do you think he’d make a good lover?”
“Lord, Alexia, how’s that question supposed to help?”
“It’s not. I kind of just want to know.”
Unhelpful as it was, Dee fought a smile. “I swear the imagery in my head just undid the good work of this entire conversation. He’d be like no one else. Those lips, God, and I felt him when we kissed, hard as an iron bar.” Heat welled between her thighs just remembering. “Add the fact that he’s creative…well, thanks for not helping, Alexia.”
“Okay, I know. Check your gallery for that photo I sent you.”
Obliging, Dee lowered the phone and brought the image up. She snorted, amused, and flipped it to show the woman. “I was stupefied,” she explained with a chuckle, and raised the phone back to her ear. “I look like I haven’t got a thought in my head.”
“Except that you did. Bad, depressing thoughts. Remember how you were feeling?” Alexia’s tone was persuasive. “If you sleep with him and it goes badly, you’ll feel worse. You want to look like that bad again?”
She sighed. “Not particularly.”
Dee heard Alexia inhale to respond. Then she paused. “Dee—did I hear a toilet flush?”
“Yeah, I’m in line.”
“You’ve been having this conversation in public?”
“We’re all women, honey. It’s like a slumber party in here.”
Alexia gave the laugh that always came with an eye roll. “All right, what do the girls think?”
Dee lowered the phone and spoke to the woman in front of her. “My friend wants to know what you think. Should I sleep with him?”
Surprised, she answered, “Not until you’re over those hang-ups.”
“There,” Dee said, phone back to her ear. “A sensible answer. Why couldn’t you just say that?”
Alexia sighed. “Fine. Don’t do it if he’s not willing to make sacrifices for you. And don’t do it if you’re not willing to do the same. Don’t do it if you’ll regret it. And from what you’ve said, you’ll regret it unless you’re both in love.”
“Guess I asked for that.” Dee frowned, each point a stab in her libido. The queue moved again, and the blonde headed for a cubicle. “By the way, I’m in New York on my way to Paris with him, and from there we’re going to meet his dad, a guy he’s never met, likely so dangerous he’s forced his mom to live on the run her whole life. I’ll call you when we land, okay?”
“Finally, my turn, love you, bye,” she said, dragging out the final vowel before hanging up.
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