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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Guest Author Interview: Claire Ashgrove

Alexis: Hi Claire. Welcome to Happily Ever After Thoughts.  Thank you so much for coming.  I know that many of your books feature horses. Do you have a special affinity for these great beasts?

Claire:   I don’t know that I’d call it special, but yes, horses are near and dear to me.  I’ve been raising sporthorses for several years – Arabians, Oldenburgs and Thoroughbreds – and riding twice as long.  Horses are part and parcel to what I am, and most especially the Arabian breed.

Alexis:  Wow, I guess you do have an affinity for horses.  Speaking of horses,  you have a new romance being released this month. Can you tell us about Waiting For Yes?

Claire:  Waiting For Yes, is a story about courage, trust, and dreams.  It’s set in the very small town of Ransom, Kansas, in the middle of a blizzard.  Gabrielle has invested in her dream horse, the stallion that will found her breeding program, but the sellers never disclosed Bahadur Mamoon isn’t quite… right.  Through the help of Jake, an over-the-road driver who becomes snowed in with her, they’re both confronted with not only Mamoon’s difficulties but their dreams – Gabrielle’s quest for success and Jake’s quest to forget his past.  Passion ups the ante, forcing them to either break or bend.

Alexis: Sounds intriguing. Where did you get the idea for this story?

Claire: Hm.  Tough question.  Mamoon is a Straight Egyptian Arabian stallion, and that part was relatively easy as I wanted to write about my own Straight Egyptian stallion’s heritage.  I’d have to say this is one of those books that just came together – a piece here, a part there – all driven from the questions, “What would happen if…” The core of it is founded on my own experiences in the world of showing and breeding.

Alexis: And what about the heroine and hero? What are your favorite character traits of Gabrielle and Jake?

Claire:  Jake is vulnerable in ways that tear at my heart.  Although he’s strong and determined, (and he’s super hot!), his fears are really what make him human to me.  Gabrielle – well she just won’t give up when the odds are against her.  She doesn’t know how to quit.  Even when everything says she should.

Alexis: That’s a combination for romance. What kind of research did you have to do for this novel?

Claire:  Just a tiny bit actually.  I have a friend who drives for a living and I needed a little help with how big rigs worked and layering the technical aspects that led to Jake’s being forced into staying with Gabrielle.  The rest of it was pretty much from my own experiences as a horsewoman and one who’s dealt with the nightmare of a massive snowstorm with livestock.

Alexis:  That does sound like a nightmare! Now, this is not your first romance novel. Can you tell us a little about your other Romances?

Claire: I sure can!  I have five steamy (and I do mean steamy) contemporary novels available presently:

            Seduction’s Stakes – a super hot competition between two elite racehorses owner who both have their sights set on the Triple Crown… as well as each other.

            All I Want For Christmas… Is Big Blue Eyes – high school sweethearts are forced back into each others arms when an architect returns home for Christmas and can’t let go of the blue-eyed woman he left behind.

            Timeless Valentine – a companion novel to All I Want For Christmas, where childhood enemies discover Valentine’s Day can be full of delightful surprises.

            A Christmas To Believe In – the third in a trilogy co-written by authors Dyann Love Barr and Alicia Dean about three bothers returning home for Christmas.  This is another horse novel, involving a Thoroughbred breeder who returns to Kansas City to discover his tom-boy “sister” has become all woman.

Alexis: Wow, I guess you do have other books we can start reading. Do you have any other romance novels in the works that we can look forward to?

Claire:  I’m so glad you asked!!  Yes, I have two series launching in 2012.  The first is a hot paranormal series about the Immortal Knights Templar, coming out through Tor.  The second is an erotic romantic suspense series coming through Berkley – I can’t say more about that at this time, but details will be posted in my newsletter when I can.  (If you want to sign up, there’s a link on my website:

In addition to those I anticipate two Contemporary novellas through The Wild Rose Press and, all things going as planned, two paranormal shorts through The Wild Rose Press as well.  Watch my website or newsletter for more on those too!

Alexis: You are one busy writer and we all know that writing is lonely, hard, committed work. What would say is your favorite part of being a Romance Novelist?

Claire:  Telling the stories in my head.  That sounds silly, and very general, but that is my favorite part.  Putting all those people and adventures into words and sharing them. 

Alexis: Thank you so much for visiting Happily Ever After Thoughts. We like talking about romance novels here and learning about the wonderful authors who write them J

Claire:  Thank you so much for having me!  It was wonderful listening to you speak at the NOLA Stars conference, and chatting with you both here and there.  I hope I can come back to your little home on the net in the future! 

Alexis: Readers who would like a chance to win a signed copy of Waiting For Yes, be sure to leave a comment. We will pick the winner Wednesday morning!

And check out this great excerpt from Waiting For Yes

In slow motion, he leaned forward.

One thick palm framed the side of her face. His eyes searched hers, emotion flickering behind their sky blue depths. Sorrow, regret, and affection stared back at her as his thumb caressed her cheek. “Be safe, Gabrielle,” he whispered.

She closed her eyes against a storm of sorrow. Instinct filtered through her hope, and in the half-second of time that passed before his other hand came up to join the first, she knew. This wasn’t a temporary goodbye. Jake intended on driving away forever. A sob bubbled in the back of her throat, threatening to strangle her.

Before it tore free, Jake’s mouth settled against hers. He nudged her lips apart, inviting himself inside. Softly, slowly, he explored. Roused her awareness until the reality of his departure gave way to striking tenderness. She responded to the familiar feeling he awakened, her body tightening with an anxious surge of energy.

He held her in place, seemingly content to kiss her until time stood still. In the quiet, she caught the hard fall of his breath. Beneath her fingertips, his heart hammered fierce. His mouth took on a more demanding quality as he slid one hand into her hair and curled his fingers against her scalp.

A sound of pleasure vibrated in his throat, and Jake drew the kiss to a lingering close. He touched his forehead to hers, then sucked in a deep breath. “Win for me, sugar.”

Before she could gather her senses and respond, the passenger’s door slammed shut. Panic flooded her. He couldn’t walk away. That kiss alone said things she’d longed to hear. He cared for her. She loved him. He couldn’t just turn his back on all that.

Jamming her hand against the handle, she shoved open the door and jumped out. “Jake!”

Alexis: Be sure to leave a comment if you would like a chance to win this book :-)


  1. Hi Claire.

    It was such a pleasure to meet you at the NOLA Stars Conference. Loved chatting about writing with you :-) Good luck with the new series. Can't wait until it's released!

  2. Hi Claire!

    I can feel your excitement as you discuss your writing, and welcome to the best romance blog around!
    Just recently I've been intrigued to write a short story, possibly following up with a short series. Do you have a suggestion as far as the word length for a short story that keeps it marketable?
    You have quite the variety of stories, so I'm sure you have great info to pass on, too!