Alexis: Hi Jennifer. Welcome to Happily Ever After Thoughts. Thank you so much for coming. You have a new contemporary romance that is being released this month. Can you tell us a little about A Heart of Little Faith?
Jennifer: Sure, Alexis, and thanks so much for having me on your blog today. Here’s a short blurb about the book:
Lily Livingston is a widow raising her six-year-old daughter, Claire, in New York City. Devastated by her husband’s death three years ago, she’s in no hurry to fall in love again. Besides, trying to balance her career with motherhood leaves her little time for romance.
With a wheelchair instead of a white horse, and a vow against falling in love again as his armor, Gideon Stone is the last person Lily expects to sweep her off her feet. But when a business agreement forces the two of them together, that is exactly what happens.
As they navigate the minefield that fast represents their relationship, can either of them overcome the obstacles to find true happiness in each other’s arms? The answer is yes, but the bumps along the way demonstrate that neither of them can go it alone.
Alexis: I’m hooked already. I love heroes who aren’t physically perfect. I understand that this is not an inspirational. So why this particular title?
Jennifer: That’s a great question! I think there are misconceptions about that anytime the word “faith” appears in a title. Basically, the title refers to the faith that both Lily and Gideon have to find in themselves to love again, and each other to trust again.
Alexis: That makes perfect sense. So, where did you get the idea for this story?
Jennifer: I wanted to show that the obstacles we construct for ourselves are not always what they appear to be on the surface. Gideon believes that his physical body prevents him from finding true love, but really, he’s no different than any other person who has baggage from their past. And Lily has to learn that it is possible to love again, deeply, even though it might be with a different person. And that sometimes our greatest strength involves letting go and showing weakness.
Alexis: I can tell you put real thought into the themes of your story. I like it when I can find depth inside a romance novel :-). What are your favorite traits of Gideon and Lily?
Jennifer: I love how Gideon is with Claire (the six-year-old) and with all the kids at the Youth Center where he is a mentor. I also love how he is rock-solid dependable. I like Lily’s ability to find humor in a variety of situations and how she is able to empathize with people and put them at ease.
Alexis: These are wonderful traits. What kind of research did you have to do for this novel?
Jennifer: That’s kind of funny, because after I had written the story, I realized (duh!) that I should probably speak to someone about life in a wheelchair, since I have no knowledge of that myself. The difficulty was finding someone I could talk to about it and ask questions, without being too personal or prying. I was lucky enough to find a guy on this Yahoo loop who was happy to talk to me (and thank goodness for email, because I swear I must have turned every shade of red asking things of this man that I really would only ask my husband!). He was very patient and understanding and answered all of my questions. That being said, any mistakes I made are my own!
Alexis: That must have been fascinating! Wow, you probably know more about a man’s life in a wheel chair than at least half the population! When can we expect the next book and do you have any other romance novels in the works that we can look forward to?
Jennifer: My next book is Skin Deep, also from Whiskey Creek Press, and it’s due to come out sometime in November. I’m currently working on another book, which is a contemporary romance with a Jewish theme. The story takes place around the holiday of Purim. That lends itself very well to the idea of hiding one’s identity, so the conflict is already built-in. There’s a single dad, with an adorable 6-year-old girl and a choir director with an amazing voice.
Alexis: So glad to hear you have more on the way. I think our readers will be looking for your work. I have found that all romance writers started out by reading romances. Who were some of the first romance authors you ever read?
Jennifer: Actually, I read a lot of the classics growing up—the Bronte sisters—and a lot of those teen/tween angst books, like the Sweet Valley High series. I think those paved the way for me. Certainly, sneaking a Harlequin or two didn’t hurt! Some of the earliest authors I read that I remember liking were Phyllis Whitney, Jude Devereaux and of course, Danielle Steel. My current favorite author, though, is Lynn Kurland.
Alexis: Why was it we always had to “sneak” those Harlequins? I mean, really, they weren’t so naughty :-) So, I understand you have a couple giveaways for our blog readers. Can you explain how they can win?
Jennifer: Yes, I do have one. Basically, readers can go to my website (www.jenniferwilck.com) or my blog (http://jenniferwilck.com/blog/2011/06/01/author-giveaway/) and tell me their favorite thing to do in the summer. I will draw a random winner on June 30 and he or she will receive a free copy of my book.
Alexis: Excellent! 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 :-)
Jennifer: Again, thank you so much for having me! I love hearing from people, so feel free to leave me a comment! Oh, and as you’ll see at the end of the excerpt, a portion of the sales from the book will be donated to the Dana & Christopher Reeve Foundation.
Alexis: Check out this excerpt from A Heart of Little Faith!
Gideon entered his sister’s crowded SoHo gallery in Manhattan and glanced at his watch. If he was lucky, he could make a quick appearance and leave. Garish paintings and semi-pornographic sculptures, coupled with snooty patrons and pseudo-intellectual artists, bored him. A mélange of overpowering perfumes blasted his olfactory nerves and he grimaced as he quickly tried to breathe through his mouth. He’d only come to support Samantha, and with any luck she’d be too busy with potential buyers to do anymore than register his presence, leaving him free to make a hasty exit. In the meantime, he needed to find something to eat before he starved to death.
Across the room he spied black-clad catering staff and made his way around half walls and columns to check out their offerings. At least he thought they were catering staff. With black continuing to be the customary dress code of New York art patrons, he could never be too sure. Still, silver platters were sure to give them away. Before he’d gotten halfway across the converted warehouse, a waitress materialized in front of him, offering champagne and scallops wrapped in bacon. Pendulum lights from above glinted on the crystal glasses, and the smoky scent made his mouth water. He snagged a glass of champagne and two scallops, and popped one immediately into his mouth. The ice cold glass chilled his fingers and provided a welcome relief from the warmth of the overcrowded room. The scallop melted in his mouth, leaving the taste of crisp bacon for him to savor. A little bit of heaven.
He saw Samantha and made his way over, past old gentlemen sitting on oversized ottomans comparing notes, willow-thin women chatting about the Hamptons and a few art students staring at the scene with longing. He waited until she noticed him. They said their hellos quickly, and she apologized as another group of people swept her away. He nodded his understanding and, with his duty complete, headed back the way he’d come.
He’d gone about twenty-five feet when something caught his attention. Surrounded by movement — the friction caused by the artist’s use of flashy, contrasting colors against stark white canvas, the undulating positions of the sculptures, or the constant swaying of people in the room — her stillness drew his eye. All other sights and sounds disappeared as he approached her. He no longer heard the chatter and laughter around him. His vision tunneled and all surrounding sights disappeared into a fog. His ears picked up only the sound of her fingernails tapping the crystal goblet and magnified it until her tapping became the beat of a song for him alone. The jasmine scent of her perfume floated toward him and made him think of summer vacations in a tropical paradise. Distracted by her, he didn’t notice those around him trying to get out of his way.
She stood motionless in front of a painting. The spotlight above illuminated her brown hair, turning it a fiery red tinged with gold, her skin a luminous peach. Her blouse, made of some gauzy material he couldn’t name, but longed to touch, draped gracefully over her shoulders and down her back. With the lights pouring down on her, he could just see the outline of her body. The barely there whisper of an outline attracted him more than any wet T-shirt ever could. Her black-flared pants hugged her hips the way he once had held a woman, gently but firmly.
He stared at her, bedazzled. He only intended to look for a moment, but she turned around and met his eyes. Caught red-handed he contemplated turning around, but that would be cowardly. He couldn’t continue to stare at her without appearing either moronic or rude, especially since he hated when people stared at him. He inhaled and tried to muster up a smile, when another man approached her. Breaking their gaze, she turned and smiled at him. Gideon inched closer. He heard her engage the other man in casual conversation before she gently excused herself. As the other man walked off, she turned back to Gideon and smiled. Her green cat eyes pierced his soul and made him believe she could see right through him. He continued to watch her, entranced.
“Hasn’t anyone taught you it’s impolite to stare?”
Struck by the irony of her question, he burst into warm laughter and shook her outstretched hand. Her soft cool hand fit completely within his hard, callused one and he closed his other hand over hers. He felt the delicate veins beneath her skin, her pulse beating in her wrist and wished to prolong the skin-on-skin contact for as long as possible. Reluctantly, he let it go.
“Are you a fan?”
Lily stared at him blankly for a moment and blinked quickly. “Oh, of the artist’s?” She turned once more to look at the painting, tilting her head to the right. “Not exactly. He’s a little too…”
“Much? Bright? Vulgar?”
Lily laughed. “I see you’re a huge fan. No, maybe, I don’t know. The colors are cheery, if only maybe there weren’t so many. But looking at it does brighten my mood.”
“Bad day at work?”
“Terrible. But why are you here if you don’t like the artist?”
Gideon turned and pointed to Samantha on the other side of the room. “She’s my sister.”
Lily raised her eyebrows as she looked over at the gallery owner.
“Oh, Samantha’s my best friend. I didn’t realize you were her brother. So I guess she roped you into this too?”
He sat back and gave her what he hoped was a relaxed grin. “Brotherly duty, or some such nonsense. Apparently I pulled one too many pigtails as a child and this is my penance.”
Lily laughed. She has a great laugh, he thought. It lit up her whole face. “Samantha had pigtails?”
The two of them turned to look at Samantha, currently sporting short and spiky jet-black hair, with small rhinestone barrettes scattered throughout. “You’ll have to fill me in more later,” Lily added, as she stifled a yawn.
“What, is it my stimulating conversation, or these garish paintings that bores you?” Gideon asked, one eyebrow raised.
Lily apologized. “I’m sorry. I had a long day at work and I’m exhausted. I wasn’t even going to come, but Samantha begged.”
“She tends to do that. I’ve told her it isn’t a pleasing trait, but why should she listen to me? I’m only her big brother.”
Find out more about Samantha’s big brother in A Heart of Little Faith, available from Whiskey Creek Press this month! Part of the proceeds from the sales of the book will be donated to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.
To learn more about Jennifer, click here http://jenniferwilck.com/index.html
To buy A Heart of Little Faith, click below.