Alexis: Hi Toni, Thank you for visiting Happily Ever After Thoughts :-) I noticed on your website that all your novels focus on "Safe Havens for the Heart." What do you mean by that phrase?
Toni: I love to read books I'm certain from page one will give me a satisfying, happy ending, not books that leave me an emotional wreck. I search for books about finding Safe Havens for the Heart, so those are the book I write.
Alexis: That makes sense. Can you tell our readers a little bit about your latest release, Decisive Moments?
Toni: Decisive Moments is about a gutsy photographer and the reclusive architect with a tragic past who denies her request to Photograph his boarded up childhood home. Without those photographs the young widow's graduate degree will be delayed, placing her daughter's financial future in doubt, so Amy is not about to give up her quest.
Alexis: Interesting dilemma. Where did you get the idea for this story?
Toni: On our way to lunch one day we drove by a boarded up mansion in Mission Hills. The house peaked my curiosity. Why was the house boarded up? Why hadn't the neighbors complained? I hadn't heard about a house fire in the exclusive neighborhood, so what was up with those ugly boards covering the windows? Then a young woman walked through my thoughts, a camera slung around her neck as she strolled down that street, and the idea for Decisive Moments was born.
Alexis: What are your favorite character traits of Amy and Charles?
Toni: Amy has a big heart and when she looks deep into Charles' sorrowful eyes is willing to shove aside her need to photograph his childhood home. The dour man needs to let the sun shine on him. Needs to learn to laugh and to have fun, she decides, and set about showing him how. She winds up changing his life, while he has an equally mind-blowing affect on hers.
Alexis: I have to admit I am a push over for heroes who are damaged goods
. What a great idea.
I admire authors who can write romantic suspense because I never could. What do you think makes the perfect ingredients for a Romantic Suspense novel?
Toni: I don't think the suspense needs to be throughout the novel, but the problem needs to bug the hero and heroine enough to keep them awake at night and out of each others' arms, a problem that will concern the reader as well. Perhaps even keep them awake.
Alexis: Oh yes, so that we keep reading to find the solution. What can we expect next from you? Do you have any new releases coming or a work in progress?
Toni: Restored Dreams releases February 1, 2012. The story of a house-poor school teacher and the rodeo rider turned philanthropist and contractor determined to restore her childhood Victorian home despite the proud heroine's wishes. A house plays a big part in most of my novels, but this is my favorite story. In the hero's eyes her house has the potential to be a showplace, yet will likely fall down around the heroine's head if she doesn't take immediate steps to stop the deterioration, he insists. How can she without taking on a mortgage she knows she can't pay?
Alexis: I like the idea of a house or home as a theme. And thank you so much for visiting our home and for letting our readers know a little more about your suspenseful romances. We appreciate you coming for a visit.
Toni: My pleasure, and thank you for having me. I'm always delighted to talk to avid readers about my books.
Alexis: For a chance to win Toni’s Decisive Moments, be sure to leave a comment for her. The winner will be announced on Wednesday. Check the side column for your name.
For more information on Toni’s Romances go to http://www.toninoelauthor.com/books.html
Check out this excerpt from Decisive Moments.
Excerpt: Charles meets Amy's daughter
"Miss Millington! What were you trying to do?"
Still brushing cobwebs from her hair, Amy stood. Lifting her chin, she gave Harding a guileless smile.
"M-Mr. Harding, I can explain."
"Trespassing, now? I thought I made myself clear. You are not using my property for your little project."
In her peripheral vision, two bare feet dangled from a limb of the corner oak. Marta. Making herself at home in the architect's tree.
"I didn't. I mean, I wasn't... I'd intended to stay in my car. There's no law says I can't roll down the window and--"
He glanced at the street, some feet away. "A little far from your car, don't you think?"
"I'm sorry. I know I shouldn't have come."
He nodded. "I'm delighted we finally agree."
She turned toward the oak tree and called, "Marta. It's time to go."
The leafy branches of the oak tree parted, revealing her daughter's round little face and wide grin. "Coming."
Marta shimmied along the limb until she reached the main trunk. Hesitating only long enough to cause fear to lodge in Amy's throat, she jumped, landing on her bare feet. Her undaunted child collected her shoes and socks and trotted across the lawn while her mother learned how to breathe again.
Frowning as she approached, Marta gave Harding a curious once-over.
Amy tried to head off her inquisitive daughter, but couldn't catch her attention.
"Hi, mister. Are you a lawyer, too?"
Amy watched as the hardness around his eyes melted and Harding knelt beside the little girl. "No. Why do you ask?"
"You're pret -- oops, Mom says I should say han-sum instead of pretty -- you're han-sum, so I thought you must be a lawyer, too."
With her child silenced for the moment, Amy turned to face Charles. "This is my daughter, Marta, Mr. Harding. She met her first lawyer at school today, and was very impressed. Marta, this is Mr. Harding."
"How do you do? You're dressed in a suit like my friend's father. He's a lawyer, but your suit is darker. Han-sumer and more mmpressive. What do you do?"
"Marta, that's quite enough. Mr. Harding is an architect. He owns this house."
"Oh-h. You're the man who doesn't like my mother."
"Marta." Amy blushed. "I'm sorry. My daughter is at the age where she repeats everything she hears."
Realizing her hasty explanation served to make matters worse, Amy's cheeks burned.
"My class is learning about what daddies do," Marta said. "Fathers come to school and share their oku-pashuns. Bobby Denton's father is a lawyer. My father died, so I don't have anyone to bring."
As if interested in her child's recitation, Harding responded with a thoughtful, "I see," each time Marta stopped to catch her breath.
The talkative imp sat on the steps, pulling on her socks and shoes. "We never had an arky--"
"Architect," Amy prompted.
"--arky-tek speak to our class. Would you be my father and come talk to my class?"
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Alexis: Don't forget for a chance to win a copy of Decisive Moments, leave a comment for Toni.