Welcome to Contemporary Romance author Annette Mardis, author of the Gulf Shore series.
Lexi: What are you working on now?
Annette: Soon, I’m going to begin writing book one in a new contemporary romance series called Ruben’s Refuge, set at an animal sanctuary, pet adoption center and wildlife rescue located just outside my fictional west-central Florida beach town of Gulf Shore. I introduced Ruben’s Refuge in Scrumptious, a novel I recently finished and hope to have published later this year. Scrumptious is intended as a bridge between the new Ruben’s Refuge series and my four-book Gulf Shore series. Much of the action in the Gulf Shore series is set at the local aquarium/marine animal rescue.
Lexi: Where did you get the idea for this story?
Annette: I’m a big believer in the old saying “Write what you know,” so my leading lady in Scrumptious, Helen Holt, is a newspaper reporter. I spent more than 30 years as a newspaper writer and editor in the Tampa area, and I want to give readers a realistic portrayal of that profession. I introduced Helen in Shore to Please, Gulf Shore Book 3 and thought she deserved to have her own happily ever after.
Scrumptious opens with Helen participating in and reporting on the rescue of an imperiled manatee mother and her calf. It was inspired by a real-life experience I had as a volunteer member of a marine life rescue team based in Clearwater, Florida. The book also includes Helen’s visit to Ruben’s Refuge, where she falls in love with a one-eyed calico cat. I love animals, and rescues/rescuers of homeless pets and sick/injured wild creatures are near and dear to my heart. My husband and I adopted Woody, a corgi mix puppy, more than a year ago, and he’s introduced as a beloved resident of Ruben’s Refuge. Animals play a big role in all of my books, and I’ve immortalized other pets in my novels.
Lexi: I just love animals, too! What are your favorite traits of the two main characters?
Annette: All of my leading ladies are intelligent and talented, and Helen Holt is no exception. I love to write snappy, sometimes snarky dialogue, and Helen has a quick wit. (I love clever people.) She’s hard-working and dedicated to her profession. She’s also endearingly self-deprecating and self-conscious. Her love interest, chef and restauranteur Rico Pellegrini, has overcome a sad and difficult family situation through diligent work and force of will to achieve success. He’s a dedicated son who knows how to treat a woman, and once he sets his heart on Helen, he’s not easily deterred. But he’s also considerate of her wants and needs. Rico has a sense of humor, of course, and is romantic without being schmaltzy. During the course of the book, he demonstrates a brave and heroic side as well.
Lexi: What has been the best piece of advice you ever received for your writing career?
Annette: When I was in high school, I worked on the campus newspaper and was the editor in my senior year. I attended a convention at which members of the local media were guest speakers. One of them was a features writer for my hometown St. Petersburg (Florida) Times. She impressed on us that if we pursued journalism as a career, we had to demonstrate the right work ethic. Writers facing deadlines don’t have the luxury of putting their articles aside when they don’t feel well or aren’t inspired to write that day, she said. Basically, they just have to do it. I procrastinate as well as the next person, but that advice has stayed with me all these years and provided motivation when I needed it.
Lexi: What do you think everyone should know about your husband?
Annette: I didn’t find the love of my life until I was in my late 20s, and Rick and I will celebrate our 29th wedding anniversary on May 27. His sense of humor attracted me from the beginning. Over the years, he encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone and try new things. Thanks to him, I’ve enjoyed scuba diving, boating, golfing, RV camping, motorcycling and other hobbies. He has always supported my career and other aspirations, and I’ve never had to be less than myself to spare his ego. He’s always considered me an equal partner.
Shore is Magical, Gulf Shore Book 4
After suffering losses that would’ve wrecked a lesser man, Kenshin Hamasaki has resigned himself to a life without true love. His perpetual grumpiness has damaged the few friendships he’s managed to forge, and his dalliances with women are superficial at best.
And then comes a chance encounter with a mysterious stranger named Marina, whose mere existence defies logic. She’s led what many would consider an idyllic life, but one that’s shrouded in secrecy. Marina longs to explore the limitless possibilities of Kenshin’s world. Yet, sharing the truth about herself could place her entire species in peril.
These two searching souls are drawn to each other by an animal attraction with the potential to change them in ways they never could’ve imagined. Lurking in the background, however, is a dark presence from Marina’s past, who threatens to end this unlikely pairing before she and Kenshin can fully explore whether they’re destined to be together.
Buy links for Shore is Magical, Gulf Shore Book 4:
Liquid Silver: http://bit.ly/2gmfrA2
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2gvDNKr
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2gMr5rb
Here’s a snippet from one of my favorite scenes in Shore is Magical, when Kenshin first encounters Marina in very enticing human form. This scene takes place in the marine animal hospital at Gulf Shore Aquarium, where Kenshin works. He thinks he’s helping to rehabilitate a rescued dolphin, but he gets the surprise of his life one night.
Looking up, Kenshin almost dropped his phone. He stared, eyes wide, mouth open, as a lithe form emerged from the pool, water cascading down her body. Where had she come from and, more importantly, why was she naked? Then he glanced behind her and received his second shock.
The rescued dolphin was—gone. Impossible. He gave his cheek a light smack to make sure he hadn’t succumbed to exhaustion and passed out. That was entirely possible, given he hadn’t slept more than two hours at a stretch since leaving Erica’s bed.
If this was a dream, it was incredibly realistic. Off the charts sexy, too.
The woman sauntering toward him was hotter than an egg yolk on Florida asphalt in August. A short cap of dark, wavy hair framed a pair of turquoise eyes that shimmered like the sea. Her rosebud nipples all but begged for his touch, and he imagined himself at home between her long, supple legs, which were as toned as the rest of her.
The corners of her lips tipped up as if she’d read his mind. Kenshin’s gaze darted around the rehab unit, looking for backup if he needed it. But Kelsey had gone home early for a change, Flipper probably was loading up on caffeine and carbs, and Sitara was in her office catching up on paperwork.
Kenshin’s carnal fantasies dissolved amid concerns about a massive security breach.
“Who are you, and why are you here?” he demanded.
“You know who I am.” The woman’s voice was as smooth as spiced rum sliding over ice cubes. “You just don’t want to admit it.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Your friends brought me here from the beach, jostling me around in that canvas thing. What do you call it?”
“Are you talking about the sling?”
“It felt like they dragged me across a rocky sea bottom. Very bad for the delicate skin.” She pouted and pointed to a chafe mark on her elbow. “Get something softer, for Poseidon’s sake.”
“This is...insane. Why aren’t you wearing clothes?”
She shrugged. “I didn’t bring any.” Cocking her head, she studied him for a moment before her expression turned playful. “Don’t you like me as I am? I thought the males of your species enjoyed seeing females without garments.”
What an odd way to say that guys lust after naked women. “You’re beautiful, and I think you know that, but it’s beside the point.”
She’d come close enough for Kenshin to stroke a hand down all that lush, bare flesh, and he almost did so to make sure she was real. Common sense kicked in before he acted on the impulse. Besides being a stranger, she was, well, strange.
“Listen, lady, I don’t know what your game is but--”
“Game? There is no game. Your people rescued me, and now I’m your responsibility. Isn’t that how this works?”
Kenshin glanced around again, convinced that any minute Flipper or someone would leap out and scream, “Gotcha!” This had to be a prank. Stuff like this didn’t happen otherwise, at least not to him. But after that dolphin encounter at the reef, anything seemed possible.
Kenshin felt her warm breath on his face. It smelled...fishy? When he wrinkled his nose, she clapped her hand over her mouth. Now she was self-conscious? He looked into her eyes, an inviting shade matched only by a secluded tropical lagoon.
“What’s your name?”
As a girl, Annette dreamed of being an astronaut, but she stank at science and math and became motion sick riding the bus home from school. So she went with her second choice—newspaper journalist—and stuck with it for more than three decades.
After years of ignoring people who said, “You should write a book,” she finally did. And then she wrote a few more.
When she’s not working, Annette usually is engrossed in someone else’s novel, rooting for her favorite sports teams and athletes, camping with her husband, or enjoying animal-related adventures with friends. She has two totally spoiled pets and volunteers at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home of diva dolphins Winter and Hope from the Dolphin Tale films.Annette is the author of the woman’s fiction novella Getting Her Money’s Worth and the Gulf Shore series of contemporary romance novels: The Shore Thing, Shore Feels Right, Shore to Please and Shore is Magical
Connect with Annette
Twitter: @AnnetteMardis48 https://twitter.com/annettemardis48