Hello, book lovers! Today author Bettye Griffin stops by to talk about her latest eBook release, Something Real, joined by her three lead female characters.
Candace: Hi, Bettye. Can you tell me a little about Something Real?
Bettye: Hi, Candace! Thanks for inviting me to your blog for a chat. Something Real is a sequel to Save The Best For Last, the story centering around the two best friends of the heroine of that book. Like Isn’t She Lovely? before it, Something Real is more of a mainstream romance than a traditional single title romance. Two romances are covered with near-equal amounts of words, only one of which progresses to the HEA (that’s “happily ever after,” for those of you unfamiliar with romance) by the end. Some other things occur that you wouldn’t see in a traditionally published romance because it’s against those all-important publisher rules, but I can’t go into those without giving away too much of the story. Also, the book has a somewhat unusual structure, spanning a four-year period, which allows for a peek into that happily ever after.
Candace: Bettye has chosen to stay in the background and let her characters take questions instead, so I’m talking with New Yorkers Francesca Perry, “Cesca” to her family and friends; Olivia Oliveira, known as “Livvy” to her oldest friends and just “Liv” to newer ones; and Genevieve Gray, known as Gen, except to her husband Dexter, who calls her Jenny.
The name of the book is Something Real. According to Bettye, all I have to do is ask one question and the three of you will take it from there, so let me ask…Whose story is this?
Cesca and Liv [simultaneously]: Mine!
Gen: I’m not in it a whole lot, but I already got my own story…my story. I didn’t have to share it with anybody, even though my friends were in a couple of scenes. It was called Save The Best For Last. You’ll want to read it, if you haven’t already. Bettye has made it free at her new eStore, where you can get it formatted for mobi (Kindle), ePUB (Nook, Sony and others), and PDF (the rest).
Cesca: This is both Livvy’s story and mine, I guess. But my story with Terrence is complete. Livvy’s and Brian’s isn’t.
Liv: That’s all right. I’ll be the star of the next book, and like Gen, I won’t have to share it with anybody…except for the man of my heart, of course. Bettye’s working on it now, and she plans to have it out by the spring. Besides, I’m the reason Bettye wrote this book in the first place. You see, I also showed up in another book of hers called The Heat of Heat. I was only in it for a couple of pages, but readers were intrigued and told Bettye they wanted to know what the deal was with magazine publisher Brian Price and me, so she wrote this story to show readers why our relationship was so strained, as well as what happened afterward. Part I takes place the following spring after Save The Best For Last ends. Part II takes place after The Heat of Heat ends. Bettye said she had a hell of a time structuring this story and keeping the timelines straight…but she did it!
Gen: It’s definitely not your typical romance, which often unfold over the course of a couple of months.
Liv: That Bettye doesn’t do anything typical. Now that she’s indie publishing you never know what she’s going to come up with. She’s really making me work to get to my happy ending. I can’t believe the wrench she put in my plotline.
Gen: Bettye says that relationships don’t line up neatly in a row like so many dominoes, with each character falling in love neatly when it’s their turn. She says that love doesn’t work like an assembly line and is often messy. And I’m not just talking about sex. But speaking of sex, you guys do have a pretty fair amount of that going on. That didn’t happen with Dexter and me in our book. He spent most of the story trying to get me in the sack. [dreamy grin] But oh, what a chase it was! And when it finally did happen, we didn’t even make it to the bed.
Liv: [making a face] Too much information, Gen.
Gen: You must not have read the book.
Bettye: Of course she didn’t read the book. You guys are all characters…remember? You only know what happens in the scenes you’re in.
Liv: Well, there are some twists in Something Real that you just won’t see coming, in both Cesca’s relationship with Terrence and mine with Brian, let me tell you.
Cesca: And let me tell you, Livvy, that Bettye decided to write Something Real about Terrence and me. In Gen’s book (Save The Best For Last), she let readers know that I hate police because of how they mistreated me and my family members. Then she had Gen encounter a sexy police officer named Terrence Gulliver after an escaping thief knocked her down. I’m not privy to Bettye’s reasons for including this scene—Gen has no cause to fear the police, as far as I know—but Bettye decided at that moment to write a book that would pair me with Terrence because she knew there’d be fireworks…and something truly horrifying happened in the interim between the two books that made me hate cops even more. So I was the original inspiration for Something Real, not you. She didn’t think about adding you to the mix until a year later, while she was writing The Heat of Heat and decided to put you in it for a hot minute.
Liv: Oh, you think you’re so smart [glares at Cesca].
Cesca: Do I have to remind you that that’s Terrence and me on the cover? I don’t see you or Brian anywhere, not even in the book summary [smiles triumphantly].
Gen: Can’t we all just get along?
Liv: You guys know I love y’all, even when you get on my last nerve.
Cesca: Yeah, well, that’s about all we know. You’re so secretive about everything else.
Liv: I can’t help it; Bettye wrote me that way. She said girlfriends in books are always confiding in each other, and she wanted me to be different. Besides, you guys wouldn’t understand the way I feel about certain things. Both your parents had money. The only reason I lived on the Upper East Side was because my parents were the supers of the building we lived in. Our apartment was on the first floor, next to the laundry room. We heard washers agitating and dryers tumbling all day and all night.
Gen: Sometimes I wish you’d try confiding in us, Liv. We’ve been friends since we were fifteen years old. When Something Real starts we’re…hey Bettye, how old were we again? [Bettye is heard answering.] Oh, that’s right. Twenty-eight. So we’ve known each other for over a dozen years.
Cesca: We’re well off, or at least our parents were. That doesn’t mean we’re from another planet.
Liv: Nothing personal, but sometimes it’s good to keep things to yourself. I’ll be you have secrets.
Cesca: My life’s an open book.
Gen: [nervously chews her lower lip].
Liv: Gen? You okay?
Gen: [too quickly] Fine.
Liv: Hmm. I’m getting the distinct feeling there’s something you don’t want Cesca and me to know.
Gen: Never mind about me. Something Real is your story, remember?
Cesca: It’s more my story.
Gen: [throws hands up] This is where I came in.
Cesca: It’s a wonderful story, and it’s about me.
Liv: No, it’s about me.
Gen: Can we just say it’s sexy?
Candace: Thanks, ladies. It’s been…
Cesca, Liv, and Gen [simultaneously]: Real!
Bettye: As in Something Real. It’s now available in all formats, so download yours today! And as for Liv being sure that the concluding story will be exclusively hers…well, I wouldn’t bet the brownstone on it. Things have a way of changing when I’m writing a story, and I’ve decided that Gen, who is keeping a secret from her friends, is going to have a few anxious moments before it’s all over, as well as the roadblocks in store for Liv as she stumbles toward her ultimate happy ending…the final book, Man of Her Heart, is targeted for ePub in February or March of 2013.
Candace: Thank you for stopping by, Bettye and ladies. I had a lot of fun. Readers, check out the blurb and excerpt below. Happy reading!
Officer Terrence Gulliver, relieved of traffic detail once the signals resumed working, came out of a pizzeria after having a slice and a soda. He crossed the street to the loading zone where he’d parked and immediately noticed a sleek dark blue Jaguar with North Carolina plates illegally parked a few yards in front of his police cruiser. He sauntered over to the two African-American women chatting by the open trunk. Even as he approached he noticed they were both young and attractive, which his eyes appreciated. Young and pretty black women were a rare sight in the wealthy residential neighborhood of the Upper East Side, which he covered out of the Nineteenth Precinct. But he couldn’t stop looking at the one who held car keys, who wore an indigo blue batik print dress that showed off her many attributes. Thick center-parted ringlets framed a lovely, expressive face. Her sleeveless, cowl-necked dress put well-toned dark brown arms on display. Its slim skirt just covered her knees and accented a narrow waist and a nicely protruding rear end. At the end of shapely legs, her feet were encased in navy strappy high-heeled sandals. He couldn’t imagine a better treat for a sunny summer afternoon.
“Hello, ladies,” he said when he was close enough for them to take notice of his approach. “I’m sorry, but I must remind you that there’s no parking here. You’ll have to move on.” His sharp policeman’s eye took in the women’s facial expressions and body language as well as their appearance. He’d learned to gauge reactions, for some resented his intervention, and he always wanted to know what he was dealing with. His job could be dangerous.
The beautiful brown-skinned woman with the curly hair looked at him through eyes as hostile as they were deep brown, which he felt was unfounded. Even though he had given an order, he had addressed her, as he did all people his job brought him in contact with, with both kindness and respect. Terrence couldn’t imagine what her problem was. The other woman, also quite pretty, smiled at him in a knowing manner that told him she’d noticed his eyes lingering on her friend, and in the midst of his embarrassment he suddenly realized he had seen her before.
It took a moment for it to come to him, for her hair was different, pinned up with just a few wisps framing her face in a flattering manner. “I remember you,” he said to her. “Last fall. A jewelry store thief knocked you down on Seventy-Second Street as he was getting away. I questioned you about what you’d seen and took you to the hospital to have your injuries checked out.”
Her mouth opened in recognition. “Yes, I remember you. Officer, uh…?”
“Gulliver. Terrence Gulliver. I’m sorry, I don’t remember your name, only that you’re married, Mrs….”
“Gray. Genevieve Gray.” She turned to her friend and said, “And this is Miss Francesca Perry, my dear friend who was kind enough to pick up the cake for my husband’s surprise party. Cesca, this is Officer Terrence Gulliver.”
Terrence noted the slight emphasis on the “Miss”, a rather outdated term, the sole purpose of which was to define marital status. Mrs. Gray wanted him to know her friend was single. Well, that was fine by him. When he first met Genevieve Gray while on duty after she’d suffered numerous skin lacerations from being pushed to the ground, he’d found her as charming as she was pretty and had been a bit disappointed to learn she was married. At least he now knew that her equally lovely friend had no husband waiting to claim her. In a gallant gesture he tipped his cap. “How are you, ma’am?”
“Well, thank you,” Miss Perry replied in a clipped tone.
He quickly realized that she was about as happy to see him as a thief would be after pulling a job. Francesca Perry clearly did not like policemen. Terrence knew that some of his brothers in blue weren’t as polite as they should be when dealing with the public, especially those of darker hues. It angered him to think of this lovely woman being mistreated.
Mrs. Gray smiled at him. “I guess I’d better get the cake and get back upstairs to my guests while you park, Cesca, so Officer Gulliver doesn’t give you a ticket. Try not to take too long to come up. I’d hate for you to miss Dexter’s arrival.”
“I’ll probably just go in the garage around the corner.” Terrence watched as the lovely Miss Perry stepped off the curb and bent to carefully retrieve the boxed sheet cake. She had just grasped it from underneath when, without warning, the heavy hatch of the trunk lid descended on her and struck the back of her head, causing her to slump inside.
“Cesca!” Mrs. Gray cried, looking frantically to Terrence for help. “Oh, my God!”
Terrence quickly moved forward and lifted the hatch. He motioned for Mrs. Gray to hold it upright, and once she complied, he grasped Ms. Perry by her shoulders and pulled her up. Her body felt limp against him. “I’m afraid she’s out cold.”
“She said the trunk almost closed on her a little while ago. She caught it that time, but this time it happened too fast. I don’t get it…the hatch was sitting up all this time, and then it gave way just like that.” Mrs. Gray sniffled. “Oh, God. I’ve got to get her to the hospital right away.” Anguish filled her features. “But I have a house full of people upstairs…my husband’s mentor…his boss…his grandparents from upstate…they all came for his surprise party. He isn’t due home for another fifteen minutes or so.” She sighed. “I guess I’ll have to let my sister-in-law take care of his surprise. Cesca needs medical attention immediately.”
Terrence’s partner, Kyle Muldoon, showed up at that moment. He’d been directing traffic on the next corner and, like Terrence, had stopped to get a snack after the signals went back into service. “What’s going on?” he asked, looking uncertainly at the unconscious woman Terrence held up.
“This young lady was just removing a cake from the trunk when it slammed down on her head and knocked her out. Her friend here has a surprise party about to start upstairs. I was just going to offer to bring the injured party to the hospital for her.”
“Oh, I can’t let you do that,” Mrs. Gray protested. “It’s not your responsibility, it’s mine.”
“I’m a public servant, remember? She obviously needs help, and this is a bad time for you. If you’ll give me a phone number I can call you and give an update, plus you can give the staff her medical information.”
“That won’t be necessary,” Mrs. Gray replied. “I’m going over there as soon as my husband arrives and we surprise him. Once I’m there, I’ll give them her insurance card and find out what’s going on firsthand.” She chewed on her lower lip before asking, “Where will you take her, Lenox Hill?”
He nodded. “It’s the closest. You’d better go park her car if you don’t want to miss your husband’s big surprise.”
Mrs. Gray hesitated, obviously torn. “Are you sure you can do this, Officer?”
“We’ll be happy to run your friend over to the Lenox Hill ER, ma’am.” Kyle said.
She let out a relieved breath. “I can’t thank you enough.”
“Just think of it as history repeating itself,” Terrence said with a smile.
She smiled back at him. “You got that right. Thank you again. I should be there within an hour.”
“We’d better get going,” Kyle said to Terrence. “You don’t want to delay medical attention for a head injury.”
“Yes, of course.” Terrence scooped up Francesca Perry’s limp, slim body and, under Mrs. Gray’s watchful eye, carried her to the cruiser. Her head tilted back with her chin upward, and her lips were slightly parted, looking, he couldn’t help noticing, like she was waiting to be kissed. Her bare shoulders, the jasmine and honeysuckle scent coming from her pores and the way her thick, curly tresses blew in the breeze made him wish he could. The last time he carried a woman, he’d taken her to a bed.
He didn’t want to think about how long ago that had been.
Kyle opened the door, and Terrence gently placed her in the back seat and strapped her in, careful not to touch her breasts as he pulled the shoulder harness across her body, but he couldn’t avoid coming into contact with her hips as he snapped the belt into the buckle. The warmth of her skin seemed to radiate through the fabric of her dress.
His breath came out in shallow gasps as he thought about how warm her naked body would feel under his own…
Something Real by Bettye Griffin, available now!
About the Author:
Bettye Griffin’s first romance was published in 1998. She went on to have a total of 10 contemporary romances and 6 works of women’s fiction traditionally published over the next dozen years. In 2009, while still under contract to a publisher, Bettye started her own publishing outlet, Bunderful Books. She now indie publishes all her work through this outlet. Her latest eBook, Something Real, recently went on sale.