Friday, July 25, 2014

A Sexy Snax from Willa Edwards, Featuring Her New Contemporary Romance; Valentine Next Door

The Many Guilty Pleasures of Miranda Valentine

Authors are often asked how they get in touch with their characters, how they discover all the ins and outs of the person they’ll be writing about. And just like everything else that has to do with writing, every writer has their own way of getting in touch with that voice. For some its character maps, for others its stream of consciousness writing or working with the emotional toolbox.

For me, it’s all about finding that one defining detail about the character that brings them out of their shell, that makes their voice stand up and scream in my head. For every character that defining detail is different. For some it’s an important moment from their childhood, for others it’s their passion or how the rest of the world sees them.

For Miranda Valentine, the heroine of my most recent release, Valentine Next Door, that defining piece of the puzzle was her guilty pleasures. Miranda has several guilty pleasures, many of which I think most woman can relate to. She likes chocolate, and makes a mean mocha fudge cake. She likes ice cream. She likes romantic comedies, especially those set in exotic locations. And she really like young fit men, like her next door neighbor Jeremy.

But through her guilty pleasures I came to realize exactly how lonely and sad Miranda is. How much she wants someone to love. A family. It is through these guilty pleasures that I could see into her heart, to what she truly wants and needs. And most of all, it explained to me how Jeremy, a man almost ten years her junior, could satisfy those needs and fill in those missing pieces in her heart. Whether Miranda realizes he’s capable of it or not.

I love Miranda. And I hope you’ll all love her too. She’s definitely not perfect, but she’s real, and someone I have no trouble identifying with. To learn more about Miranda, and her guilty pleasures, keep reading for an excerpt from my new release, Valentine Next Door, now available with Totally Bound Publishing.


Jeremy Callahan has been in love with his next door neighbor, Miranda Valentine, since he was fifteen years old. As a teen he used to watch her, fantasising about how he could make her his. But he never acted on it. Miranda was older, married and out of his league. Forced to return home ten years later after being injured on a photo shoot, all those old feelings return, and this time there's no reason to keep them at bay. She might be a decade older than him, but Jeremy's not about to let a few numbers stand in his way.

Since her husband's death, Miranda's been left with a big hole in her life. Never able to fulfil her dream to be a mom, Miranda isn't sure what to do with herself. She certainly isn't expecting to find the most gorgeous man she's ever met next door. She can't believe Jeremy Callahan is that sexy younger man, or that he's had a crush on her for years. When he kisses her, all bets are off. Jeremy's young, gorgeous and makes her feel more than anyone has before.

But she knows he can't want the same things she does. He can't be ready to settle down and start a family, but she's running out of time. Will her dream of being a mother keep her from the man she loves? Or can they find some middle ground where they both can get everything they want?

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Miranda dropped her purse on the entryway table, slipping her pumps off beside the console. It was Friday, finally. All she wanted was to change into her sweats and lounge around the house for the rest of the night. But she had to run over to the Callahans’ first.

After all they’d done for her during her husband Leo’s illness and death, the least she could do was bring over her famous mocha fudge Bundt cake and offer to help in any way she could. She knew how difficult it could be to take care of a sick family member. Cindy Callahan had been so understanding and supportive throughout Leo’s entire bout with lymphoma and the months afterwards, coming to check on her, dropping off food and helping her with thank-you notes. There was nothing she wouldn’t do to pay them back. True, Jeremy’s injury wasn’t life threatening, but still, a little extra chocolate never hurt anyone’s ails.

She walked into the kitchen, grabbed the Tupperware container filled with more chocolate calories than she’d consumed in three years, then headed next door. The neighborhood was quiet this time of night, the streets almost empty. Everyone must be at home eating dinner together. Besides her, the cul-de-sac was comprised mostly of families. Any other hour than dinnertime, the streets were filled with kids riding bikes, playing hockey or skipping rope. It’s why she and Leo had purchased a house in this community. They thought it was a great place to raise their children. Unfortunately, those dreams hadn’t materialized.

She hastily climbed the porch steps, balancing the cake in one hand while pushing the doorbell with her left index finger. If she was lucky, the Callahans would be in the middle of dinner and she could just drop off the cake and head back home. She was already looking forward to settling down in front of the television to watch the latest romantic comedy Netflix had sent her, something about finding love in the wilds of Africa. That and the carton of ice cream that wouldn’t be taking up space in her freezer for much longer.

The door slid open and one of the most gorgeous men she’d ever seen stood in the doorway. His dark hair was cut short. His chocolate-colored eyes focused on her and she swallowed. He looked at her with such intensity her skin tingled. His red T-shirt clung to a chiseled chest, and a pair of dark sweats bunched up around the cast molded to his right leg.

“Jeremy?” This couldn’t be little Jeremy Callahan standing before her. The man holding the door open was very different from the boy who had left home.

But he has to be. How many men could the Callahans have wandering around their house with a broken leg?

He smiled at her with the same boyish grin he’d given her that first morning she and Leo had moved into the neighborhood. She still remembered him standing in his driveway playing basketball with one of his buddies a few weeks before his first days of high school.

Jeremy had always been tall, but as a kid he’d been skinny and lanky. He’d definitely grown into his height. His chest was now broad and solid. His biceps flexed as he dropped the doorknob, crossing his arms along his chest. Even his waist was thick with muscle, the kind that would be defined beneath that red T-shirt.

“Hi, Mrs Valentine.”

She cleared her throat, gripping the cake container a little tighter in her sweaty hands. “Please, Jeremy. You’re not in school anymore. You don’t have to call me Mrs Valentine. Miranda is fine.”

“Okay. Hi, Miranda.”

She liked the sound of her name on his lips. It took her a second to realize she’d never heard him say it before. He’d always been a very polite boy, always respectful. But she was starting to like the man a lot better.

“Well, I...uh, made this for you and your folks. Just a little I-hope-you-feel-better cake.” She handed the dessert to Jeremy, forcing herself to stop rambling.

He grabbed the Tupperware container with quick hands that looked much bigger than they used to.

“Thank you.” He glanced down at the Bundt cake. “Is this mocha fudge?”

She nodded.

“Good. I always loved that cake.” He leaned forward a little, as though to tell her a secret, his mouth moving toward hers.

His woodsy, masculine smell wafted to her across the space between them. His heat and strong presence calling her like a moth to a flame.

“I’ve always had quite a sweet tooth.” He grinned at her. Her mind flashed to what else he could do with those teeth. Those lips. That mouth.

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