Travel Inspires Romance Novels

Between my old “day job” and my inherited wanderlust feet, I’ve done a great deal of traveling–and can’t wait to get out and do some more! Travel gives me a broader perspective and helps me come up with new ideas for plots and characters for my romance novels.

Inspiration for a romance  novel on the Bitterroot River.Travel doesn’t have to be far. My husband and I took a walk a few weeks ago and I snapped this photo on the Bitterroot River. A romance novel could evolve from this picture. Or a romantic suspense. What if the fisherman found a dead body? Or a woman crying by the river? What happens then?

Or maybe he’s the villain in the piece?  Let your imagination run wild. I know I will. Once I’m done with my California Romance series, I know I’m thinking about a series set in my home state of Montana.  I’m just not sure where exactly to place it.

Inspiration for romantic suspense

A traveler could break down near this hardscrabble ranch on Montana’s Eastern Front. Will she find welcome or danger? Maybe she could help the son bring the ranch back to life and discover love in the process.

Grizzly bear paw print inspires romantic suspense

A grizzly bear paw print definitely leads to romantic suspense.  For the man or woman? What if its a woman and her child and the rescuer is a forest ranger?  Or a nerdy scientist from the University of Montana? So many possibilities…

Make sure you always have a good book when you travel, as well as lots of paper to make notes and a camera. Take some time to stop and see, really see, the amazing world around us.

As writers, we hope to evoke the world around us or invent worlds of our own for you to visit for a while.

Fishercap Lake, Glacier National ParkOne of my favorite places is Glacier National Park. Sooner or later I know I’ll have a story that takes place in that craggy country.  There are plenty of animals to invite into my stories, including the bull moose in the lake to the left.

California Romance beach

In the meantime stop by and visit the land I’ve created in the California Romance series (California Sunset and California Wine). Costanoa is quite beautiful this time of year.

Food, Wine and Books

The winter snow blankets the ground here in Montana. I used to live in California and all my California friends are tormenting me with temperatures in the 70s, while the temperature here averages in the 20s and 30s. But, I retort, I’m not gardening (also known as fighting an ever-losing battle against weeds) all the time.  I can do other things! Like cook!

Frankly, my husband and I are foodies.  We love a good meal out and explore restaurants wherever we are. Over the years we’ve learned more about wine, so the wine list, even if it’s an inch thick, isn’t as intimidating as it used to be. Every year he buys me an issue of Cook’s Magazine for Christmas. Last year I made him suffer (?) as I tried out every recipe in the magazine. Some were keepers and we discovered a marvelous tool along the way–no boil lasagna noodles!  Good for everything from manicotti to lasagna.

This year’s issue wasn’t quite as inspiring, so he’s safe for now.

Food and wine are constant themes in my California Romance series. Readers have told me they enjoy vicariously eating along with my heroes as they court each other. While doing research for a book on Santa Cruz Mountains wineries that we did, my husband and I had amazing opportunities to get behind the scenes of winemaking and winemakers. I’ve let a little of this knowledge seep into my latest book, California Wine.  An excerpt is below. In this scene, Marcos, a man Elizabeth has met while on vacation in Italy, shows Elizabeth and her daughter his winery.

***

Marcos plunked the basket on the table and unlocked the padlock to the winery building. When he spread the door wide, cool air rushed out from the dark within. He gestured for them to follow him into the damp, sweet-smelling room. Barrels were stacked ceiling-high in the back of the room and four stainless-steel tanks lined one wall. To the left a plank spanning the tops of two wine-barrels held glasses, beakers and two hand-labeled bottles of wine.

“My humble blending table,” he said gesturing at the crude surface.

Elizabeth picked up one of the bottles of wine. Her face became more alive with interest. “What does it mean?” She gestured to the scrawled numbers on the bottle.

“Not much,” he said. Their fingers touched hers as he took the bottle from her and the flash of heat took him by surprise. “I have the date of the blend and a number that references my notes.” He pointed to a wine-stained notebook at the edge of the table, making an effort to get his thoughts back on winemaking and away from lovemaking.

“What kind of a blend is it?” she asked.

“How much do you know about winemaking?” he asked.

“I took a class at the community college. I enjoy wine, so I wanted to learn about it.”

“And?” He poured wine from the first bottle into a glass, swirled it, sniffed it, and took a sip. Faint notes of blueberry were chased by a heavier hint of tobacco. He was almost there.

He poured two more glasses and passed them to the women. Sarah took hers and wandered toward the barrels at the back of the building.

“I found winemaking fascinating,” Elizabeth said. “A lot of patience is required, isn’t it?” Her eyes peered over the rim of the glass and he became entranced by the warmth of her gaze.

His heart cracked a little more.

“Most good things require patience. You will need it when you develop your lotions. I’m sure you’ll be trying to balance aromas with the texture you need for a silky feel.” He rubbed his thumb and index finger together to demonstrate.

She turned away and he saw her shoulders square before she turned back to look at him.

“Is what’s in the other bottle just as good?” she asked, a small smile on her lips.

“We’ll have to find out, won’t we?”

News and Coming Soon!

CRsoon

It’s been busy around my office these last couple of weeks. And by office, I mean my couch since that is where I do most of my writing. 🙂

First, I got back edits on STUCK ON YOU book 2 of my reality TV trilogy. It’s been a while since I read the story and it’s been so fun getting back into the swing of things with Paige and Miles. The chemistry between these two is gets pretty hot. There’s a couple of scenes that made me blush, and they weren’t even… ahem… you know. Whew! Let’s just say there’s a canoeing scene that may just be the hottest canoe ride you ever take. STUCK ON YOU is gearing up to release Feb 11th!!

Second, my editor at Crimson Romance just accepted my third book in the trilogy titled LOST WITHOUT YOU. It’s scheduled to release July 1st!! I can’t wait for you to read Zoe’s story. She isn’t who you think she is…

 

Have you the 1st in the series yet? FALLING FOR YOU is available everywhere right now and it’s getting some great reviews. I hope you’ll check it out before the next books in the series release!!

FallingForYou-HighResNewly single Cassidy Quinn is thrilled to be a contestant on the new reality dating show The One. But her excitement turns to horror when the gorgeous bachelor turns out to be her ex-boyfriend. Seeing Brad again makes Cassidy realize she might not be as “over him” as she thought—and then she meets hunky cameraman Evan Burke.

After watching his brother lose his wife in a tragic accident, Evan vows never to fall in love. But following Cassidy around as her personal cameraman makes him question his decision, and resisting her gets harder with every sunbathing, bikini-wearing day.

Cassidy and Evan begin a forbidden affair while her ex-boyfriend tries to win her heart back one groping, awkward moment at a time. If Cassidy can manage to stop falling off horses (literally), stop falling onto her ex-boyfriend, the bachelor (yes, literally), and stop falling in love with backstage playboy Evan, she might still make it through the show without becoming a tabloid sensation.

But soon Cassidy must choose between the ex who broke her heart and the cameraman who might never love her back. For Cassidy, this reality show just got real.

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“Heather Thurmeier’s hunky heroes and feisty heroines will have you laughing out loud, falling in love … and coming back for more!” ~ Carly Phillips, NY Times Bestselling Author
“Heather Thurmeier writes sweet, funny romances that capture your heart!” –NYT and USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Probst
Find out more about me and my books or just stop by to chat at:
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That’s a big dude.

My Nora coverI’ve got a thing for big guys. “Big” as in tall and a bit broad. I’m pretty shrimpy, so I’m sure I’m compensating. My husband is 6’5″, 6’6″, 6’7″ (depending on which form of identification you look at) so it all balances out.

There’s just something really sexy about being physically picked up and carried off for some fun. When I was in college, I briefly dated a guy who was about my height, and I suppose not much heavier than me. I’m 5’2″. I just…well. I don’t know. He was cute. He was really cute, but the cavewoman in me had to throw him back. I think I saw him years later and he was working as a police officer. So, he was certainly fit enough, but jut didn’t ring my bells.

When I see a big guy, I think “VERILE!” and I get all giggly. That’s why most of my male protagonists tend to be tall and athletic even if American men tend to average 5’10”.

Nora, in My Nora (coming Monday), is a small-framed woman with an attitude that makes up for her size. Her love interest, Matt, is a big dude: around six and a half feet tall and over two hundred pounds. He’s powerful, but, uh…flexible. He’s not the typical oaf.

What can I say? I like what I like. Blame it on the estrogen. Here’s a bit of Matt in action.

Matt looked down into her piercing gaze and ground his teeth to fight off the smirk that was his longtime nervous tic. It wouldn’t do for her to think he was off his rocker during their first encounter. He didn’t even know her name and she’d lived on that property for several weeks.

“Mr. Vogel, did you hear anything I just said?”

Matt nodded slowly. “Yep. I heard you. No guns.”

“Good. I’m glad we understand each other.”

Oh, he understood her. “So, crossbows are okay? I’m not such a great shot with bow and arrow but my little sister has crackerjack aim.”

She just blinked those big brown eyes at him.

“Okay, so that’s ‘no,’ I’m guessin’.” He let a broad smile soften his face, hoping it’d put her at ease.
The very corners of her luscious lips twitched. That smile always worked on the ladies, but she was fighting hard.

She squinted at him and crossed her arms over her chest. “You guess right.”

“Okay, Miss … well, you have me at the disadvantage here. I don’t even know your name.”

“Fredrickson.”

He waited for her to offer her first name, but when she just stood there glaring up at him with her lips pressed tightly together, he gave up on it. “Miss Fredrickson —”

“Ms.”

Matt looked down at her ring finger and found it empty. “Okay. Ms. Fredrickson, our parcel of land abuts yours on the back border. We can try to stay on our side of the property line, but sometimes when you’re stalking a buck you lose track of where are. If you could just give us permission to hunt over here, we’ll try not to abuse it.”

“You’d better do more than just try to stay off my property, Mr. Vogel,” she hissed, eyes going to narrow slits and voice dropping about half an octave.

Matt thought the woman seemed extremely uptight and that he could probably fix that little problem for her with a couple of hours and a soft bed. Hell, he could probably do without the bed. It’d been a long time. He was a big guy. They could probably do it standing with no sweat off his back. He thought she looked like a screamer and chuckled at the thought.

“Mr. Vogel?” she pressed, looking annoyed now.

“Hmm?”

“Do we have an understanding?”

“Oh. Sure thing,” he said, smiling wider so his dimples showed.

She didn’t look convinced, but unclenched her jaw and unfolded her arms all the same. “I imagine I don’t need to show you the way out, then.”

“No, ma’am. I can find my way to the road plenty by myself.”

“Have at it then.”

“All right,” Matt said in a singsong voice, crossing through the open doors into the late-day sunshine and clasping his large hands behind his back. “Just holler if you fall again and need some help getting up,” he called back, chuckling while his new quarry fumed.

So how ’bout you? Do you like your heroes to fit a certain physical archetype? Does they match your real-life preferences?

Sneak Peek at Stuck on You… Sort of.

The second book in my reality TV romance series—STUCK ON YOU—is coming soon! And by soon, I mean next Feb. 11th, 2013! 🙂 So it’s not actually soon, soon, but more like sooner rather than later at least! I thought it might be fun to give you a sneak peek at the heroine of the book, Paige. Paige and Cassidy quickly become fast friends in Falling for You and provide a source of comfort for each other during the show. We don’t really get to learn a lot about Paige. We learn she’s shy and unconfident and we know she’s one of the girls who actually went on the dating show with the hope of finding true love. Here’s an excerpt between Cassidy and Paige as a little sneak peak into who our heroine is for Stuck on You:

***

Paige stood beside Spencer in the bottom three again, already looking crushed. Cassidy knew all the girls had their own reasons for being here and that everyone deserved to stay, but she couldn’t help wishing that this time it would be Holly and Lauren who went home instead of Paige.

“I’m sorry, Paige.”

“Thanks,” Paige said, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand. “I hope they send me home this time and put me out of my misery. I can’t take hanging out for another week just to be in the bottom three again. I mean, it’s obvious he doesn’t like me.”

“I don’t know what he’s thinking.” Cassidy wrapped her arm around Paige. “Let’s get you a drink and we’ll drown your ‘bottom three’ sorrows until you’ve forgotten them.”

“Sounds good. Anything to dull the humiliation of being in the bottom three—again.”

Cassidy and Paige walked into the kitchen. As Paige got comfortable on the stools beside the kitchen island, Cassidy found a bottle of champagne in the fridge and a couple of glasses. She filled them and handed one to Paige.

“Champagne? Does my humiliation make you feel like celebrating?”

“Don’t be silly, Paige. We’re going to celebrate this experience and our friendship, which we wouldn’t have had without coming here and sacrificing our dignity for the betterment of American television.”

Cassidy and Paige clinked their glasses and polished off the champagne in one shot. “How ’bout another?”

“You certainly know how to put a positive spin on things.”

“I know this is hard, Paige, but coming here was about more than just meeting Brad, right? It’s about the experience, too. Just because Brad is too stupid to see what an awesome girl you are, doesn’t mean the whole thing was a waste.”

“I guess you’re right. I just really wanted to fall in love, ya know?”

“I know. But you can’t fall in love unless it’s the right guy, and maybe Brad isn’t him. I bet Mr. Right is out there now, shaking his head at the TV, wondering how Brad could be so stupid to let you go and thanking his lucky stars he’ll get a chance with you.”

“I hope you’re right,” Paige said, emptying her second glass in one last gulp of champagne. “Maybe I’ll take a refill up to my room to help me pack.”

“Who said anything about packing? You don’t know you’re going home.”

“Call it a hunch or intuition or whatever. But I feel like I’m definitely going home.” Paige sighed and put her head in her hands. “Honestly, I’m ready to go home. I don’t think my ego can stand another round in the bottom three.”

“You want help packing?”

“Sure, if you don’t have anything better to do.”  Spending quality time kissing Evan was out of the question since he was still acting pissy toward her. Hanging out with Paige sounded exactly like what she needed right now. Cassidy grabbed the bottle of champagne. “It could be a long night of packing. We might need refreshments.”

“Good thinking.” Paige grabbed it from her hand and took a drink right from the bottle before leaving the kitchen and heading up to her room.

***

Want to read more about Cassidy, Paige and the dating show The One before second book in the series comes out? Grab your copy in digital or PAPERBACK at the places below!

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Can’t wait to find out more about Paige’s story? Here’s a sneak peek at the blurb for STUCK ON YOU, coming Feb 11th, 2013!

Paige Anderson agrees to be on a new reality show called Treasure Trekkers, a show where contestants use handheld GPS units to find hidden caches filled with prizes, with her good friend Cassidy. But when Cassidy is unable to compete, Chip Cormack, the show’s producer, steps in with a last-minute replacement to be Paige’s partner—Zoe Oliver, reality TV’s favorite bad girl.

Jack Miles (aka Miles) is a mountain climber with the body to prove it. Miles convinced his climbing partner Ben to come on the show with him for one reason—to prove to Ben that they can still hike together, regardless of the fact that Ben lost his foot in a tragic accident. Miles isn’t about to let anything get in his way of winning—not even beautiful Paige.

But when Miles and Paige are thrown into an alliance with their teammates, working closely together leads to more than just good strategy. Can Paige steal Miles’ heart while surviving Zoe long enough to win the game?

Place as a Character in a Romance Novel

Vicarious travel.  Don’t you love it?  Especially, if travel involves a luscious romance.

Sheik in romance novelsPlace has been an important character in romance novels from the very beginning.  It was not only the handsome sheik leading warriors to abduct the heroine (and, of course, eventually fall in love with her), there were rich tycoons, pirates, ranchers with spreads the size of Texas…you get the idea.

A good writer can bring you to a sense of place in a few words. She or he can set the mood and give you a sense of anticipation about what’s to come. And for people who consider their lives ordinary and humdrum, being whisked off on a private jet to Paris sounds heavenly.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier has one of the most famous opening lines in literature, “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” Right then, you know that Manderley was going to be an important influence in the novel. And who can forget the hulking home that became a nightmarish prison to the young bride?

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” The opening words of A Tale of Two Cities immediately lets us know that the setting for the novel will have an enormous impact on the characters. Indeed, the French Revolution has served as the backdrop for many sweeping romances. One of my favorite movies is The Scarlet Pimpernel with Anthony Andrews and Jane Seymour (1982). I highly recommend it for a winter afternoon’s escape.

While I don’t begin my novel, California Sunset, with description, the Central Coast has shaped the heroine and provides one of the motivations for her actions. In the following scene, Annie, the heroine, is bringing her sleeping teenage son to soccer practice.  She knows she has a choice–stay in California and lose her job or move to New Jersey. In this passage, California tugs at her heart:

She took the southern route over the Coastal Mountains, climbing the switchbacks to Hecker Pass on Highway 152. The road always soothed her, even though its twists and turns required concentration. Glimpses of Watsonville’s morning-lit strawberry fields framed by the curve of the Monterey Bay lifted her heart as she ascended. The early spring air was clear, washed clean by the rain of the previous two days.

The landscape abruptly changed from sunlit ocean edge to secretive forest when she crested the summit. She always felt as if she was entering one of the fairy forests from Lord of the Rings. Maybe this was where the mountain knights lived. Maybe that wasn’t a patch of dogwood in the trees, but a knight’s white stallion. Song of India played on the car radio and she could almost believe in dreams coming true.

Almost, but not quite.

What book have you read where the place holds a strong spot in your memory? Let us know about it!

Blog post by Casey Dawes, www.stories-about-love.com

photo credit: mharrsch via photopin cc

Falling for You — An Exclusive Excerpt!

For Cassidy, this reality show just got real.

When I was thinking of what to write about today, I realized that I’ve never shared an excerpt with you from Falling for You! How has this happened??  How will you even know if you connect to the story if I don’t share a little of it with you? So here it is an exclusive excerpt just for my Ladies in Red readers!

This is a little scene from the first few chapters of the book. At this point, Cassidy has just finished filming her first private interview with Evan as her cameraman and interviewer. The sparks have already started to fly! Enjoy!

* * *

She walked to the edge of a grassy area near the pond. Ducks squawked to each other as they nibbled the grass. “I can’t believe I said my legs are my best physical feature. Seriously? Legs? I couldn’t have said my eyes, or my lips, or even my hair?”

Her legs weren’t even long. She considered herself far from being tall at only five and a half feet. Her legs were only good for getting her from point A to point B.

Cassidy startled at the sound of a loud snap behind her. She cried out in surprise and lost her balance. Her left ankle rolled to the side and a sharp pain shot up her calf. Before she could catch herself, she was on the ground, her leg bent under her with pain raging inside her ankle.

“Ouch! Crap.” Cassidy grabbed her ankle. “Stupid, impractical heels.” Tears filled her eyes as she rubbed her ankle. It was already starting to swell. She needed to get back to the house and see the production medic.

“Are you okay?” Evan appeared in front of her like her personal superhero—just missing the tights. And thank goodness for small miracles. Tights aren’t sexy on guys. Any guys. Ever.

She eyed Evan, confused. “Where did you come from? I thought you were still in the interview room.”

“I finished up with the interview stuff, but then I couldn’t find you. I poked my head out the backdoor and saw you out here.”

“Oh good, you have that on film.” Cassidy’s cheeks burned. “That’s great. Peachy. Now all of America gets to see firsthand what a total klutz I am.”

“Not a klutz so much as easily startled. Besides, you don’t know what they’ll decide to use and what they won’t, so don’t worry about it.”

Evan gave Cassidy a little wink, set down his camera, and scooped her into his arms before she could protest. She hesitated before slipping her arms around his neck. The desire to protest disappeared instantly.

I could get used to this.

“Let’s get you up to your room and I’ll find some ice for your ankle.” Evan readjusted her in his arms.

Oh crap. I weigh a ton. “I’m too heavy for you. Put me down.” She wiggled to get out of his arms before they gave out and she dropped to the ground.

“You’re not.” He adjusted her again. “Stop wiggling.”

“Look, your muscles are straining. I’m too heavy. It’s okay. I know I’m not like some of the other waifs here. I’ll walk.”

“You’re not heavy. My muscles are not straining, but thank you very much for that vote of confidence.”

“That’s not what I meant. Your muscles are obviously strong—I, oh brother, never mind. Just put me down so I can walk with dignity.” She pressed her hand to Evan’s chest, trying to free herself from his grip, but it was no use. His hold on her was strong and solid—oh boy, was it solid. There was no way those pectorals would let her fall.

Under her palm, Cassidy felt the contours of Evan’s muscles and his steady heartbeat beneath them. Her hand lingered a moment longer than needed, but she couldn’t force herself to move it. If anything, she wanted to trace the lines to see where they led.

“You’re not walking. You don’t want to risk hurting it more, do you? So I’m going to carry you with my dignity… and my wee, weak muscles.” Evan smirked, his eyes getting a new twinkle in them.

“Oh, shut it. That’s not what I meant and you know it.”

“That was a pretty good fall you took.” Evan’s smile widened.

“Do not laugh at me.” Cassidy wiggled her finger at Evan’s face. “I wouldn’t have fallen in the first place if someone had been a little quieter while they snuck around following me.”

“I wasn’t sneaking around. You make it sound like I’m some pervert. I followed you because it’s my job. It would’ve been easier to do that job if you’d waited for me in the great room like you were supposed to. Instead, you decided to wander around alone in the backyard.”

“It’s not like I went into the jungle on my own—it’s a backyard.” Cassidy shook her head. “And for the record, I did wait for you. You just took your sweet-assed time getting your camera and finding me. It’s not my fault you took so long.”

Cassidy stuck out her chin, determined to be right. “Maybe next time you’ll hurry up and stay a little closer to the person you’re supposed to be working with instead of screwing around in the interview room doing God knows what wasting time.”

Cassidy watched as the corner of Evan’s lips pulled up into a smile. His eyes sparked. “Sweet ass, huh?” He cocked one eyebrow at her.

“It’s a figure of speech not to be taken literally, of course,” she said, copying his very words from earlier.

Evan started walking toward the house. “Let me and my sweet ass get you back to your room. I don’t want that ankle to swell up more before it gets some ice.”

Cassidy cheeks flushed again for about the fourth time since meeting Evan.

* * *

Ready to read more? Click the links below!

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