As my time with the New Jersey Ice Cats comes to a end I want to thank Anna Sugden for her hanging out with me this week. I hope you have enjoyed her series.
After highlighting her must read books I was thrilled to catch up with Anna for a quick chat.
How difficult was it to do a story about domestic violence? What inspired you to have that element in A Perfect Distraction? Combined with the issues that Jake is dealing with it was very emotional at times.
I’m lucky enough never to have suffered physical domestic abuse, though I have several friends who had a truly terrible time. Thankfully, they managed to get out and are now happily in other marriages. The scars never fade though. I also remember reading a story about a romance writer, years ago, who was killed by her abusive husband, right outside a shelter.
As a woman who believes strongly in equality, I cannot stand any form of abuse and want to fight it any way I can. Physical and emotional abuse are sadly far more common than people realize and the perpetrators are often not visible monsters. And the women who are abused are often not weak, pathetic or stupid. When I started writing this, there weren’t as many books about abused women, so such things weren’t as widely known as they are today.
When I started thinking about a story with a hockey player hero, I also wanted to dispel the popular image of these guys. What you see on the ice is not what the guy is like off the ice – at least in most cases. Some of the biggest thugs in hockey are some of the nicest, gentlest, humblest and kindest guys you’ll ever meet. So, the obvious heroine for a guy like Jake is Maggie.
Yes, it was hard, at times. I’m an author who hears her characters speak, so I heard a lot from Maggie that was traumatic. I was very careful to have had Maggie already away from her abuser, so this was all about her realizing her own strength and recognizing that those scars are always going to be there, but they don’t have to rule your life.
You’ve written a handful of short stories for your fans of some of the guys from the Ice Cats. Any tease on who might be next?
Actually, I’m hoping to have a new one available in February, if I can get my act together and finish it off. It’s a Valentine’s story called A Perfect Bouquet and features back-up goaltender Chaz ‘Monty’ Montgomery. I’m also hoping to have an anthology of all six short stories available for sale in March as A Perfect Selection.
What was the inspiration for A Perfect Compromise?
Readers, and my former editor, demanding that JB have his own story! He, of course, demanded it too. But he had to wait his turn, as there were other stories to tell – and he had to grow up a bit! Once I’d finished Ike and Tracy’s story, it seemed the right time to see what came to mind for JB. All I really knew was that he hated responsibility and commitment. He was a player on and off the ice. And things always seemed to go a little wrong for him. He didn’t mean them to. He’s not a bad person and he doesn’t do anything worse than anyone else. He’s just always the one who gets caught out. He’s also charming and gorgeous and we all love him!
Enter Issy. The minute this sweet, but tough, strait-laced, but with a naughty side, woman appeared in my head – and dismissed JB as her hero – I knew she was the one who’d give him a run for his money! A fling was the perfect solution for them … but of course sometimes things don’t go exactly as we plan! Things snowballed from there. Then it was a matter of figuring out how these two stubborn people would get their happy ever after.
*****Happy Release Week*****
A Perfect Compromise is the latest installment in Anna Sugden’s New Jersey Ice Cats series. The man of the hour today is Jean Baptiste “J.B.” Larocque, a player who’s had a difficult time escaping trouble, despite trying to do the right thing. I was super excited to read this book and discover how his story ends.
Even with teammates looking out for him, he can’t catch a break with misunderstandings and the paparazzi. If he wants to play hockey and let the dust settle, he’ll need to disappear and calm down. Hopefully the press will settle down too and he’ll be back out on the ice in no time.
Meanwhile, nothing says rest and relaxation more than a Caribbean resort. Add a week of sand, drinks and if he’s lucky a quick fling all out of the eyes of the press.
Isabelle Brandine has done everything by the book and followed every rule. When a sudden change to her jobs code of ethics threatens to take it all away, will she be able to stay under the radar?
Both J.B. and Isabelle have issues to resolve and a past they’d like to shut the book on. Will this connection throw their plans out the window? Can she resist his charm? Will she rebel against the rules set before her?
When an unplanned event throws all the rules out the window and changes J.B and Isabelle’s journey it will leave everything up for negotiation. Hopefully it will be more than just a simple business transaction. J.B., is about to discover what happens when there is no plan. Perhaps the order might just be Live, Love, and Hockey. Would that be so bad?
This book is packed with love, struggles both off and on the ice, obstacles and lots of fantastic hockey. The players, the games, the fans and the journey to the Stanley Cup is real. One of the amazing aspects of the stories in this series is that the players, including the ones that are related, all look out for each other.
Thank you Anna for a fun week and I’ve enjoyed featuring your NJ Ice Cats on the blog and having you here!
I received this ARC from the author for a fair and honest review.
An Excerpt (thank you Anna 🙂 ):
“How low can you go?” the crowd chanted.
Part of Issy wanted to fail so she could return to the relative anonymity of the sidelines. But another part refused to surrender without trying. She hated to just give up.
“First up is the lovely Bella. Step forward and lim-bo.”
Issy walked over to the bar, which looked ridiculously low, and waited for the musical cue. The audience whooped and hollered.
“Go, Bella!” Sapphie’s voice mingled with Taylor’s deeper tones.
“You can do it,” J.B. encouraged. “Take your time and relax.”
How was she supposed to relax with him standing in front of her, his dark eyes watching every sway and shimmy? Making her feel sexy and a little naughty? Making her imagine a different, more private, dance with him?
Hot, hot, hot, blared the speakers.
Issy dropped her shoulders, arched her back and bent her knees. Slowly she inched forward.
When her chest brushed the wooden pole, she thought she’d blown it. Although the bar rattled on the stand, it stayed up. Even so, she didn’t move again until she was sure. Then she held her breath as she carefully made it through.
Giddy with success, she straightened to boisterous cheers. Sapphie ran over, squealed and hugged her tight, then pulled Issy off to the side. J.B. lifted her in the air and spun her around.
As he stopped and began to lower her slowly, their gazes met. Suddenly she was intensely aware of the hardness of his body as hers slid down the length of him. Of the crisp scent of his aftershave mingled with the heady fragrance of clean male skin. His arms around her seared her through the thin cotton of her dress.
Plastered against him—breast to chest, thigh to thigh—she felt every plane and dip of his taut muscles. Her cheeks flamed as his arousal pressed against the cradle at the top of her legs.
She should move…break his hold…step back…something.
The message in his dark eyes—he didn’t want to let her go—thrilled her.
She was venturing into dangerous, uncharted waters. For the first time in her life Issy wanted to dive straight in.
Excitement warred with her reason. As wonderful as that would probably—definitely—be, it would also be a mistake. There were bound to be consequences.
J.B. was like no one she’d ever met before. Her reaction to him was like nothing she’d ever experienced before.
And, he clearly wanted her, too.
Loud groans from the gathered crowd and the clatter of the limbo bar interrupted her thoughts, breaking the moment.
J.B. eased her away from him but anchored her to his side with his arm around her shoulder. His reluctance to let her go thrilled her. A few more minutes couldn’t hurt. Besides, Sapphie and Taylor couldn’t keep their hands off each other; they’d disappear once the contest was over. Then J.B. wouldn’t have a reason to hang out with her anymore.
That was for the best. Really. In the meantime she’d enjoy the pleasure of the moment and the undivided attention of a gorgeous man.
More groans signaled the third contestant had failed. One more to go. If the last man succeeded, it would delay the end of the contest and extend her time with J.B. On the other hand, she’d have to step back out into the spotlight and do more limbo. A devil’s choice.
Raucous cheers told her which path had been chosen for her.
“Down, down,” the crowd chanted as the DJ made a show of lowering the bar another notch.
“You can take that guy. No problem,” J.B. murmured in her ear.
The feather touch of his breath against the sensitive skin of her neck made her shiver deliciously.
As she gently disengaged herself, he pulled her back, then tilted her face up to his. “A kiss for luck.”
Her knees went weak. Who knew that could really happen?
Good grief—it was the slightest brush of his firm, warm lips against hers. What would happen if he kissed her properly?
To celebrate the release of A Perfect Compromise this week Anna has generously offered a fabulous giveaway for one lucky reader who leaves a comment on this post.
A set of her short stories AND A copy of either A Perfect Trade, A Perfect Catch or A Perfect Compromise.
Be sure to follow Books I Love A Latte on the blog, Anna and I on twitter (@AnnaSugden and @RaeLatte) and FB (Anna Sugden and Books I Love A Latte ) so you don’t miss the announcement.
Contest will close at 12noon EST on 2/6/16. Winners will be randomly selected and have 48 hours to claim their prize or another winner will be selected. Good Luck to all.
Award-winning, Harlequin SuperRomance author, Anna Sugden, loves reading romance novels and watching films with happy endings. She also loves watching hockey and football, where she prefers a happy ending for her teams (Go Devils, Man UTD, Exeter, ‘Skins!). When she’s not researching hockey players (for her books, of course), she makes craft projects and collects penguins, autographs and memorabilia, and great shoes.
A former marketing executive and primary teacher, Anna lives in Cambridge, England, with her husband and two bossy black cats. Learn more about Anna, her books and her shoes at www.annasugden.com .
You can also follow her on Facebook (facebook.com/annasugden.romanceauthor) , Twitter (twitter.com/annasugden), Pinterest(pinterest.com/annasugden) and on the Romance Bandits blog (www.romancebandits.com).
** All photos were provided by Anna Sugden**