Who Dares Wins
I’ve always got way too many story ideas in my head.
Which is why I often start working on three separate manuscripts, dividing my time between them until – inevitably – one starts clamouring so loudly for my undivided attention, I have no choice but to pack the other two stories away.
Those discarded stories are never jettisoned for long; they’re just waiting their turn – the end result of which is that the publication dates of my books don’t always match the order in which the manuscripts were actually begun (or sometimes, the order in which they were submitted). For example, the manuscript of what became my first published novel, Here Comes the Bridesmaid, was submitted after the manuscript for what became my second published novel, From Fling to Forever, and my third published novel, Turning the Good Girl Bad, had been started before either of those books. And at the same time as those three stories were making their way into the world, I had five more stories waiting for their moment in the sun (all of which subsequently appeared) and two series ideas that kept pestering me to give them a go.
Fast forward to 2016 – which is when out of the blue I had the opportunity to submit to Harlequin’s new DARE line.
I was partway through writing a single title romantic comedy, and since I was loving the hell out of that rom com, I had no intention of abandoning it for a bight, new, shiny story. But somehow one of those two series that was in my head unexpectedly decided to go the full clamour. It was a series about a group of university friends whose lives re-converge years after graduation when they’re all well-established in their careers and living in different cities. I think the clamour was because those stories seemed tailor-made for DARE and it was a case of synchronicity – and so, I gave birth prematurely to my three-book Reunions series.
My third and final Harlequin DARE Reunions novel, Getting Naughty, is making its way into the world as I type this, so it seemed the right time to share a little about those books altogether in the one place, so here goes...
1. It's trope driven series. Unlike my usual practice of choosing a ‘meet cute’ to kick off a story, I wanted to play with tropes I’d never written before – Friends to Lovers, Second Chance at Love, and Bad Girl-Nice Guy. In that order, they go like this:
Romy has loved Matt for 10 years, but Matt’s always been determined to keep them firmly in the friend zone – no incursions allowed. He's not husband material, and she’s too important to him to risk the break-up that would follow a fling – and for cynical Matt there’s always a break-up after a fling. But when Romy needs a baby in a hurry, something twists tight inside him; he’s not going to let her turn to anyone else, even though he knows almost any man would make a better father, and he convinces himself he can be 'godfather' and keep her as his best friend too. Er...no.
Veronica and Rafael fell desperately in love at first sight as freshmen, but the combination of her wealth and his pride made for a tempestuous relationship all through college, which ended in a bitter break-up on graduation day. Seven years later, they meet again and know instantly that everything they’ve done to move on from their shared past has failed. But by God, they’re going to make one last ditch effort to get each other out of their systems…
Teague might hate having to play it safe with his life, but he has a good reason for doing so – and playing it safe has always meant keeping his distance from naughty Frankie Lee no matter how much he lusts after her. But while he may have managed to stay away from her ten years ago, when they meet again one hot summer in Sydney, he decides it’s time to take an overdue walk on the wild side.
2. Importantly for the readers out there, these books are all standalone stories. Interconnecting characters, but a guaranteed happily-ever-after per book and no bloody irritating cliff-hangers! I'd say the most closely linked are Getting Lucky and Getting Naughty, but you can choose to read one, two or all three, with no difficulties in following the storylines.
3. These are sexy-as-hell books! In fact, along with being the trope-driven, these stories are a departure for me in terms of that focus. They are more sex-reliant than my other books (with the exception of Now You're Mine) and I took the opportunity to try things in the sex scenes I'd never written before. Sorry – this is a spoiler free zone so you'll have to read them to find out what I'm talking about.
4. Boy oh boy, did these books kick my arse – to the point where I can confidently assert they are the hardest books I've ever got down on the page! Anyone who wants to tell me it’s easier to write a category romance than a single title novel can come and check out the state of my liver, because getting my characters from their messed-up past into their complicated present within a limited word count required copious quantities of alcohol.
With Getting Naughty now launching, I feel like a parent who’s waved her third and youngest child off to college. I should be wondering what happens next in my empty nest life, but that, at least, is set for me because Sylvester and Phoebe – the hero and heroine of that romantic comedy I put on hold to write Getting Lucky, Getting Even and Getting Naughty, have given up clamouring for my attention and have gone straight for a chokehold! They’ve got me by the throat and are shaking me, the demanding bastards, insisting I dish up their own happily-ever-after.
Once Sylvester and Phoebe sail off into the proverbial sunset, I'm in the blissful position of knowing exactly what story is coming next.
That is, unless that other series that’s been patiently for my attention starts to kick up a ruckus.
And then there’s this germ of an idea for a spin-off series from my three DAREs involving Veronica’s sister Scarlett, Matt’s awkward geeky friend Artie, the other dancers at the gentleman’s club where Frankie works (not to mention her unseen boss). But no. No, no, no, Avril! They can wait their turn…