Hot For Fireman
I’m so excited to welcome a fabulous new author, and my very good friend, Jennifer Bernard to Get Lost in a Story. Jennifer’s debut novel The Fireman Who Loved Me garnered amazing reviews and now her second book Hot For Fireman is doing the same. Join me in welcoming Jennifer and the Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel! And, as a special bonus, Jennifer will be giving away an autographed copy of The Fireman Who Loved Me to two lucky commenters today! If you want to be entered in the drawing be sure to leave your e-mail in your post!
Jennifer Bernard is a graduate of Harvard and a former news promo producer. The child of academics, she confounded her family by preferring romance novels to all other books. She left big city life for true love in Alaska, where she now lives with her husband and stepdaughters. She’s no stranger to book success, as she also writes erotic novellas under a naughty secret name not to be mentioned at family gatherings.
Hot For Fireman Katie Dane knows better than to mix business and pleasure, but her new bartender, Ryan Blake, is simply irresistible... and besides, she doesn't plan on working there much longer. That's if things go according to plan. But they never do, do they?
Ryan, the sexy heartbreaker of Station 1, is determined to rejoin the force. Tending bar in the meantime seems like the perfect idea, especially when it means he can spend his nights working next to his sultry new boss... if only the bar didn't keep catching fire.
Throw in a grizzled career criminal, a luscious-bodied barfly, a Bachelor Fireman bachelorette party, a flash-fire romance, and a million-dollar money pot, and suddenly playing with fire never seemed so much like falling in love.
Read an excerpt from Chapter One:
Ryan Blake needed a drink. Preferably somewhere no one would recognize him. Finding such a spot in the sun-blasted town of San Gabriel on a July afternoon didn’t come easy. The town had quaint little crafts shops up the whazoo, but so far he hadn’t spotted a single gritty, anonymous hellhole where he could prepare himself for his meeting with Captain Harry Brody.
Right on cue, he passed Fire Station 1, home of the famous Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel and legendary for the heroics of its captain and crew. Time was, he’d been on the frontlines of those life-saving, death-defying heroics.
He slowed his pickup truck and willed himself to turn into the parking lot, drink or no drink. Lord knew, his Chevy had made the turn so many times it could probably do it without him. But this time, it drove straight past the squat brick building with the cheerful red geraniums planted out front.
Face it, Ryan wasn’t ready for his appointment with Captain Brody yet. Wasn’t ready to beg for his job back. He needed a goddamn drink first.
A green and white Starbucks sign caught his eye. Several cuties in sundresses gathered around the outdoor tables like hummingbirds around a feeder. In olden days he would have strolled right in and spent the rest of the afternoon flirting with one--or all--of them.
But unless Starbucks had started adding tequila to their iced mocha lattes, the girls would have to get along with him.
He scanned the street ahead with its Spanish-style stucco office buildings and parched palm trees. Too bad he’d never been much of a drinker. He had no idea where to find the kind of drink-yourself-stupid-on-a-Wednesday-afternoon, out-of-the-way, loserville place he needed right now.
And then, as if the phrase “loserville” had conjured it out of his imagination, the sign for the Hair of the Dog appeared on the left side of the street. Towns in the sunny California suburban desert didn’t have dark back alleys. But the Hair of the Dog did its best to inhabit one. Located on a corner, it seemed to cringe away from its only neighbor, a dry cleaner’s called Milt and Myrna’s Laundry, whose name was spelled out on a marquee along with an inspirational saying, “The bigger the dream, the bigger the reward.”
If the Hair of the Dog had a dream, it would probably be to wake up as a medieval tavern. Faced with weathered wood, it had black planks nailed at random angles across its front. Either someone had done a clever job making the Hair of the Dog look decrepit or it was about to collapse. It looked like the kind of place old geezers spent their Social Security checks, the kind of place frat boys invaded when they felt like slumming and pretty girls avoided like poison because merely walking in gave them wrinkles. The kind of place guaranteed to be serving alcohol at two in the afternoon.
Ryan pulled over and parked his Chevy as close as legal to a fire hydrant. Silly habit left over from his firefighting days, when he’d always wanted to be close to any potential action.
Time to get blotto.
When he pushed open the door, the dim light stopped him in his tracks. As did the hostile voice addressing him with an unfriendly, “What do you want?”
“Tequila,” answered Ryan. “The cheap stuff.”
“I’m not the bartender, moron. I’m the bouncer.”
Ryan’s eyes adjusted enough to make out a slouchy, dark-haired guy about his age who looked too skinny to be a bouncer.
“This place needs a bouncer?” He surveyed the interior of the Hair of the Dog. Just as crappy as the outside promised. Everything was painted in shades of black ranging from soot to shoe-polish, except for the booths, which seemed to be a formerly hunter-green color. Just as he’d expected, a motley collection of oldsters slumped on the bar stools. He squinted. Was that an oxygen tank? The old man attached to it gave him a snaggle-toothed grin. He nodded back.
Yep, this place was perfect.
“My so-called job is to weed out the jerkwads,” said the bouncer.
“Yeah? What’s your name?”
The friendly question seemed to throw the dude off. “Doug.” He added a menacing frown.
“Hey, Doug, nice to meet you. I’m Ryan.” He shook the bouncer’s hand before the guy knew what was coming. “You’re doing a great job, keep up the good work. How ‘bout I buy you a shot when you get off?” He breezed past Doug with the confidence of someone who’d been in too many fights to seek one out with someone who wouldn’t even provide a satisfying brawling experience. If Ryan wanted a fight, he knew how to find one. Right now, he just wanted a drink.
The bouncer seemed to get the message. Ryan heard no more out of him as he made his way into the darkness up ahead.
Was this a bar or a haunted house? Maybe the men on the barstools were ghosts still hanging around for a last call that never came. A couple of them certainly looked ghoulish enough, although the intensely unflattering light provided by the overhead fluorescents might be misleading. Maybe they were captains of industry enjoying the tail end of a three-martini lunch. Maybe the atmosphere added thirty years and several age-related illnesses.
A dark-haired girl rose from behind the scuffed-wood bar, her head clearing it by barely a foot. She fixed snapping black eyes on him, nearly making him take a step back. What had he done? Why did everyone seem irritated that a customer had walked into their bar? The girl had big dark eyes, straight eyebrows like two ink marks and tumbled hair pushed behind her ears. She would have been pretty if not for that frown. No, scratch that. She was plenty pretty just as she was.
He gave her the smile that had made so many women his eager laundry-doers, tax-preparers, and back-massagers. Not to mention other parts of his anatomy.
She scowled even harder at him. And geez, was that a snarl? Maybe she was some kind of creature of the night, hanging out with the ghosts.
“Well? Are you going to order or just smile for the security camera we don’t have?” Her throaty voice, though grouchy, set off a pleasant shiver at the base of his spine.
For more of this excerpt go to http://jenniferbernard.net/hot-for-fireman.php
Time for Questions
LIZ: How often do you get lost in a story?
JENNIFER: First of all, thank you so much for having me! I spend an outrageous amount of time lost in a story -- and that's not even counting whichever story I happen to be writing. I've been that way since I first learned how to read. I was always the kid with her nose in a book. I get so immersed in my favorite books that it's disorienting to look up and discover that I'm not in Regency England or downtown Manhattan or Hogwarts (if I happen to be reading to my kid.)
LIZ: What’s your favorite fairy tale?
JENNIFER: Cinderella. My sisters are wonderful, not jealous and mean, and I never had to sweep out a hearth. But I love that idea of being transformed from a mistreated afterthought to the belle of the ball, catching the eye of the prince and inspiring him to search everywhere for his elusive love. I think we all feel unappreciated at times. We want someone to see our true selves and love us for them. We want someone to treasure us so much they'll search the kingdom for us. The Cinderella story taps into that desire so powerfully.
LIZ: What one thing about your hero drives his heroine crazy? And what one thing about your heroine drives her hero nuts?
JENNIFER: Ryan is a very handsome guy, the sexy heartbreaker type, although he himself doesn't care anything about his looks. But it irritates Katie that she finds herself attracted to someone so ridiculously good-looking, someone who all the girls sigh over. It takes her a while to see past that exterior to the vulnerable, big-hearted person inside. On the other hand, it drives Ryan crazy that Katie is spending all her time on something she hates -- namely, running her family's bar, which is always one step away from disaster. He admires her loyalty to her family, but also wants her to stand up for her own wishes.
LIZ: What sound or noise do you love?
JENNIFER: The snort is a very unappreciated sound. You can say so much with a snort. Skeptical? Amused? Annoyed? Try a snort, and you can get your point across without saying a word. I also love the whooshing of wind through tall grass -- whispering secrets in a language you might understand if you listen closely enough.
LIZ: If you were given a chance to travel to the past where would you go and specifically why?
JENNIFER: I'd go back to the year I was thirteen. I'd tell myself that I wasn't hideous, as I imagined, that boys would like me some day, that I might occasionally tear myself away from my book, and that I should try smiling more. But knowing 13-year old me, I'd just roll my eyes at myself and tell myself I had no idea what I was talking about and how it sucked to be me. But since that time in my past involved a lot of writing, maybe it all worked out the way it was meant to.
LIZ: What will always make you smile, even on a bad day?
JENNIFER: The sky. I walk outside, tilt my head up, and take in whatever's happening up there. The clouds, the birds, the air … it's good to be alive, even on a crappy day.
LIZ: What is your biggest vice?
JENNIFER: It's a long list that includes anything sugary and anything sparkly. But at the top of the list would be laziness. If I let myself, I can laze away hours and days. I rarely give into it, but it's always there, waiting for me to take a darn vacation. Get me anywhere near a hammock and I'm doomed.
LIZ: What’s your favorite kid joke?
JENNIFER: Why is six afraid of seven? Because seven ate nine.
LIZ: What do you hope for the future of romance publishing?
JENNIFER: I hope romance starts getting the respect it deserves. It's such a wonderful genre that brings joy and comfort to so many people, it drives me crazy to see it disregarded or even scorned.
LIZ: What’s up next for you?
JENNIFER: SEX AND THE SINGLE FIREMAN will come out in early 2013. I'll also have an e-novella called ONE FINE FIREMAN coming out in December 2012.
LIZ HAS GOTTA ASK: What’s the most personal thing you’ve ever put in one of your books?
JENNIFER’S GOTTA ANSWER: My heart and soul! Oh, and my blood, sweat and tears. But aside from that, I gave Ryan, the sexy, manly fireman in HOT FOR FIREMAN, my childhood love for the book "The Little Prince." That book meant a lot to me when I was growing up. Ryan had a rough upbringing and loves the book for different reasons, but nonetheless it's something close to my heart that I passed on to him.
Jennifer’s Question for You!
What quality in a romance hero is most important to you?
(And remember, Jennifer has two autographed copies of her debut novel The Fireman Who Loved Me to give to commenters today! Include your e-mail in your post to be eligible to win.)
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