My guest today is historical romance author Barbara Bettis, a former health insurance claims adjuster, former journalist and former journalism professor. “Dr. Barb” plans never to be a “former” author. Currently, she supports her writing habit as an adjunct English instructor at a community college near her home in Missouri.
Today she is sharing with us her new release, The Heart of the Phoenix, and answering some of my questions. Get to know her better and leave a comment (and your email) to win her book!
Some call him a ruthless mercenary; she calls him the knight of her heart.
Lady Evelynn’s childhood hero is home—bitter, hard, tempting as sin. And haunted by secrets. A now-grown Evie offers friendship, but Sir Stephen's cruel rejection crushes her, and she resolves to forget him. Yet when an unexpected war throws them together, she finds love isn’t so easy to dismiss. If only the king hadn’t betrothed her to another.
Can be cruel
Sir Stephen lives a double life while he seeks the treacherous outlaws who murdered his friends. Driven by revenge, he thinks his heart is closed to love. His childhood shadow, Lady Evie, unexpectedly challenges that belief. He rebuffs her, but he can’t forget her, although he knows she’s to wed the king’s favorite.
When his drive for vengeance leads to Evie’s kidnapping, Stephen must choose between retribution and the love he’s denied too long. Surely King John will see reason. Convict the murderers; convince the king. Simple. Until a startling revelation threatens everything.
Read an excerpt:
Evie could tell Stephen was angry now by the way he glowered and roared in that whispery sort of way no one else could hear, but left her with no doubt of his displeasure.
“Your betrothed.” He bent and scooped her off the floor.
“What? What about him?”
“That’s the identity of the illustrious lord who’s sharing passage with us.”
“You’re drunk. And put me down. I’m perfectly capable of getting up on my own.”
“Be quiet. You have blood on your leg.”
“Of course I do. I tripped and fell trying to answer your pounding when you could easily have opened—” His words finally penetrated her throbbing head. “I’m bleeding?”
Oh, blast. The contents of her—empty—stomach churned. She attended the villagers’ hurts, bound the cuts and scrapes of servants and their children. The sight of their blood bothered her not a whit. But her own? Black spots danced at the corners of her vision, becoming larger and larger until she heard Stephen’s voice.
“Evie, Evie. What the hell?”
His voice echoed so far away. If she didn’t know better, she’d vow he sounded alarmed. Perhaps she’d close her eyes for a moment. As the ringing in her ears crescendoed, she recalled
his words. Betrothed.
Her betrothed was on board?
Dear Lord, just let me die.
1. Where do you read and how often?
Anywhere, everywhere, and as often as possible. I don’t wait well, so I occupy my mind with reading. I keep a couple of books in the car, just in case I get stranded empty-handed. I try to remember to stick the book I’m currently reading, which could be on my Kindle, in my purse when I leave the house for any prolonged period of time. I used to carry a small notebook and pen so I could work on my current story, or jot down other ideas, but found I can’t write in most public places. At home, I read before bed.
2. How often do you get lost in a story?
Always, whether I’m reading or writing. If I’m reading and I can’t get ‘lost’ or caught up, I put the book aside. Sometimes it’s just the mood I’m in and later I can appreciate it. Other times it’s the story—not that I’m saying it’s bad, just that I can’t connect with it, and why waste time reading something you’re constantly rewriting in your mind? If I’m writing and I can’t get lost in the story, I know no one else will either, and I try to find a way to make it happen.
Oh, and if I’m really lost in a story, I hate putting that book down. Which can be a problem when I’m reading before bed.
3. What’s the first book you remember reading?
The first book I can actually remember reading was a book of folk/fairy tales. My mother had bought me a set of encyclopedias back when that was the done thing. With it, came a couple of volumes of fairy tales and folk tales. I recall sitting on my grandmother’s couch, reading one of those books. Among the stories was one of which I, unfortunately, don’t remember the name. It really caught my imagination, though, because it’s remained with me all these years. It was a Native American folk tale about the young women in a tribe who were offered a chance to marry the champion warrior by correctly guessing the nature of the bow he carried. One girl, the least likely to win a warrior’s heart, knew: It was made of the rainbow. Because her insight showed her pure heart, she was given a comb that made her hair silky and shiny, a soap that made her complexion smooth, and a beautiful, beaded dress of the softest doeskin. And she married the famed warrior. Does anyone else know that story?
4. What turns you off like nothing else?
5. What do you do to unwind and relax?
I call a friend, watch a movie, listen to music, or take a long walk. I love Broadway musicals, and I have a few favorite classical pieces, as well. As for movies, depends on the mood, although sometimes I prevail upon my grandchildren to take me to an animated film or one of the YA series out now. A nice, long bubble bath is nice, too. I can’t sew or knit or paint or do any other craft activity. I’m terrible at them, so that certainly isn’t relaxing. Speaking of TV series, which we weren’t: Will Poldark ever get a break?
6. What’s your favorite fairy tale?
Beauty and the Beast. So many themes are layered in that tale. While the Disney version is delightful, I’m thinking of the original story, which has the youngest sister offering to sacrifice herself to a beast in order to save her sisters from having to go to him. She is the beauty of the three, but her true beauty lies in her heart. She must see past the exterior, to love the man beneath--the beast, who must seek redemption through true love. (Why can I never write ‘true love’ without thinking of The Princess Bride?)
Barb’s question: What is your favorite fairy tale? Or your favorite movie to relax by?