Talking Modern Day Fairy Tales with RITA finalist Heidi Rice

I’m thrilled to welcome Heidi Rice to Get Lost in a Story. Heidi is a RITA finalist for the second year in a row – an amazing feat when you consider the RITA Award is the most hotly contested romance writing award on the planet. This year, Heidi's hoping to take home the short contemporary romance prize for Tempting the Knight – a modern take on Rapunzel, which is part of the wonderful Fairy Tales of New York series.

About Heidi...

USA Today bestselling author Heidi Rice’s first love was watching movies so, not surprisingly, her first proper job was as a film journalist. But after spending years sneaking off to read romantic fiction when she was being paid to watch some crappy B-movie or other, she decided to try writing a novel of her own. 

Her first book was published by Harlequin Mills & Boon in 2007. Since then she’s published a total of 24 novels, novellas and short stories, nabbed three RITA nominations, sold over two millions copies of her books worldwide and never has to watch crappy B-movies now unless she wants to. 

She lives in London with her husband and two sons, and lots of other gorgeous men who are entirely in her imagination (unlike the laundry, unfortunately).

Connect with Heidi at her website and blog, or via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Goodreads.

Tempting the Knight

Once upon a time, poor little rich girl Zelda Madison wanted someone to love her, until she discovered being a badass was much more fun.

Ten years after getting kicked out of convent school and torn away from her three best friends, Zelda has worked hard to clean up her act, but her wild streak has never been completely tamed and — one midnight swim on Manhattan Beach later — she’s suddenly in urgent need of a knight in shining armor…

Hard-working legal aid attorney Tyrone Sullivan is the last guy she should call. Not only does he hold a grudge when it comes to Zelda leading his little sister astray all those years ago, he’s also supremely pissed about having to rescue a runaway supermodel from a Brooklyn police station at two am. But when Ty reluctantly agrees to bust Zel out of her ivory tower and let her hide out on his house barge for a few days, she shows him the wild side he didn’t know he had.

Zel discovers there’s nothing hotter than tarnishing a good guy’s armor… Until he starts to steal her bad girl’s battered heart… 

Read a little, buy the book...
After getting caught taking an impromptu midnight swim on Manhattan Beach, runaway supermodel Zelda Madison has just been bailed out of a Brooklyn station house by crusading legal aid attorney Ty Sullivan, her friend Faith’s older brother….

“Just out of curiosity, who put you in charge of my welfare?” The last thing Zelda needed after taking five years to get free of her minders was another one. Especially one as pissy and rude as this one.

“You did.” He shot back. “When you decided to haul me out of bed to deal with your latest drunken stunt.”

“I wasn’t drunk.”

She hadn’t touched a drop for five years—not that she cared whether he believed her or not. He narrowed his eyes, not looking convinced. “Uh-huh? So what were you doing skinny dipping on Manhattan Beach at midnight?”

“I wasn’t skinny dipping, I had underwear on.”

“According to the desk sergeant your underwear consisted of three pinpoint triangles of red lace that became transparent when wet. In my book that counts as skinny dipping. You’re lucky you didn’t get raped.”

She flinched. “The beach was deserted. There wasn’t a soul about and I hadn’t planned to come out of the water to find two patrol cops standing guard over my clothing.”

“Doesn’t sound like you plan a whole hell of a lot now, does it? Just, FYI, next time you’re in a fix call one of your lackeys or, better yet, one of your brother’s pricey legal team. I bet they’ve got a ton more experience dealing with your bullshit.”

If she’d known she was going to get this much grief she would have. Despite the fact her brother would have given her that indifferent look that made her stomach hurt, and the presence of anyone from Goulding and Hatchard, the East Side lawyers Seb used for the Madison Foundation’s business, at the Sheepshead Bay precinct house at three in the morning would have put her in grave danger of having the press alerted. Then again, arguing at top volume with a pill like Ty Sullivan right outside the station house probably wasn’t helping to keep this debacle under wraps either.

“True, but you were closer and I thought you’d be a lot less conspicuous,” she replied, keeping her voice as non-confrontational as possible.

From everything Faith had ever told Zelda about her big brother Ty—and what she’d witnessed all those years ago in St. J’s foyer—he was the stick-up-your-butt, hopelessly self-righteous, I-know-best type. And his current snotty reaction wasn’t disabusing her of that fact. Plus she’d had more than enough run-ins with her own brother to know it was next to impossible to win an argument with a person who assumed they were always right simply because they sported a pair of testicles.

The only difference with Ty was that he seemed to be engaging his emotions in this debate, if the huffing and puffing was anything to go by. Unlike Seb, who never lost the controlled, detached, closed-off look that was his fallback position whenever they had a disagreement. Up until this particular moment, she would have believed she preferred the emotionally-engaged reaction… But at three a.m. while stranded in Brooklyn, with her hair looking like a bird had been nesting in it for days, and the two thousand dollar Versace gown she had been loaned for her red carpet appearance at the Foundation’s charity gala in Manhattan last night, sporting unidentifiable stains on the hem courtesy of whatever was on the floor of the station house? Not so much.

She’d never been vain about her appearance. She knew her modeling career was a result of good bone structure, lucky metabolism, and her above-average height, all things she’d had nothing whatsoever to do with acquiring. Plus when she spent two hours in styling and then three hours posing for the camera, just to get a couple of signature shots, she knew how much of her success as a supermodel was down to her and how much down to the expert eye of the photographer or the talents of the makeup artist and hair stylist. But even so, Ty Sullivan’s superior glare was starting to make her much more aware than usual that she did not look her best.

Figuring out how she was going to explain tonight’s disaster to her sponsor at AA and then her brother was taking up enough of her diminishing brain power, after being awake for the last twenty-four hours. How she was going to avoid the handful of paparazzi who would probably be staking out the Mausoleum by now after hearing of her nonappearance at the charity gala was taking up even more. So she simply did not have the headspace to worry about what Ty Sullivan did or did not think of her.

“Conspicuous?” He barked. “Conspicuous how?”

“Conspicuous as in I don’t want the tabloids getting ahold of this story if that’s okay with you. I get enough grief from them as it is.” And was liable to get a lot more when they discovered she’d decided not to sign her latest three million dollar contract with Fantasy, the hair care company who had employed her as the face of their signature shampoo brand for six years. The poor little rich bitch tag had been one she’d worked hard to play down in the last five years; this stunt would not help that.

Ty looked momentarily taken aback by her explanation before his glare intensified. “You know what your problem is, princess?” he said, the grinding disgust in the tone suggesting that whatever her problem was, it wasn’t one that was going to register on his ‘problems that deserve my sympathy’ list.

“No, but I’m sure you’re going to enlighten me,” she growled back. “Being as you’re such a prince.”

His eyes flashed with green fire and she remembered she was supposed to be doing contrite, not confrontational… A moment too late.

“You need to get the hell out of your ivory tower. If you lived with four kids under six in the Marlboro Projects and were fighting an eviction notice, like the client I’m representing in …” He pulled out his phone and checked the time. “Six hours. You’d have a real problem to deal with. Instead of whether you were gonna get splashed over the centerfold of the New York Post for some dumb stunt entirely of your own making.”

Contrite came surprisingly easily at the mention of his client. The last of her temper fizzling out as she noted the lines around his mouth. The firm sensual lips pursed in a flat line of displeasure. He was right. He had a real job, with real consequences. And she was the one who had screwed up. While Faith had been the one to suggest calling him at this ungodly hour when she’d been on her way to the station house before her mobile had died on her, it would have been fairer and more honest to simply ring Seb and take the heat.

“Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter where my ivory tower is located,” she said, resigned. “I’d still get stalked by the press.”

“Don’t kid yourself, if you were hanging out on my house barge, no way would you get caught by the press. But that’s never gonna happen, because we’re not big on ivory towers in Brooklyn.”

The comment was delivered with such contempt, Zel’s reflex action was instant and unstoppable. She might have been sober for five years, but her wild streak would never be completely tamed. Hence the decision to go for a midnight swim on Manhattan Beach to celebrate the sheer joy of finally escaping from the hollow, pointless world she had despised for so long. Or the impulse to call Ty Sullivan’s bluff now.

“That’s where you’re wrong. I’d love to hang out on your house barge. Invitation accepted.”

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks

Tempting the Knight is part of a series of books, called The Fairy Tales of New York. All can be read as standalone books, but if you want to see the Ugly Ducking, Beauty and the Beast, and Cinderella get a very contemporary happily ever after, check out the full set...
Book 1: Pursued by the Rogue by Kelly Hunter
Book 2: Tempting the Knight by Heidi Rice
Book 3: Taming the Beast by Lucy King
Book 4: Seduced by the Baron by Amy Andrews

Avril: How does it feel to score a prestigious RITA finalist spot two years running, and what are you wearing to the ceremony
Heidi: A total shock actually, I had far too much fun brainstorming Tempting the Knight with the help of Kelly Hunter, Lucy King and  Amy Andrews, the other Fairy Tales of New York authors, so it felt like a RITA final on top was just too much goodness to get from one book! I have not purchased my posh frock yet, but it will probably be blue and clingy (assuming my spanx don’t explode).

Avril:You’ve written across various lines for different publishers – what’s the one constant readers can expect in your books?
Heidi: Hotness. Attitude. Wit (I think). Funny feisty women, sexy tortured men… Glamorous locations which are often in London (my manor). And absolutely no laundry. Ever! Take your pick of any of those.

Cliff path, Cornwall
Avril: I know you’ve recently taken a trip around Poldark country – can you tell us what prompted the trip and give us an armchair traveller’s view of what it was like?
Heidi: Glorious (even in a campervan perched on the edge of a cliff in the pouring rain)… It was my Mum’s idea (she is the insane person who owns a campervan). We stayed on the Roseland Peninsula (which is as beautiful as it sounds), ate delicious soups and fresh baked bread at a bijoux beach café (when the rain had stopped), and did lots of walking along the coastal path which is a bit precarious when you’re busy leaning over the cliffs to see if you can spot Himself in the all together swimming in the many secluded coves that dot the headland… TBH, I really don’t know how Demelza did that without taking a header onto the rocks… So luckily we didn’t spot him. This time!

Avril: What first takes hold of you as you’re approaching a new book – the plot or the characters?
Heidi: Hmm, it depends, usually it’s the opening hook, or a place, or a very vague idea or sometimes all three then the characters emerge pretty quickly from that and the plot tends to evolve at the same time… I’m currently working on an idea which began with a trip to our local art house cinema. Suddenly I had an idea forming about the plucky film buff and hopeless dreamer who part owns and manages a rundown little movie house in West London and then along came an arsey New York businessman who has just inherited the other half and wants to buy her out so he can sell it to developers and go home again. She’s not pleased. Especially when she discovers he hates movies… But then she discovers why he hates make-believe and… Well, it’s still in the development stage.

Avril: Alpha or beta heroes – do you have a preference?
Heidi: Alpha, I love ‘em in all their sexy arrogant arsiness... Although I recently got a review of Tempting the Knight that described my hero Ty Sullivan as a beta, I was surprised by that… I thought he was pretty alpha in an overbearing, crusading white knight sort of way. Ty was pretty pissed about it too, actually.

Avril: Will you get any time off while you’re at the Romance Writers of America conference in San Diego this month – and if so, what’s top of your sightseeing list?
Heidi: I may have a window of opportunity on the Wednesday morning, when knowing me and my jet lag I’ll wake up at 4am... So I am planning to see if I can catch the sunrise on the beach.

Avril: What’s on your current TBR pile?
Heidi: Nora Roberts’ The Obsession and Jay Crownover’s Rule (courtesy of my mate Abby Green).

Avril: What’s your next project?
Heidi: I’m in discussions with Tule to do a book in a new Montana Born series for next year (I am inappropriately excited at the prospect of doing a cowboy hero!) and I have another Presents book to finish this year which I’m already looking forward to getting stuck into. I am also devising an online creative writing course for the Professional Writing Academy, which is due to launch in October and will be an Introduction to Writing Hot Romance – all my top tips and secrets will be revealed.

Avril: This is my GOTTA ASK question: As a romance reader, what’s your pet hate?
Heidi: Bearded heroes! I love a bit of five o’clock scuff, but full blown hipster facial hair that could conceivably get food stuck in it, I just can’t get into … I’m good with pretty much anything else though if the writing is compelling. (That said, if Kresley Cole wrote a bearded hero I’d probably get over my beard problem pretty quick – she total cured me of my aversion to genital piercings!!).

Question from Heidi: Who’s your top auto-buy author? As I’m looking for some more! The ones I have - Victoria Dahl, Kate Meader, Julie James, Tessa Dare, Kresley Cole, etc - aren’t writing fast enough. 

Tell us in the comments and enter the giveaway for an ebook of Heidi's, Daring the Bad Boy!

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  1. Within my budget, I buy books from a wide variety of authors, but the one must have for me is JD Robb...

  2. Oh that's brilliant Colleen, I love Nora's In Death books too... Have just read Devoted in Death!

  3. Congratulations on your RITA final! I have so many auto buys -- I can't name them! A lot are my Golden Heart sisters!

  4. My auto buy is Avril Tremayne--fun, hot books with great characters that I can believe in.

    Heidi-- you should head over to the Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego if you get a chance. Lots of great restaurants, etc.

  5. Hi Ladies

    What a great post and huge congrats Heidi on your nomination I loved that one and the series :)

    I have way too many auto buy authors for me :) Avril is amongst them as is Anna Campbell I could go on Anne Gracie Annie West

    Have Fun

    1. Thanks Helen! You are such a fabulous supporter of romance.

  6. I'm with Helen. Avril is definitely my auto-buy.

  7. Yes, Avril is my auto-buy as well -- witty writing and fun, sexy characters. Love her blog entries and her interviews, too. Have fun in San Diego, Heidi.

  8. Are you paying over $5 per pack of cigs? I buy all my cigarettes over at Duty Free Depot and this saves me over 60%.