Please join me in welcoming Jana Richards to my blog today!
Jana will be giving away a $20 GC to The Wild Rose Press to one random commenter, and a $20 Amazon GC to one commenter along the tour. Make sure to weigh in with a comment at the end of the post!
Give it away, Jana!
I love that you've created a hero that's younger then the heroine. We typically see heroines who are younger than their hunky lovers. What made you switch things up?
It was for that exact reason, because we rarely see an older heroine/younger hero, that I decided to go in that direction. I wanted to do something that was a little different, and a little out of the norm for romance novels. Also, I wanted to make things difficult for my heroine Cara. Her husband has left her, and she’s gained weight, two things that have contributed to her losing much of the confidence she used to have in high school. She’s now over forty, and not only feeling unattractive, but old. She simply cannot believe that a younger, very good-looking man could find her desirable. So Finn really has to work hard to make her believe his feelings for her are genuine. But ultimately, Cara must come to accept herself, and learn to grab happiness by the throat, no matter what other people (including her mother) think about it.
What was your inspiration for setting the story around a high school reunion?
I’d like to claim the high school reunion setting as my own idea, but I actually have to give all the credit to my publisher The Wild Rose Press and my editor, Kathy Cottrell. “The Girl Most Likely” is part of the Class of ’85 series which centers around the graduates of Summerville High School in fictional Summerville, New York, and their 25th year reunion. Some of the graduates have lived in Summerville since graduation while others are returning for the first time in years. Some old loves are rekindled, while others meet the loves of their lives for the first time while preparing for the reunion.
That’s the case for Cara and Finn. If she has to go to this reunion, she wants to go a few pounds lighter. Finn is a physical trainer, and Cara employs him to whip her into shape in the six weeks leading up the reunion. I think a high school reunion is a stressful occasion. We want to impress our classmates with our success in life as well as our attractiveness. You don’t want to be the person that everyone whispers about at the reunion, as in “Did you see Cara? I can’t believe how old she looks!” or “I can’t believe how much weight Cara’s gained. She’s really let herself go.”
I love that these stories all revolve around the reunion. High school reunions are perfect for tender romance and heightened angst!
We've all seen stories where the underdog from high school grows up, sheds his/her ugly duckling shell and becomes a strong, beautiful individual both inside and out. What was it like writing a story where the girl who had it all has fallen from her pedestal?
Actually, my first instinct was to write a story like that because it’s such a great premise. But since “The Girl Most Likely” is part of a series, I expected that the theme of the high school underdog would be explored by other writers, and I knew I’d have to come up with something just a little different. What if my heroine had been one of the ‘popular’ girls in high school? What if she had, at least to an outside observer, the perfect life and the perfect marriage? And then, what if she lost it all? I wanted to see Cara pick herself up, dust herself off, and start all over again. I wanted her to realize she was more than her looks. Cara’s journey is discovering that she is a worthwhile, strong, independent woman no matter how much she weighs.
I wanted Finn’s story to be a little different, too. I’ve given him a couple of secrets that make him a slightly unusual romance hero. But I think his secrets make him completely perfect for Cara!
Thanks for having me on your blog today Lisa!
Cara McLeod, the girl most likely to have the perfect marriage, is now divorced and, in her own words, “fat, frumpy, and over forty.” The thought of facing former classmates—and the ex-husband who dumped her—at her high school reunion terrifies her. Cajoled into attending by her kids and her best friend, Cara enlists help at the gym to lose weight and look great for the reunion. Personal Trainer Finn Cooper is more than willing to help—but does he have to be so to-die-for gorgeous?
Finn thinks Cara is perfect just the way she is. She’s everything he wants in a woman, except for one thing—she can’t get past the fact that he's eight years younger. To Finn, age and weight are just numbers. But can he convince Cara the numbers she worries about add up to only one thing for him—love?
He chuckled. “Jessica better watch her back. You could give her a run for her money.”
He heard Cara’s throaty laugh, and various parts of his anatomy tingled in response. “Yes, that’s my evil plan. Take over Rochester Noon, then the world.”
“If you set your mind to it, I’m sure you could do it.”
“For believing in me.”
“Are you going to be okay now?”
“Yes, I’m fine. Thanks to you.”
He wanted so badly to tell her he loved her, adored her, thought she was the most amazing woman in the world. But fear stopped him. Was she truly over her ex-husband? Why else would losing weight for the reunion be so important to her if not to impress Peter?
“I’ve got to run. Thanks again. I’ll talk to you later at my condo, right?”
“Absolutely. I can hardly wait to hear about your big TV debut. Break a leg. Isn’t that what they say in show biz?”
She laughed. “Yeah, that’s what they say. Bye.”
Finn replaced the receiver and closed his eyes. He hoped everything went well with this interview. Cara deserved to realize how amazing she was.
If she did come to that realization, would there still be room in her life for him?
Jana Richards has tried her hand at many writing projects over the years, from magazine articles and short stories to full-length paranormal suspense and romantic comedy. She loves to create characters with a sense of humor, but also a serious side. She believes there’s nothing more interesting then peeling back the layers of a character to see what makes them tick.
When not writing up a storm, working at her day job as an Office Administrator, or dealing with ever present mountains of laundry, Jana can be found on the local golf course pursuing her newest hobby.
Jana lives in Western Canada with her husband Warren, along with two university aged daughters and a highly spoiled Pug/Terrier cross named Lou.