Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Virtual Tour & #Giveaway for Turn Up the Heat by Serena Bell

Welcome to my stop on the Virtual Tour, presented by Tasty Book Tours, for Turn Up the Heat by Serena Bell.  Please leave a comment or question for Diana to let her know you stopped by.  You can enter the tour wide giveaway, for a Loveswept Prize Pack, by filling out the Rafflecopter form below.  You can also follow all of the stops on her tour by clicking on the banner above.  The more stops you visit, the better your odds of winning.

Me:  How long have you been a published author and how does getting a contract for a book now compared to when you were first starting out feel?

Serena:  My first novella released two and a half years ago. Including Turn Up the Heat, I’ve now published five novels, two novellas, and two short stories, with two more novels—Can’t Hold Back and To Have and To Hold—on the way this winter and next summer.

Selling the first book was definitely the hardest. Like all first-time authors, I had to convince agents and publishers I had the voice and storytelling chops to make it in the market. But now that I have some books behind me, it’s more about coming up with a great series or a great premise—my publishers have faith that I can turn a strong concept into a winning book.

Dreaming up a new idea and selling it—knowing that it will be a book some day—always feels terrific, though, no matter how many times I do it!

Me:  You publish for three different publishers in the contemporary romance genre.  Have you ever considered writing a different genre?  If so, which one would you like to try to write next?

Serena:  If I took a stab at another genre, it would almost definitely be women’s fiction. I love exploring complicated moral issues, and often have to hold myself back from putting plotlines better suited for women’s fiction—angsty subplots, twisted family relationships, and odd career issues—into my romances.

I have a mental list of stories that I think would make great women’s fiction—but in the end, I always fall in love with a new romance and end up writing another happily ever after instead!

Me:  You were a professional journalist while taking a break from writing romance, have any of the “real life” experiences or stories had any impact or involvement in your romance novels?

Serena:  Yes, absolutely.

For example, I spent a couple of years writing about English language learners and immigration issues. After writing two long articles on immigration—one about legal, documented immigrants and one about immigrants who lack proper documentation—I knew I wanted to be able to tell some of the stories I’d heard.

Ana, in Yours to Keep, is living in the U.S. without documentation because of a mistake made nearly twenty years ago, and so much of what she experiences evolved from stories I heard when I was doing journalism research. Her dreamy hero and happily-ever-after are pure fiction, which was fun, too!

Me:  You have one more new release scheduled for this year for Loveswept, will you be publishing any additional books this year for your other publisher?  What are you currently working on now?

Serena:  After Turn Up the Heat, you’ll see Can’t Hold Back in December, and then To Have and To Hold next summer. Both Can’t Hold Back and To Have and To Hold are Loveswept, part of the Returning Home series, which began last summer with my U.S.A. Today bestseller, Hold on Tight.

I am having a fabulous time building Jake and Mira’s world and the wonderful cast of characters around them, and I can’t wait to introduce these two new soldier heroes to my fabulous readers.

Me:  Who would you say has been the biggest influence on your writing style, mentor wise?

Serena:  Before I started writing, I worshipped (from afar) Diana Gabaldon, Jenny Crusie, Nora Roberts, Julia Quinn, and Suzanne Brockmann. And I still love all of them. But once I started writing, I met a lot of amazing new writers, some of whom were at that point barely known in the market but who have since broken out. They include beta readers and critique partners, fellow writers at the Wonkomance blog, the authors who worked on the Strangers on the Train, Heating Up the Holidays, and Winter Rain collections with me, as well as the incredibly talented writers I’ve met on Twitter, through RWA and its chapters, and at conferences.

All that said, the woman who has had the absolute biggest influence on me is my mom, also a novelist. She gave me my first notebook, impressed her work ethic on me (she always wrote four hours, no matter what), and read—and praised—years of my novelistic attempts.

Turn up the Heat
By Serena Bell  
Second Chances, Book 1

Publisher:  Loveswept
Release Date: July 14, 2015
Genre:  Contemporary Romance
Length: 217 Pages
ISBN: 9781101883440

About the book: 

For readers of Jill Shalvis and Susan Mallery, USA Today bestselling author Serena Bell teases all five senses in this poignant, tantalizing novel of fantasies long hidden . . . and finally indulged.

Aspiring chef Lily McKee noticed Kincaid Graves the first time he walked into the dingy diner where she waits tables. With his ice-blue eyes and primal tattoos, his presence puts Lily on edge—and reminds her of all the unfulfilled longings she isn’t pursuing while she’s stuck in this dead-end job. Without a doubt, the man is dangerous to her long-term plans of leaving town and hiring on at a real kitchen—and yet, she hungers for him, if even for just a taste.

Kincaid didn’t come back to his coastal Oregon hometown looking for a good time or a good meal. The ex-con has a score to settle, old wrongs to set right. But Lily, equal parts innocence and insight, brings out an impulsive side of him he thought he’d left behind in the past. And it only takes one intense moment of weakness between them to make him consider the possibility of an entirely new future—and the promise of passion beyond either of their wildest dreams.

Buy Links:  Amazon | B & N iTunes | Kobo Publisher

“Dinner rush is just starting. You will be in ten minutes. Look, I’m not giving you a choice.”

“Of course you’re fucking not.”

The men glared at each other, then turned to her.

Lily knew better than to look like she was waiting for an invitation. She grabbed an order ticket and got to work.

Of course it was the ticket for Booth 9. Her mystery man. He’d ordered a burger.
She let herself wonder, just a little. If he’d do it. If he’d pin her, hold her, boss her, own her. Wondering wasn’t doing. There was no harm in wondering.

She’d told herself that after what had happened with Fallon, she needed to give herself space. She’d told herself: No men in Tierney Bay.  Do the job, make the money, get out.

The anger coiled now. The sense of betrayal.

Do the job, make the money, get out.

And yet, every time her mystery man came in here and she took in his size, the hewn-wood solidity of him, the ripple and surge of what he’d built under the surface of his skin like a barely contained threat, she wanted to rewrite the rules. And that was before he turned that cool blue gaze on her, stripped her to the skin and then barer still, and dared her something she didn’t have a name for.

She’d promised herself. And in her head, she’d promised her mother and her sister, who had given up so much for her.

And her father, who had given up everything.

So that meant she could wonder, but that was all.

But it wouldn’t be breaking the rules to cook for him. To grill him a burger and watch him eat it. She’d seen him eat a few times, like he was ravenous and barely restrained, but savoring every last nuance. Watching him eat would be only a consolation prize, but it would be a damn good one.

Unfortunately, she’d had a few of Tierney Bay Diner’s hamburgers, and they were nothing to write home about. That would dampen the fun of feeding him, for sure.

It would take her ten seconds, no more, to fix that.

A few chopped onions, minced garlic and parsley, Worcestershire sauce.

She dared a glance, and there he was. Icy-lake eyes, full lips, the slashes of cheek and jawbone, a day’s stubble. Not reading. Watching her.

They’d done this too many times for her to pretend they weren’t doing it. She looked right back at him, held his gaze, and heat flared in her, like the shimmer of air over the grill.

She oiled the grill and formed the patty, the sound of her hands loud as a slap in her mind but drowned by sizzle and the clang of metal and the god-awful eighties XM station playing on infinite loop.

In a few seconds she was flipping her own burgers with her left hand and clearing space for sausages with her right.

She brushed cooking oil on the grill—but someone had substituted lemon juice in her oil bottle and the whole thing caramelized in an instant.

Behind her, Hadley snickered.

Screw him. She scraped the grill clean, time wasted, and started over.

On his next pass, he knocked her elbow when she was salting, and she seared his forearm with a metal spatula she’d been heating on the grill for just that purpose.

He jumped a foot and his jaw tightened, but he half-grinned, too. He knew the score. It was every man for himself in the kitchen. Every woman, too.

She’d be poised for his next attack, but somehow, some way, she’d prove herself in here. 

This was how you did it.

Meantime, she wouldn’t let him distract her. Wouldn’t let him break her rhythm. The smack of patties on her latex palms, the swish of spatula against grill surface, the dance she was part of now as her brain tracked tickets and entrees, ingredients and subassemblies. What needed to be started and what needed to be finished.

Booth 9’s burger was up, and she watched it get delivered. He took a bite, then looked up from the burger and met her eyes. It was there: gratitude and worship, hot and dark as sex. Like no one had ever really fed him before.

She loved that. She couldn’t help her smile.

Someone stopped by his table, breaking her line of sight. Markos. He’d been moving around the diner, stopping to say hello to regular customers and to check on people to see if they were enjoying their meals. Markos and her mystery man began having an animated conversation, pointing to the burger. Removing the bun.


A cold hand fisted in her stomach.

Markos left Booth 9 and headed straight for her. “See me in the storeroom.” Markos’s thick-featured face was angry, his voice low and mean. “Hadley, watch her station.”

She followed Markos into the storeroom.

“You messed with my food.”


“We don’t put fucking onions and parsley in the hamburgers. Or anything fucking else.”

The real rage in his voice surprised her, set her back on her heels despite herself. “I was— Did he not like it?”

Because she knew he had. She’d seen him finish the last bite a moment ago and lick his fingers, which had sent a shiver of lust up her spine.

“That’s not the fucking point. You don’t mess with my food. You don’t try something new. I tell you what to cook, you cook it. Except you don’t, because it’ll be a frigid day in hell before I let you back in this kitchen. Get outta here. Go do what I hired you to do.”

He held out his hand and she shed her apron and hairnet and returned them to him.
She went back to the floor.

Tears stung behind her eyes, but she ordered them back. Be tough. Show no weakness.

Or as one of her favorite teachers—a woman—had once said, Pull on your big-girl panties and turn up the heat.

Author Info

USA Today bestselling author Serena Bell writes stories about how sex messes with your head, why smart people sometimes do stupid things, and how love can make it all better. She wrote her first steamy romance before she was old enough to understand what all the words meant and has been perfecting the art of hiding pages and screens from curious eyes ever since—a skill that’s particularly useful now that she’s the mother of two school-aged children.

Author Links:  Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

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  1. Thank you for hosting Serena and TURN UP THE HEAT

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