Stella: Hi Jennifer, welcome to Ex Libris! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Jennifer: Hi, Stella! Sure. I’m married (going on 18 years this year) have one child and 5 hermit crabs. I’m a neat-freak, a p90x graduate, and as my family calls me: a nerd. I’m also a pharmacist turned stay-at-home-mom turn author. :-)
Stella: Kissing Kendall, your latest novel and the first one published by Entangled Publishing was recently released in their Bliss line, congratulations! Could you tell readers what they can expect of this story?
Jennifer: Thank you! I was excited to tell Brad and Kendall’s story! I think readers can expect a heartwarming story filled with some humorous moments for good measure.
And there’s a cute puppy.
And doughnut muffins!
Stella: Would you like to introduce Brad and Kendall, the hero and heroine of Kissing Kendall to us?
Jennifer: Here they are in a nutshell:
Name: Brad Mayer
Height: 6 feet
Hair: Brownish blonde
Eyes: ocean blue
Occupation: police officer
Best character trait: fiercely loyal to friends and family
Worst character trait: overprotective
Eyes: Chocolate brown
Occupation: bakery owner
Best character trait: sensitive and kind
Worst character trait: worrier
Stella: And if Kissing Kendall was made into a movie, who would be your dream cast?
Jennifer: I’m soooooooooo glad you asked this considering I already have it planned out! LOL
Emma Roberts would play Kendall and Bradley Cooper would play Brad :-)
Stella: Any good, titillating scene or excerpt you’d like to share?
Jennifer: You bet!! Here’s a short excerpt!
Brad startled her by reaching out and stroking the side of her face with his finger. “Hey, why the frown? I pay you a compliment and you look unhappy. Next time, I’m going to tell you your cupcakes suck if that’s what it takes to get a smile out of you.”Stella: Kissing Kendall features one of my favourite tropes: the "falling for the best friend's brother" trope :-D Why did you choose to write your story around this one, what do you think is its appeal? Do you have any other favourite tropes?
“Oh, stop,” she said with a halfhearted laugh, lightly batting away his hand. “It’s nothing you said. And I am happy.” Mostly. At least she was happier than she’d been a few months ago. Brad narrowed his eyes.
“No, I know you. What’s really going on?”
She should have known better than to think she could hide anything from him, so she gave up the pretense. “I don’t know. I…I guess I feel a little alone sometimes. Grammy never seems to be around when I need her—and she’s all I have now. Even though it’s just you and Georgie, you two are close and share so much. And I…” She flushed, realizing she was babbling and embarrassing herself further. “Never mind. I’m sorry. I’m just being silly.”
“Hey, you’re not being silly.” Brad stepped even closer. His aftershave tickled her nose, but the fresh scent was a welcome change to her senses. All she wanted to do was lean in farther and just inhale. She hoped he didn’t notice her swaying into him, but he smelled a thousand times better than cupcakes and wet paint.
“You can’t help the way you feel,” he said, placing his warm, broad hands on her shoulders. “But I want you to know that I’ll always be around, so you never have to feel alone.”
She wanted to argue that point, but his kind words were overwhelming. Brad pulled her into him, wrapping his arms around her. She stiffened at first, but the way he positioned himself made it clear that he had no intention of letting her go any time soon.
Her shoulders relaxed and she dropped her chin to his chest with a sigh of pleasure. Somehow Brad instinctively knew she needed this—a good old-fashioned hug—more than she knew she needed it herself. She wound her arms around his waist and sank deeper into his chest. An aching need to be held by him and have all her worries disappear squeezed through her. She felt safe, almost believing his words that he would always be around and she’d never be alone. It was nice to pretend for a few minutes, anyway.
Brad shifted, gathering her even closer. He brushed a gentle kiss on the side of her forehead and a shudder passed through her. He felt so nice. This felt so nice. Brad inclined his head a few more inches and his breath softly fanned her face. Without warning, her senses began to spin from the heat of his body and the scent of his skin. That’s when she knew she was in trouble.
Her eyes sprang open. Suddenly their embrace didn’t feel like a friendly hug, but something much more intimate. What were they doing? What was she doing?
Brad is only trying to comfort you, she kept telling herself.
Until she looked up into his eyes and saw that he felt what was passing between them as well. His blue eyes were filled with heat. Desire. She swallowed hard.
Georgie On His Mind and had Brad’s unrequited love for Kendall as a secondary storline for his sister Georgie to learn about love. Enough people asked me for Brad and Kendall’s story to have a happy ending that Kissing Kendall eventually came to be.
I think the appeal of the Best Friends to Lovers trope is the longing involved. You just know if you keep reading something will have to give sooner or later. LOL
Stella: Can you tell us any behind the scenes secret about the novel (either related to the writing process or how a character/scene turned out way different than it was originally intended to, if any character was based on real life acquaintances, etc.)?
Jennifer: This book took me THE longest to write for some reason! Almost eight months! It was hard really understanding how a young widow would feel jumping into another relationship.
Stella: Kissing Kendall was released in Entangled Publishing's sweet, "tame" romance line: the Bliss imprint. Did you have to tone down the steaminess or was the story set to be sweet without any hot under the collar scenes?
Jennifer: Um, unfortuantley no. I tend to write pretty tame on average. In fact, my editor wanted more of Brad and actually encouraged me to take his shirt off! LOL
And so I did. :-)
Stella: What would be the Twitter-style elevator pitch of Kissing Kendall (i.e. in 140 characters or less)?
Jennifer: Ok, that’s tough but here’s the condensed version:
A young widow who doesn’t want to get involved with another man with a dangerous job, finds herself drawn to her best friend---a police officer.
Stella: Can you tell us what we should expect from you, or would you like to share with us any of your future plans? Is Kissing Kendall a standalone, or will it maybe be part of a series? :-)
I also have a fun Valentine’s Day novella coming out this month called A Little Bit Cupid.
It’s a novella in which a loner must find true love before midnight on Valentine’s Day or risk having humanity lose love forever, and with the help of Cupid’s son himself, she seeks out Mr. Wrong while Mr. Right is right under her nose.
Stella: In your novel Kendall is about to open her own bakery. Being an enthusiastic hobby cook/baker myself I'm looking very much forward to seeing a heroine whose passion is baking :-D Do you like to cook/bake yourself?
Jennifer: I LOVE to bake and cook! I’m constantly trying out new recipes, which my family very much appreciates. (Yes, they’re spoiled.)
Stella: Got any favourite recipe for us or a funny/weird/embarassing cooking story to share with us?
Jennifer: I have a cute story! I was watching Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate and saw them feature a doughnut muffin. It sounded so good that I made it Kendall’s specialty! I even made it myself and when my editor found out, we decided to put the recipe in the back of the book. :-)
Stella: Can you share with us some little secret trivia, something that not many people know about you?
Jennifer: This is embarrassing but once when I was in college (when I happened to be studying for the GREs and Pharmacy Boards at the same time) I had difficulty breathing and I made my boyfriend (now husband) take me to the hospital. They did all kinds of tests but eventually figured out that I had stressed-induced asthma. The doctor literally told me to carry a brown paper bag around with me (so I could breathe into it). :-) See? I AM a nerd.
Thanks so much for having me!!!
I hope you get to check out KISSING KENDALL. And be on the lookout for my Valentine’s Day novella, A LITTLE BIT CUPID from Entangled Publishing too!
And feel free to join us Bliss authors on Facebook! We chat, post contests, and the editors stop by there as well!
She writes sweet (and sometimes even funny) romances for Samhain Publishing, Avalon Books/Montlake Romance and now Entangled Publishing. She won third place in the RWA 2006 NYC's Kathryn Hayes Love and Laughter Contest with her first book, The Role of a Lifetime.
Lately she's been on a serious exercise kick. But don't hold that against her.
Kissing Kendall by Jennifer Shirk
Kendall Grisbaum is finally taking charge of her life—pouring her heart into opening a new bakery business and even allowing her best friend Georgie to play matchmaker for her. Trouble is, the one guy she secretly wants is Georgie’s older brother, Brad, who is decidedly off limits.
Brad can’t seem to get his little sister’s best friend out of his mind. He and Kendall used to be close friends, too, and as a local policeman, Brad can’t help but play protector, looking out for Kendall. When he offers to help her renovate her new bakery space on the side, their friendship—and their attraction—flares back to life.
Amid the temptation of doughnut muffins and blueberry cobbler, a new temptation draws them both closer. Can they take a chance on love when it means risking their friendship, even when not doing so risks everything?
To be entered just leave a comment answering Jennifer's question: Did you know that stress-induced asthma even existed? - Care to share a little secret trivia about yourself ?