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Friday, November 29, 2013

Just Desserts by Barbara Bretton Interview & giveaway


1. What is one of your favorite Myths/legends to write about?

I was maybe eight or nine when I first read about Baucis and Philemon. I was working my way through my dad’s childhood set of Adventures in Bookland volumes and was in the Greek myths section when an illustration of two beautiful trees, branches intertwined, caught my eye.

Baucis and Philemon were a long-married couple who lived in a tiny hut. They were poor but happy, blessed with bees for honey, vines filled with grapes, a beloved cow who provided milk and cream. They were also kind and generous. No traveler passing their way ever went hungry.

One day they were visited by two starving, bedraggled travelers. Baucis and Philemon had been busy gathering their honey and grapes in preparation of a visit from Zeus to their town but their kind hearts couldn’t refuse the hungry beggars who needed food much more than the great god ever could. They fed the beggars. They gave the beggars their bed to sleep in.

When the beggars were ready to leave, they asked Baucis and Philemon what their dearest wish might be and both replied simultaneously, "That neither should outlive the other."

Of course, you’ve guessed by now that the beggars were actually Zeus and a companion and that Baucis and Philemon’s dearest wish would be granted in time.

When they were very old and their time came, the married couple breathed their last as mortals and awoke as glorious shade trees, branches intertwined, atop the hill on which they had lived their lives. It was said that travelers often heard whispers of "Baucis!" and "Philemon!" on the sweet wind.

The ultimate HEA, if my opinion.

2. If you could live back in time, what time period would you choose and why?

The Revolutionary War era. I love the passion, the fashion, and the historical significance. Besides, who wouldn’t want the chance to cross paths with Washington and Adams, Jefferson and Franklin? I live in central NJ, near Princeton, and am surrounded by the history of that era on a daily basis. I’d love to experience this place I know so well back when it was at the center of the struggle for independence.

3. Have you ever come across a song that might fit the theme of one of your books?

More times than I can count! I don’t think there’s a romance writer of a certain age who didn’t build at least one story around Barry Manilow’s classic WEEKEND IN NEW ENGLAND.

4. What was the most creative pick-up line you've ever used on someone or someone used on you?

"You hair is on fire." It wasn’t. But it gave me a good laugh.

5. When writing do you have a playlist of music you like to listen to? What are a couple songs on it?

The movie FAR AND AWAY didn’t do much at the box office, but its soundtrack became my #1 go-to choice for writing. I also love James Galway’s LARK IN THE CLEAR AIR. Both put me immediately in the zone.

6. What do you do when you think nobody is watching?

I watch other people! Is there anything better than being a nosy people-watcher? I think it’s practically a job requirement for a writer. And as if being a Peeping Tom isn’t bad enough, I’m also a dedicated eavesdropper. You wouldn’t believe the secrets and confessions I’ve overheard (the polite term for it) while sipping a cup of tea at our local diner.

7. What was your favorite childhood book?

Louisa May Alcott’s LITTLE WOMEN. I loved it so much I tried to copy it by hand into a series of notebooks.

8. What is your favorite addition to chocolate?

Sorry, but no additions. Chocolate should be pure and – well, chocolatey.

9. What does your husband/significant other say about your writing erotic stories? What about your family and/or do they read your books?

I have to say my family has been wonderfully supportive (dare I say encouraging?) when it comes to bringing heat to my stories. My husband loves it and has been comfortable with it right from the start. My parents were very proud, even if I did want to go into the witness protection program every time a new book came out. (What is it about knowing your parents are reading your sex scenes anyway??) Both of my grandmothers thought my books weren’t hot enough!

10. Besides your own, what is one of your favorite series to keep up with?

I love series books and am an unabashed fan of Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series, Sue Grafton’s Alphabet mysteries, Lawrence Block’s Matthew Scudder books, and (of course) Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plums.

11. What do you think you would be doing if you weren't writing?

Probably working the register at McDonald’s. Writing is my only skill.

12. Do you have any hobbies or activities you enjoy doing?

How much time do you have? I’m a crazed/obsessed knitter. I collect antique postcards. I love to cook—I mean truly, deeply love it. And reading! My Kindle is never more than a few inches from my side.

13. What is something you do to de-stress?

Lie on the couch and watch good/bad TV. Currently I’m hooked on Pawn Stars, Dancing with the Stars, and Chopped.

14. We all know about muses...what do you think inspires you to allow your creative juices flowing?

I’ve been thinking about this question for over an hour now and I still don’t have a good answer. To be honest, I’ve been looking for the answer since I sold my first book in 1982! My Muse is sneaky, clever, sadistic, surprising, mysterious, demanding, and altogether unpredictable. And she’s been known to disappear at a moment’s notice.

10 Fun Facts (things the fans don't know)

I’m an only child, grandchild, niece, and nephew.

I’m shy. You may not know it if you meet me in a business/social situation, but I am.

I make great pizza from scratch.

My hair is naturally curly (think a cross between Bernadette Peters and Don King) and I have spent much of my life trying to change that fact

I am probably the world’s worst singer. I could clear a room within three notes.

My mother was psychic which made my teenage years even more difficult!

I married my first and only date.

We were teenagers and yes, we’re still married 40+ years later

I am a cancer survivor.

I can spell backward and won a television spelling bee when I was ten.

Book Description:

Hayley had sworn off bad boys until Finn Rafferty set out to win her heart...

Once upon a time, Hayley had believed that a good woman (her) could turn a bad boy (her ex) into a knight in shining armor (pure fantasy). Ten years of marriage had finally drummed the truth into her head. In the real world bad boys didn’t turn into knights in shining armor. Bad boys grew up to be even worse men and the world would be a much happier place if little girls were taught that basic fact along with their ABCs.

Hayley Maitland Goldstein knew all about how these things worked. First a girl giggled, then she sighed, and the next thing you knew she was in Vegas taking her wedding vows in front of a red-haired Elvis with an overbite. You knew you had made a bad choice when Elvis slipped you his divorce lawyer’s business card while you were still shaking the rice from your hair.

But then Finn Rafferty came into her life and everything changed.

Hayley should have seen the kiss coming but it surprised her just the same. He had been looking at her with a crazy kind of unfocused intensity and she had been about to ask him if he was having a stroke when she realized she was about to be kissed by a man she actually wanted to kiss back.

Every now and then life handed you a perfect moment but the secret was figuring out how to make it last.



Praise for Just Desserts
"Very few romance writers create characters as well developed and realistic as Bretton's. Her books pull you in and don't let you leave until the last word is read."—Booklist (starred review)

"Once again Bretton produces a wonderful, heartwarming story full of strong emotion, humor, charming pets, delightful characters and a lovely romance. There's also a poignant secondary romance. The way Bretton brings all this to life and pulls it all together for a satisfactory conclusion are what make her a wonderful storyteller." --Susan Mobley, ROMANTIC TIMES

"Good pacing and dialogue make this warm-hearted story one that readers are sure to relish. The romances have both serious and funny elements. If you like light-hearted, feel good, romantic tales, you are sure to enjoy reading JUST DESSERTS." --Marilyn Heyman, ROMANCE REVIEWS TODAY

"There are surprising, funny twists to this story and a lot of touching episodes to pique the emotional side. I found Barbara Bretton's JUST DESSERTS to be highly entertaining, cleverly written and hard to put down. Being a witty and warm read, I recommend JUST DESSERTS and look forward to reading other novels by this author." --Kay Quintin, FRESH FICTION

"If you've not ever read Ms. Bretton then you are in for a real treat with Just Desserts." --Sandi, A Romance Review

"Just Desserts is a fun, romantic read. I enjoyed it and recommend it for all those who like a great story filled with humor and romance."--Victoria Kennedy, Midwest Book Review

"JUST DESSERTS is a warm family drama filled with tender humor . . . Fans will appreciate Barbara Bretton's invasion of South Jersey as everyone receives their JUST DESSERTS." --Harriet Klausner, Genre Go-Round Reviews

"Ms. Bretton gives her readers an easy, yet not bland, story with wonderful, vibrant characters and wholly believable situations. You'll want her backlist in your library, if it's not there already."--Amanda Killgore, Huntress' Book Reviews


Trish, one of the high school girls Hayley was currently mentoring, burst into the kitchen looking like she had just bumped into Justin Timberlake and then ricocheted off Johnny Depp.

"There’s two guys outside who want to see you and they’re unbelievably hot!" Trish was seventeen, the age when the arrival of any biped with a Y chromosome rated a breathless announcement. "One of them looks like a rock star from, you know, way back in the eighties."

Ouch. She had been Trish’s age in the eighties.

"A rock star?" she asked, lifting a brow. Rock stars were in short supply in Lakeside.

"A rock star," Trish confirmed. "And he’s wearing leather."

There was only one reason an aging leather-clad hottie would show up at Goldy’s Bakery at three o’clock on a Wednesday afternoon and it had nothing to do with brownies, cheesecake, or bagels.

"Tell him Mr. Goldstein doesn’t live here anymore." And that Mrs. Goldstein couldn’t be happier about it. Not even sending him his monthly share of the store’s profits dimmed her joy.

"But he didn’t ask for Mr. Goldstein. He asked for you."

Why did that surprise her? She was the Goldstein with a bank balance, after all. It had been a while since someone had come looking for her ex but the knot in her stomach was painfully familiar. The faint stench of danger still lingered in the air. She wished she had a dollar for every angry enabler who had shown up at Goldy’s in search of the reluctant Mr. Goldstein. She’d be able to buy him out once and for all and still have money to spare.

"Then tell him I’m not here."

"But, Mrs. G., I already told him you were."

"Then tell him the truth," she said. "I’m busy working on a cake that should have been finished an hour ago. I can’t spare a second." And here she’d thought her life would settle down after Michael moved to Florida to mooch off his mother. The man’s problems had the half-life of uranium.

Trish rearranged her pretty features into an even prettier frown. "He really wants to see you, Mrs. G. Maybe—"

Hayley could feel the hot breath of the Cumberland County Association of Female Realtors on the back of her neck. She whipped out The Look, the same look every mother on the planet had down cold, aimed it in Trish’s direction, then hoped for the best.

"I’ll tell him," Trish mumbled, then pushed through the swinging door to deliver the bad news.

The Look had stopped working on Lizzie when she was seven, but it was nice to know she still had enough maternal firepower at her command to keep her young staff in line.

She pressed her ear against the swinging door but she couldn’t make out Trish’s words, just a high apologetic string of female sounds that was followed by a male rumble. Leather Boy had a good voice, baritone, a little smoky. She couldn’t make out his words either but Trish’s answering giggle conjured up some painful memories of herself at that age.

First a girl giggled, then she sighed, and the next thing you knew she was in Vegas taking her wedding vows in front of a red-haired Elvis with an overbite. You knew you had made a bad choice when Elvis slipped you his divorce lawyer’s business card while you were still shaking the rice from your hair.

She listened closer. Trish said something girly. Leather Boy rumbled something manly. This time Rachel, her other counter girl for the week, giggled too, a sound that sent Hayley’s maternal early-warning system into overdrive.

Rachel Gomez was a serious straight-A student bound for Princeton next year on full scholarship. She needed the paycheck more than any mentoring Hayley might have provided her. Rachel had probably never giggled before in her life.

If Rachel giggled, then even Lizzie might not be immune. Fourteen was when it started, that fizzy sensation in your veins, the yearning for things you couldn’t define, the sudden realization that boys were infinitely more interesting than global warming or the fate of the humpback whale.

Fourteen was also when young girls parted company with their self-confidence and traded in their love of math and science for a date for the prom.

Sometimes she wanted to lock Lizzie away in her room with her computer, her books, and a cell phone (maybe), and not let her out again until she was twenty-one. Thirty sounded better but even fantasies had their limits. The advisor at Olympia Prep had suggested that Lizzie might be better served intellectually by skipping the rest of high school and starting college in the fall but Hayley was dead set against it. Lizzie might be brilliant when it came to science but when it came to life, she was still only fourteen.

The world could be a scary place. A mother did her best to protect her kid from fast cars, drunk drivers, broken bones, flu, the common cold, but there was nothing she could do to protect her kid from growing up. No matter what you did or how well you did it, your little girl wasn’t going to stay a little girl. Right before your eyes she was going to grow up on you anyway and all you could do was pray she didn’t follow in your foolish footsteps.

Once upon a time, Hayley had believed that a good woman (her) could turn a bad boy (her ex) into a knight in shining armor (pure fantasy). Ten years of marriage to Michael Goldstein had finally drummed the truth into her head. People didn’t change with time. They just became more of who they were to begin with.

In the real world bad boys didn’t turn into knights in shining armor. Bad boys grew up to be even worse men and the world would be a much happier place if little girls were taught that basic fact along with their ABCs.

Why didn’t women teach their young how to cope with the things that were really important instead of how to walk in their first pair of heels? Why didn’t they make a point of sitting their girl children down and telling them the truth about men instead of letting some guy in a leather jacket seduce them over a tray of black-and-white cookies?

That was one of the many reasons why she had helped institute the mentoring program at the high school. Lizzie claimed her overflow worrying needed an outlet but it went far deeper. She saw herself in those girls, insecure, struggling, hungry for love, and ready to hand over their futures to the first guy who came along.

Those idiot girls out there were like ripe fruit on a very low-hanging branch. The slightest breeze would be enough to shake them from the tree and into the waiting arms of Leather Boy or someone just like him and their entire lives would be changed forever.

Except it wasn’t going to happen on her watch. With apologies to the good real estate agents of Cumberland County, it was time to prepare for battle.


About the Author:

Oh, how I hate bios! All of that deadly dull information about name (Barbara Bretton) and date of birth (June 25) and geographical data (born in New York City; lives near Princeton, NJ), marital status (many years married), and hobbies (who has time??). How do you gather up all of those dull, dry facts and turn them into something interesting?

No wonder I tell lies for a living.

I considered weaving a story for you about life on a houseboat on the French Riviera. Or maybe my years as a concubine, hidden away in a golden pleasure palace in the shimmering desert. Then I decided to do the unthinkable and tell you the truth.

When I sold my first book and my life changed forever. I sent in my manuscript on Thursday February 21, 1982 and four days later the telephone rang and I heard the amazing words, "We want to buy your book." How I wish you could have seen me. I was standing by the kitchen door of our North Babylon house, the picture of cool sophistication, as I listened to Vivian Stephens explain the terms of the deal to me. You would have thought I'd sold a first book every single day of my life. Yes, I said. Sounds wonderful. Thank you so much for calling. I look forward to our association. That cool sophistication hung on until I hung up the phone, took a deep breath, then promptly threw up on my shoes.

I was thirty-one years old, unagented, unschooled, unfamiliar with anything to do with the business of publishing. To put it mildly, I was in shock. My husband was working in Manhattan at the time (and finishing up his degree at night) so it would be hours until I could break the news to him. This was too exciting to waste on a phone call. I wanted to see his face when I told him that my dream had finally come true -- and came with a $6000 advance!

He pulled into the driveway at midnight. I was waiting in the doorway, holding a bottle of champagne and two glasses. I didn't have to say a word. He knew right away and the look of joy and pride in his eyes warms me now, years later, long after the advance faded into memory.

A lot has happened to me in the years since that first sale. I've learned that this is a difficult and demanding business (it takes a tough writer to write a tender book) and that I am happiest when I am most ignorant. I've also learned that a good friend, a writer and pal who truly understands, is worth her weight in good reviews and royalty checks.

I fell madly in love with Skye O'Malley in early 1982 and wrote an unabashedly gushy fan letter to our beloved Bertrice Small. By the time Sunny answered, I had joined the ranks of the published and Sunny became friend and mentor, guide and confidant. She has held my hand through broken dreams, disappointments, family illnesses, and accepted my bizarre need to go underground from time to time with great affection and understanding. Over the years I've come to understand the difference between the writer and her work, that loving the book doesn't guarantee that I will love the author. But what a joy it is when you discover that the author of a beloved favorite is even more wonderful and witty and wise than the characters she creates.

So this bio is for you, Sunny, for being the best of friends during the worst of times and -- even more wonderful -- during the good times as well.

And now for the statistics:

Barbara Bretton is the USA Today bestselling, award-winning author of more than 40 books. She currently has over ten million copies in print around the world. Her works have been translated into twelve languages in over twenty countries.

Barbara has been featured in articles in The New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Romantic Times, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Herald News, Home News, Somerset Gazette,among others, and has been interviewed by Independent Network News Television, appeared on the Susan Stamberg Show on NPR, and been featured in an interview with Charles Osgood of WCBS, among others.

Her awards include both Reviewer's Choice and Career Achievement Awards from Romantic Times; Gold and Silver certificates from Affaire de Coeur; the RWA Region 1 Golden Leaf; and several sales awards from Bookrak. Ms. Bretton was included in a recent edition of Contemporary Authors.

Barbara loves to spend as much time as possible in Maine with her husband, walking the rocky beaches and dreaming up plots for upcoming books.

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