Jen: Today we welcome Sloane B. Collins to Romancing the Book. Sloane, will you share a short bio with us?
Sloane: Sloane B. Collins is an award-winning author of Contemporary Romance. Although she is a fifth-generation Texan, she dreams of moving to the French countryside someday. Right now, she lives in the Dallas area with her husband of over twenty-six years, and their four rambunctious cats. Since Sloane and her husband love to travel, she’s determined to write a novel set in just about every place they visit.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Sloane: Love Redesigned is a Contemporary Romance set in the Alsace region of France. I met a real French fashion designer and completely fell in love with his French accent. The idea started percolating, and the hero kept hammering away at me to write his story. The heroine popped into my mind one day, and the rest is history!
Give American cake artist Genevieve Haywood a picture of anything, and she’ll turn it into a sweet and decadent creation. She’s not going to let hard work or competition stop her from opening her dream business. But when she’s hired as the cake artist for her cousin’s wedding in France, she never expected to run into the French fashion designer who broke her heart fifteen years ago.Roman Duchaine is done with living life in the fast lane. Tired of being in the haute couture spotlight, he’s moved back to the small French village where he was born and raised.
Roman’s ready to settle down and have a family until the lost love of his life arrives for his cousin’s wedding. Seeing her reminds him just how devastating falling in love can be.Their fragile truce is meant to last through the wedding, yet every second together makes their attraction and long-buried feelings undeniable. But old habits and hurts die hard, and while Roman is ready to weave their lives together, Genevieve can’t afford to lose herself in his shadow.
“So come on, out with it. Tell me how you met,” said Connie Sue.
“I’d been in Paris about three weeks, and was into the first intensive course, Basic Patisserie. One afternoon I was heading back to my flat when it started to rain. Money was tight, so I usually walked to and from my classes. Rain is the norm in Paris, but this was a real thunderstorm. By the time I crossed the street, I was almost soaked. All of a sudden, someone held an umbrella over my head.”
She still remembered the thrill that had rushed through her when she looked up at him for the first time. “I’ve never told anyone this, much less admitted it to myself, but when I looked at him, I thought ‘Oh, there you are. Where’ve you been?’ It was like I’d been waiting for him all my life, but didn’t realize it.”
“That’s kind of how I felt the first time I met my Francois. We just clicked,” Connie Sue said.
Genevieve met her cousin’s eyes, full of empathy. She did understand.
“What did he look like when he was younger?”
“His hair was a just a little longer, but he didn’t have a beard back then. He was real lean, and so tall he made even me feel short. He was wearing a black leather jacket—the ultimate in bad-boy wear. I was a little afraid of him, but only because he just seemed so . . . right. I mean, he sheltered me from the rain, and took me to the outdoor café right there, so there were other people around. But then he smiled at me . . .”
That smile warmed me from head to toe, the heat lingering in certain areas.
“Venez abri de la pluie,” he said, handing her a linen napkin.
She shrugged and wiped the rain off her face. “My French is not so good yet.”
“You are Americáin?” he asked in English, his voice a deep, delicious rumble in a French accent.
A shiver of awareness trembled through her. “Yes, I am.”
“I said to come in out of the rain.”
“Oh. Thanks for rescuing me.” She gestured to his jacket. “I guess you’re my knight in black leather.” Did I really just say that?
He slowly smiled, full sensual lips framed even, white teeth. Black hair, chiseled cheekbones, a broad forehead. The way his cocoa brown eyes looked her up and down appreciatively made her feel all woman.
He looked out at the rain. “It does not look like the rain will stop anytime soon. Would you care to join me for a café au láit?” He pulled a chair out from the table for her, and she sank into it.
A waiter appeared, and he ordered coffee for them both.
She’d fallen for him from the moment he smiled his devastating smile at her.
Something hit her head and Genevieve jumped. She picked up the wadded napkin her cousin had thrown at her and tossed it in the trash.
“Must have been some good memory.”
“We talked for hours that day. He got some towels from a waiter at the café so I could dry off, and he let me wear his jacket.”
“I’m assuming you continued seeing him?”
“We were almost inseparable from then on. When he wasn’t at work, and I was out of school, we were together. He showed me all of Paris, and when he could borrow a car, we’d take long drives to the country . . .” She broke off, picked up the hair dryer and faced the mirror.
“Did you love him?”
She met her cousin’s eyes in the reflection.
“Did he love you?”
“He never said it, but I hoped he did. I guess I was wrong.”
“What happened when you had to come home?”
Talking about Roman was hard enough. But talking about that, after she’d come home, the accident . . . There were some things best left alone. She plastered a smile and dodged, saying, “If we’re going to get to dinner, I need to finish getting ready.”
Her cousin sighed and pushed off the door frame, squeezed Genevieve’s shoulders. “You can talk to me anytime, sweetie. I hope you know that.”
“I do, thanks. But . . . even though it’s been over for fifteen years . . . it’s still hard to talk about.”
Jen: Is there a genre you’d like to write? Is there one you’ll probably stay away from? Why?
Sloane: I have a Paranormal Romance book I’ve played around with, as I love that genre, too. I adore Cozy Mysteries, but not sure I’ll write that genre. All those red-herrings to sprinkle in! Definitely won’t ever write a thriller – too much already goes bump in the night, I wouldn’t want to write about it.
Jen: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Sloane: A plotser – a mixture of the two. I’m a very organized person, but when it came to plotting my stories, I was driving myself crazy, so I wrote Love Redesigned as a pantser. It worked so much better for me. Instead of doing an inspiration board, I did an inspiration journal. I found pictures to represent different aspects of the book such as characters, setting, the likes and dislikes of the characters. I found this really helped me immerse myself in the story. It also inspired several scenes and a couple of characters I hadn’t planned on!
Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Sloane: I listened to French music to set the mood, as well as interviews conducted in French so I could pick up the cadence of the language. I also researched the Alsace region. It has a fascinating history – control of the region went back and forth between France and German for hundreds of years, finally ending with WWII. The history and culture are fascinating, and book two in this series has to do with the wine and vineyards set here. My heroine is a cake artist, so I looked at all sorts of cakes on Pinterest!
Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors? What are you reading now?
Sloane: I adore Julia Quinn. I’m on the 19th reading of What Happens in London. I just finished reading Darynda Jones’ latest book. I also love Victoria Laurie, Jill Shalvis, Sasha Summers, Addison Fox, Nora Roberts, Lorraine Heath…the list goes on and on.
Jen: How do you come up with characters names?
Sloane: I have a notebook with names I’ve run across over the years that I want to use someday. I also use baby naming books and websites, as well as a book on naming characters, and the origins behind that name.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Sloane: I’m working on book two in the French Kiss Connection series, which is Sophie’s story. I also have a Holiday Romance I’m finishing up. A wildlife photographer is lost in an Alaskan blizzard and stumbles upon a mysterious village, and a beautiful woman, in the middle of nowhere.