Jen: Today we welcome Jennifer Hayward to Romancing the Book. Jennifer, will you share a short bio with us?
Jennifer: Award-winning author JENNIFER HAYWARD has been a fan of romance since filching her sister’s novels to escape her teenaged angst.
Jennifer emerged on the publishing scene when she won Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write global writing competition in 2012. She is the Romantic Times Magazine Reviewer’s Choice Best Harlequin Presents of 2014 winner for her book, The Magnate’s Manifesto.
Jennifer’s career in journalism and PR, including years of working alongside powerful, charismatic CEOs and traveling the world, has provided perfect fodder for the fast-paced, sexy stories she likes to write, always with a touch of humour.
A native of Canada’s gorgeous East coast, Jennifer lives in Toronto with her Viking husband and young Viking-in-training.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Jennifer: The Italian’s Deal For I Do is the kick off book for Harlequin Presents’ Society Weddings series which runs from April to July this year. Harlequin asked four of us Presents authors to write the stories of four of the globe’s most eligible, sexy bachelors as they’re finally forced to do the one thing they swore they’d never do – say ‘I Do’. We had a fabulous time writing about our blood brothers who went to Columbia University together—a fashion magnate, a shiekh, a real estate tycoon and a financial whiz. Here’s the back cover blurb for my gorgeous Italian, Rocco!
The Irresistible Italian: Married for Business
He’s conquered global markets and immeasurable hearts, but to regain control of the fashion empire that’s rightfully his, Rocco Mondelli must prove his playboy days are over. His secret weapon? Supermodel-in-hiding Olivia Fitzgerald…and the power to ruin her if she refuses to play his loving fiancée!
But returning to the world stage revives Olivia’s old demons, and instead of walking down the aisle toward her gorgeous groom—she flees! The world holds its breath: Can the indomitable Rocco get his wayward bride to the altar on time?
The world’s sexiest billionaires finally say “I do”!
My hero Rocco is posing as the mysterious dark stranger, Tony, who picks up my heroine, Olivia in a Navigli café in Milan. Sad and vulnerable after losing her mentor who was helping her realize her dream to become a fashion designer and running out of options to keep herself afloat, Oliva finds herself pulled in by Rocco’s devastating appeal. I so loved writing this scene where Rocco & Olivia both know everything isn’t as it seems but can’t resist each other.
Tony brought the car to a halt in the rounded driveway. “Do you have a parking spot? I’ll see you to your door.”
Her already agitated heartbeat sped up. She knew exactly where this was leading if he accompanied her up to her apartment, and for a woman who had never done this, never invited a man back to her apartment on a first date, it was like someone had dropped her onto one of those death-defying loop-the-loop roller coasters that promised equal amounts of terror and exhilaration.
She shook her head, dry mouthed, realizing he was waiting for a response. “It’s underground,” she told him huskily, pointing to the entrance at the end of the driveway.
He guided the car into the garage, parked in her spot and followed her to the elevators. They rode the glass-enclosed lift up to her tenth-floor apartment.
“An awfully exclusive apartment for a struggling artist,” Tony commented, leaning back against the wall.
Olivia pressed damp palms against her thighs as the cityscape came into view. “A friend was helping me out.”
His brow rose. “A friend?”
“A nonromantic friend,” she underscored, absorbing the aggressive, predatory male in him. It wasn’t helping the state of her insides.
His raised brows arced into a slashing V. “Men just don’t lend multimillion-euro apartments to a female unless they have other intentions, Liv.”
The insinuation in his words brought her chin up. “This one did,” she rasped. The elevator doors swung open. She stalked out of the car and headed down the hallway to her apartment, her head a muddled, attracted mess.
Tony caught up with her at her door. She turned to face him, confused, her stomach a slow burn. “I think you don’t know me at all.”
“My mistake,” he came back laconically, tall and daunting. “It’s a natural question for a man to ask.”
Was it? They’d only had a drink. She was so confused about the whole evening, about what was happening with this beautiful stranger, her head spun. She stood there, heart hammering in her chest. Tony put a hand to the wall beside her, keeping a good six or seven inches between them, his gaze pinned on her face. Her stomach dropped as if she was headed toward the steepest plunge on that scary roller coaster, the part where one had big, huge second thoughts.
Something glimmered in his gaze. “Aren’t you going to invite me in for an espresso to cap the evening off?”
“I don’t know,” she answered honestly, knees weak.
“Oh, come on, Liv,” he chided, that glimmer darkening into a challenge. “Men are territorial. Would you expect a man like me not to be?”
No. Yes. Her head swam.
He closed the gap between them until he was mere inches from her. His palm came up to cup her jaw, his gaze dropping to her lips. Her own clung shamelessly to that lush pout she’d been staring at all night, had been wanting to kiss all night. And he knew it.
He lowered his head and rocked his mouth over hers. Smooth, questing, he exerted just the right amount of pressure not to frighten her away, and that mouth, that mouth, was sensational. She anchored her palms against the solid planes of his chest, her bones sinking into the hard line of the wall as he explored the curves of her mouth. He kissed her so expertly she never had a chance. All she could do was helplessly follow his lead. When he delved deeper, demanded entrance to the heat of her mouth, she opened for him.
Their tongues slid along each other’s in an erotic duel that rendered her knees useless. She dug her fingertips harder into his chest, breathing him in, registering how delicious he smelled. He was a potent combination of heady male and tangy lime, and she was completely and irrevocably lost.
He pulled back, his gaze scouring her face. “Your key,” he prompted harshly.
Her brain struggled to process the command. Blood pumping, head full, she rummaged through her purse, found her keys and handed them to him.
Jen: What what age did you discover writing? Tell us your call story.
Jennifer: I wrote my first manuscript for Harlequin when I was nineteen and I knew then that that was what I wanted to do. But I didn’t have enough life experience to write those types of deeply emotional books. So I took my very nice rejection from a senior editor and carried it with me through a career in journalism and PR. But I always came back to the love of writing. When my bosses would ask me in performance reviews, “Where do you want to be in five years?”, I would say, “Writing books…” Not career limiting… really. I wrote two or three partial manuscripts over the years that were rejected. Then later on in life, I finally cut back on my work schedule so I could write more. I took a bunch of wonderful writing courses and went to conferences and was having some success with submissions when I won Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write competition in 2012 and my first book contract. So ‘The Call’ was a wild rollercoaster of emotion!
Jen: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Jennifer: I’m a bit of both. More of a plotter I’d say. I need to know my characters inside out before I begin a book (at least as much as I can know about them before I start writing because you never really know that deeper essence of your characters until you start digging into them and find out what they do/who they are). I also need to know the rough framework of my story and my turning points. Often things change as I write and that’s fine, I adjust as I go. I don’t have to know the end, because it often changes when the book takes over. But I think if I started a book without a rough outline I’d end up with a sagging middle and a good case of panic. I need to know what I’m building to.
Jen: Describe your writing in 3 words.
Jennifer: Sexy, dramatic and humorous
Jen: Do you have a writing routine?
Jennifer: Yes! I’m lucky to be writing full-time now. I take my little boy to school, then I sit down and write until he comes home. Sometimes I’ll continue writing after that if I’m not quite finished but I try and be as productive as I can during the day as it’s when I’m at my best. I get uber harsh and critical with myself after a certain point in the day so it’s better to leave it and start fresh in the morning. But if I’m on deadline I will work at night, or if a scene won’t leave my head either because I must finish it or I can’t figure it out. Funnily enough I feel like I’m a different writer at night and sometimes I need that space too to get what I’m after. But I try and keep it to the daylight hours. Oh yes, and coffee, lots of it! I feel naked writing without it.
Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
Jennifer: I keep a notepad beside me at bedtime, I leave notes on my phone and my dad bought me a dictation device for when I’m walking (lots of ideas come then!)
Jen: Is there a genre you’d like to write? Is there one you’ll probably stay away from? Why?
Jennifer: Yes! A mystery/suspense book. I love most genres but I can safely say I’ll never write a horror story.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Jennifer: Next, I have a duo coming from Presents called The Tenacious Tycoons in June and October. These two American automotive tycoon brothers who take over the family dynasty after their father commits suicide couldn’t be more different but will both find love and redemption in two very amazing women! Tempted By Her Billionaire Boss comes in June and Reunited For The Billionaire’s Legacy in Oct. In Tempted By Her Billionaire Boss you’ll find one of my favorite opening scenes ever where Frankie Masseria accidentally presses the panic button and gets her new boss put in handcuffs! Not a good start for their rocky relationship.