Jen: Today we welcome Nicole Locke to Romancing the Book. Nicole, will you share a short bio with us?
Nicole: Nicole Locke discovered her first romance novel in her grandmother’s closet where they were secretly hidden. Convinced hidden books must be better, Nicole greedily read them. It was only natural for her to start writing them (but now not so secretly).
Jen: Tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Nicole: My newest release is The Highland Laird’s Bride:
In arrogance and pride, Bram, Laird Colquhoun causes the death of Laird Fergusson. To make amends, he travels to Clan Fergusson and offers his wealth.
Lioslath, Laird Fergusson’s eldest daughter, hates Bram for the death of her father, and for making them vulnerable to an English attack so she slams the gates and shoots her arrows.
But Bram and his clan are involved in a treasonous plot. He must stay on Fergusson land to hide from the king. What he must never do, is desire her. But Bram realizes for just a kiss, he’ll forsake his clan and defy a king. In fact, he’ll marry her.
For Lioslath, that’s just not enough to forgive him, she wants something more…
The Highland Laird’s Bride is part of the Lovers and Legends series, and each book contains its own happily ever after.
The idea for the Lovers and Legends series began on a castle trip to Wales. I didn’t imagine the Lovers or their Legends, they were all just there for me to discover. I’ve been trying to get them written down ever since!
This excerpt is taken from their marriage night. Though they were forced to wed (and Bram is trying to keep it platonic because of the plot against the king), he’s beginning to realize his feelings for her, but Lioslath still wants nothing to do with him.
‘I can’t believe I’m saying any of this at all. Doona you want to kiss?’
If they had to negotiate for kissing, she did not understand what occurred on marriage nights. She certainly didn’t know he’d ask for a kiss. She held still for him in the field and she married him. Ever since the competition she thought of that moment. Of how he felt to her then. And even before, like when he carried her from the kitchens. He was warm and she wanted to bury herself in that warmth.
She wanted to kiss him, but how was she to tell him that? She felt awkward asking about his family. How was she supposed to talk about kissing in a socially acceptable way? Was there a socially acceptable way to talk of kissing? Bram seemed to think so.
‘Your silence drives a hard bargain,’ Bram said, his voice breaking into a silence she didn’t know she created. ‘I’ve said what I like about you. Isn’t there anything about me you like?’
As if to show what he was talking about, he rested his hands on his hips. His legs were slightly apart, his face almost grim, the constant laughter still in his eyes. He stood as if for her inspection.
Now she truly knew nothing about wedding nights. Nothing.
She knew of his diplomacy and trades. Everyone did. Maybe he was so good at it because that was simply how he thought. All the time. Like now on their marriage night. His talking seemed all too direct. Blunt.
Lioslath’s confusion eased a bit. She wasn’t used to talking, let alone talking of wants or desires. But if they bargained, they’d have to be direct with each other. That she could do. So what did she like about him?
His hair was still that blazing red that wasn’t anything she’d ever seen before. So offensive when she first saw it, but now it fitted him and she couldn’t imagine another shade. His eyes were always reminding her of storms. From the broadness of his chest that tapered to a narrow waist, his body was without an ounce of give, just as formidable, just as forceful as his personality. And his legs looked…sturdy.
‘I can feel your eyes on me, lass,’ Bram said, his voice lowering a tone as if in warning.
‘You asked me if I find anything pleasing about you.’
‘Nothing came readily?’
He tilted his head back a little. A grimace, a wince before he released his hands from his hips and took a step away. ‘I deserved that, nae doubt.’
He stopped as if surprised and looked over his shoulder.
She stood. ‘I’m still considering.’
Bram turned and held still. If possible, he held more still than before and there was no sense of humour in his eyes. Instead, his eyes were somewhat…heated. ‘This negotiation is becoming difficult.’
‘You’re merely standing there. How is that difficult?’
‘It’s your eyes, Lioslath. Your eyes are going all over me.’
‘Nae one can feel someone’s eyes looking at them.’
‘I could feel yours if they were on the other side of the ocean.’
‘Are you jesting?’
‘’Tis romantic sentiment. I’m wooing you.’
‘Aye, but it appears you doona like anything about me, so I have to use words.’
‘Because I can’t keep to my bargain.’ He clasped his hands and rolled back on his heels. ‘I know I’ve made our agreement difficult because I’m asking to renegotiate our terms, but I made a mistake. You standing there like that, and knowing what I now know, I realise that I made a mistake. If you keep looking at me like that and not stating your current position on our terms, I’m going to break…’
Bram threw his arms in the air. His hands, long, lean, strong even in his frustrated state, noticeable to her before he put them again on his hips.
‘Nae man could keep to…’ His voice trailed off. Words stuck in his throat. Or at least it seemed like it when his eyes went wide and he stared at her.
‘Your eyes, love. They’re on me.’ His voice was low, almost hoarse. ‘Are you still considering if there’s something pleasing about me?’
‘Aye,’ she said. His hands, his fingers along his hips. They drummed his agitation and there was a certain strength and grace in the way they moved…
‘You’re looking where nae maiden should be looking unless—’
Did he think, did he believe, she was looking at— ‘Your hands,’ she blurted out. ‘I like your hands.’
He felt closer to her, although she hadn’t seen him move. ‘I like your hands.’
‘Lioslath.’ A different question to his voice, as he truly stepped closer until she could touch him. Until he could touch her. ‘Is this your counter? My hands, are you adding my hands to this…marriage?’
She was aware of the heat from his body, but she was also aware of his size and indomitable strength. Too much strength and too close. The awareness inside her was almost painful. Far more than when she held still for his kiss.
‘Aye,’ she said. Of course she added his hands to the marriage, as well as the rest of them. Were they to negotiate on every body part? She already pledged her body, but now couldn’t remember if he pledged his.
‘You…drive a hard bargain, Lioslath. You do. I have underestimated you. Again.’
Jen: Describe your writing in 3 words.
Nicole: Passion. Intrigue. Humorous…when they aren’t trying to kill each other.
Jen: What’s the most interesting comment you’ve received about your books?
Nicole: My editor, Nicola Caws at Harlequin, once said this about me:
With just two books for Mills & Boon Historical under her belt, it’s already clear that there’s nothing quite like Nicole Locke’s incredibly exciting Medieval world, where you’re immersed both in history and her unbounded imagination. I know I can count on her to deliver strong sexy warrior heroes and equally feisty heroines, and I was blown away by the fierce chemistry that binds Mairead and Caird in [Her Enemy Highlander]! It’s probably the hint of darkness in her Lovers and Legends miniseries which makes her writing so unique and utterly enthralling – Her Enemy Highlander is no exception. But perhaps my favourite thing about Nicole’s books is the wonderful edge of humour she brings to even the darkest of tales!
Jen: Is there a genre you’d like to write? Is there one you’ll probably stay away from? Why?
Nicole: This series isn’t limited to the Medieval period. But that’s when the Legend part of the series begins. Soon I intend to take the intrigue to other historical time periods. As of now? There are no plans for Regency, but I know better than to say never.
Jen: The most challenging part of the writing?
Nicole: All the characters who keep popping up! I can’t type fast enough and have now gone to speech recognition (which is best because I’m chatty). I’m hoping this speeds up the release dates and lessens the characters’ crankiness with me.
Jen: How do I remember ideas that come to me at odd times?
Nicole: At odd times is the only time I write! But if I can’t get to a keyboard, I just silently repeat it until I can. What’s frustrating for many writers, is the stuff in our heads is always more vivid than what hits the page.
Jen: What’s up next for you?
Nicole: In Debt to the Enemy Lord is due for release in December, 2016. Here’s the back blurb:
Anwen, bastard of Brynmor, has fought hard to find her place in the world. But she’s forced to rethink everything when she’s saved from death by her enemy Teague, Lord of Gwalchdu. Instead of releasing her, he holds her captive…
Teague trusts no one. So, with ominous messages threatening his life, he must keep Anwen under his watch, no matter how much her presence drives him wild. And when passionate arguments turn to passionate encounters, Teague must believe that the strength of their bond will conquer all!