Jen: Today we welcome J.M. Stewart to Romancing the Book. Before we get to J.M.’s top 5 list, let’s learn a little about her and her newest release.
J.M.: J.M. Stewart is a coffee and chocolate addict who lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, two sons and two very spoiled dogs. She’s a hopeless romantic who believes everybody should have their happily ever after and has been devouring romance novels for as long as she can remember. Writing them has become her obsession.
Jen: Tell us a little about your newest release.
J.M.: For me, NIC is one woman’s journey into finding her true strength, and how one man’s love and patience helped her to heal from her abusive past.
Here’s the blurb, to give you the whole idea:
Single father Nic Rossi’s only desire is to raise his little girl with the same love and security his grandparents gave him and his siblings. That is, until Anna Thompson and her frightened daughter walk into his family restaurant, looking for employment, and turn his carefully ordered world upside down.
On the run from her abusive ex, Anna wants one thing: a quiet place like Angel Bay to raise her daughter. But she needs a job to pay for that dream, even if her new boss is a man whose sheer size makes her tremble. Yet Nic’s capacity for kindness leaves her feeling safe for the first time in years, and the gentle giant slowly awakens her long-dormant passion.
Then her ex-husband turns up like a bad penny, threatening not only Anna’s safe haven but Nic’s daughter in the bargain, forcing them to choose between love and family.
Where did the idea come from?
Nic originally came to me in his brother’s book, LUC. He intrigued me, and so did the little seaside town the books are set in. All I knew about him when I started was he owned a restaurant and, like his brother, he was a single father. Then in walks the heroine Anna and her daughter Lacey. I hadn’t counted on them. I’m a character writer. As crazy as this probably sounds, I let the characters tell me who they are. So what unfolded was…all them. I just tried to keep up. lol
Anna Thompson looked up from her plate, peering at the hulking giant sitting in the booth across from her. Nic twirled the last bit of spaghetti on his plate, watching her with careful eyes as he stuffed the bite into his mouth and chewed. After introducing her to his older brother, Luc, who owned half the restaurant and worked as the head chef, Nic had indeed raided the ’fridge. He’d made three heaping plates of spaghetti and meatballs, complete with salad and what smelled like fresh garlic bread sticks.
The man made her insides shake. The resemblance was uncanny at best, terrifying at worst. If it weren’t for the other two waitresses, moving silently around the dining room as they cleaned up for the night, she wouldn’t have stayed. When she’d gotten her first look at Nic after that sweet waitress let her and Lacey in, she’d almost turned around a left. He looked so much like Tony her throat had closed. Both had the same dark brown hair and olive complexion so common in men of Italian descent. Nic’s eyes were different, though. Tony was dark all over, including his midnight eyes. Nic’s were a beautiful shade of amber, and, so far, always seemed to hold a hint of a smile.
She couldn’t deny he was good-looking. Ten years ago, before Tony, she might have flirted with his sexy smile, with those beautiful amber eyes. But he stood a good head and shoulders above her, his body thickly muscled. The power behind his large, muscular frame made her stomach lurch.
Nic set his fork on the side of his plate and folded his hands on the table in front of him. He inclined his head at Lacey. “She was hungry.”
Nic had given her enough pasta for a grown man, but Lacey had cleaned her plate. She’d then curled up in the corner of the booth and fallen asleep sitting up.
“And exhausted.” Anna shook her head, her face warming. “You must think I’m a horrible mother.”
What kind of mother couldn’t provide even a meal and a warm bed for her child?
Nic leaned back in the booth, studying her with shrewd eyes, as if he could see too much and had already figured her out. “Actually, I don’t. It takes guts to admit to a complete stranger you have nowhere to sleep.”
Regret twisted in Anna’s stomach. She shouldn’t have pushed them so hard this time. She should have stopped in Oregon, when Lacey begged her to camp on the beach again. Then at least they could have started tomorrow with a full belly, and with any luck, she might have found another job where she could work for a while to earn more money before they pushed on.
She’d been desperate to come here, to this tiny little town on an island in the middle of the Puget Sound. Tony had gotten too close this last time, and she’d run again, terrified he’d find them. Hope and sheer, stubborn determination were the only things keeping her going anymore.
Jen: I hear you have a Top 5 List for us.
J.M.: Top 5 Favorite books:
A copy of Outlander was originally given to me by my grandmother, on a visit back home. It pulled me in and swept me up into this world, and I fell in love with it. Now, there are many more books to this series, but I’m a romance reader, and so everything that comes after Voyager just doesn’t hold my attention, because really, what I became addicted to was Jamie and Claire. I think I’ve read these three books at least a dozen times each. lol
2: Lover Awakened J.R. Ward
Zsadist. I’d heard so much about him that I had to read this book. I hadn’t read the other books in the series. It really wasn’t the type of genre I usually read, but I’m so glad I did. Oh man. As far as heroes go, he was, is…unforgettable. I read this several years ago, but he stays with me. I still get shivers thinking about his story. Really touching.
Please don’t throw stones (I’ve been insulted in many, creative ways, for liking these books). lol Despite popular belief, Christian’s character is what made these books for me. My initial reaction to him was to hurl the book across the room. I’m pretty sure I called him a few choice names. lol But the friend who recommended the book (and who knows me very well) encouraged me to keep reading. In the end, I was really touched by his character. The reasons why are deeply personal, but really, I empathized with him. So much so that I cried through most of the second book. And you know, make me cry and I’m yours.
4: Those Violet Eyes by Vonnie Davis
Another book that made me cry. It’s a story about a wounded war veteran coming home. This was another hero I empathized with on a very personal level. I have PTSD myself, and the hero’s emotional journey touched me. She also made me realize things about myself and my disorder I’d never understood before. The hero, Win, is unforgettable for me.
5: Uglies and Pretties by Scott Westerfeld
Got Uglies from my son, who’d been reading the book for school at the time. The whole premise is unique and it intrigued me. But as I read, the author made me care about the characters, so much so that I read the next two books as well just to find out what happens to them. It was the characters that made these books for me.
Jen: What’s next for you?
J.M.: Next up for me is Claiming the Billionaire. It’s the fourth and final book in my erotic romance series, The Seattle Bachelors. It releases in January.