Please help me welcome Tina Donahue into the moonlight today! Tina’s newest release is Deep, Dark, Delicious, and is published by Ellora’s Cave. Tina is multi-published and you can learn more about her and her books at her website: http://www.tinadonahue.com/
GRACEN: Do you have any Valentine’s Day traditions like watching a Lifetime Channel movie marathon, spending the day with your significant other, writing, etc.?
TINA: Does shopping count? My guy knows how much I love the mall…so if Valentine’s falls on the weekend, we start off with breakfast at a restaurant in the mall, then hit all the stores, then stop for lunch at a mall restaurant, then hit all the stores, then stop for dinner at a mall restaurant and hit all the stores. He doesn’t complain once. To me, that’s very romantic.
GRACEN: Do you have a favorite movie that you love to watch or a book you like to read on Valentine’s Day?
TINA: For a movie, I’d have to say “Somewhere in Time” with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. I always cry at the end…it’s sad, but it’s happy too. Just a truly great romantic movie.
GRACEN: Is there any movie or book that you’ve saved for this time of year? If so, what’s the title?
TINA: If I wanted to read a truly great love story on Valentine’s Day, I think I’d pick Jane Eyre…the part where they’ve been separated and he whispers, “Jane, wait for me.” And she hears him in her thoughts…wow…makes my hair stand on end. What a love story. Saw a TV adaptation of it years ago with Timothy Dalton. Really romantic.
GRACEN: Many of us feel that Valentine’s Day is just one more day that has been overly commercialized and isn’t something that should only be celebrated once a year, but at least once a day. What was the most romantic gift you’ve ever received, when did you receive it and who was it from?
TINA: The first Christmas I was going out with my sweetie, he gave me a pre-Christmas present on the twelfth day before Christmas. On the eleventh, I got another…and so on…he did the twelve days of Christmas thing. Absolutely wonderful!
GRACEN: Since this is the time of year when many people (teens included) feel the need to find a significant other, what suggestion(s) do you have for our readers as to what trait(s) should be added to their list?
TINA: A great sense of humor. The guy can be as perfect as Brad Pitt in the looks department, but if he can’t laugh and if he can’t have fun, I wouldn’t want him.
GRACEN: There are many relationship superstitions out there such as, “rain on your wedding day is bad luck,” are you superstitious when it comes to love or relationships? Why or why not?
TINA: No. I don’t think superstition has anything to do with a good match. I believe if you share core values with your significant other and you’re both adult in your relationships, you’ll do fine.
GRACEN: Do you believe in ghosts?
TINA: No. It would be too scary to contemplate. If I started seeing things in the corners of my vision, I’d freak out.
GRACEN: Do you believe in the power of love?
GRACEN: If so, do you think that love can exist beyond this life and carry over into the next or has the power to keep a soul attached to the mortal coil never to cross over?
TINA: I believe when someone passes that they can still see their loved one…not necessarily communicate with them. I believe they’re waiting for their loved one when that person passes. It’s like the last scene in “Somewhere in Time” where she’s waiting for him. Just beautiful. Even now, it brings tears to my eyes.
GRACEN: Do you believe that ghosts have the ability to effect humans in a sexual manner?
TINA: Not really. I read “The Entity” and it creeped me out. Although it was supposedly based on a true story, I find it hard to believe.
GRACEN: Please tell us, if you have any, 3 funny, strange or silly things that happened to you, or someone you know, on past Valentine’s Days. Any rendezvous fiascos that you now find humorous to tell? Have they ever been inspiration for some hi-jinks in your stories? Which ones? (Sharing may help others not feel so bad if it happened to them, as the saying goes, “misery loves company”)
TINA: The only one I can think of is when I was in grade school. I really liked this boy in my sixth grade class and sent him a Valentine card. His mother called up my mother to tell her he didn’t want me bothering him. Wow. I had to go through several more years of school with the little snitch.
GRACEN: For years, romance readers have experienced flack from non-romance readers saying or implying, “that’s just porn for women.” What can you say that might help non-romance readers understand the current essence of the romance genre?
TINA: I believe they’d have to read one of the stories first to get a good sense of what goes on in a romance novel. Contrary to what they believe, romance novelists are some of the best writers around. It’s extremely difficult to convey emotions on the printed page. I believe that’s why most male writers don’t try to do it. I’ve written many genres, and I always find it a snap to write humor, suspense, intrigue, etc. But when it comes to conveying a person’s deepest emotions and love – it’s always difficult.
GRACEN: Now, let’s get to your writing, Tina…What genre is your work considered to be?
TINA: I write contemporary & historical romance and erotic romance.
GRACEN: Why this genre?
TINA: I like to read these sub-genres.
GRACEN: What was the draw for you?
TINA: I like character-driven stories. So many times I’ve read novels where the plot was everything, the characters cardboard cutouts. I couldn’t get involved. When I read I want to cry, laugh, smile and be completely enthralled by what’s going on with the characters’
heads and hearts in the story.
GRACEN: If you could describe your writing with a word or phrase, what would it be? Please be creative and delve into the core of your writing to tell us what word or phrase you want readers to take with them when they've finished reading your story.
TINA: Heat with heart. I like my novels to be very sexy but there’s a deeply romantic story in all of them. It’s not all about the physical stuff that goes on between the characters, it’s mainly about what’s in their hearts and heads.
GRACEN: Do you prefer romantic gifts (flowers, chocolate, jewelry, etc.) or romantic acts (massages, dinners, fun night out, etc.)?
TINA: I prefer romantic acts. Anyone can buy you jewelry, not everyone can spend a day at the mall because I like it.
GRACEN: Does that show through in your writing and if so, how?
TINA: Absolutely. In my novel “Adored”, the hero knows the heroine loves this certain type of cherry chocolate. Not only does he surprise her with the candy during a very erotic scene, but he also has the company that makes it send a box to her apartment. And in my novel “Deep, Dark, Delicious” when the hero shows up at the heroine’s house, she’s trying to fix her leaky sink – he does it for her. IMHO that’s very romantic.
GRACEN: What school of thought are you when it comes to romance, love at first sight or that love takes time?
TINA: I’ve written both ways and believe either can happen.
GRACEN: Does this show through in your writing and if so, how?
TINA: Absolutely. In “Adored” the characters have known each other for years, but never really got together until the beginning of my story Their friendship has grown into deep attraction. On the other hand, in “Deep, Dark, Delicious” the hero/heroine were instantly attracted to each other.
GRACEN: When reading stories, many of us find secondary characters to be as interesting as or more interesting than the main characters. Are there any secondary characters that you plan on giving their own story?
TINA: Not at the moment.
GRACEN: Are there any secondary characters that readers requested have their own story?
TINA: Most of my readers want me to bring back the heroes for another story – they like the guys I write!
GRACEN: Are any of them your favorite and if so, why?
TINA: I really like my secondary character Trish Luna, my heroine’s best friend in “Deep, Dark, Delicious”. She’s funny and is always rooting for the heroine, Eden, to go for the guy – to tear down her defenses and fall in love.
GRACEN: Of all of your heroes, who would you say is the most romantic and why?
TINA: Probably Rafe Zayas in “Deep, Dark, Delicious” – he’s so drawn to Eden, my heroine, he can’t stay away from her. He wants her for his own.
GRACEN: Of all of your heroes, who would you say is the least romantic and why?
TINA: I don’t write unromantic heroes…just wouldn’t be a romance if I did and wouldn’t be any fun for me to write.
Buy link for Deep, Dark, Delicious:
BLURB for DEEP, DARK, DELICIOUS:
A wickedly sensual feast…
Eden DeCarlo may have narrowly lost Miami’s best chef competition and the prize money she desperately needs, but she has caught the eye of dangerously virile Rafael Zayas, one of the judges and a wealthy restaurateur. Despite her vow not to let any man derail her life, Eden’s captivated by Rafe’s imposing masculinity, then challenged by the business deal he offers. He’ll invest in her new venture if, for one month, she can satisfy his culinary expectations and the sexual attraction they both feel. Dominant and unashamed, Rafe knows what he wants when it comes to carnal pleasure and will spare no seduction to have Eden in all the ways he demands. Within thirty days, he will teach her the delights of yielding to passion, relinquishing all control to him and fulfilling her deepest, darkest and most delicious desires.
EXCERPT for DEEP, DARK, DELICIOUS:
He moved closer but didn’t touch her. He wondered what type of a mother could willingly give up her own child. And what of her father? Had she known him or even met him or was he a shadowy figure her mother seldom mentioned? “Eden, are you certain you want strangers to live in your house?”
She stepped back, arms across her chest again, no sign of tears in her voice. “I don’t have a choice. In order to open my restaurant I took out several home equity loans. Grandma left the house to me free and clear. It kept appreciating and the restaurant was doing well. Until the economy tanked, I didn’t think I’d have any problem meeting the payments.”
He now understood the depth of her financial situation. She surely owed more than the home’s current worth and bankruptcy would forestall the inevitable for only so long. “Is the bank threatening to foreclose?”
“Not since you wrote me the check last night for your stay. Even if you end up hating it here and decide not to invest, I’ve bought myself a few months, more than enough time to get new vacationers. And no way am I losing this place. I couldn’t do that to Grandma.” She inclined her head to the sink, her voice stiff. “That’s not going to fix itself. If you’ve changed your mind, I can—”
Patiently, he interrupted. “I haven’t changed my mind.” He grabbed the industrial-sized flashlight from the counter and handed it to her. “You do know what to do with this, no?”
She tapped its head against her palm, making small thwacking sounds. “If you mess up my plumbing, I get to whack you over the head?”
He laughed. “You’re going to pay for that.”
The tapping stopped. Her skin pinked up nicely. She looked at him from beneath her lashes. “How?”
“That would be telling. Time for me to fix your leak.”
“Wait.” Her free hand went to his upper arm, her moist fingers hugging it. “It’s dirty down there. You’ll mess up your clothes.”
Heart pounding, he studied her fingers on him. “You want me to take them off?” His eyes slid to hers.
She stared at the dark hairs on his forearm, his navy tee and faded jeans. Her voice dropped an octave, becoming throaty. “I was thinking about putting a sheet down there for you to lie on. It’s what I usually do. The pipe’s hard to reach.”
She didn’t respond or leave to get the sheet. Her thumb had reached the bumpy skin on his biceps, halting on the uneven flesh and then investigating again. “What’s this?” She lifted his tee’s sleeve. Air hissed through her teeth at the brutal scar. “How’d you get this?” Her dismay matched his mother’s and Victor’s whenever they found his behavior questionable. “Were you in an accident?”
Rafe regarded what he could of the discolored wound, eleven inches total, stretching from his upper arm to his shoulder blade, the surface craggy, ugly. “You find it disgusting?”
“What? Of course not.” Indignant, she slapped his forearm with the back of her hand, a lover’s blow.
He leveled his gaze on her. “Ouch.”
She laughed. Her features relaxed. “What happened, Rafe? Were you riding a motorcycle? Did a drunk driver hit you?”
“No.” He smoothed down his sleeve. “The edge of the wooden raft my parents used to escape Cuba tore my arm and shoulder when I fell from it.”
Her mouth formed a shocked O. “How old were you?”
“Seven.” He smiled. “A long time ago. Completely forgotten. Not worth mentioning again.”
She chided gently, “Liar.”
His smile fell away. At the sorrow in her eyes, his heart skipped several beats. “You want to know about it?”
“Do you mind telling me?”
He didn’t and did. Once more, she had him questioning his feelings. He ached for her to know him, to accept his past no matter how harsh it had been. On the other hand, he dreaded her pity.
Her steady, accepting gaze gave him the courage to continue. “The raft was little more than several doors nailed together, though big enough for me, my mother, father and older brother Victor. At the last possible moment, my mother’s only brother Gerardo begged us to take him and his family. It wasn’t a question as to whether we’d do it, but how we’d succeed in getting to this country. With the addition of him, his wife and three children, ranging in age from an infant to five years old, the raft was too crowded.” He recalled the waves jostling it. His thin shirt and pants drenched from the water’s spray. “My cousin Javier, the five-year-old, fell against me as the raft hit a swell. I lost my balance and tumbled over the side. The water was cold, yet I was strangely calm going under. It was so quiet. Never have I heard such an absence of sound. When I bobbed to the surface, a pain ran from my arm to my shoulder. It felt as if I’d been burned. I learned later the raft had hit me. In addition to the wood, several nails ripped through my skin. Uncle Gerardo reacted first, diving in to save me. He managed to get me back on the raft, but he wasn’t a well man. Too many years of poor nutrition and hard work had made him old. My father tried to reach him, but the next wave washed him away. He drowned.”
Eden heard the shame in his voice, his guilt for having caused such a thing. She rested her free hand on the side of his face, feeling the bite of his beginning beard on her thumb and palm. The bristles were so adult and male while his heart still grieved like a child’s. “It wasn’t your fault. You were a little boy.”
Although he nodded, his eyes said he didn’t believe her.
“Your first restaurant here was Querido Tío—beloved uncle. For him?”
He put his hand over hers. “You think me too sentimental, no?”
“I think of those many relatives you have working at your restaurants, your cousin Javier is no doubt among them.”
His quick smile pushed his cheek into her palm. “He’s the VP of marketing. In high school and college he was the valedictorian.”
Eden bet Rafe had been in the first row of the audience, cheering Javier on. She tried to imagine having such a devoted family and pictured Rafe with his own children, daughters and sons he’d adore, children he’d never give up. Perhaps he’d meet their mother after his thirty days here were over. He’d indulge himself in this house, holding nothing back. Eden wouldn’t either, but it wouldn’t go beyond sex. She’d miss him terribly when he left, she couldn’t lie to herself about it, but she’d move on. She’d done so with her mom.
His smile dimmed as though reading her mind or her face. “What is it?”
She lied. “I was thinking about your aunt. What happened to her?”
Gently, his fingers squeezed hers. “A few years after we reached Miami she remarried and had two daughters with her new husband. Her youngest is my godchild.”
Happiness for the girl merged with Eden’s sadness for children who weren’t as lucky. Not wanting to dwell on it, she backed up, removing her hand from his face. “I’ll get the sheet.” She laid the flashlight on the counter and padded into the utility room. The bed linen was still warm from her dryer. She held its fragrant cleanliness to her nose and mouth. In a little while, the cotton would smell of him.
A shudder ran through her. He’d been here less than an hour and too quickly she’d revealed things he had no business knowing and encouraged him to share his past, which increased her admiration and desire for him. Eyes closed, fingers fisted in the sheet, she ordered herself to get a grip, to stop her control from crumbling.
At the doorway to the kitchen, her step paused. He was on one knee, his head bent to the tool box, his tee slung over the stove’s handle, his chest naked.
Anticipation bubbled through her brazenly. Her fingers and toes tingled. Firm, bronze muscles draped his broad shoulders, biceps, pecs and torso. A mewl snagged on the back of her throat. Dark, silky hair peeked from beneath his arms. His flat nipples were nearly as dark as his eyes, his chest smooth, his skin flawless except for his scar and a few moles.
Hopelessly drawn to his male beauty and shocking wound, she stepped into the room, her pulse pumping crazily.
His attention moved from the epoxy putty and C-clamp in his hand to her. He smiled.
Eden sank to her knees and lifted the sheet to show him she had it, relieving her of having to speak or trust her voice. With jittery hands, she smoothed the brown-and-gold striped fabric over the bottom of the cabinet then sat back on her heels, waiting.
DEEP, DARK, DELICIOUS YouTube video trailer:
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