BLIND DATE BRIDE
by Arlene Hittle
Nearly a decade ago, accountant Kari Parker shed 220 pounds of dead weight — her hulking, abusive college boyfriend. The last thing she wants in her life is another man — especially one as tall as a Windy City high rise. Yet when her best friend enters her in Romance TV’s “Get a Love Life” contest, another man is exactly what she gets. As much as she'd love to just say no, she can't turn down the prize money that will allow her to help her parents save the restaurant they've run all her life. Sparks fly between Kari and her bogus groom, and as she and Damien share close quarters, intimate meals and — gulp — his bed, Kari doesn’t stand a chance of resisting his considerable charms. Even worse? She might not want to. But building a real future out of their sham marriage will be tougher than baking a wedding cake from scratch … with no flour … in a broken oven.
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AN INTERVIEW WITH ARLENE
-What inspired you to become a writer?
I was in second grade when I decided I wanted to be a writer. I think it was a combination of being a good reader—I learned to read at age 4, because my parents were always reading and I wanted to do what they did—and wanting to tell my stories. The “Little House” books were favorites, as was a book about a boy named Jacob Two Two, who said everything twice. (I think it was “Jacob Two Two Meets the Hooded Fang,”but when I googled Jacob Two Two, it turns out there’s more than one title.) One of the very first stories I remember writing was what you’d now call fan fiction—Laura Ingalls and Jacob Two Two were grown, married and now, inexplicably, Jacob said things FOUR times. I hope that story was buried with my parents. I do still have some of my childhood writings, though: My great-grandma gave me her father’s half-filled sketchbook to write stories in. I filled it with stories about little girls and their puppies, because my parents wouldn’t let me have a puppy. (Dad thought dogs needed room to run, and we didn’t have enough of it; mom hated cats...so my only pets growing up were goldfish.)
-What draws you to romantic comedy?
The guaranteed happy ending of a romance is what I love. No matter what the hero and heroine go through over the course of the story, you know they’ll get their happily-ever-after ending. In a world where so many things are dark, sad, unfair or depressing, romance promises to uplift and make you feel good. As for the comedy, I come from a family of jokers. We use humor to deal with everything...so romantic comedy is a natural fit.
-Give us a fun or interesting fact you learned researching this book.
In Alaska, June/July daytime temperatures can reach the 60s and 70s.
Kari had planned an Alaska vacation before she “won” the blind-date wedding, and because contest rules state they must live together for 90 days, Damien has to tag along. When he packs for the trip, he’s stuffing all his winter clothes into the suitcase until she sets him straight.
-Which of your characters would you go out for drinks and pizza with?
I’d go out with Kari and Damien in a heartbeat. But I think their friends Beth and Cody might be more fun. Better yet, why not make it a party with all four of them?
-For aspiring writers, any tips?
Practice the craft and never stop improving. There’s always something new to learn. Even now, with four books and a novella out there in the world, I’m still learning, practicing and perfecting my prose. My goal—and I hope I’ve succeeded—is to make each story the best it can be, and each one a little better than the last. My second tip would be: Never give up. Persistence pays. Keep writing, querying, submitting. If everyone rejects your book, write another one and start the submission process again. The first book I sold to my publisher was actually the sixth or seventh manuscript I completed. (I lost count.)
-Is there a genre you could never write? Which and why?
Good question. I have a love-hate relationship with historical romance. I love to read it. In fact, when I’m not writing, it’s often my first choice of reading material. My TBR bookcases (yes, there’s more than one) are stuffed with historical and contemporary titles. I’ve even thought about writing a historical. Two things stop me cold. The first is the thought of keeping track of all those details—did women wear watches in 18XX, what’s the difference between a duke, marquess and viscount, etc. The second? It’s lovely to think about life as a titled lady...but if I’d lived in those times, I would no doubt have been a serving wench at the local pub. Not nearly as pleasant to contemplate, is it?
Arlene Hittle is a Midwestern transplant who now makes her home in northern Arizona. She suffers from the well-documented Hittle family curse of being a Cubs fan but will root for the Diamondbacks until they run up against the Cubs. Longtime friends are amazed she writes books with sports in them, since she's about as coordinated as a newborn giraffe and used to say marching band required more exertion than golf.
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