Thursday, July 9, 2015

Blog tour: Turning It On by Elizabeth Harmon

Turning it On
Red Hot Russians # 2
By: Elizabeth Harmon
Releasing June 29, 2015
Carina Press

Book editor Hannah Levinson couldn’t be happier. This “Nice Jewish Girl” is ready to marry the man she’s longed after for half her life. When her fiancĂ© suggests they audition for Last Fling, a steamy new reality show for engaged couples, she lets herself be swayed. Maybe she’ll learn a thing or two.
Vlad Shustov’s fall from a once-bright career as a competitive figure skater was swift. Now trapped by a shameful past and an uncertain future, “Vlad the Bad” strips for cash. Joining the cast of Last Fling could earn him a fortune—or at least enough to finally leave stripping. But to win the show’s prize, he must seduce an engaged woman, something he can't even bear the thought of.

Hannah's not like any woman Vlad's met before. Betrayed by the man she thought she loved and relegated to the ugly-duckling role she’d worked so hard to shed, can she trust there’s more to Vlad than meets the eye? With sleazy TV tactics shattering the last shreds of the contestants' confidence, they'll have to believe true happiness is not only may be looking right at them.

I love stories that give a fresh take on classic themes, and feature characters and locations not often seen in romance. Give me a lovable, if less-than-perfect heroine, a gorgeous hero with a heart of gold, take them a little off the beaten path and I'm a happy girl.

I read a variety of genres-- romance to horror and just about everything in between. I am a member of Romance Writers of America. I have worked as a freelance journalist for a number of local publications and am a contributing writer to Romance Writers Report.

When I'm not writing, I love to ice skate, bike ride, hang out at the beach or on my front porch. I love vintage homes, adventurous cooking, spending time with my family and traveling.

Hello Elizabeth! Welcome once again to Roberta’s Dreamworld and thank you for your time. First of all, tell us something about yourself, both as a writer and as a person.

Hi Roberta, and thanks for having me as a guest. This has been a crazy and exciting year, as my debut novel Pairing Off, was published in February, and now the second book in the series has just been released. In addition to being a romance novelist, I’m also a freelance writer, a wife, and a mom of two great boys.

How/when did you realize you wanted to become a writer? 

I’ve always loved to read, and have been writing romance off and on for about twenty years. In 2009, I decided to get serious about writing for publication, and though it took a couple of books to reach my goal, now that I have, I want to make the most of it.

Let’s speak about “Turning It On”. We’ve read the synopsis but can you tell us a little more about what the book is about? 

On one level, “Turning It On” is a classic opposites-attract story. He’s a sexy male stripper who is valued only for his looks, while she’s a shy book nerd who is self-conscious about hers. She helps him realize that he’s smart and honorable, he helps her feel beautiful and confident. On a deeper level, Vlad and Hannah find in each other, the love and acceptance they’ve always wanted but never though they would have. This is the emotional heart of the story, and one of the reasons I love it.

How did you come up with the idea and how did you create the characters? 

I’ve always wondered about the people who go on reality shows, and whether the way they’re portrayed reflects who they really are. What if the answer to that question was ‘no’? Almost every “Last Fling” castmate’s on-camera persona is much different from the way they are off-camera.

As for the main characters, Vlad appears briefly in “Pairing Off” as the nephew of Carrie and Anton’s coach. He’s about to leave competitive figure skating, but doesn’t know what to do next. Since I’d already created a backstory for Ivan the coach, it was easy to work Vlad into it, and to imagine the harrowing turns Vlad’s life takes once he leaves the ice behind. Hannah developed because I wanted a heroine who would be the antithesis of the type of woman likely to attract a male stripper, as well as someone who would be completely out of her element on a sexy reality show.

If you should describe your books in three words, what would you pick? 

Sweet, sexy and fun.

Do you have any favorite authors and did they influence your choice of the genre? 

I love both historical and contemporary romance, and the books that resonate most with me are those which feature couples who truly like one another, and treat each other with kindness and respect. For me, Courtney Milan and Kristin Higgins do this very well. I also love books that immerse you in the story world. Susan Elizabeth Phillips is awesome at bringing her contemporary settings to life, while historical author Blythe Gifford does this with her medieval worlds.

What else do you enjoy doing, when you’re not writing? 

I love to cook, act, and ice skate, work on my old house, and travel.

As a writer do you get support from your family and friends? 

I have amazing support and feel really blessed. My husband does a lot around the house and cooks one night a week to provide extra writing time. He also cheers me on when I get discouraged, which means so much. My sons, extended family and my friends are happy that I’m living my dream. I also have a great group of writer friends with whom I can commiserate, and celebrate.

What are your dreams and plans for your future as a writer? 

Since I’m on deadline for Red Hot Russian Book #3, at the moment, my number one future plan is to finish writing it! I also am looking forward to connecting with other authors at the 2015 Romance Writers of America conference coming up at the end of July. I’ll be participating in Harlequin’s author book signing, so I’m really excited about that. Down the road, I have ideas for another Red Hot Russian, a completely new contemporary series, and I hope to finish a historical novel that’s been on the back burner for a while.

Would you like to say something to the readers to encourage them to read your books? 

My goal from the start has always been to write a book I’d love to read, but which didn’t exist already. So I’m drawn to create characters and settings that readers may not have seen often before. I also love to watch imperfect characters grow and change over the course of the story, and through love, find the courage to be their best.


Hannah sighed and shook her head. “I’m not usually such an emotional mess. It’s just this show. This whole situation! Back there…” she flung her arm wide, in the direction of the mainland. “I’m successful. Accomplished. I have a great job. I live in New York City. Here, all anyone cares about is how hot I am. Or more to the point, how hot I’m not!
Vlad nodded sympathetically. “It’s TV. Unfortunately, sex sells better than other good qualities.”
“Exactly! I can’t compete. I’m not like those other women, and I don’t even want to be. But I have no choice. Not unless I want to lose my fiancĂ© to a scheming bimbo and have the entire nation talking about what a pathetic loser I am. It’s humiliating.”
“You can always learn to be sexy.” Vlad looked her over. “You’ve got the right equipment. All you need is to learn to use it. I am around sexy women all the time. I could coach you. You know…sexy lessons.”
“Sexy lessons?” She had to laugh at that. “I’ve never thought of sexy as a learned skill.”
“It is, though. All about how you carry yourself.” He adjusted his posture and the set of his broad shoulders conveyed a confidence that was undeniably hot.
“And who better to teach me than a guy named Vlad the Bad who takes off his clothes for a living?”
“As Uncle Ivan used to say, it pays to work with best coach you can find.”
She laughed again, but didn’t entirely dismiss the idea. Putting a little strut in her stuff held surprising appeal. Yet what was the catch? A guy who willingly signed on for a trashy show like Last Fling must want something. “And in return?”
He thought a moment and Hannah tensed, afraid of what he might ask. Then he gave a decisive nod. “I want you to read my book. Not just query, synopsis, “sorry not right for us,” but the whole thing. You don’t have to buy, but I want honest, professional critique of how to make it better.”
Honest and professional? Yikes. What would she say if the book was god-awful, which it likely was? He’d pinned so much hope to it, she couldn’t bear to be the one to discourage him. On the other hand, at least she would be gentle and constructive. And if it was good, this was a chance to help him achieve his dream. She imagined taking the book to her boss. Sales and Marketing would drool over this hot Russian male stripper–turned-literary sensation. As would everyone else. And if it kept Jack from Robynne’s clutches, it was worth the risk.
Vlad narrowed his eyes. “So do we have a deal?”
A bit more certain, Hannah laughed and stuck out her hand. “Deal.”


2 commenti:

  1. Thanks for hosting me today and allowing me to share a little bit about TURNING IT ON. For those who are lovin' some Magic Mike, I'll also share one of Vlad's strip songs, "Applause" by Lady Gaga. He portrays a bad-boy movie star for this dance, which comes early in the book. He's just signed a contract to go on Last Fling, and though he's not sure if it's the right thing to do, it's about to change is life in more ways than he can imagine.

  2. Thank you for hosting Elizabeth today!