Today I'm joined on the blog by Kat Black to tell us a little bit about her debut novel Melting Ms Frost which is published tomorrow as well as offering one lucky reader the chance to win a copy of this eBook.
Thanks for having me here today, Sharon. It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to share a bit about my new release, Melting Ms Frost, which is out through HarperCollins in ebook on the 28th November 2013 and paperback January 30th 2014. I have to admit to being almost beside myself with excitement and nerves as, although I’ve had a number of novellas and short stories published over the past couple of years, this is my first novel, and also my first taste of mass market commercial publishing. Hopefully I’ve managed to curb the worst of the crazy in order to keep the following answers to your questions relatively gush- and gabble-free.
Can you tell us a little bit more about Melting Ms Frost?
It’s a contemporary romance that tells the story of independent and career focused twenty-seven year-old London restaurant manager, Annabel Frost, who has a fearsome reputation as an ice queen – a label she’s more than happy to exploit both professionally and personally in her single-minded determination to achieve her life goals. Having seen her widowed mother fall victim to a string of charming chancers, she’s sworn never to make the same mistakes herself. In Annabel’s tightly controlled world, everything runs according to her precisely mapped out plans…until the arrival of her new barman. Daring and darkly handsome, Aidan Flynn – whose Irish blood runs as hot as Annabel’s does cold – is unlike anyone she’s ever met before. Unfazed by her frosty manner, he makes it clear from the start that he intends to turn up the heat between them, any way he can. And let me warn you, it’s not only Annabel’s temper that sparks in the ensuing battle of wills! Things get so HOT between these two that against her better judgement, Annabel feels her cold resistance start to melt, revealing yearnings for things she’s never dared to let herself want. But she’s left wondering if she’s made the biggest mistake of all when she discovers that Aidan Flynn isn’t at all the man he first appeared to be.
Where did the inspiration come from to set this at Christmastime?
Actually, I’d written the entire storyline of Melting Ms Frost around a summertime theme, with the pivotal scene between Annabel and Aidan taking place on a yacht on the Mediterranean. With an immense sense of satisfaction and a mighty sigh of relief that I’d managed to even achieve completing an entire novel, I handed the manuscript in to the editorial team at Avon thinking that the worst of the process was over. But before I could so much as collapse on the sofa with a well-earned drink (or ten), an email arrived. The editors loved it. ‘Great read’ they complimented… ‘You nailed it’ they praised… ‘Just one thing,’ they added… ‘really quite small. We’d like to schedule it for an end of year release. Can you change it to wintertime, give us a Christmas theme?’ What happened next remains somewhat hazy, but once a measure of sanity returned, I was able to pick myself up off the floor and email back. ‘Um, I could try,’ I found myself typing (because I’ve never had the good sense to refuse a challenge in my life)… ‘I could rework that pivotal scene by moving from the yacht to a penthouse overlooking the Med.’ ‘Good on you for having a go!’ they encouraged by return… ‘but, the Med is too summery. Give us a snowy winter wonderland. Give us Vienna! Give it a go.’ ‘Oh, crap,’ I thought (but didn’t type). ‘I don’t know anything about Vienna, that means more work. Lots more work.’ With my mind spinning with the amount of research I’d need to undertake, I emailed back with (yeah, you guessed it) ‘Um, I could try…’ ‘Excellent. You trooper!’ they cried… ‘It won’t be as bad as you think,’ they lied, barefaced as you like… ‘Oh, and one other thing, really quite small,’ they added sneakily... ‘Could you get the revisions to us in two weeks?’ Again, what followed is a little unclear in my mind, all I know is that this time sanity had packed up and left the building because there’s no other way to explain why I threw myself into meeting that deadline and changed a four hundred page summer themed story into a wintry festive tale in fourteen days!
Are you currently working on a new book? If so, are you able to tell us anything about it?
Well, after the experience I’d had, you’d think I’d know better, wouldn’t you? But just call me a sucker for punishment, because yes, I am! Although Melting Ms Frost is a stand alone novel, Annabel and Aidan’s story proved to be far from over at the point at which I typed ‘The End’. I’m currently working on a sequel that follows them as they feel their way deeper into their new relationship, and explores a number of the issues raised in Melting Ms Frost – the main one being how two such impossibly stubborn, complex characters can ever hope to wrestle their way towards a happy ever after. The working title is Playing With Fire and the story is and will remain summer themed. I’m determined to use that yacht on the Med scene if it kills me!
Read on for an excerpt from opening chapter
From her front-of-house position behind the lectern-style reception desk, Annabel took one of her regular moments to sweep a gaze over the packed restaurant, checking that everything in her world was running as it should – staff busy but attentive, service efficient, customers content.
With its reputation for being classy but never stuffy, Cluny’s was popular all year round, and tonight, against the backdrop of opulent festive finery, the ambience was even more sparkling than usual. In addition to the artfully dimmed lighting, the twinkle of hundreds of tiny white fairy lights helped cast a magical glow over polished wood and snowy linen, while the spice-scented tealights flickering at the centre of each table bounced reflections off gleaming glassware and lent an attractive golden hue to the animated faces of the diners. The atmospheric background strains of easy jazz were overlaid by the lively buzz of chatter, and punctuated by the chink of cutlery against china. Mixed with the succulent aromas of rich seasonal dishes, the crisp scent of winter woods was conjured by the seven-foot gold and red decorated Christmas tree standing prominently in the window, and the garlands of berry-studded greenery hanging in deep swags from the cornicing. The look and mood were perfect: a blend of effortless sophistication and relaxed elegance that gave no hint of the exacting standards and obsessive attention to detail that were needed to achieve them.
Satisfied, Annabel ran her eye over the bar area opposite, only to find the new tousle-haired senior barman, the one who’d dared speak out of turn during the earlier staff meeting – Andy or Adam or something – looking back at her. It wasn’t the first time that evening she’d caught him staring, and it certainly wasn’t the first time she’d felt a spike of irritation in reaction to the cocky challenge in his look as he smiled, holding her gaze for a fraction too long.
Not another one.
Rather than encourage him by returning the smile, she let her lips purse. Handsome, vain and tripping on testosterone – she recognised the type only too well. It was hardly worth being surprised any more by the number of men who seemed to have no clue how to take female authority seriously; who thought it was okay to play up their manly attributes to bluff, bully or charm their way into blurring the line between the professional and the personal.
Well, she’d come across enough ‘charmers’ in her life not to be impressed by this one. As tall, dark and handsome as his particular attributes undeniably were, his allure wouldn’t work here. Not with her. Already beyond annoyed to have come back from a stressful week off to find that an emergency replacement for the previous head barman had been drafted in without her approval, she was in no mood to put up with any disrespectful crap.
Noting that the handful of stools at the front end of the bar were empty now that the last of the night’s bookings had been seated at their tables, she clipped the top back on her fountain pen and laid it down along the open spine of the reservations book. Smoothing the already flawless line of her pencil skirt, she stepped from behind the desk. Time to teach the pretty new boy his place.
The smile she directed at customers as she crossed the room dropped the second she entered the narrow area between the polished bar and the mirror-backed wall of shelves displaying an impressive array of bottles. By contrast, the smile from the man standing a few feet in front of her broadened in welcome, lighting up his handsome face and stopping her in her tracks.
Wow. There was no denying the killer impact of it – shame he’d mistaken her for a willing victim. Lifting her brows and tilting her nose just enough to be able to look down it, she went straight for the knock-down.
‘Is there a problem over here?’ she demanded. ‘Only you seem to be spending an awful lot of time standing around staring into space instead of working.’
Rather than jumping to attention and spewing excuses or false apologies as she expected, the target of her disapproval simply let the smile slide, sending her a sideways look instead – a stunning flash of silver through a tangle of black locks – and took his time rinsing the dregs from a cocktail shaker down the sink. She caught the soft, southern Irish brogue she remembered from earlier as he turned to send a suddenly stricken-looking Jon off to the kitchens in search of fresh mint.
The show of unhurried confidence and the relaxed stance of his rangy frame only served to nettle her further, as did the too-casual turn-up of his sleeves – which exposed a most distracting display of muscle flexing along lean forearms as he reached for a towel and wiped his hands.
‘Annabel, isn’t it?’
The sound of her name snapped her attention back up to his face as he turned from the sink at last. ‘It’s Ms Frost, actually,’ she informed him in her coldest tone. ‘And I asked you a question.’His gaze met hers head on for the first time, leaving her to feel the shock of impact of the most arresting pair of pale eyes she’d ever seen.
‘I think you know very well that I’ve been working,’ he said, sweeping that gaze over what she had to admit appeared to be a spotless and organised area. Slinging the towel over one shoulder, he began sauntering her way, offering a crooked smile that belied the intense focus of his scrutiny. ‘Just like you know that “space” isn’t what I’ve been staring at.’
If you like the sound of Melting Ms Frost then you're in luck as thanks to Kat's publishers one lucky reader can win a copy of this eBook. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter and the winner's email address passed to HarperCollins to send them a pre-approved widget to download the book via NetGalley.
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