Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Blog Tour: The Sweet Spot by Ariel Ellman

Boston Harbor Romance Series Book One, The Sweet Spot

Buy Links:


Ani Winthrop has spent the last ten years trying to forget what it meant to be Ani Mackenzie, the girl who had to say good-bye to her childhood love Sebastian O’Reilly when she was just sixteen. She married a wonderful man, had a beautiful daughter with him, and opened up her own bakery, The Sweet Spot. But when Sebastian walks into her bakery after fifteen years apart, she cannot ignore that he is the only one who could ever truly find her sweet spot.

Sebastian has returned to Boston now, no longer a boy, a man with a feral intensity and a hard muscled body tattooed with the story of his years away from Ani. He has returned to claim the love of his life, only to find that Ani is a wife and mother to another man’s child. 

Now Ani has to choose between the love that she has for her husband Jordan, a handsome and successful pediatric neurosurgeon, and the love for Sebastian that she has never been able to let go of.

Explicit Sweet Spot Excerpt:

Rain pelted down on the car as Ani navigated her way through the dark wet streets of her neighborhood and over to South Boston to Sebastian’s apartment. The thunderstorm outside was fierce, the rain fell in sheets and the wind whipped it in every direction, soaking Ani to the skin by the time she made it from her car to Sebastian’s door.
“Ani?” Sebastian murmured, blinking his eyes sleepily as he held the door open for her. His apartment was dark and he’d obviously been sleeping. A flash of lightening streaked through the window and illuminated Sebastian’s silhouette in the doorway. His muscled ink-covered chest was bare and a pair of boxers hung low on his narrow hips.
“What does the rose represent?” Ani breathed, reaching out and trailing a finger across the rose petals that shone against Sebastian’s neck under the flash of lightening.
“Celebrated teenage birthday in prison,” Sebastian whispered back, holding Ani’s gaze.  
“And my name tangled in the center of the Claddagh?” Ani choked.
“You know exactly what it means,” Sebastian replied hoarsely.
“I want to see you,” Ani demanded, pushing Sebastian over toward the window and into the light that streamed in from the street.
“You’re soaking wet,” Sebastian murmured, as Ani ran her fingers across his shoulders and down his back.
“What does the church mean?” Ani pressed, ignoring Sebastian’s comment about her soaked state as she trailed her fingers over the fifteen spires on Sebastian’s back and paused at the intricate Celtic cross that topped the center spire, rising above the others.
“You’re shivering,” Sebastian observed softly in concern, ignoring the question.
“What do the spires mean? Why the cross?” Ani demanded, lowering her lips to Sebastian’s back and trailing kisses over each spire.
“The spires represent the years spent in prison,” Sebastian replied, sucking in his breath as Ani’s lips touched his skin.
“And the cross?” Ani persisted, resting her lips against it.
“Sentence served,” Sebastian choked out, pressing his head against the window as Ani continued to trail her lips across his back.
“The bells on your shoulders?” she whispered, running her tongue across his shoulder and the back of his neck from bell to bell.
“Served full sentence, bell call to bell call, no parole,” Sebastian answered hoarsely.
“The setting sun and birds flying above the church?” Ani asked as another streak of lightning flashed across Sebastian’s back.
“Freedom,” Sebastian replied, finally turning around to face Ani who stood shivering and dripping wet in front of him. “You’re going to get sick if you don’t take off your wet clothes.”
“I slept with Jordan last night,” Ani replied, looking sick.
“He is your husband,” Sebastian replied mildly.
“You still want me?” Ani choked out as Sebastian began to peel her dripping layers off of her shaking body.
“I will always want you, A,” Sebastian replied hoarsely, throwing Ani’s wet clothes on the floor and scooping her up.
“I came here to talk to you, to try and make sense of everything,” Ani whispered as Sebastian laid her down on his bed and lifted her hands above her head, pinning them down with his arm.
“No more talking,” Sebastian murmured, trailing kisses down Ani’s face and neck. “Now it’s my turn to look and touch. So soft, so sweet,” Sebastian moaned as his lips nibbled their way down Ani’s body. “So beautiful,” he whispered, spreading Ani’s legs and pausing before he slid inside her. “Are you on the pill?” he asked hoarsely, suddenly realizing that he didn’t have a condom.
“With my fertility rate?” Ani choked. “Yes, I get birth control shots.” She pulled Sebastian back against her.
“Well we don’t have a good track record with birth control.” Sebastian pushed inside Ani with a moan.
“Oh my god, Bast,” Ani wept as he filled her, joining their bodies together after fifteen years apart.
“I love you Ani,” Sebastian whispered, thrusting into her fiercely. “I love you,” he whispered again as he buried his face in her breasts and poured himself into her with a deep, soul-wrenching moan.
“I love you too,” Ani admitted with a sob as she realized that she’d just said the identical words to her husband only hours earlier when he’d claimed her body in the exact same way.

Author Bio

I got my first taste of romance novels tucked away in the back of Papyrus, a little bookstore near Columbia University in Manhattan, when I was eleven years old. They had a children’s section, but it was downstairs in the basement, accessed by a separate street entrance, and they always closed it before we got there.

My father liked to take me and my brothers to bookstores late at night, after spending at least an hour lingering over black coffee and poppy seed cookies at The Hungarian Pastry Shop on Amsterdam Avenue and we never made it over to Papyrus before ten p.m.

Out of boredom, trapped in the dusty aisles of Papyrus late at night, I started browsing through all the old used books. I wasn’t too interested in the textbook sections that catered to the Columbia students, but I did fall in love with the paperback romance novels. The first one that I read was an epic 500-page historical love story set during the War of 1812. I was drawn in instantly, and I fell in love with romance novels after that. My oldest and dearest friend Barbara’s older sister, Audrey, lent me my second romance novel, a tattered paperback that reminded me of a steamier version of the movie Romancing the Stone with Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. After that, I could always be found in the romance section of B. Dalton Books, devouring steamy historical romance novels by Catherine Coulter and Dorothy Garlock.

I then proceeded to write my own romance series, which I thought was fabulous, but since I was only twelve and had an almost non-existent love life to base it on, it probably wasn’t actually that exciting.

Over the years, I detoured away from the standard romance novels as I delved into classic literature as an English major in college at Drew University, and I fell in love with the classics: Jane Austin, George Elliot, The Bronte Sisters, Hardy, and Hawthorne. In my personal reading, I delved into Gail Tsukiyama, Dorothy Allison, Kathryn Harrison, Julia Alvarez, Anita Shreve and many others. I devoured memoirs by Alexandra Fuller, Adeline Yen Mah and Helen Fremont. I went through a Patricia Cornwell phase and even considered becoming a mortician, earning the nickname Morticia from my husband’s high school buddy Jeremy. But through it all, the constant theme that attracted me to everything that I read was romance, and in the end, I found myself circling back and falling in love with the good old romance novel again.

Upon my return to my old love, the romance novel, I fell in love with Julie Garwood and read every historical romance that she wrote at least five times. Then I discovered Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books and tore through them, sulking and grumbling as I waited for each new book in the series to come out.

During this process of abandoning the romance novel and finally returning to it, I graduated college, married a wonderful man and spent the next twelve years having five children, which kept me a little busy and distracted me from the one thing that I love more than reading romance novels, writing them.

So armed with a little more history in the love department than I had at twelve, I decided to dive back in and write The Sweet Spot. I had no idea initially that it was going to be the first book in my Boston Harbor Romance series, but as I was writing it, I realized that I didn’t want the story to end, and that so many of the characters in the book had stories that needed to be told.

Whenever I finish reading a great romance, it is always bittersweet because I miss the characters that I have fallen in love with. The wonderful thing about a series is that you never have to say good-bye.

Author Social Media Links:
Goodreads Book II: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18712139-mixing-it-up

Mixing It Up Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mixing-It-Up-Book-II-by-Ariel-Ellman/522103127868600

Website: www.arielellman.com

Author Interview:

What is your writing inspiration?:
Everything around me inspires my work. Sometimes something simple will spark an idea, like the feel of a raindrop on my cheek, and sometimes my inspiration will come from something deeper, a feeling that a friend or loved one evokes in me.

What would you die without?:
My AMAZING support network of friends and family

What is your favorite guilty pleasure?:
Definitely reading romance books! And drinking my coffee with heavy cream ;).

Did any of your early ideas or characters make it into your current work?:
Yes and no. All of the characters in The Sweet Spot were original to the book, but the idea of Ani and Sebastian’s story came from a fictionalized memoir that I was working on before it. Everyone that read my memoir kept fixating on the story of my first love from my teenage years, and the unresolved way that we left each other. The interest that everyone showed in that aspect of my original story sparked the idea of Ani and Sebastian’s love story in The Sweet Spot.

Do any of your friends or family inspire the characters in the book?:
Yes! My relationship with my little sister definitely inspired the relationship between Ani and Sawyer in The Sweet Spot and the entire series. My sister and I cannot be around each other without doubling over in hysterics every five minutes. We laugh non -stop when we’re together, we both have foul mouths and a playful sense of humor, and we know each other inside and out. We mother each other to death, and we know that we can always count on each other no matter what. There is nothing like a sister to get you through all your good times and bad, and Ani and Sawyer’s relationship reflects that throughout the entire series.

Do you have any new projects in the work for another book?:
Yes! I am currently writing Book IV in my Boston Harbor Romance Series, which is about Bella, Bobby’s little sister, who you meet briefly in Book II. I’m really in love with this story, partly because I feel like I have a little more freedom and flexibility with this book than I had with Book II, Mixing It Up, and Book III, Mississippi Spice, which will be released next month. In books II and III, the characters had already been established from The Sweet Spot, and while I loved telling both Sawyer and Jordan’s stories, I didn’t have as much room to play with them as I do with Bella, because I’d already given my readers certain expectations of Sawyer’s and Jordan’s personalities. With Bella and book IV in general, I feel like I have a blank canvas again, the way that I did with The Sweet Spot when I started the series, and it’s a lot of fun. I love that I can continue to develop all of the existing characters in the series, especially Raffi, who is slowly becoming a teenager and approaching her own story, and yet, I’m also creating something fresh and new at the same time with Bella’s story.

Do you let your close friends and family read your work while you are writing it?: 
Initially I did, and The Sweet Spot went under the microscope with my friends quite a bit through all of it’s stages, but as I’ve progressed through the series, I’ve become a little more hesitant about letting anyone read anything until the first draft is at least complete. While I definitely think it’s valuable to get input from “test” readers, I also think it can sometimes be distracting when you’re still trying to figure out the exact direction that you are heading with the story yourself.