Shelly Alexander joins us today. It's In His Heart is the first in the emotional contemporary romance series Red River Valley.
She has a secret. He has a scandal. And they both have an attraction they can’t deny.
Ella Dennings is furious. Soaking wet, muddy, and furious. All she wants is to enjoy a quiet summer retreat in her Red River Valley cabin. Maybe she can finish healing after the death of her husband, Bradley. Maybe she can even finish writing that third book in her anonymously written bestselling series. But when she arrives at the cabin in a raging rainstorm, who does she find holed up there but Cooper Wells, Bradley’s sexy best friend—a man capable of seducing women within seconds—and a man Ella has never liked.
Coop’s got his own baggage. He’s engulfed in a nasty legal battle, and after selling his home to cover his legal fees, he’s got nowhere to go but the cabin. He and Ella will just have to coexist under one roof...but is their heated animosity boiling over into attraction? And when Ella’s racy new book rocks the sleepy town, will her secret identity spell scandal for both of them?
Thanks for joining us Shelly. You went from business woman to Golden Heart Finalist to published romance author. Tell us a little about the journey.
I spent over 20 years working first in a large corporation and then a small corporate environment. That business experience was invaluable, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. However, I did realize something very important during those years…I wasn’t following my true passion or pursuing my own dream.
Six years ago I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer that had already spread. I had three young children that didn’t want to lose their mommy and a husband that didn’t want to be a widow at 43 years old. When I survived, I decided it was now or never, and I started writing my first novel.
That novel started as historical suspense, but quickly evolved into a romance. While writing my third historical, my true voice emerged. That’s when I realized my voice was better suited to contemporary, and I wrote Love In Living Color.
Love In Living Color was a 2014 Golden Heart finalist, and that’s how I found my home in small town contemporary romance. Love In Living Color became It’s In His Heart and is published by Montlake Romance. It’s been an incredible experience to pursue a dream and attain it. I’m thankful every day for the opportunity to write funny, smart aleck stories that actually make people laugh.
Your first novel, It’s In His Heart, takes place in the small town of Red River. Is this based on a real town?
Yes! Red River is a real town nestled in a beautiful valley and surrounded by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in northern New Mexico. Red River is a wonderful mountain community filled with quirky, lovable real-life characters. I was inspired to use Red River as the setting for this series because of its beauty, charm and the wonderful sense of community and warmth that the residents create for us tourists. It’s truly one of the most enchanting places on earth, in my opinion.
Your heroine Ella Dennings is mourning the loss of her husband when she runs into Cooper Wells. What is this couple’s history?
Ella was married to Coop’s best buddy, Bradley. Coop never liked Ella because he thought she was an anal-retentive history teacher that didn’t know how to have fun. Ella never approved of Coop’s playboy persona, and thought he needed to grow up. Both were probably at least a little correct.
Before Bradley proposes to Ella, she and Coop have a chance encounter that involves the cabin basement, too many glasses of wine and her wearing nothing but a crocheted afghan that has slipped dangerously low. Well, you’ll have to read the story to find out what actually happened, but neither ever forgot that stormy confrontation, and it becomes a turning point years later when they meet up at the cabin long after Bradley’s passing, and it spins their tumultuous relationship in a whole new direction.
At first there is bickering and arguments between the two character, but this quickly turns into something...more. What is the turning point in their relationship?
As I mentioned in the previous question, their encounter years ago in the cabin basement is important. Both Coop and Ella are trying to let go of Bradley, and figure out how to move forward. When they finally muster the nerve to discuss the basement incident that happened years ago, it makes a profound difference in how they perceive each other in the present, as opposed to how they perceived each other in the past.
If you could give Coop one piece of advice when he is entering into ‘couple-dom’ with Ella, what would you tell him?
“Dude, put the cap back on the toothpaste. It’ll make your life sooooo much easier.”
Your heroine Ella writes under the penname Violet Vixen. Tell us a bit about “Violet’s” books.
Ella quits her teaching job to care for her dying husband, Bradley. During the endless hours of sitting next to his bed while he wastes away, Ella gets out her laptop and starts typing a story. A story of things she’d never had the guts to do with Bradley. That story gets published and becomes a bestselling erotic romance novel. So she goes on to write a second…and a third.
While writing the third novel and creating an excerpt for book four, Ella and Coop’s attraction boils over into passion, and he becomes the source of her inspiration...her muse. The women of Red River can’t get enough of Violet Vixen’s sexy romps, and the men just want it to go away! And that’s the funny part of the story. Ella sits back and watches how her books rock the sleepy little town of Red River, and no one would ever guess in a million years that she’s actually Violet Vixen.
I don’t go into a lot of detail about what’s actually in Violet Vixen’s books, mainly because It’s In His Heart isn’t an erotic romance. But Ella…or Violet creates characters based on her real life, and that’s when her secret identity and his scandalous legal situation collide.
What’s next in the Red River Valley series?
Book two in the Red River Valley series is titled It’s In His Touch, and it’s very special to me. It involves an outrageous bucket list that the heroine and her best friend are working through because the heroine has just survived a serious illness. The book doesn’t focus on her physical healing. It picks up after the physical healing is complete, and it focuses on the emotional healing that she’s now facing. It’s a tough subject to tackle when you’re trying to be funny, but I think I succeeded in spades. I hope my readers think so too.
Shelly Alexander Bio
A 2014 Golden Heart finalist, Shelly Alexander grew up traveling the world, earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing, and worked in the business world for twenty-five years. With four older brothers, she watched every Star Trek episode ever made, joined the softball team instead of ballet class, and played with G.I. Joes while the Barbie Corvette stayed tucked in the closet. When she had three sons of her own, she decided to escape her male-dominated world by reading romance novels and has been hooked ever since. Now, she spends her days writing steamy contemporary romances while tending to an obstinate English bulldog named Lola.