Please welcome author Karen Erickson to Novel Reflections. She’s here today to talk about her latest holiday release, Jane’s Gift, published via Entangled Publishing.
Please tell readers a little bit about yourself.
Romance author Karen Erickson writes what she loves to read — sexy contemporary romance and sensual historical romance. Digitally published since 2006, she currently writes for Samhain Publishing, Entangled Publishing’s Bliss & Brazen Imprint and Avon Impulse. A native Californian, she lives in the foothills below Yosemite with her husband and three children.
When did you consider yourself a writer?
Well, I’ve always loved to write. I wrote horrendous stories about me and my friends and band members from Duran Duran in notebooks during high school. I still have them. But I didn’t really consider myself a writer until I started to seriously pursue publication in 2005. I sold my first novella in 2006 and then it really dawned on me: hey, I’m a writer!
Please tell us about your latest release.
Jane’s Gift is a sweet but sexy romance between a scarred mother and widow who survived a house fire and a firefighter who’s afraid of commitment. Set during the holiday season, it’s a touching story about two people who realize that falling in love isn’t as scary as they think. That everyone deserves a chance at love. It’s also about family – Jane has three kids and they have to learn how to deal with the new man in their mom’s life as well. And then there are Jane’s siblings…
What inspired you to write this book?
A read an article about a woman a few years ago who survived a plane crash. She really should’ve died but her family rallied around her and she knew she had something to live for. I loved how strong this woman was even at her most vulnerable devastating moment. I wanted to create a heroine with similar traits. Figured I would throw a wrench in it and make her hero a firefighter when she’s afraid of fire. Opposites attract and all that.
Were any of the characters a challenge to write?
It was a challenge to write Jane at times because she’s dealt with so much. Death, loss, picking up the pieces after her life has changed so much. It’s a pretty heavy topic. Hopefully I handled everything okay.
Was there a character you enjoyed writing the most?
I really enjoyed the family scenes. Writing her brothers and sister, the kids…those scenes were fun. And of course, I loved writing Chris. Most of the time I prefer to be in the hero’s POV.
Is there anything from your daily “real life” that has played a fundamental role in the inspiration or creation of the story line or characters?
Real life definitely played a part in Jane’s Gift because my dad is a retired arson investigator who worked for CAL Fire (California’s state run fire department) and my hero, Chris is a fire captain for CAL Fire. My mom used to work at CAL Fire too (in the office – she was human resources). So I spent plenty of time at fire stations growing up, being around that environment, chasing after fires (really LOL), etc. It was fun. Yet I almost felt too close to it and didn’t attempt a firefighter hero for YEARS. So silly of me. Wish I would’ve done it sooner!
What is the best part of being a writer? What is the most difficult part?
The best part of being a writer (and I’m full time) is that I can be home and be there for my family when they need me. I get to work from home which is the best thing ever! I get to write about love. I get to search for pictures of handsome men and use them as inspiration. I mean, it doesn’t get much better than that!
The most difficult part is I can never escape it. I work a lot and though I love it, sometimes I really need to take a break. Lately I haven’t given myself enough breaks.
Can you leave readers with a little teaser or excerpt from the new release?
Her lips were soft and damp. They clung to his in a gentle, almost innocent kiss. A kiss that reminded him of those he’d experienced when he was thirteen and unsure of how to lay one on a girl.
It was sweet—she was sweet. Her lips tasted of salt and butter with a hint of chocolate. He broke the kiss, blew a soft breath across her mouth before he touched it again. He parted his lips, as did she, but no tongue played interference—not yet. He didn’t want to spook her.
He knew it was wrong, kissing her. Going against what she’d said only an hour or so before. Friends didn’t kiss—especially not like this.
But he couldn’t help it.
“You taste sweet,” he whispered against her lips, and then decided to make a bold move. He swiped his tongue first at one corner of her mouth, then at the other. Her swift intake of breath told him she liked it.
It was time to take it further.
Curving his fingers into her hair, the wavy softness curled around his fingers and he cupped the back of her head, tilted her to his mouth so he could kiss her, deepening it in seconds.
Jane opened her lips to him, curved her body more fully toward him, and with jerky movements, he lifted the arm rest, shoved it up, and she shifted even closer, her knees bumping against his.
It was safer for her that they were in the theater. He couldn’t make any too-fast moves, couldn’t screw it up too badly. Chris focused on the lush taste of her mouth, the sweet rasp of her tongue. Her small hands had found their way to the front of his shirt and she held onto the fabric, balling it in her fists, wrinkling his shirt front.
“I could kiss you all night,” he murmured minutes, hours later as he leaned his forehead against hers.
She cleared her throat and giggled. “I think you have. The movie’s over.”
The lights brightened and Jane shifted away from him, guilt darkening her pretty green eyes. “We should go,” she suggested, her voice soft, her eyes downcast as she picked up her purse.
“Jane, are you all right about what—happened?” he asked. But any remaining words stuck in his throat. He knew how she felt, yet he wanted more—which conflicted with everything he’d ever done with women throughout his adult life. Women who wanted more scared him. He always left before they could leave him first—it was easier that way.
For once, with Jane, he didn’t want to leave. The attraction between them was undeniable, despite what she said. He wanted to explore it further.
Would she let him?
“I’m fine.” She shook her head and looked up at him. “It was nice.”
Chris didn’t want to be the nice guy. He wanted to be the hot guy she couldn’t resist, the man she wanted to spend more time with. She confused him. But he had a feeling he did the same to her.
“I’ll say.” He couldn’t resist behaving like a macho jerk. Grabbing her by the hand, he hauled her close, brought her right up against him so he could lay one on her pursed lips. The kiss was firm, even a little rough, his tongue doing such a thorough search of her mouth he heard her give a little whimper.
And when he released her, she wobbled on her feet, had to reach out and grab his arm to steady herself.
Yeah, he was real nice, all right.