Blood Is Thicker Than Ink. . .
UNDER YOUR SKIN
For Your Love #1
Releasing June 28th, 2016
Blood Is Thicker Than Ink. . .
Norah O'Malley has been alone for a long time. It's been ten years since her father and four brothers shipped her off to be raised by her aunt. Seven months since she's seen the guy who got her pregnant--who still doesn't know. And it's two weeks since she came home to Chicago and discovered none of her family wants to talk--or listen.
She never expected to walk into a tattoo shop seven months pregnant and get her socks knocked off by instant attraction. She can't even see her socks. But Kai Ellis is big and gruff and sexy as hell, and if he has a past, well, so does she. Even more, Kai knows how to listen so that Norah feels just a little less alone . . .
All the chemistry in the world can't help Norah make her decisions. And no sizzle of desire will make Kai believe in happy endings. But a little time with someone who understands might just change everything . ..
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Kai Ellis came from the back room to the musical sound of female laughter. The girl sitting across from Tommy at the front counter had an awesome rack spilling out of her tank top and her tits jiggled as she laughed.
“Hey,” he called, “I told you no girls while you’re on the clock. Get busy on your own time.”
Tommy dropped the food in his hand. “Gross, man. This is my sister.”
She wiggled her fingers. Then she pointed. To Tommy, she said, “Let’s ask your friend here, I’m sure he’s made mistakes in his life.”
“Boss.” Kai crossed his arms. He had no intention of answering questions about his mistakes, but it annoyed him that she jumped to the conclusion that he’d made them. Part of the reason for opening his own business was so he would never have to answer to anyone about his past again.
“I’m his boss.”
She continued on as if he hadn’t spoken. “It’s normal for people to make mistakes, right? Even if they’re huge mistakes, you still learn from them. Life lessons and shit.”
He knew all about making life-altering mistakes, but he still wasn’t about to discuss them. Addressing Tommy, he said, “Girlfriend or not, she needs to go.”
Her eyes popped wide and she slid from the stool. Tommy laid a hand on her arm. “It’s fine.” He twisted on the stool. “Kai, this is my sister, Norah. She just moved back to town.”
Norah stepped around Tommy with her hand extended. Her belly stuck out full with a baby. He’d forgotten about Tommy bitching about his pregnant sister.
When he didn’t move, she dropped her hand. “Sorry. I thought I’d catch Tommy before his client came in. I brought him lunch and dessert.” She turned and picked up a plate from the counter. “Want a Rice Krispies Treat?”
Her smile was friendly as she spoke, but her light blue eyes filled with mischief. Like she was offering up more than marshmallows and cereal. It was a good thing that belly was between them. He stayed rooted to his spot. Then his phone rang. Again. He’d ignored Jaleesa all morning, but if he planned to get any work done, he’d have to deal with her.
With his phone in hand, he spun and walked back out the way he came. “Yeah.”
“It’s about time. I’ve been calling you all morning.”
“Mom’s surgery went fine. She came through with flying colors.”
He’d figured as much. It was just her knee. “Good to know.”
“Are you coming to the hospital today?”
He walked until he hit the back door of the shop and stood in the alley. “I don’t know. Depends on how busy I get.”
“Kai, it’s not like this was some surprise. We scheduled it. You could make sure you’re free. You’re choosing not to.”
His sister’s sigh whistled in his ear. “We need to talk about where Mom will go when she’s released from the hospital. She’ll only be here a few days.”
“I thought you were looking into a rehab facility.”
“I tried, but it made her upset. She thinks we’re going to dump her off and leave her for good.”
“So explain to her that’s not the case. She knows she won’t be able to get around your house. It’s not like she lost her mind.”
“She’s feeling vulnerable and she’s worried about being alone.”
“I don’t know what you want from me, Jaleesa.”
“Maybe she could stay with you.”
“I have stairs in my house.”
“Five, Kai. Five measly steps to get up to your door. Everything else is on one floor. You have the space.”
What she really meant was that he could make the space for his mom to move in. He didn’t want to. His house was set up exactly as he wanted. He would have to move all of his workout equipment somewhere, probably to the basement or the garage. He had no furniture for her. No bed or anything. He didn’t have guests and he liked it that way.
“I can’t take care of Mom. I don’t know what to do with her.”
“And I do? You figure it out, Kai. That’s what you do for family.”
“I have a business to run and I keep long hours.”
“At least think about it. We can probably hire someone to fill in when you’re not around so she’s not alone, but she’ll feel secure in your house.”
“Why can’t we hire someone to help at your house?”
“Maybe we can convert some space to make it work.”
“My whole family isn’t losing our living room so you don’t have to man up.”
He shook his head, not wanting to lose this argument. “We’ll talk about this later. I have to go.”
“Try to stop by the hospital. It’ll make her happy.”
“Yeah.” He clicked off and stared at the brick building across from him. He was tempted to throw his phone to hear the satisfying crack of plastic against the wall. Instead, he inhaled deeply and closed his eyes. The air he sucked in was rank with the smell of rotting garbage. Tomorrow was pickup day and the heat did no favors for the Chinese restaurant on the corner.
The sun beat against his skin, searing it. Five minutes of quiet without thinking about his mom at the hospital. Anything was better than the damn hospital. Leaning against the back door, with his eyes closed, he allowed the sun to sink into him.
The door thumped against him and he stepped away. So much for his five minutes.
Q & A with Shannyn Schroeder
What books/authors have influenced your writing?
I’m not sure I can point to any one writer or book as influential. I came to romance through romantic suspense like Allison Brennan and Tess Gerritson with a sprinkling of Nora Roberts in there. But when I found my voice as a writer and I discovered that I needed to write contemporary romance, I read Jenny Cruisie and Jill Shalvis and Bella Andre and Shannon Stacey. All of them taught me what good contemporary romance is.
Share a funny incident in your life.
Most of the funny incidents in my life revolve around my kids and taken out of context probably wouldn’t be funny. Instead I’ll share one of the most unusual things that has happened to me as a writer. Like many authors, I have a Pinterest page set up for each of my books. A couple of months ago, I received an email and although the name looked familiar, I couldn’t place it. When I opened it, the message was from an actor that I had used as inspiration for one of my heroes. He asked if I would delete the picture of him on my board. He said he was trying to clean up the Internet of embarrassing photos. Now, this was funny because in the photo he was fully dressed. It was just a basic headshot. Part of me figured this was some scam or something, but the link he included was for my Pinterest board and since he asked nicely, I deleted it. Then I responded to the email letting him know it was gone. I also said that I didn’t think it was an embarrassing photo and hoped that he didn’t find it embarrassing to have been used for inspiration. When I hit send, I figured the email would bounce back or disappear. He responded again and said that he was flattered to have been inspiration but he’s focusing on filmmaking as opposed to acting, which is why he wanted the picture gone. I guess that was my brush with someone famous.
When you are in writer mode, music or no music? If music, do you have a playlist?
I almost always write music. I create a playlist for each book long before I start writing. I listen to the playlist all the time until it becomes background for me. I keep the music going when I draft. When I’m editing and proofreading, I usually do that without music.
Have you ever had one character you wanted to go one way with but after the book was done the character was totally different.
My characters surprise me in small ways. I spend a lot of time developing them and getting to know them before I start writing a book (since I don’t plot or outline anything) so they don’t usually turn out completely different than what I thought. Little idiosyncrasies pop up as I write and it keeps things interesting.
What’s your next project?
I plan to self-publish a book this fall (Still working on a title). Then the next For Your Love book (In Your Arms) will release in December.
Your favorite book by you or another author.
Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie is one of my favorites (or almost anything by her). But I have a ton of books on my keeper shelf. Naked in Death by JD Robb, the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich…too many to count.
I know as an author we’re not supposed to have favorites, but I totally do. For my Hot & Nerdy novellas, Her Perfect Game is my favorite. For the O’Learys, Catch Your Breath is. Both of those are favorites because I adore the heroines. The O’Malleys are also introduced in Catch Your Breath and that’s when I knew I needed to write the For Your Love series. I’ve just finished drafting the third For Your Love book and I’m not totally sure, but I think book 2 – In Your Arms—is my favorite. I love Sean and Emma together.
Clean shaven, Scruff, beard, or mustache. Ink or Nay?
You know, when I was younger, I’d say clean shaven always. As I get older, I’m seeing the appeal of scruff or a neat beard. I still don’t like the mountain man look. Ink is totally optional. It doesn’t bother me, but I’m not looking for it either. I’m married to a man with multiple tattoos, but I met him before he had any. I’ve also written characters both ways.
This book was a delight to read, at first I wasn’t for sure if I was going to like it especially being a single mom in my early 20’s & never thought once about giving any of my kids up. But the more I read the more I understood Norah’s decision, at first I was like really (sarcastically) especially how Norah wasn’t upset when she gave birth to her child & handed it over to her adoptive parents but later I was truly feeling for her. The way she went after Kai had me yelling go girl, & Kai don’t even get me started on him I was really really liking him & then he did his crap I just wanted to go through the book & wring his neck, shake some sense into him & tell him your past is your past. Kai’s mother Lani, she was a hoot, any girl would want her for mother of her boyfriend, she had me in stitches. If you are looking for a fast pace romance then this isn’t it, Under Your Skin was a slow pace romance, with Kai fighting his feelings for Norah all the way. Thank you to Tasty Book Tours for giving me the opportunity to read & review Under Your Skin.
Shannyn Schroeder is the author of the O’Leary series, contemporary romances centered around a large Irish-American family in Chicago and the Hot & Nerdy series about 3 nerdy friends finding love. Her new series (For Your Love) will release this summer with the first title Under Your Skin. When she’s not wrangling her three kids or writing, she watches a ton of TV and loves to bake cookies. Find out more at: www.ShannynSchroeder.com
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