Xandra James’s book Dirty Tricks, is currently FREE at many vendors–that’s like a giveaway where everybody wins! Read on for my interview with Xandra, and to find out all about her book!
Blurb: She wanted revenge. He wanted her.
Cat was desperate, but pretending to be a ghost to stop the renovation on the neighbouring manor house was a new low even for her. All she needed to do, though, was slow down the renovation and figure out a way to make the owner pay for stealing her family home years before. Simple.
Everything was perfect until a new guy arrived on site, turning her plans for revenge upside down, and her body to a puddle of lusty mush. But when she finds out the secret he’s been keeping, will their attraction be strong enough to hold them together? Or will family ties tear them apart?
Warning: This story contains a large orange cat called Elvis, a fake ghost called Cat, a sizzling hot romance, and may cause you to crack a smile.
Welcome, Xandra! I’m glad you could be with us today. Tell us more about your book—take us beyond the official “book blurb”.
Dirty Tricks is about what one woman would do to get revenge on a perceived wrongdoing to her beloved family. Cat wants revenge for having her home stolen from her years before and she’s willing to push the norm to do so. She hasn’t a lot of options so she takes it to the extreme when she meets the hero, Jay. And of course, he isn’t like everyone else and he doesn’t take the sabotage of his house lightly. Antics ensue when they try and one up each other!
Sounds like fun!
Give us more info about your main characters—who are they?
Cat is a jewelry maker, working from home. She’s alone apart from her much adored large orange cat, Elvis. She’s a quirky kinda girl, and uses her knowledge of the old manor home she used to live in, to slow down his renovation. Cat doesn’t count on Jay being a formidable nemesis.
Jay is a slightly stressed property developer who’s selling his business and dealing with his late father’s estate. After the contractors at the house are scared by a ‘ghost’ he sees another problem he has to deal with so comes to see what he can do to swiftly move the build on. He meets Cat who allows him to have a little fun in his life—something that’s been sorely missed over the previous months.
And the plot thickens!
What scene in your book was the most fun to write, and why?
The first chapter is my favourite. Cat in her paddling pool, trying to cool herself off from the heat wave that’s struck Britain, and that’s the first time she meets Jay. And the first time you meet Elvis the cat, too.
How long have you been writing, and what (or who) inspired you to start?
I don’t think anyone inspired me to first start writing except reading fantastic books – I’ve also thought I could do that! Of course, it wasn’t that easy, LOL. I guess I’ve been writing since I was about 11 years old, but I finally got serious in 2010. I entered an online competition and it finally jarred me into doing what I’ve always wanted to do.
Fantastic books are the best inspiration, definitely!
What do you like best about being a writer?
I love getting edits because I know I’ve submitted a product that I love and I’m making it better. I also obviously like getting the ebook completely finished and ready to be marketed.
I wish my students loved edits that much…
What is the most challenging part of being a writer?
Writing the first draft. I find it the hardest, most uncomfortable part of the whole process. It really is a word vomit for me and I need to do it at speed, otherwise I lose momentum and therefore the story starts get stagnant. Over the past couple of years it’s something I’ve come to terms with and realize that this is my own personal way of doing things and it works for me to fast draft.
I totally agree with you there! First drafts are killer…I’m guessing NaNoWriMo works well for you, then…
What are you working on right now? What can readers look for from you in the next year?
I’m working on a magical contemporary for Nanowrimo, and I’m also writing the first book in a new adult paranormal called Domino from the Hell’s Belles series . Lastly I’m editing a contemporary novel as the opening book in a new series called Strictly Business. I’m a busy girl
Nothing wrong with being busy! Busy = more books
What authors and/or books have inspired you?
Books like Hearts Aflame by Johanna Lindsey, How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire by Kerrelyn Sparks, Manhunt by Janet Evanovich… lots of books and authors sit high on my admiration list. As with most writers, it’s hard to pin-point just a few authors/books that inspired you.
Tell me about it!
What are you currently reading?
I have a few titles at the moment… Hot Pursuit by Lynne Raye Harris. Also I’m about to start Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan – just so I can get into the Christmas spirit.
I have Sleigh Bells too–can’t wait to get to it!
Please share a favorite scene from your books with our readers.
This comes toward the end of chapter two in Dirty Tricks. Cat’s hiding in the secret tunnels of the manor house and is preparing to scare Jay, hoping he’ll get the message and leave the house:
Cat closed the small door firmly but quietly, and switched to a tiny peephole located next to the door so she could still keep an eye on him, and stay hidden from view. Cat grinned, almost laughing as she prepared herself for what she was about to do. She counted to three, took a deep breath in, and screamed as loud as she’d ever done in her life.
Jay shot out of his sleeping bag, momentarily getting his feet tangled in it’s confines, then he was out and sprinting in the direction of the bedroom door before she’d even been able to draw breath again. It was all she could do to clamp her jaw shut to stop from laughing out loud. He flung open the bedroom door, then he stopped dead. Turning to look back at where he’d come from, his eyes were frantic and his face white.
Cat almost felt sorry for him. Almost.
“I know it was you.” His voice was shaky and she muffled her laugh again. Jay coughed and she watched as he clenched and unclenched his fists about ten times. “You caught me unawares, very funny.” He took a couple of steadying breaths.
“I’m going over to your house. If I don’t find you, I’ll be calling the police.” Now that made her quit laughing. He wouldn’t dare, would he? She watched him closely as he peered around the room, checking behind the door.
Cat scrambled away from the peephole and down the tunnel whilst she had the chance. Knowing the place like the back of her hand, she took the steps down to the ground floor two at a time, the damp smelling stone walls barely registering. Cat didn’t even make a sound as she ran smack-dab into a cluster of webs, resisting the urge to squeal at possible spiders clinging to her hair. His footsteps pounded against the wood above her as he ran down the stairs and she knew he was gaining ground. Damn it.
The last leg of the tunnel was pure damp blackness at this time of night, and she had to force herself to keep moving forward as quickly as she could. Her hands grazed the rough, stone sides as she run fast, not slowing until she saw the small opening. Pushing through, she found herself in front of the old oak tree in the garden.
Looking around, she was still alone. She climbed through the small, broken fence and into her garden. Cat had barely shut her back door and picked up Elvis, who was yowling for food while clawing at the kitchen cupboard, when the banging started at her front door.
“Shit,” she said, frightening the cat. He dropped from her arms and scarpered up the curtain to perch precariously on the lounge door, watching her with wide eyes.
Cat tried slowing her rapid breath for a moment. She was wrecked and proclaimed herself too old to be running. Her legs felt like jelly and the intense pinching pain in her side made her want to curl up in a heap on the floor and die. Instead, she switched on the hallway light, illuminating the long narrow throughway. Cat ran her shaky hands down her old vest and shorts, rubbing off small particles of house dust and grime she’d accumulated in her trek. Finally, she stepped to the front door and opened it.
His hands gripped the door frame and his large physique filled the doorway. He was livid. Two splotches of red sat high on his cheeks and his t-shirt clung to his chest. Cat’s eyes lingered a moment too long on that chest before she remembered her manners and made herself look up into his face.
“I suppose you think this is funny?”
Cat caught the aroma of his aftershave and tried to dampen down her unwanted excitement. “I don’t know what you mean.”
“Like hell, lady.” Jay pushed his hair back away from his face. Beads of sweat gathered at his temple. “I know what you’ve been doing. And it’s stops. Now.”
“As I said, Mr call me Jay, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Now if you’ll leave, it’s very late.” Cat tried to push at the door, but Jay held his hand against it to stop its progress and pushed back, stepping inside the house, and glaring down at her from over six feet to her five foot four inches. The perspiration that had started with her running, now felt like a river down her spine and the valley between her breasts.
His face relaxed and his blue eyes, once dancing with ice, were now the colour of the Caribbean sea. It made her uncomfortable and she stepped back slightly, completely aware of how sexually attracted she was to him, despite the situation.
“So how come,” Jay bent down towards her face, his lips mere inches from hers, “You’ve got more spider guts in your hair than any sane woman should have?”
Cat’s eyes widened. She did the spider dance; running on the spot, shaking her head, and altogether embarrassing herself. She couldn’t help it after, psychologically or not, feeling her scalp crawl.
A smug smile flashed back at her after bearing witness to her mini spider seizure.
“I’m still denying it,” Cat grumbled, knowing she’d been had.
“Yeah.” His arms were around her waist in seconds and his lips found hers in a crushing kiss that made her knees wobble.
His tongue zoned in on its target and zapped her mind clean of any thought. Before her brain started working again, she was kissing him back. Man, she’d been too long without a man. Strong arms held her against him and she definitely wasn’t resisting.
If her legs felt like jelly before, they were positively mush now.
Her fingers crept into his dirty blonde hair, the silkiness making her shiver in delight. Pushing herself against him, she couldn’t quite get as close as her body commanded. They were both breathing heavy as her hands finally found the hem of his t-shirt and lifted. She didn’t stop, taking it all the way over his head.
Cat realised that shirtless he was sensational. She would’ve given thanks to the god of pecs if she didn’t want to chew on him so bad it hurt. Her hands explored his chest and his mouth kept on devouring her own.
She didn’t want it to end—ever. His touch was bliss, his hard body divine, and those eyes? She could lose herself forever and never want to escape.
Jay lifted her legs to hug his waist and she barely wasted a moment in thinking she shouldn’t have eaten those extra three Oreo cookies. He was hard against her and she was totally ready for him.
He had her pushed against her hallway wall, his hands exploring her breasts under her t-shirt, his tongue doing amazing things to her neck when he stopped.
It took Cat a few moments to notice that everything had halted as she was so far into him. And then he was gently pulling her top down and lowering her to the floor.
He grabbed his t-shirt and hesitated at the still open doorway. “Quit trespassing,” he said softly, not looking around at her, before stepping out into the night and disappearing down her driveway.
Catching her breath and straightening her mussed up hair, she willed her wayward heart to slow down.
Well, shit. That definitely wasn’t part of the plan.
Thanks so much for hosting me today! And don’t forget, Dirty Tricks is currently free at most vendors.
Thank you, Xandra! And thanks for offering your book for free–can’t wait to read it!
Read on for another excerpt, this one from Xandra’s favorite scene to write–chapter one!
Elvis, her cat, nuzzled her foot once more and sat staring at her expectantly. She reached over and stroked him, knowing exactly what he wanted. The cat, bless all his fifteen pounds, was a water critter. If she was in the bath, he wanted in. If he wasn’t such a scaredy cat and realised there was a world outside the back garden, he’d have loved the sea just a couple of hundred metres from the end of her long garden. Yesterday he’d already jumped in to the pool, swimming around the two foot deep plastic expanse.
“Come on, baby.” Her orange monster jumped into her arms and she gently placed him in the water. He was probably as hot as she was. She splashed water over him, enjoying his enthusiasm.
“You do realise there’s a giant hamster in your kiddie pool, right?” The voice startled her and she scrambled around to see a man, standing not a couple of metres behind her, next to her petunias, dressed in a suit. Then all hell broke loose.
Elvis didn’t like men’s voices. The beast jumped up, scrambling to climb the two foot tall wall of plastic, looking like a drowned rat with his long, wet fur clinging to his body and claws that would rival Wolverine’s.
She heard a rip and then she was in a rush of water sliding the couple of metres across her lawn and towards the feet of the newcomer. Cat finally stopped, her ass up in the air and her thick hair, unclipped and around her face.
Catherine sat motionless for a few seconds, not quite believing what had just happened. Elvis mewed at the backdoor to be let in, and a soft, deep laugh began behind her. Cat didn’t know whether to cry at losing her pool, or come out swinging when she listened to that sexy sound coming from the mystery stranger standing above her.
Collecting herself and adjusting the strap to her too tight swim suit, she sat up and turned, staring at the stranger who was now belly laughing at her, his hands braced against his thighs.
Temper rising, she impatiently waited until the laughter subsided. Cat pushed her hair back from her face and adjusted her skewy sunglasses until she could actually see properly. Ignoring the fact he was a blond God, she narrowed her eyes. “Just who the hell are you, and what the hell are you doing in my garden?”
His grin widened and Cat told herself not to be distracted by the very attractive laughter lines around his eyes. “I’m visiting next door.”
That calmed her anger down a little. She looked at him with more curiosity now. “Do you work for Marshall Senior?”
He considered her for a second before answering. “I’m here to try and get the house completed on time and on budget.”
“Well, I guess you’ve heard all the rumours about the house?” Cat said it conversationally, trying to gauge exactly what this guy knew and how she could play on it.
“Ghostly happenings, you mean?” His smile didn’t quite meet his eyes now and Cat felt completely exposed as his gaze travelled down the length of her, still sitting on the floor. “I can assure you, Miss—?”
“Wakely. Catherine Wakely.”
“Miss Wakely, I intend to get to the bottom of whoever is trying to discourage the build.” His blue eyes sparkled as he stared her down and Cat could’ve sworn he already knew the cause of all the mischief, despite her being a careful saboteur. His eyes narrowed a little as their gazes locked and held for a few moments. He wasn’t buying in to all the spooky stuff, apparently.
Well, she might have embarrassed herself in front of him, but the war wasn’t lost just yet.
“There’ve been sightings of a woman in white over at the manor for years. But if you’re convinced you can get to the bottom of it, good luck, Mr—?” Cat made sure to stick her nose up in the air, despite her disadvantaged state.
“Just call me Jay. And I think I can handle the woman in white—whoever she may be.”
“Well, good luck, Jay. I think you’re going to need it.” Cat climbed to her feet, slipping slightly on the sodden grass. His hand reached for her but she dodged it, straightening herself on her own. “Now if you’ll excuse me?” She walked tall towards her house, well aware that her new sexy enemy was watching her every move and was probably seeing her old swimming costume ride high into her curvy backside, too.
“Come along, Elvis,” she whispered as she bent to pick up the soaked animal. “We need to up our game, don’t you think? The mean man doesn’t know what’s gonna hit him, does he, baby?” The animal gave a short, sharp meow in response and she bent to kiss his bedraggled head.
“You need to keep that cat under control. He’s a menace to polite society.” Catherine wanted to ignore his taunt as she opened the back door, stepped inside and almost slipped on the kitchen tiled floor, but she couldn’t.
“Piss off out of my garden!” Cat shouted back at him before she slammed the door, putting the cat down on the cool tiles.
Oh, she was going to enjoy tormenting him. And Cat was going to take a whole lot of pleasure in doing so.
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Multi-published author Xandra James has always wanted to write romance books. Even when she was sneaking peaks at the hot bits, too young to fully appreciate them, she dreamt of writing her own.
Now, older and wiser, she’s got the opportunity to project her slightly dark and wacky, British sense of humour onto others, whilst still writing the hot bits – bonus!
When not writing, Xandra is thinking of excuses as to why she shouldn’t be doing the housework, looking after a husband and cats that refuse to pick up after themselves and climbing the mountain in her house that’s affectionately called her tbr pile.
She currently holds the crown for Queen Procrastinator – something she’s very proud of – so you can usually find her online, somewhere, when she really should be writing.
Adventure…with a dash of romance
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