Monday, August 18, 2008

Line of Scrimmage

Author: Marie Force
Published: September 2008 (Sourcebooks)
Category: Romance
Rating: 9/10

Line of Scrimmage doesn't waste any time, as the book starts with Susannah, our heroine, dining with her fiancé and future in-laws when her soon-to-be ex-husband drops his cowboy boots in the foyer. Ryan Sanderson, the boot dropper, is a famous quarterback and has just won his third Superbowl, but he wants his wife back, and is going to spend the last ten days of their marriage to show her he's a worthy husband.

I couldn't put this book down and I did tear up a couple times because it shows a couple working through their difficulties with such heartbreaking detail. Susannah and Ryan started having serious problems when she miscarried and they couldn't share their grief with one another, so they started drifting apart. When they're together again, they talk through their feelings from that terrible time and get closer than they were before. Of course this wasn't just a tearjerker, as there were plenty of times where I chuckled.

You'd think the book would be pretty thin if they get together by the end of ten days, but there are more conflicts layered on. Susannah has to deal with her fiancé, who was her friend since she was a teen, and he's always been hoping for her marriage to fail so he could have her back again, feeding her with ugly thoughts about Ryan. Then Ryan is set up a couple times and the evil fiancé makes him think that Susannah is too good for a guy with a low class childhood. You'd think it would be too much conflict, but it really worked and I think Force found a great rhythm.

Ryan is the perfect guy. He knows he's made mistakes and wants to work it out and thinks his wife is the perfect woman for him. I'd usually say that I wish he were mine, but I liked Ryan and Susannah so much that I'm glad their story ended so well. I will definitely be reading more Marie Force; she has another book coming out next year.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Line of Scrimmage - Author Q & A

I've been a huge fan of romances involving football, like Susan Elizabeth Phillips' Chicago Stars series, so when I heard about Marie Force's new book, Line of Scrimmage, I had to find out more. In short, it's about an NFL quarterback whose wife is about to divorce him because she's sick of being number two to his career. He realizes he misses her and demands they spend the last ten days of their marriage together or he'll call off the divorce. My actual review will follow in the next couple weeks as I've just gotten it. In the meantime, check out this Q & A with Marie Force:
  1. Where did you get your inspiration for Line of Scrimmage?
    I had a vision of cowboy boots landing in a foyer, and I knew they weren’t welcome there. The rest of the story sprang from that vision. Ryan’s boots land in Susannah’s foyer while she’s entertaining her fiancé and his parents. To say her soon-to-be ex-husband is unwelcome at this event would be putting it mildly. With just ten days until their divorce is final, Susannah thinks she’s home free until Ryan shows up and “blackmails” her into spending their last days as Mr. and Mrs. together. It all goes back to the boots!

  2. Not only do you go into detail to describe plays, there’s a lot of player-to-player interaction that seems pretty authentic! What kind of research did you do for this book?
    Thank you for that compliment! As someone who never really. . . um . . . liked football all that much, it was a huge surprise when the Muse presented me with Ryan. Since I’m big into baseball, I tried to remake him into a star shortstop, but Ryan wasn’t willing to be reinvented. He was every inch the NFL quarterback, so I immersed myself in football during the 2006 season. My husband was thrilled (not) with my newfound interest and the litany of questions I peppered him with during the games. I also relied on my brother and a girlfriend who are football fanatics to make sure I got the facts right. As for the dialogue between Ryan and his teammates, I wish I could say I visited a locker room or two and hung out with big, sweaty men wearing skimpy towels, but in reality my goal was to have their interaction reflect the way guys talk to each other in general, not just in football.

  3. Susannah seems so certain that she will be happy with her new fiancé, Henry, but Ryan is goes above and beyond to prove that they are meant to be, which brings about a lot of conflict. What was your favorite part about creating this tension?
    Writing Ryan in all his over-the-top glory was so much fun! I love the way he talks down to Henry even though he’s scared to death that Susannah is really going to pick Henry over him. One of my favorite parts of the book is when Susannah is telling Ryan that he could have any woman he wants, and he says the only one he wants is the one right in front of him. “You can’t have me,” she says. “What part of that don’t you understand?” To which he replies, “Um, the ‘can’t’ part?” He pulls this intentionally obtuse routine with Henry, too, which makes for some major fireworks between the two men vying for Susannah’s heart.

  4. Even though Ryan could have any woman in the world, he chose Susannah back when they were in college. While he was able to go forth in his career, Susannah takes a back seat, doesn’t finish school and supports Ryan (for as long as she can). What do you think this aspect of the back story added to their divorce?
    When she left school to marry Ryan, Susannah was young and in love and under the impression that love would get them through any challenge. The series of events that led to their separation taught her that sometimes love isn’t enough. This is especially true when you’re competing with your husband’s larger-than-life career, public image, and sex-symbol status. I made sure Susannah spent the year she and Ryan were separated reestablishing her own life and figuring out who she is without him at the center of everything.

  5. Henry, Susannah’s new fiancé, while wimpy and conniving, has always been second fiddle to Ryan. Do you think some of his initial actions are justified because he wants to be with Susannah, a woman he’s been in love with since high school and had always “been there” for (as he feels)?
    Absolutely! Henry has loved Susannah since they were in high school and is on the cusp of having everything he ever dreamed of with her when Ryan shows up. Henry, who was Susannah’s high school boyfriend, is definitely nerdy, but his conniving side comes out in full force when he realizes Susannah might be capitulating to Ryan’s campaign to win her back. Susannah broke up with Henry after she met Ryan in college. Since then, she’s thought of Henry as a friend and never paid much attention to his passive aggressive behavior when she and Ryan were together. Ryan, however, was well aware of Henry’s obsession with Susannah and refers to him the “third person” in their marriage.

  6. What advice would you offer to aspiring writers?
    Perseverance is the key to this business. Before I sold, my motto was: “The only thing I know for sure is if I give up, it’ll never happen.” No one else is going to do it for you, so you have to stick with it no matter how many lumps you take, no matter how many rejections you receive or roadblocks you encounter. If you want to be a writer, WRITE every day. Nora Roberts has a great quote about how you can’t edit a blank page. It’s so true! Don’t get caught up in activities that take time away from your writing. I’ve learned to say no to a lot of things. I only volunteer in my kids’ schools, for instance, if the activity directly involves them. Finally, keep writing while you’re waiting to sell. “Line of Scrimmage” was the seventh book I wrote and the first one I sold. The third book I wrote will go next. “Same Time Sunday” (and it’s not about football, despite the name) will be out next spring. How glad am I that I wrote a lot before I sold? Very glad! Sometimes it takes a while to find an agent and an editor who “get” you. I’m thrilled to have both now.

  7. What else do you do other than write?
    I have two children, a daughter who’s 13, and a son, who’ll be 10 in October, and they keep me busy! My family would say I don’t do much besides work the day job and write at night, but I also read something every day, even if it’s just a magazine or the newspaper. I love to spend time at the beach, but my favorite way to pass a summer day is on my dad’s boat with my husband and kids as well as my brother’s family. We have a good time out there! I wrote about my love of the water on my website at if you want to read more. After ten years of living away from the Northeast when my husband was in the Navy, I’ve also developed a whole new appreciation for snow days. I used to hate snow! Now, it’s a lovely excuse to light a fire and write, write, write all day while the kids play outside.

  8. What’s next for your writing?
    I’ve been writing about “Line of Scrimmage” all summer! :-) I’m working on the second book in a suspense series, and I have a fun idea for another single-title contemporary. I knew this was going to be a crazy summer, so I gave myself a few months “off” from new projects. Now I’m ready to get back to the WIP!

  9. What are you currently reading?
    I brought back a box full of fun books from RWA National. I’m looking forward to “Sugar Daddy” by Lisa Kleypas (who was sooooo nice); “Say Goodbye” by Lisa Gardner, a member of my RWA Chapter and a lovely person; and “Nightkeepers” by Jessica Andersen, another chapter friend. I just finished Brenda Novak’s Last Stand series, and I loved it. Of course, I recommend all my Sourcebooks Casablanca sisters’ books! You can view the fabulous covers and read more about the books on our Casablanca Authors Blog at

  10. What’s your writing process? When do you write best?
    I learned at a recent chapter meeting that I’m a “linear pantser.” I don’t do outlines, plotting, or storyboards. I start with the germ of an idea (such as “the boots”) and go from there. I write, go back, re-read, edit, think, write some more, and then repeat the process. I keep all the various threads in my head, which will no doubt explode some day soon, and somehow end up with a decent first draft that doesn’t require much revising. I’d have trouble teaching someone to write a book the way I do it. It’s one of those “don’t try this at home” things. I write at night and on weekends—and only after the day job is done, the laundry folded, the kids played with, the lunches made, etc.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Breaking Dawn

Author: Stephenie Meyer
Published: August 2, 2008 (Little, Brown)
Category: YA/Paranomal Romance
Series: Twilight Saga #4
Rating: 7/10

I just happened to be next door to Barnes and Noble at 11 p.m. on Friday, August 1st, so Josh caved and went to the midnight release with me. I felt like I'd been cheated out of the whole midnight release experience with Harry Potter, so I figured I'd go to this one. Wow, what a mistake. Getting the book wasn't a problem. It was getting home that sucked, as my train stopped running at 12:01 a.m. and Josh was angry with me for wanting the book ("What difference does it make if you get the book the next day?!"). He says he's never going to another one of these things with me.

I know a lot of bad things have been said about Breaking Dawn, and how some readers hated it so much that they want their money back and are pledging never to buy another book by Stephenie Meyer (my money's on those people going to the library instead). Um, if you see a movie you don't like, do you ask for your money back? I was satisfied with the book, maybe a little surprised at times, but I was happy with the ending, which happened to leave it open for future books. The 7/10 is mostly for the middle of the book, which is narrated by Jacob, my least favorite character, and the ultra-dramatic emotions going on at the time.

Monday, August 04, 2008

The MacGregor Grooms

Author: Nora Roberts
Published: 1998; Reissued July 2008 (Silhouette)
Category: Romance
Series: The MacGregor Family
Rating: 8/10

This is the last of Nora Roberts' MacGregor stories, as her contract ended before she finished writing about the rest of Daniel MacGregor's grandchildren. The three stories in The MacGregor Grooms have heroines that choose to push away the handsome, charming MacGregor men, all to save their hearts from breaking.

My favorite of the three was D.C. and Layna's story. D.C., the bachelor artist, is of course, determined not to get married like three of his female cousins just did (in The MacGregor Brides). Daniel (Grandpa) asks D.C. to do him a favor and escort Layna to a charity event, but no worries, it's not one of his matchmaking schemes, because Layna is absolutely not for D.C. Daniel says he doesn't think they're a good match. Of course, that makes it easier for D.C. to fall for Layna, and Daniel knew it'd work out that way.

The MacGregor books are great for a cozy, heartwarming read. Unlike a lot of Roberts' other books, the MacGregor stories are all about the relationship without her usual suspense elements.