Wednesday, June 25, 2014

(Blog Tour) Suddenly Last Summer by Sarah Morgan: Interview, Review, and Giveaway!

Title: Suddenly Last Summer
Author: Sarah Morgan
Series: O'Neil Brothers, #2
Published: June 24, 2014 (Harlequin)
Rating: Staying in Tonight
Format: Digital review copy provided as part of the blog tour. (Thanks!)
Summary: USA TODAY bestselling author Sarah Morgan introduces another irresistible O'Neil brother who's more tempting than dessert and twice as sinful!

Fiery French chef Élise Philippe is having a seriously bad day. Not only have the grand opening plans for her beloved café fallen apart, but Sean O'Neil is back in town and looking more delectable than ever. Memories of the electrifying night they shared last summer leave Élise very tempted, but she knows all too well that eventually Sean will be leaving…again.

Being back in Vermont—even temporarily—is surgeon Sean O'Neil's worst nightmare. Returning home to the Snow Crystal Resort means confronting the guilt he feels about rejecting his family's lifestyle years ago. But discovering that Élise is still in Vermont and still sets his blood racing is a very welcome distraction! Remembering last summer and how good they were together is going to make walking away more difficult than he could imagine….
I was so, so excited to take part in this tour! My introduction to Sarah Morgan was when I read the first book in this trilogy, Sleigh Bells in the Snow, in December, and I couldn't sing its praises highly enough. Obviously I was ecstatic to return to Snow Crystal and read Sean and Élise's story.

Sean and Élise had one previous smoking night together after which they'd never really interacted, and that was fine with them. It was refreshing to see both parties with a modern attitude about sex and what it entailed, and that it had actually worked for them. Had being the keyword there. But then circumstances changed. Sean came back for an extended period of time, and that just blew the plan out of the water. As two complete commitment-phobes, Sean and Élise weren't prepared for a full-out relationship, and for their own reasons, neither wanted one. Watching them fumbling their way into love and a relationship and all those wonderful things was by turns amusing and touching.

Now, I know I talk chemistry a lot, because that happens when you focus on romance novels and YA books with a strong romantic element. But you guys, Sean and Élise brought it to a whole new level! (And spoiler alert: There was outdoors!sex involved at some point. You're welcome.) They also delivered some hilariously awesome banter. Observe:
“You said you wanted a man to perform heroics. I was planning on finding something heroic to do on the walk.” He let go of her arm and adjusted his pace to match hers. “You might want to stick around. You’re about to see a tough, macho man of the forest in action.”

“Does a tough, macho man of the forest always choose to dress in a suit?”

“A bear tore my loincloth when we were wrestling.”
I also really liked both Sean and Élise individually. They were both damaged, ambitious, successful, and a host of other things. They were complicated. They were real. Sean had problems with his family. Élise had problems from her past. But I empathized with both of them even when I was frustrated (with Sean especially), and I could always understand their motivation.

I can't review an O'Neil book without mentioning the O'Neil-and-friends clan, because that's still one of my favorite elements about these books (as you will see in the interview below). The close-knit community feel continued in Suddenly Last Summer, and I loved every scene where the family interacted.

While it didn't quite top Sleigh Bells in the Snow as my thus-far favorite of the trilogy, Suddenly Last Summer definitely held its own! It was a beautiful story set against a breathtaking backdrop of Vermont in the summer, and I enjoyed every moment of it. Now, if only I could build a time machine and get my hands on Tyler and Brenna's story, I'd be a completely happy camper.

Now, it's time to learn more about the fabulous Sarah and this awesome book she's written! She has graciously stopped by for an interview.

USA TODAY bestselling author Sarah Morgan writes hot, happy contemporary romance and her trademark humour and sensuality have gained her fans across the globe. She has been nominated three years in succession for the prestigious RITA© Award from the Romance Writers of America and has won the award twice, in 2012 and 2013. RT Book Reviews has called her 'a magician with words' and she has made numerous appearances in their 'Top Pick' slot. Sarah lives near London, and when she isn't reading or writing she loves being outdoors, preferably on vacation so she can forget the house needs tidying. She loves chatting with readers by email and on Facebook and Twitter. More information can be found on her website.

Sharon: First of all, Snow Crystal has quickly jumped up onto my List of Top Fictional Places. Do you have a real-place inspiration, or is this magical mecca of snow and nature a creature of your imagination?

Sarah Morgan: It’s a mixture of real and fictional. I’ve always loved mountains, snow, lakes and forest and I took certain aspects of places I’ve travelled to, combined them and created Snow Crystal. One of the many benefits of being an author is that you are in charge of the setting. Although Snow Crystal itself isn’t real, certain elements are real. I like to think this place exists somewhere. If anyone finds it, please email me!

Sharon: I think my favorite thing about the O'Neil books is just that: The O'Neils. I love how much importance you place on family - and that family does not only mean those related to you by blood. Is this a dynamic you intended to explore with these books?

Sarah: I wanted to write about a close-knit family and the rest of it just happened. I’ve always been fascinated by how family impacts on a person, how it can produce both conflict and support. The dynamics within the close-knit O’Neil family certainly influences the choices of all three O’Neil Brothers. You know that the women they fall in love with will have a lifetime of big, noisy, possibly exasperating family gatherings ahead!

One of the great things about writing longer novels is having the opportunity to explore not just the close up relationship of the hero and heroine, but the interaction with other family members and friends. It’s about showing how they fit into the wider community. For me, that makes the story more real and part of the focus of each of these stories is showing the family welcoming new members.

Sharon: Élise, our heroine, is a French chef who can whip up anything from a madeline to an eight course dinner without batting an eye. Did you do any research on cooking or recipes for this book? If so, did you discover any new favorites?

Sarah:Writing this book made me so HUNGRY. Truly. Although Élise is French, I wanted her cooking to reflect the local area and the produce she’d be likely to favor, so I did plenty of research. As a result of that I now have at least four brand new cookery books from Vermont on my bookshelves. That is one area of research where my family was keen to take part!

Sharon: I must say that it was a delight watching two such startlingly resolute commitment-phobes as Sean and Élise fall for each other despite their best efforts. Their chemistry was smokin'! How did you write such an interesting dynamic?

Sarah:I loved the idea that Sean and Élise had spent one steamy night together but never taken it further. Both of them think they have their feelings under control but of course that belief has never been challenged because Sean’s work is in Boston and he has his own reasons for spending as little time as possible in Snow Crystal. The fun came in throwing them together so they no longer had distance as a protective barrier. I loved seeing their relationship develop and watching two very independent people gradually relinquishing some of that control.

Sharon: Thank you so much for stopping by today and answering my questions. It was a pleasure having you! (And may I say...I am so excited for Tyler and Brenna's book! October cannot come quickly enough, and not only because I'm already sick of weather over 85 degrees. ;) )

Sarah: Thank you for having me! I’m excited to see Tyler and Brenna’s story, Maybe This Christmas, on the shelves too. This story has the same snowy, wintery feel as the first book, Sleigh Bells in the Snow, and an ending I’ve been dying to write ever since I started this series.

Now, don't go away quite yet! Last but definitely not least, we have a giveaway!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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