Saturday, February 27, 2010

Book Dive #4: BLUEST HEART

Title: Bluest Heart
Genre: Contemporary Western Romance
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Release Date: January 2010
Available In: Ebook

Series Note: This is another addition to TWRP's Wayback, TX continuation series. It is also Book II in the Wayback Ridge trilogy. More than a year after Blackest Heart's release, anticipated sequel Bluest Heart was launched. (Thankfully, readers won't have to wait as long for Book III!)

Heat Rating: This is the first time my published titles shifted from "spicy" to "hot." Probably because of some early "action" between the h/h. Book III, Bet It On My Heart, also received a "hot" label. (On TWRP's rating scale, stories that are more than "hot" are sold on their erotica site, The WILDER Rose Press.)

Original Title: I wanted to continue the "Heart" theme. The funny thing I discovered about these titles is that although the trilogy is centered around the Ridge family, Blackest Heart is named for hero, Judd Black, instead of Ridge daughter, heroine Stella. In turn, Bluest Heart is named for heroine Josie Brusky instead of hero Casey Ridge, one of Stella's lovable brothers. Originally, I wanted this book to be called "Heart of Stone" because of Josie's tough shell. But this title was already taken. I bounced ideas off of writing friends and approached my editor with "Heart So Blue." She came back with Bluest Heart. It's as fitting as Judd's Blackest Heart because though it may seem Josie as a "Heart of Stone", it's because of her rough past and her inability to put her trust in anyone's hands, even cowboy sweetheart Casey.

Why A Sequel? I didn't plan telling Casey and Keefe's stories. In truth, I didn't know if western romance was a genre I would want to explore. But I loved writing Blackest Heart and after a helpful push from a CP, who wanted secondary character Casey at least to find love, I took the trilogy plunge. Although the Wayback line is ending and there are no more Ridge family stories to tell, I know for certain that I will be venturing west again for another family saga. (I actually have two trilogies in the works - one contemporary, one paranormal - as well as a single-title historical western, a tie-in to stories written by some familiar faces around here: Marguerite Arotin and Abbey MacInnis.)

Cover Artist: Tamra Westberry

Awards: Nominated "Best Book of the Week" by LASR

Hero: Casey Ridge

Hero Occupation: Ridge Range ranch hand/cattle driver (second in line to inherit) and prize-winning rodeo calf-roper

Hero Description:
She smelled beer on him, too, but it didn’t overwhelm the scent of his subtle aftershave. The low-key aroma drove her crazy. Like a dog sniffing another in heat, she was immediately aroused. Worse, he was grinning at her. The dimple in his chin deepened and the laugh lines dipped into his cheeks. Her heart pattered eagerly. He’d let his hair grow out, like he used to. Needle straight, the hay-colored strands fingered his eyelids. His face and torso were the same tan hue. Honey-toned, she’d thought so long ago when she’d gotten a gander under his button-up shirt and faded Levi’s.
This Ridge boy’s single purpose was to drive her into lusty insanity. She could look all she wanted but to break down and touch him again…there would be no turning back from that.

Hero's Stunt Double: Gabriel Macht. A while back, there was a movie called American Outlaws, based on Jesse James' posse. Gabriel played James' (Colin Farrell) brother, Frank. It isn't hard to imagine this cutie as a cowboy hero after watching this western. Gabriel also has a "nice guy" quality that has followed him through his movie roles. (Anybody remember his turn as Mandy Moore's hero, Johnny, in Because I Said So? It's also not difficult to measure Gabriel up to Casey's working man physicality after seeing him masquerade as a superhero in The Spirit.)

Hero's Greatest Strength: Casey's a "good boy" but - like sister Stella - when it comes to wanting something, he works until he gets it. He's been waiting for Josie for a decade so needless to say he doesn't give up on anything. And he always gives one-hundred percent, no matter how long it takes.

Hero's Greatest Weakness: This one was hard. Casey isn't perfect, but he's so noble and lovable, it's hard to find a fault in him. Most of all, I think Josie is his weakness. She stretches his patience (and no wonder, after ten years of convincing). When it comes to family dynamics, he craves peace, which is why he usually winds up mediating between more drama-oriented siblings, Keefe and Stella.

Hero's Astrological Sign: Libra (This sign is: Charming with a great love of beauty and harmony.... Know how to appreciate the various pleasures of life, and they are naturally kind. Because they are even-tempered, they can be very social and diplomatic, and they are the most empathetic of all the signs... Everlasting search for balance... Loathe the conflicts in life... The ultimate team players, always functioning better when they are paired up.)

Heroine Name: Josie Brusky

Heroine Occupation: Honky-tonk singer, owner of Josie's Treasures - Wayback's gift shop, barrel racing rodeo competitor

Heroine Description:
Her curly, red hair spilled out of the back of the hat. He could just make out the flash of her whiskey-colored, bedroom eyes and the trademark mole at the base of her left cheek. The crowd loved her. So did the spotlight. She might not have had the strongest voice, but it was pretty enough. The song choice was perfect, plenty of attitude. That was Josie, all right.
Heroine Stunt Double: Rachel McAdams. Plenty of attitude as well as vulnerability, which fits Josie to a T.
Heroine's Greatest Strength: Her ability to adapt. Josie's led a hard life and yet she's managed to jump hurtle after hurtle. The thing I admire most about her is that she rises above rumors of her "bad girl" behavior. Small town gossips are the harshest and though it may hinder some aspects of her life, she's not afraid to be who she is. One of my favorite aspects of her relationship with Casey is that he is the one man she refuses to go to be with. She refuses to lead him on because he's the only one she cares deeply about. It's her acknowledgment that he deserves better.
Heroine's Greatest Weakness: Repels weakness. To her, Casey Ridge is a weakness because she has trouble resisting him. Though she has no doubt he's the one man she can trust with her heart, she's lived with barriers so long she doesn't know how to open herself to him completely. Although she rises above those who spurn her past life, she doubts her own worth, which is another reason she steers clear of Casey. To her, he's everything that is good while she is the opposite. Feels as if the only way she can be strong is by striving for independence.
Heroine's Astrological Sign: Pisces (This sign is: Able to adapt emotionally to any environment. Their symbol is a pair of fishes, one swimming above the other in the opposite direction. Likewise, they possess some duality in their personalities. On the one hand, they can be kind, compassionate, sensitive, and very understanding, but like to keep their true emotions under wraps, placing great focus on their inner journey. Pisceans are very easy-going and would rather wait for their problems to sort themselves out than face them.)
What Sets This Book Apart: It's the good boy versus the bad girl, which offers entertainment for readers. The thing I didn't expect was the healing arc, the same from its prequel, Blackest Heart. It's also the inner journey of Josie discovering her own worth and breaking through her own armor to accept an honorable man in her life.
Favorite Scene: The first time Casey tells Josie he loves her. The scene is the third act dark moment of the plot and it is simultaneously heartbreaking and inevitable. When picking favorites, I'm all for the light-hearted moments (and when Casey turns on the charm, there are plenty of them) and usually steer clear of the sadder parts of the story. But something about both Casey and Josie in this scene latched onto my heart.
The Wayback bachelor is a dying breed, but that doesn't stop Casey Ridge from wanting to settle down. For this cowboy anyone but Josie Brusky would be an easy wrangle. Unfortunately for him, the Blue Bug singer and owner of Josie's Treasures doesn't believe in commitment much less marriage.
Years ago, Josie lost her heart to Casey's charm and dimpled smile. Since then she has done everything she knows to forget him. After all, she’s known as the local harlot and the daughter of the town’s biggest bigot. Casey could have any girl he wanted. Why would he saddle himself with her? In the wake of a shattering past, she refuses to give up her independence.
Casey digs down deep to win her over, but does he have what it takes to win Wayback's bluest heart?
What People Are Saying:
Bluest Heart is a romance that inspires feel-good tingles in all the right places. Author Amber Leigh Williams has created a story with characters readers are bound to adore and remember. What a fantastic story! Ms. Williams managed to snare my heart and wretch every bit of emotion possible from it. Tightly written and hits the emotions like a freight train. Cowboy fans will love Bluest Heart, and if they are anything like me, will make a direct trip to The Wild Rose Press to purchase the preceding story, Blackest Heart. Don’t miss out on this one, folks. You get romance, heartache, and a whole lot of making up for lost time.- Long & Short Reviews

I recently read Amber Leigh Williams's Bluest Heart and highly recommend it along with her previous novella in the Wayback series, Blackest Heart.
- Author Crystal-Rain Love


Mary Ricksen said...

You got me! I have to have this book and wait the others too!
Good luck!

Amber Leigh Williams said...

Wonderful! I hope you enjoy it!

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Ambrer.
Bluest Heart sounds wonderful. I love anything to do with cowboys even though I'm an Aussie.
I am sure you are going to have another best seller on your hands. I've added it to my gigantic to buy list.


Amber Leigh Williams said...

Thanks, Margaret! I enjoyed interviewing you at The Roses of Prose. Thanks for visiting :)