Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hardball by V.K. Sykes

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After years of hard work and keeping her nose firmly to the grindstone, Dr. Holly Bell has finally achieved her dream: a position as a pediatric surgeon at a prestigious teaching hospital. Children’s lives rest in her skilled hands. That means total dedication to her work and her patients without letting anything or anyone get in the way. And a hot affair with a superstar athlete is most definitely getting in Holly’s way.

Nate Carter, star pitcher for the Philadelphia Patriots, has the world in the palm of his baseball glove. He’s at the height of his game, a west coast team is about to lure him with even greater riches, and the most gorgeous women in town are in full pursuit. Nate has everything he wants, or at least he thinks he does, until he meets the beautiful and brainy Dr. Holly Bell. He’s totally up for a hot affair, and Holly turns out to be the hottest.

But will Holly be willing to play his game? When the lovely doctor starts changing the rules, Nate realizes he just might be playing for keeps.

About V.K. Sykes

V.K. Sykes is a husband and wife writing team – Vanessa Kelly and Randy Sykes. Together, they write sexy contemporary romance. Their first book, CaddyGirls, was published last year by Carina Press. Vanessa also writes Regency-set historical romance as Vanessa Kelly for Kensington Zebra, and has been named by Booklist as one of the new stars of historical romance. You can find her on the web at www.vanessakellyauthor.com.


When the doorbell finally rang, Holly stuck her eye against the spyhole just to make sure it was him. Nate stood on her front porch, hands in his pockets, looking like he’d walked off the cover of some men’s fashion magazine. She leaned her forehead against the door for just a second. She actually felt a little light-headed.

Shaking away the crazy sensation, she opened the door.

For a moment, Nate didn’t say a word. He stood there and did a slow appraisal, a leisurely up-and-down movement of his eyes as he took her in from head to toe.

“Well?” she ventured, feeling intensely shy.

He reached for her hand and raised it to his lips for a lingering kiss. “You look as beautiful as a summer sunrise, Holly. The way your hair tumbles down onto your shoulders makes that amazing dress even more perfect on you.”

She blinked at the unexpected flowery compliment, wondering how many other women he’d practiced on before he’d perfected a fluid line like that.

Stop it, Holly. Take the compliment!

“That’s a beautiful thing to say, Nate. And you look fantastic yourself.”

She was no expert on men’s clothes, but a true expert had tailored Nate’s lightweight gray suit. It draped his long, lean body perfectly. A black shirt, open at the neck, and black Italian-looking loafers complemented the suit. The outfit accentuated his rugged, tanned features, and Holly had no doubt most women at the banquet tonight would lock onto him like heat-seeking missiles.

Nate gave her a little bow. “Would you care to take my arm, Doctor?

“Why, thank you.” She slid her hand over his bicep, delighting in the feel of the rock-hard muscle under the silky material of his expensive suit. “Lead me to your conveyance, sir.” She smiled when she saw the sleek machine parked by the curb. “I have to say I’m pumped to finally get a ride in an Aston Martin,” she confessed, abandoning her attempt at sophisticated banter.

The prospect of a drive up the freeway in the DB9 sent a flutter of excitement along her nerves. Maybe if she and Nate hit it off tonight, she’d muster up the courage to ask if she could drive his wildly expensive baby home. Not that she would likely have any success. Men were often nuttily protective about their cars. Her dad had been like that, and Nate was probably the same.

He popped open the passenger door and turned to help her into the seat, but Holly slipped past him and walked to the front of the car.

“Wow.” She gave a low whistle as she stroked her hand across the sleek nose of the famous British sports car. “What a beauty.”

Nate stared at her, not at the car. “You can say that again.” His voice was low and slightly rough, and that was even more thrilling than his sweet ride.

Interview with V.K. Sykes

What will readers like about your book?

It’s a fast-paced, sexy book with a very hot hero, and an appealing heroine who is both vulnerable and strong. Holly and Nate come from completely different backgrounds and lead very different lives. But they have mad sexual chemistry, and they also discover they genuinely like each. Lots of obstacles stand between them, so it’s fun to see how they work it out.

Why did you self-publish?

Hardball is a bit outside the box. It’s a contemporary romance, but it also has a fairly significant suspense element woven into the plot. This kind of book is often hard to place with a traditional publisher, but fits very nicely into the indie publishing landscape. Vanessa also has an indie short story published under her name. Self-publishing is perfect for that kind of fiction, too.

What is your writing process?

We brainstorm the plot and characters together, then Randy goes off to write the first draft. After we verbally work through any problems with the story, Vanessa does a thorough revision of the draft. Then it’s back to Randy for a final polish before we send it out to our critique partners. After they’ve worked it over, we incorporate the necessary changes, do a final polish, and then we’re good to go.

How long does it take you to write the first draft?

It depends on the book. Usually 4 months for the contemporary romances. But we’re also writing some romantic suspense books, and those take longer to produce a first draft.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

Randy’s love of baseball. We thought it would be fun to write a story with a pro athlete as a hero, and it was! Teaming Nate up with his complete opposite – a buttoned-down children’s surgeon – really gave us lots of opportunity for sparks and conflict, and even more heat!

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