Friday, November 7, 2014

Making a Bad Girl Good

With: Peggy Bird

Congratulations to Colleen C., the winner in Peggy's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

I enjoy giving myself a challenge with every book I write. Sometimes I give one of my characters a career in a field I don’t know much about so I can learn something—that’s how Marius in “Trusting Again” became a coffee broker. The man I’d loosely based him on was in the coffee business and I wanted to learn more. Sometimes I want to share something I love without beating readers on the head with it—which explains (I hope) my obsession with writing about glass art. I make kiln-formed or fused glass art and love to talk and write about it.

In my latest book, Unmasking Love, however, I took on a bigger challenge. I wanted to make a bad girl from an earlier book my heroine. In “Together Again” Greer Payne had been a thorn in the side of the heroine, Margo Keyes. Greer and Margo worked in the same DA’s office and Margo respected her colleague’s skills. However, Greer was so self-absorbed and almost arrogant she made Margo’s teeth ache. She flirted outrageously with the hero, flaunted her relationship with a questionable man in everyone’s face and assumed she was smarter than everyone else in the office.

By book’s end, because of her error in judgment about the man she was sure was fascinated by her, she had gotten her comeuppance. 

However, for some reason she stuck in my head in a way not many of my minor characters have. And when I began to work on my Holiday for Romance series, I kept thinking about her. She almost demanded I redeem her. So I took on the challenge.

First of all I had to find a way to change her name to one more appropriate for a romantic heroine. That was easy. I already knew the Halloween novel would take place in Ashland, Oregon where there’s a big Halloween parade and a world-class theater company. Romeo and Juliet costumes were a natural for a romance couple so I had Greer reclaim the birth name she’d ditched in high school to avoid the Juliet jokes she hated. Greer became Juliet or Julie, as she came to be known.

Next, I had to get her out of Portland and situated in Ashland. Her boss in Portland telling her she wouldn’t be taking on any big cases for a long time because of her bad judgment and a bad transmission on her Lexus got that done. She would start her new life in a new town with a new name.

Then I gave her a year of reconsidering her past and cleaning up her act. By the time she was throwing a Halloween party to celebrate her first year in Ashland, she’d completely reformed. Or so she thought. Enter the hero. Trace, dressed as Romeo, crashes her party. They chemistry is immediate. But, here, let Julie tell you about it.

For some reason she was happy the Elizabethan hunk wasn’t paired up. She didn’t know why he fascinated her. It was more than his looks—what she could see of them with his mask on—it was something else. She didn’t really believe in auras any more than she believed in magic spirits. But if she did, she’d believe in his. He radiated…something. Something attractive, seductive. Could he be what was tickling the edge of her mind into thinking the night was magic?

Maybe if she watched him for a while she’d figure it out. Luckily he wasn’t paying much attention to what was going on at the party so she had a chance to inspect him without his knowledge. No question he had a great body. Tall and broad-shouldered, he had the best legs, the nicest ass, and, unless his Elizabethan costume included a codpiece, an impressive…well, if she’d forgotten what a well-equipped man looked like, he sure reminded her. If ever there was a reason to bring back men in tights, he was it. 

The mask was a shame. It hid most of his face. More than the Lone Ranger job most of her guests wore, his reached up to his forehead, bridged his nose and skimmed the top of what might be a pair of attractive cheekbones. What wasn’t covered was a strong jaw and a full-lipped, sensuous mouth, eyes almost as black as the mask was, and, topping it all, hair that definitely was, if the bits peeking out of a soft velvet cap with a large feather were any indication.

I’ll let you guess what happens next. But, given Greer/Julie’s past and her luck with men, it shouldn’t be a surprise that it’ll turn out to be more difficult than she anticipated. I’ll gift a copy of Unmasking Love to one lucky person who’ll get to find out!

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Nov. 8th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email with a subject title of JCR GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway.


  1. Love this excerpt. redemmed bad girls deserve a happy ending too- Beautiful cover too with the masks. yenastone at aol dot com

  2. I enjoy seeing characters get the chance to be better and find happiness... sounds good! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Sounds interesting

    Bn100candg at Hotmail dot com

  4. Loved Unmasking Love. I'm a Shakespeare fan, but he was never as much fun as you are in telling Julie and Trace's story. And you're right--converting those bad girls is a challenge, but you nailed it in this one!


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