Author Archives: Administrator

Sweet Bliss – Teaser

Chapter 1

Fourteen months ago

This is going to be so freaking good…

Rich, creamy strawberry icing. Decadent chocolate cake. My mouth salivates and my stomach rumbles as I go for a bite of what is probably the worst breakfast choice ever – a cupcake, plucked fresh from the display case of my bakery, Lovely Cakes.

I’m running late for a meeting with a potential client who wants to order a whole lot of cupcakes for a corporate gala. Of course that’s great for business, but running late, not so much. And honestly, I am never late, but this morning has turned out to be one I’d rather start over. After stumbling out of bed way too late courtesy of a late-night crazy-hot romance read and an alarm that never went off, I’ve spent exactly three minutes in the shower, two minutes frantically putting on clothes and makeup, and zero minutes drying my hair. To top things off, the elevator in my building was conveniently out of service and I had to race down seventeen flights instead. Mentally I give myself a high-five, pleased that I have made it this far in one piece. Hence my breakfast choice. Just something to hold me over during the meeting, I reason.

I’m texting my client to let her know I’m running ever so slightly behind while I’m gobbling up the cupcake and power-walking in stilettos down the crowded streets of Chicago’s financial district. So of course it’s no surprise when I run straight into something. Someone, that is. A head-on collision.

The cupcake ends up half in my mouth and half on my nose; the strawberry icing conveniently spreads in between. To add embarrassment to an already messy situation, my feet stumble back and I lose my footing, tripping backwards and landing on my ass. Awesome.

This morning keeps getting worse. I’m beyond annoyed.

“For the love of cupcakes, watch where you’re–” Going is what I’m about to say, but that’s before I lock eyes with the knee-wobbling, head-spinning, mischievous gaze of a man.

Delicious.

Sexy.

Stranger.

Honestly, the cupcake doesn’t even compare.

I may be a closet romance junkie, but I’ve never been a believer in love at first sight. Until just now. Okay, fine – I know it can’t actually be love, but god, I’d like a bite of that. Or a few. Calm down, my rapidly beating heart; this must be an apparition. It’s not physically possible, but he is the most stunning man I have ever run into. Not that I’m in the habit of running into men, or people in general. Normally I am the epitome of grace. Except right now, it appears.

“I am so sorry,” the sexy stranger says, and the sound of his husky voice does funny things to my body. “I shouldn’t have been texting and walking. Let me help you up,” he offers as he reaches down to me.

“Umm … ouch. I’m … okay,” I stammer. So much for my usual suave self. Normally words come so easily to me, I swear. I must have a concussion from the fall; that’s it. Except I didn’t actually hit my head. Nope, I’m undone by his rugged face, his captivating eyes, and his apologetic smile.

I reach out and take hold of his hand, and the soft yet firm touch of his fingers jolts me. As he pulls me up, I lose my balance again, and my body collides with his. As if instinctively, his arm reaches around my waist to steady me. Just as instinctively, my palm presses against his abdomen. Jesus, his abs are harder than the Rockies.

Our faces are mere inches apart, our lips nearly touching, his breath of air mine, my breath of air his. Right now I can’t even spell the word “cupcake.” But I can with certainty spell out this: mischievous eyes gaze at me; dark, short-at-the-sides, messy-on-top hair tempts my fingers to play with it; just enough stubble, like he could do something about it but chooses not to, frames his square jaw; and those lips … that bottom lip, in fact, whispers “taste me.”

I can’t help it. My thoughts impulsively wander to what he would look like naked, without his black suit and crisp shirt. His fresh, just-showered scent is intoxicating.

He shifts awkwardly, and I realize a few things:

First, I’m still clinging to a stranger I fell into like an idiot.

Second, before he moved, I think I felt something hard. Down there. Maybe.

Third, I have cupcake all over my face.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” the stranger asks with genuine concern.

“Umm … hmm.” This is getting ridiculous. I can speak. Perfectly fine. Just apparently not right now.

“Here.” A grin lights up his face as he pulls a tissue from his pocket and gently wipes the icing from around my lips, clutching the back of my neck to steady me. Which apparently has the opposite effect, since it weakens my knees. I have to remind myself to keep my eyes from closing and to not lean into the comfort of his hand.

“There, much better,” he acknowledges, after taking what seem like a couple of very drawn out minutes to get me cleaned up. And then it feels like time stands still. He’s just smirking and staring. Blatantly. Like he’s absorbing me. Inhaling. Exhaling.

“God, you smell like strawberries and chocolate. My favorite.” He grazes my lower lip with his finger, and I nearly tremble from the shivers that travel all the way down to my toes. If I was unable to move a moment ago, I am now barely able to breathe. I feel as though I’m about to melt like icing on top of a just-baked cupcake.

Two things come to mind right then.

One: Who says that to a complete stranger?

And two: God, I want to hear him say things like that to me over and over again. Preferably while we’re naked.

And so I don’t move at all, I don’t dare to blink. I just drink in this Prince Charming who appears to have become my whole world within a mere moment. He is absolutely stunning. No one in my fantasies has ever compared. No one has even come close. This moment – it is pure bliss.

Just when I think nothing can ruin it, a car horn brings me back to reality. Client meeting!

I pull from his hold and mumble, “Umm, thanks … gotta go … running late.” Really smooth.

I turn swiftly, utterly embarrassed, and start to walk away, but all the while I have this strange feeling that his eyes are following me. Even his unseen stare is giving me goose bumps. I’m seriously contemplating sprinting so that I can get out of the bubble I suddenly feel trapped in.

I’m not some swooning girly-girl, I swear. I’m a responsible adult who owns her own business and makes decisions based on logic and research and… Ugh! It’s just that no one has ever had this effect on me. Only this incredibly sexy, deliciously fuckable stranger. Clearly I need to get out more.

“Hey, wait!” I hear him yell, and I turn back hesitantly. What could he possibly want now?

“Don’t forget this.” He jogs toward me, holding my phone. “I guess I wasn’t the only one walking and texting,” he teases. His closeness, his scent, and that damn sexy smile overwhelm me once more.

“Right … umm … thanks,” I mumble, again, and I feel my cheeks blush. By now they must be the color of ripe strawberries. I snatch my phone away less than gracefully and fumble with it between my fingers. No, this cannot possibly get any more embarrassing. “Later, stranger,” I blurt out, but I realize almost instantly the chances of seeing him again are pretty slim.

“Later, cupcake,” he replies, still smirking, as he takes a few steps backwards before finally turning around and making his way back through the crowd. And I just stand there, frozen.

Minutes pass before I finally manage to get a hold of myself. Well, probably not minutes exactly, but it sure seems like it. And then my phone buzzes, a meeting reminder confirming that I am now very, very late. I start jogging, a skill only black-belt stiletto-wearers like me have mastered, but as my steps take me farther away, I can’t stop thinking about those smoldering eyes and the delicious bottom lip that I really, really want to bite. The stranger’s face is embedded in my mind and I am … Smitten? Love-struck?

Crazy.

I may be in danger of losing a client this morning, but at least my fantasy life has taken a turn for the better. This delicious stranger has just shot up to the top of my book-boyfriend roster. Maybe I am a bit of a swooning girly-girl after all.

Find Your Passion … then Follow It

“How did you ever find the time to write your novel?” is one of the questions people ask when I tell them that my debut contemporary romance novel, Sweet Bliss, is being published. To answer that, I have to rewind a bit.

Unwritten, by Natasha Bedingfield, used to be, and still is, my go-to song. I like to think of life as an unwritten book — blank pages that you get to fill in with whatever storyline you dream up. Almost ten years ago, that dream was to become an accountant. I know what you’re thinking: Borrring. Well, I became one, and for a few years I was content and passionate about my career of choice. I had job security, a great paycheck, yada yada yada. But…

Surprisingly, or perhaps not at all, I realized being an accountant wasn’t all it was hyped up to be. I realized that passions evolve and multiply. Passions make life more vibrant, bring happiness, and define us as a person. You write the story of your life a certain way, but as you flip the pages, the storyline changes over time.

I love my husband; I adore my girls; I enjoy teaching, traveling, and cooking; and yes, most days I even enjoy my day job. But a couple of years ago I realized that I’m also passionate about writing. I’d got back into reading after taking a bit of a detour (read: became a parent — twice). I’d remembered how much I loved getting lost in a good book and living, vicariously perhaps, through fictional characters. That’s when I realized that I wanted to try it myself — I wanted to write. Once I started, it was like I found a missing piece of myself. The storyline and the characters I developed gave me an opportunity to escape into an alternate reality. Writing was my outlet, another thing that added to my bucket of “happy.” Like one of my favorite authors, Penny Reid, has said, “Do what it takes to be happy and be a source of happiness for others.” So I did.

How did I ever manage to fit it all in? It may seem impossible to do so without going crazy (and there were days that were most certainly cray-cray, I admit). But if it’s something you love, you’ll make the time. You’ll dedicate a few hours each night or day to yourself and surround yourself with people who support you, who want to see that dream of yours become a reality. It may require a few boosts of espresso or a spoonful or two of Nutella to keep you going, but you can always catch up on sleep later — that’s the one thing you can miss out on in life and not ever regret.

It’s never too late to pursue your passion, whatever that passion may be. Professional mattress jumper, ice sculptor, Elvis impersonator, robot counselor, or blimp pilot. Seriously, just go for it. Strive to find that next adventure in life. And once you find it, hold on to it. Pet it (in a non-weird kind of way). Most importantly, have fun with it. You never know where it will take you. Because life truly is unwritten.

I hope you enjoy Sweet Bliss, which obviously is most definitely written, and is available anywhere fine books are digitally sold. If you’d like to lose yourself in a world that’s lighthearted and sexy and live vicariously through some pretty fun fictional characters, you should go one-click that baby right now.

The Road to Publishing Sweet Bliss

“How did you decide to write a book?” is a question I often hear when I tell someone I’m going to have my debut novel published this fall.

The thing is, I’ve always loved reading and writing. But somewhere between high school and now, life happened and took me in a direction that didn’t involve a lot of reading and writing. Well, not the fun kind, anyways. So one day, after having a thought of a story simmer in my brain for several weeks, I decided I would give creative writing a try. Just for fun. Just to see if I could actually do it. A friendly challenge from me to myself.

When I put the first 10,000 words on paper, I thought, “Huh, that wasn’t so hard.” At 20,000 words, I thought, “That’s almost half way to 50,000. Why stop now? I might as well finish this … whatever it ends up being.” And the story kept on growing. In my head, and on paper. At near full count, I thought, “Wow, I’m actually going to do this.”

When I finally wrote “The end” in my manuscript, I did some amazing cartwheels (in my head, at least, because I can’t actually do those in real life) and then slept. Writing is exhausting. Especially when you do it in the wee hours of the morning. My husband was both excited and relieved. Excited because of what I’d accomplished; relieved because he’d finally have his wife back. Or so he thought…

The twelve-plus months it took me to write my manuscript were so much fun. It was my “me” time. I don’t think I ever seriously thought I would make it to the finish line. But I did, and once I did, I couldn’t help but wonder, “What do I do next?” and also, “Am I crazy to think there is a next?” Because let’s be honest, “next” only happens to like 0.0847% of the aspiring writers population (okay, I totally made up that number, but you get the point).

So off I went on the road to finding a professional editor. That’s when I stumbled upon Jenny. Really, stars aligned. Jenny and Meghan started Tryst Books and were looking for new, promising manuscripts. Jenny loved Tessa, my main character, saw potential in my writing, and decided to take a chance on me. Am I ever thankful that she did!

After months and months of editing, re-writing, more editing, and proofreading, Sweet Bliss was finally done. Almost two years to the day since I started it all. It wasn’t until I saw the final cover version that it felt real. Like, “I wrote a book and it’s actually going to be published” real.

I’m feeling the jitters, for sure. It’s scary as hell. Because people are going to read my novel. But also, I’m smiling. (I’m pretty sure I walk around with a ginormous grin plastered on my face all the time). It’s extremely rewarding and exhilarating – I may be seriously inclined to go through all of this again. Oh, the story lines that are swirling in my head. Please don’t tell my husband.

I hope you enjoy Sweet Bliss when it finally hits the digital book shelves. I promise it will be sassy. And sexy. And sweet. I can’t at all be held responsible if it makes you crave cupcakes, sugar, and sexy times.

I know some of you will adore it, some will like it, and others will wonder how it ever made it into the publishing world. But that’s okay. Really, it is. Because in the end, it’s the journey that counts. And I loved every single minute of mine.

Thanks for reading!

Helena