Today Wild Women Authors welcomes Luanna Stewart, author of Whole Lotta Love, part of the Welcome to Serenity Harbor anthology. This one is guaranteed to put another five pounds on your waistline just reading it!
First up is Lotta Wilson, baker extraordinaire. Where are you from? Born and raised in Serenity Harbor.
Tell us a bit about Whole Lotta Love. My best friend’s wedding was in about two weeks and I was in charge of baking all the sweets and The Cake. When the plumbing went bad at my bakery, causing half the electricity to short out, I called a contractor for help but he was busy. He got his buddy to stop by to check out the damage, and that was Mitch.
What did you think the first time you saw Mitch Calhoun? I didn’t recognize him at first – I hadn’t seen him since high school. And boy, had he grown up nicely!
What was your second thought? Even though he made me nervous, everyone makes me nervous, I felt like we’d known each other our whole lives and I could trust him.
That is so sweet. Was it love at first sight? Not at the time, no. But thinking about it now, then, yeah, definitely. Not just that zing you get when you’re physically attracted to someone, but a deep understanding that he understood me.
A rare gift, Lotta. What do you like most about Mitch? Besides his cute butt? His sense of humor, and his closeness to his family.
How would you describe him? Tall, strong, handsome, intelligent, funny, supportive. Sounds like the perfect guy, right? He’s definitely my perfect guy.
How would he describe you? I think of myself as painfully shy, so that’s probably the first thing he’d say. I’m a good baker. Gah – this question is making me uncomfortable, I hate talking about myself.
What made you choose owning a bakery as a career? I inherited The Trellis Bakery from my favorite aunt. Growing up, I spent all my spare time at her place, helping out, learning to bake by watching and doing. I enjoyed the creative process and didn’t even consider doing anything else.
What is your biggest fear? Losing someone I love, and having to live without them.
How do you relax? I read. I enjoy all sorts of books, but my favorite genre is cozy mysteries.
Who is your favorite fictional character and why? Miss Marple, hands down.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received? Stop worrying about tomorrow.
This has been lovely. Thanks, Lotta. Now we must move you over and bring in Luanna.
What movies or books have had an impact on your career as a writer and why? I was raised to read whatever I pleased, and so when I discovered romances at about age 10, I was hooked. I loved being transported to other times and places, and still do. I try to bring that feeling of escape to my own stories.
What event in your private life were you able to bring to this story and how do you feel it impacted the novel? The painfully shy element in Lotta’s character is all me.
Tell us a bit about your publisher: how did you hear about them and what influenced your decision to submit to them? This story is in an anthology that a group of us are self-publishing – my first foray into that scary/thrilling world.
What project[s] are you working on now? I’ll have an historical romance, If Wishes Were Earls, coming out in March, 2017 (available for preorder on Dec 12th). It’s the story of a woman discovering her preconceived notions are all false, especially about the yummy hero, a lonely earl who’s given up on finding love.
What's up next for you? I’m madly editing another historical romance, the first in a series, which I’ll send to my publisher any second now, hehe.
Luanna brought along an excerpt from Whole Lotta Love for us:
A vehicle drove into the driveway as Lotta chopped chocolate for the ganache. Perhaps the inspector was earlier than planned, which would mean the guys could get working sooner than expected, and she wouldn’t have to worry about The Cake becoming a complete disaster. Despite all Marcy’s assurances, she wasn’t convinced the bakery would be back to rights in time. Waiting for the doorbell to ring, or for a knock, she jumped when Bella gave a woof. She turned to see Mitch stepping into the kitchen.
“I brought lunch.” He placed two steaming bowls on the table before searching for cutlery.
“You didn’t have to do that.” Why was he here? To take care of her? Gah, she hated being babied. She wasn’t sick, she simply preferred to be alone. Most of the time. Truth was, she did get lonely. Bella wasn’t much of a conversationalist. She gave excellent cuddles, but not such great advice.
“I needed to eat something besides sugary sweets, and you’re too busy to cook. Do you have napkins, or do you use paper towels like I do?” He winked. A flutter filled her chest that had nothing to do with panic.
He pulled out two linen napkins and raised his brows in question. “Aren’t these for special occasions?”
She smiled sheepishly. Others would think her silly, but she liked using her aunt’s damask napkins, and she liked ironing them so they were smooth and crisp. She might dress in second-hand men’s shirts, but she liked dressing her table in pretty linen, fine porcelain, and silver cutlery. “No, they’re the ones I use. But you don’t have to—”
“Come and get it while it’s hot.” He pulled out a chair.
She hadn’t eaten all day, except for tastes and nibbles while baking, and something did smell delicious. She rinsed chocolate dust from her hands and sat in the chair he held. Heavens, this was civilized. One might think they were on a date. She ducked her head to hide her embarrassment. Sure, Mitch Calhoun asking little Lotta Wilson out on a date. And the pigs were flying in on their annual migration.
“My mom knew your aunt. Used to buy her bread.”
Lotta used the excuse of having to chew and swallow her mouthful of yummy stew to delay answering. Of course there would have to be small talk. They couldn’t sit here and eat in complete silence like cows chewing their cud. Too bad she hadn’t turned on the radio as a distraction. “Aunt Florence made fabulous bread.”
“Mom was saying it’s too bad you didn’t keep up that side of the business.”
“Aunt Florence had two people working with her.”
“How come you don’t? I imagine you’d have plenty of customers. Not that you’re doing badly with what you’re doing.”
“Hmm…” If she gobbled down her lunch maybe he would leave and they could stop talking about her bakery. And why it was smaller than it used to be. And why she worked alone.
“I was wondering, that’s all. Have you ever had employees?”
Oh, for heaven’s sake.
“I like it the way it is, okay? I don’t need to make heaps of money, I’m not starving. I prefer to keep the bakery small, so I can run it on my own. I’m not comfortable having tons of people around.” She stared at her bowl, no longer hungry.
He reached out like he was about to touch her but rested his hand on the table. Being touched by him would have been nice. But also scary. But also nice.
“That’s cool. I was just curious. I didn’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable. Marcy said—damn.”
“What did Marcy say?” Oh, God, what had Marcy told him? When had they been talking about her? Why had they been talking about her? The stew in her stomach turned to cement.
“I was concerned, I called her and mentioned your—incident. She explained about your panic attacks, that’s all. In strictest confidence.”
Damn. Blast. Who else had she told in strictest confidence? “I told you I was fine. You should have left it alone.” She let her spoon clatter into the bowl and crossed her arms over her chest. She hated this conversation.
“I couldn’t do that. I was worried—”
“Why? Why are you worried about me? You don’t know me.”
“I’d like to.”
“What? You’re not serious.”
“I’m very serious. I think you’re cute. And funny, when you relax.”
She pushed from the table and strode to the window. He thought she was cute? Well, that made it mutual because he was the cutest guy she’d ever seen. But he couldn’t be serious about wanting—what? What exactly did he want from her? She turned and rested her butt on the windowsill. “So, you want to go out on a date or something?” She snickered. Right, that was going to happen.
“I’d love to. Are you asking me out?” He leaned back in his chair, that dimpled grin lighting up his eyes again.
“No, I thought you were asking me out.” The flutter in her chest spread to her belly.
“Lotta, will you go out with me?”
“Where?” She frowned. Why was she continuing this conversation? She had no intention of going out with this guy. He was too—everything.
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To purchase, Whole Lotta Love and the other Serenity Harbor stories, go to: