She’s his one weakness…can he buy her love?
Mitch Carter's a hard man. He's clawed his way up from Buffalo's gutter through a combination of ruthlessness and stark loyalty to become the King of Prospect Avenue. But when he sees lovely Tessa Verdun, a crack appears in his tough veneer. He wants her for his wife even if making it happen requires coercion, dirty dealing, and a touch of blackmail.
Mitch is the last man Tessa would choose to wed, but he's forced her into marriage, even though she's ready to give her heart to another man. Now he tries to win her with lavish gifts and watches her with veiled passion in his eyes. But when everyone else turns against Tessa, it's Mitch who's there offering strength. And when vying factions in the city place Tessa in danger, it's Mitch for whom she longs, though loving such a man is certainly a tough prospect.
Wild Women Authors is pleased to welcome back author Laura Strickland and the latest addition to her very popular Buffalo Steampunk Adventure series: Tough Prospect, a current release out of the Wild Rose Press. First up is Mitch Carter.
Where are you from? I’m from the gutter, quite literally—found on a street here in Buffalo as an infant, and taken to Carter’s orphanage. Probably dropped by a whore, don’t you think? Damned if I know.
Tell us a bit about Tough Prospect. Well, you know I’m the kind of man people talk about in whispers, because they’re half afraid to say my name out loud. I take that as a mark of respect. It might be a backwards kind of respect, but that’s better than none. I dragged myself up out of the gutter, and made good. Now they call me the King of Prospect Avenue, because I own most the street. People say I’m a tough prospect. They even say I don’t have a heart. I guess Tessa Verdun proved that wrong.
What did you think the first time you saw Tessa? I thought, Damn, she’s beautiful. I want her.
What was your second thought? I’m gonna have her.
No fuss, no muss. Was it love at first sight? Hell, I don’t even know what that means. Love didn’t come into it between me and Tessa, at least not at the beginning. I know I fell for her a lot quicker than she fell for me. So no, I guess I’d have to say I don’t believe in love at first sight. Lust, yeah.
What do you like most about her? She’s got class, something I never really acquired, for all my money.
How would you describe her? She’s smart, and brave enough to stand up to me. She’s a lot stronger than she thinks she is.
How would Tessa describe you? As a right bastard, I expect.
What made you choose property ownership as a career? I didn’t really choose it, did I? I worked hard at crap jobs, and when I saw an opportunity to invest and maybe make good on something, I went for it. Buying one house and renting it out led to having the money to buy up another. I had to make money, because I needed to get the boys who were in Carter’s orphanage with me out of there. I wouldn’t leave a mean dog in that place.
What is your biggest fear? I don’t like the dark. Nobody who was shut into a dark hole as a kid, for punishment, would.
How do you relax? Ha, what’s that?
Who is your favorite fictional character? I don’t read well enough to enjoy books.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received?Don’t take you eyes off your enemy, or he might stab you in the back.
Mitch, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. We'd like to chat with Laura.
What movies or books have had an impact on your career as a writer? I absolutely love the books of Terry Pratchett. They are infinitely original and wonderfully off-beat.
What event in your private life were you able to bring to this story and how do you feel it impacted the novel? It’s funny you should ask. This story was actually inspired by a song, written and performed by one of my favorite artists, Richard Thompson. The song’s called “Cooksferry Queen”, and I dedicated Tough Prospect to Mr. Thompson, in tribute.
Tell us a bit about your publisher: how did you hear about them and what influenced your decision to submit to them? Tough Prospect is my twenty-fifth book with The Wild Rose Press! They have been immensely supportive of my tendency to genre-hop, and my editor in particular encourages all my crazy book ideas. I happened to find them by chance, online, and what a fortunate day that was for me!
What book[s] currently rest on your TBR pile? I’m trying to find time to read fellow Wild Rose Press author Penny Burwell Ewing’s Jingle Bells and Krampus Spells. It looks great.
Lastly, what's up next and when can we expect to see it on the shelves? My next book due up is the third and final book in my Hearts of Caledonia Trilogy, called Noble and Blessed. Not sure when it will be out. I’m hoping for early in the new year.
Laura brought along an excerpt from Tough Prospect for us:
“No, Tessa.” He sat up straight and clasped his hands together. “We’re going to get to the bottom of this, have it out.”
“Have what out?”
“Don’t play dumb, you’re not dumb. I’m talking about how you act toward me, how you feel toward me.”
She gave a hard laugh. “I should think that would be obvious.”
Yeah, it was. Real obvious. But it couldn’t go on much longer before Mitch snapped. He said, trying to sound patient, “We’ve been married two weeks. You’re gonna have to reconcile yourself to it.”
“Well yeah. We live in the same house. We should be sharing a bed. What’s it going to take?”
Tessa bared her teeth in a grimace. Tears filled her eyes. “It will never happen.”
“The deal was I should marry you. Only that.”
For an instant, Mitch felt totally helpless, a condition he didn’t tolerate well. Indeed, he’d worked hard since his days back in the orphanage to guarantee he’d never feel that way again. And now here came this woman with her hands on his heartstrings, hating him.
“But…” he began.
She leaned forward in her chair and lowered her voice even though no one else in the house could hear. “I know what you are, Mitch Carter. A tough. A brute, a lowlife. You may have blackmailed me into marriage. That doesn’t mean I’m ever going to like it.”
To purchase Tough Prospect, go to:
The Wild Rose Press: https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/all-titles/6350-tough-prospect-a-buffalo-steampunk-adventure.html
To learn more about Laura Strickland and the books she creates, to to: