A Pink Heart Society Exclusive
PHS shares something you won't find anywhere else! An exclusive interview and excerpt from The Sullivan's Sons Series, courtesy of author and columnist Kristina Knight.
This month, PHS takes a look inside the upcoming series, The Sullivan's Sons, from authors Elley Arden, Kristina Knight, and Katie Kenyhercz. Set on Anna Maria Island in Florida, it features three brothers.
I’m interviewing Elley Arden, who wrote the first book in the series, Home on Anna Maria Island.
Kristina: Could you start off by telling us a little about the book, Elley?
Elley: Home on Anna Maria Island is the first book in a new series, The Sullivan’s Sons, which is a continuity written by three authors. While each book tells the story of a different couple’s journey to living happily ever after, they also further an over-arcing story line. So, to get the most out of the series, you’ll need to read all three books, starting with Home on Anna Maria Island. It tells the story of the youngest Sullivan brother, Gavin, an overweight third baseman for the Pittsburgh Privateers, who pursues a beautiful up-and-coming curve model as a distraction from recent stress in his family life. Emerson Raye isn’t interested in a relationship, but she wouldn’t mind capitalizing on the publicity that goes along with dating a professional athlete. Right off the bat their budding relationship prompts a media frenzy, but harsh criticism about their weight follows. It might not seem like the best environment for love, but facing the adversity, and learning to laugh through the storm, brings Gavin and Emerson together in a seemingly inevitable way… Until secrets revealed tear them apart.
Kristina: This book is the first in a series that you conceived. How did you come up with the idea?
Elley: I’ve heard of a few families, in football particularly, who are almost dynasties. Fathers played, sons play, sometimes even grandsons play. The dynamic and wealth in a family like that intrigued me, so I envisioned a man—Howie Long was my basic inspiration—and imagined him with three sons who were all professional athletes. Knowing I wanted to bring other authors into the project, I thought it would be fun to cover multiple sports, so the Sullivan boys play football, hockey, and baseball. I also wanted to explore the idea of the perfect, high-profile family with a startling secret that could stike a real blow to their fairytale image. In this case, I knew the secret would have something to do with a child who’d been placed for adoption. With little more than that rough information—I didn’t even have character names yet—I approached my first-choice authors, Kristina Knight and Katie Kenyhercz. To my joy, they agreed to work on the project with me. After that, we fleshed out the details, with Kristina and Katie doing valuable work to breathe life into this cast of characters, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Kristina: Why set the books on Anna Maria Island?
Elley: I spend a couple weeks on the island during spring training every year as my husband is an Major League Baseball team physician. Since I started going down to Anna Maria Island, I’ve wanted to feature the magical location in a book. It’s the perfect setting for a sports romance because there are so many Spring Training spots nearby. Besides, there’s nothing more romantic than meeting and falling in love surrounded by beautiful beaches and breathtaking sunsets. The place is pure inspiration. I actually sent the email proposing the idea of this series to Kristina and Katie while I was on Anna Maria Island last year. Home on Anna Maria Island is as much a love story of this amazing island as it is of an amazing couple.
And now for the fun stuff! Here is a sexy excerpt from Elley’s book, Home on Anna Maria Island, which releases January 31!
They ate dinner at the end of the over-sized table, Gavin at the head, Emerson at his side. Breaded grouper with a citrus cream sauce, crisp salads, and red skin potatoes. The night was warm. The wind was calm. And lanterns, votives, and running lights cast a magical glow over the deck as the yacht moved slowly out to sea.
They talked about her career. They talked about baseball. He teased her for never having been to a single game.
Emerson bit into a potato and hummed happily.
“Are you singing?” Gavin asked, his eyes smiling at her from over-top his second glass of champagne.
She felt safe enough to come clean. “It’s a quirk. When something tastes good, I hum. I’ve done it since I was a kid.”
“It’s cute,” he said, taking her off guard.
“Cute? I’ve had people call it weird, but never cute.”
“How about hot? I think it’s hot, too. I like a vocal woman. I like to know when she’s pleased.”
Emerson’s eyes widened, and her pulse quickened. He certainly had a way with words. “Are you a player, Gavin Sullivan?”
He raised a brow, thought about it, and said, “Definitely. I’m a baseball player.”
She rolled her eyes and bit back a laugh. “That’s not what I meant.”
“I know. But how’s a guy supposed to answer that? If you’re asking, it means you have doubts about whether or not I’m a nice guy who really just wants to see where this chemistry leads. If I say I’m not a player, will you believe me?”
“I think so.”
“I’m still hearing doubt. What if I say I’ve never invited another woman on this boat, will you believe that?”
Her jaw dropped. “No way. Why wouldn’t you use this to your advantage?”
“Because I’m not a player,” he said, adding a head nod for good measure. “Nothing brings on the gold diggers like a player with a yacht. No thanks. I’m just looking for a good time with a good woman who’s happy eating tacos by my pool.”
She smiled. “And yet, you brought me here.”
“It was a careful calculation. I only have twenty-eight days you. Less than that now. I gotta go big, before you go home.”
“Good strategy,” she said.
“So it’s working?” he asked, leaning forward on his elbows, tilting his head in her direction.
“Have I told you how beautiful you look tonight?”
“Laying it on a little thick, don’t you think?”
“Never.” He locked eyes with her before he dropped his gaze to her lips. “And, one more thing …” He inched closer until she felt his warm, sweet breath on her face. “Temporary or not, I don’t want to be like those other guys.”
She fought the urge to close her eyes.
“You have an amazing body, but I like what’s on the inside even better,” he said.
And when he brushed his lips across her mouth, she surrendered.
Emerson had been kissed before. She had a modelling career full of air kisses, double-cheek kisses, and the occasional, friendly smooch on the mouth. She also had a personal life spattered with overeager, often rushed kisses that were nothing more than prerequisites for the main event.
Gavin Sullivan’s kisses weren’t like anything she’d ever encountered.
He took his time, eliciting pleasure with more than his mouth. His hands grazed her neck, his thumbs stroked her jaw. His fingers threaded through the fine hairs at her nape. And all along, his mouth explored her mouth. Lips to lips. Tongue to tongue.
He tasted like butter and sweet champagne. He smelled like citrus fruit and sandalwood.
She leaned into him and whimpered. Her hands gripping the collar of his linen shirt. Her body burned. Her brain urged her to crawl into his lap and settle in for a long, slow, mind-blowing ride. And she was seconds away from obeying when above them, someone cleared his throat.
“Sorry for the interruption.”
Emerson jerked back.
“Dessert?” the man asked as he set shell-shaped bowls of sorbet in front of them.
Gavin didn’t move. He didn’t take his hungry eyes off Emerson. “Thank you,” he said to the man. “That’ll be all for tonight.”
Looking into Gavin’s eyes, Emerson’s heart rate tripled. She wanted him. Even if it made her vulnerable. She wanted this. Even if it was a fantasy.
When the man left, Gavin grinned and reached for the silver spoon beside her bowl. “Dessert?” He dipped the spoon into the single scoop of light-colored sorbet and lifted it like he might feed her, but then, with an even brighter grin, he brought the spoon to his own beautiful mouth and licked it clean. “Lemon,” he said, his voice warm and deep.
She opened her mouth, and, for a split second, was afraid her throat was too dry to speak. “I like lemon,” she said, watching him help himself to another bite.
This time he set the spoon down and inched closer, so close she could feel the cold on his tongue and smell the lemon on his lips.
“Want a taste?” he whispered.
She wrapped her arms around his powerful shoulders and pulled him in. Their lips locked. Their tongues tangled. He shoved his hands beneath her thighs and guided her onto his lap. Skirt riding high. Heart beating fast. She settled over his erection, biting back a moan as he nipped at her jaw and rubbed erotic patterns up and down her back. And then, he was licking her ear, tugging her lobe, sliding his hands along the silk of her dress to her stomach and the underside of her breasts.
Emerson tipped back her head, and her eyes fluttered open to the starry sky. Was it awful to pray during something like this? Because she wanted to. She wanted to pray for this to be real.
Elley's Home on Anna Maria Island releases January 31, 2018, and is available for pre-order January 15. Kristina's book, Lost on Anna Maria Island, comes out February 6 and Katie Kenyhercz's book, Found on Anna Maria Island on February 13. For all the details check out Kristina's website and follow her on Facebook, and Twitter.