Sunday, 25 May 2014

Review & Interview: How to Win a Guy in 10 Dates by Jane Linfoot

How to Win a Guy in 10 Dates
The 10 Date Challenge
Day 1: Take one loaded commitment-phobe explosives expert, embarking on the impossible–a challenge to have ten dates with one woman.
Day 5: Add in a fiercely independent and feisty burlesque teacher who has sworn off men.
Day 10: She’s so not his type and he’s so not in her life-plan. But the heat is sizzling and the attraction is explosive. And they’re fighting it all the way…

Shona's review 4 of 5 stars

How to Win a Guy in 10 Dates is a quick read full of fun, steamy sex and heart tugging moments.  This isn't my first novel by Linfoot and I have to say I love her writing style, it's so easy to slip between the pages and get completely involved in her world.

I didn't like Ed to begin with. Here we had a serial womaniser, who took delight in never bedding the same woman more than twice, embark on a bet/challenge to date a woman without falling in love. The fact that he never once disclosed the dates to Millie led me to believe he was trying to 'fix' the challenge from the very beginning. The fact that he chose a woman who openly admitted to being a man free woman only verified my opinion. This was the only reason I didn't hate him. If he had gone into this actively trying to get her to fall in love with him for a bet I don't think I could have carried on reading. When he actually realised that all might not be as it seems with Millie and tried to do the right thing by her I started to warm to him. Perhaps he wasn't the bad guy he tried to portray.

I liked Millie instantly, this girl I knew was going to run rings around Ed and make him work for attention. But even Millie isn't all that she seems to be on the surface. We all have a facade that we put on for the world to see, one that we hope that will become the real us if just enough people believe it. And this is what Millie is doing, fiercely trying to be independent in the hope that she will one day be independent and able to lead the life she wants.

The reason I haven't rated this 5 stars is because I felt a teeny bit cheated. The beginning of the story felt rushed. Ed and Millie had barely met, had met up a few times that were over almost as quickly as they had begun, definitely not anything I would call 6 dates but Ed was picking Millie up from the airport and declaring to himself this to be date #7. I had hoped that by this point we would know a bit more about the couple and maybe perhaps had another of those explosives kisses.
However, the weekend in France was amazing and this is where the story really picks up and makes up for the almost nothing dates that came before. This is where the dynamic of the relationship changes and Linfoot sets both characters alight with passion that you can almost feel coming off the page.

At this point it would be easy to ride the book to the end of the story using the chemistry between Ed and Millie and showering us the readers with a barrage of steamy sex scenes but Linfoot takes it in a different direction. While we may get the steamy sex scenes we also get a fully developed story. With tear inducing moments and everything. Something I honestly wasn't expecting.

Hi Jane, welcome to Book Ramblings of a Neurotic Mom. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
 I’m Jane Linfoot, and I write fun, flirty fiction, with feisty heroines and a bit of an edge, for Harper Impulse romance.
I live in a muddy part of Derbyshire, with with my family, our cats and our old English sheepdog, Yoyo. Our cottage is at the top of a hill, and was built in 1755, so it’s quite dark inside, with lots of beams, and lots of cobwebs – like most writers, I’d rather write than do the cleaning. It helps to like spiders if you live here!
Because we’re up a kind of mountain road, when it snows we get snowed in, and we have to dig our way out, so this winter has been great as we haven’t been stuck in once. Luckily we are in walking distance of a supermarket! For me, writing romance means I get to wear pretty shoes, which is a big bonus. The rest of the time I’m mostly in wellies, because I do lots of dog walking and gardening.

Do you have a day job as well?
I trained as an architect, but I moved on to doing up houses rather than working in offices, because it fitted in well with having three children. But when the property slow-down hit, I suddenly found I had time to write the romance I’d always dreamed of. I get a big kick out of anything creative, and my writing seems like a natural extension of that.

Can you describe your writing room/space?
Beams, cobwebs, muddy boots, stone flagged floor, lots of chaos (see above). I write at a big table in the room between the kitchen and the rest of the house – dining room is too posh a name for it – and that way I’m always in touch with family life. According to my family, I have the ability to go deaf when I concentrate.

Where do you get your ideas?
As a writer you learn to soak up everything around you, and store it to use later. It might be a snippet of conversation you overhear in a queue at a bar, something you read in a borrowed Closer magazine over coffee, a sentence you catch on late night TV...and the nuggets can lie for years before you use them. In real life I get a thrill from things that are out of the ordinary or surprising, and that comes through in my writing too.

Ed the hero of How To Win A Guy In 10 Dates is an explosives expert. Believe it or not, over the years I’ve had two different neighbours who worked with explosives, so I got to know quite a bit about that from chatting with them. And one time we were on holiday in Provence wandering around a very picturesque village we came across some guys setting up a firework display outside the local chateau. When I was looking for an unusual career for a hero an explosives expert seemed like a good choice, and the french memories merged nicely with that too, as you’ll see if you read the book.

Do you work with an outline, or just write?
For me the early stages of putting together a book is like building up a collage from lots of random fragments that have been rattling around my head. I begin with a mass of ideas, then gradually fuse the different strands together.

I definitely like to draft out an outline of the story before I begin. I write pages and pages of notes, really fast, all in caps, as somehow this frees me to get the ideas down. I carry on with this until I have the basic structure in place. It’s important to have the characters, and the story, and the conflicts, and the plot sorted out before I start. Once I begin to write the first draft I have a pile of A4 paper with hand written notes of snippets of conversations, which form the basis of scenes. I’ll write a scene or two, then go back and rework and build them up. It’s quite a slow way of working, but it means that by the end of a first draft my novel is fairly clean and well formed.

Do you ever experience writer’s block?
When I’m working on a novel I make the best progress if I write every day. If I grind to a halt I find a dog walk in the woods will make the ideas flow again. If I have to break off midway through a novel it’s hard to get started again. If this happens I make myself write even if it’s like wading through treacle. I may only write two hundred words all morning, but it’s still progress in the right direction.

Who designed the cover?
All the Harper Impulse book covers are designed by the wonderfully talented Alexandra Allden, who is a designer at Harper Collins. As authors we do a cover brief, giving details from the book, then our fab editor, Charlotte Ledger gets together with Alex, and they dream up the covers. It’s so exciting to see what they come up with. I’ve met Alex, so she knows I love shoes, and she has this wonderful talent for producing the most amazing covers. Everyone comments that they’d love to have the shoes from the cover of How To Win A Guy In 10 Dates, and the legs too! The shoes were originally black but Alex photoshopped them to red. Wouldn’t it be fab to be able to do that in real life? I actually found a similar pair in blue in a charity shop in North Berwick in Scotland for a fiver, so I had to buy them. When How To Win A Guy In 10 Dates was nominated for the best e book at the Bedford festival of Romance, I wore them for the Awards Dinner, with some black lacey tights. It seemed like a fun idea to go dressed as my book cover!

How did you come up with the title?
The publishers have fairly strong ideas about what they want to call a book once they get their hands on it. Kimberly Young at Harper Collins came up with the title How To Win A Guy In 10 Dates, because she loved the 10 Date theme. But I always like to have a fun working title of my own, and How To Win A Guy In 10 Dates was actually on my desktop as The Big Bang Theory of Dating, because Ed, the hero is an explosives expert and even before writing the book I knew the chemistry between Ed and Milly was bound to lead to big bangs.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
For me the hardest part of writing is always the end of the book. By then I’ve spend so long with my characters and become so attached to them that I hate the the idea of finishing the book and not hanging out with them every day. So as I write the last chapter I should be happy to be at the end, but invariably I have tears streaming down my face, simply because I know I’m going to be saying goodbye.

Will you have a new book coming out soon?
The print version of How To Win A Guy In 10 Dates was released on 8th May, and then the print version of The Right Side Of Mr Wrong is coming out on 26th June.
And I’m hoping that Bryony from The Right Side Of Mr Wrong will be getting her very own story soon too!

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