Saturday, November 23, 2013

Guest Blogger Bru Baker

Please welcome fellow Dreamspinner author Bru Baker, who has bravely answered my infamous Rick Reed
questions and is going to tell us about her newest release, Island House! Make yourself at home, Bru, I'll get the brew!  lol

The Questions

1)      You’re marooned on a small island with one person and one item of your choice—who is that person and what item do you have?
My first instinct is to answer a boat and someone who knows how to pilot it! I think I'd go insane on a remote island. I don't do well with boredom and I'm always busy with something, so my idea of a nightmare is being stuck somewhere like that. Now, if we suspend disbelief and say that the small, deserted island has electricity and wifi, I might be able to deal. In that case, sign me up with Ryan Gosling and my laptop.

2)      Which musical would you say best exemplifies your life – and which character in that musical are you?
Not many people know this, but I actually hate musicals. I have no patience for them, though I have a friend who routinely kidnaps me and forces me to watch them as some sort of immersion therapy. The only one I've seen that I didn't hate was Avenue Q, but how can anyone with a soul hate muppets? Maybe I'd be Trekkie Monster. He sings that lovely soliloquy about the internet being for porn, and who can argue with that?

3)      Take these three words and give me a 100 word or less scenario using them: cockroach, lighter, pill
Hmm. A character drops a pill and it rolls into a dark corner, so he uses a lighter to find it, illuminating a cockroach and leading to burnt fingers, terrified shrieking, and an abandoned pill. This has absolutely, definitely never happened to me in a beach house in Hilton Head where the cockroaches are so big they can be listed as dependents on your income tax.

4)      You’ve just been let loose in the world of fiction, with permission to do anyone you want. Who do you fuck first and why?
My first literary crush was on Laurie from Little Women, so I think I'd probably start with him. He just seemed impossibly debonair and sophisticated when I was a kid.

  5)    What is your idea of how to spend romantic time with your significant other?
I know this is horrible for a romance writer to admit, but my husband and I never do anything romantic. We've never been the sort of couple who takes hot air balloons at sunset or makes grand romantic gestures. The last date night we had involved going to a bar for some great local live music, which I suppose might be considered romantic, but on the way home we took advantage of having a babysitter with no curfew and went...wait for shopping.  Pretty dull stuff—that's why I live vicariously through my characters!

6)      When you start a new story, do you begin with a character, or a plot?
It depends. Sometimes I find inspiration for a character and craft a world around him, and other times I find that I really want to write a certain scenario and build the characters based on what fits in with that. When I wrote my first novella, The Buyout, I had an idea about an office romance that involved a lot of inter-office flirting and misuse of instant messenger—the characters themselves and their personalities came about as a way to make that happen. With Island House, I started with the main character, Niall. The entire book is in his POV, so it was really important to really know him well first. Everything else was directed by Niall and his life experiences.

7)      If they were to make the story of your life into a movie, who should play you?
I'd love to be able to say Tina Fey, but unless the casting director was taking major liberties it would be a long shot. Are there many Hawaiian-born half-Caucasian actresses out there? Hapa haoles represent! *g*

8)      Who’s your favorite horror villain and why?
I suppose it depends on how you classify horror. My favorite villain of all time is definitely Iago from Shakespeare's Othello. He's selfish, manipulative and very sly, which is what you need in a good villain. It's hard not to root for him even though you know he's really just a horrible person who orchestrates the death of pretty much everyone on stage by the end of the play.

   9)    Do you have an historical crush and if so, who is it?

I'd say Nikola Tesla. Or more specifically, just his brain—he had a pretty skeezy mustache that was de rigeur at the time but doesn't do much for me. I don't think we'll ever fully be able to grasp the influence his inventions and theories had on modern technology because he had his fingers in so many of the building blocks responsible for technology as we know it today.

10)   Is there a story that you’d like to tell but you think the world isn’t ready to receive it?
I have a YA story set in a hospice that I'm not sure will ever be completed, both because I'm not sure that there's a market for it and because I'm not sure I'll ever be in a place that I can write something that doesn't have a HEA or even a HFN. Maybe someday.


Unable to move on after the death of his lover, British expat Niall Ahern clings to Nolan's dream of living in the Caribbean by moving to Tortola. Once there, he finds that not even the beauty of the island can fill the hole in his heart. Broke and spent in nearly every way imaginable, Niall wants out of the lonely, miserable, guilt-ridden life he's carved out for himself. 

When Ethan Bettencourt, a wealthy tech guru, shows up in British Virgin Islands looking to purchase a second home, he gives Niall hope that he can move on. Both men fall hard and fast, but Niall finds piloting his yacht in the midst of a hurricane is nothing compared to weathering life's simple misunderstandings. As their troubles come between them, Niall is left to wonder if he and Ethan are over before they've begun.


NIALL AHERN straightened his cuff links, pursing his lips over the formality of his outfit. He’d last worn this suit at his niece’s baptism a few months after her birth, and Camille would be eight that fall. But his discomfort stemmed more from the fact it was August in the British Virgin Islands, not the age of the suit. It still fit perfectly, the brushed wool trousers skimming over his trim waist and toned thighs and the sleeves just kissing his wrists, cuff links appropriately visible. But Camille’s baptism had been in November, not to mention it had also been in cool, overcast London instead of the oppressively hot island paradise he was currently wearing it in. 

“Must be waitin’ on someone important, all turned out like you iz.” Niall whirled around, rolling his eyes when he saw the tall dark-skinned man leaning against a luggage trolley. The fabric of his garishly colored tie-dyed shirt stretched across his belly, its mishmash of colors standing out starkly against the beige walls of the small airport terminal.

“Not that I’m going to tell you how to run your business, because God knows I certainly can’t give tips on success, but do you have to put on such a ridiculous accent when the tourists aren’t here, Jacks?”

The older man straightened and grinned, revealing perfect teeth. It made a remarkable difference, his belly all but disappearing as he stood at his full height.

“It’s what customers expect,” Jacks said with a shrug. “Bettina did a study on it when she took a marketing class up at the college. She had us switch back and forth, using the accent for a week and then not for a week. She had a spreadsheet and everything. Customers tipped 30 percent more when we sounded like backwater Rastas.”

Niall shook his head, fidgeting with his cuff links again. He was absolutely baking in the heavy suit, but he’d worn it because he needed to impress the client, who was due any minute. The small real estate office Niall had opened on the island two years earlier was floundering. He sorely needed the commission that would come from brokering a multimillion-dollar deal. So he’d gone with the suit and given himself the best pep talk he could before heading out, trying to ignore the fact that the future of his business rested squarely in the infamously picky tech mogul Ethan Bettencourt’s hands.

“Think it would work for me?” he asked, giving Jacks his most charming smile. The nerves that had been churning in his stomach eased a bit as Jacks threw back his head and laughed, the familiar sound putting Niall more at ease than he’d been all morning.

“I don’t think so, mon,” he drawled. “You’re missing the key characteristic.”

Niall grinned, narrowing his eyes and inspecting Jacks carefully.

“Actually being Jamaican? You’re missing it too.”

“Niall, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but—” Whatever Jacks was about to say was lost as another voice interrupted them, catching Niall off guard, since his back had been to the door.

“You’re Ahern?”

The voice belonged to a tall, dark-haired man who would have been handsome save for the stubble covering his face. The rugged two-day growth transformed his slightly sharp features into something dangerous, and paired with his slight tan and blue eyes, the end result was nothing short of breathtakingly gorgeous. Were it not for the faded button-down and pair of tattered Dockers the man was wearing, Niall would have sworn he was an 18th century pirate somehow transported to the modern day.

Niall didn’t realize he’d been staring, until Jacks cleared his throat and stepped forward, hand outstretched to welcome the visitor. Niall swallowed, his already heat-flushed cheeks burning with the beginnings of a blush. He hadn’t reacted to a man like this since—well, since ever. Niall’s only serious relationship had been with a man he’d known since childhood, and it definitely hadn’t started with a spark of lust like this. He felt a familiar pang of guilt at the thought of finding a man other than Nolan attractive, though Nolan had been gone for years.
“Sorry?” Niall asked when it became clear the would-be pirate was talking to him again.

“I asked if you were Niall Ahern,” the man said, blue eyes narrowed slightly as he studied Niall. “He said he’d be here to pick me up—”

“Mr. Bettencourt!” Niall felt his stomach drop. Ethan Bettencourt was one of the world’s most sought-after software developers and technology consultants. He wore Armani suits and custom-made Italian shoes, not ancient Dockers and flip-flops. But as Niall stared at him, he could see the full lips and aquiline nose that had made Ethan fodder for gossip magazines across the world. It was definitely him.

“I’m so sorry, sir,” Niall said, rushing forward. He wasn’t sure if he should shake his hand or offer to take his luggage, and as a result he did neither, hand raised awkwardly in front of him as his mind tried to catch up and figure out what to do.

Bettencourt solved Niall’s dilemma by shifting his bag to his other hand and reaching out to take Niall’s half-raised hand. “Call me Ethan.”

The contact had Niall cringing inside, the cool skin of Ethan’s hand making him even more aware of his own sweaty palm.

“Of course,” Niall said, cursing himself for being so flustered. He’d never had this problem before when greeting important clients. Of course, he’d never had an important client who was as gorgeous as Ethan, nor one who could keep Niall’s business afloat for another year with a single transaction.

“Welcome to the islan’, Ethan,” Jacks said, sliding back into his put-on accent and into an easy conversation with Ethan about his flight and the weather forecast for the next few days. It bought Niall enough time to marshal his thoughts, and he made a mental note to buy Jacks a beer the next time he saw him at The Cab, the tiny bar where most of the locals gathered to get away from tourists.

“My car is just outside,” Niall said, reaching out with more grace this time to take Ethan’s bag. Ethan let him, his full lips quirking into a small smile that had Niall’s heart racing again. “I thought you might like a chance to settle in at the hotel. If you like, I can leave you with some of the information on the listings we’ll be looking at tomorrow.”

Ethan’s eyes narrowed slightly, and he dug in his pocket, pulling out a Blackberry that looked like it had been through a war zone. The screen was scuffed and the back was covered with scrapes and deep scratches. It was more suited to a rock climber or beach bum than a man who’d made his fortune in technology. Before Niall could say anything, Ethan had dialed and was pressing the phone against his ear, his tanned knuckles skimming his jaw.

“Explain to me why Mr. Ahern has no idea I’m staying with him for the duration of my trip to Tortola,” he barked into the phone without preamble, startling Niall with both the tone of his voice and the unexpected information.
Niall’s brow creased, his brain registering Ethan’s words as the other man lapsed into silence, apparently listening to whoever was on the other end of the phone. He’d had his office manager, Keandra, handle all the arrangements for Ethan’s visit. Niall had assumed she’d gotten Ethan a suite at Frenchman’s Lookout. It was standard operating procedure with their high-end clients, even though accommodations at the pricey resort cost Niall more than double his monthly mortgage on his boat and the office combined. The hotel gave him a bit of a discount, since he was a local, but still, it was a shock every time the bill came. Regardless, it was worth it. Even if he spent upward of $10,000 wining and dining a single client for a week.

“… absolutely not. I’ll fly back if that’s the case.”

Niall’s head flicked up at the finality in Ethan’s tone. He was obviously not happy with whatever the person on the other end of the battered cell phone was telling him. Niall swallowed, mentally inventorying the state of his house. He hadn’t been home in weeks, as per his usual September routine. It was the one month out of the year Niall decamped to his boat and lived on it full-time. His quick trip home to change into the suit he was wearing had been the first time he’d been in the bungalow since the beginning of the month. Niall made a quick mental study of the rooms, trying to picture whether he’d seen laundry strewn around the bathroom or plates cluttering the kitchen. He didn’t think there had been.

Niall wondered if he should pull out his own phone and call Keandra, but it was her afternoon off. He hated to bother her when she was out with her son. Between her job as Niall’s office manager and working second shift at The Cab, she didn’t have much time with Sebastian. He was brushing the top of his pocket to delve inside for his cell when Ethan made a disgusted noise and stabbed at a button on his phone, glaring at it for good measure before tossing it haphazardly on top of the suitcase he’d set on the terminal floor. No mystery to why it was so banged up, then, Niall thought absently as Ethan swung his black gaze over to focus on him.

“Apparently there has been a miscommunication.” Ethan ground his teeth together, the motion making the tendons in his neck stand out in a way Niall knew should have been off-putting but wasn’t. “Susannah somehow overlooked the arrangements your secretary sent her along with the appointment confirmation.”

Niall wondered if Susannah would still have a job when her boss returned to the mainland; Ethan was infamous for his hair-trigger temper and his exacting standards. Niall had done a fair bit of research on Ethan when he’d taken him on as a client, and one thing that had come up time and again was Ethan’s penchant for dramatics.
Niall felt for the secretary. It couldn’t be easy to work for someone as demanding as Ethan Bettencourt. He was beginning to find that out firsthand, and he’d only been in his employ for several minutes.

“I only have thirty-six hours to find a home, Ahern, and I don’t intend to waste any of them lounging poolside at whatever passes for a resort here,” Ethan snapped. Niall stiffened his spine at the insult. Tortola was the gem of the British Virgin Islands, a place he and Nolan had handpicked out of dozens of potential islands when they’d been looking for a place to start a business. He opened his mouth to respond, but Ethan was off and running again before Niall could form any words. “I’ll be staying with you. If you have a problem with that, I’ll find someone else to work with.”

Niall’s lips flattened at the threat. There were plenty of other firms here Ethan could give his business to; Niall knew that all too well. His tiny independent real estate firm hardly caught any of the multimillion-dollar action, and the thought of losing such a big client made his skin turn clammy under the weight of his heavy suit. He was sure Ethan knew he couldn’t afford to lose the commission; in fact, he wouldn’t put it past him to have picked Niall’s firm simply because he knew Niall’s desperation would make him agree to just about anything.

“You’d be much more comfortable at a hotel.” Niall ground the words out, forcing himself to smile.

Ethan studied him for a second before patting his pockets in search of his phone. Niall was about to point it out on his suitcase when Ethan pulled a slimmer, sleeker phone out of his shirt pocket. It was much more in line with what Niall had expected a man like Ethan to carry.

“Change in plans.” Just like before, Ethan didn’t pause for the person on the other end to get a greeting in. “Refuel the plane and have it ready for me in ten minutes.”

Niall’s eyes widened and he stepped forward slightly, panicked. “I—”

“Joe? Never mind.”

Niall watched Ethan end the call, Ethan’s full lips twisted into a smirk. It made Niall wonder if Ethan really would have left. The calculating gleam in the other man’s eyes made him pretty certain it hadn’t been an empty threat.
“You be needin’ a car, Mr. Niall?” Jacks’s voice took Niall off guard, and he shook his head slightly. He’d driven to the airport, as he was sure Jacks well knew. The parking lot wasn’t very big, and Jacks would have seen the familiar battered Mercedes when he parked his cab.

“No, Jacks. We’ll be fine,” Niall said. His brain felt woolly and like it was trying to catch up. He’d been in a fog ever since Ethan had stepped into the terminal, and he needed to shake it off.

“Storm’s comin’,” Jacks said, picking up Ethan’s bag and walking toward the exit as if Niall hadn’t spoken. For a second, he wondered if he hadn’t actually said the words out loud, but then Ethan turned toward him and arched an eyebrow.

“Your car?”

“Right.” Niall jogged a few paces to catch up with Ethan and Jacks, the wind outside drawing his attention for the first time. It had kicked up considerably since he’d arrived at the airport. The tall palms were thrashing from side to side and the sky was an ominous shade of dark gray.

“Didn’t think Sookie was supposed to make landfall here,” Niall said, squinting at the clouds that seemed to be hovering unusually low.

“That’s Thalia.” Ethan shrugged when both Jacks and Niall looked surprised to hear him weigh in. “Sookie fell apart, but Thalia was right behind it. Looks like we won’t get so lucky with her.”

God, he hoped the storm didn’t actually hit, Niall thought sourly as he opened the trunk for Jacks. That’s all he needed, to be stuck in a tiny bungalow with his jackass of a client during a tropical storm.

About Bru:

Bru Baker is a freelance journalist who writes for newspapers and magazines. She knew she was destined to be a writer by the tender age of 4, when she started publishing a weekly newspaper for her family. What they called nosiness she called a nose for news, and no one was surprised when she ended up with degrees in journalism and political science and started a career in journalism.
While reporting the news is her day job, fiction is Bru's true love. Most evenings you can find her curled up with a mug of tea, some fuzzy socks, and a book or her laptop. Whether it's creating her own
characters or getting caught up in someone else's, there's no denying that Bru is happiest when she's engrossed in a book. She and her husband live in the Midwest with their two young children, whose antics make finding time to write difficult but never let life get boring.
Visit Bru online at or follow her on Twitter at You can also email her at

Twitter @bru_baker

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