Rad-Reader:  Where did the idea for this story come from?

Leora:  The storyline for Simmering Heat really came out of nowhere. The series started as a novella for my previous publisher for release during the Christmas season. I was asked to write a firefighter holiday story that was roughly 30k words and Melting Snow was the result. After the publisher closed their doors, my rights were returned to me and I submitted it to Kensington along with my Warriors of Phaeton series for consideration. Fast forward to a few months later, Kensington picked up Melting Snow and signed me to publish an additional three books to follow it up as a series, which began with Simmering Heat.

Rad-Reader:  Tell us a little backstory about Jasmine and Leo that the blurb/synopsis,

Leora:  When Jazz was introduced in Melting Snow, I simply touched upon the relationship she had with Winter. There wasn't much backstory put into her character at the time other than she came from a wealthy family and she had a brother. In the end, I was happy that I had left her character wide open because it gave me much more flexibility to develop her for Simmering Heat. She's loyal to a fault, which ends up being one of her greatest weaknesses. Leo ended up being the perfect match for her because he had witnessed her upbringing and all the baggage that came with it.

Rad-Reader:  So, how did her parents get them away from one another?

Leora:  Jazz's parents didn't keep them apart when they were younger. Leo's mom had given him a warning and he took it to heart. He knew that Jazz was special, but he also knew that he was nowhere near ready for anything more than some simple fun. Jazz would have fallen for Leo in a heartbeat, and in fact, during their dance at her graduation party, she had started to. His leaving combined with her parents’ expectations set them on different paths until they made their way back together.

Rad-Reader:  Why do her parents have such a hold on Jazz?

Leora:  It wasn't so much that Jazz's parents had a hold on her...it was more that she was the ultimate people pleaser. We've all met people like Jazz. They're the ones that go above and beyond in their relationships to a point where it can become unhealthy because they don't know when to stop. Jazz falls into that category.

Rad-Reader:  If she wants to be a nurse shouldn’t they respect that?

Leora:  Victoria and Reggie were easy characters to write partially because we all know at least one person with that type of perfectionist mentality. They were the physical embodiment of "It's my way or the highway."  Their social standing was linked to their professional success and that had become something so important to them that they couldn’t accept anything that didn't follow the same path. 

Rad-Reader:  If Leo’s mom meant so much to Jasmine why didn’t she keep in contact with her?

Leora:  You have to remember that Leo's mom was literally the "help.” Yes, she may have had a larger sway on Jazz's upbringing than her own parents but there was always a definite line drawn when it came to her place in the household. I'm sure that Victoria and Reggie wouldn't have approved of Jazz keeping contact with what they viewed as the nanny/maid. Combine that with a young girl getting ready for college/leaving the nest and those connections get pushed to the back burner over time.

Rad-Reader:  Jasmine allows everyone to do her thinking for her because she doesn’t want to disappoint them.  Why when most of them disappoint her?

Leora:  It simply comes back to the fact that she wants everyone to be happy...even if she's not happy herself.

Rad-Reader:  Nix seems a little intense.  Yet, she stayed to talk to him and she allowed him to touch her hair while talking.  Why?

Leora:  Nix IS intense. His book, which is the next installment in the series, showcases how intense he truly is. The interaction between Jazz and Nix is what really pushed me to love his character so much. He is a very physical man, both in form and action, and I wanted his introduction to show that. He had a presence that I wanted to make you feel as you read the scenes with him present.

Rad-Reader:  Leo’s alpha male came out when Nix was talking with Jazz.  Did he have to embarrass her?

Leora:  Leo's claiming of Jazz in front of Nix was less about embarrassing her and more about simply making his claim known. He didn't want there to be any question that she was with him and I think that was apparent.

Rad-Reader:  Some of the reviews I read were like, ‘I can’t believe they jumped together so quickly after just meeting each other again for the second time.’  Well, I have to say this was the longest ‘one and done’ ever.  Since he got a call in the middle of starting then she was gone when he came home.  What do you feel about that being too soon?  Or do you think to have it drag out had them getting to know each other and themselves better work?

Leora:  Many readers look at the time frame in a romance and are disappointed in how the characters got from A to B. I've heard reviews from both ends of the spectrum and there is literally no way to please every reader. I fall into the camp that there is no set time frame for falling in love. Personally, after the first date, I had with my husband, it was as if he never really left. Looking back, it was as if I blinked and all of a sudden, we were living together, engaged, and then married.  Sometimes it’s just...easy.
Rad-Reader: Same...met at 14, high school sweethearts, lived together, married now 39 years.

Rad-Reader:  Jasmine’s parents were never around what makes them think they have full reign on a 20+-year-old child?

Leora:  Regardless of Jasmine's parents being involved in her life or not, they still wanted to maintain their control over her. It was simply part of how they dealt with relationships. Jazz's brother was a prime example of their relationship with their kids. He literally left the country to get out from under their rule.

Rad-Reader:  Leo is mad because he thinks he’s her dirty little secret.  Yet, all those years ago he bailed.  So, what’s the difference, they both had fear correct?

Leora:  Looking at Leo and Jazz's past and comparing it to their present is tricky. We have to remember that their past was at a time in their lives when they were "kids.” Leo pulled back after his mom warned him that he could easily hurt Jazz. Jazz never followed through with her attraction to Leo because of the expectations of her parents. Jump to present day and he's ready to take on the responsibility of being in a relationship with Jazz but she's still hanging on to those old bad habits of trying to make everyone happy even if it’s at her own expense. 

Rad-Reader:  The transition that you had mother and daughter go through was really good.  But Leo and Reggie, Wow!  Where did that interaction come from?  So, good!

Leora:  When I got to the scene between Leo and Reggie, I ran through dialog over and over again. I can't tell you how many lines I said aloud as I paced back and forth across my living room. I bounced a lot of it off of my husband when he would get home from work as well. Nobody was safe from listening to me rant. In the end, the scene somehow came together beautifully and felt real.

Rad-Reader:  Jazz had noticed a dark side to Nix.  Could he be the one starting the fires?  If so, why? Will we find out?

Leora:  Spoiler alert -- No, Nix is not the fire starter. Taming Fire, which is his book, is the next installment in the series and will release on November 27th. That book focuses on both Nix and his love interest with the arsonist story arc continuing. The identity of the arsonist will slowly play out, but I can give you a hint that it is someone that has not yet been introduced as a character.

Rad-Reader:  If your book was made into a movie who would you want to be…

Jazz:  Danielle Campbell

Leo:  Trevor Donovan

Winter:  Jessica Lowndes

Will:  Jake McLaughlin

Butler:  Alex Russell

Nix:  Nicholas Jenks

Victoria:  Julianne Moore

Reggie:  Pierce Brosnan


Will:  Chris Evans (obviously.)

Nix:  Henry Cavill (the bulky bearded version, not the slim, clean-cut version)

Victoria:  Christine Baranski

Reggie:  Pierce Brosnan (I totally agreed with you there)

Rad-Reader:  What song or songs best describes your couple or your book as a whole?

“Your Arms Feel Like Home – 3 Doors Down”
Sharing his mom hurt but seeing her sad and being alone with her parents always working made it okay. Without knowing if he had been waiting for her more than anyone or anything else.  He knew in his heart the minute he saw her again she was the one.

“Make Him Wait – Abby Anderson”
Although Jazz had no clue the words spoken to Leo that night when she saw love in his eye.  Both of their bodies may have taken other lovers.  But their hearts made each other wait without knowing it.

Leora:  I always listen to music when I write and the soundtrack to this book was pulled from a few different albums...

Jazz really found her own footing in this book. She started out as someone who put themselves last all the time... In the end, she embraced the worth that she never realized she had. When I first left for college, I remember playing the Dixie Chicks on loop in my dorm room (probably driving my roommate nuts). Both Wide Open Spaces and Fly impacted that time in my life, where I was trying to make my own place but also keep a finger on where I came from. I also plucked a few songs from some of my own feminist playlists and wrote to Natalie Merchant (specifically the song Wonder) and a few Ani DiFranco songs.

"Wide Open Spaces - Dixie Chicks"

"Natalie Merchant - Wonder"

When it came to Leo and Jazz... all I can say is that if you haven't heard of Vance Joy then you really need to seek him out. One song in particular that I felt embodied their connection is the song Mess is Mine (although the track Georgia comes in close second).

"Mess Is Mine - Vance Joy"

"Georgia - Vance Joy"

Rad-Reader:  Were you always interested in being a writer or did you just fall into it later?

Leora:  I have always wanted to be a writer. In fact, when I was fourteen or fifteen, I wrote my first romance novel on my mom's old word processor and put it in a binder that I passed around to my friends. Recently, I had someone from high school find me on Facebook and mention how crazy it was that I followed through with it after all these years later.

Rad-Reader:  What are some hobbies that you enjoy doing?

Leora:  I love to read. I'm a fast reader so I generally consume a book or two on any given day.

Rad-Reader:  What is the last movie you saw and why did you choose it, did you enjoy it, and why?

Leora:  We are HUGE fans of movies. (I was married in a movie theater if that gives you a hint at how much we love movies.)

Just this last weekend we saw Ant-man and The Wasp and it was fantastical. I rated it higher than the first one, which I loved as well. I will watch almost anything except for horror movies (Chucky still gives me nightmares) and anything super sappy. I don't enjoy movies that make you cry. (I'm one of the few who hasn’t seen The Notebook and doesn't plan on it.) I want to be entertained and distracted from the reality that we face daily. I love comedies, action-adventures, romantic comedies and even animated movies.

Rad-Reader:  What is your favorite genre to read and why?

Leora:  I tend to read only romance and jump from genre to genre easily. MC, BBW, Shifter, you name it and I love it all. As long as there is an HEA, I'm there.

Rad-Reader:  What is your next project and when is it due out?

Leora:  Taming Fire, Nix's book, is due out in November and is already available for preorder. I'm also working on Warriors of Phaeton: Hix, which is the fifth installment in my self-published science fiction series, and I hope to have that available in October.

Rad-Reader:  Where can our readers buy your books?

Leora:  My books are available on all major online retailers: Amazon, Nook, Google Play, Apple iBooks, and Kobo. Print versions are also available if you don't use an eReader.

Rad-Reader:  Where can our readers find you on the Web?

Leora:  LeoraGonzales.com is my website and I also have an author page on Facebook. The best way to stay informed is via Facebook where I generally make daily updates.

Thanks so much for being with us.  We know how much time we take away from our authors when we do these interviews.  But we love to have our readers get to know you and your characters.  We hope you will come back and share with us when you have another book coming out and share it on our Shout-Out: An Author's Place page.  Especially since you are now a 1 Rad-Reader Misfit.  Can't outrun us. LOL!
Thanks again,

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