Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Jennifer Hayward Guest Post-Interview-Review Changing Constantinou's Game

It's usually a guest post or an interview and a review but today I'm happy to bring you all  three from my Guest today Harlequin Presents author Jennifer Hayward. Enjoy our chat and her guest post and my review courtesy of RT Magazine of Changing Constantinou's Game.

  • ISBN-13: 9780373132775
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 8/19/2014
  • Series: Harlequin Presents Series , #3271
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 192

Jennifer thanks for visiting The Reading Frenzy, in reading your bio I see that your novel that earned you HQN’s 2012  So You Think You Can Write contest, The Divorce Party (which I LOVED) wasn't your first attempt at being a novelist. You in fact wrote a novel at 19 but it was rejected.
What was the first novel about and have you considered re-writing it for publication?
So very excited to be here Debbie! And I’m so thrilled you loved The Divorce Party! The book I submitted at nineteen was what I thought was a stirring romance set in West End London which featured two dancers in a production, inspired by Saturday Night Fever. You can imagine why it was rejected! J I don’t think the storyline worked for Presents, but I did reach a senior editor with it who liked my writing. However, she suggested I work on another book for the line rather than that manuscript. So I did, although it was many moons later that I had the life experience to write a deeply emotional book that would work for Presents.

Jennifer once you get to know me you’ll know that I think Harlequin makes the world go round. It’s why I review two HQN series for RT magazine. I believe in the brand and want the rest of the world to know the diverse world of Harlequin.
Why do you love Harlequin?
I’ve been reading Harlequin since I was fourteen, hiding them with a flashlight under the covers from my sister’s eye J I loved many of the series, but particularly the glamorous, exciting world of Harlequin Presents. I wanted my own alpha hero to sweep me away from my teenage angst. But it didn’t end there. Many years later, working a high pressure PR job with long hours, I came across a Sheikh book by Sandra Marton, one of my all-time favourite Presents authors, and picked it up, needing some R&R one night with a good book and a glass of wine. I remembered then how much I loved those books, how they completely took me away to another world. I needed that escapism. I think a lot of women need that escapism as many of  us try to be superpeople.

Now tell us about your 10yr old book club
They are ten of the most amazing, inspirational women I’ve ever met. We all come from different backgrounds, we’ve all had different life trials, but over the last ten years we have become so much more than a book club, we have become the best of friends. The kind who would drop everything if one of us called in tears. The third Wednesday of every month is sacrosanct for us. Each month one of us hosts, cooks dinner (if we’re really together we theme it) and chooses the book. Our tastes are very diverse so you never know what you’re going to get, but in having it this way, I often read a book I never would have on my own, and this is how I’ve found some of my absolute favourites such as Bel Canto by American author Ann Patchett. One of the girl’s nana recommended it. How cool is that? A universal favourite for sure.

My husband calls it Wine Club and there could also be some truth to this! :)

 Guest Post - Changing Constantinou’s Game

What would you do if one life-changing event made you realize you've been living your life on the sidelines? What if it changed everything?

So thrilled to be here guest posting on The Reading Frenzy! People often ask me where I get the ideas for my books, so I thought in this post I’d talk about how Alexios and Izzie’s story (my hero and heroine in my new release, Changing Constantinou’s Game) came about and why it’s such a special book for me.

The questions I included at the beginning of this post were the seeds of inspiration in my head when I began creating Alex and Izzie’s story. I often start brainstorming a book with questions – particularly ‘what if’ questions. They enable me to think of unique storylines, and the more I push myself the more compelling a storyline I come up with.

Here’s an example from a seemingly everyday occurrence and what you can do with it by asking ‘what if’ questions: I’m sitting at a restaurant and I see the couple beside me aren’t talking. Are they on a first date? It is totally awkward? Or maybe they’ve been married for years and it’s just that dull now? Or maybe they’re in a fight? The fight sounds more interesting, but it’s still not compelling enough. So they’re fighting… why? Why aren’t they not talking? You dig deeper. What if the hero has just found out the heroine is moonlighting as an exotic dancer on Thursday nights because she feels he doesn’t love her anymore? What if it’s her way of proving to herself she’s attractive? What if it’s her way of making him pay? What if her husband just found her dancing outfits in the truck of the car as he reached for an umbrella to shield them from the rain on the way into the restaurant? What if his silence is him trying to figure out what the hell is going on? Whether he even knows who his wife is anymore? What if this is just the last straw in a marriage that is so misunderstood neither of them have the energy to be in it anymore?

Now you have the genesis of an interesting story I’d say! It’s a brainstorming technique that usually works for me. It’s particularly great if I’m in the middle of a book and something isn’t working. I go back to the ‘what ifs’ and I can usually find my way out. The more far-out, the more creative the better. My editor can always pull me in and say I’ve gone too far, but she can’t cure a boring book.

For Alex and Izzie, my inspiration began with a flight home after a vacation where I sat beside a marine biologist from the Great Barrier Reef. He was charming, very attractive and charismatic and we chatted most of the flight. He was visiting my hometown and kept throwing hints my way I could show him the sights. I was young and frankly a bit shy about taking an attractive, worldly man I didn’t know sightseeing. My girlfriends have heard this story more times than they’d like to count, but I thought of him as the ‘one that got away’ at the time. The marine biologist was hero material all the way and I hated that I didn’t have the guts to go for it and show him the town. And of course I wondered, what if? What if I’d agreed to show him around? Would I be living on the Great Barrier Reef cooking fresh fish every night and writing overlooking the water while my husband lectured at the local university? Would our friends and us do bonfires on the beach? Would I have an Aussie accent? How different would my life be?

Which is where Izzie comes in. With Izzie, I wanted to create a heroine who comes across that charismatic, beautiful man in her travels, is overwhelmed by his pure presence, but this heroine doesn’t shy away from the opportunity. No – she sucks it up and does what many of us wish we would have done. She goes for it!

To set the scene:

Driven, young Manhattan television reporter, Izzie Peters, is on the verge of a career breakthrough. On her way back from a girls vacation in Tuscany she gets a call from her boss offering her the chance-of-a-lifetime, the opportunity to audition for an anchor job with NYC-TV.  Having lived her life in the shadow of her Hollywood mother and supermodel sister, this is the chance for the brainy, less spectacular Peter’s daughter to prove she has what it takes to be in the limelight. Getting back to Manhattan in time to make her interview is paramount.  But when her boss sends her on a wild goose chase across London to flush out an interview target, the billionaire is long gone. To make matters worse, elevator-phobe Izzie gets stuck in an out-of-control lift with a man straight out of her fantasy playbook - charismatic, stunning Alex Constantinou. And boy is she smitten.

When Izzie and Alex are rescued from their plunging elevator, Izzie, who’s hit her head in the fall, misses her flight home and isn’t allowed to be alone for twenty-four hours. Which necessitates her staying overnight at Alex’s glamorous penthouse. Izzie, who’s always thought it was the fifteen extra pounds she was carrying around that’s kept men from asking her out, comes to a startling realization over dinner on the terrace. Alex is attracted to her! Their chemistry is undeniable and the tension between them smolders after their near-death experience.

Izzie starts to question everything. What if she’s been living life all wrong? What if men haven’t been interested in her because she’s been freezing them out, just like her friends have suggested? What if a man like Alex is within her reach? She decides she’s been living her life on the sidelines long enough. When one kiss leads to the night of a lifetime Izzie will never forget, she vows no regrets. This is the new Izzie after all. There’s only one problem – Alex is Greek billionaire Alexios Constantinou, the big interview target her boss sent her chasing through London after and he thinks she’s lied about her identity. Suddenly, her dream is about to fall apart at the seams and her choices seem rash and destructive.

Will Izzie’s Carpe Diem moment backfire on her? Izzie’s story is special to me because it’s about the choices we make and how they create the fabric of our life. Her unusually rash decision to follow her heart that night in London and live life for the moment has a huge fall out effect on her career trajectory. It puts her in near impossible situations, tests her character and forces her to grow. It makes her question everything she’s ever believed about herself and success and learn who she truly is in the process. But will she figure this all out in time to keep the love of her life in Alex or will it be too late to redeem herself?

The ending to Changing Constantinou’s Game is one of my favourites I’ve ever written, because I think what Izzie does for Alex is truly heroic and shows just how far she’s grown. She’s that gutsy heroine I’ve always wanted to be.

I hope you enjoy this scene from the night in London where Izzie decides to take her leap:

Izzie focused on forking the small amount of food she thought she could consume into her mouth at the small candlelit table Alex had set on the terrace. The herbed pasta was delicious, but it was hard to eat when her heart was still pounding and her hands trembling so much negotiating a fork seemed like a new and highly complex activity. And why wouldn't it when she had literally jumped into the deep end and invited the most spectacularly good looking man she'd ever met to kiss her--and he had!  Not to mention the fact that the kiss had been the most incredible of her life and all she could think about was experiencing more of the bone-meltingly delicious heat that had coursed through her veins. It was like every nerve ending in her body had been switched on for the first time and she wasn't sure whether to revel in it or be completely terrified of what she was feeling.

She swallowed hard, forced down the food. The fact that she'd been right--that Alex was attracted to her--made her head feel like it was going to blow off.  Maybe Jo was right. Maybe it had been her defensive attitude that had turned men off in the past and not the fifteen extra pounds she'd been carrying. Which had always been her excuse.

She took another sip of the rich, full Cabernet that was going a long way to mellowing her out. But the wine didn't seem to be having the same effect on Alex who'd glowered at her throughout the entire meal-as if she'd committed a crime rather than simply kissed him.

She risked a quick glance at him.  He was still watching her with that same, implacable frown on his face, that penetrating blue gaze of his impossible to read. And it occurred to her she hadn't fully thought through her plan. She had the mind numbing confirmation he was attracted to her...the question now was what was she going to do about it?

Her heart pounding in her chest, she set her fork down with an abrupt movement, and the sound of metal clattering against fine china echoed in the still night air.

He gave her half-empty plate a narrowed glance. "That's all you're going to eat?"

"It was delicious, thank you. I think that's about all I can handle.'
"All right." He laid his fork down with a deliberate movement and pushed his plate away.  "Let's talk about what happened."

Gladly.  She took another sip of her wine to fortify herself and set the glass down.

"That kiss shouldn't have happened."

She was ready for that one.  "Why not?

"I'm much more experienced than you, Isabel. I'm not interested in relationships, in fact mine never last longer than a few months, and the women I date are well aware of that."


He did a double take at the belligerent note in her voice. "You're also probably still in shock from what happened today."

"I'm absolutely fine," she countered.  "In fact I feel like I have more clarity right now than I've ever had in my life."

He sat back in his chair, his gaze on her face.  "What kind of clarity?"

She twisted the stem of her wine glass on the table, watching the blood red liquid shimmer in the candlelight. "That was my worst fear today. Facing it-getting through it-" she paused, looking up at him, "--it's made me realize how much of my life I've lived in fear...how many times I've not gone after what I wanted because I was afraid I wouldn't get it or it would explode in my face."

He gave a wary nod.  "That's a good realization."

She shook her head.  "I'm not looking for a relationship, Alex." A husky laugh escaped her.  "In fact, that's the last thing I need right now."

His eyes narrowed. "Then what are you looking for?"

"I don't want to live with any more regrets."

He shook his head, a wry smile curving his lips. "You're twenty-five, Isabel. How many regrets can you have?"

She took a deep breath, meeting his gaze head-on. "I will regret it if I walk away from tonight without exploring the attraction that's between us."

A muscle jumped in his jaw.  He sat there completely silent, staring at her.  "I'm not sure you know what you're doing."

She shook her head.  "I know exactly what I'm doing."

A long moment passed, it might have been four, five seconds, she wasn't sure. All she knew was that she was holding her breath, sure at one point he was going to reject her. The warm night air pressed so heavily against her lungs she thought they would burst.  And then something shifted, morphed on the air between them. And she got her answer in the darkening of his eyes.

JENNIFER HAYWARD has been a fan of romance since filching her sister’s novels to escape her teenaged angst. Her career in journalism and PR, including years of working alongside powerful, charismatic CEOs and traveling the world, has provided perfect fodder for the fast-paced, sexy stories she likes to write, always with a touch of humour. You can find out more about Jennifer and her books at her website

Buy Links

 My Review courtesy RT Magazine

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  1. I love that the author got the idea for this story with a simple question and it exploded from there!

    1. Hi Kindlemom, yes it's always fun to hear where novel ideas come from.
      thanks for commenting

  2. So excited to read this - hot characters!

    1. Kat, Hi I hope you love it like I did. Come back and let us know!

  3. Hi Kindlemom! Yes it's funny where ideas come from, but they can be from the smallest thing. I was thinking today about that woman in Alabama who caught the 1000 pound alligator. What a heroine she would make! :) Thanks for dropping by!

  4. Really hope you enjoy it Kat! So glad you stopped by!

    1. Hi Jen thanks for stopping by!! And Thanks for your wonderful guest post!

    2. It's so cool to be here Debbie! Really love your blog :)

  5. OH that sounds fun Debbie! I love ones that have elevator mishaps. Totally freaks me out but can be so so good too!

    1. I hope you enjoy it if you read it Anna! I even interviewed an elevator technician to make sure it was absolutely authentic terror ;)

  6. I love the realism in Jennifer's stories. Real life characters with real life relationship issues. Never a dull read, always hold my interest. Changing Constantino's Game was a fun read. Despite their great physical attraction would Izzie and Alex have the honesty, courage, compassion and integrity needed to see them through their trials, I wondered. A good read!

    1. Alice, those are some great comments. Thanks for them and for stopping by too!

    2. Aww thank you Alice! That is so lovely of you. I'm so glad you enjoyed the book!

  7. First the book sounds yummy and I want to join Wine Club!

  8. You do Kim, you really do! :) And thank you! Hope you enjoy the book if you do get to read. Thanks for stopping by!