Friday, May 1, 2015

Interview with Lori Foster – Holding Strong

Today I'm so pleased to welcome back Lori Foster, a favorite author of mine whose chatting about her newest and number 2 release in her Ultimate series, Holding Strong.
Click HERE for my blogging buddy, Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer's review of Holding Strong.

  • ISBN-13: 9780373779611
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 3/31/2015
  • Series: Lori Foster's Ultimate Series, #2
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 480


An up-and-coming MMA fighter wants more than just one night from a woman fleeing her past in New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster's irresistible new novel
Heavyweight fighter Denver Lewis plays real nice, but he doesn't share. That's why he's been avoiding top-notch flirt Cherry Peyton. But a man can only resist those lush curves for so long. Their encounter surpasses all his fantasies, bringing out protective urges that Cherry's about to need more than she knows…

Read an Excerpt:

Watching her laugh, seeing her tease and flirt, burned his ass big-time. He loved when she laughed and teased with him—not so much when it was with other guys.
And therein lay the problem.
He had a near-savage lust for her. When he looked at her, when he heard that carefree laugh, he felt dangerously close to losing it.
Contemplating decisions and possible mistakes, Denver Lewis sipped his beer. He should look away from her but knew he wouldn't. She was all tits and ass and attitude in a petite frame, and God love the girl, she turned him on.
He'd avoided her, refused to be drawn in by her tempting smiles, and all in all given her the cold shoulder since determining they wouldn't suit. He had no right to judge her for having fun elsewhere.
But knowing and accepting that as true didn't talk him off the ledge. No, if anything it wound him tighter.
Damn, she looked good.
The shifting lights in the club played with her dark blond hair and the curves of her lush little body. His buddy Stack, another fighter, drew her into a fast dance. She didn't refuse. Ever.
Cherry Peyton was always the life of the party.
The loud music competed with the furious drumming of Denver's heart as he monitored her every move. The music's wild tempo kept her body from touching Stack's. They danced around each other and the rest of the crowd on the floor.
Every guy there made note of her, seeing her once and then taking a longer look. Her happiness, her laugh and that killer bod all combined for one hell of an impact on the male libido.
For over an hour, Denver watched her draw attention and smiles and, no doubt, sexual thoughts. He ignored other women who tried to get his attention, those who came up to him and propositioned him in modest and sometimes lewd ways.
Yeah, he wanted to get laid.
But he wanted Cherry, not anyone else.
It pissed him off that he couldn't get her out of his head. He should have had her before decreeing theirs an acquaintance-only relationship, then maybe he could have some perspective when it came to seeing her with other men.
Then again, maybe not—because days after meeting her, he'd known sex wasn't the only thing he wanted. He'd already begun to think of her as his, even though he hadn't even kissed her yet.
If only his territorial tendencies didn't clash so badly with her playful party-girl personality.
Seeing her accept her third glass of wine, he finished off his beer and called it quits.
At least on the alcohol.
He stewed while watching her indulge in several dances with too many different guys—never mind that they were all from their group, fighters that she, and he, knew well and trusted as friends. They'd all come down en masse to cheer on one of their own. Fighters from the rec center who sparred and coached together. Men he'd known forever.
Men who had befriended Cherry when she'd become roommates with Merissa, another fighter's sister.
She was well and truly enmeshed in his life, friends with his friends, a part of their inner group, and if he wasn't denying himself like a freaking masochist he'd be over there with them right now. She'd be laughing and joking with him. Dancing with him.
Treating him like everyone else.
That she was so well accepted in their circle made it even more impossible to stop thinking about her, because everywhere he went, he saw her.
Finally, after a robust dance that had her laughing aloud, Cherry began to fade. She dropped into a chair at a table with three other fighters and a few women.
Her gaze never once came his way—almost as if she knew where he was and avoided making eye contact with him.
Suited Denver fine. Mostly.
Damn it.
It wasn't easy, but he made himself look away.
Tonight had been an eventful one. They'd all gotten to the local fight venue early, some to grab a bite before the event, others just to ensure they got the best seats. They all enjoyed watching Armie Jacobson fight.
They'd enjoy it even more if Armie would accept the offers from the more elite, professional fight organization, the SBC, but for reasons of his own he dodged them, always insisting on sticking with the smaller, more local groups. It wasn't due to a lack of talent.
Cannon Colter was a star with the SBC, and both Denver and Stack had recently signed with them. Since they each sparred with Armie, they knew firsthand that he was fast and deceptively strong, slick in a way that bespoke innate talent, something that couldn't be taught or learned but came naturally to a born athlete. Armie knew his shit.
If he accepted a contract with the SBC, he'd more than hold his own. Denver believed he would dominate there, as well.
But Armie blew them off every time.
Speak of the devil… When Denver saw Armie approaching him, he put his elbows back on the bar, glad to finally have a distraction. "How do you feel?"
"Whaddya mean?" Armie caught the bartender's eye and ordered a whiskey.
The competition had been done tournament style so that competitors had to win to advance, and had to fight multiple times. That arrangement wasn't common anymore, and wasn't the way the SBC did things. But the smaller events did what they could to highlight the fighters and drum up excitement.
Armie had knocked out his first guy, then submitted the next two—each in the first round. In the second fight, he'd locked in an arm bar so tightly that the other fighter had immediately tapped rather than risk injury. For the third, he'd submitted with a rear naked choke. Each time, he made it look effortless. Hell, he'd walked away with nothing more than a small bruise on his cheekbone and some mat burn on one elbow. That was it. No other injuries. He'd barely broken a sweat. Armie destroyed other fighters with disgusting ease.
Soon as the event had ended, most of the competitors and a lot of fans had converged on the nearby club for a promoted after-party. Armie, a fan favorite for the local organization, was sure to be the belle of the ball.
"You took that last guy apart. He was damn near knocked out when you decided on the arm bar."
Armie tossed back the whiskey and asked for another. "Yeah, he must've been new or something."
More like Armie was that good, but Denver knew he wouldn't admit it. For whatever reason, Armie shrugged off all opportunities to further his fight career. Because of that, Denver warned him, "Dean Connor was in the audience, scouting out the talent."
Only for a second did Armie react, but he shook off the stillness in less than a heartbeat. "Havoc was here?"
"One and the same." Dean "Havoc" Connor was a legend in the sport, and one of the most revered fighters ever. A while back, he'd switched gears from competing to training. Now, with another well-known veteran, Simon Evans, he ran one of the most successful and sought-after camps—the same camp where their buddy Cannon often trained.
And Cannon had an upcoming title fight for light heavyweight, so clearly they were doing something right.
Simon and Dean had the inside track with the SBC president and often recommended new recruits to bring under the SBC umbrella.
Brows drawn, Armie scoffed. "This gig wasn't exactly the upper echelon of talent. Why would Havoc waste his time with low-level competitions?"
Succinct, Denver told him, "You."
"He took a ton of notes while watching you, and as soon as your fight ended he was on the phone making a call."
Armie flexed a shoulder. "He was probably here to see Cannon."
"He talked with Cannon. Merissa, too."
Armie almost fell off his stool. "What?" And then, with a quelling glare, "Why the hell would he talk to Rissy?"
"She was cheering for you like crazy and I guess that got his attention." Denver shrugged. Cannon's sister often accompanied him to the fights. No big deal with that. "Given she was with Cannon."
"Yeah, maybe." Armie tossed back the second whiskey and ordered up a third.
Interesting. "Havoc's still here, but Cannon already took off with Yvette and Merissa." Since Denver hadn't yet convinced himself to leave the club, he ordered a glass of lemon water. In two and a half months he'd have his second fight with the SBC, so he'd started watching his diet already. Not that he ever got too far off weight, and not that he couldn't lose fifteen or even twenty pounds easily enough. But overall, he liked to stay healthy. He considered it part of his job requirements.
"I knew Cannon was booking. We'd already talked."
"He didn't mention Havoc?"
"No, and I'll give him hell for that later." Armie relaxed enough to manage a grin. "Used to be, Cannon would have closed out the place with me. Now, with Yvette, he's always in a hurry to get her alone. The wedding can't happen fast enough for those two."
"A few weeks after his next fight," Denver said. If it was up to Yvette, they would have already been married because she didn't care about the fancy wedding.
But Cannon considered the guys family and knew they'd want to celebrate with him, so they'd set up the wedding in a way that wouldn't conflict with anyone's competition schedule, most especially Cannon's. "Looking forward to being best man?"
Armie snorted. "You all expect me to balk at the sight of a tux, but what the hell, man, you'll be wearing the same monkeysuit."
Watching Armie to gauge his reaction, Denver said, "Mostly I expect you to balk at the idea of being in the wedding with Merissa."
Looking past Denver, Armie narrowed his eyes. "Who's that dude hitting on Cherry?"
Twisting around, he forgot all about harassing his friend—which had probably been Armie's intent. But damn, he hadn't lied. Denver watched Cherry laughingly refuse an insistent guy bent on gaining her cooperation. The slow, thrumming music would have meant a different type of dance and Denver let out a breath when she didn't give in.
Seeing her body to body with another man, this time someone he didn't know, would have made him nuts.
Stack sat to one side of her, also watching the idiot who refused to take no for an answer.
To her other side, Miles started to frown.
Suddenly Cherry pushed back her chair and an ugly tension sank into Denver's chest—until she grabbed up her purse and made a hasty getaway toward the restrooms.
When the idiot started to follow, Miles blocked his way while Stack spoke close to his ear. Whatever he said made loverboy frown and search the bar.
It wasn't until his gaze clashed with Denver's that he gave up and stalked away—in the opposite direction that Cherry had gone.
Smiles quirking, Stack and Miles both saluted Denver, then went back to their table and the other women there.
He was wondering what Stack had said when Armie shoved him, and Denver almost dropped off his seat. Righting himself, he muttered, "What the fuck?" and shoved Armie back. But since Armie wasn't daydreaming as Denver had been, he barely budged.
Snickering, Armie shook his head. "Damn man, get it together or go after her."
"No need. Stack got rid of him."
"Yeah," Armie said, his tone mocking. "Stack handled it."
Sarcasm? "What's that supposed to mean?"
"We both know Stack just threatened that poor bozo with you."
"Yeah, Predator, you." After emphasizing Denver's fight name, Armie sipped at his third drink. "You have a nasty death stare and you know it. That chump probably felt your evil intent all the way down to his balls."
"You are so—" Just then, Denver spotted Havoc scanning the crowd before a group of fans stopped him. "Think he's looking for you?"
Armie slunk lower in his seat. "No."
"You are so hopeless."
"Know what's hopeless? This denial you have where Cherry Peyton is concerned. Give it up already."
Denver glared at him. Why the hell did everyone want to butt into his private business? "Why don't you at least talk to the SBC? Maybe—"
"Why don't you talk to Cherry?" He tossed back his shot and asked for another. "Better yet, don't talk. Take her straight to bed and work off some tension."
Armie fought hard, played hard, but usually didn't drink hard. Denver eyed him. "This isn't about Cherry and me."
"It's about you trying to avoid talking about you and Cherry." He grabbed a handful of peanuts while waiting for the next drink.
Disgusted, Denver said, "Are you going to turn around everything I say?"
"Know what I'd like to turn around?" Armie nodded at someone. "That."
When Denver looked up he saw a stacked redhead coming their way. Lips pursed, eyes big, expression coy.
Definitely on the make.
"She looks ripe to ride doggy style, doncha think?"
At times Armie's brazen outspokenness bordered on obnoxious. Often, actually. But in this instance, with that girl's hips, Denver totally got his meaning and even had to grin in agreement.
Seeing their humor, the lady narrowed her coal-lined eyes.
Thank God it was Armie she'd zeroed in on. "You know her?" Denver asked.
"Nope. But give me a minute."
The redhead stopped in front of Armie and touched a finger to his chest. "You're Armie Jacobson."
"So are the rumors true?"
Denver stifled a laugh; Armie hadn't even asked her what rumors she meant. But when it came to Armie, just about anything was possible.
Bracing her hands on his thighs, she leaned in more, making sure to put her cleavage on display. "I watched you fight."
"You're a beast." With a little shiver, she added, "I think that's sexy." Armie smiled.
Denver lifted an eyebrow. He felt like a damn voyeur, but he wasn't about to budge. This was too entertaining.
"So…" Pretending modesty, she ducked her face while still watching him. "Was it…naughty of me to confront you like this?"
Armie stared her in the eyes while murmuring, "Real naughty. And you know what I do with naughty girls?"
"You…you punish them?"
Denver almost choked, yet Armie didn't miss a beat.
"That's right." Armie's smile had the woman ready to swoon, especially when he added, "Even if they're really, really good."
On an indrawn breath she straightened, all but vibrating with excitement.
"You got a room anywhere close, honey?"
Breathless, face flushed and one hand splayed over her upper chest, she whispered, "Right across the street."

Lori Hi Welcome back to The Reading Frenzy
Tell us about your newest release Holding Strong.
Thank you for having me here!
HOLDING STRONG is about a heavyweight MMA fighter getting his big break in the sport while simultaneously falling in love. Each of the main characters has issues in their past that must be dealt with, but they’re very suited for each other. Denver is very alpha, over-protective, extremely capable but also, at heart, completely honorable. Cherry tries to cover her very sad upbringing with a carefree, party-girl persona. She’s wanted Denver since first meeting him, and once they finally get together, it’s full speed ahead.

This is part of your Ultimate series.
How are the novels connected?
Each novel features one of the fighters from a special neighborhood gym, called the rec center, where the fighters train with each other and out-of-town visiting fighters, but also take turns providing self-defense classes for women, and varying activities for at-risk kids of all ages.
This series takes place in the same town as my Love Undercover series, so you occasionally see those earlier characters making cameos.

How do you go about doing novel research for this type of sports action novel?
I’ve been a fan of MMA (mixed martial arts) since the inception of the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) back when it was still no-holds barred done tournament style without weight classes or time limits. It is much, much better now with the new rules in place, but it’s always been an exciting sport. My husband and I attend every live UFC event that’s in our state, and monthly we attend a local MMA venue for amateurs and some pros.
I’ve interviewed several fighters, attended after-event parties, and read a lot of pre and post fight interviews.

Lori this is not your first series featuring mixed martial arts.
What’s the draw to this venue for you?
MMA fighters are the ultimate athlete. They compete one on one, without a team, so once you’re in the cage, win or lose, you do it alone. That requires a lot of natural ability, extensive training, unbelievable motivation and drive, and as with any high-level sport, intelligence.
But before they actually compete, they train with each other, and I love that these big, capable men can work together to learn, to get better at what they do, that they befriend each other, but then compete without any real animosity. (Trash talk aside, because some fans do seem to like that.) It’s rare to see any poor sportsmanship in MMA.
The majority of the fighters are cocky about their ability, but humble about their lives. I love most when they show “behind the scenes” exposés on the fighters where we see these big muscled hulks being so gentle with their significant others, wrestling with their kids, or playing with their pets. It’s an impressive and intriguing contrast, and at least to me, makes a natural backdrop for a hero.
I love writing alpha men who are also kind and considerate.

Lori one of the many things I love about your characters are the strong men and the stronger women plus the happy endings.
Do your stories have to have happy endings?
Yes! For me that’s what romance is all about - showing that people can overcome hardships and broken hearts and still, through perseverance - and often the caring of special someone - they can turn their lives around and be happy.  I don’t just write it, I believe it. I know it’s easy to see the ugliness in the world, to focus on the cheaters and liars and all the sadness. But just as often we see real life heroes, male and female alike, and we see success stories. I’m a big believer that attitude is a huge influence, and if my books can help improve someone’s attitude, I’m thrilled.

Lori it warms my heart to see you feature a lovely email from one of your readers on the homepage of your website. You even host an annual event called Reader and Author Get Together, which is on my wish list. The event fills up fast too.
What precipitated your organizing this event?
Thank you. I LOVE hearing from my readers. So many of them have very touching stories about special times spent reading my books - times when they were in need of distraction. More than any other part of publishing, I love that my stories, in any small way, can help someone feel better.
I love going to conferences to see long distance friends and new readers, but there’s rarely enough time to talk. Authors, especially, are busy doing workshops and presentations and booksignings - all good things, but it leaves little time for catching up. Parties are wonderful, but the music is loud. So I wanted to create an intimate and friendly atmosphere where the main room is always open and available to anyone who just wants to hang out. At the same time there’s plenty going on with 8 separate boardrooms hosted by different sponsors - publishers and author groups - as well as a blogger lounge, each with its own complimentary schedule of activities and giveaways.
I’ve worked hard to keep the event growing while also staying super-affordable for readers: only $50 for Thursday, Friday and Saturday, including parties, meals, raffles, goody bags filled with awesome stuff, two massive booksignings, and more.
I love that new authors can meet publishers, editors and agents; established authors can meet and freely interact with readers; and readers have open access to talk to authors, ask questions, get books - new and previously purchased - signed, and take all the photos they want. PLUS the event enables us to make some really terrific donations to local charities.
Our raffles are always a hit! We get *amazing* prizes from authors and publishers, with all raffle proceeds going to the One Way Farm, a home for abused and abandoned children.  Last year we donated $17,500 to
A percentage of our book fair proceeds go to the Conductive Learning Center, a school for children with spina bifida and cerebral palsy. In 2014 we donated $1400 to
We also do a special collection of requested items for our deployed troops. Along with donated items, we collected $1400 that was used to purchase and pay for postage of special troop packages.
Lastly, each year I write a “Benefit Book” with all author and agent proceeds going directly to the Animal Adoption Foundation for *the life of the book.* The stories are currently digital for everyone except #RAGT15 attendees. The very limited print copies are sold for $5 each at the event. On the top of the advance and all royalties, we garnered $1250 in cash for
-- and seriously, if you ever want to attend, let me know! I’ll create room for you, I promise. Consider it an open invitation.

Lori fans know what you like to write, but what do you like to read?
Right now my favorite author is Katie McGarry, who writes these really edgy, very realistic, super-emotional YA stories. I’m fortunate that my editor is her editor so I can usually beg an early copy. ;-)
I also enjoy Jill Shalvis who writes awesome alpha heroes and very contemporary women, and she never fails to make me laugh.

Lori one of my favorite of your novels was My Man Michael which combined contemporary and fantasy.
Any more novels like this in your future?
Ooooh, bless you! Wanna be my new best friend?
I loved, LOVED writing that story and someday I’d enjoy writing the other characters. I’d always meant to. But overall, readers hated it.
Totally, 100% my fault.
In doing a time travel, I should have left the series and written it as a standalone, not mixed it in with the other already established series. The problem is that I never argue with my muse. So when the muse said, “this should happen,” I just happily went along with it. Now I’m more cautious. lol. No one likes hate mail!

Lori you're a multiple award winning and bestselling author and your novels constantly receive rave reviews.
Do you like to read your reviews?
I don’t know if “like” is the right word, so much as I’m compelled. If I know it’s there, I want to see it. Good or bad. But reviews never influence me. Most don’t overly buoy me, and few ever get me down. I just find it very interesting to see the differing opinions. Just recently I saw a review that said my characters were too perfect, without enough flaws. And then the next review went on and on about how overly flawed they are. ;-) The enjoyment of a book, I think, is in the perspective of the reader.

Lori Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions. Are your signings/events listed on your website?
Yes they are!
Also, there will be two booksignings at #RAGT15 and both are open to the public. (All other activities require registration and a badge.)
Thank you so much for the very nice interview! It’s much appreciated.

Connect with Lori - Website - Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads - Pinterest

Lori Foster is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author with books from a variety of publishers, including Berkley/Jove, Kensington, St. Martin’s, Harlequin and Silhouette. Lori has been a recipient of the prestigious RT Book Reviews Career Achievement Award for Series Romantic Fantasy, and for Contemporary Romance. She’s had top-selling books for Amazon, Waldenbooks and the BGI Group. For more about Lori, visit her Web site at

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  1. Can you believe I haven't tried this author Debbie? I so need to get on the ball and read her already! Lovely interview. I think I will really like this author's writing style.

    Have a lovely weekend!!

    1. I think you will too Ali. You have a great weekend too!!

  2. Yay!! I just love her books and this series. :D

  3. Fantastic interview..I adore Lori and loved Holding Strong. Her characters are wonderfully fleshed out and I always slip right into her stories.

    1. Thanks for reminding me Kim. I've linked your review.

  4. I still remember when I first discovered Lori's books. I'd seen her titles for awhile before I bought CAUSING HAVOC and SIMON SAYS, the first books of Lori's I ever read. Shortly after that I dug into the Winston Brothers, the Buckthorn Brothers and every one of the Visitation books.I've read almost every one of Lori's books - new and old. The few I haven't read yet are at the top of my to-be-read pile. Lori's always a must-read for me!

    1. Becke, Hey lady good to see you. I also know you're a regular at her event.
      Thanks for stopping by. And congrats on the new beautiful grand baby!!

  5. I love Lori Foster! Every book she comes out with its absolutely amazing! Holding Strong is no exception! Loved it! I have a serious addiction to her books!!

    1. Hi Jessica, yes me too! I can't wait to read Holding Strong!!
      Thanks for the comment

  6. Lori Foster has her own shelf on my bookcase,(lol) and totally enjoy her work. My Man Michael was a totally fun read, as well as all her other books. Despite her fame, love that she continues to connect with readers and has no ego. Totally awesome interview and hope your Sunday is Super, Debbie! Hugs...Ro

    1. Ro, a woman after my own heart, were we separated at birth ;)
      you too have a great Sunday!!

  7. I must thank you for the efforts you have put in penning this website. I really hope to check out the same high-grade blog posts from you later on as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my own, personal website now ;)
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