When I talk to my non-writer friends about characters in my books, they all look at me with the same question in their eyes: how do you know this person? I don’t. Really. I know they’re imaginary. Promise. I can’t point to someone and say “There he is!” But for me, every book starts with a scene and two characters. Then I have to figure out who they are, where they’ve been, and where they want to go. Sometimes that means I know more about them than could ever be included in a book. I had a lot of fun meeting the characters of Can’t Help Falling in Love. Please let me introduce them:
Randa Whitmore—Miss Congeniality
Physical description: Long legs, long blonde hair, sky-high heels, an ex-pageant contestant who never won but now celebrates life with good hamburgers, sweet tea, and the best spa treatments money can buy.
Employment: Hotel acquisitions and renovation for her father’s hotel
Strengths: smart, good with spreadsheets and negotiations…until now.
Weaknesses: floppy bloodhounds, cheap flip flops, new books, and six-pack
Words she lives by: Buy it.
What Tony thinks:
He was probably going to spend too much time replaying her strut across the lobby in his mind. If there’d been a wind machine and Def Leppard playing in the background, she’d have been his every teenage fantasy come to life.
Tony Ortega—Mr. In-Control
Physical description: tall, dark, handsome in a tough-guy, do-not-waste-my-time kind of way, tattoo on his arm, wears his hotel uniform, the Hawaiian shirt and khaki pants, with pride and is satisfied to finally have a space all his own with all the books he can cram in it.
Employment: Hotel manager, occasional dogsitter.
Strengths: smart, suspicious, good judge of character…maybe.
Weaknesses: floppy bloodhounds, long-legged blondes, new books, and red
Words he lives by: Semper Fi.
What Randa thinks:
He watched her like he knew her, knew everything about her because he saw her. He didn’t give her the obvious leer that she’d seen and dismissed a million times. This guy, when he looked, saw more than most people. Randa had spent a lot of time blending in with the perfectly bland Whitmore woodwork. Being the subject of that much focus made her restless. She knew exactly how a fluffy bunny felt when it looked up to see a hungry mountain lion. Well, except the bunny would run away. She wasn’t sure which direction she’d run if he crooked his finger right this second.
And the rest of the gang:
The Rock’n’Rolla Hotel, a place built to honor Elvis in all things, it’s also the home some people were looking for.
Willodean Jackson, the hotel owner who has a knack for understanding people, matching them up, and never expecting anything less than the very
Misty the bloodhound, the heart of the hotel, who is always perfectly
And here’s a little excerpt of Randa and Willodean meeting for the first time in the Viva Las Vegas, the hotel restaurant.
have business to talk about. Care to share what that might be, Randa?” Her voice was molasses, slow and sticky sweet, but something about her face made Randa reconsider her position. The smile was gone. So was the twinkle. Now her eyes looked more like what Randa would expect to see in something higher up on the food chain. They were sharp, like some kind of predator that hadn’t quite decided whether to play with the food or scarf it
Randa cleared her throat. “I have
no idea what you’re talking about.”
Willodean pursed her lips. “The hard way, then. Okay.” She leaned back as Marcy set down tea and ginger ale on the table. “Whitmore. Seems like you might know a thing or two about hotels. What in the world are you doing in my little place? Tony thinks you might be planning a little stiff competition.” Willodean tilted her head to the side. “But you and I both know that your kind of hotels are not in the same class as my masterpiece. No, it’d be smarter business maybe to come after this actual hotel. My location’s excellent, my booking rates are solid, and you could be up and running pretty quick.”
Randa tried not to jerk in surprise. She wasn’t really shocked that Tony had done his research. Or even that he’d kept his suspicions to himself. What surprised her was that Willodean had jumped to exactly the right conclusion less than a day after she’d walked into the place.
Willodean Jackson was nobody’s little old lady. She wouldn’t be talked into selling with smooth patter and an offer that contained a lot of zeroes. She was shrewd. She knew exactly what she had with her prime location and established reputation. There was no way the Rock’n’Rolla Hotel would come at a bargain price. Randa thought about what it might look like to see Willodean and her father lock horns. Maybe the winner wasn’t as cut and dried as she thought.
And that was a lovely thought. She hadn’t met many people who even made her wonder if they could give her father a run for his money.
favorite type of romance. And for more chances to win this book or Can’t Help Falling in Love, visit http://cherylharperbooks.com for a list of other blog giveaways and information on the final Rock’n’Rolla Hotel book, Santa, Bring My Baby Back, coming in