For the last eight months, Mandy has lived across the hall from a caveman.
He won’t trim his beard, he mostly talks in grunts, and he’ll hardly emerge from his cave of an apartment. Ben might be a grumpy mess, but she kind of likes him anyway. She’s not attracted to him, of course. Not at all. Those stray feelings are merely a fluke. She’s looking for a man who has it all together, and Ben isn’t even close.
Benjamin Damon is heir to a billion-dollar corporate empire, but he has put his family and that whole lifestyle behind him. No one knows who he is now—not even his pretty princess of a neighbor who refuses to leave him alone.
When she ropes him into taking her with him to work on his mother’s historic Savannah home, he knows it’s a mistake. Mandy represents the world he’s tried so hard to escape, and he can’t let one woman strip him of the new man he’s tried to become. The more he’s with her, though, the more he wants her. Despite his best efforts, he’s falling for her hard—and dreading the day she finds out all of his lies.
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Get to Know Noelle Adams
How did you come up with the idea for this story?
I’ve had the idea for this book for three years now, since I plotted out the entire Heirs of Damon series all at once. I can’t exactly remember how I came up with the idea, except I know I wanted the contrast between Ben, with his full beard and grumpy attitude, and Mandy, with her perfect appearance and cheerful disposition.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I most often get inspired by random things in my life. For instance, I was inspired for one scene in Stripping the Billionaire when I was sitting in church and thinking that Benjamin’s mother would definitely go to church. I’m also often inspired by other stories (books, television, movies, etc.). It’s usually one little thing that ends up launching the story. For instance, I got the idea for A Negotiated Marriage after watching a scene in a TV show that had a woman rushing around, late for work and wearing very high heels. The show had nothing to do with a marriage-of-convenience, but for some reason, that scene inspired me for Molly. It’s usually a little, random thing, and then the story grows out of it.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
There’s a frustration I often feel when I have so many stories I want to tell but not enough time in which to write them. That sometimes make me feel very anxious—like I’ll never catch up to my inspiration—which distracts me from writing at all. I will also often get inspired for future stories when I’m in the middle of writing a current one. That makes me want to jump around and makes it hard to focus on a current project.
What are your current projects?
I’m finishing the final edits on Finished, my next release under the Claire Kent penname, and I’m well under way with my Christmas book, which is the next in the Willow Park series.
Tell us about your first book. What would readers find different about the first one and your most recent published work?
I wrote my first book when I was twelve. It was a time-travel romance that I handwrote in a spiral-bound notebook. I certainly hope readers find my current books different from that one!
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Each book has a different meaning I want to express. They’re not always the same. But I’d say in all of my books I want to portray love for what it is in real life—in all its difficulty and messiness and joy. How that happens varies from book to book, though. It’s very important to me that my books feel real to human experience.
Does music play any type of role in your writing?
No. Not at all. I think I’m unusual in this way, since music seems to inspire a lot of writers. But the only book I can think of where music played a role either in the writing or the finished product was one where the hero was a musician. I love music, but it has just never really inspired me in writing, and I never listen to music as I write.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your life?
I think all books are based on an author’s experiences with life—to a lesser or greater extent, depending on the writer. But we write what we know and understand about love, sorrow, laughter, sex, family, death, and other parts of life, whether we base it on our own individual experiences or not. My books very rarely look like my own life looks, though. I’ve written one character who has a similar job to mine (Leila from Revival) and I’ve written a couple of characters who have had similar romantic experiences as mine, but for the most part their from my imagination and I just use what I know about what life feels like as I write them.
What books have influenced your life most?
Many books and all kinds. Some classics (Little Women, Jane Eyre, David Copperfield), some romances (Patricia Veryan is my favorite romance authors), and some from entirely different genres (I love Agatha Christie and Guy Gavriel Kay).
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Here is a little snippet from Stripping the Billionaire, which really highlights the fun contrast between the hero and heroine:
He stiffened and watched her suspiciously as she walked around behind him.
“I’m not going to touch your big, ugly beard. I promise.”
He rolled his eyes but didn’t object when she started to run the trimmer along the back of his neck.
“Are you sure you want to do this at the dining room table?”
“Better here than on one of my rugs.”
He felt uncomfortable as she worked on him, conscious of her body behind him. When he felt the trimmer come toward his jaw, he muttered, “Don’t get carried away.”
“Relax.” She turned the trimmer off and leaned over to blow the hair off his neck.
The sensation made Ben tense up.
He gave himself a firm mental lecture. He was not—not—going to get turned on by Mandy. He’d done really well about resisting that particular temptation over the last several months, and he wasn’t going to give into it this evening.
“Oh, Ben, you’re a mess,” she murmured. She ran her fingers through his hair, rubbing his scalp in a way that felt incredibly good. “You’re not going to get any action if you’re such a gorilla.”
“I’ll have you know I get plenty of action, and so far I’ve had no complaints.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I’d want to say thank you. I spent years writing and trying to get published in the traditional way, without any success, so it’s been a great joy (and surprise) that there are readers who want to read my books, as they are, and keep wanting to read more.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
They can visit my website: http://noelle-adams.com/. I keep the site updated with book descriptions, book trailers, and buy links. I’m also active on my Facebook page-- https://www.facebook.com/NoelleAdamsAuthor --so that’s a good way to connect with me and keep up with news.
Do you have a special time to write? How is your day structured writing-wise?
I write whenever I can find the time. I have a full-time job, but the hours for it are somewhat flexible, so I don’t have to be in an office all day. I’m most productive when I can start writing at about eight in the morning, but more often I have to write in the afternoons or evenings, when I’ve gotten everything done for the day for my job. I never write late at night. I just can’t think well after about nine in the evening.
Why did you choose to write contemporary romance stories?
When I was in high school and college, I was mostly writing historical romance. I love that genre, and I would actually love to try writing it again. But I would always get bogged down with research on historical details, which got in the way of getting anything written. I turned to contemporary romance at first so I wouldn’t use research as an excuse—and I found I really loved it. The irony is that I still find it easy to get bogged down in research, even in contemporary stories.
What is for you the perfect book hero?
My heroes are almost always achievers, usually very successful in their profession. But they’re not traditional alpha-heroes who control everything, including the heroine. I want my heroes to be like real men—only the best kind of men. They’re always very intelligent, and they’re always very kind at heart. And they always have a good sense of humor.
When you start a book, do you already have the whole story in your head or is it built progressively?
Some of both. I always have the broad strokes of the plot worked out before I start, but the entire story isn’t fleshed out yet. So I’ll know in general that, in chapter 8, the couple needs to have a fight, but I don’t always know exactly what the fight will be about until I get to that point in the manuscript.
When and why did you begin writing?
When I was in eleven, my teacher had us write a story, and the teacher told me—and then told my parents—that I was a born writer. His encouragement really meant a lot to me, and my parents took it seriously and always supported me in terms of writing. I’ve been writing ever since.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I was twelve and wrote my first novel.
Tell us something that people would be surprised you know how to do.
I can recite whole scenes from Hamlet from memory. Does that count?
Will you write more about these characters?
Yes, I think they Damons will show up again. I’m going to write a spin-off series called Beaufort Brides, using the family that was introduced in Stripping the Billionaire. So, since they’re populating the same world, some of the Damons will probably show up in those books from time to time.
Tell us about your first book in the series. What would readers find different about the first one and your most recent published work?
The first book in the Heirs of Damon series is Seducing the Enemy. I think it’s not all that different from Stripping the Billionaire, which is the last book in the series. The line editing was done differently, so the prose doesn’t rely as much on rhythm to convey emotional power, and the hero is a bit more traditionally alpha, but the plot structure and characterization is quite similar.
How hard has it been for you, research-wise, to bring this series to life?
This series hasn’t required a huge amount of research. It’s set in various places (an English estate, Provence, Santorini, Savannah), but I only used places I’ve visited and am familiar with, so the settings didn’t require a lot of research. The Damons are contemporary Americans (even when they live abroad) so their language and such is familiar to me. So the only research I did was on more minor things, like DNA research on MS for Engaging the Boss and Greek property law for Playing the Playboy.
Did you always planned to write Benjamin Damon’s story?
Yes, Ben was the fourth Damon nephew, so I always knew I’d get to his story eventually. He had a minor role in Seducing the Enemy, where he talked to Harrison (the hero of that book) in the black moment, and I always knew I wanted a matching scene in Ben’s book, where Harrison talked to him in his black moment. I really like how it worked out.
How would you describe this series to someone who has not read any of the books but is intrigued by the concept?
The Heirs of Damon books follow the four nephews and heirs of a rather eccentric billionaire who wants to live like an 18th century lord of the manor and puts a lot of pressure on his nephews, leading them to the plots of the four books. The books are romantic and amusing and a little bit steamy, with a lot of heart.
Instead of taking the hint that he should leave, he came over and sat down on the edge of her bed. His beard and hair were disarrayed, but there was something masculine, powerful about the breadth of his shoulder, the lines of his bare chest, the way his lean abdomen tapered down to the waistband of his shorts.
When her body began to like the look of his body, Mandy realized it was really not a good idea for him to be sitting on her bed this way.
He was still focused on the conversation, though. “I don’t think there’s anything silly about missing your parents. I don’t think it’s wrong to cry about them sometimes.”
For some reason, his sympathy and understanding prompted another surge of emotion. She twisted her face to control it. “Thank you. I think I’m a pretty happy person in general. You know? I have a good life. But I don’t know if I’ll ever feel as safe and content and connected as I did with them.”
She sniffed and blotted at her eyes with the back of her hands.
Ben moved over in the bed so he was propped against the headboard. Then he pulled her under the crook his arm. “I know,” he murmured. “I know.”
She huddled against him, taking comfort in his warmth and his strength. Even the beard didn’t feel scratchy as it rubbed against her skin. It was softer than she’d expected.
“Sometimes I’m just…lonely,” she admitted, feeling like she could speak the truth right now. In the dim room. With Ben. She felt like she could be heard. Understood. Safe.
“I know.” He was stroking her bare arm and her hair now
“I have great friends. I have nothing to complain about. But I think that’s why I’m so focused on finding a husband. Because I want to…I want to feel that way again. Sometimes, I’m just…lonely.”
“I know.” He tilted his head down to nuzzle at her hair. “So am I.”
The vulnerability in the words surprised her, since Ben was never vulnerable. She looked up toward his face, and was surprised to see something on his face that looked like hunger, longing, need.
She’d never seen anything like it.
Her breath hitched. “Ben?”
“Oh, Cupcake,” he murmured with a rasp in his voice.
Then he was tilting his head down even farther and meeting her lips with his.
It wasn’t like the little kiss from the day before—that had been light, almost playful.
This was deep immediately, hungry immediately. She opened her mouth to his as a wave of intense need overwhelmed her.
She needed Ben. Needed all of him. She needed his understanding and his strength and his humor. This connection she was feeling with him. She needed his warm presence. His body. So much.
His tongue explored her mouth as he eased her down onto her back, moving over her with an urgent entitlement that thrilled her.
“Mandy,” he murmured, lightening the kiss so his lips were just playing against hers for a few moments. There was a palpable tension in his body, though. “Mandy, please tell me if you want me to stop.”
It was too fast. A little voice in the back of her mind was screaming that this was too fast. She and Ben weren’t ready for this yet. But the rest of her drowned out that little voice with a desperate, needy desire she’d never felt before.
“Oh, God,” she gasped, reaching around to run her hands up and down the strong planes of his back. “I don’t want you to stop. Please, don’t stop.”
About Noelle Adams
Noelle handwrote her first romance novel in a spiral-bound notebook when she was twelve, and she hasn't stopped writing since. She has lived in eight different states and currently resides in Virginia, where she teaches English, reads any book she can get her hands on, and offers tribute to a very spoiled cocker spaniel.
She loves travel, art, history, and ice cream. After spending far too many years of her life in graduate school, she has decided to reorient her priorities and focus on writing contemporary romances.