It's my pleasure to welcome two of my favorite people back to The Romance Dish today. Historical romance author Vanessa Kelly and her husband Randy comprise the contemporary and romantic suspense writing team of V.K. Sykes. Vanessa and Randy join us today to celebrate the release of the fifth book in their USA Today Bestselling The Philadelphia Patriots contemporary romance series. You can find more information about V.K. Sykes books at their website and connect with them online at Facebook and Twitter. You can also find information about Vanessa's historical romances at her website and connect with her online at Facebook and Twitter.
Hi Vanessa and Randy! Welcome back! It's always a pleasure to host you here at TRD.
Summer has arrived which means baseball season is in full swing, the perfect time to launch the newest title in your Philadelphia Patriots contemporary romance series. Please tell our readers what they can expect from Payoff Pitch.
Hi PJ and Andrea – thanks so much for hosting us at one of our favorite spots on the web! Payoff Pitch is book 5 in our USA Today Bestselling series of sports romances about a pro baseball team, the Philadelphia Patriots. What readers can expect from this book is a very alpha, sexy hero with a heart of gold, and a strong-minded but slightly insecure heroine who is working hard to support herself and save up for law school. Noah and Teddy come from very different worlds, and it’s a challenge for both of them to reconcile how they live and what they believe in. So, it’s probably a little more angsty than some of the earlier books—it has a bit of a New Adult vibe—but it’s also a very sexy story, too. These two are really hot for each other!
Would you like to share an excerpt from Payoff Pitch?
Sure! In this scene, the hero (Noah Cade) is going to pick up two dogs he’s just adopted. Teddy Quinn, a dog walker and our heroine, is along for the ride to help him.
Noah could hardly believe how fantastic—mouth-watering, really—Teddy Quinn looked with the wind streaming though her coppery hair as they rocketed down I-95 with the Cadillac Escalade’s windows cranked down. He’d borrowed the loaded SUV from his buddy, teammate Nick Rome, since there was no way he could fit two huge dog crates into his BMW.
Though the wind noise was practically deafening, Teddy had asked him to shut off the AC and open the windows so she could breathe the clean air of an unusually fresh June evening. Ever since he picked her up at her place in Manayunk, he’d been fighting to keep his attention on the road. Her white shorts showed off her slim, athletic legs, and the tight red tank top left little to the imagination when it came to the upper half of her body. Earlier, she’d covered her shoulders with a light sweater, but now it lay folded in her lap, exposing a lot of smooth, pale skin and a cute dusting of freckles for his gaze to lock onto.
Noah had hoped in vain that Cristina might suck it up and accompany him to the airport to meet the dogs’ flight because he figured he could use some help to get them loaded up and safely home. But the housekeeper had balked. For the first time since she’d come to work for him, they’d had a heated argument and, for once, Noah had matched Cristina’s voluble temper. Still, she’d been adamant, and when Noah persisted she’d practically shouted that he should take along “that girl” if he couldn’t handle a couple of dogs by himself. Noah had winced at what might be a slur on his manhood, but what really got to him was Cristina’s tone of voice when she said “that girl”. It gave Noah serious worries about future relationships in his house.
Cristina hadn’t even met Teddy yet, but apparently she’d already conceived an irrational dislike of her. He’d humor her for now and see how the situation evolved. But as much as he appreciated Cristina’s work, he wouldn’t tolerate discord in his home from an employee that he paid damn well and treated almost like family. He needed Teddy, as was obvious from tonight’s little outing.
“This should be fun.” Teddy smiled as she turned her head toward him. Her hair whipped across her face in a stream of red shot through with gold, and she took a moment to push it back. “Thanks for including me in the welcoming party.”
Noah shook his head as he took the exit ramp for the airport parking garage. “No, I’m the one who should be thanking you. I wasn’t thrilled about having to wrangle two dogs and their crates by myself, and I wouldn’t even broach the subject with Cristina.” He’d decided to use that small lie since Teddy didn’t need to know about the confrontation he’d had with his housekeeper. “I’m just glad you were free tonight. Free in both senses, apparently, though I would have been more than happy to pay you for your time, like I said.”
Teddy dismissed that with a wave and a dazzling smile. “Think of tonight as an introductory special for a new client. Besides, it makes a lot of sense that the dogs see us together as soon as they get out of their crates. They’re going to have to get used to seeing a lot of both of us, right?”
“Oh, yeah,” he agreed, “an awful lot.”
And maybe in some interesting positions, too, with a little luck.
Okay, he’d like to think that particular thought had come out of nowhere, but he’d be lying. He wondered if she’d had any of the same lustful thoughts he’d been having since the day they chased down Buster. He thought maybe she had, since she always seemed a little flustered around him.
As Noah pulled into Garage C, Teddy’s pink mouth turned down at the corners. “I can’t stop thinking about your aunt. It must have been so wrenching for her to say goodbye to Toby and Sadie today. I can’t even imagine having to go through that.”
He grimaced. “Aunt Roz called me early this morning to tell me her friend and the dogs had hit the road for Dallas to catch the direct flight. She was pretty broken up.” Noah had been forced to brush away a tear himself after the short conversation. “I promised her again that I’d do everything I could to keep her darlings well and happy. And I made a point of letting her know that I’d hired a truly loving and responsible person to take care of them when I’m gone.” He gave her the warmest smile he could. “She was some happy about that, believe me.”
Teddy momentarily dropped her gaze as a blush of color spread over her face. “I appreciate that, Noah, but you don’t really know me. I’m not sure why you’d have that kind of confidence in me yet, especially after the Buster affair.”
He squeezed the Escalade into an empty slot on the first level and turned to her. She watched him with an earnest, almost wary expression in her eyes. “I know you enough, Teddy. For one thing, I saw firsthand how much you cared for Buster. And I saw how the dog reacted to you. That told me all I need to know when it comes to trusting you with my aunt’s dogs. It was a crazy day, and you handled everything really well. That was enough of a job interview for me.”
Her smile lit up her cute face as she glanced down at her elbow, no longer swathed in bandages but still obviously far from healed. “Then I guess this was a small price to pay for a great opportunity, huh?”
“I’m glad you think so,” Noah said as he got out of the car.
Opportunity? Teddy wasn’t his usual type—plus she was his new employee—but for some reason it felt like most of the opportunities in the current situation were his. And that was way more appealing than it should be.
You threw a mighty big – and very volatile - obstacle in the path of our hero and heroine’s happy ending in this book. What is it about Noah and Teddy that convinced you they could overcome their differences and achieve that happy ever after?
They’re both kind and responsible people who share a tendency to put the needs of others first. That helped them get past their ideological differences and discover an emotional resolution to their problems.
Payoff Pitch is the fifth book in your Philadelphia Patriots series. What is it about the athlete hero that appeals to you as a writer?
Randy is a baseball fanatic and is incredibly knowledgeable about the sport, so it’s a world he’s really comfortable writing about. For me, I like the idea of these super-fit, sometimes slightly spoiled alpha males who live in this rarified environment. It’s always fun to see what happens when you give them smart, take-no-crap heroines who push them out of their comfort zones.
Noah wasn’t the only male who stole my heart in this book. There were a few four-legged characters, and one in particular, that I’d be happy to have follow me home. Is Toby based on a real-life dog or is he a product of your imagination? Are there any four-legged creatures that share your life?
Toby is based on a real life dog—my last standard poodle, also named Toby. Honestly, he’s a ringer for my old guy, who died some years back. Randy also used to be a dog breeder so there’s very little he doesn’t know about dogs. Sadly, Toby was my last dog since we now live in a condo. But there’s a family dog—a lovely Norwegian Elkhound—and we do get to babysit him on occasion.
Will there be more Philadelphia Patriots books?
Yes, we have the first draft of the next book—the hero is a catcher.
Let’s talk about the two of you for a bit.
Summer is a great time for picnics and get-togethers. If the Patriots players and their families invited you to a potluck picnic what dish would you bring? Which of you would do the cooking or, like your writing, would it be a team effort?
Randy, who is super-competent at almost everything, is kind of a disaster in the kitchen. He does have one dish he’s good at—chili—but that’s probably too hot for the summer. I think I’d make my mother’s macaroni salad recipe. I LOVED it growing up—it’s so simple and still so good.
I love loading up my Kindle and relaxing on the beach while I catch up with oodles of great summer books. Where’s your favorite summer place to read and relax? What books are on your summer reading list?
We have a nice balcony on our condo, which is lovely in the late afternoon when the sun is off it. I’m on a bit of a historical binge right now—I’m currently reading Vixen in Velvet by Loretta Chase, and next up is the last MacKenzie book by Jennifer Ashley and one of the Amelia Peabody mysteries.
Earlier this year, you released Lethal Confessions, a gritty romantic suspense novel, also with a baseball connection. Do you have more romantic suspense novels planned? Will you be taking readers back to south Florida anytime soon?
We actually have a completed draft of the sequel to Lethal Confessions. We’re hoping to get that out sometime within the next six months, or so. Lots of books to work on!!
Thank you so much for visiting with us today. Would you like to ask our readers a question?
I’d like to know if they watch summer sports, and who’s their favorite athlete! Two people who comment will win digital copies of our Philadelphia Patriots anthology, which contains the first 3 books in the series.
He’s a billionaire ballplayer…
Noah Cade, pitcher for the Philadelphia Patriots, has big problems. He’s recovering from a serious injury and he’s just been saddled with his sick aunt’s crazy dogs. Then there’s his dad, a wealthy oilman who wants Noah to retire from baseball and step into his shoes as CEO of the family corporation. All Noah wants is to pitch again and help his team win the World Series, but his family keeps dragging him in the opposite direction.
She’s a small town girl…
Teddy Quinn moved to the city to start a dog walking business for rich people, hoping the income will pay for law school and help her fight the oil corporations drilling the county where she grew up. When Noah Cade hires her as a full-time dog sitter for his high-energy pets, it seems like the answer to Teddy’s financial woes. But the boundaries get blurred when she starts falling for her boss, who uses all his formidable charm to lure her into his bed.
When Teddy discovers Noah’s father owns Baron Energy, she’s devastated. How can she work for—or love—a man whose family stands for everything she hates?
Payoff Pitch is currently available in e-book format for only 99 cents! Buy links follow: