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Anna Sugden Launches A Perfect Compromise

Anna SugdenToday is a big day in the Lair, Anna Sugden’s launch party for the next NJ Ice Cats romance, A Perfect Compromise!  I’m delighted to help her kick it off.  So grab some canapés from the table, give Sven your drink order, and get comfy while we chat about the Ice Cats and their newest couple.

Thanks, Nancy! Sven – mine’s an apple mojito. I can’t believe book 4 is already here. It’s seems like yesterday when we partied to celebrate the launch of the first Ice Cats book – A Perfect Distraction – and now here we are celebrating A Perfect Compromise.

How does A Perfect Compromise fit into the New Jersey Ice Cats series?

A Perfect Compromise CoverThis is Jean Baptiste ‘JB’ Larocque’s book. He first appeared in A Perfect Distraction and his antics caused Jake a bit of trouble. As part of the deal for rescuing JB, Jake took the rookie under his wing. So JB is kind of like another brother in the Badoletti-Jelinek clan.

JB is the character that readers – and my editor – kept asking about. Of course, he had to do some growing up first, before he was allowed to get his happy ever after. And, the right woman had to come along. I always kind of knew the kind of heroine who would be perfect for JB, but it wasn’t until I finished Ike and Tracy’s book – A Perfect Catch – that Issy appeared in my head.

Please tell us a bit more about JB and Issy.

A Perfect DistractionThe thing with JB is that he’s like all young hotshot sports stars. He takes hockey seriously, but nothing else. In JB’s case, coming from a farming family where he had to be responsible from an early age, being talented at hockey gave him a chance to escape and be free. So, he doesn’t want commitment or responsibility. He wants to enjoy life and have fun, not be tied down.

Issy also had a tough childhood and grew up with a lot of responsibility on her shoulders. Unlike JB, her parents didn’t work hard and didn’t worry about paying the bills or putting food on the table for their kids. All they cared about was partying. So she was the sensible one. The one who carried the family’s burdens. Once she left home, she was determined that she would never be in that kind of insecure situation again. So she’s got a solid life plan, a good job, her own home and eventually she’ll find a nice, solid, dependable guy to settle down with and have a family.

Uh oh. That doesn’t sound like JB and Issy are a match made in heaven.

They’re not, for sure. The problem is that when they meet, in a Caribbean resort, they fancy the hell out of each other. And they kind of like each other. They recognise that hey don’t have a future, but decide to have a holiday fling. Which would have been okay, except for an unfortunate bout of food poisoning. Issy finds herself pregnant and that’s where the troubles really start.

A Perfect Trade finalWould you like to share an excerpt?

Sure. This is just before JB and Issy meet. Prior to this, they’ve only seen each other on the beach.

“You owe me, man, and I’m collecting.”
J.B. responded by clapping Taylor on the shoulder as they walked toward the flaming torches stuck in the sand. “Want tips on how to chat up that hot blonde you were drooling over earlier?”
“Funny.” Mad Dog punched him in the arm. “Good thing you make your living handling a puck, not doing stand-up.”
J.B.’s grin faded. “Yeah, well my puck skills aren’t so hot, either. We wouldn’t be here now if they were. We’d be riding around town in an open-topped, double-decker bus, showing off Stanley.”
“We agreed you wouldn’t beat yourself up over that while we’re on vacation.”
“Sure.” Plenty of time for reflection and self-recrimination once he was alone. He owed Mad Dog, and repayment meant ensuring his friend had a great trip. Especially given Taylor was just as cut up about the loss, even if he tried not to show it.
He cracked his knuckles. “What do you need from the master?”
“Use your charm on the hot blonde’s mousy friend. Keep her occupied so she won’t mind when her roommate disappears with me.”
Ordinarily, J.B. wouldn’t have minded the request. Women were the perfect antitdote to a life filled with way too much testosterone. And the brunette in the red bikini wasn’t exactly mousy, though her dark hair had been scraped back into a severe braid. She was pretty in a girl-next-door way and her curves were definitely in all the right places.
What had given him pause was the stiff way she’d held herself, her full lips pinched, while supposedly relaxing. “She seemed a little uptight.”
He’d learned the hard way to steer clear of uptight women. They were impossible to please. They took things way too seriously and saw hidden meanings in innocent words or actions, which led to unfortunate misunderstandings. Like the woman in the Atlanta nightclub who’d nearly derailed his NHL career. Frustrated he wouldn’t take advantage of her blatant offers—J.B. didn’t mess with married women—she’d turned the tables and accused him of coming on to her. It was only thanks to Taylor, Jake and his other teammates that J.B. had come through the crazy situation relatively unscathed.
Still he’d chalked that up to experience. It had taken a female stalker, then a woman who’d lied about him fathering her child, for J.B. to decide uptight women were trouble.
A Perfect Catch CoverTaylor winced, understanding in his gray eyes. “Maybe she was jealous that I waved at her friend. Women fight over me all the time.”
J.B. snorted with laughter. “In your dreams, bro.”
“Who got the highest bid in the Ice Cats’ charity bachelor auction?”
“Yeah, yeah. Shame the winning bidder was your mother’s age.”
“Gilda was a sexy, mature lady with a great body, a lot of experience and an insatiable appetite.”
“Glad to hear she got her money’s worth.”
Mad Dog swore. “Will you help me out or not? We’re only here for a few days and you’ll never see her again.”
J.B. hesitated as they reached the torches. The women were standing by one of the tables closest to the shoreline. Taylor’s blonde looked stunning in an ice-blue sheath that dipped low and clung to her body before ending mid-thigh. But it was her friend that fired J.B.’s blood. She wore a strappy knee-length red dress. Her dark hair was loose, the slight curl at the ends dancing over her bare shoulders as she laughed.
“She’s not looking mousy or uptight now,” Mad Dog said. “Pay your dues, man.”
J.B.’s reluctance vanished. He strode forward. “You got it.”

What inspired you to write this particular book?

Aside from having a rather large soft spot for JB (but don’t tell him!), I wanted to write a story which showed that love requires work and compromise. JB was the perfect character to be at the centre of that story because hockey came very easily to him and failure is tough to swallow.

I also wanted to show another kind of strong woman who is a survivor. That seems to be my theme for heroines. Issy has already faced many challenges in her life. Just when she thinks she’s got everything organised the way she wants it, fate throws a spanner (or wrench) in the works. So she has to be strong once again and make some difficult decisions.

IMG_3700Ah. Spanner/wrench. One of your Two Nations Divided! How did you come up with the idea for that feature on your Facebook page and website?

Although I’m English and now live back here, I’ve spent a major chunk of my life in the US. Whichever side of the Atlantic I’m on, I tend to make mistakes and use the wrong word! So, when I was looking for a fun feature for my website and FB page, that came naturally. I’m always surprised by how many people follow Two Nations Divided – it’s associated with me almost as much as shoes, penguins and black cats! Oh and hockey *g*

How did you become interested in hockey?

anna and stanley 2I’ve always been a sports fan. I used to watch football (soccer) and other sports with my Dad and have always dated men who are into sports. Funnily enough, when we lived in DC, although I skated, I didn’t follow hockey. My first experience of hockey was years ago, when there was an exhibition game over in England, sponsored by Molson, where the Blackhawks played the Canadiens. I was able to go and watch and loved it. Fast forward to when we moved to New Jersey, back in late 2002, and Doc Cambridge asked if I’d like to go to a hockey game. We went to see the New Jersey Devils for the first time and were hooked. We got season tickets straight away. That was the season the Devils won the Stanley Cup and we were there! (that’s me with my boy, Stanley!) I’ve been a tad obsessed ever since.

Just how big a hockey fanatic are you?

Huge. As Cassondra and Donna will tell you, I get the scores sent to my phone! I read hockey news before I read other news. And I watch whenever I can (although the time difference is a killer). Not just my Devils either – I’ll watch whoever is playing and will watch European and English Leagues too. I might have a teensy obsession with hockey memorabilia too. You’ve seen my office, so you know I have the odd item on the walls!

The only think I don’t do anymore is read hockey romances. I stopped as soon as I sold because I didn’t want to ever be accused of plagiarising. So I have a stack waiting for me, when I finish writing the Ice Cats! In the meantime, I read other sports romances, though.

A Perfect Bouquet (front)What’s next for you and the Ice Cats?

I am currently working on book 5 – tentatively titled, A Perfect Plan. It features recently retired Ice Cats captain, Scot ‘Scotty’ Matthews and Issy’s best friend Sapphie, from A Perfect Compromise.

I’m also finishing up a Valentine’s short story to give away on my website, called A Perfect Bouquet. This one features back-up goaltender Chaz ‘Monty’ Montgomery and a florist called Kayla, who doesn’t find red roses romantic. I hope to have an anthology of all the Ice Cats short stories available for sale in March, so keep your eye out for A Perfect Selection!

A Perfect Compromise CoverYou can find more information about Anna and her books on her website.  You can also connect with her on social media this way: FacebookTwitter, Pinterest

For a chance to win a signed copy of A Perfect Compromise, please comment below and tell us: Is there a sport you enjoy?  If not, what do you like to do instead?

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