Sarah Morgan and Her Summer Place

Sarah 2I’m delighted to welcome back to the lair multi-award winning (including two RITAs!) and bestselling author Sarah Morgan who is here to tell us about SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER, the next book in her wonderful O’Neil Brothers series.

SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER recently received a Top Pick review from RT Book Reviews, who said, “Morgan’s romantic page-turner will thrill readers…The chemistry between the misunderstood hero and the victimized heroine is combustible. Morgan’s handling of social and environmental issues impresses, her storytelling rocks and her lovemaking sizzles. Brava!”

Sarah 1Here’s the blurb:

Fiery French chef Élise Philippe is having a seriously bad day. Not only have the opening day plans for her beloved café fallen apart, but Sean O’Neil is back in town, and looking more delectable than ever. Last summer, they shared an electrifying night together…and the memories have Élise really struggling to stick to her one-night-only rule! Her head knows that eventually Sean will be leaving, so all she can do is try to ignore her heart before she spontaneously combusts with lust.

Being back in Vermont—even temporarily—is surgeon Sean O’Neil’s worst nightmare. For Sean, returning home to the Snow Crystal Resort means being forced to confront the guilt he feels about rejecting his family’s rural lifestyle years ago. But discovering that Élise has settled in Vermont and still sets his blood racing is a very welcome distraction! Thinking he can persuade her into a replay of last summer is tempting, but remembering how good they are together is going to make walking away more difficult than he could imagine….

SARAH 3You can find out more about Sarah and her fantabulous books on her website:

Sarah, I absolutely loved your 2013 Christmas book, SLEIGH BELLS IN THE SNOW. And now we’ve got the sequel to delight us, SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER. Can you tell us about this story?

SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER is Sean O’Neil’s story. Sean is a talented surgeon, totally committed to his career. He is forging his own path and much as he loves his family, he doesn’t want to be involved in the family business at Snow Crystal, Vermont. But events conspire to bring him back home for a short time and he’s forced to confront his feelings about the place, as well as his feelings for Élise, the fiery French chef with whom he spent one steamy night the previous summer.

Sean and Élise are both strong, passionate people. They have great chemistry, but neither of them is looking for a relationship and they think they have their feelings under control. They are so wrong! These two were meant to be together, but it takes a whirlwind ride of passion and emotion before they realize it themselves. I had so much fun with this book!

sarah 9Ooh, sounds delicious! What were the inspirations behind this book?

I always enjoy writing about characters who have an intense relationship history. In Sean and Élise’s case it was brief, but it left a lasting impact on both of them. I wanted to explore how two guarded, very independent people manage to lower their barriers enough to embark on a relationship, but I also wanted to look at how family pressure had impacted on Sean.

The resort of Snow Crystal has been in the family for four generations and there has been a huge amount of pressure on all three brothers to play a role in the business.  Sean in particular carries a lot of guilt about rejecting the family lifestyle. I wanted to explore how someone with a different life goal, in Sean’s case to be a surgeon, might respond to that pressure and how he eventually reconciles his loyalty to his family with his own needs and ambitions.

SARAH 4In Élise’s case, she has history that has made her very wary of romantic relationships. She doesn’t trust her feelings and Sean has to work hard to help her overcome her understandable reluctance to expose her heart.

What’s coming up next for the O’Neil brothers?

The final book in the series, MAYBE THIS CHRISTMAS, will be out in October.  Right from the start of this series I was excited about writing Tyler’s story, probably because he’s the bad boy and we all love a reformed bad boy. Since the injury that ended his career as a medal winning downhill skier, Tyler has been helping with the family business. He’s also a single father, raising his teenage daughter Jess, a situation that brings its own challenges for a man used to putting himself first. He’s had plenty of relationships but only one friendship, and that’s with Brenna who he has known since childhood. Brenna’s feelings go way beyond friendship but she doesn’t think Tyler sees her that way.

sarah 5Tyler’s story is a romance, but it also explores love in its widest sense and what it means to be a father, a son, a brother, a lover and a friend. I can’t wait to see this story on the shelves!

Hurry up, October! What were the challenges and/or pleasures of writing a trilogy of three single-title length romances? Do you know anything now that you wish you’d known before you started?

I’d wanted to write a single title contemporary romance series for a long time so being given that opportunity was very exciting for me. The pleasure was in having the extra space to enable me to explore the characters in greater depth. When I’m writing Harlequin Presents the focus is very much on the hero and heroine. It’s like taking a close up shot with a camera. You focus on the couple and no one else. With single title you have a wide-angle view, so you see the couple in the context of the world around them. You see how they relate not only to each other, but to other people. I enjoyed exploring those extra layers of complexity.

sarah 7One of the main challenges was to remember that I had the space of three books to tell the overall story and didn’t need to cram it all into the first chapter!  I wanted the focus to be three brothers, but I also wanted to explore the complexity of being part of a big, loving family. 

As you know, I’m a huge fan of your Harlequin Mills and Boon Presents stories. Do you have any plans to write more?

I do! In fact I’m working on one at the moment. It’s set in Greece and will be loosely linked to my next single title series, which will be out in 2015. I’m very excited about it. I love the emotional intensity of Presents, and of course it’s always fun to add in the glamour and sophistication that is part of that line.

You’ve written a couple of Cosmo Red-Hot Reads (RIPPED and BURNED). Was it a challenge writing short and super hot? Any plans to write more?

sarah 8Last year I had the opportunity to write single titles that were 100,000 words and novellas of 30,000 and I really enjoyed the challenge presented by the different length of story. The Cosmo Red Hot reads are a very intense, short read and, yes, they are super hot! My books are always quite sexy so I simply stepped it up a notch!

I don’t have plans to write more at the moment, but I wouldn’t rule it out because I had so much fun writing them. My next big focus is my new contemporary series for HQN. I’ll be revealing more about that over the summer. I do enjoy variety and I find it good for creativity to move between projects of different lengths. Learning to write short and tight is a good skill for any writer.

You’re so prolific and your books are of such a consistently high quality. Interested parties (well, me!) want to know your secrets. Do you have any time management techniques that really work for you?

sarah 10I put the writing first. There are so many distractions in this job. A writer could spend all day on different social networking sites. I do use Facebook and Twitter and I find them excellent ways of communicating with readers and also making professional connections, but I try and limit the time I spend. All writers struggle with the balance between promotion and writing, but I always try and remember that without the book I won’t have anything to promote so I make writing the book a priority. I do tend to write every day. If I take time off away from the story it’s harder to get back into the flow.

Sarah, thanks for such a great interview. Do you have a question for the Banditas and Bandita Buddies to get the conversation going?

SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER is set in the beautiful lakes and mountains of Vermont. Where is your ideal summer destination?

I love mountains and water and my ideal summer destination would involve both those things, so Vermont would definitely be right at the top of my list. Last summer we had a family holiday in Crete, which is very mountainous and also has fabulous beaches. I have two sons and our happiest vacations involve plenty of outdoor activity because boys need to be kept busy!

BanditBootySarah is giving away a print copy of SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER (international) to one lucky commenter today. So get commenting, people. Good luck!

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  • Jane says:

    Congrats on the new release, Sarah. I would love spend a summer in Europe. I could be in England right now enjoying pub grub and watching a Wimbledon match and then head on over to the French countryside and follow the riders at the Tour de France.

  • Mozette says:

    Way to go on the new book release, Sarah!

    I’ve got fair skin and red hair and I once spent a Summer in the UK and loved it! It wasn’t too hot and wasn’t too cold… and the air and water there really agreed with my skin and hair (I stopped being blotchy and dry and my hair stopped being frizzy and started looking and feeling nice and smooth… how cool is that?). So, I’d say I would spend another Summer in the UK again. 😀

  • Sarah Morgan says:

    Thanks Mozette! Yes I enjoy the fact our UK weather isn’t too extreme (although we did have extreme rainfall over the winter!). This morning the sun is shining and there’s a cool breeze.

    • Mozette says:

      Extreme rainfall??? In Australia that’s a godsend! We’d love to see a lot of rain as it’s such a dry country. Our winters can get really cold and dry and so I’d love to see more rain coming our way. 🙂

  • Wonderful post. Interestingly, your book caught my eye someplace else yesterday so now I know I have to read it. I lived on the coast of Croatia for 4 years in Opatija, where a beautiful emerald green mountain meets the turquoise sea. That is still my ideal summer retreat!

  • Mary Preston says:

    I have a lot of catching up to do. I love that. The expectation alone is worth it.

    I have family up on the Sunshine Coast QLD. As much as I would love to tour the world, several times, it’s still my favourite place.

  • Amy Conley says:

    congrats on the new book Sarah sounds very interesting.
    one of my favorite places to go in the summer time is out of ink anywhere up and down the Outer Banks except for maybe this weekend when there’s going to be a hurricane!

  • Anita H. says:

    Congrats on the new release, Sarah! I’m so looking forward to reading it.

    My ideal summer Paris. I’d love to walk the streets and see the sights!

  • Helen says:

    Hi Sarah and Anna

    Sarah I am loving this series wow they are awesome stories that I could not put down and I am so looking forward to Tyler’s story he is so much fun I love his sense of humour 🙂 Huge congrats on the release and I have also read Burned and loved it as well but I have some catching up to do with your Presents stories lucky me 🙂

    I am more a winter person but in summer I love to be by the ocean so anywhere there is the sea would make me happy we have done a few cruises in the winter of here that take us to warm places with lovely views and of course there is lots of water we are off on another one this November to New Zealand this time can’t wait

    Have Fun

    • Sarah Morgan says:

      Hi Helen! So happy to hear you’re enjoying the series. I can’t wait for Tyler’s story – first chapter is up on my website now 🙂 And happy you enjoyed Burned. Those Cosmo novellas were a lot of fun to write.
      I think I’m probably a winter person too, and I love the ocean so it sounds as though we’re like minded people xxx

    • Helen, don’t mention the cruise to the rooster! He’ll want to come along!

  • SecretNinja says:

    My ideal destination would be Australia! I’ve been there once but I didn’t get a chance to visit all the places I’d wanted to. I’d love to have a chance again to travel around and just take in all the beautiful things they have down there.

    Congrats on your release, Sarah! I’m anxiously looking forward to reading Suddenly Last Summer!! 🙂


  • Robin Driscoll says:

    I think I have found a new destination to add to my wish list. Your description of Vermont sounds perfect.

  • Shannon says:

    I did Vermont one summer. It was lovely.

    My dream trip is still a couple days in London, a trip to Bath, and add in a few castles and manor houses. It would be out of the way, but there’s a castle I saw on the northern coast out the train window. At high tide it was an island, and at low tide, you could cross on the sand. It’s probably private, but what a sight.

    If it has to be a short trip, I’m a fan of Myrtle Beach. It’s busy and crazy, but lots of restaurants when one wants to take a break from the beach. I have a favorite resort with 32 water features, including 3 hot tubs with views of the ocean.

    • Sarah Morgan says:

      That sounds like a wonderful trip Shannon. Bath is lovely! You can visit the Pump room and pretend to be a heroine from a romance novel 🙂 Myrtle Beach sounds fun. I’ll have to check it out! xx

    • Shannon, wondering if that’s Lindisfarne Castle which is a National Trust property and well worth visiting. Or perhaps Bamburgh in Northumberland which is well worth visiting.

  • Maureen says:

    Congratulations to Sarah on the new book! I enjoy visiting the beach. It is the perfect place to read a book.

  • Bube says:

    I had read Suddenly last Summer and I loved it!
    Vermont would be perfect place for me,because I love mountains,peace all around 🙂
    Thank you for the lovely interview!
    Can’t wait to read Maybe This Christmas 🙂

  • Laney4 says:

    Lake Louise at Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. Mind you, it’s special to me not only because of its beautiful lakes, mountains, and forestry, but because I have close family living nearby.

  • Moran says:

    I have SLEIGH BELLS IN THE SNOW on my Kindle and I hope to read it soon- I wish I could take a year off just to catch up on my reading.

    I read Ripped and Burned and I really enjoyed both stories.

  • sandyg265 says:

    We went to Vermont a few years ago. It was a nice trip. Usually we stay home during the summer and go away in the spring or fall when things are quieter.

  • Sue G. says:

    My ideal place is a beach on the ocean somewhere. I just love to sit and relax.

  • Anna Sugden says:

    Hey Sarah! Welcome back to the Lair! So excited to read Suddenly Last Summer – loved Sleighbells! Also eagerly awaiting Tyler’s story. Even though his sport isn’t hockey, I love pro-athletes as heroes!

    We loved our trip to Vermont – we stayed in the Trapp family lodge! 🙂

    My ideal summer destination (okay, I’ll be honest, any time of year destination!) is somewhere with sun, water and a place to relax and read.

    • Sarah Morgan says:

      Ooh Anna I’ll have to take a look at that – the Trapp family lodge sounds perfect 🙂

      So glad you enjoyed Sleigh Bells! Hope you have plenty of sun and water with your reading this summer xx

    • Deb says:

      Oh, wow, Anna! You stayed at the Trapp Family Lodge?!! I was going to write in my response that I ‘d like to visit there since I love THE SOUND OF MUSI and that my daughter played Marta last year in the school’s production of TSOM. Ooh, I envy you, that!!

    • Wow, VA, how cool to go to the Von Trapp lodge!

  • catslady says:

    I’ve never been to New England but would love to, especially in the fall. Actually I would like to go anywhere for a summer get away – mountains or beaches or anywhere in between lol.

  • Deb says:

    Congrats on the new release, Sarah!!
    I have to be honest and say it is hard to choose a favorite summer escape because there have been several I have enjoyed visiting. The Colorado Rocky Mountains, Padre Island, Disneyland, Door County, my grandfather’s homeland of Denmark, or even day trips in my own pretty state of Iowa? 🙂 I would love to visit Denmark again or England or New Zealand or Oz….My sister and her family go to the Lake of the Ozarks every summer, and that looks like a fabulous place as well.
    Thanks fir the interview, Sarah and Anna!!

  • Deb says:

    Congrats on the new release, Sarah!!
    I have to be honest and say it is hard to choose a favorite summer escape because there have been several I have enjoyed visiting. The Colorado Rocky Mountains, Padre Island, Disneyland, Door County, my grandfather’s homeland of Denmark, or even day trips in my own pretty state of Iowa? 🙂 I would love to visit Denmark again or England or New Zealand or Oz….My sister and her family go to the Lake of the Ozarks every summer, and that looks like a fabulous place as well.
    Thanks for the interview, Sarah and Anna!!

  • bn100 says:

    a beach

  • Welcome to the Lair, Sarah, and thanks Anna for a great interview. Your story sounds great, (oh my poor groaning TBR pile!!)

    My ideal summer vacation is a toss up for me. I’d love to return to the Outerbanks with my extended family and just play in the sand and surf. Stay at a beach house and grill out every evening. Sigh.

    The other would be on my grandmother’s front porch in the mountains of Eastern Tenn. Such wonderful memories.

  • Kim says:

    Congratulations on the new release. It’s getting a lot of good reviews.

    An ideal vacation is anywhere that has a lot of historical sightseeing opportunities and a nice beach.

    • Sarah Morgan says:

      Thanks so much Kim! Yes, it’s nice to be able to do some historical sightseeing. One of my favourite summer vacations for that was a trip to Florence a few years ago. Magical. Hope you get to do something wonderful this summer x

    • Kim, I love combining history with a beach holiday.

  • Laurie G says:

    Wisconsin is great for thersummer months. Temperatures are usually in the 80’s with low humidity!

    Perfect weather for walking, biking, swimming and reading!

  • LOL – Anything with mountains and water would be wonderful for me in flat, inland Ohio!

    Actually, I love ocean vacations. I’m originally from Maryland and I need an ocean fix occasionally. There’s something healing and magical about the sound of waves. But Crete! OMG – I’d be so there! LOL

  • anne says:

    Congratulations on your release. I have been to New England when we lived in Canada we drove to Vermont, N.H. and Maine. I love the ocean setting in Maine.

  • elaina says:

    The beauty and Majestic mountains – The Rockies are extraordinary and the glacier lakes. Love to visit since I last went 40 years ago.

  • Becke says:

    Congratulations on the new release.

    I think a summer in the Canadian Rockies would be great.

  • ellie says:

    Italy would be a dream come true. Historic, beautiful, culinary delights and promenades on the beach.

  • Sarah, welcome back, and congrats on all your upcoming releases! I loved Sleigh Bells in the Snow, and Suddenly Last Summer sounds great.

    My go-to destination is Britain, so I’d pick that if I could go anywhere. But the beach and the mountains are also fun in the summer.

  • pearl says:

    A beachside retreat is what I pine for and is relaxing and soothing. Quiet, tranquil and ideal for reading and enjoying walks.

    • Pearl, by the look of today’s blog, you’re not alone in wanting a beach holiday!

    • Sarah Morgan says:

      I pine for that too Pearl! Can’t think of anything better than a beachside retreat. In fact the book I’m writing now has one in it – I want to move there immediately. Have a great summer and thanks for dropping by x

  • Kaelee says:

    My ideal holiday used to be getting in the car and going someplace new. I have been to Vermont and it’s beautiful. At the moment I can’t travel as I have two cats on daily medications. When I’m able to travel again I’d like to visit some of the southern states when it’s wintertime here. I have your first book in the trilogy and will be getting the next one soon. I usually wait to read all three books in a trilogy at once so I’m really looking forward to October.

  • Everybody, thanks so much for swinging by today to say hello to Sarah. Sarah, thanks for being such a great guest.

    Don’t forget to check back to see who won the copy of SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER! Good luck!