Aussie Author Round-Up: Madeline Ash, The Playboy's Dark Secret
Today it is my pleasure to welcome Australian contemporary romance Author Madeline Ash to my blog, in celebration of her April release of, The Playboy’s Dark Secret.
Madeline has always lived in Melbourne and yet, while she’s emotionally allergic to spontaneity, doesn’t mind the weather that drags her into the rain when she’s planned for sunshine - she likes to call it her wild side!
She is a Virgo, vegetarian and, once had a romantic suspense style dream in which the hero was a shredded lettuce sandwich and the villain was a cherry tomato – the tomato got away! She took that dream as a sign that she should stick to writing contemporary romance.
Her colleagues generally introduce her as “The Writer” and she quite enjoys the mystery that hides in such a title, such as “cloaked, puffing a pipe, hunched madly over a typewriter”, although there’s quite a stark contrast between herself and such mystery.
Madeline’s own family have inspired her to bolster the romance in her novels with the love of family.
Both Destiny Romance titles, Uncovered by Love, Madeline’s debut novel, was published on the 10th December 2012 and, The Playboy’s Dark Secret, her second novel, on the 14th April 2014.
Please feel free to pull up a stump and get to know her a bit more.
Before I continue though, I’d just like to thank Penguin Books Australia, more particularly Anna of their publicity department, without whom this interview would not have been possible.
Madeline, it’s really lovely to have you here, thank you for popping by.
Thank you so much for having me, Marcia.
Can you tell us a little about your latest release The Playboy’s Dark Secret?
Of course! After leaving behind an international career and an elite party lifestyle, soccer star Dean Thorn has returned home to run the family vineyard after thirteen years abroad. Tormented by a dark secret, he has vowed never to get close to a woman again.
No stranger to hard work, Rafi Dalton is too busy for love. Since running away from her career as a professional ballerina, she has been building a new life for herself as a seasonal worker with little money and no fixed address.
Rafi is nothing like the women Dean left behind. She is strong, independent and uninterested in his money. The attraction between them pushes him right to the edge of restraint, but the darkness in his past makes it a struggle to trust her.
The Playboy's Dark Secret is a tender, sexy romance set on a beautiful Australian vineyard.
Wow, that sounds like some story and one that could possibly be enjoyed with a glass of velvety red! But back to our subject. Please share a bit about yourself and your journey to becoming an author?
I studied Professional Writing at uni, with no real idea of what I wanted to write – until a guest lecturer captured my interest. She wrote romance. Her writing life sounded so fabulous that I immediately tried to write a category romance novel – it was an achievable word length, I loved reading romance, and it was as good a genre as any to attempt. Pretty soon, writing romance shifted from a goal to a passion.
It took me years and years to get it right, and over 10 rejections. In the meantime, I joined a critique group, attended Romance Writers of Australia conferences, and became a better writer through practice. In late 2012, I submitted Uncovered by Love to Destiny Romance, and received a call within the week, offering me publication. The learning curve changed directions at that point!
What do you enjoy most about writing contemporary romance?
I love weaving humour, sadness, and sensuality into one emotional story. There’s nothing quite like giving characters difficult pasts, but the strength of mind to find humour in the present. I always call it a successful day when I leave the keyboard feeling emotionally drained.
Such breadth of emotion can be written in any genre, of course, but I happen to enjoy crafting it within the realm of contemporary romance!
I come from a family of only two sisters (mine is younger than me) so I’d like to know what it was like growing up as the middle sister?
Honestly, it was tricky. There was a five year age gap between my two sisters – which is considerable when you’re young – and I was smack bang in the middle. There were a number of years when they couldn’t really play together because of the age gap. So I always had to choose: do I feel like playing dress-ups or pretend school today? I also had to choose which sister I would ultimately upset by playing with the other, which was never easy. Attempting to all play together tended to end with the others fighting, me trying to mediate, and then everyone being sent to their rooms!
I certainly experienced middle child syndrome. My older sister achieved highly in school, and my younger sister was the cutest thing and knew how to get her own way. I was quiet and unassertive, so often felt like the boring one. I remember when my older sister started getting adult privileges, like staying up late to watch television after my sister and I had to go to bed. Then when I reached that same age, instead of my younger sister still having to go to bed, Mum (understandably) gave in and let her stay up too. These kinds of things stung at the time. Oh the woes of being a middle child!
Now, we all get on wonderfully. It’s so good to have those years behind us.
Believe you me, "the adult privileges" dynamics exist in a two-sibling family as well, so you're not alone! But, if you could ask your readers one question, what would it be?
Ooh, um…Would you like to read about Rue’s happily ever after?
(He’s Dean’s younger brother in The Playboy’s Dark Secret – and I hope the answer is yes, because his book will likely be out at the end of the year!)
Madeline, thank you so much for joining me today and once again, congratulations, but before you go, would you mind sharing an excerpt from The Playboy’s Dark Secret?
Thank you so much for chatting with me, and another thank you for the congratulations :) The following excerpt is taken from Chapter Five:
"Boiling water rushed over Rafi’s dinner. Tiny air bubbles clung to the instant noodles and then popped as she swirled the bowl gently. Her stomach growled, but having resorted to her backup food twice already this week, the noodles were the last thing she wanted.If you are interested in obtaining copies of Madeline's novels, they are available for purchase from:
‘Don’t look at Mummy,’ she said. ‘You should learn that this is a sometimes food.’
Lucy looked up from the floor of the communal kitchen, soggy rusk in her fist.
‘That’s direct disobedience,’ Rafi said mildly, putting a hand on her hip. ‘Go to your room.’
Her daughter went back to her rusk.
Rafi leaned against the bench, squinting under the stark light of the fluorescents, and tightened the cord of her cotton dressing gown. She stared at the dining table as she waited, a table that could seat a crowd. The wooden surface was scratched and heat-scarred, just as the linoleum was worn and curling up against the walls, but it was clean, like the oven and the crockery, so Rafi didn’t mind.
She’d eat in her cabin, though. Autumn had spread over the valley like a possessive hand this week, clutching the night in cool fingers. She didn’t want Lucy to get cold, and she didn’t have the heart to ask the kitchen heater to do more than pretend to be capable of turning on.
She drained the water from the bowl and shook in the flavouring sachet. After lifting Lucy on to her hip, she stuck a fork in the bowl and carried both outside. Light was fading to dusk, but she didn’t have to go far. Just along the side of the communal kitchen, around the corner of the laundry, then along the path until she reached her cabin at the end of the row. But as she rounded the corner, her eye was drawn six cabins ahead to the front light she’d left on – and to the person on the small porch beneath it.
Dean was knocking on her door.
She froze, unprepared.
His hand lowered to his side. He gazed down at the threshold as he waited, shifting his weight on to his back foot. When he knocked again, she caught sight of his other hand, partially concealed behind his body.
It held a foil-covered plate.
She groaned, blushed, and desperately wished he would retreat. That afternoon had stripped her pride like bark, exposing the raw flesh of her dignity. Dean standing at her door scratched at that flesh, cutting deep. She couldn’t handle seeing him so soon, not alone. The things he must think of her…and to see her with Lucy, knowing she hardly had enough money for herself, let alone a child.
No need to panic. She’d just wait him out.
Unfortunately, Lucy pointed out the plot hole in her mother’s plan. Namely, that she had a baby daughter who was uncomfortable in the cool night air. She grizzled, twisting and kicking, and with no free hand to catch her, Rafi couldn’t risk Lucy breaking out of her grip.
Dean frowned, hesitated, and knocked again.
Rafi had no choice. The only source of relief was forward.
Chin high, she set off along the path. It wasn’t until she passed Patricia and Harry’s cabin that Dean noticed the movement. He turned, expression cautious, and caught sight of her. Every muscle in his face seemed to slacken with shock.
Rafi halted at the base of the steps and hitched Lucy higher on her hip. Swallowing indignity, she said, ‘My turn to scare the hell out of you, wasn’t it?’
She’d succeeded. He stared at Lucy, completely motionless but for the slow fall of his chest. Rafi waited, surprised at how fiercely she ached for him to look at her with desire in his eyes, despite everything.
‘She’s yours,’ he said, and looked up, agonisingly neutral.
He nodded slowly. Then, as if so many questions rushed to the tip of his tongue that none could actually make it out of the cram, he said, ‘We had leftovers. Cacciatore.’
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