Please welcome Lily Bishop, best-selling romance author. Lily, could you tell us a bit about your new book, first in the City Lights series, No Strings Attached?
I had never been to Las Vegas until I went with my husband in 2009 for our tenth anniversary. When we planned the trip, I didn’t have a lot of interest. I’m not a gambler, and the reputation of Las Vegas from the media didn’t reassure me much. I imagined prostitutes on every corner, organized crime lords in suits and bowler hats scowling at me from big black SUVs, and homeless everywhere.
The reality of Las Vegas surprised me. It was classier than I expected. We walked around many of the famous casinos on the strip, including the Bellagio, the Venetian, and Paris. Many of the Forum Shops were crazy expensive, catering to celebrities and uber-wealthy. I had never thought about it before, but it seemed that the rich come to play in Vegas. (Note that the one thing that rang true to my image was the men on the sidewalks handing out the brothel cards with semi-naked women, but I’ll just pretend that didn’t happen.)
Short of bachelor/bachelorette parties and gamblers, why else do you go to Vegas? Conventions and conferences. The stereotype is the middle-aged man who parties with people other than his wife, but what if an average working woman goes to a convention in Vegas? What if she meets someone?
From this, Laura Todd emerged, an administrative assistant for a hotel consulting firm in Miami, trying to get a promotion. She’s on the schedule to give a seminar on marketing. While killing time before the conference starts, she meets Fox Thornton at the blackjack table. He’s a hotel industry consultant who is attending the same convention.
What starts as a weekend fling gets complicated. Working in the same industry, connections don’t always reveal themselves until it’s too late. Fox had planned an extended vacation, but instead he takes a consulting contract in Miami for the company where Laura works. There’s more going on with the company books than meets the eye, and Laura seems in the thick of it. She becomes his prime suspect.
I just released the second book in the series, Under His Protection, which focuses on Fox’s brother Lee Thornton, a secondary character in the first book. It’s a year later, and he has started his own security firm. He takes a job as a bodyguard for attorney Elizabeth Crowne to protect her from death threats.
A deeper mystery connects all of the books in the series, but each book has its own ending and resolution.
How is a national luxury hotel chain and a popular television cooking show connected to a Venezuelan crime family with strong ties to Colombia? You’ll have to read the books to find out.
Right now, I envision one additional novel and perhaps a novella tied into this series. I thought it would end at three, but another character is demanding his own story.
Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter of No Strings Attached (PG):
Laura pretended to study her cards, but instead she peeked through her lashes at the gorgeous man beside her. With everyone else at the table in T-shirts and jeans, he stood out in a well-cut charcoal suit as if he had just come from a board meeting. He shrugged out of his jacket and hung it on the back of his stool, then rolled up his sleeves.
He was Man-of-the-Month material. In fact, she could picture him as Mr. July with his tie loosened and shirt unbuttoned to reveal sculpted abs ... Distracted, she hit when she should have stood and busted at twenty-two.
"You jinxed me!" she accused him with a laugh.
He turned that thousand-watt smile on her when he busted after one hit as well. "No, you took my card. See, if I had that one, I would have had twenty-one."
"Oh, blame me." She stacked and re-stacked her chips, then adjusted her scarf. "Any minute you’ll say I'm too distracting."
He turned and his eyes followed the scarf back to her neck, and down to her waist. As his gaze moved up again, it felt like a caress. She looked up and lost herself in bright blue eyes that reminded her of the ocean in South Beach.
"You don't know the half of it," he said in a low tone meant only for her. Amusement lurked just beneath his words.
The old Laura would beat a hasty retreat, but tonight she would follow her instincts and see where they took her. After wasting years on a dead-end relationship, she had vowed to stop drifting through life and to start living. She felt like a femme fatale in her new dress, ready for anything when the silk had slid down her bare skin.
At the moment, however, she was ready for dinner. When her stomach rumbled, Mr. July turned with a grin.
"Hungry?" he asked.
She blushed. "A little. I got here today from Miami and the time difference makes me want to eat everything in sight."
She had blackjack on the next hand. Had his arm edged closer into her space? While collecting her chips, she leaned into him and spotted a little nick on his chin that she wanted to kiss and make better. Come on, Laura, get it together.
She tapped the table for another card when she shouldn't have, but won the hand anyway. Before she could bet again, the pit boss closed the table. Everyone grumbled, but Laura didn't care. She needed to quit anyway.
Laura tipped the dealer and cashed out, but as she stood, the skirt of her dress ripped. She could feel her skirt dangling and sat down quickly, desperate to hide her lacy black thong. She hadn't even brought her purse, only her phone and room key in a wristlet.
"Are you okay?" she heard Mr. July ask.
"Wardrobe malfunction. I have to go." She gathered the fabric in her fist, planning to back out of the casino.
"Let me help." In a flash, he stood up and draped his jacket over her shoulders. It went all the way down to her hips and covered the ripped section. "Better?"
His scent surrounded her. Laura looked up and saw nothing but his blue eyes. "Thank you. I guess I need to go upstairs."
"I'll come with you." At her blank look, he gestured to the fine Italian suit coat. "To collect the jacket."
"Of course," she said, wishing she hadn’t made such a fool of herself. They started walking together toward the bank of elevators outside the casino. His arm around her shoulders felt like the most natural thing in the world.
"Well, this is awkward," she said, when they were alone in the elevator. "Nothing like ripping your dress at the blackjack table to get someone's attention." The ripped dress had stolen her confidence, and where she had been an outgoing flirt earlier, she felt herself slipping back into her natural shyness.
"You didn't have to."
The elevator stopped on her floor, and Laura led the way to her room. "Didn't have to what?"
"Rip your dress. You had my attention already."
She could feel her face heating up at his comment. Maybe there was hope for her yet. She looked up and saw they had reached her room. How had they gotten here so soon? Earlier, when she pulled her suitcase, the hall had felt as long as a football field. She paused outside her door.
"Here we are." When she opened the door, she backed into her room and handed him his jacket with a straight arm. "Thanks for loaning me your jacket. My name is Laura Todd, by the way. It's nice to meet you."
She offered him her hand, and his handshake was warm and firm.
"Fox Thornton. It’s definitely a pleasure."
"Fox? Is that a nickname?" She expected him to take the jacket and leave, but instead he leaned against the doorjamb.
"Long story. How about I tell you over drinks later?"
"I'd like that. But I'll be pretty busy with my conference."
"Let me guess. You're here for the International Hotel Association Conference."
"How did you know?"
"Just lucky. It's the biggest conference here. I'll look for you at the reception."
"Until then ..." He leaned in and brushed his lips against her cheek.
He left before she could protest the kiss—did she even want to protest the kiss? She blinked to clear her head. Wow. Just wow. Mr. July was a heartthrob. Perhaps this conference would be interesting after all.
No Strings Attached is available at most ebook retailers, and can be purchased as a paperback. Links to all the retailers can be found here: http://lilybishop.com/no-strings-attached/
Links for Under His Protection can be found here: http://lilybishop.com/under-his-protection/
About the author:
Lily writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense, and her goal is to blur the lines between romance, chick lit, and women's fiction. Her books are peppered with family members who make things complicated and couples who can't seem to find a way to be together. Lily writes with a Southern flair, but her characters find themselves in exotic locations and dangerous situations. She loves to interact with readers about her characters and stories.
You can find Lily at her