When recently laid-off Francophile Veronica Carson is recommended for an au pair job by the elegant leader of her French conversation group, she isn’t sure what to expect—but a Gothic castle deep in the wilds of Maine is certainly not it. Still, she’s drawn in by her joyful little charge, Jean-Philippe, and even more drawn to his brooding father. Ruthlessly successful businessman Alain Reynard has loved before and has no wish to repeat the painful experience. The tragedy of his recent past is still fresh in his mind, and he wants nothing to do with his son’s lovely new au pair. Despite his best efforts, though, he can’t seem to get her off his mind. A passionate romance begins to blossom but is put to the test when painful reminders of Alain’s past return. As ugly rumors swirl, the truths of the past and the present collide. Veronica must decide if Alain really is a beast and, if so, whether she can love him enough to break through the dark memories and secrets that tether him to what once was.
Give us the one to two sentence tagline for your book.
Veronica’s new job comes with a darling little boy, a Gothic castle and…a beast?
What surprised you the most while writing this book?
I fell in love with all of the characters, but it surprised me how much I came to love Jean-Philippe, Alain Reynard’s vivacious and endlessly energetic son. He is really at the heart and soul of this book.
Why did you pick the setting you used for your book?
For a Gothic setting, with rocky cliffs and the gray North-Atlantic Ocean, I just had to choose Maine!
What is the sexiest trait of your hero(s)?
The hero, Alain, is a huge, handsome, scarred, and brooding man…all of which makes him incredibly sexy. Sexiest of all, though, he has a lot of love and tenderness hidden beneath the surface as well.
What is your favorite scene/moment in your book?
Oooh…that’s a tough choice but probably the ending. I don’t want to spoil it but it ties in nicely with the fairy tale that is woven throughout the story.
Tropes get a bad name, but they’re often the biggest draw for readers. What tropes do you love to write and read?
Well, I definitely love a good beauty and the beast story, of course! Also other fairy tales, enemies to lovers, trapped/stranded together, arranged marriage…any juicy twist on an old classic!
Excerpt from The Au Pair and the Beast
Monsieur Reynard was angry—furious, even—so that his eyes were thunderous and every line of his tall frame was taut with barely leashed rage.
“Who are you working for? Who sent you?” he demanded.
“What? I’m working for you—or I thought I was. Madame Montreaux recommended me.” Veronica was genuinely confused and a little freaked out, but she tried to be patient. Maybe something had happened to damage his memory in his recent accident? Still, the look he was giving her sent a chill down her spine. In spite of his injuries, this was a powerful, dangerous man—especially now, when the usually-charming façade was down.
“Yeah, sure. What newspaper? Website? Who are you sending pictures to?” He barked out the questions, stepping closer—so close Veronica could smell his spicy cologne and feel the heat radiating off of him. And how the heck had he gotten down here from the house so fast?
Her mouth fell open. “I’m not working for anyone. I was just sending pictures to my friend. You can read them,” she offered, then added with a snap, “although I don’t appreciate your taking my phone from me.”
He glanced at the partially typed message. “Proof of life?” He raised his eyebrow.
“It’s…ah, an inside joke,” she explained.
He scrolled up and she swore he nearly smiled in spite of himself. “Locked in a dungeon, eh?”
She grabbed her phone back. “You weren’t supposed to see that.” She closed the messages and opened the pictures.
“Here.” She handed him back the phone to show the photos she’d just taken. “They’re all just the ocean. I didn’t think you’d appreciate me taking pictures of the house.”
Aurora is originally from the frozen tundra of the upper-Midwest (ok, not frozen all the time!) but now loves living in New England with her real-life hero/husband, two wonderfully silly sons, and one of the most extraordinary cats she has ever had the pleasure to meet. But she still goes back to the Midwest to visit, just never in January. She doesn’t remember a time that she didn’t love to read, and has been writing stories since she learned how to hold a pencil. She has always liked the romantic scenes best in every book, story, and movie, so one day she decided to try her hand at writing her own romantic fiction, which changed her life in all the best ways. Find out more about Aurora, upcoming releases, and news at https://aurorarussellauthor.wordpress.com/