Today’s special guest author is Aurora Russell. We’re chatting about her new contemporary romance, The Au Pair and the Beast.
During her virtual book tour, Aurora will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!
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.
Please tell us about your current release.
The Au Pair and the Beast is a contemporary Gothic fairy tale romance. It’s the story of a young woman, Veronica, who has recently lost her job and takes a position as an au pair to a young French boy who lives with his brooding, mysterious and wealthy father, Alain, in a castle in the wilds of Maine. It’s a classic sort of romance theme with modern twists and turns, and all of it is intertwined with the fairy tale that Veronica is making up for Jean-Philippe, her charge, at bedtime every night. It has passionate romance, a glorious setting, and even a beast…what’s not to love??
What inspired you to write this book?
Growing up, I loved reading classic stories like Wuthering Heights, The Mysteries of Udolpho, and Rebecca (Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca is one of my all-time favorite movies…still swooning just remembering Laurence Olivier as Maxim de Winter!) and I have always loved the classic beauty and the beast theme as well. I thought it would be a enormously fun to write a contemporary take on a Gothic beauty and the beast mystery story. When I imagined the main characters, they just sprang to life vividly in my imagination as a French father and son, Alain and Jean-Philippe, fleeing from their sad and mysterious past, with Veronica as a young American heroine who also has already known her fair share of grief as well.
I think this excerpt gives a great sense of the combination of intense attraction, intrigue, and humor throughout 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 that 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?””
What exciting story are you working on next?
I actually have another book coming out next month, on March 23, Snowbound with the Billionaire, which is Book 2 in my Anywhere and Always series. It’s the story of Marina and Pierre, who get off to a rocky start at their first meeting at a party, but who are forced together by a blizzard at a remote cabin in Vermont. Sparks fly as they work together to survive not only the storm, but another, more human danger that stalks them both.
I’m also working on a follow-up to The Au Pair and Beast, another fairy-tale-inspired story featuring Marius as the hero, as well as Book 3 in the Anywhere and Always series, Guarded by a Hero.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I had a wonderful teacher in 1st grade who truly inspired me – I cannot say enough good things about teachers! We had an assignment that year to write one book per semester, and then she would sew the book along the fold and bind it with contact paper, just like a real book. When I asked if it was okay if I wrote more than one, she told me I could write as many as I wanted, and then (bless her!) she kindly sewed and bound all of the fourteen or so books that I proceeded to write. I would say that was the first time that I felt like a writer and the feeling just sort of stuck with me.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I wish that I wrote full-time! I have a very busy corporate day job, so it’s a constant challenge to find time to write, especially since I have two young children as well. I just try to reserve some early-morning and post-bedtime time for writing, and my wonderful husband also helps by watching our boys sometimes on the weekends so I can do big writing pushes. I also used to write on my very long bus and train commutes, but everything has been different lately, as I know it has for everyone!
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Great question! I guess it’s a bit quirky that I sometimes find a certain type of tea that I feel goes best with a specific story. For The Au Pair and the Beast, I was fueled by a mix of English Breakfast Tea and a smoky Lapsang Souchong. Also, if I’m stuck or it’s just too darn hot, I will grab a popsicle along with my tea.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Everything! Pretty sure at one point I wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon who also owned a hobby farm with horses in Greenland, and have 12 children. I guess sometimes it’s better all around if childhood dreams evolve…haha!
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Just a huge “THANK YOU”! It is so incredibly meaningful to me when I hear from readers that they have connected with and/or enjoyed one of my stories, and I so appreciate every single reader who picks up one of my books.
Thanks for being here today!