By now you’ve seen the Release Day Spotlight for the Because My Heart Said So by the 4Writers4Love crew and the spotlight on Nia Forrester. Next up, MRN puts the spotlight on Author Jacinta Howard. Let’s jump right in to get to know Jacinta and her work…
I live in Atlanta and have spent many years as a music, entertainment and lifestyle journalist. When I first started publishing romance novels a couple of years ago, I think I shocked a lot of people, mostly those who were used to me covering hip-hop and Atlanta’s bubbling “other-ground” arts scene. But I’ve always wanted to write fiction and knew romance would be my genre because there’s something about love stories that make me smile more than almost anything else. I write mostly new adult contemporary romance. But some of my books also dabble in women’s fiction and pure contemporary romance. I often write about people overcoming difficult situations, the process of healing and what it looks like when you come out on the other side of those experiences fully healed.
Find Jacinta on the interwebs:
Let’s start with your most recent release, ‘Because My Heart Said So’. What real-life inspirations did you draw from for ‘Blind Expectations’?
Well, in real life, I’ve experienced the way expectations shift and twist as a relationship changes. Once you allow someone in, and really open yourself up, I think that’s inevitable — you expect that person to honor that openness, that vulnerability you’re exposing, whether it’s a sexual relationship or even a deepening platonic relationship.
What do you read when you’re not writing?
I read other romance novels a lot, obviously. I also read “literary fiction,” sci-fi, suspense, dystopian… really whatever seems interesting. I’ve never been one of those “genre specific” people– I think that’s kinda weird, honestly. No offense to anyone who reads that way, of course we all have our preferences. I obviously do too. But for me, if the book is good, I’m on it. Period.
What’s your favorite ’90s jam?
Oh, you can’t do that! That’s like asking me to pick my favorite kid. Okay, I only have one kid but you get what I’m saying. There was some great music made in the 90s, man. Bel Biv Devoe had the quintessential 90s song with “Poison.” Then you had Tony! Toni!Tone! “Feels Good”—that is the jam. Radiohead’s OK Computer, Nirvana’s Nevermind, Jodeci’s Diary of a Mad Band, Tupac’s Me Against the World and Makaveli, Eightball & MJG’s On Top of the World, Scarface’s The Diary and Untouchable, Tribe Called Quest’s, Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders…sheesh! And then OutKast’s ATliens and Aquemini both dropped in the 90s. As did Erykah Badu’s Baduizm, D’Angelo’s Brown Sugar and Maxwell’s Urban Hangsuite. Lauryn Hill’s Miseducation did too. This is impossible. Impossible! But among my favorites are OutKast’s “SpottieOttieDopaliscious,” Tupac’s “Str8 Ballin” and “Feels Good.” I literally dance every time that song comes on.
What book do you wish you had written?
There are no books I’d wished I’d written- but I do wish I had certain writing traits or skills. I wish I had Stephen King’s descriptive abilities- he can do so much in a paragraph, it’s crazy. I wish I had James Baldwin’s eloquence. Jesmyn Ward writes really pretty lyrical prose, I wish I had that. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is so witty and insightful, I wish I did that better.
If you were written about in the newspaper, on the front page, what would the headline say?
Why Is She Making That Face?
Morning person or night owl?
Neither really. I don’t hate mornings but eh. I’m not a night owl either. I’m a mid-morning or early evening person, I guess.
♦♦♦ SYOPSIS ♦♦♦
Aristotle once said the only thing constant in life is change. Or was that Confucius? Whatever. People are fluid—they come into your life for a while, and when it’s time for them to float on, Leah has no qualms waving goodbye. The only exception is her neighbor and best friend, Trevor. When all else fails in her crazy world, Trevor is always there, reliable, steady… real. But then one night a heated argument leads to a revelation that shakes Leah to the core. Suddenly, Leah is forced to make a choice. But will her heart survive her decision?
Read an excerpt from Blind Expectations from the Because My Heart Said So Friends-to-Lovers Collection
“Did you get my message?” she pressed when it was clear he wasn’t entertaining the question she already knew the answer to.
“And you didn’t respond because, why?” She leaned her back against the front door because the room was spinning slightly, and crossed her arms over her chest.
“It was late.”
“Bullcrap. You’re ignoring me.”
“We talked the other day, Bright Light.” His use of her nickname made her feel better for a split second before she remembered her mission.
“We only talked for like forty-two seconds before you mysteriously had to get off the phone!”
His full lips twitched. “Mysteriously? It was one in the afternoon. I was at work, and I had a meeting.”
“I don’t like this.”
“You don’t like what?” He cocked his head a little, leveling his gaze on her. Trevor had the most magnetic eyes. They were hypnotizing really. He’d never used them on her, but she understood why women were left fully surrendered to him. They were so dark brown, they appeared almost black. His extra long eyelashes made his eyes even more arresting. She fidgeted beneath his unwavering gaze now.
“You don’t like what, Leah?” he prompted.
“This,” she whispered.
He bit his bottom lip, not breaking his gaze, and her heart started thumping in her chest. She couldn’t get a handle on what his expression meant, or what he was thinking.
“I don’t like for us to not be… us.”
“Maybe we’re not who we were anymore,” he said, his voice low. “Maybe it’s time for us to be something else.”
She furrowed her brow and looked at him. He was talking in Morse code, but his eyes were serious.
“I miss you, Trevor. You can’t leave me.”
She saw his chest heave and the glint in his eyes shift.
“C’mere,” he said, beckoning her with a short head nod.
She closed the short space between them without hesitation, letting him wrap her in his arms. He felt familiar and safe. Trevor always smelled so good, like warmth, and man, and home.
“You don’t ever have to miss me.” He pulled back and looked at her, his arms sliding to her waist. “I’m always right here. I’ve been here.”
“I can’t take your rejection. It hurts my insides.”
His eyes softened and he chuckled.
“Leah. After all this time, you know I want you.”
The way he was looking at her, so intently, made her breath catch. And suddenly, she was hyper aware of him in a way that was dangerous. He slid his hands into the front of her hoodie and pulled her closer, so that if she wanted to, she could tilt her head up and reach his lips.
Where did that come from?
She’d spent a long time suppressing her instant attraction to Trevor. He was too important to let herself go there with him. So she swallowed her desire. She acknowledged the constant hum in her body every time he was near but didn’t let herself fantasize about his dark chocolate skin, or his full lips, or his sleepy bedroom eyes. But now, with him standing so close, smelling so good, the liquor charging her system, her resolve was fogging.
She licked her lips and noticed when his gaze dropped to her mouth and lingered there before he met her eyes again.
“Are you going to church tomorrow?” she asked suddenly, her voice a little breathier than it should’ve been. Her heart rate certainly hadn’t slowed.
“Are you going to church tomorrow?” he countered, grinning. “You’re not gonna be too hung over?”
“I don’t get hangovers.”
He cocked his head to the side and eyed her.
“Often,” she amended.
His hands were in her hoodie, and he pulled her closer, surprising her because now she was almost flush against his sturdy chest. She could feel his body heat, could feel her own temperature spiking, matching her increased heartbeat.
“I thought you were fasting from liquor too.”
“I was but…I failed. I’m not disciplined like you.”
“I think I’m a little too disciplined sometimes.”
She blinked up at him. He was staring at her mouth again, and she pulled her bottom lip between her teeth. This entire situation was dangerous. But she couldn’t move. She didn’t want to. He dropped his head to the space between her collarbone and neck, drawing in a breath she felt him release softly against her skin. His beard, which he’d just recently grown out, was tickling her neck, and heat circled to her stomach and lower until she was literally pulsing. Oh my God.
“Trevor?” She breathed, her brow furrowed as if she expected him to answer why her body was suddenly reacting to him this way.
“You’re drunk, Leah,” he said, his deep voice in her ear now. “And you have no idea. No idea.”
He pulled back and looked at her. “Or maybe you do.”
She looked up at him, her heart thudding in her chest. “What’re you… what?”
He drew in a breath.
“You gotta go home,” he exhaled, pulling her by the elbow toward his front door.
He slipped on his sneakers by the door without releasing her and pushed her outside, closing his door behind them. He reached and pulled her hood over her head as they walked the few short feet to her apartment.
“C’mon, Lee, you didn’t lock your door?” he said when they reached her door, and he pushed it open.
“I told you; you can’t start feelin’ yourself just because you have that little baby piece. It’s like a staple gun; it’s barely gonna stop anyone. And it won’t do anything if you can’t get to it anyway.”
“Stop lecturing me,” she pouted.
He shook his head, mumbling, as he headed quickly to the bathroom, then her bedroom, no doubt checking for an imaginary intruder. He came back still shaking his head at her.
“I’ll be by at ten for church,” he told her once he reached the front door, which she was still leaning against.
“I don’t want you to leave yet.”
He’d stopped right in front of her and was staring down at her with that intense look again.
“I miss you, Trevor. And I feel like you’re pulling away or something. Like, we’re not the same. And you can’t do that–switch everything up on me like that.”
He looked at the ground and shook his head.
“Because things aren’t the same. I can’t keep doing what we’ve been doing, Leah.”
Her heart was hammering in her chest and she felt tears threatening. She licked her lips, and his gaze dropped there before he met her eyes again.
“Why do you keep looking at me like that?”
“I think you know why.”
Those of you who’ve been hanging with MRN for a while already know that I’m a fangirl for Jacinta Howard. I’ve read (and reviewed) every one of her books thus far and I don’t see that ending any time soon. As I mentioned in my review for Finding Kennedy, she could rewrite the damn phone book and I’d read it! You can always trust you’ll get a deeply moving read with characters you want to be your friends.
Find Jacinta’s book list below:
I hope you’ve found your next favorite book!