Happy Monday, good people!
Today, My Reading Nook welcomes another fave of mine, Té Russ. When I’m looking for a sweet, sexy, and low angst read, Ms. Russ is my go-to!
Té Russ recently released Love by the Books, which is available exclusively via Amazon for purchase or Kindle Unlimited.
Let’s get to know Té…
Hi Té! Welcome to My Reading Nook! To begin, tell us a little about yourself and your writing.
I found reading as a solace at a young age and a vehicle which broadened her horizons. As an adolescent I used writing to express her unspoken words. Since then, I have gone from writing stories in diaries to attending college for journalism and falling in love, which has allowed those youthful words of love to blossom into a series of stories in her romance novels. This Texas wife and mother of three can be found reading, skydiving, cheering for my MMA fighting husband at, buzzing down the interstate on the back of motorcycles, or kayaking.
Why indie? Did you ever submit a book to a traditional publishers? Or did you know you wanted to self-publish right from jump?
I never submitted anything to traditional publishers, but I did briefly look into it and ask fellow authors about their experiences with it. In the end I decided to go the indie route because of the freedom we have as authors.
Describe yourself in 4 words.
Quirky, caring, stylish, shy.
Where do you draw from for your stories?
Everything around me is an inspiration. From music, to movies to news stories and just people watching, I’m always studying my surroundings.
If your life were a book, what genre would it be in?
What is your superpower?
Do you listen to music when writing? Or do you need complete silence to get your creative juices flowing?
Most of the time. I rarely write in silence. My husband says he can tell what parts of a book I’m working on by the type of music I’m listening to at the time.
What author, living or dead, would you like to talk to over dinner & drinks?
Francis Ray, no doubt.
Describe your latest book, Love by the Books, in 3 words?
Sexy, smart, heartwarming.
What/who inspired this book?
I was literally scrolling through Facebook and saw a picture of a cologne in the fragrance of paperback books. Which is real by the way (I looked it up). I started thinking about how much I love the smell of books when I walk into a bookstore, and wondered what it would be like if a woman enjoyed that scent on a man.
What next can we expect from you?
I’m gearing up for book three in the In the Line of Love series. The last two books featured police officers. The next one will kick off a couple of firefighters. I’m actually going to go and do a tour at a fire station for research. We will probably do a video and post it on my youtube page. So be on the lookout for it!
Find Té Russ on the interwebs:
The last year for Carmen hasn’t been the best… and that’s putting it mildly. But things are starting to look up. Especially when she meets Sebastian, a lover of books and an obvious man of her own heart.
From the minute Sebastian locks eyes with Carmen, he knows there’s something special about her. And he intends to find out just what that is.
In no time, they discover that their passion for each other just may be stronger than their passion for books.
Read an excerpt from Love by the Books
“You can’t be serious!”
I stopped walking, pulled my phone away from my face and glared at it, as if the man on the other end of the line could see the expression on my face. Letting out an exasperated sigh, I put the phone back up to my ear and said, “You know damn well, that I’m completely serious.”
I started walking again, weaving my way through the crowded sidewalk and the man on the phone said, “Carmen, the amount you’re asking − for a debut author, it’s unheard of!”
“And the profits you’ll make from this debut author within the first week will be unheard of,” I said. “And I haven’t even mentioned movie rights yet.”
“You actually think the book is that good?”
“I know it’s that good. I wouldn’t be pitching it to you if it wasn’t that good. And I know you’re looking for something to redeem yourself after that last flop of a book turned movie.”
I stopped walking again, holding my breath, because well…I’d just played my trump card, my ace in the whole, my Hail Mary.
You get the picture.
“Carmen,” he sighed.
“Look,” I said, feigning indifference. “You either sign him with the advance we’re asking for or I’ll shop him with another publishing company. That’s all there is to it.”
But that wasn’t all there was to it.
This moment was all there was to it, because this was our last hope. Every other publishing company had turned my client and his book down. His amazing, definite bestseller in the making book.
Bobby needed this win.
I needed this win.
Another sigh came through the phone and then, “You sure he’s worth it?”
“He has a great book. I guarantee that there will be a bidding war between the production companies over the movie rights and it’s going to be a great movie in the hands of the right studio. In fact, it could be the next blockbuster franchise of movies. Bobby is already working on book three. And he’s easy on the eyes. Women will eat him up. It’s like you’re getting the trifecta. Now the question is, do you want your publishing company to be the one raking in all the money from his success? Or will you be sitting up there in your office regretting that you didn’t listen to me?”
I could hear the faint tapping of a pen on the desk through the phone. My grip tightened nervously around my purse strap and then I heard one final sigh.
The sigh of concession.
“Fine, Carmen. You’ve got a deal.”
I nearly yelped and jumped in the air with excitement. But my hip hugging, knee-length pencil skirt and four inch stilettos didn’t allow for such celebrations.
So instead, I calmly said, “I would like the contract in my inbox in the next fifteen minutes for Bobby to sign.”
Once he agreed, I said goodbye and hung up the phone.
I turned and looked up at the sign in the window where Bobby wanted me to meet him. The place where he’d apparently spent much of his time creating the books that I’d just gotten him a multimillion-dollar advance on.
How I, Carmen Jones, lover of all things books, had never stumbled across this quaint little bookstore − By the Books − was beyond me.
The moment I walked in, I felt right at home. As I did every time I walked into an old bookstore, I took a deep breath and my nerves calmed instantly.
One intriguing thing about this bookstore was the long bar against the wall.
The man behind the bar was more intriguing. He was leaning against a tall pillar, one leg clearly propped up on a shelf. He was gorgeous – with his honey-kissed skin, low cut waves on his head I could imagine swimming my fingers through, and strong jawline that was slightly tense as his dark eyes narrowed in thought. My eyes traveled down to his strong arms, and then down to his hands, which held the book he was clearly absorbed in reading.
It was the sexiest thing I’d seen, probably ever. The sapiosexual in me was having a field day with watching the man so engrossed in his book. One of his long fingers reached up to the top of the book and gingerly turned the page and I literally had to bite back a moan.
It had been way too long since I’d had sex.
But being a literary agent − being the best damn literary agent − didn’t leave much time for a social life.
So here I was, standing in the middle of a bookstore, about to have a damn orgasm from merely watching a sexy ass man reading a book.
As if sensing my odd voyeuristic self, he looked up. Right into my eyes.
I stood there frozen as he watched me, watching him. His lip curled up slightly, revealing a dimple. No man who was this fine had any business having a dimple. My panties might as well have just singed off.
I blinked and finally turned my gaze away from what I knew would be the object of my wet dreams for many nights to come and smiled at Bobby, who was hurrying toward me as he came down one of the aisles of books. He had a hopeful look in his eyes. The same hopeful look he had in his eyes when I’d called him to my office after I’d spent all night reading the book he’d submitted and I knew I was holding a future bestseller. The same hopeful look that he had when I offered to be his literary agent. The same hopeful look that I saw diminish over time when we received rejection after rejection by nearly every publishing company because they couldn’t see what I saw.
I hated seeing that hope fade.
“Well,” he said, when he stood in front of me, wringing his hands.
My phone pinged and I held up a finger to Bobby and looked at my phone.
It was the email.
I unlocked my phone, opened the email and said, “Bobby Archer, how does it feel to be a multimillionaire?”
Bobby’s eyes nearly popped out of his sockets. “What?” he rasped.
I quickly scrolled through the email until I reached the compensation portion of the contract and then turned my phone around so Bobby could see the figure.
“That’s – that’s what I’m getting?” he asked, looking as if he might faint.
I nodded, my lips spreading into a wide grin.
“You did it, Bobby!” I said proudly.
Bobby shook his head slowly and then he let out the loudest whoop, causing everyone to turn to look in our direction. He kept whooping over and over, and then he picked me up and spun me around in a full circle, before setting me back on my feet and hugging me tightly.
“You did it, Carmen,” he said, when he released me and I noticed his eyes were actually glistening. “You were one of the few people who believed in me, and believed in my stories. And now−”
“You’re gonna be a famous writer,” I said.
“I’m gonna be a famous writer!” he shouted and the patrons in the bookstore seemed to feed off of Bobby’s energy as they clapped and cheered for him. Bobby turned to the sexy reader and said, “Bas, drinks for everyone! On me.”
We made our way over to the bar where Mr. Sexy Reader − a/k/a Bas, as Bobby had fondly referred to him – was still watching us. He grabbed a napkin and tucked it between the pages of his book as a bookmark and put it under the bar. It was good to know he wasn’t one of those page-folding monsters.
He deftly lined the bar with several shot glasses, and then turned to grab a bottle from the shelf from behind him. I was slightly surprised to see it was tequila. I took a better look at the shelf and realized that it was stocked with quite a few different spirits.
As he quickly filled each glass, Bobby said, “Bas, this is the agent I was telling you about. My agent.” He shook his head in disbelief, as he added, “I have an agent.”
“Yes, you do,” I said.
Bobby got back to the introductions, which I was incredibly eager for.
“Carmen Jones, this is Sebastian Kincaid.”
Sebastian sat the bottle down, wiped his hand on the towel that was slung over his shoulder, and held it out to me.
“Pleasure to meet you,” he said, setting off a host of butterflies in my stomach.
I reached over and accepted his outstretched hand and those damn flutters in my stomach only intensified.
“Likewise,” I said.
He gave my hand a gentle squeeze before releasing it and went back to pouring shots.
“So,” he said, looking at Bobby with a teasing glint in his eyes, “You’re not going to be too good to write here in our humble establishment now that you’re ‘Robert Archer’, the rich and famous crime thriller novelist, are you?”
Bobby, who’d been passing out shots to the people behind him, stopped and shook his head.
“No way, man,” he insisted. “This place is like home.”
Sebastian nodded and picked up the last shot glass.
“To Bobby!” he shouted and everyone echoed the accolade, myself included.
We all clinked our glasses together, and my eyes locked with Sebastian’s as we toasted.
He gave me a sinful grin before tossing a shot back with the rest of us and then came from around the bar and pulled Bobby into a tight, brotherly hug.
“Seriously though, congrats. I know you’ve worked your ass off to get this.”
“Thanks man,” Bobby said.
I watched Sebastian make his way back behind the bar. The back of him looking just as delicious as the front in his well-worn jeans, and found myself asking, “Your boss won’t mind you drinking on the job?”
He looked me in the eyes and his mouth spread into a smile, showing off his white teeth.
“Nah,” Sebastian said. “He won’t trip off one shot.”
“He must be a great boss.”
“Actually, he’s quite a hard ass.”
Before I got to say anything else, Bobby walked back to the bar with his wife, Ellie, who’d just arrived.
“Is it true?” she asked. “Did he really get a deal?”
I nodded, and her eyes filled with tears before she pulled me into a hug and sobbed on my shoulder. I let her get her cry out. They’d been having a rough time lately. They’d fallen behind on their mortgage, and their third baby was on the way. But even with all their hardships, Ellie still supported Bobby and his dream to one day have his work published.
“Thank you,” she said, when she finally pulled away. “You know how I’ve worried about him working at that dangerous factory job.”
I squeezed Ellie’s shoulders as I said, “That’s not something you’ll have to worry about anymore.”
“We’re going to dinner to celebrate,” Bobby said. “We want you to join us.”
“Oh.” I looked over my shoulder. Everyone had gone back to what they were doing before Bobby received the great news, including Sebastian. He had his book open in his hands again, turning to the page he’d bookmarked.
I didn’t want to leave. Part of the reason was because I hadn’t gotten the chance to explore the large two-story establishment, which seemed to be a bookstore/coffee house/bar. The other reason had chosen that moment to look up to catch me staring at him again. I could honestly just sit and watch him read all day – not like that was creepy or anything.
I quickly turned and smiled at Bobby and Ellie.
“I’d love to,” I said. “But dinner is on me.”
Bobby opened his mouth to argue, but I held up my hand to stop him. “I insist.”
Bobby hesitated for a moment and then nodded. “Let me settle my tab and I’ll meet the two of you outside.”
When I got to the door and held it open for Ellie, I noticed Sebastian pushing Bobby’s hand away, which was holding his credit card, and shook his head. Bobby asked Sebastian something and Sebastian nodded and waved Bobby off. Bobby made his way to the door, shoving his credit card back in his wallet, and I locked eyes with Sebastian one last time.
His lip tilted up, and those butterflies came back when he called out to me and said, “Don’t be a stranger, Carmen Jones.”
Available for purchase or FREE via Kindle Unlimited!
Find Té’s backlist exclusively on Amazon:
I hope you’ve found your next favorite book!