"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
A Fine TIME ..... for Romance!
Bangs has one regret in her life. She wishes shed started writing
sooner. Talk about misspent youth. Instead of honing her writing skills,
she spent her childhood reading horse novels. Walter Farley was her
school Nina was into dark and dangerous. She dreamed about wandering
the world as a trench-coated foreign correspondent. Did she write anything?
No, but she read a lot of mysteries.
abandoned her trench coat once she reached college. Instead, she immersed
herself in the literary classics. She became a literary snob. If the
novel didnt make her eyes cross, then it wasnt worth reading.
The only things she wrote in college were research papers.
out of college, she taught for several years before going to Ireland
with a friend. They stayed in Dublin two years and supported themselves
by singing in pubs. They werent very good, but they were young,
enthusiastic, and wore miniskirts. Nina was too busy singing Irish folk
songs to write.
eventually returned to New Jersey and reality. After teaching several
more years, she grew restless again. Nina lived for short periods of
time in Arizona and California before settling in Texas. It was in Texas
that she finally began writing the romance novels shed grown to
love. About time!
Texas is now her permanent home. Shes come full circle. Nina was born in San Antonio but spent most of her life in New Jersey. Maybe the Texas in her blood accounts for her attachment to strong men, fast horses, and wide-open spaces. Her love of cats? I guess theres no accounting for that.
PNR: Nina, this is your second full-length time travel novel. Why time travel?
Nina B: I started out writing short contemporaries, but soon grew interested in paranormals. A critique partner, Kim Rangel who writes as Kimberly Raye, had published several Silhouette Shadows, and I was fascinated by the possibilities for conflict in paranormal romances. My first paranormal, Touch the Flame, was a very dark romance. It did well in contests, but editors who judged the contests warned me it was probably too dark to be marketable at that time. So I tucked it away, and shortly after got the idea for An Original Sin. Time travel allows me to give free rein to my imagination, to put my characters in impossible situations and watch their reactions. I can mix-and-match worlds, and that's just plain fun.
PNR: Your first romance, An Original Sin, was rather unique. Both the hero and heroine traveled to our present, he from the past, she from the future. What inspired you to combine past and forward time travel in one novel?
Nina B: You can blame that on my cosmic troublemaker, Ganymede. The idea for Ganymede came from a song by Meat Loaf. Once I created Ganymede, I had to decide how he could cause the most mischief, because Ganymede was all about being a pain in the behind. If only one character traveled through time, the other one would still be in his or her comfort zone. Since Ganymede wanted to cause the greatest possible upheaval in both lives, it only made sense that they both had to be flung into a different time.
PNR: What common ground did the two find? Was it helpful that they were both fish out of water?
Nina B: I suppose the old adage that "misery loves company" is true. Each knew what the other was going through. They were connected by what had happened to them. And they truly needed each other to survive. Fortune came from the future, so she could guide Leith through the strangeness of modern life. Leith was Fortune's strength, both physical and emotional. What else would you expect from a Highlander? Sorry, I become attached to my heroes.
PNR: Both your heroes are Scotsmen. What is it that makes these men so attractive?
Nina B: I've always loved historical romances set in the Highlands. I think there's a mystique attached to Highlanders. There's something about a good-looking man in a kilt that pushes my button. Maybe it's because I love reading about alpha males, and Highlanders are always strong take-charge men, even when they're plopped into present day Texas or presented with a woman who says she's from the future. Don't get me started on how much I loved Adrian Paul in the Highlander series. And I've never gotten over Jamie Fraser in Outlander.
PNR: Your new novel, The Pleasure Master, has quite a few humorous moments. Do you feel humor is an important element of romance writing?
Nina B: Romances run the gamut of all human emotions, and certainly humor is a uniquely human emotion. I enjoy dark, emotional romances as well as humorous ones. I loved Justine Dare's futuristic and paranormal books. I'm sorry she never published more in this genre. And before I discovered paranormal books, I loved Anne Stuart's heroes. Certainly Christine Feehan's books prove that dark-and-dangerous is alive and well. I have to admit that Jennifer Crusie's books hooked me on humor. There are many excellent writers who use humor in their books, but my present favorite is Janet Evanovich. I grew up in New Jersey, so I relate with Stephanie Plum. I suppose that humor, as in any emotion, must grow out of the character to be effective. In The Pleasure Master, Kathy is a hairdresser, so she thinks as a hairdresser would. I've tried to make some of the humor grow out of her obsession with "good hair". In the end, to love is to share all emotions with the person you love.
PNR: Kathy Bartlett, 21st century NYC hairdresser, doesn't hold a high opinion of men. How does she wind up in 16th century Scotland with, quite possibly, the most virile man ever, Ian Ross?
Nina B: Kathy thinks her Christmas Eve can't get any worse. She's wrong. Stranded by the side of the highway with only a bag of toys and murderous thoughts of her ex-husband to keep her company, she wishes for a vacation somewhere warm, peaceful, with a man who'd make no demands. The wish-fulfiller on duty that night gets it all wrong. Kathy is flung back to 1542 Scotland and into the middle of an ongoing argument about which Ross brother should be the clan's Pleasure Master. Kathy scares two of the brothers away with a mousse attack, leaving her alone with Ian Ross, the true Pleasure Master.
PNR: Ian's occupation is very interesting. How did he acquire it?
Nina B: Ian's grandfather learned all there was to know about sexual pleasure while part of a male harem. He returned to Scotland to become the first Pleasure Master. The title along with the knowledge is passed to the eldest son. Ian's skill goes far beyond his ability to bring sensual joy in a strictly physical sense. He can touch a woman's mind, her emotions, without ever touching her body. Truly a dangerous man.
PNR: Kathy's sudden appearance interrupts a wager. Ian's brothers are not convinced that Ian deserves the job. What is the bet, and how does Kathy become involved in it?
Nina B: The title of Pleasure Master always goes to the eldest son. Ian and his brothers are triplets, so his brothers don't believe he should inherit the title just because he came out first. They've convinced the laird that Ian should prove he deserves the title by seducing a woman no other man can seduce. The brothers are trying to decide on a woman for Ian's challenge when Kathy suddenly appears. Feeling threatened, Kathy reaches for a weapon and comes up with a container of mousse. When the wind whips the men's kilts high enough, she mousses their most precious body parts. After she voices her contempt for Ian Ross, they decide that surely there can be no greater challenge in all of Scotland. Ian gets his own back later though when he chooses equally difficult challenges for his brothers.
PNR: Along with his job, Ian has inherited a rather unique piece of furniture. Tell us about the gilded bed. What does it symbolize for Kathy and Ian?
Nina B: Pirates kidnapped Ian's grandfather and sold him into a male harem. Out of all the men in her harem, his mistress favored Ian's grandfather the most. She taught him all she knew about sexual joy and even had a gilded bed made to celebrate their lovemaking. Each time they enjoyed a memorable night, she had the scene painted on the bed. Before she died, she released Ian's grandfather. At the time of her death, only one unpainted panel remained on the bed. That panel remained empty because he never found another woman to equal her. The bed has been passed to each new Pleasure Master, but no one ever slept on it again. Ian sees it simply as a symbol of sexual pleasure, but Kathy believes it symbolizes the great love between his grandfather and the woman he lost. As the story progresses, the bed becomes the focal point in the relationship between Ian and Kathy.
PNR: Ian is loaded with charm and is extremely skillful at his duty, yet he appears to be emotionally challenged. How does this affect the relationship?
Nina B: Ian knows all there is to know about pleasing a woman sexually, but he knows nothing about love. He's never received love, so he doesn't know how to give it. He also trusts no one. Ian has powerful enemies, so to trust could be deadly. One of the major conflicts between Ian and Kathy is his refusal to trust in her enough to believe she really did come from the future. Kathy realizes that to receive Ian's trust is also to receive his love, because he would truly have to abandon everything he's ever believed in and put the part of himself he's never shared in her hands.
PNR: In the end trust becomes a much more important issue than Ian's duties or Kathy's pleasure, no?
Nina B: At the beginning, Ian believes nothing is more important than his duty as Pleasure Master, and if he has to seduce Kathy to keep his title, so be it. Kathy believes that no man can bring her true sexual pleasure. Her husband certainly didn't. She's completely focused on returning to her own time. As their relationship grows, Ian discovers that his enthusiasm for his duty is waning, and Kathy begins to realize she wants more than just sexual pleasure from Ian. She wants his love. But she'll never have Ian's love until she gains his trust, and that trust involves his believing that she truly did travel through time. I guess it comes down to the truth that there can be no love without trust.
PNR: Though the wager goes down to the wire, the story is very sensual throughout. In addition to the suspense over the wager, there are other issues. You mentioned that Ian has enemies. What about his other, um, clients?
Nina B: Ian can never relax because he faces danger on two fronts. Fiona, a woman from a neighboring clan, will go to any lengths to capture Ian for herself. She wants his body but cares nothing for his heart. The local clergyman is corrupted by his need for power and sees Ian as a threat. He wants Ian dead. Kathy is horrified by Ian's job description. At first she puts him in the same classification as her rotten ex-husband. But Ian assures her he hasn't bedded every lass in Scotland. More often than not, his work entails counseling or teaching women how to gain sensual pleasure with their husbands. Strangely enough, after Kathy arrives on the scene, Ian's work load shrinks to almost nothing. Everyone soon learns that Kathy is a force to be reckoned with.
PNR: One of the interesting contradictions is that Kathy's cell phone still works, selectively. What purpose does this serve?
Nina B: The cell phone is my "ticking clock". In each book I try to make it clear to the reader that the main characters have to make a decision by a particular time or lose love forever. Hopefully, this heightens the reader's level of concern. In An Original Sin, the reader knew that the deadline for Fortune and Leith's time together was Halloween. In The Pleasure Master, we know via the cell phone that Kathy has to be back by February 14, Valentine's Day. The cell phone is also an integral part of the competition between the brothers. How difficult would it be to seduce a hard-nosed lawyer like Coco over the phone? Talk about your ultimate phone sex!
PNR: We won't ask who wins the wager, but I have to ask, will we see either of Ian's brothers again? What about Kathy's little mischief maker, will he try his hand at matchmaking anytime in the future? What is next for Nina Bangs?
Nina B: I hadn't thought in terms of a sequel, but I've already had several letters asking for Neil's story. Who knows? It's not out of the question. Someone else suggested that the story of the first Pleasure Master and his mistress would be interesting. With a happy ending, of course. Kathy's mischief maker? I enjoyed him, and you never know when he'll pop up again. But he won't be in my next time travel, which should be out sometime around May of 2002. The working title is Sex Games, and it involves a hero with a unique occupation traveling from 2502 to present day Ireland. This time the travel won't be an accident. Our hero has an agenda. I'm also working on a humorous contemporary. But no matter what I write, you can count on a cat creeping into it.
Featured in this Issue:
Stranded by the side of a New York highway on Christmas Eve, hairdresser Kathy Bartlett was of the opinion that men and cars had a lot in common: great form, no function, and they both overheated at the wrong time. When she wished herself somewhere warm and peaceful with a subservient male at her side, she found herself transported all right, but to Scotland in 1542 with the last man she would have chosen.
HE WAS THE PLEASURE MASTER
With the face of a dark god or a fallen angel, and the reputation of being able to seduce any woman, Ian Ross was the kind of sexual expert Kathy avoided like the plague. So when she learned that the men in his family were competing to prove their prowess, she sprayed hair mousse on his brother' "love guns" and she swore she would never succumb to the explosive attraction she felt for Ian. But as the competition heated up, neither Kathy nor Ian reckoned on the most powerful aphrodisiac of all: love.
AN ORIGINAL SIN - Fortune MacDonald listens to women's fantasies on a daily basis as she takes their orders for customized men. In a time when the male species is extinct, she is a valued man-maker. So when she awakes to find herself sharing a bed with the most lifelike, virile man she has ever laid eyes or hands on, she lets her gaze inventory his assets. From his long dark hair, to his knife-edged cheekbones, to his broad shoulders, to his jutting-well, all in the name of research, right?-it doesn't take an expert any time at all to realize that he is the genuine article, a bona fide man. And when Leith Campbell takes her in his arms, she knows real passion for the first time ... but has she found true love?
Novella: "Hunka" - The lush tropical beauty of Hawaii has inspired plenty of romance. But then so have the croonings of a certain hip-shaking rock'n'roll legend. In these tales of love by of some of romance's brightest stars, four couples put on their blue suede shoes and learn they don't need a Hawaiian vacation to find paradise. Whether they're in Las Vegas or Pennsylvania, passion will blossom where they least expect it--especially with a little helpin hand from the King himself.
Novella: "Sweet Sin" - More alluring than Aphrodite, more irresistible than Romeo, the power of this sensuous seductress is renowed. It teases the senses, tempting even the most staid; it inspires wantoness, demanding surrender. Whether savored or devoured, one languishes under its tantalizing spell. To sample it is to crave it. To taste it is to yearn for it. Habit-forming, mouth-watering, sinfully decadent, what promises to sate the hungers of the flesh more? Four couples whet their appitites to discover that seduction by chocolate feeds a growing desire and leads to only one conclusion: Nothing is more delectable than love.
Novella: "The Man with the Golden Bow" - Sometimes the best things don't come in small packages.
Sometimes a girl has visions of more than sugarplums in her head.
Sometimes we're dreaming of something a lot steamier than a white Christmas.
For every woman who has better plans than sitting on Santa's lap, who fantasizes about washboard abs instead of a bowl full of jelly...
Here are the hottest, happiest love stories of this holiday season!
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