Monday, August 24, 2015

Blog Tour: Author Interview, Excerpt, Review, and Giveaway for Just Say Yes by Alyssa Goodnight


I love Alyssa's books and she's back with a new tale full love, laughter, emotion, romance, and a little magic! Check out the excerpt and add this book to your reading list today!

Just Say Yes Cover

Just Say Yes by Alyssa Goodnight
Publication Date: August 24, 2015

Single mom Jade Moran isn’t ready for any big changes in either her horrible ’70s kitchen or her romantic life. Her ex did a number on her, and she isn’t interested in getting hurt again. But when she meets a super-hot contractor, she wonders if avocado appliances are on the way out and romance is on the way in.
Max Gianopoulis doesn’t have a clue why he’s so enchanted by Jade. She’s almost as big a mess as her kitchen, and he’s a guy who likes to keep things simple. He let himself get involved with a previous client, and he’s not interested in repeating the experience. But Jade has turned up the flirty heat—and he can’t keep his hands off her. With everything moving too fast and coming too easy, Jade’s insecurities kick into high gear. She’s not sure she can trust another man again—and she definitely doesn’t believe in magic.

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Author Interview

I had the pleasure of asking Alyssa some questions about the book, herself, and her writing process. 

  1. As a known Jane-ite, was this story influenced in any way by your love for Jane Austen and her stories? 

Jane Austen is a master at creating memorable characters and swoony, romantic storylines.  I hope my writing is influenced by her.  That said, there’s no mention of her, no allusions.  Any character or plot parallels between JUST SAY YES and Jane’s novels is unintentional. But there is romance, and there is snark.   

  1. Can you recall what inspired this story? 

I don’t remember exactly what triggered the idea, but I became slightly obsessed with writing a story about a kitchen witch.  That idea quickly evolved into a kitchen witch with a flair for matchmaking.  I loved the idea of a romance taking its natural course, while being acted upon by magical influences.  Particularly if the characters didn’t believe in those influences… [insert witchy laugh] 

  1. Your previous stories have all had a touch of magic. Does this book have that tasteful touch? 

Yes, this book has magic, but it’s not quite as intrusive as in my Austen-themed novels.  The magical element in JUST SAY YES is totally dependent on the reader and what they want to believe.  If you don’t believe in food magic, then it’s a straightforward romance with a secondary character engaged in a bit of harmless fun.  But if you do believe in magic, then it plays a somewhat pivotal role. 

  1. You're publishing a book after a long hiatus. What prompted you to write again? 

Ha! There was no hiatus. :)  This book just took me a while.  I have been writing steadily since AUSTENSIBLY ORDINARY came out.  This book was reimagined multiple times, playing up different elements.  I finally settled on the best way to tell it. 

  1. What's your favorite scene in this book? 

I’m a little smitten with every flirty scene that involves one-on-one interaction between the H/H, but I think my favorite would be the one where food magic and sexual tension collide, and Jade and Max have their first kiss. 

  1. Do you listen to music while you write? 

I don’t.  I’m one of those people who can’t write (or read!) with any discernible background lyrics or conversations.  My thoughts invariably focus on the words outside my head, distracting from the ones vying for attention inside my head.  It just doesn’t work for me. 

7. What's the name of the last book you read? 

I recently read SPOTLESS by Camilla Monk and A GIRL NAMED DIGIT by Annabel Monaghan.  I loved both of them. 

8. Do you plot what you're going to write or do you let the characters take over? 

For the most part, I let my characters run the show, but I’ve learned from experience that I need to do a little bit of plotting before giving them free rein.  Having a flexible outline to work from cuts down rather drastically on the amount of re-writing I have to do. 

9. What's one thing you'd like readers to know about this book? 

There’s more to the story!  Opal, my kitchen witch, isn’t done matchmaking yet, and her story is still to come as well. 

10. Do you prefer sweet or savory snacks? 

Sweet.  But I’m trying to train myself to prefer savory.  My success rate thus far is low. 

Finished with her coffee, she jiggled the cup and glanced at the trash can a few feet to her left. Looking back at him, she smiled, lifted a single eyebrow, and hooked it. It almost went in, instead rolling around on the rim. She shrugged then, saying, “I gave it a shot.” 
“Is it your policy to give things a shot?” he asked, suddenly feeling as if the air around them was charged. 
“Some things,” she allowed. 
“What sort of things?” 
“Things that seem like they might be worth the effort.” 
“What about men?” 
“What about them?” she asked, stilling, her eyes wary. 
“Do you tend to give them a shot?” 
“Not usually,” she said, shaking her head and pressing her lips together. 
“But it’s possible.” 
“Anything’s possible.” She wasn’t giving anything away, but Max dug in. 
“Does your daughter’s approval weigh in at all?” He was grinning now—he couldn’t help himself. 
“Maybe a little, but she’s thirteen. Our standards are different.” 
“What, you don’t like ruggedly handsome men who carry Butterfingers and have a vampire connection?” 
Her eyes widened with interest. “Ooh, yeah. Do you know any guys like that?” 
“Very funny.” 
She smiled at him, leaning back in her chair, and he smiled back. 
They talked for another hour, only touching on her kitchen, and by the end, one of them—he wasn’t sure which—suggested that he should just come and look at it and they’d figure everything out then. They settled on Saturday, and he watched her walk away, imagining a short cape and tall boots. 
He’d been attracted to plenty of women, but Jade fascinated him. The way she was confident in herself but shy with strangers, the way that shyness eventually warmed to sassiness, even, surprisingly, the fact that she was a single mom to a thirteen-year-old daughter. A hot, kick-ass mom. Honestly, he didn’t care if he was ready for that reality or not. He suddenly had a fierce desire to get this job—he was, in fact, desperate for her to give him a shot—and that didn’t bode well at all. 
His willpower was but a vague memory now, easily vanquished by talk of cosplay and possibilities. As of right now, all bets were off.
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★★★★ 1/2 stars

I've been a fan of Alyssa Goodnight's writing for some time. She wrote these amazing modern magical re-tellings of some of Jane Austen's novels that I absolutely loved. They really opened my mind to the idea of realistic magical elements in contemporary fiction. Then there was nothing from her for a while so I was super excited and happy to see she was publishing Just Say Yes.  

Max and Jade make a fabulous couple. They might not have found each other either without the meddling of Evie, Jade's thirteen year old daughter. Neither of them is looking for a relationship but the attraction to each other is stronger than their misgivings. I loved being in both of their heads and watching them try to be logical and play it safe about their feelings. I liked how Jade was more open minded than she thought. I loved how she was with Evie. She was firm as a parent should be, but she gave Evie lots of love and the understanding it was okay to try new things.

I loved the role family played in this book. It wasn't just Jade and Evie, but Max with his grandmother and sister too. Yia Yia Cleo was a firecracker and I loved her. I loved how Max took care of them even when they it wasn't what he wanted to do. I loved how even though he had misgivings about what his sister was doing with her life, he still loved her. I loved how Max was with Evie. He was kind and friendly, yet also offered her support. He treated her as an adult and respected her wishes. I really didn't like Evie's father and his fiancee. In a way they were sort of responsible of Max and Jade meeting. However they didn't have very many redeeming qualities between them. 

Now coming to something unique. I love how food is used in this story. It's sort of like extra whipped cream on your piece of cake or pie. I've always loved food and stories that feature them in some way. I've read very few stories where the food plays an equally important roll as the characters. I definitely can not think of other books where the meaning and characteristics of foods have been discussed. It really made me think about the foods I like to eat and how they might be impacting my life and decisions. 

The first part of the book was a little slow. A little over a quarter of the way in, it picked up and I was hooked. I loved how there was a little bit of a book within a book. I would've loved to read more of it. I loved seeing Jade and Evie interact with their neighbors, Elena and Zoe. I loved the descriptive language Alyssa used. The Moran household is bright and colorful and I could almost see it in my head. I'm sincerely hoping this book evolves into a series because I would love to read more about Opal the kitchen witch, and others Jade and Evie met. I can already sense a number of interesting couples. If you're looking for a book that you'll surprise you with how great it is, this book is for you. I hope you read it and experience the magic for yourself!

*Thank you to the publisher for providing a copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for them in any manner.*

About Alyssa Goodnight
Alyssa GoodnightAlyssa is a Texas girl who dreams of British accents. She currently lives between Houston and Galveston with her husband, two sons, and their adventure dogs, Indiana Jones and Short Round. She does her writing with an ice-cold can of Dr. Pepper, or when she's feeling spicy, a handful of Hot Tamales. She fangirls over Masterpiece Mystery, good Tex-Mex, and boxed chocolates. And, of course, books.
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