Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Interview with Suzie Quint's Rachel McKnight and Chance to Win a Book!

Good morning, readers! Welcome back to the Weird, The Wild, and the Wicked. This morning I have the great pleasure to speak with Rachel McKnight from Suzie Quint’s Knight of Hearts. Ms. McKnight joins me here in Las Vegas after a recent trip here for a major poker game with her sweetheart, Mac MacAllister.

Good morning, Ms. McKnight, thank you for joining me.

Thank you, Ms. Muir. I'm happy to be here.

I understand you’re a concierge at a hotel in Galveston. How did you get that job?

I got lucky. I didn’t have any training for it unless you count being the oldest girl in a large family.  I actually started out as a maid at The Gull. One of the guests in a room I was cleaning asked me about some of the sights in Galveston. I don’t think he even knew what a concierge was, so I got the information he wanted. The guest made a point of telling management how helpful I’d been. As it happened, the concierge service had just lost an intern, so they had an opening. They offered it to me and I thought it beat the heck out of making beds a hundred times a day.

I can imagine. Being in the hotel business, I’m sure you’ve heard your share of pickup lines. What are some of them and which are your favorite (worst) ones?

I’ve heard my share, but the worst were the ones Mac brought with him from Colorado. When he saw me in the hotel bar, before he even said hello, he asked me if I’d like to get naked with him! If it had been anyone but Mac, I’d have given him hell. He must have worn me down because eventually they started working. *laughs then sobers up*

Uhm, my family won’t see this, right?

*Siobhan winks* You’re here in Las Vegas with Mac MacAllister, your best friend’s brother. How did you meet him?

As you said, Mac is Claudia’s brother. He and his (now) ex-wife used to come to Galveston to visit his sister, who’s the bar manager at the Gull. Claudia would include me in some of their activities. I always thought Mac and Gloria had the perfect marriage. They just looked so comfortable together. But I guess you just never know what’s really going on under the surface. I was so shocked when Claudia told me Mac was getting a divorce.

Appearances can be deceiving. I understand he recently attended a family wedding with you. How did he come to be your date?

With Zach getting married, that just got my mama going. She wants us all married and giving her grandbabies. Not that I mind that. I kind of wanted that, too, but it didn’t look like it was going to happen for me. Anyway, I knew I was high up on her hit list since I’m the oldest girl. Mac . . . well, Mac was there at the right time, so I got him to agree to pretend to be my date.

After meeting your family in Knight in Cowboy Boots and again in All’s Fair, your siblings tend to trade favors and information. What did you trade with Mac for his accompaniment to the wedding?

Oh, Lord. Have you been talking to Mac? This is so embarrassing. Mac was married to Gloria for a long time—twelve years—and he was awful at meeting women. Just terrible. It was actually painful to watch. He managed a singles bar back in Colorado, a real meat market, and he’d picked up all these awful lines from the regulars. He really wanted to start dating again, but it had been so long that he’d get nervous and then spew these sexist come-ons. He wanted me to coach him about women and dating, and, okay, I’m not proud of this, but I was desperate. I needed a date for Zach’s wedding, so even though I didn’t have a clue about how to date successfully, we made a deal. You did say my family won’t see this, didn’t you? Because except for my brother Jake, they don’t know I took a ringer to Zach’s wedding.

You became his dating coach? *laughs* That’s awesome! How did he do?

Well, once Jake and I taught him how to Texas two-step and he curbed his impulse to share inappropriate information, he started doing better.  Of course, he had nowhere to go but up. *smiles*

How did the wedding go? Did Mac impress your family?

Oh, Lord. Poor Mac. He didn’t have a chance to impress them. I did mention that my family’s a bit old fashioned? Sometimes I really like that because you know they’ll close ranks and stand behind you if you need them to, but they can also be a bit over protective. Mama wasn’t impressed that Mac was divorced, and my big brother Sol? He actually threatened Mac in the mens room! Can you believe that? It’s a good thing I didn’t know about it at the time. I’d have hated to ruin Zach’s wedding reception.

*The door opens and Mac saunters into the room, smiles, and sits down beside Rachel.*

Welcome, Mr. MacAllister. Thank you for letting Rachel come for the interview. How are you enjoying Las Vegas?

*Mac slides his hand around Rachel's*
This has been the best trip I’ve ever made to Vegas. Rachel’s never been here before and I’ve had a ball showing her around. We’re going to see Jubilee tonight and watch the showgirls. The tickets weren’t easy to get, but the concierge at our hotel has been great. I think it’s a professional courtesy thing. Rachel’s already invited him to Galveston.

I understand you’re a gambler, Mr. MacAllister. Have you done well in Las Vegas?

*Mac and Rachel exchange a smile*
Yeah, I’m going home a winner.
*Rachel flashes a diamond ring*

Wow, that's gorgeous! It looks like you're not the only winner, Mr. MacAllister. Congratulations on your engagement. What’s your favorite thing about Rachel and why?

Oh, there are so many things. I love that she says what she means. Do you know how exhausting it is to try to read a woman’s mind?  Not that we men are any good at that. At least I never was. And she doesn’t coddle my ego by any stretch of the imagination. But that just means that when she does say something nice about me, I know she means it. I love that.

It sounds like you’ve picked at good one, Ms McKnight. Will you be taking a gamble on Mr MacAllister?

Nope. Mac’s a sure thing. And if he changes his mind, I’ll just have my brothers remind him.

*Mac pretends to shudder but he’s grinning.* I guess she’s stuck with me then.

Thank you both for joining me today. I hope you enjoy your time in Las Vegas! Be sure to check out the Bellagio's Holiday decor while you're here. They always come up with something amazing.
If you’d like to read Rachel and Mac’s story, you can find it at Amazon, Smashwords, B&N, and Pink Petal Books. Below is an excerpt from Knight of Hearts by Suzie Quint.

If you’d like to experience more of the McKnight family stories, please check out Knight in Cowboy Boots and All’s Fair by Suzie Quint. Suzie is also offering a free Kindle copy of Knight of Hearts to a randomly selected commenter. All you have to do is comment on the interview, become a follower of this blog, and leave a Twitter handle or email address in your comment. The giveaway will be open until Saturday, December 17th at 11:00 pm PST, and the winner will be announced here after the Six Sentence Sunday post. Thanks for stopping by, good luck, and happy reading! :)

It was nearly half an hour before Mac appeared, resentful and surly. Rachel was in no mood to put up with his bad attitude.

"You better put a pleasant look on your face, or I'm going to consider my obligation to your education forfeit," she threatened.

"Fine. Has it occurred to you that we were out until after two o'clock this morning?"

"Hey, I was there, too. And I've been getting up and working every day while you slept in. Now get yourself over to that weight machine and do crunches until you turn into a human being again."

Mac grumbled but he went.

After ten minutes, Rachel brought him a frothy orange juice.

"Thanks," Mac growled, but he sounded less like the hibernating grizzly she'd awakened.

Rachel went to work on the treadmill.

Ten minutes later, Mac approached her, a towel draped around his neck. Without a word, he turned on the machine next to hers. He started slow, but before long, he'd pushed the speed and grade to the point where his legs were pumping. Sweat beaded on his forehead and upper lip and molded his shirt to his chest and back.

Rachel couldn't help but admire the lean strength of his legs even as she tried with only marginal success to ignore the way the sweaty T-shirt clung to his upper body. He kept it up for twenty minutes before he slowed the machine and started cooling down.

She was waiting when he stepped off. He wiped his face with the towel and followed her to the juice bar where she got them both bottles of Evian.

"Thanks," he said, his legs extended under the table. One arm draped over the vacant straight back chair beside him. "I needed that."

"You're not much of a morning person, are you?"

Mac grinned, his spirits obviously better now that he'd sweated out some of the toxins he'd drunk the night before. "Too many years running a tavern. I haven't used an alarm clock in ages. I'll bet you bounce out of bed with the first rays of sunshine."

Rachel snorted. "I hate mornings. But if I don't keep a schedule, I'm a real bitch."

Mac lifted an eyebrow.

"Yes, worse than normal."

"I didn't say it."

"You didn't have to." Diplomacy was an essential part of her job, but once she was off the clock, if they weren't hotel guests, people could take her as she was or leave her alone.

She looked around. "Look, this is an environment where you're at home. There's stuff to talk about besides 'can I get in your panties?' When the women start coming in, I want you to pick one and talk to her. Start casual. Ask about the machine she's on. How it works, how much weight to use, number of reps, whatever it takes to get a conversation started."

When Mac rubbed the stubble on his chin, Rachel thought maybe she should have given him time to drag a razor over his face. Then she decided she liked the raw, unshaved look.

"That sounds like it might work," Mac said.

Rachel saw two attractive blondes walk into gym. "Quick, give me that towel."

He looked surprised, but he surrendered it.

"You're in good shape, Mac. Show off your body. Work up a sweat, then use your shirt to mop your face. Now go!" She waved him toward the gym.

"I don't know, Rachel—"

She flared her eyes at him.

"Okay!" He held his hands up as though defending himself from the laser beams that were going to shoot from her eyes.

Five minutes later, he had one of the blondes showing him how to use the leg press machine, as though he didn't do fifty reps on it every morning. The blonde stayed with him, counting repetitions. Everything looked like it was going according to Hoyle.

Watching them, a vague but unrelenting yearning grew in Rachel's gut. In spite of the frustration Mac could engender, Rachel admired his courage. He wanted back into the dating pool, and he was willing to risk his emotions and his ego, not just once—or even once a day—but over and over, and though he grumbled, he let her send him out to face the next rejection, sometimes with no recovery time in between.

The blonde bent over Mac, asking a question. His response made her laugh before she adjusted his weights, and an arrow seemed to take Rachel through the chest. She wanted that. She wanted someone to stand over her; someone who would encourage her and make sure she wasn't trying to lift too much weight by herself.

Rachel knew she wanted it more than Mac did, but she was a bigger coward. She couldn't take the risks he took. Oh, she could laugh and flirt. Sort of. She could date and hold hands and share tender kisses, but when it came to the clench—when the kisses went from tender to passionate—she froze. An ice sculpture.

Mac's face glistened with sweat as he finished his reps. Unable to banish her longings completely, Rachel resolutely ignored them to focus on Mac and the blonde as they moved to the cross-over machine.

Rachel whispered encouragement he couldn't hear. "Take off your shirt, Mac. Come on." She wouldn't have admitted even under torture that she was looking forward to the vicarious thrill of seeing him bare-chested.

He wiped his forehead with the back of his wrist.

Rachel made a strangled noise of frustration.

Then he stood and turned his back toward her as he removed his shirt.

Rachel groaned softly, her frustration undiminished.

The blonde had been reaching out to touch him, but as the shirt came off, she recoiled. In less than a second, she recovered. Wiping his face with his shirt, Mac hadn't seen. Stretching her neck forward as though the extra inch or two would help her read the woman's expression, Rachel watched the blonde's face with growing apprehension.

Did she see sympathy? That was good, wasn't it?

The two talked for several minutes. Mac's side of the conversation was accompanied with gestures toward his torso. As he continued talking, the woman started glancing to the side as though seeking escape.

At least, she had enough class to hang in until she got Mac situated on the machine before heading off toward the sauna.

Rachel wanted to pound her head on the top of the table. It had looked so promising. Whatever had happened, it had to be Mac's fault. She wanted to throttle him so badly she didn't dare approach him.
When he joined her, he was wearing his shirt again.

"What in the Sam Hill just happened?" Rachel demanded.

"I don't know." Mac looked as clueless as she felt.

"What did you say to her?"

"She asked about my scar, so I told her."

"What scar?" Too late, Rachel realized she should have tried to sound sympathetic, then she thought: Oh, hell. It's not like I need to act all nurturing. We're never going to date.

Mac pulled his shirt up, revealing a wide, white scar that evenly divided the strip of dark, curly hair over his abs. Extending from just under his rib cage, the scar swiveled around his navel and disappeared into his sweat pants.

"Good Heavens! It looks like you've been cut in half with a rotary saw! What happened?"

"Open appendectomy. It's what they do when they're in a hurry going after a hot appendix." He dropped his shirt.

"They really spread you wide open."

Mac shrugged. "Sometimes the appendix isn't exactly where they expect it to be. I damn near died. Wasn't nearly as painful though as the kidney stone that ended up in my urethra two years ago."

"Eewh! You didn't tell her about that, did you?"

Mac's guilty expression answered for him.

Her residual regret over never dating Mac silently died. "Why in heaven's name would you talk about that?"

"Why wouldn't I?"

"Fine." She threw up her hands in disgust. "If you want the reaction you just got." The man needed a governor on his mouth.

"Are we going out tonight?" Mac asked as though he hadn't just torpedoed his best chance so far.

"No. I'm going to spend the day figuring out what to do about you, and tonight I'm going to bed early."

A twinkle appeared in Mac's blue eyes. "So should I call you in the morning or just nudge you?"

Rachel glared at him, but he just smiled invitingly back at her until she laughed. In spite of the corny lines, Mac did have a certain charm.

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