Contemporary Convo with Susan Mallery and Christie Ridgway

We love a good contemporary romance — who doesn’t? And next week two great new romances from contemporary superstars Susan Mallery and Christie Ridgway will be released. Susan’s title, Kiss Me, takes us back to Fool’s Gold, while in Christie’s Can’t Fight This Feeling we return to Blue Arrow Lake. We wondered what the ladies would talk about when they’re alone together, so we asked them to let us listen in. They obliged! 

Susan: Christie, you’re such a California girl. I love that, which is only one of the reasons I adore your books. Family is always so big in your stories. Readers love family-based books, and so do I. What’s the inspiration? Are you part of a big family? An only child?

Christie: I grew up with an older brother, but we lived near my grandparents and cousins and got together often. I think we all love stories about families because they’re like our own small town (see what I did there?). In a family, and in a place like Fool’s Gold, a person is known. He or she doesn’t get lost in the crowd. It’s like the bar from the old TV show Cheers—in a family or a small town everybody knows your name.

Susan: I’m an only child, with no family nearby, so I always dreamed about having a big family. I think that’s why I write about small towns and large families the way I do. Creating what I always wanted.

In my latest, Kiss Me, Phoebe’s a bit like me. No family of her own, so when she sees Fool’s Gold and the ranch, she can’t help imagining what it would be like to belong. Belonging seems to be a big theme in contemporary romance today.

Christie: Oh, this so resonates with me! Belonging. Angelica, the heroine of my Can’t Fight this Feeling, is like your Phoebe (and you). She’s an only child and not only is she attracted to Brett, the hero, but the fact that he has three sisters is so very appealing to her. His family has roots that go deep in the area and she loves that too. 

It sounds like both our heroes are strong, salt-of-the-earth type of men. My Brett is a landscaper and your Zane is a rancher. Do you think a man who works with his hands has a special appeal for readers? What other types of contemporary heroes are your favorite?

Susan: Oh, yeah, a guy who works with his hands. Because then they know how to do, um, other stuff well.

One of the things I love about where the contemporary market is going today is how we have so much variety. For the Fool’s Gold books, I write in trilogies. This year it’s search and rescue (Hold Me), cowboys (Kiss Me, June 30) and sexy adventure guys (Thrill Me, July 28). But I’ve also had football players and bodyguards. Readers seem really open to any guy who’s strong and honest … and a great kisser.

Christie: I’ve written about men in all walks of life too. In my current series, the Cabin Fever books, I have a Hollywood actor, the head of a global construction company and now the man who likes to get his hands dirty. Of course, each one is an excellent kisser.

Susan: Another thing that’s fun for me is keeping it real. Because our books are set in the “here and now” we get to play with real life.

Christie: Oh, yeah, I use a lot of my real life in all my books. There’s a little boy in the Cabin Fever books, Mason, who is a combination of my two sons when they were small, down to the way he repeats phrases to himself and is fascinated with maps. He gets a cut on his head, just like my son once did, and let me say that his mother was way braver than I was at the sight of all the blood! Okay, give, what’s an incident you’ve used?

Susan: Embarrassingly enough … like Phoebe, I was bitten by a baby goat. It was on a first date at a petting zoo. I was trying to be cool and ended up shrieking. Fortunately the guy I was with thought it was funny and I was charming. Turns out he was an excellent kisser. ::sigh::

You can meet these fellows and check out their kissing skills on June 30 when Can’t Fight This Feeling and Kiss Me will be on sale, online and in stores! In the meantime, why not check out some other contemporaries on our Everything Romance page? 

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