May 2011, The Hollywood Rules (Book 1)
For years, Amber Rule was the main attraction in her father’s self-help infomercials, his personal before-to-after example of how to transform your life: overweight to svelt adolescent, dependent teen to independent adult, social dork to paparazzi princess. Dooley Rule pointed out all of Amber’s failings – on camera no less – and then made it appear he’d fixed them. He used Amber to hawk his personal life coaching services and peddle his motivvational books. She had no interest in the Dooley Foundation and the Rules of Attraction it hawked: Choose, Voice, Trust, Welcome.
But then her father dies, leaving Amber and the rest of gossip hungry L.A. wondering what celebrity secrets her father kept. All Amber has to do to ensure her secrets are safe, earn her inheritance and return to her normal, paparazzi free life is improve the mental game of the biggest bad-ass in the NBA, Evan Oliver. Too bad Amber knows nothing about basketball or life coaching. Too bad Evan Oliver is determined to do things his own way, especially when it comes to teaching Amber a new set of rules.
“Melinda Curtis knows romance, sports and humor and she makes all three sing in Amber Rules.” Eileen Rendahl
“We got off on the wrong foot yesterday.” Amber’s cheeks bloomed with color. “This is a working relationship. I won’t be sleeping with you.”
“So certain,” he murmured.
“I’m not going to be your beck-and-call girl.”
“Pity.” Evan scanned the restaurant.
“Look, I have a job to do.”
Evan imagined running the back of his hand over the slope of Amber’s breast. “Just what is your job?”
“Chief Efficiency Officer.” She allowed herself a private smile. “I’m here to make you play better.”
“Well, if it’s cause and effect you’re looking for, you kissed me and I put one in the hole. So…”
“Smooth. Lines like that usually work for you, do they?”
He drew back in mock innocence. “Lines? I don’t need lines. I’m Evan Oliver, the biggest badass in the NBA.”
“More like the biggest head case in the NBA.”
“If that was true, I wouldn’t need you.”
“I’m not saying you’re crazy.” Was that a tinge of desperation in her voice? “You just lack…I don’t know. Focus?”
His knuckles popped as his fist clenched. If one more person told Evan he lacked focus he’d have to punch them. “I can be very focused.” He relaxed his fingers over his thigh as he leaned in closer to whisper in her ear. “Amazingly focused.”
Amber Rules: the ideas & inspiration behind the story
I’ve often worked with others who love gossip web sites, who read People every week as if it’s required reading, who watched Paris Hilton get released from jail, are riveted by Lindsey Lohan in court and read everything they could get their hands on about Tiger Woods’ mistresses. I admit to a little idle curiosity myself, but you won’t catch me having gossip updates sent to my phone!
For decades (dating myself here), I’ve been married to an athlete. He played basketball in college, competed in the Final Four, “retired” from college sports after four years and started playing competitive beach volleyball (2-man teams). Trust me, you don’t want to go bowling with this man unless you’re serious about competing. But once I got used to his ways, he’s provided me with a lot of eye-rolling fodder (but I will not even play him a game of ping pong).
Around 2005, I was listening to a lot of self-help gurus, The Secret, books on cd and attending success coach worksessions. And as usually happens when my mind wanders (yes! my mind wandered during a self-help, motivational lecture! Can you believe it?), I started to put some of these amusing – to me – things together and added in a little Richard Simmons, who my mother adores.
What if…a self-help guru, kind of like Richard Simmons (well meaning, successful, but not exactly someone a teenager wants as a dad – apologies to Richard, he really does help people like my mom, he’s just not my cup)…where was I? Oh, yeah, a self-help guru who wasn’t James Bond cool to his kids dies and leaves his now grown children his practice – only he’s never told anyone how he actually coaches people into success. Of course, he’d leave clues, but not where just anyone could pick up on his secrets.
And then there’s a cast of characters only Hollywood can provide: a sex kitten reality star, a heartless heart-throb actor, an NBA star with something to prove, a wounded gossip columnist, a driven self-made sports franchise owner, a sister who needs to grow up and a brother who thinks he can ride the heroine’s coat tails.
It wasn’t a story Harlequin was interested in, so it percolated in my brain until 2008-2009, when I decided I just had to write it, if only to get these characters out of my head.
Cover buzz: I wanted something that would capture the light-hearted tone of the book, the fashion, basketball! I think it turned out wonderful!
Hope you enjoy Amber’s story! Look for the sequel in 2012 – Blue Rules! That man is going to get what’s coming to him!