by Cherrie Lynn
Published by Swerve on January 24th 2017
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Savannah's brother was killed in a cage fight with Mike "Red Reaper" Larson after a savage punch to the head.
When Mike shows up at the funeral, he’s nothing like Savannah expected. Gone is the fierce, brutal beast she’s seen in the cage. In his place is a beautiful man torn with guilt, seeking forgiveness, and willing to do anything to ease her pain.
Her family doesn’t approve, but her heart doesn’t stand a chance. Irresistibly drawn together, neither of them can deny the intoxicating desire unleashed between them, turning their pain into the most exquisite pleasure.
But every time Mike steps into the cage, Savannah knows she could lose him too. She can’t go through that again, but how can she let go of the one man who sets her body and soul on fire?
Raw Deal Blog Tour: Author Q&A
- How would you describe Raw Deal using no more than 140 characters (a la Twitter)?
Undeniable passion ignites between a fighter and the heartbroken sister of the man he accidentally killed in the MMA cage.
- Which scene would you say was the hardest for you to write?
Definitely the final fight. Any time I write something action-heavy, which isn’t very often (unless it’s sex, haha), I find it terribly difficult and tedious. “This happened and that happened and so on.” And then to take it and make sure it doesn’t look like I found it difficult and tedious presents its own set of challenges. I can only hope I pulled it off, because I’m a terrible judge of my own work.
- Where do you get inspiration for the names of your characters?
Michael’s and Savannah’s names simply came into my head and felt right. A lot of times, however, I torture myself trying to find the perfect character name, poring through baby name websites for inspiration. Some characters are named by accident. For instance, when I first introduced Brian Ross in Unleashed, I never planned for him to have his own book. So I just sort of stuck a name on him. But he turned out to be one of my most popular heroes (Rock Me), and same goes for his best friend Ghost (Leave Me Breathless). So, some come easily, some are like pulling teeth, and some are happy accidents. 🙂
- You’re known for creating characters with a lot of depth and a full range of truly human emotions. What experiences do you draw on to make your characters feel so alive?
Oh, so many. But I don’t think my experiences are so different from most other people’s. We’ve all been heartbroken. We’ve all felt loss. We’ve all felt joy. I just take those feelings and channel them as best as I can. I also listen when other people talk about their own feelings and experiences that might be different from mine, and I listen to a lot of highly emotional music. But there are things in my books that are drawn from personal experiences. The eagle in Raw Deal, for example, was taken from something similar that happened at my grandfather’s funeral a couple of years ago. I like to think whenever I see an eagle now, it’s my grandpa saying hello.
- What do you love most about Mike and Savannah?
I love Mike’s fierce loyalty. I love Savannah’s mostly level-headed approach, the way she’s able to give him a chance despite her emotions and her heartbreak. I love the comfort they find in each other. They were very easy characters to write. I’m not sure if that’s because I was coming off my Ross Siblings series and invigorated by starting something brand new, or if they simply resonated deeply with me (a little of both, I suspect), but I *loved* writing their story. They still give me butterflies!
- How much research did you have to do on MMA for the book? Are you a fan of the sport?
I am! But my husband is an even bigger fan. He was a great source of information, and I probably pestered him to death. I looked up so much equipment on Amazon that I kept getting ads for weeks—they obviously thought I was a fighter. I watched fights on YouTube and I read articles. And although they’re about boxing and not MMA, I’m a HUGE fan of the Rocky movies. I figured the passion, motivation, hunger and discipline would be the same for a fighter of either sport, so I drew a lot of inspiration from that. And yes, a couple of Rocky references pop up in the book! I couldn’t resist.
- Did you always want to be a writer?
For as long as I can remember. As far back as third grade, you could find me writing stories that my teachers would have me read to my class. Everyone thought I was a little weird, I think. As I grew up, I wrote stories for fun and for my friends. Almost all of those involved a romance, and this trend continued as I would sneak into my mom’s stash of steamy romance novels for inspiration. 🙂 I sought publication as far back as 2000, but that didn’t work out. It wasn’t until 2008 that I tried again with what would become my first published book. It’s been an amazing, lifelong journey!
- Who are some of your favorite writers/writers that inspire you?
I read all over the place. Right now, I’m loving Alessandra Torre. She’s amazing. I’m also so obsessed with the A Song of Ice and Fire series that I’ve been reading them on repeat for two years now. I finish, I start over. Such incredibly rich and effortless world-building. (Hurry up with Winds of Winter, George!) I’m also loving Sarah J. Maas. For my horror needs, I read Stephen King and Joe Hill. I must admit, the idea of a straight-up horror romance intrigues me…
One of the reasons why I love to read romance, apart from the HEA, is the myriad of conflicts our hero and heroine goes through before they find their happily ever after.
For Raw Deal, the conflict is revealed from the get go: would you trust yourself to fall for the one who accidentally killed your brother in the ring?
Savannah never thought love would find her a stone throws away from where her brother is buried and with the person who had put him there. There are so many reasons to say no to Mike Larson, but as they say, the heart want what it wants.
I loved the conflict in this book. It’s a clear conflict of the heart. There are no clear bad guys here. Not Savannah’s parents who are, understandably upset that their daughter fell in love with the man who caused their son’s death. Not Tommy’s (Savannah’s brother) widow who is left without a husband. And I liked that.
Despite the abrupt ending, I love the intensity of emotions felt by both Mike and Savannah, not just towards each other but towards their own family. I would have loved to see more interaction between Savannah and her own family. But I have a feeling we’ll meet them soon…in the next book particularly.
Aside from Savannah’s family, I’m definitely looking forward to get to know Mike’s brothers more. I liked that they’re in this book and we’re introduced to them. It only whetted my appetite for more.