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Seven Questions . . .With Cheris Hodges

New Year, new series!

Things kick off  on Jan. 28th with the release of #OwnerOfABrokenHeart, first in the Richardson Sisters series

9781496723840The four very different Richardson sisters have one thing in common, their fierce loyalty to their family and pride in the historic bed and breakfast they own. But unexpected desire will challenge them in ways they never imagined . . .
 
Sportswriter Nina Richardson had the perfect life away from her family’s famous shadow. But a social media blowup and rejection by her boyfriend brought her back to their peaceful Charleston, South Carolina B&B to figure out what went wrong. So there’s no way she’s going to trust the crazy-hot sparks flying between her and handsome new employee Clinton Jefferson. It’s just reckless, rip-his-clothes-off, one-night-and-forget-it lust—right?

Fresh from working for the Richardsons’ biggest rival, Clinton wants to show his modernization ideas aren’t sabotage or a gimmick. Getting involved with the rebellious Nina means trouble for sure—but he can’t resist showing this stubborn, fiery woman how she should be loved. But false accusations and Nina’s returned ex shake their passion—and fragile trust—to the core.  Now between cascading obstacles and conflicting loyalties, can Clinton and Nina untangle what they really want in time?

Here are seven questions I’ve gotten about the series:

  • What inspired the Richardson Sisters series?

If you read I Heard A Rumor, you got an off handed look at the Richardson family in Charleston. Chante’s grandmother booked her a room at a Richardson property. I felt like this family was iconic in Charleston. And I wanted to write about them.

  • Why sisters? Why not brothers?

I wanted to write about sisters because the relationship between sisters is something amazing. You will love your sister. You will fight with your sister. You will cry with your sister and dare anyone to hurt her or make her cry. And these sisters will take you through all of these emotions.

  • You started with the youngest sister first, what made you do that?

Simple, I’m the baby of my family. LOL. But Nina felt like the best introduction to the family. She’s a bit of a mess. But she has a heart of gold as all youngest children do! 🙂 Also, Nina’s story grabbed me from the first chapter that I wrote –which I ended up rewriting three times.

  • Which Richardson Sister is your favorite?

This is the hardest question. I love them all. Wait until you meet Alexandria, Robin, Yolanda and Nina. As different as they are, there is one thing they have in common: love. Their love for each other and their father, Sheldon Richardson. Sheldon is my favorite. Yeah, that’s it.

  • How did you come up with the title, Owner of A Broken Heart?

Clearly I’m a product of the 80s. And one of my favorite songs has always been Yes’s Owner of a Lonely Heart.

But Nina was dealing with some serious heart break. As I wrote the story, I couldn’t think of a title and then I was listening to the throwback station and this song came on.

  • Since Nina is the first sister that we meet, what should we know about her?

Nina is a firecracker. She’s a bit spoiled because she is the youngest. She didn’t get a chance to get to know her mother and though her sisters won’t admit, they are all very protective of Nina. It drives her crazy, which is one of the reasons why she moved to North Carolina.

  • What’s your favorite scene from Owner of A Broken Heart?

I will do you one better. Log on to my author Facebook page and I’ll do a reading of my favorite scene! See you there!

 

#OwnerofABrokenHeart preview

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Two days into her suspension, Nina knew one thing for sure: If she didn’t get out of her house, she was going to lose her mind. Lamar had texted her and asked about the incident in the locker room. Her reply had been a middle finger emoji.

Then her sister Yolanda had called her and asked why she hadn’t cussed Cody Cameron out for being a disrespectful ass.

“Because I want to keep my job,” she’d told her. “And from the way things are looking, I’m hanging on by a thread.”

“You can do better than writing for some local rag anyway. Why aren’t people jumping on your side like they do when a white girl gets treated like this?”

“Because I’m not a white girl and obviously I’m in the wrong. Look, Yolanda, I got to go. I’m tired of talking about this and everything else.” Nina had been asked to appear on a local newscast, but she covered stories and she wasn’t going to become one.

“What else is going on? Spill it, Nina.”

Nina had broken down and told her about Lamar and the woman he’d been with at the diner.

“Oh, girl, I’m—”

“We’ll talk later.” Nina had hung up on her sister and forced herself not to cry.

She needed to get away from Charlotte and the best place for her to go was home. She could spend some time hanging out at her father’s bed-and-breakfast in Charleston, South Carolina. Then she could ignore the dull pain thudding in her heart and fight the urge to call Lamar. Nina knew she wouldn’t get the apology or explanation she wanted or deserved.

Sheldon Richardson would be happy to have his baby girl come home. Her oldest sister, Alexandria, might not be so inviting though. She’d want to know why she was making this impromptu visit and ask too many questions. Then she’d probably try to put her to work. Alex was more like a mother to Nina than a sister. When Nina had been two years old, her mother died and Alex, who was ten years old at the time, became Little Mama. Alex took responsibility for her little sister and mothered her—sometimes smothered her. She’d been thankful that Alex wasn’t on social media enough to know about the hoopla surrounding her and Cody.

Her father had called and told her he’d be happy to teach that smart-mouth quarterback how to respect women with his leather belt. Nina couldn’t love her father any more if she tried.

Despite her viral encounter in the locker room, Nina had done quite well for herself as a sportswriter. Her career was thriving with her work appearing in several regional and national magazines and newspapers. She was set to have a spot on one of ESPN’s broadcasts of SportsCenter at the start of basketball season, but she was hired by three magazines to cover Independence High School’s historic winning streak and turned the ESPN job down because writing was her true passion.

If she was going to do TV, Nina wanted a spot on NFL Live, though she didn’t see that happening anytime soon. Nina had heard so many people say that real football fans wouldn’t want to listen to a woman’s opinion on the sport. And she wasn’t blond enough for most networks. And with all of this unflattering press about her, she probably wouldn’t be bankable enough for a network to take a chance on her.

What made things even worse was the fact that Lamar’s presence loomed over her like foreboding storm clouds. It wasn’t as if she’d be able to avoid Lamar all season. His school had a regular season game against the Patriots and there were the jamborees. As a matter of fact, she was supposed to cover one Friday. To make matters worse, she’d invited him to sit in the press box with her at the Carolina Panthers’ Monday night game and she’d already given him the pass. Oh, how she wished she could’ve taken it back. If she were bolder, she would’ve done just that two days ago.

Cursing inwardly, Nina wondered why she’d tried to buy him with football games and promises of media coverage. Did she really think that doing all of that would make Lamar love her? She basically allowed him to use her for coverage and exclusive access to NFL games. Nina played along, hoping things would change and he’d see her as more than a sex partner. Clearly, nothing changed.

But he bugged her about media coverage. Always wanted to tag along to Panthers’ games and celebrate afterward.

Nina couldn’t sell his story to anyone she worked for. No one cared because the story about Independence was bigger. At one time she’d hoped that his school would knock the Patriots off their throne. Now she just prayed Independence would keep West Meck from scoring a point and Lamar would get fired. A public firing that she would love to write about—for free.

Despite how much she wanted to, Nina couldn’t totally blame Lamar. She made it easy to be used. Easy to be thought of as a fool.

Nina carefully set her laptop on the coffee table and picked up her cell phone. She couldn’t face this right now. She was going to leave, even if it was going to cost her money. She dialed her father’s number. She couldn’t wait to tell her Daddy that she was coming home for a visit.

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<DL>Charleston, South Carolina

<TXT>Sheldon Richardson was a formidable man, Clinton Jefferson surmised as the older man shook his hand. Before Clinton could say a word, Sheldon spoke in a booming voice that reminded him of thunder and made him cringe like a sharp bolt of electricity had struck him.

“I know why you’re here and the answer is no.”

“Mr. Richardson.” His voice didn’t convey the nervousness that flowed through his body like his own blood. He actually sounded confident, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth. Clinton was damn near petrified as he prepared to do the unthinkable.

“No. I’m not selling, no matter how much Birmingham is offering. I don’t want to be a part of a chain. You see, what I offer isn’t something you can get from any hotel and you can say that nothing will change, but it will. I’ve been around the block and know how these things work. Hell, you’re not even representing one of the best chains. So go back to Randall Birmingham and tell him Sheldon Richardson said hell no.”

“Sir, I didn’t come with another buyout offer.” Clinton reached into his briefcase, pulled out his résumé, and handed it to Sheldon. “I’m looking for a job.”

Sheldon laughed and his round belly shook like jelly. Clinton wondered if he could talk the older man into dressing up like Santa for the holidays. Before they’d have that conversation, Clinton would have to get the job first.

“A job? Why would you want to work for a family-owned company when you’re hot shit at Randall’s Fortune 500 company? I can tell you right now I won’t pay what they were paying you.” Shelton took the résumé and looked over it. He nodded, impressed with the young man’s credentials.

Clinton Jefferson didn’t have many heroes growing up in North Charleston, but Sheldon Richardson had always been one of his. Every time he saw him in the newspaper, Clinton swelled with pride. Here was a man who looked like him making headlines for positive reasons. It was because of Sheldon that Clinton had studied hospitality in college. He also majored in marketing because he wanted to work in upper management and not the day to day running of the property. He’d been working with Randall Birmingham’s company since he landed a paid internship there his junior year of college. But deep down, he’d always wondered what working for Sheldon Richardson would’ve taught him.

The day he walked into the Richardson Bed and Breakfast with an offer from Birmingham Properties to purchase the historic and picturesque hotel, he’d never been more nervous in his life. But Sheldon had made such an impression on him that he wanted to work for him and learn everything he could about the hospitality industry. It wasn’t as if he was coming into the company empty-handed. With his marketing expertise, he could get nationwide recognition for the bed-and-breakfast and help Sheldon make more money than he’d ever dreamed of without having to sell to anyone.

“Sir,” Clinton said. “If I wanted to keep making the same salary, I wouldn’t have quit. I want to brand your business and make this bed-and-breakfast the premier destination in the Southeast. When people think of Charleston, this should be the first place they think about. I have media contacts and the know-how to get the job done. When I analyzed your company for Birmingham, the only weakness I saw was in your marketing. You don’t do a lot of it and in this media-driven marketplace, you’re going to need to do more if you want to keep the Randall Birminghams of the world at bay.”

Sheldon looked over Clinton’s résumé again. “Why should I take a chance on you? You could come in here and take my secrets back to your old boss. I know how this game is played, son. One thing you don’t want to do is cross me.”

Nodding, Clinton understood the older man’s apprehension. “Give me a ninety-day trial period, have me sign a confidentiality agreement or whatever. Mr. Richardson, I’ve always admired you. When I was growing up in North Charleston, you were a legend. You came downtown in a time of segregation and opened this luxurious property and thrived. I’d never dream of doing something underhanded to take away what you’ve worked so hard for.”

Sheldon smiled and pointed to a picture of an older white man hanging behind his vast oak desk. “Mr. Richardsonis the reason a lot of racist white folk stayed here in the days of segregation. People assumed he owned this place and I was just the hired help. I made up so many excuses as to why he was never on the property. Would’ve paid a lot of money to see the look on their faces when they found out I was the real owner.” Sheldon chuckled, then leaned into Clinton. “I’ll let you in on a little secret. That’s just an old picture I found at a yard sale in 1963. I don’t even know who that man is. It was my wife, Nora’s, idea to create the persona of Mr. Richardson being white. She was right, too.”

“What you’ve done with this place is admirable. It’s certainly understandable why you wouldn’t want to sell. But I know I can make this place even more well-known than it is now with social media and—”
“Why are you here again?” an angry female voice boomed from the doorway of Sheldon’s office.

“Alex, meet your new marketing manager, Clinton Jefferson.”

“Daddy,” she said as she breezed into the office like a hurricane. “You can’t be serious. Isn’t this Randall’s stooge?”

“I still own the place, so I’m serious. The decision has been made. Clinton has something we need. He’s a helluva salesman because I just bought his pitch; hook, line, and sinker.”

Anger shadowed Alex’s comely features as she glared at Clinton. A lesser man would’ve been intimidated by the Amazonian beauty. She was tall, nearly six feet. Her eyes were black as coal—just like Sheldon’s but lacking warmth. With her straight black hair pulled back in a conservative bun, she looked like the grade school teacher who you didn’t want to piss off.

But he didn’t appreciate being called a stooge. Clinton was his own man, no one owned him—especially Randall Birmingham.

“Well, Mr. Jefferson, welcome to the company. But keep in mind that I handle the day-to-day running of this business. You will answer directly to me.” Alex folded her arms across her chest and gave him a slow once-over.

“Yes, ma’am. I’m here to assist.” The way Alexandria spoke, Clinton had no doubt that this woman ruled with an iron fist.

Before Alex could say anything else, her father’s private line rang.

“Hello, it’s Sheldon,” he drawled. “Baby girl. It’s good to hear from you. How are you holding up? They did what? Now, that is some bullshit. If I ever meet that quarterback, he’s going to have a really short career. Why are you being punished? Darling, I am calm. Okay. I’ll be glad to see you. What about the Dallas game?” Sheldon laughed. “I hope the Dallas defense slams him to the ground and knocks some sense in his head.”

Sheldon hung up the phone and turned to his eldest daughter and Clinton with a bright smile on his face. “That was Nina. She’s coming home.”

Alex smiled and scratched her head. “Doesn’t she have to cover some sort of sporting events? How can she take off during the middle of football season?”

Sheldon shrugged. “You clearly haven’t been watching ESPN. She needs a break and she got suspended for a couple of days.”

“Suspended? Why?”

“She’ll be here soon and I’m sure you’ll drag it out of her.”

Clinton felt as if a family argument was brewing and he figured he should leave. But go where? He didn’t have an employment start date or an office. He couldn’t help but wonder if Nina was anything like her older sister. He had to admit: Alexandria Richardson was one scary woman even if she was pretty. To remind father and daughter that he was still in the room, Clinton cleared his throat loudly.

All eyes focused on him and Sheldon smiled again. “Monday would be a good day for you to start. I’d like for you and Alexandria to go over a marketing plan that fits our company and for you to meet the entire staff—from the housekeepers to our cooks and the other managers. Get a feel for how we work. All of us are family,” he said. “You know what? Why don’t you get started tomorrow? Alexandria will show you around today so that you can get your feet wet.”

Alex didn’t look happy and Clinton got the feeling that he’d never view her as a sister or cousin—no matter how distant. “Let me show you to your office and it’s not going to be big.”

“As long as it’s not a broom closet I’ll be happy,” Clinton said with a forced smile on his lips.

Once they were out of Sheldon’s earshot, Alex whirled around and focused an evil sneer on Clinton. “I don’t know what your game is or why all of a sudden you want to work here. Know this: If you try anything underhanded to wrest control of this property from my family, there will be hell to pay.”

“Alex—”

“Miss Richardson,” she snapped.

“My apologizes. Miss Richardson, your father has been one of my heroes for a long time and I would never do anything to try and take this company from him. When I came here two months ago, I was working for someone else who conducts business in a way that I don’t want to be associated with. I chose to come here and offer my—”

“How are we to know that you’re not still working for Randall Birmingham? I know his style and he doesn’t give up when he wants something. For all I know, this could be a new ploy,” Alex hissed.

“Because I quit and I suggest you call and make sure I did.”

“Don’t think for a second that I won’t and you better be everything you say you are.” Alex spun on her heels and stalked down the hall with Clinton struggling to keep up.

His office may not have been an actual broom closet, but it was close. There were no windows, just room for a desk, chair, and nothing else. The walls were the blandest shade of beige he’d ever seen and with the overhead fluorescent light on, the room looked as if it has been bleached. Sitting his briefcase on the desk, Clinton forced himself to pretend he liked the space.

“I’m right across the hall from you and I will be keeping my eye on you,” Alex spat.

“Never doubted that you would,” he mumbled as she walked across the hall to her lavish office with a view of the Charleston Harbor.

 

The Tempted At Midnight soundtrack . . .

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It’s been a whirlwind week since the release of my latest novel. And as you may or may not know, music has a lot to do with my writing. So, today I’m sharing the top ten songs that I had to listen to while writing this book (which I love so much!).

  1. Darlin’ Nikki by Prince
  2. Kiss by Prince
  3. After The Dance by Marvin Gaye
  4. Hot Sex On A Platter by A Tribe Called Quest
  5. Killing Me Softly by Roberta Flack
  6. Last Night by Az Yet
  7. Been to the Moon by Corinne Bailey Rae
  8. I Try by Macy Gray
  9. Wonderful Ass by Prince
  10. Stay With Me by DeBarge 

 

Have you had a chance to read #TemptedAtMidnight? Can you see or feel the influence of this soundtrack?

Turning 10 this November: Betting On Love

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Once upon a time, an author took a trip to Las Vegas. That author was me. My best friend had won a trip to Sin City and invited me to tag along. As we were packing, I grabbed a condom, as a joke, saying that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

After a weekend of shopping, eating and losing money, we were heading back to Atlanta with over stuffed bags. I asked her to place one of my bags in hers and she agreed. It was the bag with that condom in it. And when she put it in her bag, it toppled over and out flew the condom.

That would’ve been fine if it hadn’t landed at the Nike clad foot of a really cute guy, who just happened to be on our flight. He handed it back to her and she whispered that she was going to kill me. And I said, this is so going in a book.

Two days later, I started writing Betting On Love.

This November marks the ten year anniversary of this book’s release.

Betting On Love was the second book in what I thought would’ve been a two book series. This book tells the story of James Goings, brother of NFL Wide Receiver Maurice Goings from Let’s Get It On

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But a sisterhood was born with the characters of Jade, Serena, Kandace and Alicia. And the Goings Family and Friends series was born. I can’t believe it’s been ten years already.

What’s your favorite book in the series?

 

Following your passion

I had a chance to speak with writer Shameika Rhymes for a feature with Inhersite.com about passion. Not the passion I write about in my romance novels, but that deep seeded desire to do something.

For me it’s writing, obviously.

Here’s a sample of our conversation:

“It’s always better to figure out that this is something I want to do and sacrifice time and money for than wait until later wondering, ‘What if?’” Hodges says. “As women, we always put our needs and wants on the backburner because we’re not taught to reach for the stars most of the time, but when you push that mindset to the side, then you can go after it and follow your passion and fight for it.”

Read the full article about me and five other women here.

And for some other type of passion, check out Tempted At Midnight this September!

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A Midnight tease. . .

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Coming this September, Tempted At Midnight is gaining advanced praise.

“Scandal and seduction…nobody does them better.” —Zuri Day, author of the Sweet Heat

“Once again, Cheris Hodges brings the heat with a sensual and romantic page turner that doesn’t disappoint. In Tempted at Midnight, Sylvie and Erik heat up the page!”  —K.M. Jackson, author of As Good as the First Time

For fans of Brenda Jackson, Cheris Hodges brings the heat in a new contemporary romance where New Years Eve fireworks last long past the stroke of midnight.

Here’s a little sneak peak inside this forthcoming novel!

Ten!

Sylvia hated the countdown to a new year. Especially in a crowd of couples. Everybody would be kissing in nine seconds and she was standing there with her third glass of champagne. Sylvie didn’t even like champagne but as the room celebrated the engagement of her best friend, Olivia Brown and her man LJ, she had to drink the swill. The ballroom was buzzing with excitement, though. Everyone wanted a look at Olivia’s ring and the portrait LJ, a renowned artist who’d just finished a family portrait for the former first family, had painted of his future wife. It was beautiful. The night was romantic. Sylvie was bored.

Glancing around the room, she glanced around the room and locked eyes with the only other guy who looked as he wanted to be anywhere but there.

            Nine!

            That man is fine!she thought as she set her empty glass on the edge of a table. Maybe she was tipsy and that’s why she started walking toward Mr. Sex Appeal.

Eight!

Sylvie heard the voice of reason telling her to stop, pump her breaks and don’t head over to this stranger. It wasn’t as if she had a right to expect a midnight kiss from him. But her feet wouldn’t stop, especially when their eyes met.

His golden brown eyes reminded her of warm honey and his slow once over heated her body like a rocket ready to explode. Maybe he wanted this kiss as much as she needed it.

Seven!

His lips were delectable looking. Full. Thick. Hopefully they were as soft as they looked from across the room. But he wasn’t across the room anymore. She was just a few more steps away from him. She grabbed a glass of champagne from a waiter’s tray and kept walking.

Six!

It was now or never. She could turn back or take two more steps. Sylvie thought about the year she’d had. Her business partner had left her high and dry forcing Sylvie to have to finish fifteen decorating jobs alone. Though she’d gotten the work done, made a great name for herself and lined up some exclusive clients including Jordan Industries, one of the largest cosmetic companies in the southeast, she was tired and needed a release.

Five!

Sylvie grabbed a second glass of champagne. At least she could pretend she was there to share a toast with him if the kiss thing didn’t work out.

Four!

She was standing in front of him. “Hi.”

“Hello beautiful,” he replied. His voice was just as sexy as he was. Deep. Low. Hypnotic.

“Happy New Year.” Sylvie held out the glass of champagne to him. Their fingers touched as he took the glass from her hand.

“Thanks for the drink. Maybe I should’ve thought of bringing you one earlier.”

“Well, it seems as of we’re the only people who came without dates tonight.”

“And that’s a good thing. Starting the new year stealing you away from another man wouldn’t have been a great way to start the new year.”

“Trust and believe, I can’t be stolen.”

“Is that so?”

She slapped her hand on her shapely hip. “Do I look like a piece of property?”

Three!

“You look beautiful, actually. The prettiest girl in the room.”

Sylvie’s cheeks heated but she reminded herself to be cool. “Where’s your date, tonight?”

“I just met her. I’m Erik, by the way.”

“Sylvie.”

Two!

Erik’s eyes drank in the curvaceous Sylvie. Long legs, thick thighs that he wanted wrapped around his waist. Then his stare fell on her lips. Full. Kissable and painted his favorite color — red. She ran her tongue across her bottom lip and his dick stood at attention.

Erik noticed Sylvie when she’d walked into the ballroom. His plan had been to skip the party but Logan, his younger brother, told him about his plan to propose to his lovely girlfriend. As much as Erik wanted Logan to be a part of the company as more than just a board member, he supported and applauded this brother’s artistic endeavors. Logan made a name for himself with his murals and gallery shows. Erik knew Logan was going to Paris after the board meeting. He knew his brother was going to be just fine, he wasn’t so sure about the company.

Happy New Year!

Balloons fell around Sylvie and Erik as the chords of Auld Lang Synebegan playing. Sylvie took one step closer to Erik and brought her hand to his cheek. Their lips touched gently, then Sylvie went in for a real kiss.

 

Erik was taken aback by the sweet and forcefulness of her kiss. He wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her closer to his body. Her tongue danced with his, tango, lambda, disco. She stroked the back of his neck. Erik moaned as she pressed her body against his and their kiss deepened.

His body responded to her sensual kiss, his erection pressed against her thighs and she didn’t seem to mind at all. Did she just thrust her hips into his?

Yes. She. Did. Erik cupped her behind and it was soft. Very soft. Squeezing her cheeks, he thought about holding her ass tight while they were naked.

Their lips parted and her bright red lipstick was smeared across her beautiful mouth. “Want to get out of here?”

Sylvie nodded.  He wrapped his arm around her waist and led her to his Maserati.

Click here to preorder your copy today!

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Fall in love with the season

Grab a copy of The Perfect Present

File Mar 23, 11 35 57 PM

THE CHRISTMAS LESSON Cheris Hodges 
Kayla Matthews isn’t looking forward to heading home this Christmas. Divorced and struggling, nothing has turned out the way she expected—including her childhood friend, DeShawn Carter. Now the high school principal, he’s also the kind of man she’s always dreamed about. But before the holidays are over, Kayla has a chance to reclaim everything she once thought she wanted—or prove to DeShawn that they have a second chance worth celebrating . . .