New Leaves, No Strings (The Austin Series #1)
By C.J. Fallowfield
Published: January 29, 2014
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Erotica
She had a heart of ice and he wanted to thaw it. His mission, to use his sexual prowess to make him impossible to resist, until she was his and his alone.
New Leaves, No Strings has scorching erotic scenes, heart-warming friendships and will make you laugh, cry and hopefully fall in love, with a new book boyfriend named Gabe Austin.
Best friends Mia and Lexi start University and make a pact. Tainted by their pasts, they’re going to try and get over their commitment phobias. Mia’s going to lose her virginity with hot, no strings attached sex. Rebellious Lexi’s going to try ditching her one night stands and attempt to have a relationship. What Mia didn’t count on however, was Gabe Austin, confident and irresistibly gorgeous, who quickly inserts himself into her life. Inextricably drawn to each other, their desire soon leads to a passionate encounter. Gabe’s fears of abandonment and domineering attitude, combined with Mia’s own fears of attachment, threaten to derail his attempts to thaw her frozen heart. Despite her reticence, Gabe Austin’s a guy who is used to getting what he wants and he’s determined to make her his and his alone. Just as he seems to have won Mia around, he goes and does something that could ruin everything.
J&M's Book Diaries rating:
Immediately I was drawn to the story because of Mia Page and Lexi Clarke. They have been best friends since they were 11 years old and now starting college together at the University. Mia is an 18 year old virgin and Lexi on the other hand does one night stands. Both are scared of having a committed relationship all due to their past. So while attending the Uni and living on their own they both started a pact together. Mia was to lose her V-card to a hot guy with no-strings attached and Lexi was going to try for a real relationship.
Their friendship is very entertaining. They brought much humor to the book whether they were together or texting.
Now comes Gabe Austin. He’s on the Uni swim team. He’s blonde, with blue eyes, strong jaw, broad muscular shoulders and a body to die for. He’s sexy, confident, arrogant but very charming and has a heart of gold. The loss of his mother when he was young was a past that tortured Gabe. He sleeps with women to fill a void & emptiness. Although he's dated he never loved or put much effort into his relationships.
So when Gabe set eyes on Mia it was love at first sight. Their relationship was very intense and steamy & they’re so lovable!
This book was all consuming, I was very engrossed in the story. How C.J. wrote this believable story with endearing characters. I just felt myself connecting with them while getting lost in the book.
I write contemporary erotic romance with humour novels, which are full of emotion and plenty of drama. I am a 44 year old female from the United Kingdom and live in the wonderful countryside of Wales, surrounded by rolling hills, trees and fields full of sheep and cows. Writing aids include chocolate, Ben & Jerry’s and copious amounts of coffee, wine or cider.
Email Address firstname.lastname@example.org
New Leaves, No Strings
Baggage & Buttons
Forever & an Engine
The Honeymoon Period
Love & Loss
In addition, there is a prequel to The Austin Series called Destined, written from Gabe Austin's point of view, available now, FREE from Goodreads, Amazon.com or Smashwords
What inspired you to write your first book and how long did it take you to complete it?
I always loved reading as a child, and dreamed of one day writing my own book, but life and work got in the way. After 25 years in the Finance industry I was given an amazing opportunity to take over my parents business, which I run from home part time, so suddenly I had all this extra time on my hands and decided that I was going to write that book. I didn’t have a plan of what I was going to write, I knew I wanted to try erotic romance and thought of a way that my characters would meet and Gabe and Mia grew from that point. I wrote my first draft in three weeks, but got cold feet and sat on it for a few months not sure whether it was good enough for someone to pay to read!
Who is your favorite character in this book?
That is a really difficult question. As I’ve already completed the series I’ve written nearly 2,000 pages around the key characters, so all of them hold a special place in my heart. If pushed I would have to say Mia. I love that she’s independent and feisty, but loved her character growth from someone so unwilling to give love and be loved in book one, to her transformation by the finale.
How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I would argue that all of the book is realistic, yes the characters probably have more drama in their lives than the average person, but books would be boring without drama to keep them moving. They’ll be a reader somewhere for whom a particular scene resonates. I was criticised by some readers who said the sex was unrealistic, that is wasn’t possible to have sex so many times or to be so turned on. I whole heartedly disagree. The series isn’t my autobiography, I haven’t experienced some of the sexual scenes I’ve written, but in terms of that lust and passion for someone, that not being able to keep your hands off each other in those early years, that is based on experience. I can categorically confirm that it is possible and those readers who’ve argued the point have obviously not been fortunate enough to experience that yet.
Facets of each of my characters are written from my observations of friends, family and strangers, as I’m sure all writers do. No one character is based on one person, but friends may recognise the odd personality trait as they read!
One key experience in my life that I deliberately chose to write into the book was Mia’s illness. Without giving anything away for potential new readers, I suffered from the same condition that Mia did, sadly it affected me far worse than it did her. I have a hope that maybe even just one reader will pick up on the symptoms that she’s enduring and think “That’s how I feel” and will go and see their Doctor and be diagnosed in time to prevent the heartache I had to endure at such a young age. That would make me so happy to know that I’ve helped another women. Even happier if it were more than one.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Ironically writing the book was the easy part. I’m lucky to be a touch typist. On a good day I can get around 14,000 words done, so in ten days I’ve written an above average sized book. I then re-read and tweak. Back when I wrote my debut (New Leaves, No Strings) I was so green, I didn’t have beta readers to test it and give me feedback, I thought I could self edit, I also believed when I pressed that “Submit” button on Amazon, that people would just see it and take a chance on a new author and part with their hard earned cash. I soon realised that I did need an editor and most of all I needed to promote myself more. That was the hard bit. With no financial backing of a big publisher, it’s so hard for an independent author to get known. I never buy a book without reviews, yet less than 1% of my readers review my books, so getting those in is crucial. Thank God for book bloggers like yourselves. You are invaluable to Indie Authors because if you champion our work and give us free publicity to all of your followers. So on behalf of Indie authors around the world, we salute you!
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I don’t think I intentionally wrote my book with a message, and I’m not sure there was a clear one in book one, but looking back at the series as a whole then yes I think there is one. It’s that love is hard. Everybody carries hidden baggage that impacts on their ability to relate to, and love, others. Yet if you love someone hard enough and are prepared to put in the work, then you can overcome any obstacle, just as Gabe and Mia did. I really put them through the ringer from books four to six, but reader feedback on the finale has been that all that angst and drama made the final payoff all the more sweet. So yes, I guess to remember that relationships aren’t always easy, but they can be so rewarding, be that passionate relationships, or even friendships like Mia and Lexi’s.
If you can go back and change anything you have written what would it be & why?
I don’t think I would to be honest. Writers can only grow by making the odd mistake, listening to reader feedback and learning from it. My review scores have climbed higher and higher with each book I’ve released so I must be doing something right. I wrote what was in my heart and what felt right to me at the time and I stand by that. Many loved the first book, some hated it and I’ve learned fast to be thick skinned, because no matter what you write, not everyone is going to love it. By changing a book, you risk losing the audience it would have resonated with and picking up other readers that now it will, it’s a pointless exercise in my opinion. Yes, if I’d received really bad reviews and my average ratings were low obviously that would be an indicator that I needed to go back to the drawing board. I’m lucky that this isn’t the case.
What books/authors have influenced your writing?
I was so late to the erotic romance party it’s untrue. Probably, like thousands of women around the world, Fifty Shades of Grey was my first dabble in the genre back in December 2012. I then went onto the Crossfire Trilogy and realised this was a genre I really loved. I guess every book I read up until I put fingers to keyboard for New Leaves has had somewhat of an influence on me. I knew I loved alpha males, who doesn’t, but I didn’t enjoy aspects of some books where the hero was emotionally or physically abusive. To me that’s not romantic. I wanted a man who had a hard, dominant controlling nature, but at the core would do anything to for the woman that he loved. That’s how I imagine all of my hero’s, strong on the outside with a slightly soft centre!
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I’d have to pick Georgia Le Carre. I contacted her to say how much I’d enjoyed her first book and she emailed me back. When she realised that I was new to this industry she started giving me pointers to help me on areas like getting an editor, changing my initial book cover, marketing myself for free. From there our friendship has grown and because of that selfless generosity she showed me, I now do the same for new authors who approach me. It’s seriously tough among all that competition, but if Indie authors can’t help each other out, it’s very sad. Another author I’ve connected with is Lan LLP, who Georgia put me in contact with and the three of us regularly chat and share interesting information we’ve learned that will help us as authors. What’s so amazing is that while we write in the same genre, there’s no rivalary. We share in each others triumphs proudly and want each other to suceed and I’m so blessed to have such wonderful new friends.
What are your current projects?
I’m never happy unless I’m busy! I have two series on the go at the moment, “For the Night” and “31 Days.” My next release, on 17th October, is “Strangers for the Night” which is book one in an eight part series around Logan Steele, a male gigolo and each book features his one night with a client. They are designed as erotic steamy short stand alone reads, but if read in sequence, the reader will also experience Logan’s character development. I’m releasing one of these per month, so far I have three in the bag to take me up to December. I’ve also just sent “31 Days of Winter” to my editor and am working on “31 Days of Summer.” The 31 Days duology are full length romance novels, with my trademark humour and hot detailed erotic scenes, but this time there is more intrigue and mystery. I’m so excited about each project, and ARC reviews on the first three “For the Night” books have been amazing, Logan is going down a tropical hot storm! My beta feedback on 31 Days has been excellent too, so I can’t wait to see what the readers think, though it’s always a nervous few days after a book goes live!
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
As I said before I think the steepest learning curve has been to not focus on the odd review where someone didn’t enjoy my work, but to focus on all the positive ones and the daily fan mail and messages of support I’m receiving. You can get a load of really great reviews in a day, but if you get one negative one that’s the one writers hone in on and lose sleep over. I’m toughening up fast. I don’t love some of the really popular best sellers in my genre, so not everyone will love my writing style, but if authors could ask anything of their readers, it would be to write constructive reviews to help us grow. All in all I guess I’m learning to try and focus more on the positive than the negative, a wise mantra for life let alone the world of writing!
Do you have any advice for other new writers?
I’m no expert, it’s still less than a year since I started writing, let alone hit that publishing button but I can give you tips that I wish I’d known before I put my debut on Amazon’s shelves. Firstly have someone who can be brutally honest with you read your first draft. Detach from the intial horror of having someone critique your writing baby (something you’ll have to get used to really fast!) and really take the time to consider if their observations have merit. Then re-read your manuscript with those in mind and revise accordingly. Second, get an editor. I cannot stress that enough. I thought I could self edit and my early versions had silly mistakes in which readers soon pick up on. Third try and market yourself in advance. Send out ARC copies to bloggers, build up a fan base before you launch yourself with teasers. Then last, but not least, be proud. Writing a book takes dedication, countless hours of alone time and patience and not everyone has motivation or determination to see it through, let alone the courage to put it out there for the world to review. That’s a serious achievement in itself and if your books are well reviewed, that’s the thing that makes you smile everyday and want to write more! You also have to have fun and love writing, that pretty much goes unstated!
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I’m just in awe of the support I’ve had from readers. I hoped that The Austin Series would be a decent read, with relatable characters, passion, angst, everyday humour and a great payoff at the end, but I’ve been blown away at the ratings and support I’ve received. My fans truly are amazing and have made this last year the best of my life. I wake up every day wanting to write, I get irritated when everyday things stop me from writing. Without their support I wouldn’t be having so much fun! I only hope that I continue to put out work that they receive just as well and I love hearing from them too. So don’t be shy, if you have a question or observation get it touch. While becoming as famous as some of the big erotic romance writers out there one day would be fabulous, it will also be a sad day because I’m sure they don’t have time to read each review like I do, or reply to each email of Facebook message and that I’d miss for sure. So bloggers and readers, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking me into yours and helping do something I love.