Guest Post from Julie Particka:
The Music of My Soul
The Music of My Soul
Inspiration comes from a lot of places, and as I’ve mentioned pretty much whenever I’m asked, the main inspiration for Playing the Perfect Boyfriend came from conversations with my single friends about the never-ending deluge of well-meaning questions. When are you going to find a nice guy and settle down? When are you going to have kids? They all kind of translate to “When are you going to have the kind of happily ever after I think you should have?”
Newsflash: people hate that.
But while that was the core of the idea—a different kind of happily ever after—it wasn’t enough. And so I started paying attention to which of my friends were the ones who complain about that. Then I took a long, hard look at post-divorce me and realized we had a lot in common.
This particular epiphany happened while I was sitting in my minivan in the Jr. High parking lot, waiting for my kid to get out of school.
It also happened while I was blasting Halestorm.
I discovered the band Halestorm a couple years ago and promptly bought all their CDs I could get my hands on. Listening to their music makes me feel like somehow Lzzy Hale has a direct line into my soul. So that was also the moment I knew I had to work the band into Jade’s book.
It’s not a huge thing in the actual text. I mention a couple song titles (one tongue-in-cheek and the other as a pivotal moment) but the inclusion was less about individual songs for me as it was the attitude that Lzzy brings to her music. It’s raw. It’s revealing. It is unapologetically real.
And that was something I desperately wanted Jade to be. I didn’t want her to be a picture perfect heroine. I wanted her to have faults and failings—major ones—and not to apologize for a single one of them. I knew going in that it would make her a polarizing figure. People were either going to love her or hate her.
And that is okay by me, because it means she’s real in the way that only certain people manage to be. She’s not the girl who everyone thinks is “nice” or who “everyone gets along with.” She’s fiercely loyal, viciously protective, and passionately loving. She’s the kind of person I would happily call friend…and on occasion “bitch.” But that’s okay because she’d call me one right back, and then we’d laugh about it—as best bitches do.
If you’re curious about the band that speaks to my soul (and Jade’s), though, here is a smattering of the Halestorm titles I had on repeat while writing Playing the Perfect Boyfriend (in no particular order—Okay, fine. It’s most-played on my iTunes…):
“You Call Me a Bitch Like It’s a Bad Thing”
“Love Bites (So Do I)”
“Nothing to Do with Love”
“I’m Not an Angel”
“What Were You Expecting?”
“Beautiful with You”
“Freak Like Me”
“In Your Room”
“Bad Girl’s World”
Playing the Perfect Boyfriend by Julie Particka
Release Date: June 6, 2016
About the Book:
She’s faking it…but he’s playing for keeps.
Wild child Jade Easler has never met a dick she didn’t like, but there’s only been one she thought about keeping. And now he’s back in town…right after she’s slept with charming Hollywood up-and-comer, Dean Hartley. The fastest way to get her ex’s attention? Show up on the arm of a sexy younger man. She just hopes Dean is up for the task of fake boyfriend…
When he hooked up with his beautifully curvy photographer, Dean thought he’d only get the one night she promised. But when she needs help convincing a former flame she’s ready to settle down, who is he to argue? He’ll get to show her—in as many ways as possible—that giving up crazy, hot sex for a stale, predictable life isn’t what she wants. And prove that what she needs is him.
About the Author:
Julie Particka was told to get serious about her future in Junior High. Several years after getting a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, she realized being serious was over-rated and went back to her first love–writing. Now rather than spending her days in the drudgery of the lab or teaching science to high school students, she disappears into worlds of her own creation where monsters sometimes roam, but true love still conquers all.
She can most often be located in the Detroit area with her favorite minions (the ones who know her as Mom) where she is currently hatching a plot for world domination. It involves cookies for everyone, so she’s pretty sure there’s no way it can fail…except the minions keep eating the cookies.
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“I wanted to surprise you, and when you weren’t home, I came here. I guess I should have known you were entertaining.”
Or maybe Dean would stay after all. The emphasis on Isak’s last word got his ire up and made all his muscles tense. He had no intention of leaving Jade to explain on her own. Something about this felt like she was going to need backup. “Look, buddy—”
“Oh. I apologize if we gave you the wrong impression.” Jade wrapped her arm around Dean’s waist like it was the most natural thing in the world. “We were doing a shoot yesterday, and Dean made a wisecrack about feeling like he wasn’t good enough for me since I’d never let him stay over at the studio. So...we stayed.”
What. The. Fuck? Dean was good at improv, but this wasn’t anything he’d been prepared for when they walked out of the building. Or when they’d woken up this morning. Or...ever.
But something about her words clearly struck Alfredsson, considering the way his expression shifted to one of surprise and a hint of wariness. “The two of you are...together?”
“Of course,” Dean said, hoping like hell he was reading the situation marginally right. “What did you think?”
The way he stared almost longingly at Jade without even meeting Dean’s eyes made two things very clear. One, Alfredsson came expecting her to be available. And two, when he found a guy here, he assumed it meant exactly what Jade had said their interlude would be—a one-night stand. He’d seemed disgusted by the second possibility but disappointed at the idea the first was wrong. Who the hell was this guy to her?
Jade nestled close, and Dean instinctively put his arm around her shoulders. He wasn’t protecting her exactly, but part of him felt like he should. She smiled up at him and said, “I have to assume Isak expected me to be exactly who I used to be, but people change.”
“Clearly,” Alfredsson said. “It is good to see you so... grounded.”
“Thank you. There have been times I’ve regretted how things ended between us, but it simply wasn’t the right time for me.”
They’d been a thing—not just a one-nighter, but a thing. Based on how demure she was acting, Dean had a tough time believing that life with Alfredsson could ever have been what Jade really wanted. He pulled her closer. “I’m glad timing worked in our favor, kitten. I’d hate not having you in my life.”
Jade smiled up at him, but it was tight, forced, like he’d said exactly the wrong thing. “Ditto.” She turned to Alfredsson and added, “Dean and I have to get going, but we really should catch up while you’re in town. How long are you staying?”
Isak nodded, disappointment disappearing behind a mask of professionalism. “That sounds wonderful. I’m in town for about two months. Obviously, it’ll be a busy visit, but I’m more than happy to make time for you.” His eyes shot to Dean. “The both of you, of course. I’d love to get to know the man who stole your heart. Call me. My number hasn’t changed.”
“It was good to see you again, Isak.”
Dean stood there with his arm around her until Alfredsson was out of sight—and hearing. Finally, he was able to let the illusion drop. “Well, that was awkward.”
Jade sagged against the hood of her convertible and buried her face in her hands. “This is a disaster!”
“Not for me.” Dean sat down next to her and nudged her with his hip. “The hottest woman in all of Hollywood is apparently my girlfriend. I couldn’t be happier.”
She snorted a laugh—seemingly back to a shadow of the woman he’d spent the night with. “I am not your girlfriend.”
“Sure you are, kitten. I heard what you told Mr. Tall- Blond-and-Swedish. Also, I should probably know how long we’ve been a couple before we get together with him again.”