Welcome, Ava. So glad to have you here today. Tell us a little about The Grand Opening:
Well, let’s see. The Grand Opening is about a deputy sheriff and a poker player/hotel magnate. It’s the third book in my small-town series called Dare Valley. Here’s more about the story.
When Peggy McBride moves to Dare Valley, Colorado, the last thing she wants is to meet a man. If she’s learned one thing from her divorce, it’s that love is a messy business, and as a single mom and the new deputy sheriff, she has her hands full. But when hotel magnate and poker player Mac Maven moves to town, she becomes enthralled by the very last man she would ever consider dating…
Mac Maven has come to Dare with ambitious plans for his new project, the restoration of The Grand Mountain Hotel as a boutique poker venue. Only one person offers him a less than warm welcome: Deputy Sheriff Peggy McBride, who is dead set against gambling. But although Peggy’s a fierce opponent, Mac senses a tenderness and passion within her that he longs to free. Having helped his sister raise her teenage son, he understands Peggy, and can see past her tough-as-nails exterior.
When a threat to Mac’s hotel surfaces, he and Peggy must join forces to find out who’s responsible. Working together ignites the white-hot connection between them, and their cooperation takes a decidedly personal turn. But can Mac convince Peggy to set their differences aside and take a gamble on love?
What are you working on now? Do you have any releases scheduled for this year?
That’s a good question. What am I working on right now? I quit my old career in May to dive into the deep-end of being a full-time writer. I’ve put out the first three books in The Dare Valley series six weeks apart. Nora Roberts Land and French Roast and now The Grand Opening. I’m pretty tired. J
But The Grand Opening has been a font of fun, and from it, I am getting ready to release a Christmas novella, Book 4 in the series, in a few weeks called The Holiday Serenade. It showcases Mac’s best friend, Southern bad boy and flamboyant poker player, Rhett Butler Blaylock—and yes, Rhett Butler. I simply had to do it. I mean, he’s one of my favorite heroes, and the whole poker thing made it perfect… Mac’s sister, single mom, Abbie Maven, is his target. He’s come to Dare Valley professing his love for her after she’d broken off their secret affair. She’s pretty conservative, and Rhett, well isn’t.
Then it’s onto Grandpa Hale’s novella this winter, which I call “Mad Men” in a small town with a happy ending. Grandpa Hale is the patriarch of the Hale family in the series and a journalistic legend; he’s still running his newspaper, The Western Independent. Readers and reviewers alike have fallen in love with this character, who is based on my great-great grandfather, who won our family newspaper in a poker game in 1892, one my cousins still run.
And if that’s not enough, I’m going to be releasing the first book in the connected series called The Dare River series, which features Rhett’s best friend, country singer Rye Crenshaw, who finds his match in his personal cook. It’s a modern Beauty and the Beast story, and I love it.
Then it’s back to Dare Valley again. But I’m giving away too much… Rhett would tell me to “shut it.”
Do you have a favorite hero and/or heroine in your books and why?
I adore my hero, Mac Maven, in The Grand Opening. On the surface, when we meet him for the first time in French Roast , we only know he’s a World Series of Poker champion and a hotel magnate of boutique poker hotels. He’s tall, dark, and handsome with nerves of steel. And then we learn about Mac the family man. He’s been helping his sister raise her son since she’d gotten pregnant at eighteen. They all live together, trying to give the boy the kind of normal family life Mac and his sister never had. Mac’s nephew is sixteen, so in The Grand Opening, it’s so much fun to see the contrast of him having to act like a parent and then Mr. Cool at the poker table. The contrast is fascinating, and the complexity of Mac makes me love him all the more. I really fell for this guy, but my heroine is a tough cop, so I have to be careful what I say. She might shoot me. J
What is your favorite scene from this story and why?
There’s a lot of great scenes in The Grand Opening (and of course I would say that), but the first chapter still makes me laugh out loud. I’ve included an excerpt, but the whole thing starts with the heroine, Peggy McBride, walking to a friend’s house for a BBQ with her son, Keith. And they’re pursued by a moose determined to eat the key lime pie she’s carrying—although she doesn’t know this until later. Mac ends up coming between her and the moose, with his Ferrari (wince), and it changes the whole dynamic between them. Peggy’s a tough cop and hates gambling for reasons that go back to her own parents, but she can’t help but be attracted to Mac. It’s a laugh-a-minute as the moose charges his beautiful Ferrari. My editor about wet her pants reading it, so beware. Hah!
What is your favorite memory from childhood?
I’m the oldest of six kids, and when we were living in the country, I got my siblings and our friends to take a mud bath in the fallow corn field behind our house. We’d had so much rain, it literally was like the mud baths you see at a high-priced spa (never been yet). We threw mud at each other and laughed like loons until my mother came out. She’s five foot nothing and was pretty upset. She turned the hose on us. The water was freezing. We screamed. And that was that.
What is your favorite food to cook or eat?
Golly, as a former chef, this is a tough question, but for me it comes down to one question: what’s your death penalty meal, the last one you can eat? For me, it’s fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, a vegetable (totally open here), and a slice of lemon meringue pie. Delish. It’s also one of my favorite things to cook, and I just taught one of my sisters how to make it.
Who first introduced you to the love of reading?
My Grandmother Miles. Since I was the oldest of six kids, my mom would send me off for the summer to my grandparents’ house. My grandma introduced me to some of my favorite books: Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables. After her soap operas were over, we’d both settle down for some afternoon reading before making dinner for my grandpa. They were precious times, and I miss her.
Who influenced your decision to become a writer?
For me, it was always something I was, a part of me. Characters would appear to me and start talking to me, telling their stories. I would start writing them down. I didn’t think it could be a full-time thing until a few months ago, but I knew it was what I was meant to do with the rest of my life. Telling stories about empowerment, people re-discovering themselves, and experiencing the transformative power of love is a sacred calling, and one I am grateful for.
These are few of my favorite things:
1. College Football—especially Nebraska and Notre Dame
Excerpt: The Moose
They were about four blocks from Jill’s when the moose halted, stomped its feet like a flamenco dancer, and lowered its head. She could almost hear it yell Charge! Its pounding hooves echoed in her ears.
“Run, Keith, run! Don’t stop! Get Uncle Tanner.” Her brother would know what to do. He always did.
She stopped and turned around, clutching the pie. Maybe she could use it as a shield. Right.
The moose stopped when she did, watching her. Its floppy ears curled back. The grunts issuing from its mouth made her think of the deranged sex offender she’d arrested last year.
She braced her legs, prepared to spring to the side at the last minute if it charged.
A car revved, racing down the street. She was in the middle of the road. God, what a choice—she could be hit by a car or a moose.
A red Ferrari screeched to a halt between them. The beast tossed its head and charged, hitting the car with a resounding thunk. Glass cracked. Metal bent like Superman had put his fists through it.
Shock rolled through her at the sheer destructive power of the thing. The passenger side door swung open as the moose ambled around the side dazedly. “Get in, Peg.”
Magically, miraculously, it was Mac Maven, staring at her with his stoplight green eyes, which always made her think of a traffic light telling her, Yes, go, nothing’s stopping you. She darted for the vehicle as the moose headed her way.
Keith stopped halfway up the block. “Mommy!”
“Run! Get Tanner!”
She jumped into the car and slammed the door, watching Keith run off. Thank God.
The moose circled back and hit Maven’s side again, shaking them like clothes in a dryer. Metal whined with the impact. Glass splintered into spider webs.
Her nemesis gripped her shoulders. “Are you all right?”
“There’s a moose chasing us!” she sputtered.
He was all but leaning into her lap to evade the shower of glass. “Right. Stupid question.”
“Okay, let’s get out of here.”
The moose stood in their path. Mac revved the engine. “Move, dammit!
“Go!” she yelled. This was not the time to be a granola-loving tree hugger.
His hands tightened on the steering wheel as the animal landed a crushing blow on the hood like a pro-football linebacker. Something popped, and smoke rolled out from the engine, making her nose twitch. The moose stumbled to the side.
The path clear, he hit the gas. The engine sputtered and died, lights flashing on the dashboard.
“You’re kidding me,” she heaved out.
“Oh, shit! Must have blown something.”
He turned it over. It didn’t even fire. “It’s like an elephant sat on my car. That thing’s gotta weigh close to a thousand pounds.”
“How can you joke around at a time like this? Where’s your gun?” She dug into his glove compartment.
“I don’t have a gun.”
The moose circled the car. Tossed its head. Its wild, eerie eyes peered through the shattered windows.
Maven’s eyes swept across her, following the moose. “Great, it knows it has us cornered.”
She slammed the glove compartment shut. “Why don’t you have a gun?”
“I don’t like them.”
“How unmanly of you.” The moose fogged up her window as it peered through the web-like glass. Yuck, moose breath. She hit the window to make it go away, causing more spider cracks.
“I wouldn’t do that,” Maven cautioned.
It darted back.
“See, it moved! Just needed to show it who’s boss.”
It lowered its head and charged her side of the car.
Maven tugged her body over the partition between the seats, his strong arms encircling her as he pushed her head against his chest. “Shit. Now you’ve really pissed it off.”
Pie covered her front, its wetness spreading through her shirt. The smell of citrus blended with the smell of burnt car parts hanging thickly in the air.
The moose rammed her side again. The top part of the window blew apart, showering her in glass.
Maven plucked her onto his lap. She flinched at the heat pouring from his body, the sensation of his muscles bunching under her. God, it had been ages since she’d been this close to a man she wasn’t handcuffing. Wasn’t it her luck they were in mortal danger, and he was her enemy?
THE GRAND OPENING, Book 3, The Dare Valley Series, by Ava Miles
September 2013/On Sale 9-24-13/$4.99 (eBook), $14.99 (print)/ISBN: 9781940565019
You can find The Grand Opening at:
And now, Ava has a question for you all: What’s the craziest animal you’ve ever seen in person? And did you know what to do when you saw it?
Ava Miles burst onto the contemporary romance scene after receiving Nora Roberts’ blessing for her use of Ms. Roberts’ name in her debut novel, NORA ROBERTS LAND, which kicked off The Dare Valley Series and brought praise from reviewers and readers alike. Much to Ava’s delight, BlogCritics says “It [NORA ROBERTS LAND] captures the best of…a Nora Roberts novel,” while USA Today’s Happily Ever After blog praises the series noting its “wonderful, idyllic setting… [and] great characters.” Ava continued The Dare Valley Series in FRENCH ROAST, which Tome Tender says “raised the entertainment bar again.” Now, Ava releases the third book in the series, THE GRAND OPENING, with her recognized wit and charm, creating happy endings with humor and heart. A descendant of generations of journalists, Ava—a writer since childhood—now lives in her own porch-swinging-friendly community with an old-fashioned Main Street lined with small businesses. Much like Dare Valley.
You can find Ava at: