Today, I’m doing something different. I’ve given the reigns of my blog to fellow eXasty Books author V.J. Allison so she can interview her leading man from her latest release Stricken, a steamy contemporary romance set in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Good day everyone. I’m V.J. Allison, and today, I’m interviewing Ewan Campbell. He’s the hero of Stricken, my debut novel, which is set in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He’s also a member of the Campbell Oil family, and was heir to that empire until he decided a career in real estate on the east coast was more to his liking.
VJ: What made you decide to go into real estate over something else, like medicine or architecture?
EWAN: I was always good at convincing people to do things my way, so selling anything came natural to me. I love photography and cars, but they are more hobbies than a career path for me. I didn’t want to be heir to the Campbell empire; just a regular guy who made his own way in the world.
VJ: Why Nova Scotia? The province has had a lot of rough times in the last twenty years, and the real estate market is not doing well at the moment.
EWAN: My father’s family is originally from Nova Scotia, and I thought it would be interesting to see where we came from. I had planned on going back home after the trip, but I liked it here so much, I stayed. It felt more like home to me than Calgary ever did. I like a challenge, and there is none better than being successful in a market that’s not doing well overall.
VJ: Why did you continue working for Miranda after she made it clear you had a target on your back from the start? You two are like siblings now, but it must have been awful.
EWAN: I stayed because I liked her husband, Ralph. He made working at Hutchinson Real Estate easier for me, especially after it came out I was seeing Marti. Knowing. Marti was waiting for me at the end of the day kept me going.
VJ: What first attracted you to Marti?
EWAN: *chuckles* I can’t really pinpoint what made me look at her twice. She was so damn shy back then. I thought she was cute, but that’s not it. Something about her that made me want to become a better person, for her sake. I didn’t care if barely acknowledged me at first, I thought she was amazing. She made me be myself when we were together, instead of a detached person.
VJ: Detached? As in not sharing much about yourself?
EWAN: Members of the Campbell family have kept their emotions and actions within certain limits, especially in public. It’s been that way since before my grandfather’s time. I hated it. It’s more honest if you’re able to share how much you’re hurting, or if you’re in love with someone. I could only do it if I was dating someone, probably because I wasn’t in love with them. Marti changed that, because I fell for her hard.
VJ: Marti ending the relationship without saying why must have been a horrible blow. We know she had been pulling back for a while before it actually happened, but we never found out how it ended.
EWAN: It was the worst day of my life. I went to visit her at her apartment near Acadia University, but she didn’t want me there. We had a huge fight because she started telling me I wasn’t right for her. and She handed me the ring.
VJ: How did you feel on the drive home?
EWAN: It took me four hours to complete a normally 90-minute drive. I don’t remember much on the way home, other than stopping often and noticing a lake near the road.
*takes a really deep breath and grimaces* I wanted to sink into the lake and stay there.
VJ: What stopped you from drowning yourself?
EWAN: I think it was my parents. I’m their only child because Mom wasn’t able to have any more children after me. She had problems getting pregnant, and had a few miscarriages. I didn’t want to hurt them.
My family is deeply religious, and believe suicide is a sin. I didn’t want to disappoint my grandmother. She and I are extremely close, and she’s endured much sadness lately.
I wanted another chance with Marti. too. I couldn’t give up without knowing why she decided she no longer wanted to marry me.
VJ: If you and Marti do not get back together, what will you do?
EWAN: *takes a deep breath and closes his eyes for a moment* I guess I’ll just keep doing what I’ve done since we broke up – be the best person I can be, help Miranda and Ralph with the company, keep training others, and hope my parents live a long time.
VJ: Do you see yourself getting married to someone else if you don’t get back with Marti?
EWAN: I can’t see myself married to anyone else, even though my grandfather is pushing me to start looking. Naturally, my parents are pressing me to marry and have children.
VJ: Why not just have a child with someone without marriage?
EWAN: My family prefers the parents of a child to be married or at least engaged at the time of the birth.
VJ: Were there any children born outside of marriage in your family?
EWAN: I’m not aware of any.
VJ: You and Marti had unprotected sex a year after you two broke up. Do you think she had gotten pregnant?
EWAN: If she did, Grandfather will have a fit. I’ll hear it for being “stupid” and Marti will either lose the child thanks to his long reach, or she’ll have to marry me to keep the baby. Not that I’d complain if we were married, I’m still in love with her, but I’d rather she wasn’t blackmailed into marrying me.
VJ: Thank you for your time.
STRICKEN: Love deserves a second chance.
BLURB: Ewan Campbell once thought he had it all – he was a rising star in the real estate field, popular with his peers, and engaged to his employer’s cousin, the shy and quiet little Marti Marlowe.
A heartbeat later, he was alone – shattered, confused and suicidal. Why had Marti walked away from him?
Years later, in another place, and a new chapter of Ewan’s life, fate brings them face to face again.
They start building a friendship, but Ewan wants more. He wants Marti as his wife, and she seems to prefer their current status as friends.
Can he convince her that taking another chance at their failed future will be the start of the best part of their lives?
EXCERPT (From Chapter Three):
The tan door was ajar, and he could see the blue and cream tile turned into a soft blue carpet at the threshold of the office. With a hope Kara was wrong, Ewan glanced around quickly, but a movement to his right drew his attention.
Marti’s back was to him as she rooted around in a file cabinet drawer and shook her head periodically. Her outfit was professional, from the roll of hair in a French twist at the back of her head, to the black skirt suit with brown pinstripes, and the suede two-inch heeled shoes on her feet.
As he tapped his fingers on the doorjamb, a vision of her wearing nothing but one of his t-shirts and a solitaire engagement ring flashed through his mind.
“Yes?” Her voice was distant, cool and polite.
“Dr. Brown said you were in.”
Her back stiffened as he spoke to her without an audience for the first time in years. “I have no clue why you would want to see me,” she replied and dug a folder out of the drawer.
A soft sigh of exasperation came out of his throat as he entered the office and stopped halfway between the doorway and her desk. “I owe you an apology.”
“Saturday night. Shannon treated you like dirt, and—”
“I’ve dealt with people like her before and it hasn’t killed me yet.”
“That doesn’t excuse it – hell.” Ewan rubbed a hand down his face as he tried to find the right way to express himself.
“Maybe that will teach you not to take someone like her around your friends and coworkers.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It’s your life and your choice. If you want to go dumpster diving, that’s your business, but if I were you, I’d be careful on what I brought home.” She flipped a page in the file. “I have a meeting in less than an hour, and I’d like to be fully prepared for it, so if you don’t mind…”
“Look, I know this isn’t the ideal situation, but can’t we at least try to make an effort, for everyone’s best interest?”
So he wouldn’t look at her, he glanced around the room, and his gaze finally landed on a picture frame in her bookcase. An unwelcome, searing bolt of jealousy zoomed up his spine when he saw it was a photo of her and a man with their arms around each other.
His eyes moved to the large windows facing Citadel Hill, and locked with hers via the reflection. A sense of it being similar to the way they had stared at each other on their first date at the Fisheries Museum in Lunenburg rang in his mind.
Like that day, almost nine years ago, Marti was the one to break eye contact.
“How are we going to do that?” she asked.
“I don’t know, but unless we try, Kara and Dennis are going to chalk it up to something big, and from what I’ve heard, you’re not open about your past.”
“That’s my life and my choice, isn’t it?”
Ewan sighed and raked a hand through his hair as he took a step toward her. When she stiffened, he stopped and shoved his hands into his coat pockets.
“Dr. Lewis – Marti…” He let out a long breath. “I am sorry about invading your life. If I had known you were living here, I wouldn’t have taken the promotion, and told Miranda I was moving on.”
“Some things are beyond our control or knowledge. Halifax is a big place. I’m sure you and I can avoid being in the same area at the same time as much as possible.” With a shrug, Marti turned to face him.
As her cool and detached gaze met his, Ewan nodded, and his stomach dropped as the full impact of her calm and professional air hit him.
What was I thinking when I thought that maybe…?
The girl he knew was gone, replaced by this cool, sophisticated, and distant woman.
“Okay,” he murmured, and wondered why he felt as if his heart had been ripped out again.
Marti’s expression softened as she held up the file. “I’m not chasing you out because – I really do have a meeting, and I’d better get moving if I want to be ready for it.”
Ewan nodded and moved his gaze to a spot on the carpet. “Yeah.” With a final nod, he turned and walked out of her office, not understanding the heavy feeling around him.
About the Author: V.J. Allison was born and raised in southern Nova Scotia, Canada, and her work reflects her strong Maritime roots. She is a stay-at-home mother to a son on the autism spectrum, married to the love of her life, and “mama” to a cat named Amber.
She has been writing various stories of novel length and short stories since her school days, and sees writing as a vital component to her life.
When she isn’t writing, she loves to read romance and science fiction novels; listen to music; watch various crime and forensic dramas; watch science fiction television shows and movies; and spend time with her large family and many friends.
She also follows the local heavy metal music scene, and attends live shows when she can. She believes in supporting local musicians, and promotes local bands on her Facebook author page, notably bands like Flesh Cauldron, Dirt Stache, and Whom Gods Destroy.
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