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Today we are spotlighting Natalina Reis's
Loved You Always!
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Love You Always!
The last person Emily Rose expects to reconnect with is Jeremy Peter, her childhood best friend. When Jem walks back into her perfectly settled life, Em puts up her guard. She has no desire to place her heart on the line again.
She’s moved on and is in a serious relationship with someone else. But the universe—and her kooky sister—have other ideas.
Thrust into an unexpected and dangerous adventure together, Em is forced to confront her unresolved feelings for Jem and decide what kind of life she really wants. That is if they both survive.
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Q & A with Natalina Reis about Loved You Always!
Emily Rose has been in love with her chilldhood best friend, Jem ever since she was in her teens but he never seemed to be interested in anything more than a friendship. One day he vanished without as much as a goodbye, breaking Em’s heart into a million pieces. Fast forward five years. Emily Rose is now in a relationship when Jem suddenly falls into her life again. And this time he claims to have always loved her. Em refuses to allow her ex-best friend to disrupt her organized and secure life but the world has other plans. Between her crazy sister, her white witch friend, and circumstances neither of them could have foreseen they are continuously thrown into each other’s arms and into danger.
What initially inspired you to write Loved You Always?
Like most of my books, Loved You Always started as flash fiction and also inspired in part by a Maroon 5 song and a picture prompt. It sat in my flash fiction files for quite a while but Em and Jem kept “calling” me. Eventually I decided to write their whole story. I’m a sucker for second chance/best friend to lover romances.
Tell us little about the characters in Loved You Always.
Emily Rose (or Em) is the oldest of two sisters and a great lover of order. She plans everything and is always prepared for any eventuality. Her childhood best friend and love interest, Jem is her opposite; chaotic, impulsive. She loves gourmet food, he goes for junk. Because of his impulsivity, Jem gets in trouble not only with Em but also with some very dangerous people.
Em’s sister, Celia is her opposite as well; physically and personality wise. Wild, impulsive but extremely protective of those she loves. And then there is Marcy, the witch. Marcy is what I call a happy accident. I was writing and there she was, one of my favorite characters ever. So much so I’m writing her story.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Making the crazy events seem plausible...and there are quite a few. During edits I had to change a couple things that didn’t quite work (legal and criminal justice issues), but all in all this story just flowed easily and smoothly.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
I love the chapter when Em and Jem are taken and held captive because it’s a moment when Emily Rose is faced with her own feelings and has to ask herself what is that she really wantsand/or is willing to give up. Also I love the fact that Em’s penchant to be always prepared is what ultimately saves them. It’s both a funny and emotional chapter.
What are your future project(s)?
I’m actually working on a rom-com for Marcy’s story (by the time this is posted it should be in the hands of a publisher). Like I said before, Marcy turned out to be a favorite character of mine and the readers, and she was screaming to be given her moment in the spotlight. I also have a M/M Paranormal romance (with quite a bit of humor infused throughout) in the hands of a publisher right now.
Is there anything else you would like to tell the readers about this book/series?
If you like a good balance of humor with drama and romance this is the book for you. I had so much fun writing it and I think it shows.
Now an exciting excerpt from Loved You Always!
We slid into the usual booth and ordered two coffees. It was warm in there, and the comforting smell of coffee helped me relax a little. “What do you want, Jeremy Peter? Why won’t you just leave me alone?”
I noticed him wincing at the words. Good, glad I wasn’t the only one hurting. “I just want us to be friends again, Emily Rose. I know I messed up but can’t you forgive me? I never stopped thinking of you while I was gone, and I told you already that I regretted my decision as soon as I landed in Paris. Can’t you just forgive me? I missed you.”
How could I explain to him that it was not that simple? That every time we were together my heart went crazy, and my body heat threatened to burn me alive? How could I tell him that I didn’t want to betray the wonderful man I was involved with, and that the simple act of looking at him made me have less-than-appropriate thoughts? How could I explain to him that I was still so much in love with him?
“I forgive you, Jem. But I’m not the same. We are not the same.” A deep sadness came over me as I uttered those words. It was true. Both of us had changed. It was too late for us. Too much had happened. “We can’t go back. We just can’t.”
Jem lowered his eyes and then raised them to me again. His blue eyes were shiny and intense. “I don’t want to go back. I want to move on. I feel I’ve been stuck on park for the past few years, and I want to put my life on drive again.” He looked almost desperate and, in spite of myself, I itched to comfort him. “I want you back in my life.”
I couldn’t stand it anymore. I jumped to my feet, startling him and inadvertently sending my mug tumbling across the table. With a quick move, he stopped it on its track before falling over the edge, and got up to join me. “I have to go, Jem.” It came out like a plea.
Jem held my hands in his and pulled me closer. I could feel the heat of his body against mine, and I shuddered. What were we doing? I had never been too fond of playing with fire. “Let me go, Jem.”
After a moment of hesitation he relaxed his hold on me and set me free. Feeling a little bereft now that his hands were not binding me anymore, I turned my back and high-tailed out of the café before I could change my mind. My heart beating faster than the flutter of hummingbird wings, tried to jump out of my mouth as I ran to my car in the parking lot.
“Don’t go.” His voice made me stop abruptly as I fumbled with my key fob. Afraid of facing him, I stood as still as a statue feeling the heat of his body as he came near, wrapped his arms around my waist, and rested his chin in the crook of my neck. In spite of the chill in the air I felt warm all over and my head automatically tilted toward his. “I was a fool, Emily Rose, for not realizing it was you all along.”
His breath tingled on my skin and my heart skipped a beat. What was he saying? “Not all those other girls that I fell—or thought I did—head over heels in love with. It was always you. I was too stupid and too blind to see it.” Was he really saying what I thought he was saying? The one thing that I had always wanted to hear? The last thing I wanted him to say right now? “I love you, Emily Rose. Please tell me it’s not too late for us.”
With a gulp, I gathered my wits and forcibly pulled his hands away from my body. “It’s too late, Jem,” I said, turning around to face him. “I’m in a relationship with an amazing guy. A guy that was there for me when you were not. I forgive you, but I’ve moved on. You need to do the same.”
Shell-shocked and trembling, I opened the car door and hurled myself inside. From the corner of my eyes I watched him walk slowly away, shoulders slumped and head tilted forward. Holding on to the steering wheel as if it was a buoy and I was drowning, I allowed the tears I had been holding for years to flow freely down my cheeks. I had done the right thing, sending him away. Then why did it feel so wrong?
Natalina wrote her first romance in collaboration with her best friend at the age of 13. Since then she has ventured into other genres, but romance is first and foremost in almost everything she writes.
After earning a degree in tourism and foreign languages, she worked as a tourist guide in her native Portugal for a short time before moving to the United States. She lived in three continents and a few islands, and her knack for languages and linguistics led her to a master’s degree in education. She lives in Virginia where she has taught English as a Second Language to elementary school children for more years than she cares to admit.
Natalina doesn’t believe you can have too many books or too much coffee. Art and dance make her happy and she is pretty sure she could survive on lobster and bananas alone. When she is not writing or stressing over lesson plans, she shares her life with her husband and two adult sons.