Our June 2013 Top Pick in Romance is Just One Kiss, the newest contemporary romance set in Susan Mallery's beloved fictional town of Fool's Gold. Romance columnist Christie Ridgway writes, "An endearing romance and intriguing new characters make Mallery’s latest a must-read."

We chatted with Mallery about Fool's Gold, sexy scenes and more.

Describe Just One Kiss in one sentence.
A man returns to the town where witness protection hid him years ago, determined not to let the shadows in his heart darken the life of the sassy single mom he left behind.

Why do you think readers enjoy coming to Fool's Gold time and time again?
I believe they love it for the same reason I do—because it’s wonderful to see old friends again. Fool’s Gold is about more than the central romance. It’s about the community. Readers love to see who has gotten married, who’s pregnant, who has babies. (Not to mention, they love to see what the septuagenarian troublemakers Eddie and Gladys have been up to!) The Fool’s Gold romances allow readers to see what happens after the happily ever after.

That said, the main focus of each book is on the romance. There is still nothing more thrilling than that breathless first glance, the first kiss, the heady, helpless fall into love.

What are the sexiest scenes to write?
The sexiest scenes to write are when the characters begin to circle each other, when they both begin to realize that their feelings are too strong to fight, but they’re still trying desperately not to give in. Those scenes right before they succumb, when the sexual and emotional tension is at its highest. In each book, these scenes are very specific to these particular characters, which is why the dance never gets old. Each couple is unique, and that makes it exciting for me and, I hope, for readers.

"There is still nothing more thrilling than that breathless first glance, the first kiss, the heady, helpless fall into love."

If you had to be stuck on a desert island with one of your characters, who would it be and why?
No question, Ford Hendrix, the hero of Three Little Words (August). He was a Navy SEAL, so he’s strong, tough, knows about survival. But more important than that, he’s hot. The man should never be allowed to wear a shirt. Plus, Ford is basically an easygoing guy, self-deprecating, with a good sense of humor. I think he’d be an entertaining desert island companion.

What's one book you think every romance fan should read?
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. Or really, anything by Jane Austen. Although the book is sedate and the people are very refined, the emotion is palpable . . . and the ending is happy.

What's the best writing advice you've received?
I took a writing class once where the teacher challenged us to write 10% more than we usually do. So if you normally write 10 pages per day, you’d write 11. That 11th page will take as much effort as the other 10 combined, but if you stick with it, then 11 pages per day will become your normal. Soon, you might find that you can accomplish it in the same amount of time it used to take you to write 10. Then you can move to 12 pages per day.

What's next?
A lot of fun coming in Fool’s Gold yet this year. Two of a Kind and Three Little Words will round out the paperback trilogy. I’ve already told you a bit about Ford from Three Little Words. In Two of a Kind (July), Gideon of the oh-so-sexy deep voice will reunite with uber-intelligent, socially awkward Felicia, a woman he first met while he was recovering from his time as a POW. I first introduced Felicia in Just One Kiss, and I’ve been getting a lot of great feedback about her already. Readers love an awkward heroine!

Then in September, I’ll release the Fool's Gold Cookbook—which includes a heartwarming bonus romance. And in October, Christmas on 4th Street, a Fool’s Gold gift-sized hardcover. The cover is one of my favorites ever—the epitome of romance at Christmas time.

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