I am delighted to welcome fabulous author Jessi Gage back to my blog. Jessi is a sister author with Lyrical Press, and after reading and loving Wishing for a Highlander, I just HAD to grab a copy of Road Rage. Everyman hero Derek’s day goes from bad to worse when his temper causes an accident on the freeway and he flees the scene. His guilty conscience plagues him with nightmares, and his only solace comes in the form of a beautiful dream girl – a dream girl who turns out to be very real and the map he needs for his journey to redemption.
Lashing out in anger, construction worker Derek causes an accident on the freeway. His truck escapes unscathed, but he can’t say the same for his conscience. Plagued by nightmares of the wreck, his only comfort comes in the form of nightly visits by a mysterious woman who interrupts his dreams with sensual caresses and words of solace.
Cami has no idea who she is, until she wakes in a hospital bed and learns she’s been comatose due to a car wreck. Her visits with Derek must have been a dream, so why can’t she shake the feeling he was a real man who truly needed her help?
When Derek learns his mystery woman is none other than the driver of the car he cut off and she is fighting for her life, he must decide: Is he man enough to face her and ask forgiveness, or will he run away and avoid the consequences of his anger, yet again?
CONTENT WARNING: Sex with a perfect, imaginary dream girl who really isn’t imaginary
A Lyrical Press Paranormal Romance
Jessi, your hero Derek is so relatable (love the ‘Blue Collar Boyfriends’ concept, BTW) – we’ve all been stuck in traffic, usually at the worst possible moment when we’re late and stressed about a plethora of problems large and small. Dealing with Nashville traffic on the morning commute definitely puts me in a mood – who or what inspired this character and his situation?
Thanks for the compliment, DB, and thank you for having me! I’m so glad you connected with Derek. He’s not a hero that’s going to please everyone because, like you said, he does something pretty horrible at the opening of Road Rage. But for those readers who are willing to give him a shot and see where his story leads, they won’t be disappointed!
Derek was partially inspired by my observations as a timid driver. I hate road rage, like hate it with a fiery passion. Anger on the road, where we’re surrounded by fast-moving weapons of glass and steel, is so incredibly dangerous. But like you said, we’ve all been in situations where we lose patience on the road, yes even me. And I consider myself such an easygoing person. Driving seems to be one of those things that brings out the worst in people. But are the people who act out on the road bad people? Does a bad decision or a single action that harms another make a man unredeemable? That was the seed that started Road Rage, and I learned that redemption IS possible. Key is taking responsibility for one’s actions.
Ah, yes – growth and working through one’s flaws is a great theme in fiction and in life. Flawed heroes are my favorite kind – give me a good, angst redemption story any day! That being said, it can be difficult to balance flaws with keeping a hero/heroine likable. What quality do you think makes Derek most redeemable?
Add-a-kid, LOL! I needed something to make the reader’s heart melt for Derek, because in my head, he wasn’t a bad guy, just a guy who needed to do some growing. He had to be a romantic hero not only whom my heroine’s love could change but also a hero worthy of her. I accomplished this through making Derek a divorced dad who spends weekends with his eleven-year-old daughter. His love for her is apparent in almost everything Derek does, and through that, the reader can see past all the exterior anger (which is explained, by the way, and is never directed at his daughter) to his tender heart.
I loved Derek’s relationship with his daughter and you’re right – it definitely shows his tender heart. Now for your heroine, Cami – also relatable and suffering from her own demons (and a coma!). In spite of those steamy ‘dream’ visits, she has plenty of reasons to hate Derek for what happened to her. What gives her such a capacity for compassion and forgiveness?
Poor Cami. She’s had a rough go of it. From the outside, her life looks pretty perfect. She has a good job, she volunteers, she’s active and healthy. But what people don’t see are the scars she bears both inside and out after making a mistake on the freeway. She was driving, and thus blames herself for the outcome of that accident that tore her family apart. While she still talks to her mother and brother, she has never really felt they forgave her for what she did. So she’s thirsty for love and acceptance. These are things her “dream guy” is all too happy to give her! Then when she learns Derek is the one who caused the accident that put her in the hospital, she has the unique perspective of someone who has been in a similar situation in the past and understands that one bad decision does not make a person bad.
So… Blue Collar Boyfriends implies series… Hooray! Can you give us any hints about what is to come?
Thanks for asking! I have two novels in the works that fit the mold I’m trying to create with Blue Collar Boyfriends. I love rough and ready men who go all soft and melty for the right woman. I love men who work with their hands and face danger on a daily basis.
I have one novel finished…just working up the courage to submit it to Lyrical, and I have a couple more that are in the idea stage. We’ll see where it goes. I’ll be honest, I haven’t really “branded” myself as an author yet. I write Highlanders and contemporary alpholes. Those two things totally don’t work together, but it’s what I like, so it’s what I do. Lyrical is awesome for bearing with me while I find my feet as a writer, LOL!
I think you should just focus on writing what comes naturally. Your themes of growth and redemption are universal and come through in highland warriors and alpholes (love that terms!) alike. Random question just for fun – dark chocolate or milk?
Top three absolute favorite romance heroes?
Jamie from Outlander (duh, if you couldn’t figure that out from reading Wishing for a Highlader)
Raiden Miller from Kristen Ashley’s Raid
Jericho Barrons from Karen Marie Moning’s Fever Series (this series is not romance, but for urban fantasy it has a wonderfully satisfying emphasis on sex and love)
Thank you so much for the wonderful interview. To learn more about Jessi, please visit her website. Road Rage is available now. You can grab a copy using the links below.
Jessi lives with her husband and children in the Seattle area. In addition to writing paranormal romance, she’s a wife, a mom, an audiologist, a church-goer, a Ford driver, a PC user, and a coffee snob. Her guiding tenet in her writing is that good triumphs over evil, but not before evil gives good one heck of a run for its money. The last time she imagined a world without romance novels, her husband found her crouched in the corner, rocking.
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Jessi Gage links
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10 thoughts on “Welcome back, Jessi Gage!”
Fantastic questions and great interview, ladies! I have to agree that the addition of Derek’s daughter in Road Rage really added another dimension to his character. He’s flawed but wholly human with a good heart. A sexy hero to read about. Congrats, Jessi!
Thanks for stopping by, Mae! Nothing like a great dad doing his best to melt the heart, right?
Thanks Mae, and DB! I had so much fun doing this interview!
“Does a bad decision or a single action that harms another make a man unredeemable?”
What a fantastic question to explore, Jessi. It seems like we haven’t come to a comfortable conclusion as a society — we can’t decide whether prison sentences are primarily punitive or rehabilitative, and there’s a stigma that attaches (just look at all of the employment applications asking about criminal history), yet we tend to venerate and respect those who turn their lives around (former gang members who mentor youth, for example). If a person is the sum of his or her actions (since we cannot, with any certainty, know their intent — except in books, and I love that sense of slipping into certain understanding of a character’s mind — we must therefore judge the action), can one of those actions be so heinous that the scales can never again be balanced? Or is the truth of a person shown in the day-to-day actions repeated into infinity (like, say, being a good father), and the extreme moments — such as road rage — only outliers that don’t reflect upon the true self?
Sigh. Honestly, D.B., every time I come over here to read an interview, I end up adding another book to the to-read pile. I blame you and Jessi for this. 😉
I have that problem with the old TBR pile too. At last check, I had 38 actual ebooks I have bought on my TBR list on my kindle and 54 samples of books I’m pretty sure I want to buy but can’t afford yet!
Awesome questions, MQ. Books do seem like the perfect place to explore things like that. But I find it doesn’t always work for me. Sometimes writers hit the mark. Other times they miss. I hope Derek is a “hit” but I’m sure he won’t be for everyone. Even in my 3-person critique group there was disagreement about whether he was a decent romance hero or not. Fortunately, i have wonderfully honest yet supporting CPs who still love me even when I write a guy they can’t stand, LOL
I have the same problem whenever I visit my favorite blogs – but what a problem? I love new books, especially when I ‘know’ the author 🙂
M.Q. always starts very stimulating and thoughtful discussions, and I adore her for it! I understand your worry about Derek, Jessi, since I write unconventional romance heroes as well. But I think (and I’m sure plenty of other readers will agree) that his flaws give him so much depth and a realistic quality that make him quite compelling. Characters who elicit a strong emotional reaction tend to do that, and it makes you want to follow along on their harrowing journeys.
I’m with D.B. on this one, Jessi. The fact that Derek inspired vigorous debate among your CPs just goes toward demonstrating the three-dimensional nature of the character. It’s like the way journalists know they’ve gotten the story right when they get complaints from both sides. 😉 You’re offering readers a hero who might push their boundaries a little and stretch their imaginations. They’ll come to appreciate him or they won’t, but either way they’ll learn more about themselves and what they believe — an excellent reason to read any book. Road Rage sounds like a perfect pick for a book club, since it raises such interesting questions.
Jessi, I’ve said this before but I swear your character Derek is my husband! His name is Derek and he has anger issues — I swear! Like you said, just needs some growing to do. Jess, you know I am a big fan and hope you loads of success with Road Rage. Like everyone else, it’s on my TBR list. I might make my husband read it too. 🙂
Thanks for stopping by! Let me know if/how you convince your husband to read a romance novel – I keep telling mine he needs to read one in exchange for my reading Chelsey Sullenberger’s memoir. Fair is fair, after all…
I promise I didn’t stalk your husband as part of my research *hides binoculars behind back* LOL! Thanks for the well wishes, Cd!