Today I’m sharing a look at my contemporary romance, A Deceptive Match. This full-length novel is set in the world of professional wrestling and blends a steamy romance with action, humor, and drama.
Wrestling has always been a part of my life, so it was only natural that one day I’d write a book with wrestling as the backdrop. But this book is different from all of my other books because the entire story came to me in a rather unusual way—in a dream.
One morning I woke up and grabbed the pen and paper next to the bed. (I keep it there in case of inspiration.) I knew that if I didn’t immediately start writing down everything in my head, it would be lost forever. So I sat there, furiously scribbling the outline. At this point, it was just the bare bones of the plot and the characters, but I knew I was onto something.
Over the course of the day, more bits and pieces came through. Now I had a subplot, secondary characters, and knew more about what was happening in this wrestling romance that suddenly appeared out of nowhere. I was fortunate enough to actually “see” the book in my head like a movie—some scenes were missing, but I had a clear picture to work from.
People who have read the book and know about my love of wrestling always ask me the same questions: Which wrestlers are the characters based on? How do you know all this stuff? How much of it is real?
It’s easier to answer the second question first. Many years ago, I was fortunate enough to be on friendly terms with a bunch of wrestlers. My husband and I would go to matches and hang out with the guys after the shows. (No, I wasn’t a ring rat.) I picked up a lot of terms and got a real feel for what they did and how they experienced life on the road.
At the time, the thought of being a writer never even crossed my mind, so I had no idea that one day I’d use what I learned in a book. When I got the idea for A Deceptive Match, I was able to incorporate much of what I knew into the plot through Danni’s point of view.
The male characters in the book (Vinnie, Ev, Thorn, and Nick) aren’t based on any one wrestler or any real person. I specifically made sure that Vinnie and the others aren’t linked to real wrestlers, because it would take away from the story. Like characters in any book, I invented whatever quirks, flaws, and backstory I needed to help move the plot along.
And how much of it is real? Well, anyone who knows anything about wrestling can tell you that it’s technically termed “sports entertainment” for a reason. But that doesn’t discredit all the training, hard work, and other sacrifices the wrestlers go through every day. A Deceptive Match touches on the subject of what’s “real” and what goes on behind the scenes that most fans are unaware of.
Here’s the book summary and an exclusive excerpt:
A Deceptive Match
Falling for the wrestler she had been assigned to interview wasn’t part of Danni’s plan, until Vinnie Valentine pinned her heart in a flash.
Disgruntled with her job as the office assistant for a national sports magazine, Danni Stone impersonates a reporter to prove herself to her boss. Her assignment? Spend thirty days on the road with Vinnie Valentine, a sexy professional wrestler.
Life isn’t going well for the Heavyweight Champ. Vinnie is struggling with a manipulative boss, prepping for the most important match of his career, and feuding with his arch-enemy, Thorn. The last thing he needs is a nosy reporter following him around—even if she is hot.
Thrown together in close quarters, Danni can’t help falling for Vinnie, and she unwittingly becomes a key player in his title match. Their mutual attraction grows, and late one night, they give in to the lustful feelings they’ve been fighting.
As their relationship deepens, Danni considers telling Vinnie her secret. But before she can confess the truth, Vinnie discovers she isn’t the reporter she claims to be. Her lie threatens to ruin everything between them. Will their relationship be destroyed by her deception or will their love win out?
“Hey, Lois Lane. Want to oil my abs before my match?”
Danni glanced up from her notebook. Everett stood over her chair.
Was he going to hit on her for the entire month? “Not now, I’m busy.” She bent her head and continued writing. For the last hour she’d been making lists of questions and reading over her notes.
A minute later, she felt someone standing over her left shoulder. What did Everett want now? She snapped her head up. “Look I—”
The words died on her lips as she found herself staring straight into a black spandex crotch. The bulging groin had a four-inch pink heart embroidered in the center. What on Earth?
Her gaze flickered up, taking in the rock-hard abs, the tanned chest and broad shoulders, until she settled on the honey-blond hair and green eyes. Vinnie flexed his pectoral muscles one at a time and winked at her.
Her pulse quickened, and a bolt of lightning zapped through her. The words HOT AND SWEATY SEX blazed across her mind before she could stop them.
“Oh man, if I had a nickel for every time I saw that look… ” Ev laughed.
Vinnie elbowed Ev in the ribs. “Will you get lost and leave us alone?”
Danni felt her face flush. No wonder women drooled over Vinnie, he looked like a sculpted Greek god.
“How’s it going?” Vinnie asked.
She focused her attention on her notebook and tried to calm her racing heart. What was wrong with her? She had seen Vinnie wrestle on TV, so why was she so flustered at seeing him in person? Maybe because now he was real. Seeing him on TV was one thing, but now he stood less than two feet away from her, half-naked, and close enough to touch.
She dared a peek at Vinnie again. Damn, he was hot. But she had to remain detached and professional. It was the only way she could get through this. “I was writing down questions.”
“Good. I told the guys Nick approved this article. They know who you are and why you’re here. Come with me, I’ll show you around.”
“Yeah, you two have fun together. Play nice,” Everett said.
Danni picked up her tote bag and tagged along behind Vinnie. She couldn’t help but stare at him. His broad back tapered off to a trim waist and—
“Everything okay so far?”
“Yeah, except for Everett.” She walked next to Vinnie, making sure to steer clear of his elbow. He was so tall, his elbow was level with her head. “He wanted me to oil his abs.”
“Don’t get worked up over him. I told you, it means nothing. Ask him to describe his character in one sentence. It’s interesting.”
They approached the backstage area and she followed Vinnie through a red curtain. Sound equipment, dollys, carts, and wires were everywhere. “Watch yourself back here, especially when we’re live. There are cables all over.”
Vinnie waited for her near a black curtain. A dull roar came from the other side. “What’s that noise?”
“The crowd.” Vinnie disappeared behind the curtain and held it aside.
As she stepped toward Vinnie, her heel caught on a cable. She yelped and fell forward. In the blink of an eye, Vinnie spun around and caught her. His left arm coiled around her waist like a python. Her shoulder met his ribs, and she braced herself against his chest with her left hand. His muscles felt hard and warm, like a wall with skin.
For a moment, she was frozen. She could feel Vinnie’s heart thudding beneath his wide chest. He was breathing fast. Heat flared through her, and she swallowed hard. How long had it been since she had touched a man—any man—let alone a hunk like Vinnie?
She flexed her fingers and felt a patch of rough chest hair beneath them. What would Vinnie do if she slid her hand down his stomach to the edge of his tights?
His deep voice woke her from her fantasy. “Huh? Yeah.” She touched Vinnie’s chest one last time before forcing herself to pull away. “Sorry about that. It’s dark back here.”
“Be careful. If you break your ankle, Nick will have a fit.” Vinnie squeezed her waist and parted the curtain for her. “Take a peek.”
Danni peered into the arena. Standing here reminded her of when she had been in a high school play. What Vinnie said about this being a performance made sense. The ring was his stage.
“Do you get nervous with all those people out there watching you? What if you freeze up?”
“I’ve been at this too long for that. Some guys puke before big pay-per-views, though. It’s their nerves. Let’s head back so I can stretch out.”
Vinnie’s warm hand eased off her waist, and she missed the heavy feel of it. Part of her wanted to trip again, to have Vinnie catch her and hold her one more time. She pushed the thought away. Why was she acting like this? It wasn’t like her. Just because Vinnie was a sex god in spandex didn’t mean she had to fall for him like every other woman. Besides, he wasn’t her type, she reminded herself.
* * *
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I enjoyed creating the characters in this wrestling universe, and as I was writing, I fell in love with Everett, Vinnie’s best friend. I knew I had to tell Ev’s story and give him his own book, so I wrote A Secret Match. That book is all about Everett, but Danni and Vinnie play supporting roles in the storyline. Although the books are connected, they each stand alone as individual reads.
I hope romance fans and wrestling fans alike will check out A Deceptive Match and A Secret Match. They’re a good blend of action, drama, romance, humor, and spicy love scenes.
Happy Summer Reading!
Kelli A. Wilkins
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 100 short stories, 19 romance novels, and 5 non-fiction books.
Her romances span many genres and heat levels, and she’s also been known to scare readers with her horror stories.
Kelli’s writing book, You Can Write—Really! A Beginner’s Guide to Writing Fiction is a fun and informative guide filled with writing exercises and helpful tips all authors can use.
Her historical romance, Redemption from a Dark Past, was published in June of 2018. This full-length Gothic novel is set in the kingdom of Hungary in 1723 and blends a sensual romance with mystery and suspense.
Look for more romances, horror stories, and an online writing class coming later in 2018.
Here’s where you can find Kelli on the web…
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