Spotlight & Dual Author Interview : No More Masquerade (Secrets of Stone #2) by Angel Payne & Victoria Blue

Book Blurb & Info

Behind every good man…is the love of an even better woman.
Those were just pretty words before I met Claire Montgomery. Before my fairy queen burst into my life, I didn’t recognize the bastard in my morning mirror—but her love has given me the strength to face the imposter, even embrace him. My tower in the clouds is no longer a sentence of isolation; it’s a jumping point to the stars. With Claire at my side, I’m the king I always wanted to be, the Killian Stone I always dreamed of becoming.

Which means for once, I want the mask guarding my secret to stay right where it is.

If you want the grown-up fairy tale…learn to love the dark side.
Profound sentiment. Wish I could get on board with it but the prince in pinstripes has other ideas. Life has been a dream since Killian burst into the ball offering the perfect fit—his heart and mine, not the shoes, the car or the jewelry—but the treasures have become his armor, hiding the man I yearn to know. I refuse to open his little velvet box until he opens himself, letting me see even the dark hallways of his soul…

Until he lifts all his masks for me.

Master of the masquerade…
Fate has always bowed to my bidding. I should have known it was just picking its time to exact the best revenge, to reveal the secrets that will destroy everything. Without my disguise, am I still the man Claire fell in love with…or another penniless prince vying for an unattainable dream?

Mistress of his ruin?
He always told me to be careful what I wish for. By demanding his truth, have I not only demolished the dream we had…but the man I’ve loved more than any other?

Buy Links
Goodreads / Amazon


Hi Angel and Victoria,

It’s your friendly Booth Bitch (inside joke) here. Thank you so much for sitting down with Toot's for an interview. I’m super excited about your new book and can’t wait to dish about it *grin*. If you don't mind, I have some questions for you two about your series, Secrets of Stone, your new book, No More Masquerade, and your process for our budding authors as well as fans.

So first off, your newest book is part of your series, Secrets of Stone. Let's talk about the series as a whole....

In your own words, what is the Secrets of Stone series about?

Victoria: The series focuses on the Stone family and their lives, and the lives of the ones they love, and the secrets they hide, share, and most of all, are forced to deal with.

Angel: I agree with Victoria, but would elaborate to say that secrets, in whatever form they come in, are sometimes the things that can change a person for the better or the worse—and that concealing them often forces a person to make decisions that can steer their life in a completely new direction. We’ve loved exploring how love helps to heal those scars, and sets the truth free that helps the characters be who they were really meant to be. And of course, to be loved for that truth, too!

What inspired the series?

Victoria: I think we were mostly inspired by our shared love of great love stories. We’re both big suckers for love.

Angel: And soap operas! We knew we’d love working together once we compared notes on the great afternoon soaps that took us through our high school and college days. These days, evening dramas do the same thing. (I’m still trying to get Victoria hooked on Scandal…tee hee.)

What are some of the elements of the world you created?

Victoria: Hot sexy men, of course, fantastic fashion, especially shoes, and our favorite place in the world, Southern California.

Angel: The hugest fun we have is clearly the characters. We spend hours talking about these people, pulling apart their personalities, and turning them into larger-than-life people who will shock the living crap out of readers—because they’ve done the same thing to us first!

If you had to pick one thing, what is your favorite thing about the world you’ve created for your series?

Victoria: The characters.

Angel: Bingo. The characters.

Can you tell us a bit about the newest book in the series, No More Masquerade?

Victoria: In this story, we really get to see the love between Killian and Claire grow and get put to the test. Finally Killian decides to let his guard down and share his secrets with Claire, but then the rug is pulled out from under him and he doesn’t know how to deal with it all. Claire wants to be there for him, but he doesn’t even know how let her do that. It’s one crazy ride, but they find their way back to each other in the end.

Angel: It’s such a wonderful, awesome, wild ride of a story. In Book 1, everyone really got to see Claire push past her fears and obstacles in order to believe in the power of the love she shares with Killian. This book is about Kil’s journey…but gives everyone a chance to see just what kind of steel is fused into Claire’s spine, too. She is so strong and courageous and brave, truly a woman I’d be honored to call my friend…if she was real!

How did you come up with the title of your newest book in the series and can you tell us its significance?

Victoria: We seem to do our best thinking when we’re stuck in traffic, and we all know that happens a lot in SoCal. The significance is obvious in the plot of the story, Killian, the main character has been hiding some major things from his love, Claire, and finally he has decided to unmask himself to her.

Angel: We knew exactly what Killian’s secret was in Book 1—and that we didn’t want it being revealed until this book. As for exactly how that would happen, we weren’t clear…until that plot twist got revealed to us like a gigantic ton of bricks. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but let’s just say it’s one of many “OMG” moments in the book. I know I sound like a broken record, but ALL those moments took US by surprise when they came to us. We’d sit there on the phone with each other, jaws on the ground, and then say, “Okay, let’s do this—if we can!” Victoria really inspires me to push those envelopes and do insane things with the plot.

How does the new book, No More Masquerade, fit into the series?

Victoria: This is Book 2, and it continues Killian and Claire’s story, from Book One. We should wrap them up in Book 3--then really dig into Margaux’s journey.

Angel: No More masquerade begins a number of months from where we left everyone off in Book 1. Kil and Claire are definitely an established item now, experiencing the hills and valleys of every other boyfriend and girlfriend on the planet—except that they are commuting across the country to keep making it happen! And oh yeah…Claire also has to deal with a few other challenges, such as dealing with the paparazzi and accepting some “interesting” presents from Killian, like her new Audi and a weekly maid service. But hey…Kil is worth it, right?

What genre would you say No More Masquerade is and what sets your book apart for fans of the genre?

Victoria: I would call it contemporary romance, and I would like to think it’s really the characters and the twists and turns in the plot that make our books different.

Angel: Definitely. High heat contemporary with a bit of a pop culture edge, which makes the books so much fun to collaborate on and makes our dialogue pretty snappy. I SO hope we’ll be rocking and rolling with the Stones for years to come!

The books have an underlying “Cinderella/Fairytale” theme to them. Can you explain it a bit more for peeps who haven’t read your books yet?

Victoria: Well, that was definitely true in the first book. We played a lot with the idea of the stepsister and stepmother bit. And Killian was very busy convincing Claire he was not boyfriend material, let alone the happy-ever-after kind of guy. He soon found out he wanted to be that for her and pursued her.

Angel: Fairy tales resonate with all of us for very important reasons. They are filled with enduring themes that Victoria and I wanted to connect with in the work. Though the overtones are clearer in Book 1, we made more subtle allusions in Book 2. No matter what, we always want those eternal messages, of true love and its power over the darkness in the world, to prevail. In this story, that darkness extends even to the darkness inside Killian himself.

What was your favorite scene to write in No More Masquerade?

Victoria: Wow, this is tough. My favorite scene to plot was the botched proposal, but Angel actually wrote it. And she knocked it out of the park. My favorite scene to actually write was the reunion on the boat.

Angel: This is so interesting! My favorite part was actually a scene that Victoria wrote, in which Claire is looking at an old picture of Killian and remembering the exact moment she took it. I just broke down and sobbed. As far as the one I loved writing the most? He he he…definitely the scene in the Venice Opera House! Let’s just say opera became a LOT more interesting to me.

What was the hardest scene to write for No More Masquerade?

Victoria: Ironically, the reunion on the boat.

Angel: The sequence after the press conference. Broke my damn heart.

What is your favorite line or quote from No More Masquerade?

Victoria: I love when the nurse is chasing him in the hallway and he turns back and says: “Don’t,” I spat back. My voice was harsh as sand on glass and felt the same way but the command was there, fueled by my desperation. “Don’t say it again.”

Angel: I loved this sequence:

“Why are you so sad?”

She flashed her gaze briefly at me before tilting her head toward the heights of the cathedral. “I was just imagining a Quasimodo lingering up there.”

“The pissed off and murderous version or the distraught, about-to-jump-off-the-bell-tower version?”

Even the bait of my sarcasm didn’t brighten her. Voice edged in wistfulness, she answered, “Maybe a bit of both.”

Her sympathy for the fictional bell ringer moved me. But admitting it was strangely disturbing, especially when it funneled into my next words. “Which version do you like better?”

I didn’t want to cop to my desperation at knowing her answer. Or was it the answer that mattered at all, when I’d challenged her to confront the idea of a man having duality like that in the first place?

“Neither,” she finally replied. “Because neither was truly him. Quasimodo’s anger and loneliness were how the world saw him—and subsequently, how he saw himself. Esmérelda’s kindness, her ability to look beyond his face, opened up his vision of himself. With her, he was no longer a deformed ogre. He became a prince.”

“I know the feeling.”


As a writing duo, how did you two meet and how did you decide to co-write together?

Victoria: We met because I was a fan of Angel’s. I took a chance and reached out to her and asked her to meet me for coffee one day, and she said yes. And we got along famously. Then about a year later she asked me to work on a collab with her and it was a no-brainer.

Angel: She forgot the part about how I invited her to write in an online group in which I was participating at the time—and she freaking BLEW ME AWAY with her natural sense for pacing, storyline, dialogue, and emotion. I was so floored that it only took a few months to know—KNOW—I want to create magic with her. She’s amazing.

What is the best part of writing as a duo?

Victoria: You always have someone to bounce things off of.

Angel: We really balance each other out. There are definitely times when she’s yanking on my reins and bringing my imagination back into control! LOL.

What’s the hardest part?

Victoria: I’ve only done it this way, but I will guess for Angel that she doesn’t have the freedom to just do what she wants like when she does her solo projects, she always has to take me into consideration.

Angel: Nope. Not true. I’d have to say that the toughest thing is having to space the books out. The second we finish one, I just want to start on the next one! Alas, I’ve got other projects in my writing schedule, so we’re getting in about 2 books a year on the Stones. I’d really love to get in more!

What are some of the elements in/of your writing process?

Victoria: We plot and character develop for a while first, with a lot of talking about where we want to go with the book overall. Character development is my biggest hard-on so I obsess over it, and then we write.

Angel: She’s the gut-feely character girl and I’m the “oh-oh-ohhhh, wouldn’t it be cool if we did THIS” girl. In short, I’m the rowdy puppy with plot twists. She keeps lots of treats around to keep me in line. LOL!

For other writers out there that are thinking of pairing up, what advice would you offer?

Victoria: Make sure you have an open honest relationship.

Angel: Exactly what she said. Park the ego at the door and be TOTALLY honest with each other. We’re sister close and we give each other our truths that way, too.

Are you a Plotter or a Pantser?

Victoria: I think I’m 50/50. I believe a plot is organic, it moves and changes and it absolutely needs to do that. I like having it as a backbone, but the guts need to be flexible.

Angel: I used to be much more of a pantser but I learned the VERY hard way that sometimes, that’s not best. I love knowing where Point A and Point Z are, along with a handful of letters in between, but I want to be surprised by the rest. It lends an air of spontaneity and freshness to the prose.

Have you released anything under a different pen name or individually?

Victoria: Not yet but I plan on doing some things in the future on my own and with another author.

Angel: I was published as Annee Cartier in the mid-90’s. I wrote for Denise Little at Kensington, and also a couple of books for Dell. When I returned to publishing about 5 years ago and decided on high heat romance, I wrote 3 books for Loose-Id, called The Kinky Truth series.

What's next for you two?

Victoria: We will write more in this series. Book 3, No Perfect Princess, should come out in late March or early April, I think.

Angel: What she said! I already have ideas for Book 4, too. (I can hear Victoria groaning now.)

Is there anything you’d like to add or say to your fans?

Victoria: OMG thank you so much for supporting us and for the amazing feedback and love. It’s so awesome!

Angel: Again, EXACTLY what she said. The support we have experienced for this series, at only Book 2, has been so amazing. I am grateful each and every day!

Personal questions......

Last time we asked Angel about her process as an author and other “get to know you” questions. This time I thought we’d play a quick game for the two of you *grin*

Or Game (in no particular order)…….

Paperback or Ebook?

Victoria: Ebook.

Angel: Ebook for sure.

Zombies or Vampires?

Victoria: Oh vampires, especially the Eric Northman type or Edward Cullen.

Angel: Vampires. I even wrote one! My Victorian vampire romance, Lords of Sin: Redemption was re-edited and re-released in October!

Water or Soda?

Victoria: Iced Tea.

Angel: I used to race bicycles. A bottle of water is still in my hand all day long.

The Golden Girls or Sex in the City?

Victoria: Uh…Sex and the City because people have told me I look like SJP and I know there are awesome shoes in that show. But I’ve never actually watched it.

Angel: SEX AND THE CITY! I’ve seen every episode at least 5 times and still swoon every time I see even a picture of Carrie and Big kissing on the Pont Neuf.

Twitter or Facebook?

Victoria: Facebook.

Angel: Ohhhh noooo! Don’t make me decide. I’m addicted to both.

Dog or Cat?

Victoria: Cats.

Angel: Dogs.

Leather or Lace?

Victoria: Leather

Angel: Lace.

City or Country?

Victoria: City.

Angel: City, for sure. Especially if it’s Paris, France.

Hero in Jeans or Hero in Suits?

Victoria: Oh baby, please….Suits.

Angel: Suits. Absolutely.

Shopping or Reading?

Victoria: That is the most unfair question I’ve ever read in my life. I’ve been a shopper my entire life…and I excel at it, if I must say. But I love reading so very much. And I’m going to add that you were the best table bitch I’ve ever had the pleasure of having. <3 <3 <3

Angel: Not an argument. Reading, hands down.

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for taking time to chat with us!

- Hugs and love to you both, Toot

Author Info

Hi there. I’m Angel: book lover, hopeless romantic, pop culture geek, shoe addict, coffee-aholic, and super hero nut.

I’ve been hooked on books since I was a kid but it all got worse in my twenties, when I discovered romances—-the hotter, the better. Growing up in Southern California, with lots of surfer-type manliness around, didn’t assuage the need for reading about delicious alpha guys and the women who adore them. When I learned I had a knack for telling these stories too, I was doomed, though my path toward romance novelist took a few detours via a concert-reviewing gig for my college newspaper (free show tickets…backstage passes…that was a no-brainer), artist interviews for a Beverly Hills dance music mag, and a very bad try at a Young Adult novel (don’t ask; it’s not pretty).

These days, I still live in California, and have found an amazing alpha guy of my own who was brave enough to marry me. We live on a street that looks like Brigadoon with our beautiful daughter. I have the best life ever, and never forget to thank the Big Guy Upstairs for it, either.

Author Links

Victoria Blue lives in her own portion of the galaxy known as Southern California. There she finds the love and life sustaining power of one amazing sun, two unique and awe inspiring planets and three indifferent, yet comforting moons. Life is fantastic and challenging and everyday brings new adventures to be discovered. She looks forward to seeing what's next!

Author Links

No comments:

Post a Comment