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Thursday, September 11, 2014

The English Brothers Tour! A Review of Breaking Up with Barrett, Plus Author Interview

Breaking Up with Barrett (The English Brothers #1) by Katy Regnery 
Genre: Adult (Contemporary Romance)
Date Published: July 22, 2014
Publisher: Katharine Gilliam Regnery

Breaking Up with Barrett is the first of six books about the Philadelphia-based, wildly-handsome English brothers who are all on the look-out for love. 

(Except Alex. He's a womanizing manwhore. And maybe Stratton, because he's wicked hot, but super awkward around girls.)

Barrett English, aka "the Shark," is the fair-haired, first-born of the English brothers, and the CEO of the oldest, most prestigious investment banking firm in Philadelphia. He rules the boardroom with an iron fist, refusing to take no for an answer and always getting his way.

Emily Edwards, a first-year doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania, grew up in the gatehouse on the outskirts of Barrett's childhood estate. The daughter of his family's gardener and housekeeper, she was always looking through the window of privilege, but forced to remember her place at the very periphery of the kingdom.

When business partners suggest that a fiancee might soften Barrett's image over business dinners, he approaches Emily for the "job" of fiancee. And while love wasn't necessarily on Barrett's radar, he begins to realize that Emily always has been. But will his take-no-prisoners boardroom tactics work on the heart of the woman he loves.

*All books in The English Brothers series are approximately 50,000 words/200-pages long. The RWA classifies this length as "Short Contemporary Romance."

Breaking Up with Barrett is the first book in The English Brothers series by Katy Regnery. Barrett and Emily have known each other their whole lives. Although they didn't grow up as best friends or anything of that sort, their families have been close for generations. Plus, Emily had been crushing on Barrett pretty hard for quite some time, but Barrett is all business. They don't call him the Shark for nothing. I truly enjoyed how they acted together. Breaking Up with Barrett was a quick and fun read, and I think I'm going to enjoy getting to know the English Brothers throughout this series.

Breaking Up with Barrett by Katy Regnery was kindly provided to me by Bewitching Book Tours for review. The opinions are my own.

CHAPTER 1 Breaking Up with Barrett

Emily’s heart kicked into a gallop as she looked down at the caller ID on her buzzing phone. Trying to steady her suddenly shallow breathing, she closed her eyes for a brief second before pushing back from the coffee shop table where the rest of her study group continued to discuss early-American industrialization.

“Be right back,” she whispered to her roommate, Valeria, and ducked out the backdoor of the café into an empty alley.


“Mr. English for Miss Edwards?”


A moment later his smooth, polished baritone voice came on the line. “Good afternoon, Emily. Thank you for picking up.”

“I was at study group,” she said, leaning against a brick wall and cringing at the way she made it sound like his call wasn’t welcome.

“I’m sorry to interrupt you.”

“N-no. It’s fine,” she answered quickly, wiping her sweaty hands on her jeans as she sandwiched the phone between her shoulder and ear. Damn it, she wished she could be cooler,

but her mind always went blank the moment she heard the low rumble of his voice.

 “I’ll be brief,” he said. “Tomorrow night. The Union League Club. Seven o’clock.”

Emily sighed. She had plans tomorrow night with a sensitive, easy-going, doctoral psych student named Chad who’d asked her out more than once. She’d repeatedly turned him down,

but Val had insisted that after four months spent at Barrett English’s beck and call, Emily needed to go out with someone with whom she actually had a chance.

“Emily?” he prompted.

“How late?”

“Three hours minimum. Possibly four.”

Pushing her hand through her straight blonde hair, she knew it would be smart to decline Barrett’s request and go out with psych cutie as planned. The arrangement she had with Barrett—while beneficial to her bank account—wasn’t doing her social life any favors. Nor her heart, which didn’t seem to comprehend that Barrett only called her because she was his employee. Still, she couldn’t bring herself to say no to him.

“Engagement ring?” she asked.

“Per usual.”

“The Chanel or the Givenchy?”

“As you wish.”

“Hair band or chignon?”

“You always look presentable, Emily. I leave the details to you. Smith will pick you up at six forty-five. Are we done?”

“Yes,” she answered and the line immediately went dead.

“Goodbye,” Emily said wistfully in the quiet of the alley, disappointment making her grimace. She fisted the phone in her hand until the case pinched her skin and shook her from her trance. “See you tomorrow! You’re welcome! By the way, I love you, you jerk!”

Her yell caused a flurry of commotion overhead as a flock of pigeons departed in a hurry for safer, quieter lodgings, one of them pausing just long enough to crap on Emily’s shoulder with a big, fat plop.

Fantastic. The perfect metaphor for my life.

She stared at the goopy greyish-white spot in surrender before taking a deep, restorative breath, tucking her phone into her jeans and heading back inside to clean her shirt and rejoin her study group.

An hour later, she trudged home beside Valeria, who started scolding her as soon as Emily shared her last-minute plans for tomorrow night.

“So you’ll have to reschedule with Chad? Geez, Em, I don’t understand why you keep saying yes to Barrett!” said Valeria, turning up her collar. “Why not just say no?”

“He has a way about him.” Emily sighed. “I always consider saying no, but I somehow end up saying yes.”

Though they’d never been close or intimate, Emily had known Barrett her entire life—well, not really known him, because they were from very different parts of Haverford Park, but he’d been a peripheral part of her life since birth. The economic nature of the call she’d just shared with him was textbook Barrett: businesslike, methodical and goal-oriented. Emily somehow knew he wasn’t trying to offend her—he was merely taking care of their mutual business as efficiently as possible. It just hurt that he employed efficiency over warmth since it verified what she had suspected for months: Barrett had little to no personal interest in Emily, despite her growing feelings for him.

Valeria continued in the no-nonsense tone she used when student teaching. “Here’s a solution: say no next time. ‘No, Barrett, I refuse to play the part of fake fiancée for you. Take a hike.’ Three words, Em—TAKE. A. HIKE.” Valeria held up three fingers one by one, then tucked them back into the pocket of her pea coat. “Darn, it’s cold.”

“It’s October in Philadelphia.” Emily pointed out.

“Don’t change the subject.”

“Okay, Val. I’ll say no next time. Here goes. ‘No thanks, Barrett. You don’t make me do anything disgusting. You barely say a word to me. I get to dress up in gorgeous clothes I could never afford, have an expensive glass of wine, and enjoy a scrumptious dinner with people who go out of their way to be polite to me. And yes, I’m flat broke and so is my roommate, but no thanks, I don’t want your one-hundred an hour to play your fake fiancée. Keep it.’ How does that sound?”

“Not so smart.”

“I rest my case,” said Emily, though the case was far from closed in her heart and mind, which feuded in a tightly locked conundrum. Lately, her heart murmured that she should walk away from Barrett before her feelings for him grew any stronger, while her head insisted she couldn’t possibly turn her back on the income he offered.

How long have you been writing?
I attended my first writing class in January 2012, wrote my first novel, By Proxy, in September 2012 and saw it published in September 2013. Since then, I have written an additional fourteen books, and will have twelve of them published by the first anniversary of my debut novel.

What inspired you to write The English Brothers Series?
The English Brothers was born out of a conversation with Bella Andre at the New England RWA conference in May 2013. I love Bella, and when she attended my seminar on small publishing and invited me for a drink after, it was pretty thrilling. I asked her about the secret to her success and she was so forthcoming about her journey. She said that the most important thing is to write good books, write them quickly and publish them fast. She also gave me some tips about the style and content that she feels sells well. After that conversation, I came up with an idea for a series of five wealthy brothers on the look out for love. Breaking Up with Barrett is dedicated to Bella.

When you first started writing Breaking Up with Barrett, did you plan for it to be a series?
Yes. It was always going to be a series.

After writing Breaking Up with Barrett, was it more challenging to write the sequels?
The second book, Falling for Fitz, was just as easy to write as Barrett. I wrote them both in about two weeks. But the third book, Anyone but Alex, really challenged me a bit. A "manwhore" character is super fun as an ancillary character, but I found it really challenging to write Alex. (I had to start reforming him right away!) Add to this, I was trying to write Alex during summer vacation with both of my kids suddenly in play. It was challenging and took a lot longer, but I love Alex and Jessie's story so much. I hope my readers do too!

Which of your characters do you relate to most and why?
All of my characters hold some part of me, but the first character that leapt to mind is Jasmine Turner from The Wedding Date. She’s a curvy twenty-something and I was too. It was easy to write her story because I channeled a lot of my own insecurities.

What book have you read too many times to count?
My all-time favorite book is Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut. Honestly, I think it’s the best collection of short stories ever written. Vonnegut was a master at concision, adept at multiple genres – “The Long Walk to Forever” is, in my opinion, one of the most romantic short stories ever penned, yet he still manages to induce cringe-worthy discomfort in the coming-of-age story “The Lie.” 

“Who Am I This Time” and “Miss Temptation” are two stories that take different aspects of community theater to extrapolate on the human condition. The titular story, “Welcome to the Monkey House,” is a masterpiece of dystopian science fiction. And each one – every single story, all of which I’ve read tens of times – is gripping and compelling and has that satisfying “ah-ha!” moment.

What is the best piece of writing advice you ever received?
From Bella Andre: “WRITE MORE BOOKS. Write the books, write the books, write all of the books.” I have her words on a sticky note at the base of my computer monitor and when I’m not feeling inspired, I read them, and figure out a way to write through my block.

If you could hop into the life of any fictional character, who would it be and why?
Great question. I wouldn’t mind experiencing the rush of first love, of falling in love, all over again. I remember it very well (and I kept meticulous journals, which I often read for inspiration) but I wouldn’t mind feeling it in my gut. I guess I’d choose Lucy Honeychurch from A Room with a View. She fights it so hard, but love wins, and I adore the victory.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
That I always have more stories in my head. Since writing By Proxy in September 2012, I've written over fifteen novels, novellas and short stories. People love asking me if I worry that I will run out of inspiration, but I don't worry about that because every day, I see twenty more stories that want to be written. If anything, I have to keep myself on task and complete the series I started before letting myself be distracted by the stories in my head. But it's not a bad way to live life, you know, with stories all around me all the time.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Is that a trick question? LOL! I’ve written fifteen books in twenty-three months! I don’t have a whole lot of spare time! No, in all seriousness, I have two grade school-aged kids and they’re so awesome. This summer we went on two week-long vacations to New Hampshire and upstate New York, and had excursions to amusement parks and museums, spent time at the library and with friends. My family lives nearby and I try to see them several times a month, too. And for downtime? I am addicted to several TV shows: Game of Thrones, Masters of sex (of course), Ray Donovan, Grimm, Parenthood, 

Outlander, Banshee, You’re the Worst, Married...there’s SO MUCH good TV out there.

Are any of the things in your books based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
I’d say it’s a 20-80 split. Some small, but real, part of my stories is inspired by what I know, what I see, where I’ve gone, who I’ve met. My knowledge of the world around me creates the world into which I put my characters. But, to be frank, once the world it created? The stories and characters are purely fictional.

Thank you for the interview! I hope you come back again soon!
Thank you so much for having me visit What's Beyond Forks. I hope your readers love my English Brothers! 
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Katy Regnery started her writing career by enrolling in a short story class in January 2012. One year later, she signed her first contract and Katy’s first novel was published in September 2013.

Twenty-five books later, Katy claims authorship of the multi-titled, New York Times and USA Today Blueberry Lane Series, which follows the English, Winslow, Rousseau, Story, and Ambler families of Philadelphia; the six-book, bestselling ~a modern fairytale~ series; and several other standalone novels and novellas.

Katy’s first modern fairytale romance, The Vixen and the Vet, was nominated for a RITA® in 2015 and won the 2015 Kindle Book Award for romance. Katy’s boxed set, The English Brothers Boxed Set, Books #1–4, hit the USA Today bestseller list in 2015, and her Christmas story, Marrying Mr. English, appeared on the list a week later. In May 2016, Katy’s Blueberry Lane collection, The Winslow Brothers Boxed Set, Books #1-4, became a New York Times E-book bestseller.

In 2016, Katy signed a print-only agreement with Spencerhill Press. As a result, her Blueberry Lane paperback books will now be distributed to brick and mortar bookstores all over the United States.

Katy lives in the relative wilds of northern Fairfield County, Connecticut, where her writing room looks out at the woods, and her husband, two young children, two dogs, and one Blue Tonkinese kitten create just enough cheerful chaos to remind her that the very best love stories begin at home

To learn more about Katy Regnery and her books, visit her website.You can also find her on GoodreadsFacebookPinterest, and Twitter.

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