Title: The Seduction of Esther
Author: Jennifer Wilck
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Tour: Irresistible Reads Book Tours
Samara Goldberg has a problem even the most beautiful singing voice can’t fix. She’s a walking disaster, especially when she’s around handsome men. To make matters worse, she’s in desperate need of someone to play the character of Mordecai for the Purim spiel she’s producing and the new congregant, Nathaniel Abramson, is a perfect fit. Nathaniel is a divorced dad who’s recovering from the biggest public scandal of his life. The last thing he needs is a relationship with the choir director at his new synagogue, who also happens to be playing the lead female role of Esther in the very play he’s been coerced into joining.
Woven around the Jewish holiday of Purim, The Seduction of Esther is a story of two people whose lives mirror the plot of the Purim story. Like Esther, who had to hide her Jewish identity from the King of Persia, Samara and Nathaniel are hiding key pieces of themselves. Evil Haman wanted to destroy the Jews, and the nasty Josh will do anything to keep Samara and Nathaniel apart. Will their love survive, like the Jewish people in Shushan, Persia, or will their fear keep them apart?
Samara whipped her head up as a deep voice interrupted her thoughts of baked potatoes au gratin. A tanned hand reached for her wrist, its fingers long and square with clean nails. They gripped enough for her to feel their warmth. Her gaze traveled up his arm. A light dusting of dark hair peeked from beneath the cuff of a starched, white shirt. Her eyes traveled up to biceps that filled out a sleeve. She continued across the broad expanse of chest, up a tanned throat, over a chiseled chin darkened by five o’clock shadow, past soft lips, around flared nostrils and into blue eyes. Slate-blue eyes twinkled at her. She yanked her arm out of his grasp.
“Let go of me, please!”
“Sorry. Didn’t want you to run me over.”
She tilted her head. Did his eyes always twinkle this much?
She was sure she’d never seen him before; his eyes alone would have been enough to spark a glimmer of recognition if they’d ever crossed paths.
And his voice? His voice was unforgettable. A trace of a rasp, like a callused finger catching on a silk blouse; a hint of a Southern drawl stuck out even in the melting pot of New York accents; a satirical lilt, a promise of laughter to brighten the darkest days.
No, she would never forget a voice like that. She could get lost in it for days.
Goosebumps ran down her back, and she shivered. The sudden, uncontrollable movement jerked her out of her reverie and brought her back to the present. The glint in his eye told her he’d noticed her distraction, and her cheeks warmed. Embarrassed, she jerked her cart out of his way and ploughed into the display of russet potatoes.
The table screeched against the linoleum floor and mounds of brown spuds wobbled after the impact. Samara closed her eyes in horror and yanked back her cart. She opened them and watched as one potato toppled onto the floor. Like a scout on a mission, it paved the way for the rest of the potatoes. The pile collapsed and poured around her feet.
When I was a little girl and couldn’t fall asleep, my mother would tell me to make up a story. Pretty soon, my head was filled with these stories and the characters that populated them. Each character had a specific personality, a list of likes and dislikes, and sometimes, even a specific accent or dialect. Even as an adult, I think about the characters and stories at night before I fall asleep, or in the car on my way to or from one of my daughters’ numerous activities (hey, anything that will drown out their music is a good thing).
One day, I started writing them down (it was either that or checking into the local mental hospital—the computer was way less scary) and five years later, I’ve gotten two book contracts from Whiskey Creek Press. A Heart of Little Faith came out in June; Skin Deep is coming out in November.
In the real world, I’m the mother of two amazing daughters and wife of one of the smartest men I know. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, reading, traveling and watching TV. In between chauffeuring my daughters to after-school activities that require an Excel spreadsheet to be kept straight, I serve on our Temple Board, train the dog we adopted from a local shelter, and cook dinners that fit the needs of four very different appetites. I also write freelance articles for magazines, newspapers, and edit newsletters.
When all of that gets overwhelming, I retreat to my computer, where I write stories that let me escape from reality. In my made-up world, the heroines are always smart, sassy and independent. The heroes are handsome and strong with just a touch of vulnerability. If I don’t like a character, I can delete him or her; if something doesn’t work, I can rewrite it. It’s very satisfying to be in control of at least one part of my life. My inspiration comes from watching the people around me and fantasizing about how I’d do things differently.