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1785973368c0de4c82c600683764c8d3Posted by in Blog, Spotlight / 11 comments

it is my pleasure to Welcome author Heather Heyford to HJ!

Hi Heather and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, The Crush!

Please summarize the book a la Twitter style for the readers here:

the-crushStruggling young vineyard owner Juniper Hart must learn to trust a smooth-talking stranger after everyone else has let her down. Just touched down in crunchy granola country, Manolo exudes plenty of East Coast swagger, but he has a lot to learn about independent Oregonian women!

Please share the opening lines of this book:

Rap rap rap!
Juniper Hart’s head shot up from her bills, agonizing over which of her wine business’s creditors would luck out and get paid this month. She scrambled out from behind her desk and dashed into her tasting room, heedless of the papers she set sailing. Inches short of the threshold she skidded to a stop to smooth down her faded T-shirt emblazoned with We Are Pinot Noir. From the other side of the door she heard a familiar voice.
“Last I knew, lieutenant, you had women in, let’s see—Fort Bliss, Fort Belvoir, and New York City—and that’s just stateside.”


Please share a few Fun facts about this book…

  • If you mispronounce the name of this valley in Oregon’s wine country where The Crush is set, the locals will correct you with, “It’s Will-AM-ette, dammit!”
  • Research for The Crush required a considerable number of wine tastings. *Sigh* it’s a tough job . . .
  • At one winery, I was given a discount after I told them about my book because they said I was “industry.” Yay! Who knew?
  • While trekking through the vineyards, I met another romance writer!
  • The setting of The Crush was modeled on a gorgeous, father-daughter winery called Montinore.


What first attracts your Hero to the Heroine and vice versa?

I have to say it was lust at first sight, though Junie, my heroine, fights her attraction tooth and nail. Junie has never considered herself a beauty. On the other hand, growing up, Manolo’s three older sisters told him every day how beautiful he was. She didn’t think she could measure up.

Using just 5 words, how would you describe Hero and Heroine’s love affair?

Grounded girl steals rake’s heart.
The First Kiss…

…happens in a vineyard:

Wrapped in her embrace, the sun and the planets and the stars seemed to revolve around them.
His heart swelled. Tenderly, he pulled back, intending to take her in a kiss. Junie gazed up at him with soft eyes.
If she hadn’t suddenly blinked—flinched—Manolo wouldn’t even have noticed the bleating car horn.
Not now. Anytime but now.

Without revealing too much, what is your favorite scene in the book?

Manolo, a confirmed bachelor and ladies’ man, has designed the tasting room of Junie’s dreams for her. For the past few months they’ve been inseparable. On opening night when the whole town has turned out to christen it, his work is done. He seems about to bow out:

He took her by the shoulders, gently turned her around and nudged her toward the door. “I’ve monopolized you long enough. You belong out there.”
She stumbled forward, then stopped, turned and saw him standing there alone. Outside, the sound of raucous merriment went on unabated.
“Go on,” he said with a toss of his chin.
She felt like she was being thrown out of her own office. “Aren’t you coming?”
“This is your place, and those are your people.”
She frowned. “What about you?”
He hesitated. And then he said, “I don’t have a place.”


If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would be absolutely crucial to include?

Manolo has secretly arranged for Junie and her late father’s special, father-daughter song to be played at the grand opening of her tasting room, in a ploy to reunite Junie and her distant mother:

Then a familiar piano melody filled the air.
Mom extended a graceful hand.
“What’s this?” Junie wondered aloud.
Mom’s eyes glistened. “Your father would be so proud of you. I know he would have danced with you today. But since he can’t, would you dance with me, instead?”
Junie glided into her mother’s arms. The crowd parted as mother and daughter twirled around and around, surrounded by a panorama of friendly faces.
When the song ended there was a smattering of applause and more than one person dabbing her eyes.


Readers should read this book …

… to laugh and cry along with Junie and Manolo on their journey.


What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned for 2016?

The Crush is Book 1 of An Oregon Wine Country Romance. Unlike my Napa Wine Heiress series which could be read in any order, the three books in AOWCR work best read sequentially. Book 2, Intoxicating, is available for pre-order. Buy it now and it will be a happy surprise when it shows up on your device on 3/28/17. Book 3, Kisses Sweeter Than Wine, will launch later in 2017. I’m having a blast working on the love scenes between the therapist and former special ops guy who has more issues than Vogue!

Giveaway: 3 digital copies of THE CRUSH.To enter Giveaway: Please go to Harlequin Junkie here: http://harlequinjunkie.com/spotlight-giveaway-the-crush-by-heather-heyford/#comments

Excerpt from The Crush:

“What’s a beauty like you doing hidden away in a place like this?”
Her hands paused where they struggled against the stubborn cork. Beauty? Her? He didn’t just look like Daryl, he laid it on thick like him, too.
Stick to your script, Junie. What had they said at that free class for entrepreneurs at the Yamhill County extension? She was the one who should be asking the questions. Marketing 101.
She gave the screw a vicious twist. The cork came out with a muted pop and she began to pour the one-ounce servings used for sampling.
“How long will you be in the Willamette Valley?”
“Not long. I’m a traveling man. Just passing through.”
Lieutenant Manolo Santos was a walking, talking cliché, thanks to his good looks and bad lines.
Be nice to everyone, they said in the class. You never know who might turn out to be an ally. She clenched the bottle tighter in her moist palm, determined not to fumble under his penetrating glare, ally or not.
Sam hoisted his glass and the others followed suit. But before he could make a toast, the stranger beat him to it.
“To the Beaver State,” he said, eyes sparkling with mischief.
That brought more cautious chuckles, as her friends weighed their loyalty to her against the novelty of the suave newcomer in their midst.
Sam swirled his wineglass at eye level, checking for all the signs: color, viscosity, legs.
Rory downed his glass like cider, followed by a satisfied belch.
Junie’s heart sank. Heath was a brewer and Sam was in the wine business, like Junie. Keval was industry, too, if doing I.T. for the consortium counted. Was it too much to ask for them to appreciate what she was trying to do here? They’d tried her wine before. They knew word of mouth was everything. That’s where sales came from. But they couldn’t pass the word on how great her Pinot was if they persisted in chugging it like marathoners on Gatorade. Maybe they couldn’t handle three tastings in one day, after all.
“Yummy.” Keval licked his lips and picked up a battered copy of Wine Spectator from the bar. “Just think, Juniper. Maybe you’ll be in here someday.”
Yeah, right. She couldn’t even afford to renew her subscription.
At least Sam had the decency to give his wine time to wander around his palate, letting it speak to his taste buds. “Your wine sings, Junie.”
Junie swelled with pride. High praise, coming from Sam. But even he couldn’t seem to find her a distributor, though he’d been looking for the past couple of years.
True to his word, he spat into the receptacle provided. “Now, how about that rosé?”
Junie poised the new bottle to pour but there were only four empty glasses on the counter. She skimmed the room for the fifth, spotting it in the hand of Mr. New Jersey.
Thick, workingman’s fingers cradled her fragile stemware. Dense lashes brushed against carved cheekbones as he lowered them to gaze at the ruby liquid. Then he glanced up over the rim, catching Junie staring. “Young, bright appearance.”
He lowered his Roman nose into the bowl and sniffed, then looked up, his eyes landing in the vicinity of her chest. “Juicy plums.” He swirled and sniffed again. “And some other fruit I don’t think I’ve had the pleasure of tasting.”
Junie forgot about the bottle she held poised and it sank to the bar under its own weight. “Lingonberry. It’s native to the Pacific Northwest.”
Manolo drank then. But all the while he worked her wine around in his mouth, he didn’t take his eyes off her.
The tasting room grew uncomfortably warm, despite the chilly April air. Lieutenant Manolo Santos had a politician’s command of the room. Even the guys quit horsing around in anticipation of what he would say next.
“Soft and supple, yet structurally complex. I like that.”
The breath Junie didn’t know she’d been holding whooshed out through her broad grin. This vintage was her most ambitious effort to date, and that was exactly the response she was going for!
“It’s good in a wine, too.”

Excerpts. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Book Info:

Juniper Hart has her dream job—or rather, her dream job has her. Under Junie’s management, the winery her late father started is finally getting noticed. But she’s lonely, deep in debt, and overwhelmed with work. Even if she had time to date, the only men she meets are smug, stemware-breaking hotshots like Lieutenant Manolo Santos, whose good looks and smooth charm don’t half make up for the sour taste he leaves on Junie’s palate.

After years as an army engineer and a childhood in a restaurant kitchen, Manolo can see Junie’s winery is about to go sideways—and he’s bursting with ideas to help. Except Junie’s far too magnetic for comfort. He left New Jersey to escape becoming one more Santos man shackled to a captivating woman and a failing family business. But in the misty hills of Oregon, with a sip of supple Pinot on his tongue, pulling away is the last thing he wants to do

Gateway to Wine Country: Newberg, Oregon


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Hipster coffee shops are not usually my cup of tea. You’re talking about someone so sensitive to external stimuli that she picked her gym based on its color scheme. I wasn’t built to write in a setting that requires earbuds to hear myself think—let alone the distraction of good-looking lumbersexuals in plaid shirts and neatly-trimmed beards strolling in empty-handed and leaving clutching their cups of Stumptown Holler Mountain, sending the bell above the door clanging both ways.

But on a recent book research trip to Oregon’s Willamette Valley, my Airbnb up on Ribbon Ridge had “no phone, no lights no motorcars, not a single luxury” (kidding, I had a rental car). After a few days’ solitude to edit my work-in-progress, The Crush, I needed to touch base with my editor in New York. So I asked one of the farmhands where I could go to get Online. She recommended Chapter Books and Coffee, just down the road in the town of Newberg.


photo Chapters Books and Coffee on Instagram

Newberg is an authentic, small farming community founded by Quakers. But it gives off a vibe of being on the edge of something. Beneath the typical American Main Street lined with small businesses runs an undercurrent of change. As soon as the Newberg-Dundee Bypass is finished, the town is gearing up to take full advantage of its location as the gateway from Portland to the wine region known as the Willamette Valley.


Big Pink Hill by Oregon wine country artist Jane Aukshunas

The Willamette has the ideal, maritime climate for the finicky Pinot noir grape. Pinot has brought an influx of tourist dollars and new homes and businesses. The Newberg Downtown Coalition has a vision for Newberg to become not just a gateway, but a destination in itself, with wine tasting rooms, restaurants, and art galleries. For those who prefer finer amenities than my Airbnb offered, a world-class resort called The Allison is already getting rave reviews.

That’s how I ended up spending a couple of hours tucked into a corner of Chapters, steeped in the rich aroma of freshly ground coffee while emailing back and forth to the concrete jungle on my MacBook Air and studying the local characters. Though I’m still not a coffee shop kind of girl, that day, I felt very lucky to be there.

Heather Heyford writes contemporary romance novels set in the wine country. A Taste of Sake is on sale for $.99 until Oct. 2. “Caution: you will love it and want to buy the whole series!” – five star amazon reviews.

ATasteof Sake

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Harvest Time in Wine Country: The Crush


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photo 1859oregonmagazine

In wine country, they call it “the crush” . . . that glorious time of autumn when the grapes are bursting with juice and just the right amount of sweetness, ready to be harvested.


photo oregonwinepress.com

The vineyards crawl with pickers in their bright-colored hoodies to ward off the pre-dawn chill. Soon big plastic bins full of fruit will make their way to the press and the fermenting tanks or barrels.


To celebrate the crush, I’m giving away this lovely gift box chock-full of autographed, contemporary romance novels set in wine country, plus chocolate and wine accessories. This box will show up on the doorstep of a lucky person who signs up for my newsletter by clicking here. Contest starts now. Good luck! Winner announced Oct. 1 on my Facebook page. Continental US only.

Heather Heyford writes contemporary romance novels set in the wine country. THE CRUSH, Book 1 of An Oregon Wine Country Romance and set in the heart of Oregon’s wine country, the Willamette Valley, is now preordering here for Oct. 25 delivery.

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Five Miles to My Desk


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Female hands typing on the computer keyboard.

photo Healthista

In “Year of Yes,” Shonda Rhimes, mega-talented creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal and executive producer of How to Get Away With Murder, describes the process of getting ready to write as a hard, five-mile run lined with desserts and good movies and great books she’s dying to read before she can get to that place she calls “the hum of laying track.”

Back when I taught art, observing the ways my students settled down to work was a lesson in itself. Some dove right in. Others had elaborate rituals, such as the girl who could only draw using her chewed up, inch-long pink pencil ending in a worn-down eraser. Even when I offered her a fresh yellow one, she refused to trade.


photo quickmeme

Recently my husband was planning a trip to the opposite coast to run a half-marathon. Anticipating a long weekend free of cooking, I pictured a great swath of time stretching out before me like an empty page, just waiting to be populated with characters and brought alive in scenes. I planned on rising early and staying up late, setting my own personal best in terms of word count.

When the long-awaited day finally arrived? Here’s what I did: made sun tea, fed cats, made bed, made bacon. Ate bacon, felt guilty; mitigated guilt with yogurt. I also went to the bank, had a medical lab test, posted a Facebook video and made a lunch appointment with a friend. By the time I put fingers to keyboard, it was eleven a.m. But instead of working on my novel against a looming deadline, what did I do then? Wrote a random blog post! (The bank and the doctor were non-negotiable, but not the bacon. Definitely not the bacon.)

Human hand petting a cat head. Love to animals

photo petattack

The hum of laying track. That’s why writers write—to get inside that imaginary world where our fingers are flying and we lose all sense of time. For me, that flow state even trumps the satisfaction of being able to point to a finished book. Some of my writer friends have no problem tuning out crying kids, dirty dishes and their partner’s horrible 80s music. Even given the gift of extra time, others are still compelled to waste precious minutes making the bed and scooping the litter, sweeping away clutter before the muse, like an aircraft signalman waving an orange flag, gives us the all clear. And then, inevitably, someone sticks his head in the door to say “hi” or “bye,” and we have to run that five miles all over again . . .

Heather Heyford writes contemporary romance novels set in the wine country. THE CRUSH, Book 1 of An Oregon Wine Country Romance and set in the heart of Oregon’s wine country, the Willamette Valley, is now preordering here for Oct. 25 delivery.

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Flipping over Acrobat Pinot Noir


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While my in-laws were driving north nine hours on I-81 yesterday through the mid-Atlantic states, I was frying sweet Italian sausage for ziti and baking peach strudel. FullSizeRender-10

I opened a bottle of Acrobat Pinot Noir from the all-organic King Estate in the southern tip of the Willamette. Every American Viticultural Area has its own climate, soil and topography. The Willamette’s cool maritime climate is well-suited to growing delicate Pinot grapes, and the King Estate has dedicated 143 acres to the grape. Last March ATF, for the first time in the 33-year history of the Willamette Valley AVA, approved the Estate’s request to expand the area to include their winery. FullSizeRender-11

Since my relationship with Pinot started with Erath, I can’t help but use it as a baseline for comparison. Whereas Erath has a transparency that approaches colorless at the rim and dances lightly across the palate, Acrobat Pinot is a rich red in color, delivering a punch of oak and herbs on the tongue. That enabled the wine to hold its own against the spicy sausage dish and pasta with tomatoes I served. WineEnthusiast contributor PAUL GREGUTT @paulgwine says, “This well-built, aromatic wine smells of fresh raspberries. The mouthfeel is soft and smooth, the tannins subtle and the finish kisses you goodbye with a lick of milk chocolate.”

THE CRUSH, Book 1 of An Oregon Wine Country Romance, is now preordering here for Oct. 25 delivery.

Wine Country: How Research Becomes Obsession


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FullSizeRender-9pinot plant tag 2

On my last trip to Oregon’s Willamette Valley I meandered through the lonely vineyards along Ribbon Ridge. It was February, and the fall crush was just a memory, along with the crush of tourists.

At first glance, this field appeared to be freshly tilled and unplanted. But on closer inspection I saw what appeared to be skinny yard sticks stuck into the cool, damp soil. Bending over, I saw neon colored tags at the base of the sticks.

Back home, I zoomed in on this photo to discover the stick I almost overlooked was a baby clone of “Pinot noir 943.” Prince of Pinot says this about my nondescript “stick”: “clone 943 originated in the Côte-d’Or and was introduced in 1989. There is very little published performance information so only generalizations can suffice at this time. It is one of the few Dijon clones that the French have negotiated a royalty payment for every bud sold here in the U.S., so very few nurseries sell the clone.”

Given that these vines are still so young, I’m not sure how many years it will be until they produce fruit, but my interest is definitely piqued. I’m going to have to find out which vineyard this was so that I can check on its progress on future trips and eventually, scout out a bottle.

THE CRUSH, Book 1 of An Oregon Wine Country Romance, is now preordering here for Oct. 25 delivery. (Print format coming soon.)

It’s Will-AM-ette, Dammit


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Don’t do what I did and pronounce this 150-mile stretch of Oregon the way it looks, or eventually a charming, long-suffering lumbersexual will sigh and correct you with the standard, “It’s Will-AM-ette, dammit.”

649faYKphoto of Steven Amell, inspiration for Manolo in THE CRUSH, by QuestfortheD via imgur

Today I’m taking the lazy blogger way out and posting some photos of my most recent trek to The Pinot State. The above picture was taken as I reached the town of Carlton, renamed Clarkston for all 3 books in An Oregon Wine Country Romance, starting with THE CRUSH.


Another way to access my Airbnb is via Ribbon Ridge private airport.
One can dream.
IMG_4565Turn left at the intersection first pictured to go onto Carlton’s Main Street.


Feel like having a picnic in the vineyards? Stop in Farmhouse Provisions. There you can get locally-sourced cheeses, eggs, produce and meats. Of course, they also offer wine by the glass and bottle, like Rocky Point, Denison, Tartan, Dusky Goose, Tendril, Illahe, Idealist, Stone Griffon, WildAire Cellars and Yamhill Valley Vineyards, to name a few.

IMG_4593For a sit-down meal try Cuvée. Chef Gilbert Henry’s previous establishment, Winterborne Restaurant in Portland, was highly rated by Zagat. He now offers exceptional food in a chic and casual indoor café that is a favorite of locals and visitors alike.

THE CRUSH, Book 1 of An Oregon Wine Country Romance, is now preordering here for Oct. 25 delivery. (Print format coming soon.)

Diana Gabaldon’s New Book ISN’T the Latest in the Outlander Series


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Who can forget the opening minutes of the very first Outlander episode on Starz when the 1940s incarnation of Claire and her intellectual husband, Frank, tour the cool, dank ruins of an ancient Scottish castle? Frank reaches around Claire and cups her derriere to lift her into a sitting position on a stone slab. He steps between her legs and begins sliding up her hobble skirt. And then—whew <fanning face> Is it warm in here? 

While steamy in it’s own right, that scene foreshadows the future when Claire goes back in time and makes love to her new husband, the swashbuckling, kilt-wearing Jamie—Frank’s polar opposite—in that very same castle.

It is warm . . . August, to be precise. “I Give You  My Body: How I Write Sex Scenes” is already #2 on Amazon under the category of Arts & Entertainment—and it doesn’t even officially come out until tomorrow. For romance writers everywhere, Gabaldon’s wee gift is like Christmas in the hottest part of summer. I may have to stay propped on my pillows with my greedy little hands wrapped around my Kindle until midnight when I can open my present, preordered weeks ago!

From Amazon’s About the Author: “She [Gabaldon] says that the Outlander series started by accident: ‘I decided to write a novel for practice in order to learn what it took to write a novel, and to decide whether I really wanted to do it for real. I did – and here we all are trying to decide what to call books that nobody can describe, but that fortunately most people seem to enjoy.’ And enjoy them they do – in their millions, all over the world. Published in 42 countries and 38 languages, in 2014 the Outlander novels were made into an acclaimed TV series starring Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser and Caitriona Balfe as Claire. Seasons three and four are currently in production. Diana lives with her husband and dogs in Scottsdale, Arizona, and is currently at work on her ninth Outlander novel.”

Available on Amazon

Need to catch up? Now you can get The Napa Wine Heiresses in a pretty boxed set for $9.99 here.

What I’m Drinking


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Alas—what does a writer of romance novels and unapologetic drinker of Sauvignon Blanc do when she finds herself in Oregon? She puts the back of her hand to her forehead and sighs loudly, and then, being of a practical nature, she turns to the woman next to her at the bar and asks what’s she’s drinking. The odds are excellent that the answer will be Erath pinot noir, as it was for me on that drizzly, Pacific Northwest day.
It turned out to be perfectly fitting that my first serious sampling of Oregon wine would be Erath. Ask anyone around these parts and they’ll tell you the story: It was founded in 1965 by an experiment in engineer Dick Erath’s garage. I don’t know what that first batch tasted like, but it must have been hellagood because it was enough to make Dick start studying viticulture at UC-Davis, California’s premier wine college. Wine Enthusiast calls the 2014 “medium bodied . . . well-ripened red and blue fruits, a lick of toast, well-built tannins, and a finishing streak of dark roasted coffee.” I like it.
Eventually Mr. Erath uprooted his family to an unheated cabin outside of Dundee, and the rest is, as they say, history. Everywhere you go in the Willamette, the name Dick Erath is synonymous with pinot. You can read more about Erath Winery here.
#wine #pinotnoir #WillametteValley #writinglife