Interview with Riley Jennings, hero from Claire Ashgrove's "Seduction's Stakes"

Friday, October 2, 2009
This morning, we have Riley Jennings, the hero from Claire Ashgrove's debut contemporary romance novel, Seduction's Stakes--which is released today from The Wild Rose Press--to interview.

To help support Claire, I'm going to give away a copy of her book to some lucky person who comments at the end of the blog, plus I'll throw in a shiny new copy of Nancy J. Parra's Mr. Charming (since I forgot to do that when I interviewed her in August).

And now for the good stuff!

Riley Jennings
Age: 31
Height: 6’1”
Eye Color: ale-brown
Hair Color: (runs a hand through his collar-length hair) I don’t know what would you call this? (Wavy, sandy-brown).
Occupation: Thoroughbred Racehorse Owner and Trainer
Address: In the heart of racing country, Kentucky, on a 112-acre stable and training facility.
Rating of his Story: Steamy Hot!

(LindaKage)Thank you for dropping by, Riley, we're honored to have you here. Now, first of all why don't you tell us a little about yourself. What do you do for a living:

(RileyJennings)Well, darlin’, I get up at the crack of dawn, and when we aren’t on a track somewhere, I’m helping Ben, my full-time jockey, get Mister Spoilsport and our other racing stock in condition. I stay in the barns or on our track until dinner time. Around that time, I try to navigate through phone calls on Mister Spoilsport’s stud services. I really need to find someone to do that for me. It’s so damn time consuming. Anyway, then I go to bed, get up and do it all over again. On race days, it’s pretty similar, only much more stressful.

(LK)Describe your perfect day :

(RJ)We’re about two hours away from my perfect day – the one where Mister Spoilsport wins The Kentucky Derby. He’s ready to go, in prime shape, and currently the favorite. As long as Maddie’s horse, Infidelity, doesn’t creep up on the outside, like he’s prone to do, I’ll see my Pop’s dream come true.
(LK)How about your perfect date and no, this is not but it IS a blog for romance readers, so spill it, mister:

(RJ)Date? I’m pretty private about my personal life. There’s lots of rumors around, but don’t listen to a one of them. I don’t date much anymore. No sense in it when you can’t have the one you want. If I ever convince her, you can be sure somewhere along the way it’ll involve the ocean, moonlight and wine.
(LK)When you were little, what'd you want to be when you grew up:

(RJ)I grew up following my dad around the track. Back then, Pop was really struggling to make a name for himself and it took a long time to garner the respect of other, more powerful, more financially sound racehorse owners. I don’t know that I ever really wanted to be anything. I always knew I’d follow in my father’s footsteps and I’d have the best racing stock around.

(LK)Are you a pizza, stake, soy burger, or Mexican food type of man:

(RJ)I’m a Scotch man(smirk). Anything in a five-star restaurant with a Talisker on the rocks, and I’m a happy man. It’s all about good food, not
necessarily a particular type. As a risk-taker, I’ll try anything once.

(LK)Would you say you're determined/driven or easy-going and laid back?

(RJ)Depends on who you ask. Last time I talked to Maddie McCleery, I believe I was a, what did she say? Oh yeah, a pompous ass. If there’s something I want, I’ll stop at nothing to have it. But I know how to appreciate the, shall we say, finer things in life as well.

(LK)History channel, Sports, News, or CMT:

(RJ)I don’t have much time for television. About the only thing I’ll watch is ESPN’s racing coverage if I’m not at the track. Sometimes I’ll watch sappy old romances – but that information’s just for you, darlin’. Let’s not publish that.
(LK)Oops! Sorry. (hee, hee!)
Indoors or Outdoors:

(RJ)Wherever there’s water. Er… pardon me. Yes well, I raise racehorses. I think that qualifies as outdoors.
(LK)Green or Red:


(LK)Boxers, briefs, or... other:

(RJ)Now that’s a little personal dontcha think? I’ll let Maddie discover that one on her own. She did put you up to this, didn’t she? I’m surprised you haven’t asked me about Grey Ghost. That colt’s all that woman can think about.
(LK)Before I move onto all those questions (which I'll do next), is there anything else you'd like to say about yourself:

(RJ)Yeah. I made some mistakes in my youth. One I regret a lot. And if Maddie did put you up to this, you be sure and tell her I never meant it.

(LK)Maddie, Maddie, Maddie. You mention this Maddie McCleery a lot. So, I'm curious. Who is she? What's the story there? And don't be shy; us romance enthusiasts want to know ALL:

(RJ)Maddie and I go back to high school. Our farms have always been rivals. I did something stupid that’s better left unsaid when she lost a round of Truth or Dare. Since then, she’s pretty much hated me. Lately, she’s been making a name for McCleery Racing and Infidelity is probably one of the strongest competitors Mister Spoilsport has to face. We’ve been eeking out wins, and it’s driving her crazy. I’ve got a colt – Grey Ghost – she wants, and I’m not interested in selling him until she’s interested in listening to what I’ve got to say.
We’ll see what happens today with The Derby. Infidelity’s going to give Spoil a run for his money in each leg of the Triple Crown. The two are just too talented, and it’s a shame they have to compete together. Either Maddie or I have to lose. (Chuckling) Never a good thing for either one of us.

(LK)Now I'm extra curious to read Seduction's Stakes to find out what happens there. And I think you answered just about all the questions I was going to ask in that area (LOL!), Now I gotta know about Claire Ashgrove. This author's been following you around and documenting your life starting today. What prompted that?

(RJ)Claire said she’d always had a fascination with racing, and had been following our horses. Maddie's and mine, that is. Infidelity’s won every race he’s been in. Mister Spoilsport the same, on different tracks. It’s the first time they’ve raced each other and with the publicized rivalry between our farms, she said she wanted to document Maddie and I, give the public a peek at our daily lives. I refused, initially. But then I got to thinking. There hasn’t been a Crown winner in twenty-one years. Barring a catastrophe, or straight dumb luck, one of us stands a real good chance of winning the Triple Crown. Whomever wins, it’s a story about racing, not just my life. History in the making.

(LK)This is her debut novel and you’ve trusted her to write a factual account. Any concerns?

(RJ)Course there’s concerns. I’ve opened up my private life to the public. It’s a bit like being followed around with one of those reality cams. I really don’t want the entire world knowing what flavor toothpaste I use. There’s a lot of room here to embarrass myself, especially given the Maddie factor. I’m going to convince that woman to give me a chance. If she does, I don’t need what happens in my bedroom broadcasted.

(LK)Well, I think the rest of my question can only be answered in the book, so I that concludes my interview. Thank you so much for stopping by Riley. I hope to hear a lot more from you soon (like as soon as my copy of your book arrives in the mail).

If all you readers are curious for a sample of Seduction's Stakes, Claire has graciously provided an excerpt for us to enjoy:

Her eyes settled on him as he approached, and her mouth curved into a bright smile that almost stopped him in his tracks. Despite her earlier friendliness, he hadn’t anticipated that. Couldn’t recall when she’d ever looked legitimately glad to see him. He had expected her to nod politely, accept his elbow because etiquette demanded she do so, and then casually converse with him as he led her to the table.

“Evening, Riley.” She waited a moment, taking him in with one quick roaming glance, before she settled her fingers into the crook of his offered arm. “Did you save me a seat?”

He grinned. “I did.”

“Good. I’ve been looking forward to tonight all afternoon.”

He chanced a sideways glance at her, uncertain what to make of that comment. When she caught him looking, she gave him a little wink that sent his heart slamming into his ribs. Lord, the woman knew how to draw a man in.

“I’m sorry I’m late. My truck died on me on the way here. I had to call a cab.”

“Truck?” He’d never paid much attention to what she drove outside of the trailer combination used on race day. For some reason he’d expected her to drive a flashy little sports car. The vision of her perched behind a pickup only sparked that simmer of desire further. Strong and assertive—that’s what trucks were. Just like her.

The fact her truck broke down took a bit longer to sink in. “Did you get it towed?”

“Nah, it’s sitting on the side of the highway still. I’ll deal with it tomorrow.”

He sensed opportunity. Never one to miss it, as he pulled out her chair, he asked, “Want a ride home later?”

She tucked her dress around her and scooted into the velvet-cushioned chair. When she turned her head up to look at him, her long blond mane fell over one shoulder and danced against her lap. The urge to run his fingers through it, despite their present company, hit him with such force he clenched his hand to resist.

Looking at him as if she weighed her answer, he prepared to hear her refusal. But when her chin dipped into a gracious nod, and she smiled once more, he almost tripped over his tongue. What had happened from two weeks ago at Lexington when she refused his advances, to today? And where had his ability to function gone? He hadn’t felt this awkward… ever. Shaking off the oddities, he took his seat beside her.

“I suppose then, I’ll have to keep you close at hand, so I know when you’re ready to go.”

Over the rim of her wine glass, her bright green eyes twinkled. “I suppose you shall.”

It finally occurred to him, she was flirting with him. Riley lifted his own glass and drank deeply. And then he decided to see how serious she was.

And now.... Let the commenting commence! I'll randomly draw and announce the lucky winner October 12th (please leave a name, link, email address, or something when you comment so I can contact you once you win). OR if you'd rather just go buy a copy of the story today, head over to The Wild Rose Press and do that now.

Thanks, all, for stopping by. I'll leave another post SUNDAY!


  1. Hi Linda! *waves* what a great day to stop by your blog. Nice interview. I'm really excited about this book...too bad it's still in the mail. Soon, they tell me, soon...

    Claire, great job! Good luck and people- go buy this book! ;)

  2. Linda, what a revealing interview. I love Riley. My kinda guy. You know, the horses and racing and all. If I wasn't married...But alas I am. *she fans herself* :)

    I hope that I win. I can't wait to read this book. If I don't win I'll still buy the book. Cuz Riley is all that and more. Hehehe :)

  3. Sounds like a great romance! Very cool interview too. :-) He sounds great. Manly and stuff. Woohoo!

    Alright, so please enter me!! Thanks for your life, Riley. *wink*

  4. Oh my gosh! What a fun interview. I think the story sounds great.