Houses (and Hearts) Flip in Sally Thorne's New Book

Posted by Marie on January 8, 2019
"I describe 99 Percent Mine as The Hating Game's sexy, rebellious older sister," says author Sally Thorne of her latest contemporary romance. In it, readers are introduced to Darcy Barrett, a badass heroine who's a bit of a fixer-upper, especially when it comes to her love life. Darcy's also perfectly aware of her own shortcomings, thank you very much. Her overbearing twin brother, Jamie, reminds her of them all the time.

Things take a turn when she runs into Tom Valeska, a childhood sweetheart who happens to be managing the renovation of her grandmother's house. He may be the man of Darcy's dreams, but he's also Thorne's alternative take on the alpha male character. "My personal catnip is a guy with a body like an alpha who is as tender as a kitten," says Thorne.

Darcy wants nothing more than to make Tom 100 percent hers. The problem? He's also Jamie's best friend—and the twins were never good at sharing. Here Thorne dives into what makes the heart of her newest rom-com tick, including twists on beloved tropes, outrageous sibling rivalry, and more.

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Goodreads: What inspired 99 Percent Mine?

Sally Thorne: I love the brother's best friend trope, so I knew I wanted to start there. I knew I wanted to write a pair of twins (a girl and a boy) because my mother is a twin and I grew up crying with laughter over tales of the things she and her twin brother would get up to.

My final inspiration was that my parents began renovating an old seaside house that means an awful lot to our family, so I set the story in an old cottage with vast sentimental value that needs an urgent restoration.

GR: Your heroine, Darcy, is described as having a very messy life, and she can be quite the "alpha" when she wants to be! Why did you decide to write this kind of heroine?

ST: I am a dorky sweetheart. I am good at writing dorky sweethearts (case in point: Lucy Hutton from The Hating Game). I should also own up at this point that I want to be Bad Sandy from Grease, but I am more of a Sandra Dee.

I got my chance to enact my bad-girl fantasy and took Darcy Barrett to the opposite extreme from Lucy to show that I can write a different character. Darcy is a woman who is alpha, possessive, passionate, and intense. She would kill for Tom Valeska. It forced me to be strict with myself, especially when writing dialogue.

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GR: Tom, on the other hand, seems very put together and is overly concerned with being "perfect." How does this affect his relationship with his childhood friend Darcy?

ST: Tom Valeska grew up as the underprivileged kid across the street from the wealthier Barretts. They welcomed him into their home, and he functioned as a buffer between the always-fighting twins. He was taken on their family vacations and treated like one of the family.

Now all grown up and a little embarrassed about being a charity case, Tom's first solo job, working as his own boss, will be renovating the twins' inherited cottage. It's a lot of pressure on him. Darcy already thinks he's perfect. He tries even harder to make sure he is, even as the unexpected demands of running a business begin to take their toll. Meanwhile, Darcy doesn't feel like she could ever deserve a person as good as him.

GR: And speaking of childhood friends, Tom, Darcy, and Darcy's twin, Jamie, all share a complicated history. How does this dynamic come to play in your book?

ST: As a kid, Jamie Barrett was delighted to find Tom living across the street. Finally, a new audience to tell his stories and jokes to! Jamie is an alpha extrovert who found his perfect best friend in the quiet, introverted Tom. Growing up, Darcy and Tom never spent time alone because the twins are not good at sharing.

Often in the brother’s best friend trope, it's the brother warning off his best friend: Don't put your hands on my sister! It's the opposite here. Darcy is the player, and Tom has only ever been with one woman. Darcy knows that her sweaty crush on Tom is forbidden by Jamie, and her relationship with her brother is something she wants to repair.

Tom knows that he'll probably lose Jamie as his best friend if he dates Darcy. It's an interesting triangle that I enjoyed writing, especially because the central premise is this: Both twins love Tom Valeska so much.

GR: The sibling rivalry between Darcy and Jamie can definitely be off the charts! What was the most challenging thing to write about their relationship?

ST: It's very hard to write a character that your protagonist knows very well. If someone asked you to describe your sibling, you might have difficulty. To fully explain your dynamic, you'd have to illustrate your relationship with some anecdotes, and if you let yourself think about it long enough, you'd admit some rivalries or resentments. This was my challenge writing this book. Jamie is not present for most of it, but as Darcy's twin, he's a strong presence in her life.

I had to characterize him through dialogue over the phone and through Darcy's perception and memories, so that by the time he does turn up, the reader already knows him. I think people who enjoyed the love/hate banter of The Hating Game will find that element here in 99 Percent Mine between the Barrett twins.

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GR: What did you love most about writing Tom and Darcy’s relationship?

ST: My goal for this book was to create intensity between the two. Often in romance, it's the male character who exudes a powerful sexual aura, but I've changed it up in this book, and I think it is Darcy's lust, passion, obsession, and protection of Tom that will make the reader hook into this story.

There's always been some sort of not-quite-human animal attraction between them their whole lives. Darcy describes it like this: "Tom Valeska has an animal inside him, and I've felt it every time he's looked at me." I hope that readers fall in love with Darcy, and how intensely she feels for Tom, just as much as they fall for him.

GR: Now for a fun question: If you could have a choice to go on a date with any of the characters in either of your books, who would it be and why?

ST: Darcy would never allow anyone to date Tom, and I don't want to risk a black eye. Josh [from The Hating Game] only has eyes for Lucy and would probably be terrible at small talk. I'll go on a date with Jamie Barrett. I'm sure it would be a great night. He'd look great in a suit, take me somewhere fancy to impress me, regale me with funny stories that would make the time fly, and we'd probably end up on a dance floor. Jamie learned at a very young age that women love a man who can dance.

GR: What projects are you working on now?

ST: I've just signed a contract for two more books with William Morrow, which I am thrilled about. After a difficult time writing my second book, I'm happy to say that I'm halfway through a rough draft of my third book and it's been flowing well. It's a rom-com that will be all things Sally Thorne: weird, sweet, funny, tender, and passionate.

GR: What would you like to see more of in contemporary romance?

ST: We've always seen strong female characters in contemporary romance, so I just look forward to reading diverse points of view and characters who allow me to step into lives very different from mine. I like reading about normal people's lives.

As you can tell by now, I’m a sucker for beta heroes who are genuinely good men and don't have to assert themselves physically on those around them. Don't get me wrong: I'm aware that both books' male characters (Josh and Tom) are big and muscly, because that's how I like 'em. My husband is six-foot-five. Each book, the guys just keep getting taller. By book four, I'll probably be writing a seven-foot guy.

GR: What romance books would you recommend to our readers?

ST: I loved Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren. It was a joyful free fall of a book that completely replenished my spirit, and I was dangerously close to wetting myself laughing.

T. Gephart is one of the funniest women out there, and she's got a huge catalog of smart, sexy rom-coms to catapult yourself into. She's maybe best known for #1 Crush, which is based on her true, real-life adventure of trying to catch Alexander Skarsgård on the red carpet.

I enjoy Tiffany Reisz and her dark, impeccably written erotica, and always with spot-on dialogue. Marian Keyes will always be an author I will buy without even reading the blurb. I also love YA romance like Stephanie Perkins' lusciously gorgeous Lola and the Boy Next Door.

GR: And finally, what books are currently on your Want to Read shelf?

ST: My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren is waiting for me in my Kindle. I've got The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory in my to-read pile, and I want to read Raw: Rebirth by Belle Aurora.

Sally Thorne's 99 Percent Mine will be available on January 29. Don't forget to add it to your Want to Read shelf! Be sure to also read more of our exclusive author interviews and get more great book recommendations.

Comments Showing 1-9 of 9 (9 new)

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message 1: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Jiménez Guerra Hi!
When will we have it in spanish??

message 2: by Lashaya (new)

Lashaya Can’t wait for this book!!

message 3: by Meghana (new)

Meghana Hegde Just cannot wait for this book! All the best Sally ❤️

message 4: by Mandy (new)

Mandy Moffat Really looking forward to this book.

message 5: by Monique (new)

Monique Abel I’m so excited!!! After reading The Hating Game 3 times and loving it the wait for the next Sally Thorne book has been torture!!

message 6: by T. (new)

T. <3

message 7: by Hulya (new)

Hulya Kara Yuksel I'm so excited to read this book! <3

message 8: by Jovita (new)

Jovita Joy I loved The Hating Game... I’m so glad her next books coming out... can’t wait for it to release!

message 9: by Onixcia (new)

Onixcia Perley Hello .
Congrats on the publication of your second book, looking forward to reading it.

Hope all goes well with the others (books) to come.

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