Today I am so pleased to welcome E.J. Russell to Joyfully Jay. E.J. has come to talk to us about her latest release, Duking It Out. She has also brought along copies to give away. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!


Thank you so much, Jay, for inviting me here to talk about my new book, Duking It Out, the first in the multi-author Royal Powers shared world series. I had so much fun working with the other authors in the group (Renae Kaye, Lynn Lorenz, Sara York, Chris Cox, Jackie North, and Kenzie Blades) as we invented our two imaginary countries and their super-powered royalty!

Now, about Duking It Out

You’ve probably heard the old adage that’s tossed at writers all the time: “Write what you know.”

I clearly paid no attention to this when I started plotting Duking It Out, because it includes so many things I had no clue about. Let’s recap:

  • Sailboats
  • Deserted islands
  • Viniculture
  • Falconry
  • Maritime emergency kits

(There’s more, but—spoilers!)

You know what that old adage doesn’t account for, though? Research! And research is one of the true joys (and dangers—because rabbit holes can be fricking deep) of being an author. How much fun is it to learn about something completely new, especially nowadays when source material is as close as the nearest web browser? (Trust me, if I’d written this book when I was in college or graduate school, when the only way to investigate something new was by going to the library and diving headfirst into the card catalog, it would have had a very different plot!)

Take sailboats, for instance. Sander, one of my dukes, is a woodworker who can’t use power tools for reasons. He built his own sailboat and often sails solo. I needed to find pictures of modern wooden boats that could be handled by a single sailor if necessary—what they looked like above and below deck, what kind of amenities they had, what water storage options existed. I found what I was looking for at Spirit Yachts here:

They built a boat for James Bond for Casino Royale! If it was good enough for 007, I figured it would be a good enough model for Sander. You can see it in action from the movie here:

Sander’s boat, Askatasun, is painted midnight blue rather than sky blue, but I geeked out so much over finding actual footage of the boat in action. Eeeee!

Of course, Tarik and Sander don’t spend much time on Askatasun while it’s in the water. So yeah… Let’s talk deserted islands.

At first, I was picturing Tom Hanks in Castaway, on his South Pacific island, cozying up with coconut palms, crabs, and his volleyball companion. But then I thought, “Wait a minute. Askatasun is docked in the Mediterranean. How the heck is it gonna get to the South Pacific?”

Cue desperate googling.

And hey, did you know that Greece alone has between 1200 and 6000 islands (depending on what minimum size you specify) and fewer than 250 of them are inhabited? France, Spain, and Italy also have islands with no permanent population, although theirs tend to be wildlife sanctuaries with restricted visitation. Turkey, Tunisia, Croatia, Albania… The Mediterranean is lousy with uninhabited islands. Score!

You’ll note the stylized palm tree on my (super cute) book cover. Um…here’s the thing. There are no coconut palms on Mediterranean islands. A lot of the little ones (my target for marooning poor Sander and Tarik) don’t have any trees at all. But you know what? The cover absolutely delivers on the concept of the deserted island.

And I am totally on board with conceptual islands. After all, aren’t all novels conceptual at heart? That’s why we call them fiction. 😉


duking it outRoyal dukes from rival countries, shipwrecked on a deserted island. The grudge match of the century—or a love story of super-heroic proportions?

Sander Fiala, Duke of Roses, is fourth in line to the South Abarran throne, even though his rogue power earned him the nickname “The Monster of Roses” and got him banished from the Castle. But right before he’s about to set off on his annual birthday sailing trip, the Queen asks him to meet with the notoriously volatile North Abarran Duke of Arles.

Tarik Jaso, Duke of Arles, expects the worst from people because—let’s face it—people are the worst. His superpower bombards him with any and all electronic transmissions, which…yeah, people suck. So when he’s attacked and wakes up in the cabin of a stranded boat, he knows he’s royally screwed. Because the man looming over him—the man he’d gone toe-to-toe with right before the attack—is the infamous Monster of Roses.

Tarik is positive the Monster is behind his kidnapping. Sander is sure the whole thing is Tarik’s fault. As they work toward rescue, Tarik realizes that the disturbingly hot Sander is no monster, and Sander discovers that Tarik’s temper masks a caring soul wrapped in a cantankerous (though undeniably sexy) body.

For their burgeoning connection to endure, they’ll have to duke it out with political factions, dark conspiracies, and centuries of traditions that keep them on opposite sides of the border.

But first? They have to get off this damn island.

Duking It Out is a 46,000-word M/M enemies to lovers, opposites attract, superhero rom-com, featuring Only One Bed, a grumpy duke who should know better than to jump to conclusions, a self-doubting duke who’s good with his hands (heh), gossipy seagulls, competent assistants, a guaranteed HEA, and (unfortunately) capes.


E.J. Russell–grace, mother of three, recovering actor–writes romance in a rainbow of flavors. Count on high snark, low angst and happy endings.

Reality? Eh, not so much.

She’s married to Curmudgeonly Husband, a man who cares even less about sports than she does. Luckily, C.H. also loves to cook, or all three of their children (Lovely Daughter and Darling Sons A and B) would have survived on nothing but Cheerios, beef jerky, and Satsuma mandarins (the extent of E.J.’s culinary skill set).

E.J. lives in rural Oregon, enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.


E.J. has brought a winner’s choice of backlist book to give away to three lucky readers. Winners can find full backlist at Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Sunday, July 19th at 11:59 pm ET.

  • By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
  • Winners will be selected by random number. No purchase necessary to win. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
  • If you win, you must respond to my email within 48 hours or another winner may be chosen. Please make sure that your spam filter allows email from Joyfully Jay.
  • Winners may be announced on the blog following the contest. By entering the contest you are agreeing to allow your name to be posted and promoted as the contest winner by Joyfully Jay.
  • Prizes will be distributed following the giveaway either by Joyfully Jay or the person/organization donating the prize.
  • All book prizes are in electronic format unless otherwise specified.
  • By entering you are agreeing to hold Joyfully Jay harmless if the prize or giveaway in some way negatively impacts the winner.
  • Readers may only enter once for each contest.  Duplicate entries for the same giveaway will be ignored. In the event of technical problems with the blog during the contest, every effort will be made to extend the contest deadline to allow for additional entries.
  • Void where prohibited by law.
FILED UNDER: Giveaway, Guest Post