Meteors and Menorahs
by Nessa Claugh
GENRE: Sci Fi Romance / Jewish
‘Your dad invited your ex-boyfriend.’ Already committed to going home for Hanukkah, Leah panics at her mother’s text and invites her crush to come with her. The catch? They aren’t dating. The other catch? He isn’t Jewish. He isn’t even human.
Knar has been studying the physiology of humans for years in preparation to introduce Earth to the rest of the galaxy and present them as a species that can adapt to change well. Although he believes in his mission, he’s also had his eye on his coworker Leah, and her invitation to come home with her for the holidays is just the opportunity he’s been looking for.
Going home for Hanukkah is normally the least of Leah’s worries until her mom lets it slip that her dad invited her ex-boyfriend. Desperate to keep him at arm’s length, Leah invites her handsome coworker Kenneth Knar to be a buffer against her family. Having to pretend he’s her new boyfriend doesn’t hurt, and if it annoys her parents, all the better.
He just has to find some way to tell her that he’s more than just a gentile. He’s not even from this planet. And Leah hates liars.
The menorah isn’t the only thing getting hot this holiday season…
A man in a freshly pressed shirt and tie bustled into the kitchen, arms out. Before I could say a single word, he pulled Leah out of my arms and into a long hug. “There’s my girl!”
To her credit, Leah was out of the embrace as quickly as she was able to shove her hands up between them. “David! I wasn’t expecting you this early!”
Was that a grimace on her face?
“Well, your dad said you were here, and my last cardiology patient canceled so I figured I’d get over here.”
“Weird flex,” Leah said. “We all know what you do.”
“And who is this?” he said, ignoring the dig.
“This is Kenneth,” Leah said, grabbing my arm. “My boyfriend.”
David looked thunderstruck. “Boyfriend? Why haven’t I heard of this boyfriend?”
“We aren’t friends,” Leah said. “I have no reason to talk to you.”
“Leah, be nice,” her mother chided. The woman was short, but she still managed to move everyone with sheer presence out of the kitchen and into the living room without anyone complaining.
“I’m sorry, I haven’t had the opportunity to tell you all about my nice new very handsome boyfriend,” Leah said, running one palm up over the swell of my arm. I’d been feeling a little underdressed since the ex-boyfriend was in a nice shirt, but if I’d known it meant she’d be touching me skin to skin like this, I would have worn a tank top.
Welcome, Nessa Claugh Please start off by telling us a little about yourself.
Hi! I live in Florida with my husband and work a day job in law enforcement. I kind of thought that between that and my educational history with classes in serial homicide and forensic archaeology that I’d be a crime fiction or a thriller writer, but instead I turned to writing steamy sci-fi romance!
Is Meteors and Menorahs a single title, or part of a series?
It’s a single title without plans for a sequel or a series, though I might be interested in writing a reader magnet featuring Leah and Knar’s experience with coming back home for Passover.
What were your inspirations for the story?
I wanted to write a holiday story that didn’t feature Christmas, and as I started planning it and talking to my Jewish peers and stress they face for any Jewish holiday, I realized that part of that was a growing change in how we interact with Judaism from a religious group to a cultural one. We’ll still go sit shiva after a death or come home for the Passover meal and the requisite reading of how the Jews escaped Egypt, but for a growing number of young Jews, it’s more of a way to connect with our families than something we observe religiously. I wanted to write about someone experiencing that and the unease when you move away from home and come back to find that your parents have filled the gap of your absence with someone else, even if it’s someone who’s going to hurt you by being there.
So I kind of went down a rabbit hole with that, also ended up in a lot of discussions about parents who didn’t like who you were dating, toxic exes (in some areas, Jews dating Jews is a small community, and I’m a sci-fi romance writer at heart so I wanted to add in some outer space spice. When you bring home someone who isn’t Jewish, a lot of our traditions can seem kind of weird if you weren’t raised in it.
Please share your setting for Meteors and Menorahs. Have you ever lived or visited there? If so, what did you like most?
There are a few scenes set in Kansas City at the beginning, but the majority of it takes place in Boca Raton, Florida. I grew up in south Florida and still spend a decent amount of time in the area when I can, and I wanted to share my love of the area. It has some really great beaches, museums, and on clear nights you can see when they launch rockets from Cape Canaveral.
When did the writing bug first bite?
When I was very young. I didn’t start submitting anywhere other than free websites until I was eighteen, but I’ve been writing and getting my fair share of rejections and acceptances.
Who are your favorite authors, book/series? Patricia Briggs because I’m a sucker for well-written werewolves, and she packs a hell of a lot of worldbuilding into her Mercy Thompson/Alpha and Omega series. I also adore Neil Gaiman because of his ability to tell a story and Terry Pratchett for how he could parody current issues in his Discworld series and do it in such a clever manner.
If you could have an author roundtable discussion with any authors, who would you invite?
Mercedes Lackey just for the sheer volume that she writes. I’ve been a fan of hers since I was a teenager, and even though I’ve fallen off grabbing every new thing she puts out, I’m still astonished that she manages to maintain as many different series as she does. I’d love to add in Patricia Briggs because of how well-spoken she is, and Neil Gaiman because of the current adaptation of Good Omens to the television.
Do you have any hobbies or special things you like to do in your spare time?
I grow orchids. I’m trying to not go crazy and buy every sad orchid I see that’s getting thrown out of one of the big box stores because it got sunburned and lost all of its blooms, but I have a collection that’s a bit bigger than I think I was anticipating when I started. It’s fun and relaxing and I’ve become really passionate about the threats facing wild orchids.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve heard or seen?
Not even kidding, I saw a UFO once. I was out with my sister and her boyfriend at the time and we all saw this huge ship in the sky that had a shape like a Star Destroyer from Star Wars. I did a lot of research after that and there was no experimental aircraft that matched the description, and this was way before drones, so… I like to still think it was real.
What is the one thing that you would tell an inspiring writer to do?
Write! Get a pen and paper, get a computer, use the voice recorder on your phone. Do whatever you have to do, but start telling your story. No one can do it but you, and if you don’t get it down, no one will ever hear it.
I’m going to preface this review by saying that I grew up in Dallas and the Jewish culture was everywhere. My brother’s best friend was Jewish and some of my best girlfriends were Jewish. During the high holy days, our high school was half gone. So I went into the book was a basic knowledge of the holiday and traditions.
What I really liked about the book was getting back to your roots, your family. The memories, the traditions, and then finding out that some of those traditions are gone. But that can be a good thing, too. Making new memories with Kenneth is just what Leah needs, even if she doesn’t know it.
I really liked Kenneth and Leah. They were in their 30’s and established in their careers. I appreciated the fact that they were co-workers/friends before the trip to Florida. The tension had been building up to the trip. Kenneth is such a great character. Even though he was an alien. He was human enough and when the stuff hit the fan, he really put Leah in her place, even gently, but in the end, he really did understand humans and our emotions.
Leah is hilarious to me. I can’t even imagine having to deal with an ex-boyfriend much less that her dad decided that David was more of a son than she was a daughter. Trust me, this family had a lot of healing to do because of the damage that was done with David and Leah breaking up all those years ago. Leah had so much growing up to do and with Kenneth by her side, she did.
When the truth finally came out to Leah, I could understand her being upset but I felt like she didn’t need to overreact the way she did with Kenneth. He was being honest with her, unlike David all those years ago. In the end, I really liked the romance in the book. It was subtle, to a fault, but endearing.
This book brings the heat in places but I feel like anyone can read it. Keep in mind that Kenneth is an alien and he does show himself to Leah at some point. (I will leave it at that. *wink* I know that there isn’t going to be a follow-up but I sure what like to know what happened to them in the end. Did the aliens come? Are they still together? Inquiring minds want to know.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Nessa grew up thriving on trips to natural history museums and Jurassic Park. Once adulthood was upon her, it was only a matter of time before she discovered dominant aliens and shifter erotica. She enjoys titillating the Triassic and stargazing.
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE:
Nessa Claugh will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.