Oh my goodness, readers, we are only one week away from Fall Into Romance launching! It's so exciting and I'm thrilled today to have author Stacy Claflin visiting my blog today with her favorite scene from Lost in Romance. USA Today bestselling author Stacy Claflin entertains readers in a variety of genres, from paranormal to suspense to sweet contemporary romance. She has been telling stories for as long as she can remember, and as a child would often get into trouble trying to convince friends her wild tales were true. Now she puts her creativity to better use by writing page-turning books that leave readers begging for more.
The scene she shared is definitely an example of leaving you wanting more. While she didn't give any specific reasons for this scene to be her favorite, I think you'll see why it's so much fun. But first, a little about Lost in Romance:
Work is her life. He’s the boss’s son. Will she risk it all for love?
Alisyn has thrown herself into her job to avoid facing her past. It has been perfect so far. And as a bonus, working as a nanny lets her be part of a family that she adores. Her job is perfect until the day her boss’s grown son comes to town and takes her breath away.
The last place Shane Rockford wants to be is at his dad’s house with his new family. He just wants to survive the trip without losing his mind or his temper. After meeting his dad’s nanny, Shane finds a compelling reason to be in Romance, Oregon—Alisyn Bennett.
Dr. Rockford is furious that Alisyn and Shane are going on a date, and he will stop at nothing to keep them apart. Will Alisyn risk her job–her everything–to be with Shane, or will Shane’s father once again ruin his life?
Shane and Alisyn made their way to the polished wooden skate floor. The way it shone made it look dangerously smooth.
“I’m right here,” Shane reminded her.
Alisyn lost her balance and wobbled forward.
Shane put his hand on her shoulder and squeezed her hand. “Still here.”
“All this, and we haven’t even made it to the rink,” she muttered.
“Don’t be embarrassed. If I hadn’t been in hockey all those years, I’d probably be worse. Think of that—you’d have to hold me up!”
She groaned, thinking of what a mess that would be.
“Come on. Glide the skates onto the floor. You won’t fall. I promise.”
Alisyn held her breath and pushed her left foot forward. It was all she could do not to close her eyes. She remained upright, mostly because of Shane. Then she slid the other foot onto the rink. She gasped in surprise at how quickly the wheels took her.
“See? You’re doing great.”
Miles and Piper flew by them, laughing and poking each other.
Alisyn shook her head. How could a four- and a six-year-old make it look so easy?
“Don’t focus on them.” Shane’s voice was smooth like honey, calming her. “You’re doing great. I’m not the one keeping you up.”
She turned to him and realized he’d let go of her shoulder. Her right skate flew out from under her. The ground moved closer to her at a speed she couldn’t comprehend.
“Whoa!” Shane grabbed onto her arm, but she continued falling. In fact, he was heading for the floor, also. In one big tangled mess, they both landed with a hard thud. Pain ran through her hip, which took most of the impact. She opened her eyes and the first thing she saw was a bunch of cheesy, multi-colored plastic jack-o’-lantern decorations hanging from the ceiling.
She turned to him. “I thought you promised I wouldn’t fall.”
“You caught me off guard!” He threw his head back and laughed.
His laughter was contagious, and she joined him, too amused to be embarrassed.
“Let’s try that again.” He rose and pulled her up. “This time, don’t freak out. Okay?”
“Freak out?” She shoved him. “That was not me freaking out.”
He rubbed his elbow. “Tell that to my bruise.”
She snickered. “I’m sure it isn’t half as bad as the one I’m going to have.”
“Hopefully, those will be the only ones we get tonight.”
Alisyn grimaced. “I wouldn’t hold your breath. If you want to get out of here unscathed, you might want to run.”
He shook his head. “Not a chance. I’m not giving up on you.”
Alisyn’s breath caught. The intensity in his eyes made it seem like his words meant much more than just skating.
This scene just makes me giggle since one of my first dates involved skating (though mine was ice skating) and I was about as proficient as Alisyn. Be sure to preorder if you haven't already and consider joining us for our Facebook launch party (just click the image to go there). We would love to see you (and your furry friends) there!
Have a great weekend, readers!
Happy Friday, readers! And it's the first day of autumn to boot, which brings us just that much closer to the release of Fall Into Romance. Are you excited? I know I am! Today I have Raine English with me to share her favorite scene from her novella, At Second Glance.
USA Today bestselling author Raine English always wanted to be a writer. She began her career as a journalist, but writing romance novels was her passion. Her books have won many awards, including finalling in the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart and winning the Daphne du Maurier Award. When not behind her computer, you can usually find her reading. She lives in New England with her family and two French bulldogs, Bailey and Dolly.
When asked why she picked this particular scene, Raine said, "There’s a lot going on in this scene, and it sets up a couple of major plot points. I love the way Claire and Julian interact with each other over his wanting to adopt Tank. And then there’s the part where Claire sees Gracie with another man and questions whether her sister’s marriage is in trouble."
So what is At Second Glance about? It can be summed up in one sentence:
Can an ornery French bulldog help a mismatched couple find love?
Claire was so glad it wasn’t raining. Whenever you went to an outdoor event in Romance, you ran the risk of getting wet. Luckily, that wouldn’t be the case today at the town festival. It was partly cloudy and cool, but there was no rain in sight.
The event was a big deal, and people were already lined up outside the entry gate, even though it wasn’t due to open for another thirty minutes. The smells coming from the nearby food booths were making her mouth water, and she knew she’d wind up eating more than she should today. Add that to the fact that she overindulged last night when she went out to dinner with Gracie, and there was no doubt that she’d need to go on a diet by the time she headed home. But she considered this time in Oregon a vacation, and she intended to enjoy it.
Claire was happy that Gracie had agreed to come today. She didn’t know how long her sister would stay, but at least she was here and out of the house, even if only for a while. She’d left her at the craft booths, where Gracie had been looking at some handmade jewelry.
The animal adoption station was under a large white tent. Brent had pulled up all the sides in order for there to be a full view of the animals’ kennels. She’d been able to convince him to bring Tank, as long as she promised to keep watch over him. Although he wasn’t near ready to be adopted out, she hated to leave him behind. This would give him the opportunity to be around a large number of people and for her to see how he reacted.
She’d put his kennel at the back of the tent, not wanting to draw attention to him. Tank seemed perfectly content chewing his bone, and as long as Claire sat next to his cage, there was no growling. Brent had a large number of volunteers, all determined to find homes for as many of the animals today as possible, so she was more than willing to take a backseat and let them deal with the public. She’d stay with Tank and make sure all the animals had enough water and that their cages were clean.
Once the gate opened, she settled back in her chair with a hot cup of coffee and watched the parade of people flow by. It didn’t take long for a number of the smaller dogs to get adopted. Even a large hound went to a young couple within the first hour. At this rate, there might not be any dogs left for her to take back to Doggie Town. She glanced over at Tank, who was asleep on his back with all four legs up in the air. His future, though, was yet to be determined. He might not be the easiest dog to find a home for, especially, after she was gone. It was very apparent he needed tons of attention, which wasn’t unusual for the breed. But it took a special kind of person to commit the time required to keep a dog like Tank from developing a whole host of behavioral issues.
Claire was just about to go get a refill on her coffee when a familiar face entered the tent. Her breath hitched in her throat when Julian Barnett’s clear blue eyes locked with hers. He made his way through the crowd that packed the tent to stand in front of her.
“Looks like the Finding Forever booth is the hit of the festival,” he said, flashing her a brilliant smile.
“Rightfully so. These animals deserve to be in good homes, not in kennels.”
His gaze shifted over to Tank, who had flipped over onto his belly and was eyeing Julian with uncertainty. His curled lip was back as was his grumble. “Who’s this guy?” he asked, placing his hand on the top of Tank’s cage. Big mistake, as the dog leapt up and let loose a full-out snarl.
He quickly pulled back his hand. “Are all the dogs this friendly?”
“Tank has some emotional issues.”
“I can see that,” he said with quiet emphasis.
“He was given up by his family just the other day, so it’s going to take him some time to get over losing his home,” Claire replied, sticking her hand in the kennel so that Tank could lick it.
“He likes you well enough.”
“It’s a case of understanding the breed. Frenchies need lots of love and attention. They’re not the kind of dog you can leave home alone all day. If you do, you’ll find that they can become very destructive.”
“I want to adopt him.”
Claire’s brows shot up “What? As you can see, he’s not ready for adoption, and I haven’t even given him a temperament test yet.”
“I don’t care about that. I’ve already seen what his temperament is.”
“T-today’s not a true indication of what his true temperament is,” she stuttered, completely at a loss as to why Julian would want Tank. “Look!” She pointed to the other kennels. “There are plenty of dogs you can adopt. Just not this one.”
“But that’s the one I want.”
“Why?” she asked, not trying in the least to keep her annoyance from showing.
“It’s obvious he needs to be with someone who can give him lots of affection. You said that yourself. I can do that. I can even take him to work with me. I’ll bet with your help, before long Tank and I will be great buddies.”
Claire’s jaw dropped open. “What do you mean, with my help?”
“I want to hire you to help me work with Tank.”
Claire’s face grew hot, and her temper was rising. She made a concerted effort to keep her voice low. “This isn’t about what you want. It’s about what’s best for the dog.”
“And you don’t think I can provide a good home?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“Then what did you say?”
“Look, Tank’s not ready to go anywhere yet. He needs lots of work.”
“Exactly why I want to hire you. Why should Tank have to spend more time in a cage when he can have the run of my house? I’ll bet that’ll make him feel better in no time. Besides, there’s no one there but me. And if he bites me, I take full responsibility.”
“I don’t want him biting anyone. Not even you.”
“I’m glad to hear that your feelings for me are improving.”
For the first time in ages, Claire was at a loss for words. Julian Barnett was the most incorrigible man she’d ever met.
Unfortunately, this was the moment that Brent decided to come over to say hello. “Hey, Julian! How are you? Looking to adopt today?”
Julian’s glance shot from Brent over to Claire and then back to Brent. “As a matter of fact, I am.”
“Fantastic. I’ve got a great lab mix over here.”
But as Brent started to walk across the tent, Julian stopped him by saying, “I’ve been talking to Claire about adopting Tank.”
Brent ran a hand through his hair. “And what did she say?”
“That Tank needs a temperament test first, but I really don’t care about that. I want to hire Claire to help with the dog’s adjustment to me and my home.”
To Claire’s horror, Brent grinned. “That’s great. I was worried about being able to place Tank, but this seems like the perfect solution.” Brent turned to her. “Thanks so much for agreeing to do that.”
Claire opened her mouth to protest, but snapped it shut as she thought better of it. This wasn’t the time or place to get into an argument. Best to wait until later to voice her objections. But then things went from bad to worse when Brent and Julian went over to the table and began doing up the adoption papers. A few minutes later, they were back.
“Since you’re not going to be in Romance that long, why don’t you do the temperament test tomorrow, Claire? And if all goes well, you can bring Tank over to Julian’s and begin training. How does that sound?” Brent asked.
“Fine,” she replied through gritted teeth.
“How’s one o’clock?” Julian asked, looking like the cat who’d just swallowed the canary.
“That’s fine too,” Claire replied, shooting him a tight-lipped smile.
“Good! You know how to get to the Barnett Winery?”
“Of course,” she said sourly.
“My parents’ house is right next door. Mine is next to that. It’s the tan one-level home. You can’t miss it. Well, guess I better get back to my booth.” Before he left, he leaned toward Tank’s kennel. The dog let out a low growl. “See you tomorrow. Before long, we’re going to be great buddies.” Julian whistled a happy tune as he walked away.
Claire wished she felt as confident that Tank would bond with him, but right now, she had no way of knowing if that would happen. All she could do was hope and make sure that she did all that she could to integrate the dog into Julian’s home.
The crowd in the booth had thinned a little, so she went to Nicole and said, “I’m going to take a quick break and go grab something to eat. Will you keep an eye on Tank?” What Claire really needed was to walk off some of this stress.
“Sure.” She set down the clipboard she’d been holding and stuck her hand into her pant pocket, pulling out a five-dollar bill. “Would you mind stopping at the doughnut booth on your way back and getting me an apple caramel one?”
“Of course, and I don’t need your money. It’s on me. My thanks for watching the grumbler while I’m gone.”
“Claire, you don’t have to do that. Here, take it.” She held out her hand, but Claire pushed it away.
“I’ll see you in a bit.” She wound through a crowd of people watching a pumpkin-pie baking contest and wondered if Gracie was in among them. It would be nice to have lunch with her. Having company might help to take her mind off Tank’s adoption to Julian Barnett.
She found an empty spot next to the photo booth and took her cell phone out of her pocket, but as she began dialing her sister, she caught a glimpse of hot pink—the same color as the shirt Gracie had on—and turned her attention to a couple about twelve feet away. She quickly hung up her phone. It was Gracie, and she was with a very attractive man. Claire recognized Tim Hayden as one of the guys her sister used to date back in high school. He didn’t look much different from the prom picture she’d seen of him last night that Gracie had on the bedroom floor.
A huge, painful knot twisted inside her. They were standing awfully close together, and Gracie’s face held an expression that Claire hadn’t seen since they were young. It was full of life, and she looked exactly like that beautiful teenager everyone in Romance had adored.
She quickly looked away as a heaviness settled in her chest. Was Gracie’s marriage in trouble? Was that what had been bothering her? She prayed that wasn’t the case, but from what she’d just seen, it appeared likely that it might very well be.
Could this day get any worse, she thought as she headed over to the doughnut booth. What should have been a perfect Saturday, had turned out to be anything but… “I’ll have two apple caramel doughnuts,” she said to the heavy-set man working the booth. What the heck. Her diet had been shot the moment she set foot in Romance.
Poor Claire sounds like she's got her work cut out for her! Have you ever found yourself cornered into doing something you really didn't want to?
Oh my goodness, readers, do you ever have one of those days where you have a million things to do and you get literally zero accomplished? That was my day yesterday, so here we are on Saturday having our Fall Into Romance interview because yesterday was just not happening. But I'm so excited to have author Tamie Dearen with us today to share her favorite scene from Restoring Romance. I've had the privilege of reading this one and it is such a fun story!
First, let's learn a little about Tamie. Tamie Dearen lives in Texas with her very romantic husband—the inspiration for her romance heroes. They have two beautiful daughters, both of whom are happily married, and they’ve been blessed with two awesome grandsons. A dentist in private practice for thirty years, Tamie plays a variety of musical instruments and spends every available spare minute writing books.
Sounds fun and busy! As I said earlier, I really loved reading Restoring Romance and one of my favorite scenes is the one Tamie is sharing with us today. Of it, she said, "Adam spies a new girl in town—one who’s very attractive—at the pet adoption tent, with a cat in her arms. Adam, who is terribly allergic to cats, rushes over to intervene, taking with him a humongous mutt dog to offer as a substitute."
Curious to know more about Restoring Romance?
She’s a big city chef who likes cats. He’s a small town mayor who restores antiques. But even with feline allergies at play, true love is nothing to sneeze at.
When Ash Hendrix moves into her aunt’s historic home in Romance, Oregon, she’s ready to bring New York City style to the sleepy little town. But her dream of remodeling the old home into a stylish restaurant is cut short when the mayor interferes. Her opposite in every way, the infuriating Adam is the last man she could ever be attracted to. So why can’t she stop thinking about him?
Mayor Adam Walker can’t believe the cute blond he met at the festival is the woman who’s trying to destroy his family’s legacy. Initially intent on shutting down her plans, he’s shocked to find himself wanting to fulfill them, instead. But she doesn’t trust him. And why would she, with her traumatic past and his earlier antagonism?
Can these two opposites find happily-ever-after? Not without a little help from their friends and family… and a can of pink paint.
“You’re not planning to adopt that cat, are you?” Adam asked.
“As a matter of fact, I am. Why shouldn’t I?” She lifted her chin, somehow managing to look down her nose at him while he towered over her. It was so adorable, he couldn’t help smiling.
“You might want to consider other options… better options… A dog, perhaps?” Adam swept his arm back in a grand gesture toward Kujo. “Perhaps this cute guy—he could be a companion and provide protection from… from criminals.”
Her plump kissable lips made a surprised O. “Is there a lot of crime, here?”
“Mmm… not usually, but you never know. Just to be on the safe side, you should consider getting a watch dog.”
Kujo let out a deep woof that rattled Adam’s ribcage, and the cat shrieked, struggling in the girl’s arms. She edged away a few steps.
“I think I need protection from that monster, not by him. Anyway, I’m happy with my choice.”
“Why would you want a cat when you could have a dog? Dogs are so much better.”
“I like cats.” Her eyes narrowed to angry blue slits.
Adam knew he wasn’t making a good first impression, but he figured he could make up for it later. After he prevented this disastrous adoption. Desperate times—desperate measures.
“But a dog loves you, while a cat merely tolerates your existence as a slave.”
“Dogs slobber on your clothes and chew up your shoes.”
“Cats scratch your furniture and spit up hairballs.”
“Dogs lick their private parts and then lick your mouth.”
Hmmm… she had a point. What else could he say to convince her? “I didn’t want to tell you, but this is the last chance for Kujo. He has to find a home today, or they’ll put him down tomorrow.”
He regretted his hasty words the instant tears puddled in her round eyes. Her lip trembled as she stuttered, “I… I still can’t…”
“Adam Walker! Why are you lying to Ash about Kujo?” Erin Walker appeared out of nowhere, waving a finger in his face, and he stepped back in the wake of her fury. Kujo added another deafening bark and the cat howled. Her finger moved down to poke against his chest. “You know good and well Brent would never put an animal down. That’s the whole point of the Finding Forever Animal Rescue.”
“I was only teasing.” He lifted his palms in supplication.
“Ash, I apologize for my brother-in-law’s behavior. There’s no excuse for him.” Erin scowled, her hands on her hips, and Ash matched her angry expression.
“It was just a joke, Erin. Give me a break. I’ll make it up to you.”
Erin crossed her arms as an evil smile slid onto her face.
Oh no! What have I done?
Erin whispered something in Ash’s ear, something that made her press her lips together, as if she were trying not to laugh.
“I suppose, we might be persuaded to forgive you…” Erin opened her eyes wide and blinked rapidly, adopting an innocent tone. “Yes, I think we could forgive you if you adopted Kujo. After all, he’s been looking for a home for a long time.”
“Wait a minute, Erin…”
“Why wouldn’t you adopt Kujo?” Ash stepped closer, glaring up at him, the cat still in her arms. “Weren’t you telling me what a good idea it would be to adopt him. Why not do it yourself?”
Adam let out a violent sneeze.
“Bless you.” Erin and Ash said in unison.
“I don’t need a dog.” He rubbed his itchy eyes on his sleeve. “And besides, who could afford to feed this guy. He weighs more than me.”
Erin made a tsking noise. “You should have thought of that before you got Kujo’s hopes up.”
His sister-in-law was a python, and Adam was her helpless prey. The coils squeezed around his neck. He couldn’t speak.
Erin strode away, calling over her shoulder, “I’ll go get the adoption papers.”
I hope you enjoyed this scene as much as I did. I was torn between feeling sorry for Adam and laughing because he got just what he deserved. Have you ever played a joke that backfired on you?
Just under three weeks until release day! We're excited to share this fun set with you!
It's been a long time since I used my blog for a rant, but I've been letting this one boil under my skin for too long and it's time to let it out. This is not directed at a single person, though there are parts that probably sound like they are, but rather a group of people who seem to think it's okay to get snarky when a parent complains about having a rough day.
Let me give you a quick word of advice: keep your snark monster to yourself.
Look, I get it. Those of you who are older and "wiser" parents might think you've got lots of great advice for the struggling parent. And sometimes you do give great advice. But there is a time and a place to give advice and there's a time to just keep quiet. Or at least pretend to be sympathetic. Those of you who don't have children might see that complaint and think to yourselves, "What did you think would happen when you had that baby?" Or you might just not realize that sometimes parenting is rough. However, whether you are an older parent, childless, or also a younger parent, it is never okay to get snarky with a struggling parent. Ever. And really, let's extend this to it's just not okay to get snarky with someone who is struggling, no matter how small the struggle may seem to you.
It might be tempting when you see that parent who always seems to complain about her children being out of control to say something about discipline. But unless she asked for your advice, do not give it. The reality is: she probably does discipline her children. But guess what? Children sometimes misbehave no matter what type of discipline program you use. That young parent might still be trying to find what works for her children. And with the sheer number of mommy blogs claiming to have the perfect solution to any parenting problem, finding what works can be surprisingly difficult. Or, she might have a system that normally works great for her children and they're just having a bad day. Don't make her day worse by giving her some snarky comment. She doesn't need to hear, "Oh, it only gets worse" or "Someday you'll miss this" or "Enjoy this while you can" or any other mix of those messages. Oh, and for those who are childless, this is absolutely not the time to say, "This is why I don't have children." What she needs to hear is, "I'm sorry you're having a rough day" or "This too shall pass" or "Hang in there, mama, you're doing fine."
Yesterday, I was that struggling mom. My kiddos were bouncing-off-the-walls crazy. I normally don't like to complain on Facebook, in part because I get really sick of the snark monsters showing up on my posts. But yesterday, they were so awful, I wanted to be able to vent. Even just a little bit and release some of that steam. And I was trying to lighten my own mood and situation by reminding myself that as bad as my children were being in that moment, they aren't always like that. So I let my Facebook friends know that my children were driving me crazy and were about to discover that early bedtime is a thing. The first two comments were what I needed. Another mom was struggling with her rowdy kiddos too and agreed that early bedtime sounded like a great plan. The next let me know that I was doing fine and my kiddos loved me. Trust me, I needed that reminder. Because right then I was questioning that.
Then the next comment implied that early bedtime would only work for as long as my children couldn't tell time and to enjoy being able to do that while I can.
Let me tell you what, I got mad. My day was already in shambles and I was not in a good mood. Having someone imply that I would stoop to tricking my children into thinking it actually was bedtime incensed me further. For one, I'm too dang lazy to change every clock in my house because seriously, do you realize how many clocks I have in my house between appliances, actual clocks, and media devices? For two, my oldest already can tell time, both on a digital display and a regular, twelve-hour clock. So, attempting to tell him, "Oh it's bedtime" isn't going to work. And for three, deceiving my children about the time in an effort to get them to bed early completely misses the point of, "You're in trouble and as punishment, you are now going to bed."
So, I'll be honest, I let my own snark monster out a bit and replied that deception wasn't the aim and my children were going to know they were going to bed early because they were in trouble.
And the commenter didn't get the hint to drop it. No, they had to come back and respond that putting children to bed early more often punishes the parents than the children.
Seriously? At that point, I knew this blog post would be written, but I waited overnight so I could allow at least some of my anger to melt off. Parenting can be punishing at times. I can agree to that. But you have no right whatsoever to question how I discipline my children. None. I don't really care what worked for you or your children because you are not me and your children are not my children. Let me tell you, there was weeping and wailing at my house when the kiddos realized I was serious about them going to bed early. And it was not me weeping and wailing. They were losing out on playtime and they knew it. They were missing out on dessert and they knew it. They were missing out on seeing Daddy get home from the football game. And they knew it. For my children, going to bed early as a punishment works. Do they end up waking earlier because of it? Sometimes yes, this time no. Would that work for every child? No, obviously it wouldn't. Some children would consider going to bed early a treat. And some children just wouldn't care. But for my children, this solution worked. Do I think it will work forever? No, I don't. But I'm not a one-trick parenting pony. I have many tools in my parenting arsenal and this is just one of them. One that I use only when I'm about to completely and totally lose my mind.
There is enough judgement in our world without adding to it. In fact, there is way too much judgement going around in our world. Social media is like a judgement breeding ground. Rather than adding fuel to that raging wildfire by getting snarky, can't you just keep it to yourself? I can't stop you from thinking it, and I honestly wouldn't try to. Your thoughts and opinions are your own and that's fine. However, just because it comes into your head doesn't mean it should come out of your mouth or through your fingers online.
So please, keep your snark monster to yourself. I don't need him running amok on my Facebook. If you need to, go watch Bambi and listen to Thumper. "If you can't say nothin' nice, don't say nothin' at all."
Anyone else feel like time just keeps speeding up on them? It's Friday and this week I have the delightful Melanie D. Snitker on my blog with her contribution to Fall Into Romance, Finding Forever in Romance. Melanie has enjoyed writing for as long as she can remember. She started out creating episodes of cartoon shows that she wanted to see as a child and her love of writing grew from there. She and her husband live in Texas with their two children who keep their lives full of adventure, and two dogs who add a dash of mischief to the family dynamics. In her spare time, Melanie enjoys photography, reading, crochet, baking, camping, and hanging out with family and friends.
In our boxed set, Melanie's story is the one that sets the stage for the rest of us. It is in Finding Forever in Romance we learn more about the animal shelter and the people who run it. Curious to know more?
From the time he was a child, Brent Todd has helped lost pets find healing and homes. Now, he runs Romance's Finding Forever Animal Rescue. Amid the dogs, cats, donkeys, goats, and exotic animals in his care, he convinces himself he has everything he needs. Then a beautiful woman and her son volunteer to help at the shelter. Brent soon realizes he needs more than the rescue animals to fill the empty spaces in his heart and home.
Dedicated to raising her son, Nicole Crawford views romance as a lovely idea. But between being a single mom and the pain of her past, she refuses to dwell on something so out of reach. To teach her son about helping others, they volunteer at Finding Forever on a temporary basis. But the more time she spends with Brent, the more she realizes it'll be impossible to walk away from him and the shelter with her heart intact. Together, maybe Brent and Nicole will discover a forever family of their own.
The scene we have today isn't at the shelter, but showcases Nicole's workplace. Melanie said of this scene, "This takes place at Romance’s local roller skating rink. Nicole works there and Brent decided to go to the family skate night, hoping for an opportunity to spend some time with her. He’s been skating for a while as he waited for Nicole to get a break from working the front counter.
"My brothers and I were homeschooled and when we were teens, one of the monthly activities was roller skating. We looked forward to it each time. They’d play our favorite songs and we’d laugh, visit with friends, and sing along. I also played roller hockey with a homeschool team and later in college with a small-time league. When I wrote this scene, it made me smile and brought back all those happy memories. My husband and I now homeschool our children, and our local group has roller skating every week. I still strap on a pair of inline skates and get on the rink with my kids from time to time."
And now for our scene:
Brent checked the time. With over a half hour until Nicole would get a breather, he decided he’d better sit down for a while. Otherwise, he’d be done before he even got a chance to spend time with her. He found a spot at one of the few picnic-style tables on one end and enjoyed watching all the people skate, laugh, and visit.
A while later, a shadow fell on him and stopped. Nicole stood in front of him, hands on her hips and inline skates on her feet. “I’m surprised you’re still here.”
Brent shrugged. “Sometimes I don’t know when to quit.” He gave her a pointed stare and was satisfied to see pink creep up her neck and into her face. “You’ve been working hard.”
She glanced over at the front desk. “The hardest part of my evening is over. Natalie will keep an eye on the front counter for the rest of the evening. Now I just need to stay awake.”
“If there are no more people coming in, what do you do for the rest of the evening?”
“I’m mostly a chaperone. Concessions and the skate counter are manned by other people.” She pointed toward the DJ. “And I could only choose the music once before getting kicked out of that spot.” They laughed. “I usually end up skating for a while and visiting with people. But yeah, Friday nights are long ones by the time we clean up and close.”
“So, if I head back onto the rink, I might run into you out there?” He crossed his arms in front of him, well aware he’d presented a dare.
She shrugged but couldn’t quite keep the amusement from her face. “Maybe.”
The DJ put on the original Ghostbusters song and most of the people on the rink cheered and sang along. Brent laughed. “I haven’t heard that one in ages.”
“Trust me, if you stick around here in the evenings, you’ll hear many songs from your childhood.”
Brent stood and skated onto the rink, happy to see Nicole was right behind him. They joined the crowd and skated side-by-side for a while. Ten minutes later, the DJ announced it was now couples only, and you had to be holding hands to stay on the rink.
A lot of people found a partner to skate with whether it was a parent, sibling, friend, or spouse. Brent held a hand out to Nicole. “Don’t leave me out here all by myself.” He winked.
She shook her head at him as if she didn’t quite know what to do with him before sliding her hand into his. The surrounding air had chilled her skin as they’d skated, and he liked the idea of warming it back up again. He laced their fingers together and gave her hand a squeeze. This felt right; as if her hand belonged in his.
They skated past the tables as Tony took a seat at one of them. “I take it your son isn’t a fan of couple’s skate.”
Nicole laughed at that and seemed relieved to have something else to focus on. “Oh, no. He’s at the age where the thought of participating in any way may as well signal the end of life as we know it.”
Brent chuckled. “I remember those days.”
“Yep, I’m fine with them. I’m not ready for him to grow up yet. Girlfriends, jobs, etc. I want to hold onto my boy a little longer if I can.”
They made their way around the rink as Brent studied her profile. “I’m surprised there aren’t guys lined up waiting to skate with you tonight.”
Nicole noticeably picked up the pace and seemed to look anywhere else but him. He’d assumed she was still single. What if that wasn’t the case? The thought of anyone else out here holding her hand caused a mix of protectiveness and jealousy to rise in his chest. When Nicole said nothing, he tugged on her hand just enough to slow her down. She glanced at him.
Brent had to know, even if roller skating might not be the most appropriate place to ask. “Are you seeing anyone?”
She gave her head a little shake. “No.”
Who knew one little word could inspire such a sense of relief? He flashed her a smile. “Good.”
Such fun! Did you ever have to work at getting someone to date you?
If you've been following my blog for a while, you'll already know that this week's author is one of my favorites. She's a talented writer, a wonderful friend, and about the sweetest and most encouraging woman you could hope to meet. Yes, I'm talking about the fabulous Shanna Hatfield. This week she's joining me to share her favorite scene from her contribution to the Fall Into Romance set, Blown Into Romance. A little about her:
After spending her formative years on a farm in Eastern Oregon, hopeless romantic Shanna Hatfield turns her rural experiences into sweet historical and contemporary romances filled with sarcasm, humor, and hunky heroes.
When this USA Today bestselling author isn’t writing or covertly hiding decadent chocolate from the other occupants of her home, Shanna hangs out with her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller.
Shanna loves to hear from readers. Follow her online at:
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The scene she shared is both hilarious and sweet. She says of it, "I like this scene for a number of reasons. It shows how desperate Brooke is for help. She's used to taking care of everything herself so for her to call someone and ask for help is huge. I like the humor element. I mean, what would you do if you came home and found three little piglets had escaped their confines and were running loose in your house (or business full of breakable glass objects)? It also illustrates Blayne's character to perfection. He doesn't ask people "why do you need my help?" Instead, he jumps in to lend a hand. Oh, and let's not forget the hint of romance. Even though they just met, you get a clear idea that Brooke is interested in Blayne, at least that deep, gravelly voice of his. "
Curious about the story? Artist Brooke Roberts spent her life without roots, wandering from town to town. When she seeks refuge from a freak storm in the town of Romance, she decides to stay and open a blown glass studio. Determined to immerse herself in the community, she adopts a family of pigs. Brooke is unprepared for the chaos and comfort they bring to her world, or the dashing cowboy who rescues her heart.
Solid, dependable Blayne Grundy runs a busy ranch, volunteers on various committees, and takes in stray animals too large to stay at the local animal rescue. Then a chance encounter with a beautiful, beguiling woman leaves him so befuddled, he can barely remember his own name. His predictable organized life is about to be blown away by free-spirited Brooke.
A sweet, lighthearted novella, Blown Into Romance highlights the mighty power of love and letting go.
And now, let's go see what Brooke needs help with...
She opened the back door and stepped inside, listening to squeals and unhappy oinks emanating from the pig room.
“I’m coming, Winnie,” she called, racing to the room. Much to her dismay, she found only Winnie and little Roo in the room. The three boys had edged away the piece of plywood she’d used to block the doorway and escaped.
“Oh, this is bad,” she said, tossing down her purse and searching for the missing piglets. She found Eeyore curled up on her shop apron, taking a nap. Robin had somehow climbed into a box of labels and whined in protest when she lifted him out.
“You need to stay out of places you shouldn’t be, Robin,” she admonished the pig as she set him back in the room with his mother. “Where’s Tigger?” she asked, wishing he’d magically appear.
An hour later, she still hadn’t found the piglet. She’d searched every inch of her workshop as well as the front of the store. She’d crawled around her apartment, looking under furniture, in her closet, even beneath her bed.
Frantic, out of patience, and uncertain what to do, she riffled through her junk drawer, desperate to find Blayne’s card. Finally locating it in a stack of junk mail she hadn’t opened, she dialed his number and waited. And waited.
On the fourth ring, he answered.
If she hadn’t been on the verge of hysteria about her pigs, that deep gravelly tone might have sent her into an entirely different sort of fit, one that would have turned her limbs languid and brain to mush. As it was, though, she had more important problems than the way her body and soul ached to react to his voice.
“Blayne?” she asked, completely aware she spoke to him. No one else could make her knees turn to a gelatinous mass just by uttering a simple greeting.
“Yes,” he said, sounding cautious.
“This is Brooke. Brooke Roberts. We met yesterday at the festival and you helped me bring home my pigs.”
“How are the little oinkers?” he asked, a smile evident in his voice.
“Horrible!” Brooke took a deep breath to keep her tears at bay. “I went to the feed store to buy food and the woman there kept trying to sell me stuff for a cat. The guy at the pet store told me to go the feed store. If I go back there, I might just smack the woman into next week if she tells me I need catnip again. I came home to find the pigs had escaped and I can’t find Tigger. I’m a terrible adoptive parent! Maybe I should send them back to Brent or someone who doesn’t lose baby pigs. Winnie’s starving and I don’t know what to do.” She rambled. “I don’t know why I called you, but I’m just… I’m at…”
Rather than ask her questions, tell her to calm down, or laugh at her, he simply said, “I’m on my way.”
Poor Brooke! Have your pets ever gotten into mischief you couldn't solve on your own?
Only about a month until Fall Into Romance releases! Preorder now for a great deal on a fun, romantic set.
Jessica L. Elliott
Author, artist, mom and super-genius