A Small Town Escape

I’ve talked about how I’m finding more quiet time away from the city lately, and spending that time in nature has made me nostalgic for the days when I lived in a small town. Sure, there are drawbacks from living outside of a city, like not having access to arts and culture like museums and theaters. But, the allure of wide open spaces and the sweet serenade of birds over traffic and construction noise are powerfully persuasive.

Although I have no immediate plans to leave the city, I can visit a small town (based on the one I grew up in) called Clear Lake and so can you. Good With His Hands is about a hot small town mechanic and the reluctantly relocated journalist who fall for each other despite their differences and amid some small town gossip drama 😀

Here’s an excerpt if you’d like to know a little more about Jake and Gabby.

book cover with shirtless man in foreground with hot rod vehicle in backgroundEvery woman wants a man who is good with his hands…

He’s a sexy bad boy mechanic with a reputation. She’s a guarded reporter with too much to lose to play with fire. She tries to resist him but one touch from him changes everything. 

Recent college graduate Gabby Richards has big plans for her life. At the top of those plans is landing a job for a major magazine in Chicago. While Gabby is busy mapping out her career as a journalist, her father gets seriously injured. Upon hearing of his accident, Gabby drops everything, including her career plans, and heads home to her small, rural town of Clear Lake, but vows to return to Chicago as soon as her father is well.

On her first day back in her hometown she has a run-in with the town’s sexy new mechanic, Jake Harrison, and meeting him turns everything upside-down. Despite her wishes to remain single, she doesn’t see the harm in going on a few dates with him. Soon Jake is helping Gabby confront her past and bringing out a side of her that has remained hidden for years. Even though she wants to remain focused on her career and return to her city life, she begins to wonder if it’s possible to have it all—career, her dream life in Chicago, and Jake Harrison.

 

“Sorry, do I have something on my face?” Gabby asked him earnestly.

Jake merely chuckled and shook his head.

“Then what’s wrong? Why are you staring and how come you’re not eating?”

“I love how you’re always so subtle,” Jake said with a laugh. “I was just wondering why you don’t like Clear Lake. What is it about this place that you claim bothers you so much? I say claim because from the way you’re chowing down on that sandwich, and the sparkle I saw in your eyes when you talked about your stories, you seem pretty happy to me. I think you’re determined not to like this town, for some reason, but it’s not working.”

Gabby felt a knot form in the pit of her stomach and she put the half-eaten gargantuan sandwich on her plate. Despite the fact that she didn’t like where Jake was going with the conversation, she felt he deserved some kind of answer. She didn’t know if she wanted to tell him the truth. It was so personal. She lifted her gaze from her Big Henry up into his concerned blue eyes. 

“There are a lot of things about Clear Lake I’d rather forget. When I look around, I don’t see anything but a lot of bad memories and things I wish had never happened. I’m sorry if that doesn’t make sense to you, but it’s the truth,” she said as she threw her napkin down next to her plate.

“So you don’t have to worry about bad memories in Chicago? To you, it’s safe, in that respect, that’s why you’re so determined to run back there the first chance you get,” he said matter-of-factly.

Gabby was shocked at how rude he was being. She opened her mouth to speak, but didn’t know what to say to him. Jake could never understand what it felt like to lose a parent, to watch them suffer and waste away and know there was nothing you could do to help them or stop it from happening. 

She felt tears spring in her eyes, and at the risk of having Jake see her cry, she bolted for the restroom, while muttering an ‘excuse me’ over her shoulder. She nearly bumped into their waitress in her hurry to reach the bathroom. 

Gabby leaned over the sink and took several deep breaths, determined not to cry. She wanted to get angry at Jake, she wanted to march straight out to their table and give him a piece of her mind. She wanted to tell him what an ignorant comment he’d made and that their date on Saturday was off.

However, she didn’t want to make a scene in the dining area and be the talk of the town for weeks. If not months, she thought sardonically. She decided the silent treatment would be better and probably a lot more effective.

When she went back out to the booth, Jake was throwing some cash down on the table to pay their tab. Gabby headed for the door and was waiting inside the hot truck for him when he got outside and cranked the engine to life.

“I’m sorry if what I said upset you.”

Gabby sat staring out the passenger window, feeling all her resolve to tell Jake off fade away. “It’s not just what you said Jake. It’s okay. I don’t expect you to know what it feels like to lose a parent. You probably can’t even imagine the pain of driving by the hospital where your mom spent weeks lying in a bed under fluorescent lighting when she should have been at home, gardening, cooking dinner and living her life. 

“I don’t expect you to understand how everywhere I go and everything I see is overtaken by memories. I don’t expect you to know what it’s like to not only be haunted by what has happened, but also what could have been,” she wiped a tear that had rolled down her cheek and faced Jake. “So, you’re right in one respect, Jake. Chicago is safe, there are not bad memories, there are not good memories. It’s just a place. It’s some place I can just be Gabby, not poor Gabby who lost her mom to cancer, not a sob story, I’m just me. Like I said, you probably can’t get that.”

Jake let out a long sigh and Gabby thought to herself, I sure told him.

“It’s funny you say that I wouldn’t understand Gabby, when I understand perfectly. I lost my mom too. Not to cancer, a car accident. I don’t know what’s worse, watching your parent slip away, little by little, or to have her suddenly taken away, like my mom was. 

“I know exactly what you’re saying about the memories, Gabby. I felt the same way after my mom died and I had to pass by the stretch of road where she was hit. It was like a knife in my stomach every time I saw that spot. Then my grandpa died and when I found out my dad didn’t want to take over the business and move here, I jumped at the chance. 

“I left my hometown for the same reasons you’re trying to leave yours, Gabby and I don’t want you to make the same mistakes I have. Sooner or later the pain resurfaces, I may not have to see the spot where my mom died every day, but it doesn’t change the fact that she’s not around anymore. Maybe you can find a way to still be connected to your mom. I started running as a way to connect with mine, when I’m running, it’s like…I can feel her presence.”

He reached for her hand and pulled her toward him across the bench seat. 

“I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings, I was only trying to help,” he said as he stared deep into her hazel eyes.

“It’s not your fault, Jake,” she said in a husky voice. 

She was so close to him she could smell the shop fluids on his uniform, and feel the heat radiating from his body. She felt Jake remove his hand from hers and she experienced a pang of disappointment. When he placed his hand on the back of Gabby’s bare neck, her heart raced. Jake angled his head toward hers and she parted her lips in anticipation of his kiss. 

Gabby grasped his shoulders and felt Jake’s surprisingly soft embrace. Maybe it was the emotions of the moment, but his kiss wasn’t as insistent as it normally was. Despite it being a mellower kiss, her heartbeat accelerated, her anger totally evaporated now. She let out a contented sigh and was about to wind her fingers through his hair when someone honked their horn. Startled, she and Jake broke apart. 

“Way to go, Jake,” a man called from a vehicle nearby. 

He continued to grin goofily at the couple as he walked into the barbeque joint. Gabby felt her cheeks flame in response to their audience. So much for keeping her dates with Jake a secret and not being the talk of the town.

Interested in more? Find Good With His Hands at  Amazon, Amazon CA, Amazon UK, Apple, Barnes and Noble and Kobo.

 

A Steamy Kiss to Get You Through This Thursday

It’s Thursday. I don’t know about you, but I need help remembered what day it is. Quarantine has definitely got me…a little confused.

If you need a pick me up to get through the rest of this week, I’m sharing a sexy snippet from my latest release, Exclusively Hers.

There’s never been another man like him in her life. Heroic. Daring. Gorgeous.

When reporter Cassie Pierce interviews Aidan West at the scene of an accident, she’s mesmerized by his deep blue eyes and intense, laser-like focus. The fact that he pulled a pregnant woman and her small son from a wrecked vehicle after it plunged into a lake impresses her too. After the interview, Aidan makes one request, that she only refers to him as an anonymous Good Samaritan.

Dying to tell this story, she agrees to Aidan’s mysterious terms. Although everything between Aidan and Cassie is supposed to be all business, there’s an undeniable pull that’s impossible to resist. When Cassie agrees to go out with him she realizes Aidan has another side. His intense focus carries over to his love life. Aching to further explore the explosive chemistry between them, Cassie does something she’s never done before: becomes romantically involved with someone she’s interviewed.

As parts of Aidan’s past resurface her journalistic instinct flares, putting her in the uncomfortable position of choosing between love or a career-launching exclusive story.

Snippet:

“I had a great time tonight. It’s funny, but this didn’t feel like a first date.”

“It didn’t to me either. Normally things can seem…forced. I never felt that once tonight.”

“Me either,” he said and cupped her chin. 

They gazed into each other’s eyes a few moments until he tilted her head back and put his mouth to hers. Cassie started to part her lips, but it appeared Aidan was going for a short, quick kiss. He broke their hold, but wrapped his arms around her shoulders, pulling her head to his chest.

“I had a great time,” he said again. “But I should probably go before things get any farther.”

“Why? Who says things can’t go any further?”

He was quiet a moment and she felt his grip around her shoulders loosen slightly. 

“You’ve been drinking. I don’t want you to do something that you’ll regret later.”

“Look at my eyes,” she lifted her head from his chest. “You’re in security. You’ve probably had to handle your share of intoxicated people when they get loud and rowdy. Do I look drunk to you?”

His clear blue irises stared into hers for several moments.

“No, you don’t look drunk.”

“Then what’s the issue?”

“I like you and I want to see you again. You’re a good woman, Cassie. I don’t want to screw anything up because I can’t control myself around you.”

“So, a good woman can’t enjoy sex with someone she’s attracted to and has a good time being around? Come on, Aidan. I see what kind of person you are, with your intense, astute ways. I know control is important to you. It seems like you take pride in restraining yourself, but this is one time you can give in and let go of it.”

“No, that’s where you’re wrong.” 

She knitted her brows together, unsure of his meaning. 

“I am going to keep my control tonight.”

He wrapped his hands around either side of her head and drew her mouth to his. The second kiss was so different from the first. He wasn’t timid. It wasn’t the soft, reverential peck of man trying to test the waters. This was the hot, insistent kiss of a man in charge who knew what he wanted and had no problem claiming it. The pressure of his lips and commanding stroke of his tongue promised an experience just shy of sinful.

It was arousing as hell.

She let out a soft sigh when his tongue caressed hers. Cassie walked her fingers up the wide wall of his chest until she reached the smooth, firm column of his neck. She slid her hands around it and toward the back until she made contact with the hair at his nape. She entwined several of the thick, wavy strands through her fingers. 

He tilted her head back further and broke free from the kiss. She shivered as he trailed his lips down her jaw and along the side of her neck. His mouth nibbled on the sensitive spot, making her squirm beneath his hold. Her breathing was quick and shallow. She was sure that he could feel the speed of her pulse as he kissed the base of her throat.

Want to know what happens next? Get Exclusively Hers on Apple BooksBarnes & NobleKindle USKindle AUKindle CAKindle UK, and Kobo.