Here’s an excerpt and a recipe for romance from book 3, White Pearls. Comment on any post dated Jan 17 – 21 for a chance to win a copy. Commentors who’ve never won any of my books are eligible for a drawing for both White Doves & White Pearls. Deadline: Jan 22, Midnight Central time. Here’s Ryler & Shell:
Great, just what Shell needed to spoil the view from the balcony. A church full of Holy Rollers across the street. At least the old plantation sat back off the road a good two hundred yards. The Bible-thumpers wouldn’t be able to spy on her. With an exaggerated eye roll, she ran her forefinger and thumb back and forth over the faux pearl necklace she wore.
She stood at the railing and surveyed the grounds of the crumbling, two-story relic. Transform this place into a happening bed-and-breakfast? On the edge of town in tiny Rose Bud, Arkansas?
But the place had charm. It had obviously once been a grand estate. Oh the balls and cotillions this house must have hosted. Oh the grand, fine ladies who’d lived here. Grand, fine ladies who looked down their snooty noses on the likes of Shell Evans.
“Shell Evans.” A hoarse male voice came from behind her.
She stiffened. Probably a carpenter. How did he know her name already? She’d barely gotten here. Already the gossiping tongues wagged. Wade Fenwick’s floozy is in town. She could almost hear the whispers. Paranoid. Of course, her boss had told the man her name.
“Who wants to know?” She smiled, trying to sound confident as she turned to face him.
Her jaw dropped. Her heart skittered into overdrive. Her knees turned spongy and she leaned back against the railing.
If only this could be an April Fool’s joke.
A massive brick of a man—but she knew how gentle he could be. Despite his imposing size, he was easy to look at. Same model-worthy, sculpted bone structure with tousled dark waves almost brushing his shoulders, and haunting moss green eyes. Eyes that bore into her soul and seemed to hold all of life’s hurts in their endless depths.
Hurts she’d once tried to ease. Instead she’d almost lost her heart. “Darrell hired you?”
Something cracked. The railing gave way, and Shell screamed.
Ryler grabbed her arm and jerked her toward him. They landed in a heap by the door with her face buried in his solid chest. She pushed away from him.
He helped her up. “You okay?”
The balustrade where she’d stood was gone, leaving twisted, splintered wood in its wake. Yellow pollen dust smeared her pink T-shirt and jeans. She swiped at it with shaky hands, and managed to pat most of it out.
Ryler coughed and cleared his throat. A few gasps later, he caught his breath.
“Are you sick?”
“Allergies. All this pollen. If it’s green and grows in the spring, I’m allergic to it.”
“And you’re a landscaper?”
“Gotta make a living somehow.” Ryler ran a hand through his dark waves, sending them tumbling in disarray.
Shell swallowed hard.
“I don’t remember you having allergies before.” But she remembered everything else. His deep voice that sent shivers over her spine, his touch that shot lightning through her veins, and his kiss that turned her into a quivering, brainless idiot.
“It was fall. I’m good in fall and winter. I’m usually better than this, but I forgot my medication last night.” His gaze scanned the grounds. “This place has a lot of possibilities.”
“It’ll take a lot of work, but it’s doable.” The porch swing beckoned to her still wobbly legs, but she didn’t trust the rotting wood and rusted chains. “You know, I’d understand if you want to back out of this. I’m sure you can find another job.” Please do. Just walk away.
“Probably, but we’re both adults. I’m starting my own business and something as upscale as restoring the grounds of a former plantation will look great on my résumé.” He coughed and cleared his throat.
She hugged herself and managed a smile. “Whatever you think.”
“I think I’ve seen enough.” No returned smile, no handshake, no catch ya later. He strolled through the doorway and was gone.
Why? Why? Why? Of all the landscapers, why the one who’d almost made her believe happily-ever-after could be possible.
Six months. A whole half a year without him. Yet one glance and her heart had done a giddy tap dance.
In a later scene, Ryler and Shell are at the Rambler Cafe in Rose Bud sharing strawberry cheesecake. The Rambler is a real restaurant with great food and awesome pies and desserts, but I don’ t have their recipe. When I make cheesecake, I use the recipe on the Philadelphia Cream Cheese box. Then I make my own topping.
Recipe for Romance:
2 quarts fresh strawberry’s (can use frozen if out of season). Mash berries with potato masher until pulpy and juicy. Add sugar to taste. Stir until sugar dissolves. Dip over cheesecake. Keep refrigerated.
How’s that for simple? Enjoy!
Come back January 24 for Miralee Ferrell’s interview and a chance to win her book.