Do you remember your first trip to the library? After years of living in tiny towns where the bi-monthly bookmobile was a big deal, my family moved to Lubbock, Texas just before I was eleven. My first visit to the public library is burned into my memory.
Do you remember the smell of old public buildings, old books? You might think it unpleasant, but in my imagination that scent conjured up freedom. If I close my eyes, I can recall the library’s aroma, sense the dark interior. I see the librarians, who seemed so ancient to me, and the kind manner in which they helped me learn new authors. What a wonderful place for a girl starved for books! Those novels fueled my imagination and joy in reading. Is it any wonder that now I love writing books?
See how cleverly I segued into telling you about one of my current releases, SAVE YOUR HEART FOR ME? This novella is a historical romance set in a central Texas town, the fictional Winton’s Crossing. Here’s the blurb:
After fleeing an abusive husband six years ago, Beth Jeffers wants nothing more than to protect her son Davey and to help her mother operate a boarding house. The women in her family have had no luck with men, and she has no intention of letting any man influence her son. Not even Matt Petrov, no matter how much her lonely heart urges otherwise.
Federal Marshall Matt Petrov, also known as Lone Wolf Peters, fell in love with Beth the first time he saw her. Then she was another man’s wife, so he kept his longing a secret. He’s saved his love for her for six horrific years. Now, the lovely widow and he have crossed paths again. This time, he intends to risk all for a chance at happiness. First he must rescue his distant kinsman from an assassin’s clutches. Will Matt succeed before his kin is killed? And will his secrets shatter the love he and Beth share?
Yeah, yeah, it’s a romance and you can guess the answers, right? But you have to read the book to see how Matt and Beth arrive at the answers.
Another tidbit is that the heroine’s mom is named after my mom. I wanted to name the heroine after Mom, but I just couldn’t write a love scene for someone with my mom’s name. Euuw! The heroine is named after my Aunt Elizabeth, but called Beth. No one ever called my aunt anything but her full name, so that didn’t evoke weird images.
I often name secondary characters after family members. Makes things less weird! Plus they love it and always get a kick out of knowing they're in a story even if it's just a name.
Here’s an excerpt to intrigue you (I hope!).
The set up: Our hero Matt has been wounded arresting criminals. After being treated by the doctor, he’s back at the boarding house where Beth is tending his wounds. Well, a little more than tending them. He’s talked her in to stretching out beside him.
Sweet heaven, he’d never known a more satisfying kiss. He tugged her until she stretched along his body.
When she broke the kiss, she moved her legs back to the mattress but laid her head on his chest. “Why’d you do that?”
“Needed to. For six years. Can’t say I’m proud of wanting you when you belonged to another man, but I won’t deny I thought about you.”
He felt her shudder with sobs, her tears ran wet on his chest. Caressing her back, he cursed himself for as big a fool as Jeffers. “Beth? Aw, honey, I didn’t aim to make you cry. Forgive me. I’d never willingly do anything to hurt you.”
“You didn’t. Matt, I’m ashamed. I hated the person I was when I knew you before. You saw me weak and abused. Heard Lionel yell awful things at me. When you came here, I was mean to you because you’d known me then. I didn’t want to be reminded of those times.”
She sobbed again. “As if I could ever forget them. Then, when you told me about him being dead, I—I felt relief. I’m sorry, but only what you’d be if you read there’d been a train wreck and people you never knew died. I must be a terrible person not to mourn him.”
“No, you’re a wonderful person and it’s not like you lived with him long or had seen him recently.” What a hell of a position to be in. How could he tell her how Jeffers died? He stroked her silky hair. “I’m sorry you’re upset, but I’m glad I found you. You’re a different person in a way but you were a sweet woman then and you are now. And a good mother and daughter.”
He thanked God he’d given Jeffers the money for her ticket home, but he’d never let her know about that. She’d hate him for sure if she learned her no-good former husband had borrowed the money from Matt to send her away in disgrace. It’d done her a world of good, though, and had probably saved her life.
She sniffed and rubbed her sleeve at her face. “I’m glad you came, too. I-I’d wondered what happened to you and where you were and if-if you’d met someone.”
He couldn’t tell her where he’d been, at least, not right now. “I didn’t meet anyone.”
“I’m glad. I, um, I mean, I’m sorry you’ve been alone all this time, but I’m glad you don’t have a woman waiting for you to come home.”
“Don’t have a home.” He didn’t add that he didn’t deserve one, that he’d had one once and lost it.
“Where will you go when you leave here?” She trailed her hand across his skin to rest it at the base of his ribs. He wondered if she knew how that touch affected him and if his erection showed in the moonlight. He bent a knee to conceal it.
“Don’t know yet. Guess it depends on how this thing with Ivan plays out.” He hoped Ivan was alive and pain free. Dang, maybe it was the sweetened tea, or maybe it was her being next to him. His own pain receded a little and life surged in him.
“I hope he’s all right. He’s a nice man.”
“Beth, I’m not a nice man.” No point in her thinking different or him trying to pretend. “I might have been once, long ago, but no longer.”
“You’re kind to Davey, and Mama, and all the other people here. You’re trying to help Ivan. Sounds pretty nice to me.” She sniffled again, and he wanted to comfort her, but she had to understand.
He pulled her up, so he could see her face in the light from the window. “No. I’m here because I have a job to do, not because of any higher intentions. And I’ll do whatever it takes to get the job done.”
“A job? You mean helping Ivan is like a job?”
She didn’t get it. “No. Beth, listen to me. I’ve been assigned to help Ivan. Paid. It’s not something I chose to do because I have a kind or generous nature.”
“Assigned?” She pulled away and sat up. “You mean it really is your job? Who are you working for?”
“Never mind. I shouldn’t have said that.”
Instead of any reaction he could have imagined, she laughed. “Whatever it is, at least you have a job.” She settled back beside him, her body touching his from her head at his shoulder to her toes at his ankle. “I thought you were up to no good.”
Dang, she made him feel like a man-and-a-half. He laughed in spite of himself. “Guess I am up to no good, but I’m being paid for it. Not much, but enough to get by.” He turned to face her. “You know that kiss?”
“What about it?”
He raised himself on his right elbow and leaned over her. “Let’s try that again.”
SAVE YOUR HEART FOR ME is from The Wild Rose Press. It’s also available from Amazon and other online booksellers.