fbpx
Q&A – 5 Things (Part 3)

Q&A – 5 Things (Part 3)

This will be an ongoing series where I answer the most common questions I get from readers:

Q1:  Where do you get your ideas?

A:  I have so many ideas for books! Once you’ve done this long enough, your brain starts automatically evaluating most situations to see if it would make a good book. Many of the ideas I’ve been developing lately are not purely sweet romance and it’s been exciting to branch out a little.

Q2:  What is your writing process?

A:  Once I’ve settled on an idea for a book, I start outlining. I write down the major moments and how I want them to go, then work backwards from there. Some of my author friends can start on page one and write consecutively to the end, but I do better when I can skip around and write the big scenes first, then go back and add the little ones to tie them together.

After I’ve finished the story, I send it to my beta readers and I usually end up making quite a few changes based on their feedback. I rewrote almost the entire second half of Sweet Illusions after I got it back from beta. I recently hired an alpha reader to read the manuscript chapter-by-chapter and give feedback, so that should cut down on the rewrites since I can make adjustments as I go based on her feedback.

Q3:  Do you have any unusual writing quirks?

A:  I outline and brainstorm on blue copy paper. It has to be loose papers (not a notebook) and it has to be blue. I have no idea why that’s become my thing, but it is.

Q4:  What do you love about writing? What do you hate?

A:  I love creating stories! I’ve always been a storyteller and I love coming up with new ideas, developing characters to fit the situation, and piecing it all together into something that is exciting and new.

The only thing I hate are the pirates and plagiarizers who steal your work. Most of my books are distributed exclusively through Amazon and they do a great job trying to crack down on the thieves, but it’s extremely difficult and there are, unfortunately, a lot of people trying to profit from someone else’s hard work.

Q5:  Do you ever get writer’s block and if so, what do you do about it?

A:  Absolutely. Everyone gets writer’s block, it’s part of the process. When I have it, I usually take a break and try to get some exercise to restart my brain. Then I’ll sit down and try to come up with 5-10 things that could happen next in the story and pick the best one. Writing is just like any other job – you’re not inspired all the time and there will be moments when you feel inadequate or you’re sick of it, etc. But you have to keep going and push through it.

Have questions? You can submit them here as a comment or email me: AuthorJeanetteLewis@gmail.com

To Our Boy

To Our Boy

This is probably going to be long, mostly a way for me to process what’s happened and even try to justify it to myself (and to you) a little bit.

Here’s the short part of this long story … we had to say goodbye to Koda two weeks ago. My heart is breaking all over again writing this post, but I know it’s the right choice, for him and for us.

Now for the long part of this long story:

If you’re a long-time reader, you know we had Koda almost four years. We got him as a 2yo from a private seller and at the time, everything seemed fine. He was outgoing, friendly, and energetic. We fell in love with him almost immediately and adopted him hoping he’d be a good companion for our autistic son, who struggles to maintain human relationships and was very lonely.

Here they are on the ride home. Koda jumped into the truck the moment we opened the door and he snuggled with Aiden the whole way home. It seemed like a match made in heaven.

The first few weeks went well. Aside from the cat, everyone loved Koda, and he seemed to fit right in, barreling around the house and covering us in sloppy kisses. We’d intended for him to live mostly in the basement, but he broke that rule in literally the first hour by jumping over the gate at the foot of the stairs.

Go here for the video.

Then, problems started cropping up. Despite being intended for Aiden, Koda much preferred me or my other son, Evan. He would actively try to avoid Aiden and started growling at him.

I took Koda to pick Aiden up at school one day and he barked at all the other kids, when he’d never barked at anyone before. He started picking fights with other dogs when we took him on walks, even going so far as to crawl under a fence to attack a much smaller dog. He walked perfectly around a park and then lunged at and nipped a guy in the parking lot as we were leaving.

I started a dog training course of Youtube and we tried a bunch of techniques they suggested. We started the training program at Petsmart and quit the same night when he tried to bite the other dogs.

I hired a private trainer who suggested a harness, then a choke collar to try and control him. It didn’t help. He’s so strong that he dragged me around and once he got locked on to something, nothing could get his attention away from it.

We tried treat training mixed with the collar mixed with desensitization. Nothing worked. He started getting territorial and would try to bite people who came over so we started locking him in his crate when we had company.

We sent him away for a 3-week boot camp that cost a small fortune and when he came back, he acted like a zombie. The light was gone from his eyes. It has gradually returned, but so has the bad behavior and I don’t have it in me to make him wear the shock collar the trainer gave us and use it to shock him into submission.

A few months ago on the way home from school, Aiden asked me to stop the car on the train tracks because he “wanted to see what it felt like to get hit by a train.” And my heart dropped. It was that moment that crystalized for me a hard truth – my son doesn’t understand danger, he doesn’t process it or anticipate it or think about it. And that included being able to follow the rules to keep everyone safe around Koda.

Then, our elderly neighbors across the street passed away and a new family moved in – with four small children, one cat, and two dogs that they let roam the neighborhood freely. There are at least six other dogs on our block that are not leashed and can come and go as they please. And every one of them sent Koda into a tizzy. My biggest fear is that Aiden will see the dogs outside, hear Koda barking, and decide to open the door on a whim, just to see what would happen. Koda is 75 lbs and very strong. He could easily kill another dog or even a child – and we couldn’t say we hadn’t been warned.

The vet told me to put him down, in no uncertain terms. They called him a ticking time bomb. Every trainer told me he was in the wrong situation and would likely have to be put down because no one will take an aggressive animal.

In April, we had to go out of town for our daughter’s college graduation. The kennel we’d been using for Koda had closed and I spent an entire day on the phone before finally finding another one that would take him because of his history. He barked at the other dogs going in, trembled when I put him in the cage, and whined when I left. Two days later when I picked him up, he was like a different dog. He walked calmly and confidently next to the kennel worker, without a muzzle, and he seemed unbothered by the presence of other dogs. The light was back in his eyes and his tail was wagging.

So, it’s us … at least to a degree, we are not the right house for Koda. We don’t know what he went through those first two years as a puppy, but we do know he lived in a house with a lot of people and a lot of dogs and he was no one’s favorite. I don’t think they intentionally abused him, but he flinches if you raise your hand at him. He is fearful of any other dog, no matter the size.

Our theory is that he was mostly ignored those two years and definitely not properly socialized toward humans or dogs. Then he came to our house where everyone doted on him and he had the run of the place. He bonded with me and decided he had to protect me, which ultimately, stressed him out.

We came to the very painful decision that he was not living his best life with us. We couldn’t give him the security he obviously needs and we had to keep him drugged on anti-anxiety pills for the better part of the last year. We resisted putting him down because he is young and strong and has so much life left in him, it didn’t seem fair. I have prayed and prayed and prayed about him.

Then, my daughter’s girlfriend told us about a vet in the small town where she grew up. It’s several hours away from here, but they take any animal, no matter the circumstances. They run a no-kill shelter and believe that any dog can be rehabilitated when matched with the right home.

I called them and explained everything and … they wanted him. It was absolutely heartbreaking, but also the right thing to do. We called two days after we surrendered him and were told he was doing great, learning to play with other dogs, and had already had a couple of people interested in adopting him. I called again last week and he’s been adopted by an empty nester couple with a lot of acreage for him to run free on.

I hate that his forever home wasn’t with us. I miss him so much that sometimes I can’t breathe. The kids sometimes still cry themselves to sleep. But we know we had to do it and I’m so relieved he has found somewhere he can be happy.

I’ll love you forever, buddy.

Book Excerpt – Starlight Kisses

Book Excerpt – Starlight Kisses

Starlight Kisses

by Jeanette Lewis

(c)All Right Reserved

She stepped off the road and her boots broke through the thin crust of ice to send her sinking to mid-thigh into the snow. With a little squeak of protest, Mariah pushed forward, heaving herself through the drifts until she was deeper into the trees where, thankfully, the snow only came halfway up her calves. Even so, her leather boots were going to be ruined.

“Ow!” She stubbed her toe on a fallen tree lying buried in the snow and stumbled, only managing to stay upright by grabbing the limbs of a pine that towered overhead. As the branch bent, it unleashed its burden of snow and Mariah gasped loudly as it showered over her head and shoulders.

“Stupid trees!” she hissed in a whisper, glaring at the forest. She brushed as much snow off as possible, but some had already slithered down her collar. The cold penetrated her coat and seeped through her gloves. Jake’s truck was faintly visible through the trees and looked to be parked in a clearing. Shivering, Mariah stood still, considering her options.

“What are you doing?” A man’s deep voice shattered the silence.

Mariah whipped around and froze. Fear pulsed through her, making her legs shake. She hadn’t even heard the man coming up behind her, which was amazing—he was so big there was no possible way he could have moved silently. A thick green camo coat covered broad shoulders and the matching camo pants hinted at long, muscular legs, ending in sturdy black boots. His mouth turned down in a scowl and his eyes glittered menacingly beneath a black ball cap. Clutched in one hand was a large rifle, the metal barrel glinting in the pale light.

Mariah sucked in a breath of the frigid air and screamed—a loud, piercing shriek that echoed through the forest.

The man jumped back. “Geeze, lady! What’re you doing?”

“What are you doing?” Now that she’d knocked him off guard, her fear was turning to anger. Mariah drew herself up to her full height and glared at him. “Don’t you threaten me with that thing.” She pointed wildly at the rifle.

The man dropped his eyes to his rifle and then looked back at her incredulously. “I’m not threatening you. What are you doing lurking in my trees?”

“I’m not lurking,” Mariah protested. “I’m just … hiking.”

He cast a bemused look at her four-inch-heeled leather boots and the rather thin pink coat. “Uh-huh, sure.”

A door opened somewhere nearby and Jake’s voice filtered through the trees. “Riker?”

Mariah’s eyes widened. This had to be Riker Carmichael, Jake’s best friend and his soon-to-be best man. She’d heard all about him from Amy, but they hadn’t met yet. Then again, she’d only been in Snow Valley a couple of weeks.

“Riker?” Jake’s voice came again.

“Don’t tell him I’m here,” she pleaded.

Riker gave her a long, skeptical look, his eyes narrowed in suspicion. The dark whiskers covering his jaw were too long to be stubble, but were not quite to the beard stage. More of a I don’t have to go anywhere so I don’t have to shave kind of look.

He ran one hand over the not-quite-beard as he turned and called toward Jake’s voice. “Coming. One second.”

There was silence, followed by the thud of the door closing.

Riker turned back to her, his thick eyebrows raised so high they disappeared under the brim of his hat. “What’s going on?”

Get Starlight Kisses
Book Review – The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

Book Review – The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

I was on the library waiting list for two months for this book and finally got it on Friday. It’s 442 pages in small font, but I read the whole thing in one weekend. Literally could not put it down.

My review: 5 stars

If you like fantasy and great storytelling, this book is for you. It’s fabulous! V.E. Schwab winds the story over three hundred years and across the entire world and makes it look effortless. The writing is superb, the prose is the kind that wiggles down inside you and makes your heart ache because of the beauty. You want to immerse yourself in the pages, get lost, and never come back.

This is one I will be buying for my own collection and will reread many times over. Well done, Ms. Schwab!

Q&A – 5 Things About Me (Part 2)

Q&A – 5 Things About Me (Part 2)

This will be an ongoing series where I answer the most common questions I get from readers:

Q1:  What is your favorite book?

A:  Jane Eyre! I have always had a soft spot for anything gothic Victorian and for unconventional characters. Did you know that Charlotte Bronte wrote it to prove she could sell a book in which the main characters were not conventionally attractive? I’d say she nailed it. I love Jane and Rochester and their banter makes me swoon every time. Okay, the gypsy scene is a bit much, but I’ll forgive her that considering the environment and time in which she was writing.

My other favorite books include the Little House books (Laura Ingalls Wilder) and the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series (Laini Taylor).

Q2:  What genres do you like/dislike?

A:  I’ll read almost anything, but my favorites are young adult, women’s fiction, adventure, and sweet romance and I do like the thrills that come with a good suspense novel. I don’t really like anything that’s too heavy on the military or tech lingo, like Tom Clancy, and I stay away from erotica or anything too graphic.

Q3:  What is your writing Kryptonite?

A: Wikipedia. When I’m writing a first draft, I have to turn the internet off because it’s way too easy to click over for a quick bit of research for the story and then an hour later, I’m twenty pages deep into serial killers.

Q4: Do you read your book reviews?

A:  Absolutely. I want to know what’s working and what isn’t. I don’t put a lot of stock in one bad review, I just figure it wasn’t a good fit for that reader; however, if multiple readers start mentioning the same problem, I take notice. But I ignore the trolls. I had one person leave one-star reviews on all my books after I refused to send him money. Lame.

Q5:  Do you write characters with actors in mind if the book ever became a movie?

A:  I will sometimes draw inspiration from an actor’s look, but I try to let my characters develop on their own and not base them off anyone in particular. There are several bookstagrammers who like to cast the main characters when they do a book review and I always love to see who they pick. So far, they’ve never used the same actor I did when writing the book, but there’s always a first.

I love to hear from readers! If you have any questions, you can send them to me at: AuthorJeanetteLewis@gmail.com

Get Feels Like Love FREE, today only!

Get Feels Like Love FREE, today only!

Christmas in Snow Valley is the perfect way for April Winston to introduce her city slicker fiance, Scott Mecham, to life on a farm. If only Wade Hadley, hometown boy and high school sweetheart, will cooperate!

But Wade has no intention of letting April go without a fight. This Christmas, he is determined to overcome their painful past and show April that she already has what she’s been seeking all along.

Free today only!

Get it here

Book Excerpt – Sweet Illusions

Book Excerpt – Sweet Illusions

Sweet Illusions

by Jeanette Lewis

©All Rights Reserved

The moon hung low and bright, bouncing off the sand and giving them more than enough light to hunt for shells. Arthur had stayed with Gina, but the rest of the children scampered ahead of Ben and Eva as they walked slowly up the beach. Ben had no idea where his shoes had ended up, and he was pleased to see Eva had slipped hers off too. They stayed on the edge of the water and every once in a while, a wave came boiling up the sand to swirl around their ankles before withdrawing again with a soft hiss.

“Man, I’ve missed it here,” he said, taking a deep breath.

“Jennifer said you’ve been in Atlanta?” Eva asked.

“Yeah. I was on the force there for six years.” His stomach knotted. What if she wanted to know why he’d come home? What if she’d heard about Griffin? Or maybe she already knew; she did live next door to Miss Lucille, after all.

“How do you like Indigo Bay?” he asked. Dumb question, but they had to start somewhere. He’d noticed how she tried to steer the conversation away from herself at dinner—a classic conversation tactic. Was she practicing Tinder’s Top Ten Tips for Dating, or was she merely a private person? And if so, how did he draw her out?

“It’s beautiful,” Eva said, and he remembered he’d asked her about Indigo Bay. “I love the ocean, and your parents’ house is amazing. I feel lucky to live here.”

“Yeah, that’s how I always felt too,” he said. Slightly ahead of them, three-year-old Ezra face-planted in the sand and Ben chuckled, watching as Abbie pulled him up and brushed him off.

“Do your brother and sister live around here too?” Eva asked.

“Tyler and Jennifer live closer to Hilton Head and Gina and Lee are about two hours inland,” Ben explained.

“Look at this one!” Jordan came running up, holding a small peach-colored shell.

“Calico scallop,” Ben told him. “Think you can find the other half?”

It would be nearly impossible to find a matched set of scallop shells, but the five-year-old took off running, his head moving back and forth as he eagerly searched the sand. Ben felt kind of bad sending him off on an impossible errand, but figured it was worth it to give him more alone time with Eva.

They walked past Miss Lucille’s house, rising three stories and ringed with balconies. Ben had never been inside, but when they were little, he and Gina had made up stories about Miss Lucille’s Fort of Surveillance. Inside would be set up like a crime lab from the movies—a dozen heavily muscled agents in black jackets sipping coffee in front of computer screens as they monitored everything that happened within a five-hundred-foot radius of the property; a helicopter waiting on the roof for a quick escape; three dozen cameras trained on the beach to keep an eye on the tourists; and a special forensics lab to determine exactly whose dog had pooped on the lawn.

Tonight, though, all the windows were dark except for one, where a small lamp burned on the lower level. Miss Lucille had mentioned setting him up with … was it her niece? He’d told her he planned to focus on work, but that had changed when he’d seen his mom coming across the sand with Eva.

He glanced sideways at her, noting how the moonlight kissed the bridge of her nose and the pale skin on her forehead. Her hair was so dark it blended into the shadows, but her enormous eyes glowed blue. He felt a stirring in his gut. She was reserved, but she’d laughed a few times at dinner and he’d found himself craving the sound, wanting to hear it again and especially wanting it to be because of him. He had an almost irrepressible urge to start showing off, like a teenager trying to impress a girl, wanting to be the source of her joy.

“Best thing about the chocolate shop—go,” Ben said.

“The chocolate, duh,” Eva said with a teasing lilt in her voice.

“And I’ll bet Miss Eulalie lets you eat as much as you can, right?”

“Of course,” Eva said. “We’ve got all the basic food groups covered: white in the morning, milk at lunch, and dark for dinner.”

He laughed. “Sounds like the perfect job.”

She threw him a quick smile, and he fought back a wild impulse to start doing push-ups.

“Actually, I like making them more than eating them. Is that weird? There’s something so satisfying about pulling the fondant out of the melted chocolate, putting a perfect little curl on the top.” She hesitated. “Sorry, that probably sounds lame.”

It didn’t sound lame at all. It made him want to watch her work, see her eyes come alight when she got the perfect curl.

“Uncle Ben, look at this!” It was Abbie this time. She extended her palm to reveal what looked like a small rock, only it was a matte green and gleamed in the moonlight.

“Sea glass,” Ben said. He plucked it from her hand and ran his thumb along the rounded edge. “Nice job, this is a good one.”

“Sea glass?” Eva asked.

Ben handed it to her and watched as she rubbed her delicate fingertips over it in fascination.

“It washes ashore from all over the world,” Abbie declared proudly. “Daddy says each piece could be hundreds of years old.”

“It’s really beautiful.” Eva held it up to let the moonlight shine through the frosty surface.

“Greens and browns are the most common; they’re usually from soda or beer bottles,” Ben said. “Or sometimes industrial glass like fishing floats. Most of it’s litter, but some comes from shipwrecks.”

Eva ran her nail along a small niche in the glass where the sand and salt hadn’t had time to completely obscure the shine. “It’s really neat,” she finally said, offering the glass back to Abbie.

“You can keep it,” Abbie offered.

“Are you sure? I mean, if it’s rare …”

Abbie shrugged. “I have a lot of green at home already.”

“Thank you.” Eva gave the girl a warm smile. “I love it.”

A whistle sounded above the waves, and Ben recognized it immediately, his dad’s call to muster the troops. The children heard it too; they did a one-eighty and charged back down the beach to where the embers of the fire hadn’t quite died out.

“Ben, can I ask you something?” Eva said as they followed the kids at a slower pace.

“Sure.”

“Did … did I steal your apartment?”

“Huh?”

She waved her hand toward the dunes, where the rooftop of his parents’ house was visible. “You could have had the apartment over the garage. Only now you can’t, because I’m there.”

Ben laughed. “Honestly, the thought never occurred to me.”

“You weren’t planning to stay there?”

“No.” He shook his head. “I love my family, but I don’t want to live at home again.”

“Your family is great,” Eva said with a slight defensive touch to her voice.

“True. But after being away for so long, I’m okay living across town from them. Don’t worry,” he added quickly, not wanting to worry her, “they’re a little intense sometimes, but way more Stark clan than Lannister.”

He’d been going for a laugh, but the look she gave him was totally blank. “Lannister?”

“Like in Game of Thrones? The Red Wedding, Rains of Castamere? We’re not into revenge killing. Though sometimes as kids Tyler and I would fight so much that—” He stopped when he saw the look on her face. The color had drained from her cheeks and her eyes were glazed, unfocused. “Are you okay?” Ben asked. He grabbed her arm, afraid she would faint, or something.

Eva shook her head as if to clear it. “Right, Game of Thrones.” Her voice shook. “Sorry, I got distracted for a second.” She threw a look to where the party was breaking up. “We should probably go help.” Before he could say another word, she hurried off, practically running down the beach away from him. During the chaos of cleaning up, she slipped away before he could tell her goodbye.

* * *

Eva closed the door and leaned against it, as if she could somehow shut out the past with her body. She turned the lock and dropped her shoes by the door, then dug the piece of sea glass from the pocket of her skirt. It was cool and smooth with indentations that fit against her fingertips perfectly, like a worry stone. She set it on the bookcase next to the lamp.

Worry was right. Clan. Revenge killing. He’d thrown those words around like they were nothing and sent her spiraling back into memories of dark days that were best forgotten.

She groaned. Of all the people in Indigo Bay to feel a spark with, she had to pick the cop? How long before he started digging into her past and showing up at her door wanting answers she couldn’t give?

Eva dropped her head into her hands as old fears and new combined to buzz at the base of her skull like a swarm of angry bees, trying to find a way in. Could she ever stop running?

Get Sweet Illusions
Book Review – The Handmaid’s Tale

Book Review – The Handmaid’s Tale

I am very behind the curve on The Handmaid’s Tale. I haven’t seen any of the TV show, but I finally read the book.

My rating: 3.5 stars

Margaret Atwood writes beautiful prose. There were paragraphs that made me want to go back and read them over and over, just for the pure pleasure of the way her words flowed. She is truly an artist with language and she is very good at setting a scene and building tension into a story. I also really liked how Atwood built on existing US culture and religion to create a story that’s extreme, but not entirely unbelievable as a post-apocalyptic world.

3.5 stars because once the novelty wore off, I had a hard time getting into the story. I didn’t care about any of the characters or what happened to them and there’s so much left unsaid and open to the reader’s interpretation, that I found the ending very unsatisfying. It’s also a pretty dark and depressing read most of the time, so not one I’d want to read again.

Q&A – 5 Things About Me

Q&A – 5 Things About Me

This will be an ongoing series where I answer the most common questions I get from readers:

Q1:  When did you start writing and why?

A: The first thing I remember writing was a story in first grade. We were given a picture of a duck, and we had to color it, then write a story for it. In mine, the duck was sad because it couldn’t find any friends. Then (plot twist!) a big group of animals showed up and they all became friends, the end. My teacher took me around to all the first and second grade classrooms and had me read it to them, so I guess it was probably above what you’d expect from a six-year-old. From then on, I started writing stories and trust me, my early versions were all just as riveting as the lonely duck story!

Q2:  What have you done besides write books?

A: I have a bachelors degree in marketing and I worked for several years in market research. I have also been (in reverse order) a legal secretary, an airline reservations agent, a retail clothing employee, a receptionist, and my first job was at McDonalds.

Q3:  What is your family like?

A: My husband and I recently celebrated our 28th anniversary. We have four kids, ages 22, 20, 13, and 12 – two girls and then two boys. The large gap is because we weren’t sure we were done having kids after the first two, then decided we weren’t. Our 13yo has autism and several other health issues, so he can take up quite a bit of our time.

Q4: What is your advice for new writers?

A: Figure out why you’re writing. Some people write because they have stories inside them that need to be told; others write because it’s therapeutic; and some write because they are skilled at it and can make a living. Your approach to writing will be different depending on why you’re doing it.

Q5: How did you get started?

My first book is a short Christmas story called An Unexpected Angel that was published in 2012 by Cedar Fort Publishers. Through that story, I met Lucy McConnell, a fellow Cedar Fort author, and we decided to write sweet romance and create the Snow Valley series. From there, it grew slowly. I’m definitely not as fast at writing as some of my author friends, but I’m at 20 books now and working on the next one.

Stay tuned for more! If you have any questions, you can send them to me at: AuthorJeanetteLewis@gmail.com

Book Excerpt – Kissing the Mountain Man

Book Excerpt – Kissing the Mountain Man

One of my favorite parts of a book to write is that moment when the characters have to choose if they’re going to run away, or push through the hard stuff and love each other. It’s a moment that sometimes gets overshadowed by all the feels and the kissy scenes, but it’s really the true climax of the book, the happily ever after, the reward we’ve been waiting for.

Sometimes in my books, it’s dramatic and filled with tension and chaos, and sometimes it’s soft and gentle, like a midnight sigh. In Kissing the Mountain Man, it’s a little of both and I love the physical actions that accompany the characters’ decisions … Kennedy, running after Clay’s truck in too-big boots … Clay seeing her in the rearview mirror and having to decide if he’ll stop, or continue driving out of her life.

These are the moments we dramatic authors are made for. *Swoon*

Here’s an excerpt from Kissing the Mountain Man, the book that landed me on the USA Today bestsellers list. I hope you enjoy it!

***

Kissing the Mountain Man – Excerpt

by Jeanette Lewis (All Rights Reserved)

In the rearview mirror, he saw Kennedy start running, following the truck. She was awkward in the boots, her coat flapping against her legs, hair flying. Clay put on the brakes, and when she reached him, she grabbed the tailgate and hauled herself into the back.

“Talk to me, Clay,” she hollered. She crossed her arms and settled onto the nylon bag that was his tent, her eyes flashing at him in the rearview mirror, daring him to stop her.

He threw the truck in park and climbed out, trying to tamp down the small spark of hope that flared suddenly in his chest. This was ridiculous. This would never work.

“What?” he demanded when he reached her side.

She took a deep breath. “It’s new. It’s uncertain. There are a lot of reasons it won’t work.”

He nodded, his heart falling.

“But,” Kennedy continued, “there are a lot of reasons why it could work too. I know it’s scary. I know it’s hard. But isn’t it worth a try? Isn’t it worth some compromise?”

His throat went tight. “I don’t know if I can stand to care about you and then lose you.”

“I don’t know if I can stand it either,” Kennedy said. “But I also can’t stand letting it go and then having to wonder for the rest of my life if I made a mistake.”

He was quiet.

“Hey.” She punched him lightly in the arm. “I cut down a tree. You bought powdered donuts from a store. We both did things this week we never thought we’d do. So why couldn’t we do this too? Why couldn’t this work?”

He clenched his fists, fighting against the fear that pounded in his chest. Beneath the fear, there was a small crack, a small glimmer of hope.

Kissing the Mountain Man is available exclusively on Amazon and is free for KU Readers!

Get Kissing the Mountain Man