This month’s theme at Contemporary Romance Café is the hero, so I wanted to talk a little about absent heroes and also share my new release!
I remember reading Odysseus in high school. So there he is, off on adventures. Except he’s not really having a good time, is he? Mostly he’s fighting things and trying to get home. But I was far more interested in the small tidbits we got about Penelope, his wife, who was waiting at home. What was she thinking all that time? Did she assume he was dead? Certainly the suitors who came around did. But then Odysseus did come home and after some disguise/archery shenanigans, they were reunited.
And then what?
That’s the part the book didn’t really cover. There’s an and they live happily ever after vibe, although my romance-hungry teenage brain might have manufactured that part. It’s not like things could go back to the way they were. He’s been through a lot of shit with the cyclopses and all that. Plus she’s lived her life here—and even if it wasn’t a wildly adventurous life, it was hers. After all this, it seems that there would have to be a period of reconnection, of rediscovery. Of resentment, even, that they had been apart so long, and do we even still know each other? Do we even still love each other?
That’s a setup I wanted to peek into with my new Carina Press release, Chance of Rain. But of course, this isn’t set in ancient Greece. This is a contemporary romance set in the fictional small town of Dearling, Texas. And our hero isn’t wandering adventurer but a Navy SEAL. And our heroine doesn’t hold court in a great hall serving jugs of wine. She owns a small diner, which is where she works when the hero walks back into town after years away. Because my book doesn’t end when he returns—that’s only the beginning.
There’s recognition. There’s attraction. And as with the whole disguise/archery shenanigans of lore, there’s some hesitation when it comes to the reunion. Neither wants to lay all their cards on the table. Neither wants to be hurt again.
So I wanted to share this excerpt right when Sawyer meets Natalie again…
Of course Sawyer Nolan would show up out of the blue, sexy as hell when she was all rumpled from the breakfast shift. He had muscle definition and a smooth tan. She had coffee splatter on her apron. He’d probably seen the world twice over in the military, while she had lived her whole life behind this counter.
“Hi back,” she said, brushing a lock of hair from her forehead. “What can I do for you?”
Maybe there was something in the air, because her voice came out lower too.
His eyes darkened as if he’d noticed, which gave her mind permission to fill in all manner of suggestive possibilities to her question. What can I do for you?
Anything. Everything. A grown-up version of the kiss they had shared before.
“Coffee, please. I’ll take coffee.”
Right. This was her, the waitress, the signpost on the way out of town. She grabbed a mug from the stack of clean ones behind her and poured a fresh cup, ignoring the tremor in her hand.
He nodded his thanks and sat down, but even as he drank his coffee, his gaze kept coming back to her. And damn it, she was smiling. She couldn’t contain her happiness to see him, even if it would be prudent to do just that. Caught off guard, she couldn’t play it cool.
It just felt so good to see him doing well. Alive and not blown to bits and here in her diner—in her home, really. Though she had no hold on him, she’d worried.
“I read an article about you in the paper. Heard you won an award.”
He shrugged. “They give those out instead of raises.”
“Oh. Well, it seemed really great.” You seem really great.
“What about you? You’re still working here.”
His tone was neutral. Empty pleasantries. He hadn’t cared what she did all those years ago. There was no reason to think he would now. Yet she found herself feeling defensive. I love this diner, she wanted to say. I love this town. I loved you, even if it was only puppy love.
Why did you leave?
The past had its claws in her deeper than she’d realized. A few weeks of being a couple. Scorching kisses underneath the bleachers. And then he’d enlisted in the navy, left town and never once looked back.
And here is Chance of Rain:
The only things Natalie Bouchard wants to change are the weekly specials in her Gram’s diner. So when her high school sweetheart strolls back into Dearling, Texas, she allows herself to indulge in a little flirtation, but that’s as far as it goes.
Navy SEAL Sawyer Nolan has returned to sell his father’s land and get the hell out, no matter how enticing he still finds Natalie. Until a storm rolls over the Texas hills, stranding them together at the farm…and the memories of their steamy past lead to a reunion filled with hot days and long nights.
Soon Natalie’s so far under Sawyer’s skin he can’t imagine being without her. But he has a lot of history in Dearling he’d like to leave behind, and Natalie is practically married to this town. If Sawyer wants to be more than just another person who leaves Natalie, he’ll have to give his hometown—and himself—one more chance.
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