This May/September romantic suspense follows the teenage waif from the group home where Cassie worked in Book One. No longer a teenager, Daisy is carving a life for herself in spite of threats from her past.
sounds of the apartment buzzer penetrated Daisy’s sleep. She rolled over and
pulled a pillow over her head. The buzzer continued ringing sporadically.
“Go away,” she grumbled. “It’s Monday. It’s my day off.”
the futon, she grabbed her robe and poked her arms through the armholes as she
strode angrily toward the entry. She’d have to remember to get the landlord to
fix that damn buzzer. Maybe she should just snip the wires.
Daisy peered through the peephole and grew deathly still. Why had he come? She didn’t want him to know this part of her world. With fingers trembling slightly, she turned the knob and opened the door.
Our autographed print giveaway this month is Heat Wave, Book Two in Riders Up. Contest details below, after the excerpt.
There’s always a piece of us in any story we write, but I
suspect there are far more than usual in our Riders Up series. You
already know both my husband and I loved horses long before we met, and you might
know that as adults we were finally able to own or partially own six horses,
one or two at a time. Five of these were racehorses; the sixth was not, and
we’ve saved him for the final book in the series, Detour Ahead.
So it goes without saying we’ve poured what we learned about caring for and training race horses into this series, but there’s more. Just as Cassie’s Hope (Book One) drew on our ancestor’s family farms in McHenry County Illinois, Heat Wave draws on early family history in rural central Iowa, somewhat north of Des Moines. It’s set in the year 2000. Iowa farm values had dropped precipitously during the 1980s and were beginning to recover, but many family farms were still struggling and went under, especially as corporations moved in to purchase them. We used this knowledge to place our widowed heroine’s family farm in danger and force her to make a bold decision.
Our hero, Ed Harrington? We ourselves have never been horse trainers, though we co-owned our racehorses with a local trainer. But Ed has struggled with alcohol, and Heat Wave focuses on his recovery journey – a journey we’ve walked alongside some close family members. They helped us out with those sections of the book for authenticity. We hope some of the depth, struggle, and love from our own journey shines through as Ed and Maggie come together to save her farm.
Ed didn’t blink, staring at the single shot-glass of whiskey and a stein of beer sitting on a tiny, circular table.
He gripped its pedestal between his knees. The darkened corner of Mel’s Tavern in Beaverhill provided a welcome hiding place. Almost as good as a cave.
for hours after leaving the farm—after running as quickly as he possibly could
from that menacing woman. That night had been spent in his car…
He ran a
finger around the rim of the shot glass. Long moments dragged by while his mind
resembled a blank slate. He knew if he drank enough, he could make those blank
periods last longer. Blackouts—they enticed him and terrorized him. He would be
able to function, but not remember. Was that bliss, or a coward’s way out? It
wouldn’t take long, if he only had the courage to take that first drink.
Hah. So many
people in those meetings he’d been attending talked about the courage necessary
to avoid that next drink. Here he was asking himself if he had the guts
to lift a single glass to his lips and let the stinging, hot whiskey glide down
his throat. He could practically feel the familiar burning. So why didn’t he
just gulp the damn stuff down and get on with it?
leave them all behind. No Maggie harping at him, wanting more than he could
give. No worrying about which kid was going to get injured next. No wondering
when they’d all figure out he didn’t measure up—that he was some kind of fake,
a figment of their imagination.
furtively around with renewed awareness. His senses sharpened. How long had he
been sitting like that, gawking at his future? The waitress and bartender were
staring at him as if he were an alien. He scratched the two-day growth of
beard. He swore inwardly at the booze. He swore at the memories.
he just walk away from her? He didn’t owe her anything. Not anymore. He’d paid
his debt. But she wanted more, much more.
buxom waitress stood in front of him. “Listen, Bud, if you’re gonna drink,
drink up. We’re gonna be closing soon. And don’t forget my tip.” Leaning over,
jiggling huge breasts, she whispered, “Or maybe you’ve got something else in
mind. You’ve got possibilities. I can see that.”
under his icy glare. “Okay, I get the message, Bud. Why don’t you just get out
of here? You give me the willies. Any man who buys whiskey and beer and then
just stares at them for more than an hour can’t be much of a man in my book.”
The waitress brushed back curly brown hair and then flounced off to serve other
knew she’d left. He wet his lips. Trying to steady his hand, he reached for the
whiskey glass. Lifting it, he paused, and then slammed it down, splashing its
contents over the scarred table.
He might be
able to run from all of them, but he knew he’d never be able to run from
chair back, Ed stumbled getting up. He threw some coins on the table and rushed
toward the exit.
Outside, Ed gulped for air. His hand shook like some ancient reminder of what used to be and could so easily have been again. He placed a hand in his pocket and curled his fingers around the ninety-day chip.
Last week we watched as Ed Harrington arrived on Maggie’s
front porch. That wasn’t the first time they’d met – as the book opens, she’s
chased him down in Des Moines on a trusted friend’s recommendation and offered
him a job. Here’s the reader’s first glance at his reaction:
Harrington glanced away from Maggie Anderson’s penetrating blue eyes. They reminded him of robin’s eggs. He grimaced. He hadn’t seen a robin’s egg since he was a kid. But that wasn’t the reason he’d looked away. The woman was carrying too much pain; he already had more than enough pain for any one human being. He sure didn’t need to borrow any of hers.
Hang onto the land – but at what cost? Feisty widow hires ace racehorse trainer to salvage her family’s heritage. Can they survive escalating threats to life and limb?
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