My upcoming contemporary romance novel, Aquamarine, includes many of the characters from a previous contemporary romance novel, The Betrayal.
The Betrayal is a story of infidelity. Emily has literally caught her husband, Jesse, in the act with another woman. Jesse learned a hard lesson as a result, and he’s managed to convince Emily to give him another chance. Emily doesn’t want to give up on Jesse either, and after several weeks of marriage counseling, things are finally looking up.
In this sample we’ll join Emily as she and her friend, Megan, are about to embark on a Caribbean cruise. However, something as innocent as picking up a forgotten passport will soon have unexpected consequences.
A sample from The Betrayal
Megan pulled into Jesse’s driveway and Emily quickly hopped out.
“Wait here. I’ll only be a minute.” She ran up to the front door and rang the bell. Jesse greeted her with a smile and handed over her passport as she stepped across the threshold.
“Here you go,” he said with a smile. “Make sure you keep it in a safe place.”
“I know, I know.”
He wrapped his arms around her. “I know you’re excited, and I know you’ll have a good time, but just be careful, okay? Stay with your group when you do your off-ship excursions. The Caribbean is a beautiful place, but don’t go wandering the back roads by yourselves.”
“I know, Jesse. Don’t worry, we’ll be fine.”
He gave her a kiss and walked her out Megan’s car. “Have fun, be safe, and I love you.”
“I love you too, Jesse.”
He opened the car door and said a quick hello to Megan while Emily slid into the passenger seat. As the car slowly backed into the street he waved goodbye and went back inside. Megan was about to drive away when an older man, who was walking a dog, stepped off the curb and approached them. Emily asked Megan to wait as she rolled down her window.
“Well hello, Jorge. How have you been?”
“I’ve been good, Emily. How ’bout you? I haven’t seen you in a long time. Not since the morning you moved your things out. Is everything okay now?”
“It couldn’t be better.” She quickly introduced him to Megan, saying Jorge and his wife lived three doors down.
“Jesse and I have been working things out. My buddy and I are taking a short trip together, and when we return, I’m moving back in.”
He gave her a warm smile. “I’m glad, Emily. Marta and I have wondered about you, and we were hoping you were okay.”
“Well then, you two ladies have a safe trip, and I’ll see you when you get back.”
The Journey is a contemporary romance novel about people who aren’t as they appear to be, and the consequences could be deadly.
Newlyweds Jeremy and Cassie Palmer’s lives turn upside down when Cassie is seriously injured in a car crash. Jeremy rushes to his wife’s side, and as she recovers they befriend Denise, one of Cassie’s nurses. Denise seems familiar to Jeremy, although he can’t place her. Denise, however, has never forgiven Jeremy for jilting her years before. As she gains his trust she plans her revenge, and their lives will never be the same.
A sample read from The Journey by Marina Martindale
The moonlight reflected off the snow-covered mountains, creating a dreamy, picturesque landscape, which could easily hide a deadly hazard. Samantha Walsh stayed on high alert as she drove down the highway.
“Is everything okay, Mom? You seem a little tense.”
Samantha glanced at the young woman sitting in the passenger seat. “I’m fine, Cassie. I’m just a little tired, that’s all. As soon we get to the next exit, I’d like to pull over and have you drive, if you wouldn’t mind.”
“Sure, Mom.” Cassie sounded concerned. “You haven’t been yourself today. Are you sure you’re all right?”
“I’m fine. I’m just tired, that’s all.” She tilted her head toward the backseat. “So now that your little sister-in-law has finally given us a break and gone to sleep, I have some things I’d like to discuss with you.”
“I’ve decided to sell the diner.”
“Max and his wife have made a very generous offer,” said Samantha. “I’d like to accept, but I wanted to discuss it with you first.”
“I understand. So, what would you do if you sold the place? You’re way too young for retirement, and somehow I can’t see you sitting on your front porch in your rocking chair.”
Samantha chuckled. “I can’t see myself there either, but now that you’re happily married and on your own, I’d like to finally start pursuing my own dreams. Once was the time when I was going to be a nurse, you know.”
“I know, Mom. You’ve told me the story many times. You were going to college, back in Arizona, but then you ran out of money, so you got a job as a waitress at a truck-stop diner.”
“Back then I was quite the dish, and they tipped me really well.”
“And you’re still a dish. None of my friends believe me when I tell them you’re my mother. They all say, ‘But Cassie, she’s so pretty. She looks so young, and she’s so thin. She doesn’t have any wrinkles or any gray hair.'”
“That’s very kind of them to say, but even if I don’t look it, I’m starting to feel it.” Samantha winced and let out a small groan.
“Are you all right, Mom?”
“I’m fine. It’s just a little indigestion, that’s all.”
“You’re sure that’s all?” Cassie tried to mask the concern in her voice. “So, what do you have in mind?”
“I want to go back to Arizona, at least for part of the year. I’ll keep the house in Idaho Springs and stay here during the summers; but I’d like to spend the rest of the year down there and take some classes at the university. I could still become a nurse, you know. I only had a couple semesters left when I ran out of money, and I was ready to go back when I met your father.”
“I know, but then you got engaged, and then you got pregnant with me, and then he passed away.”
“And then I had you to raise. But you know, Cassie, I’ve never once regretted a day I’ve had with you. You’re what kept me going all these years, and I love you with all my heart.” Samantha winced and groaned again.
“And I love you too. You’re the best mom anyone could have asked for, but right now I’m a little worried about you. Are you sure you’re feeling okay?”
The Scandal is the story of soap opera star Lauren McAllen. For the past ten years Lauren has been playing Hayley Lancaster on The Seas of Destiny. Hayley is the woman fans love to hate, and the role made Lauren famous. Now she’s ready to take her career to the next level and try to break into films or prime time television.
Luck appears to be on Lauren’s side. She’s soon cast in a supporting role in a major motion picture. However, before the camera starts rolling, studio head Calvin Michaelson is accused of a serious wrongdoing, and an unwitting Lauren finds herself in the middle of a scandal which rocks Hollywood.
a sample read from The Scandal
Lauren McAllen wrapped her hands around the steering wheel and held on tight. Raindrops splattered the windshield while the wipers furiously knocked them away.
“You may think you’re getting him back, Ashely,” she said through clenched teeth, “but trust me, it’ll never happen because he’s all mine now.” A defiant smiled broke out across her face, but it instantly turned into a look of sheer panic and terror as she frantically yanked the steering wheel back and forth. Unable to regain control of the car, she threw her arms across her face and braced herself for impact.
“Cut!” shouted a man’s voice. “And that’s a wrap.”
As Lauren relaxed, she turned her head and smiled. “So, we got it?”
“Perfectly,” he said, “but if you wouldn’t mind waiting here, the director would like to speak with you for a moment.”
Lauren patiently waited for the rain machine to shut down. A moment later a production assistant walked up to the car and extended his hand. A serious look came over her face as she took his hand and allowed him to pull her out. Before walking away, she turned and looked back at the prop car, placed in front of a green screen.
“And so it ends for Hayley Ann Lancaster Wright Sweeney Mason, as her car crashes off the bridge and plunges deep into the bay, but at least she went out with a bang.”
“Not necessarily.” The director had returned to set. His deep-set brown eyes matched the color of his wavy hair, but they turned sad as he presented her with a bouquet of pink roses. “Her car will be fished out of the water, but she won’t be in it, because we’re all hoping you’ll be back someday.”
Lauren’s face lit up as she accepted the bouquet. “It all remains to be seen. I’ve been doing this gig for ten years. It’s time for me to move on.” She stopped to take in the sweet scent. “Chuck, really, you shouldn’t have. These are beautiful. Thank you for thinking of me.”
He gave her a warm embrace. “You’ve been an absolute joy to work with. I’ll be the first to admit you’re overdue for a long hiatus, but we’re still going to miss you. If your future plans don’t work out, you know you’ll always have a home here.” He kissed her on the cheek and gave her a final squeeze.
For your holiday reading pleasure, I’m sharing a sample from my contemporary romance novel, The Betrayal.
Emily thought she had a good marriage until she caught her husband, Jesse, with another woman. Jesse however, has fought hard to win her back, and his efforts appear to have been successful. To celebrate their reconciliation, he’s taken Emily to San Diego for Christmas, but an unexpected phone call from Emily’s grandmother is about to set the stage for an even bigger tragedy.
A Christmas Scene from The Betrayal
Emily heard a knock at her door as she put on her earrings. Jesse waited on the other side. Once again, he greeted her with a kiss.
“You brought your little black dress.”
She smiled in return. “Indeed I did. As I recall, it was your favorite.”
“And it still is.”
As he stepped into the room her phone started ringing. She reached into her purse and frowned as she checked the caller ID.
“Who is it?” asked Jesse.
“My grandmother.” Emily let out a frustrated sigh. “Somehow it figures. I haven’t heard from her in weeks, and now, here she is. Her sense of timing is impeccable. She’s always had a knack for raining on people’s parades, and I’m really tempted to let it go to voicemail.”
“Don’t.” Jesse’s voice sounded firm. “Otherwise she’ll keep calling back, every half hour, until you answer. Besides, it’s Christmas Eve, and you and I are on our way back to where we belong. It’s time to let it go and wish her a Merry Christmas.”
Emily shook her head and shrugged her shoulders before she accepted the call. “Hi Grandma. Merry Christmas.”
“I just got off the phone with your brother.” Her grandmother’s voice had its usual demanding undertone. “So I know your father is in Minneapolis and you’re at home alone. So why don’t you come over here?”
“Where are you, Grandma?”
“I’m at your Aunt Heather’s house. I’m with her, and your cousin.”
“Tonya. Gary and Annette have other plans tonight, but I’ll be seeing them tomorrow. Meantime, I’m very concerned about the fact that it’s Christmas Eve, and you’d rather be home by yourself instead of reaching out to your family.”
“Actually, Grandma, I already had an invite from Eddie and Gwen. You know, my other cousins. On Dad’s side of the family.”
Emily heard the distinct sound of disapproval in her grandmother’s voice. “Besides, this year none of you invited me to any of your holiday celebrations.”
“So I’m inviting you. Now.” As usual, her grandmother’s invitation sounded more like a command.
“Sorry, Grandma, but I won’t be able to make it. At the moment I’m in California, with Jesse.”
“With Jesse?” Barbara sounded stunned.
“Yes, Grandma, I’m with Jesse. He’s still my husband, and we’re trying to work things out.”
“Well, hallelujah. It’s about time you came to your senses. I’ve been telling you for months now that this was nothing more than a misunderstanding that’s been blown way out of proportion. It’s about time you stopped telling all your vicious lies about your cousin. You know, he fired her because of you, and she’s–“
Jesse could hear Barbara’s end of the conversation through Emily’s phone. “May I?” he whispered. Emily gladly handed him her phone.
“Merry Christmas, Mrs. Leary.” Jesse tried to sound upbeat.
“Well, Jesse. Merry Christmas to you too.” There was a phony sweetness in Barbara’s voice.
“Thank you.” His voice took on a serious tone. “I’d like to take a moment to set the record straight, if I may, once and for all. There was never any misunderstanding about anything on Emily’s part, and everything she’s told you is the truth. I fully admit that last summer I had an inappropriate relationship with your other granddaughter, and Annette was a willing participant in that relationship. It was a huge mistake on my part, and Emily did indeed catch us in the act. It damn near cost me my marriage, and I’ve taken full responsibility for my wrongdoings. I don’t know what Annette may have told you, but my decision to fire her was mine and mine alone, and I’d think by now my reason should be pretty clear. At the time I let her go, Emily and I weren’t speaking to one another, so please, quit blaming her for something she didn’t do. And by the way, I also referred Annette to another job, with better pay I might add, but for whatever reason, she wasn’t hired.”
For the moment Barbara was speechless. Jesse went on.
“I want Annette out of my life, Mrs. Leary. Emily wants her out of her life as well, and I’m sure you can understand the reason why. I’m sorry it’s come to this, and I’ll always regret my part in creating a permanent rift in your family, but I’m afraid it’s the way things will have to be from now on. Emily and I will be here in California for the holidays, and then she and Megan will be leaving for their cruise right after the first of the year. We’re hoping she’ll be ready to move back home once she returns, and then maybe we can have you over for dinner. In the meantime, we’d like to wish you, and your daughter, and Tonya, a very Merry Christmas, and we look forward to seeing you sometime in the New Year.”
He disconnected the call before Barbara could respond. “Hopefully that’ll shut the old battleax up for a while,” he said as he handed the phone back to Emily. “So are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” she said, “and I hope you finally got through to her, because she sure wouldn’t listen to me.”
“I think she may have gotten the message. At least for now.” He smiled and gave her a reassuring hug. “But even if she didn’t, it’s not your fault. I know she’s your grandmother, but it’s a toxic relationship. You have every right to live your life in peace and to not have to put up with her abuse. In the meantime, you’re sure you’re okay?”
“I’m fine, Jesse.”
He looked into her eyes and kissed her. “In that case, I guess we’d better get going. I made dinner reservations for seven o’clock, but hold that thought, okay?”
Writing contemporary romance novels is incredibly fun. I get to create interesting characters, put them in all kinds of precarious situations, and write action-packed scenes. I suppose it’s the adult version of playing make believe. And while those action-packed scenes are fun to write, there’s another kind of scene I also love writing. It’s the quiet, intimate moments when the character is in a time of personal reflection. It’s when I go inside the character’s head and make the emotional connection which, in turn, creates the magic moment when the character becomes more than just words on paper. He or she essentially becomes a living, breathing human being who seems so real that we can almost reach out and touch them.
The following example is from my contemporary romance novel, The Reunion. Ian believes he’s just lost Gillian, the love of his life, to his son, Jeremy. Ian takes a long walk to try to sort things out, and reflect on what has happened.
a sample read from The Reunion
Ian spent the next few hours walking, but he was in such a state of shock he became completely unaware of his surroundings. At sundown he was sitting on a bench at an empty playground in a small neighborhood park. Gazing at the playground equipment in the twilight, he saw ghostly images of Jeremy as a small child, laughing and playing. How could such an innocent little boy have grown into the man who betrayed him? Darkness was soon upon him, but he had no desire to leave. His mind was filled with images of Gillian and Jeremy, laughing and smiling, while they enjoyed the sights and sounds of the Las Vegas strip. Then he saw the two of them together in their bed. Jeremy was making love to her. Would she respond to Jeremy’s touch the way she’d responded to his?
“Oh, stop torturing yourself, Ian,” he said aloud. “It’s over and done with and you allowed it to happen. Now you can’t undo it.”
He couldn’t bring himself to leave. His mind was filled with the memory of a long-ago night in his college apartment. Gillian was on the leather sofa, wearing his old yellow bathrobe, and he was making love to her for the first time. It was the moment he knew he had found his one true love, and twice he had foolishly pushed her away. Tonight, she was somewhere faraway, in her marriage bed, with Jeremy for her bridegroom. She had entered a place from where he could never get her back.
The breeze stirred and he heard the leaves rustling on the ground. The cool October night air seeped through his jacket. It was time for him to return home, to his own empty bed. Finally, he stood and walked out to the street. Nothing looked familiar. Walking to the nearest corner, he didn’t recognize the names of either street. He looked at his watch. It was after ten o’clock. No doubt Larry would be frantic. Reaching for his phone, he called Larry, who answered on the first ring.
For your holiday reading pleasure I’m presenting a snippet from my contemporary romance novel, The Journey as Cassie and Jeremy’s Thanksgiving celebration takes an unexpected, and frightening, turn.
Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving everyone.
“Happy Thanksgiving, Jerry,” said David as he stepped inside. “I’ll bet you’re glad to finally be home.”
“You got that right. I think I’ve finally got my life back on track now.”
David presented Jeremy with a bottle of white wine. “I brought a little something to go with dinner, and I have some ginger ale for Cassie.”
They went into the kitchen where Cassie greeted David with a hug while Jeremy put the bottles in the refrigerator. She then excused herself, saying she needed to change, while the two men headed into the living room to watch football. As Cassie headed back toward the kitchen doorbell rang again. Ian and Gillian had arrived. Ian joined the men in the living room, while Gillian followed Cassie into the kitchen.
“That sweater looks gorgeous on you,” said Gillian as she put her bowl of fruit salad into the refrigerator.
“Thanks,” said Cassie. “It’s nice and cozy too.”
“Can I help you with anything?”
“Thanks, Gillian, but I think I’ve just about got it. Everything should be ready in another couple hours or so. I’ve got some snack trays in the fridge that I need to get out, but first, can I fix you anything to drink?”
“Just a soda, thanks.”
As Cassie reached into the cupboard for a glass, she suddenly stopped and placed both hands on her belly, crying out in pain.
“Oh my god!” Gillian rushed up to her, trying to hold onto her as she doubled over. “Cassie, what’s wrong?”
Cassie took a deep breath. “I don’t know. All of a sudden, I felt a really sharp pain.”
Jeremy burst in. Ian and David were on his heels.
Gillian helped Cassie back up. Both women had horrified looks on their faces.
“I just had a contraction,” said Cassie, “but it’s way too soon.”
David stepped forward and scooped her into his arms. “We need to get her to the emergency room. Now.”
Jeremy stayed behind him as they rushed out the front door. Gillian quickly turned off the stove and oven before hurrying to join the others.
“We’ll take her in the minivan,” said Ian. “The hospital is only a few minutes away.”
Jeremy helped David load her in the van as Ian hopped into the driver’s seat and fired up the engine. A minute later they were on their way.
“Is everything okay back there?”
“So far, we’re good, Dad. She hasn’t had another one.”
Jeremy had his arms wrapped tightly around Cassie. Her head leaned into his chest. He stroked the side of her face and looked at David, who saw the fear in his eyes.
“Hang in there, Jerry. It’s probably false labor. They’ll give her something to stop the contractions. She’ll be fine.”
Cassie fought to keep her composure. “What about my baby?”
David patted her arm. “I’m sure he’ll be okay. Just try to stay calm.”
They remained silent for the rest of the drive. Thankfully, the holiday traffic was lighter than normal, and they arrived at the hospital within minutes. Ian pulled up to the emergency entrance and waited as two younger men helped Cassie out of the minivan. This time Jeremy picked her up and carried her inside while David ran up to the admissions desk. A minute later a nurse arrived with a wheelchair and whisked Cassie away. A badly shaken Jeremy took a seat in the waiting room while a clerk brought him the usual paperwork. David sat down next to him.
“She’s in good hands. She’ll be all right.”
“But what about the baby, David?”
“I don’t know, but I don’t see any reason for us to think the worst right now.”
Thanksgiving was always a big deal in my family. My mother would get up before dawn to put the turkey in the oven, and she made all the trimmings from scratch. Dinner would be served in the dining room, and we all wore our Sunday best. Uncle, aunts and cousins would join us, and other years we’d spend Thanksgiving with them at their home.
When I became an adult Thanksgiving was still a big deal. During the years when I lived close to family my mother and sister-in-law took turns hosting the big family gatherings. After I moved away I would either spend Thanksgiving with my own spouse or friends. Other years we would fly back to Arizona and spend it with my family. Regardless of where I was, Thanksgiving was always the second biggest holiday of the year.
Years later, when I wrote my debut contemporary romance novel, The Reunion, I included a chapter a Thanksgiving chapter. Cassie and Jeremy hit it off over dinner, and afterwards they stepped outside for a walk. While they were away Samantha has a serious talk with Gillian, and the two women make a surprising wager.
A Thanksgiving scene from The Reunion
Samantha smiled to herself. It was looking more and more like Jeremy would become a good friend to Cassie. After dessert, Cassie suggested that he take a walk with her to work off some of their dinner.
“Good idea,” he said. “Would you two ladies care to join us?”
“Not me, thanks,” said Gillian.
“Me neither,” said Samantha. “We don’t get to hang out together very often. You kids go and take your time.”
Jeremy and Cassie quickly grabbed their coats. They were discussing the apartment in Colorado Springs as they went out the door.
“They seem to have taken a liking to one another,” said Gillian once the front door closed behind them.
“Yes, they have. Gillian, can I ask you something?”
Samantha’s voice had a serious tone. “Exactly what is the nature of your relationship with him?”
Gillian grabbed the wine bottle and refilled their glasses. “Let’s go have a seat in the living room.” They picked up their wine glasses and Samantha followed Gillian to the sofa where they made themselves comfortable.
“Jeremy is a very special friend,” said Gillian. “We got off to a bit of a rough start, but then it worked out. I truly believed he’d be my stepson someday, but then Ian threw the brakes on that.”
“Gillian, if this is none of my business just say so, but is there anything more to it than just a friendship?”
Gillian hesitated for a moment. “You mean, have I ever slept with him?”
“Good heavens no. I’ll admit that first night we were together in Las Vegas, I had a moment, and I mean a very brief moment, of temporary insanity while we were out on the dance floor. He’s a good dancer, I’d had a glass of wine, and I sure thought about it, but nothing happened between us that night, or any other night for that matter. Later on, when I thought about it again, I realized I’d wanted to turn him into another Ian, and I could never use Jeremy like that. He saved my life, Sam. Whoever he eventually ends up with will have to understand that he and I will always have a very special relationship. It’s not romantic, but we share a very special bond. One that will last for both of us for the rest of our lives. So please, don’t worry about your daughter. I’m not going to be jealous of her. In fact, I think they’re a good match.”
Samantha sighed in silent relief and gave her friend a knowing smile. “Gillian, do you have a hundred dollars?”
“Of course I do. Why?”
“Because a hundred dollars says that come next Thanksgiving, Jeremy really will be your stepson.”
“Oh, come on, Sam,” said Gillian with a laugh. “I can’t take your money like that. I’m not taking Ian back. No way, no how.”
“Of course not. You’ll just go out and have yourself tattooed in his honor.” Both women burst out laughing, and then Samantha turned serious once again. “Quit kidding yourself, Gillian. You’re going to take him back, and you know it.”
“Fine. Then I’ll lose the hundred bucks. It’ll be the easiest money you ever made.”
Gillian gave her friend a smile. “All right then. One hundred dollars says I won’t be married to Ian Palmer a year from now.”
“You’re on.” The two women shook hands on their bet and Samantha grinned once more. “Just be prepared to pay up.”
I first visited Steamboat Springs, Colorado, in the 1990s. While famous for its ski resort, ranching is still a vital part of the area. So, when I wrote my debut contemporary romance novel, The Reunion, I located the fictitious St. Eligius Ranch near Steamboat Springs. St. Eligius Ranch is a former cattle ranch turned horse sanctuary. A number of key scenes take place there, including the story’s final climax. A later contemporary romance novel, The Journey, also use St. Eligius Ranch as a location.
I revisited Steamboat Springs in the summer of 2014, this time to research the area for future novels. I also brought my camera with me and found something that somewhat matches the description of St. Eligius Ranch. Of course I kept a respectful distance and took the photo from the side of road. Maybe life really does imitate art.
By the way, photography, like writing, is one of my life’s passions, and I do art photography under the name Gayle Martin. If you would like to see more of my work please visit my website at gaylemartinphotography.com/. In the meantime, please enjoy this scene from The Reunion, as Gillian, visits St. Eligius for the first time.
a scene from The Reunion
Laura took Gillian to one of the small corrals outside the barn and pointed out a black mare with a white blaze down her face and three white socks. “We call her Miss Mollie,” said Laura. “She’s got a lot of stamina, but she’ll respect her rider, as long as you know what you’re doing, and it sounds like you do.”
Jeremy came up behind them. “Miss Mollie? Good choice.”
Laura pointed to a large bay gelding in the next corral. “We call him Pretty Boy. He’s Jeremy’s favorite.” Before long the horses were saddled, and they mounted up. Will stayed behind, saying he had work to do. Laura rode a young buckskin gelding she called Fred.
“He’s Miss Mollie’s son,” she said. “He was a young foal at her side when we adopted them two years ago. I think he’ll turn out to be a fine horse, but he still has some rough edges to work out.” Laura led them away from the barn and onto a narrow trail leading through a lush meadow. Gillian couldn’t get over the sheer beauty of it. The aspen and cottonwood trees were turning gold.
“When I first came here, I was an ex-housewife who didn’t know one end of a horse from the other,” said Laura. “I was originally hired as a bookkeeper for Will’s veterinary practice. Next thing I knew, I was writing grants, planning fund-raisers, and doing everything else I could think of to keep money flowing in the door for the foundation to help care for these animals. Back then I was living in the cottage, that’s what we call the fifth-wheel trailer, and I soon became friends with Will. He taught me, and both of my boys, how to ride. He also taught me how to help take care of the horses. Along the way I’ve been kicked, bitten, and occasionally stepped on, but I’ve learned to cope with it. Horses are easy. Two sons aren’t.”
“Thanks, Mom,” said Jeremy.
“Anytime,” she said with a knowing grin. “Some of the ones we get are simply neglected or have owners who, for whatever reason, are no longer able to care for them. Those are the easy cases, and we can usually get them to new owners right away. Others arrive abandoned, injured or starving. They need some TLC, and we’re often pretty successful with them as well. We also get the occasional hard-luck cases. They’re the ones who have suffered some serious abuse, and it never ceases to amaze me just how cruel some human beings can be. They usually need complete rehabilitation, but we’re not always successful. There’ve also been a few that we’ve had to put down as soon as they arrived. Those are the ones that really break your heart.”
They continued across the meadow and began working their way toward the ridge as Laura went on with her story. “This ranch used to be called The Flying M, and it’s been in Will’s family for over a century. When Will’s father inherited it from his great-uncle, it was still a working cattle ranch. Will’s dad was also a veterinarian. He started up the veterinary clinic, and he started taking in injured and abandoned horses. By the time Will finished veterinary school, they decided to stop raising cattle and add a horse sanctuary to the clinic. They sold about half the acreage, and the name, to the big dude ranch resort next door. Will renamed the place St. Eligius. He’s the patron saint of horses and those who work with them. That pretty much sums it up. The foundation survives mostly on grant money and donor support. We also do a number of fundraisers throughout the year. One is coming up soon. It’s the haunted hayride we do every year with the Flying M. It’s the last Saturday in October and we always have a lot of fun while we’re at it. We have volunteers of all ages who come and participate, and the boys always come to help out as well.”
My newest contemporary romance novel, The Scandal, is now available. It was a fun book to write. Part of me wished I could have kept writing it forever, and I almost got my wish. I had to make many last-minute revisions, but I’m pleased with the final result and I hope you’ll be as well.
The Scandal is the story of soap opera actress Lauren McAllen. Lauren has had a long, successful run on The Seas of Destiny, a top-rated soap. She’s leaving the show to pursue a film career and luck appears to be on her side. She’s soon offered a supporting role in a feature film, but before the camera starts rolling, Lauren finds herself in the middle of a scandal which rocks Hollywood.
In the meantime I’m going on a brief hiatus. My dogs will be so happy. As much as I love writing, I have to take a break from time to time, so I’m going to do some photography and play with my piano. I may even take a road trip or two, but not too worry. I’m already formulating my next book in my mind.
A sample read from The Scandal
Lauren desperately needed to talk to someone. Luckily, she had a mentor in whom she had trusted for many years. She punched the accelerator and headed to the freeway, entering the network studios parking lot twenty minutes later. Stepping out of her car, she entered the building through the visitor’s door. Harriet, the security guard, looked up from her desk and greeted her with a hug and a big smile.
“How are you, sweet girl?”
“Actually, Harriet,” said Lauren, “I’m not sure. When did you start working the front desk?”
“A few weeks ago. Knee started acting up. Must be old age or something, but I’ll be fine. So, what about you? You don’t seem like yourself today. Is anything wrong?”
“Today was my first day at Cloudland Pictures, and—”
“Lord have mercy.” Harriet looked stunned. “It’s been all over the news this morning. They’re saying Calvin Michaelson raped someone.”
Lauren’s stomach twisted into a knot. “We were told he’d been arrested, but they didn’t know what the charges were. Then I heard it was for rape. Do they know who the victim is?”
“She hasn’t been identified yet, but apparently she had a bit part in Honeymoon in Vegas.”
“I see.” Lauren still couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “So when did this happen?”
“Three years ago, but they’re saying she was too afraid to come forward until now.”
For a moment Lauren thought she might be sick.
“Are you okay, Lauren?” asked Harriet.
“I think so. It’s just such a shock. Is Sharon here today?”
“She sure is. Would you like me to call her office?”
“Then have a seat. I’ll let her know you’re here.”
I often include major holidays in my contemporary romance novels. In The Letter,Stephanie spends a bittersweet Easter with her new boss and his husband while Danny finally realizes the time has come for him to make some changes.