Janelle Wagoner kept a lot of secrets for her husband, but the one she tried hardest to protect was her own. She never suspected he knew or that he would choose to reveal it in such a dramatic way. Now that he's gone, leaving behind her and two children, Janelle is left to pick up the pieces and try to put her life back together before it's too late. Nathan Harris has only ever loved one woman, despite the fact that she was married to someone else. After learning that she has been hiding something from him, he's faced with a tough decision: With everything at stake, will he walk away from her for good, or will he lay it all on the line to win her back?
Throughout the book, Janelle and Kelsey have been gaining strength in standing up to their mother. This argument was no different. While Janelle was holding her own against her mother's attacks, having Nathan step in when he did was a new experience for her. And a very welcome one. Keep reading to find out what happens next.
Janelle is trying her best to keep her family life as normal as possible. However, while preparing for Zoe's birthday party, Kelsey's problems begin to rear their ugly head. Janelle is ready to squash her sister's doubts, but is pleasantly surprised when Nathan steps in to help without being asked.
As the older sister, Janelle has always been the one giving Kelsey advice. But in this excerpt, it's Kelsey's turn. I love this scene because until now, Kelsey has tried to remain silent, to allow Janelle to make her own choices, but has always felt Janelle wasn't seeing things as clearly as she should be. Kelsey takes this opportunity to show Janelle it's okay for her to do things for herself, because it's what she wants, not because it's what someone expects from her. It's the push that Janelle needs to finally feel comfortable putting her needs and wants above what she thinks she should be doing.
I love writing family dynamics almost as much as I love writing the budding romance. In this excerpt, Nathan is having Easter dinner with his brothers and mother and the boys are acting as I imagine they always have. I love Nancy! (She's named after my mother-in-law) I loved writing her and I love the way she deals with her sons. She has become one of my favorite characters.
I feel like I must defend poor George. In What It Takes, some people felt that he hadn't stood up to Mary enough for his daughters. In reality, Mary was very careful not to berate her daughters in his presence, while at the same time convincing them to leave their father out of the loop. As he learns more of what abuses Janelle and Kelsey have suffered, not just from Richard but from Mary as well, in silence, he begins to exert himself in defense of his daughters. In this section, he's just learned everything that happened at the funeral the day before. And as you can imagine...he's not happy about it.
Despite the way things ended between them, despite his recent revelations about their marriage, Janelle is still trying to do the right thing by attending Richard's funeral. Surprised by the number of people there, people she hadn't seen or heard from in years, she suffers their judgmental stares as stoically as she can. However, things go from bad to worse once she enters the chapel and is confronted by Richard's sister.
On the Line picks up the morning after the final chapter of What It Takes, after Richard has kidnapped, with plans to kill, his son, Zach. We know that Richard ends up dead in the process, but what we didn't know is that, in an attempt to further hurt Kelsey, he'd laid out his plans for the world to see. In this bubble, you get to see the beginnings of his manifesto where he shares Kelsey's biggest secret. But he doesn't stop there. As Janelle continues to catch glimpses of Richard's final "statement", her panic and concern for her sister rises as she makes her way to Kelsey's hospital room. Little does Janelle know that the biggest secret Richard will reveal will be her own.
After graduating college, Kelsey Morgan left her small-town Virginia roots to make it in L.A. After years slogging in commercials and music videos, her movie career is finally taking off. But she's still miles behind her current costar, and Hollywood playboy, Patrick Lyons. Kelsey does everything she can to avoid Patrick off-set, hoping to not become fodder for the supermarket tabloids that scour the streets for Patrick, trying to get an exclusive look at him and his alleged woman of the week. Kelsy has successfully kept Patrick at a distance, and her reputation intact, until her drunkard brother-in-law Richard threatens to ruin everything by selling her darkest secret to the highest bidder. Now the victim of blackmail, Kelsey has nowhere else to turn but to Patrick's arms. But, can he be trusted? Or will the past destroy them all before she can find out if he's the hero she needs? "What it Takes" is the first book in the Rocky Creek Series by Kathryn Ascher. Sequels are expected to release in 2015 and 2016.
Not long after our move to Florida, my husband and I watched the movie "This Means War". It was one of those (many) movies I had considered seeing in the theater, but just didn't make it. I was excited, it had looked funny and sweet, and it didn't disappoint. What stands out most to me, a year later, is my excitement when one line was spoken by Chris Pine's character. I remember sitting straight up and turning a huge smile on my husband and saying..."That's what George said!" It wasn't, of course, but the sentiment was the same. The line was, "Mistakes make us who we are." George Morgan loves his daughters. Like any father, he wants them to be healthy, happy, and safe. However, Kelsey and her sister have a hard time going to their father for advice (if you've read the book, you'll understand why). So when Kelsey returns home from filming with Patrick, her father begins questioning her about this new relationship. In the end, he's encouraging her to make her own choices, but also wants her to recognize things, including the bad, as learning experiences. I think that's something we can all agree with.
Ask most people what they think is a romantic gesture and they'll say chocolates and flowers...especially around Valentine's day. Personally, I feel like it's the small things that matter more. In this bubble, Patrick is bringing Kelsey coffee for the first time, and as you can see he's taken her completely by surprise. What he's telling her, what probably surprises Kelsey the most, is that he's learning about her. He's aware of her, even when she doesn't realize it, and he's paying attention to her. Him bringing her coffee, aside from showing him to be nice guy, is his way of letting her know that he's paying attention, and that he'd like to get to know her better.
You'd be surprised at the amount of research that can go into a romance novel, but how do you research "filming a love scene"? In short, you can't. I was able to look up the technical stuff, but every director approaches things differently. And then there are the actors. I can only imagine that for some, a love scene is the most awkward type of scene to film. It is for Kelsey, anyway. This is her first sex scene and to say she's nervous would be an understatement. To make matters worse, she's fighting to deny the feelings she's having for her co-star. Patrick is a seasoned pro, he knows what to expect going into this scene...he thinks. What happens when the cameras start rolling takes them both by surprise.
Before I ever sent WHAT IT TAKES to my publisher, I wrote Patrick's side of the story. I'd like to share with you Patrick's shopping trip, with his sister, as he tries to find the perfect gift for Kelsey: Sarah looked at the watches on the counter. “A watch, perhaps? It’s practical and can be very pretty.” Patrick glanced at the display and shook his head. “No, she’s not really a Rolex kind of girl. It’s too much, she’d need something simpler.” Sarah nodded and pursed her lips. Her eyes danced with excitement. She moved on to the cases on the other side of him. “So, what about a ring then?” she asked. He continued to study every piece in the display case, so didn’t really see what she was looking at. “No, I can’t imagine what message that would send to the media. They’d have a field day with that when they realize . . .” Patrick glanced around at all of the eyes fixated on him and decided not to continue his train of thought. Sarah’s was trying, unsuccessfully, to stifle a laugh as he made his way around to her. “Besides, I don’t know her ring size.” “Oh, of course,” she said and slid away. Patrick rolled his eyes when he realized she was looking at diamonds.
What didn't make the novel was that Kelsey's father, George, had been storing the tree Kelsey had bought at his house for the past year. During the holiday's the previous year, Kelsey's house had been going through a remodel, so she had had no place to keep it. This is the moment that Kelsey and Janelle get to begin decorating their new home for the holidays for the first time. Like the sisters, last year was our first year in a new house and decorating has been a completely different experience for us. I imagine that, a lot like me, Kelsey probably couldn't stop picking up new things to add to every doorway, every nook, and every cranny in her home. As the next two chapters progress, the sisters continue to decorate, and I can tell you, the finished product was as beautiful as you can imagine.
My mother and aunt have been Black Friday shopping for as long as I can remember, my mom figures close to thirty years. When I was a child, they were always up before the sun and it was rare for me to see them before I went to bed. As they were doing their shopping, as well as Nana's, my brother and I got to spend the entire day with our grandparents and eating Thanksgiving leftovers. After I got married, I was able to start joining them for the day. It was then that I discovered that Black Friday was more than just shopping. It was a day that the three of us got to spend together, without my children, without our husbands, just catching up with the things that have happened in our lives. It's a tradition we still carry on, even though the crowds have lessened and the deals aren't always the best. Kelsey and Janelle enjoy Black Friday for the same reasons. Living in two different states, it's the one day they are able to connect and strengthen their bond as sisters, without fear of interruption from the children or their parents. And Zach and Zoe get to spend the day with Grandpa, so they're building memories as well.
When I was younger, my parents' took me to my first ice hockey game and I believe I was hooked from that moment on. It was only a minor league game, but that was good enough for me. When I was old enough to go to games on my own, with my best friend, while other teenaged girls were walking in groups around the perimeter of the ice hoping to get attention from the teenaged boys (who were usually walking in groups behind the girls), we were sitting in our seats, watching the game. The action on the ice was always good, but the fights were always a highlight. A few months ago, we introduced our own daughter to hockey, and for now it seems she's following in my footsteps. She squeals with excitement when players get boarded and her eyes are glued to the action during the game and especially during the fights. It was this kind of excitement I imagine Kelsey displayed when she went to the hockey game with Patrick, something he wasn't expecting, but clearly enjoyed.
Who doesn't love a parade? Especially the Macy's parade. Thanksgiving for me was always spent at my dad's childhood, Nana and Poppa's, house. We would travel from our house, two and a half hours away, immediately after school was out on Wednesday and arrive late that night. The first thing my brother and I did when we woke up was turn on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade and the television would stay on until the parade was over. While we were glued to the TV, much like Zach and Zoe are, our nana, mother, and aunts were busy in the kitchen and dining room making the preparations for the meal. Given that my father's entire side of the family, Nana's four sisters and all of their children, there was a lot to prepare for. I always enjoyed spending time with the extended family that I only saw a few times a year, but that parade is just as prominent in my memories as the hours spent with my cousins. We've all gotten older and, with kids of our own, our traditions have changed slightly, but when I turn the parade on, even if it's only for an hour, I'm reminded of my childhood and am calmed and excited for the day.
When Patrick arrives at Kelsey's house, he quickly discovers she loves to watch football. Her father almost immediately launched into a discussion about the sport as soon as they sat down to lunch together. In this excerpt, Kelsey is trying to pick which team she'll support that day. The burgundies are the team she grew up watching, her father's favorite team, the Washington Redskins (it's the most local team for them after all). The blues are the team she has picked as her own favorite. Like Kelsey, I grew up a Redskins fan, but as I learned more about the game, I became more of a fan of great players and support their teams. At the time I wrote this novel, my favorite player, Peyton Manning, was an Indianapolis Colt and the blues in Kelsey's closet represent this team.
My first official job was in high school at the local McDonald's, and I still look back fondly on those days. As with most restaurants I've worked in, one of the benefits we received was half price food. With a thirty minute break and not many other food options, you really appreciate that discount. However, you also find yourself wanting to try new things, and sometimes my co-workers and I got pretty creative with our meals. One of the things that didn't require too much creativity though were the French fries. They are still, twenty years later, my favorite fries (when they're fresh, of course). I'm also a huge chocoholic, so if I bought ice cream, it was always chocolate (yes, it was an option way back then). So out of sheer curiosity, I combined the two. The warm saltiness of the French fries and the cool sweetness of the ice cream was surprisingly good, and it's still one of my favorite (albeit rare) combinations.
What better way for Kelsey to witness Patrick being himself than by catching him with the kids? Firstly, when I wrote this story, one of my kids' favorite cartoons was Phineas and Ferb, and I must admit, I always enjoyed it too. While Patrick's questions could fit almost any episode, I was thinking about one of my favorite's, the one where the boys build the haunted house to scare the hiccups away for Isabella. Secondly, the frosted flakes with chocolate milk was actually my husband's idea. When he first mentioned it, I thought 'how gross' but the more I thought about it, the more I thought it might fit. Patrick is still a confirmed bachelor (even though he's considering a change in that status at this point) and has never had any real personal experience with children, so probably wouldn't consider it a bad idea if Zach asked for chocolate milk on his cereal. Yes, Patrick ate it too. No, I've never tried it, and would never give it to my own children.
When we were children, one tradition I can remember vividly is carving pumpkins with my father before Halloween. One year in particular still makes me laugh. I forget how old we were exactly, but I'm fairly certain my brother wasn't five yet (and I'm about four years older). We had cleaned off the dining room table, put the papers down, and sat in the chairs on either side of my father as he cleaned it out. Once it was clean, we helped him design the face and watched as he carved it. Even after watching the whole process, when my dad turned the pumpkin around for my brother to see its face, he got so scared he ran out of the room crying. We still laugh about it, it's one of the few things I can tease my brother about. That was the moment I was thinking of as Zach told Kelsey about carving jack-o-lanterns with his grandpa.
After filming their love scene, Kelsey needed to spend time away from Patrick. Lucky for her, they were working close to Pigeon Forge, TN and the outlet malls that provided a nice getaway for her and Veronica. While I wouldn't say I'm a huge fan of shopping, I do enjoy outlet malls and the Tanger Outlets in Pigeon Forge are some of my favorites. I would probably list Pigeon Forge at the top of my favorite places and try to go at least once whenever we visit my father-in-law in Oak Ridge. The BBQ place Grayson asks Kelsey to bring him dinner from is a little place called Bennett's BBQ. I was reminded of this scene earlier this month when we actually had dinner at Bennett's. While I'm not a huge fan of blackberry cobbler, my husband is, and he can attest that the cobbler that Kelsey brings Patrick is some of the best he's ever had.
Grayson can never have too much fun, and this conversation is a fairly good example. Despite Kelsey and Patrick not being happy with the events of their first outing, Grayson is ready to go again, but there is a slight problem. They are filming in Knoxville, home of the University of Tennessee, a team in the SEC, one of college football's biggest conferences, and Grayson seems to have forgotten how big college football is in the south. In my experience, it's never a good idea to venture out into a college town, either the night before or the day of a game if you don't have to. When we lived in Virginia, even our town was overrun with fans on game weekend...and we were forty-five minutes away. Kelsey's request that they wait is really two-fold though, she wants to avoid the crowd, yes, but she also doesn't want to go out again. And given Grayson's additional comments, she's certainly not interested in watching Patrick flirt with anyone else.
I was reminded of this scene earlier today while my daughter was learning to play the game of 'War' at our sub-division's "Game Day". 'War' is a game that can sometimes go on for a long time and it seemed like a good way for Kelsey and Grayson to relax. It's also a game that doesn't require strategy or much concentration, so it gives Grayson the opportunity to needle Kelsey about her relationship, or lack thereof, with Patrick. It also gives us a look into the sibling-like relationship that Grayson and Kelsey have. While his teasing is a large part of who he is, Grayson also does it out of concern for Kelsey. He knows her to be a happy, friendly person, and it baffles him that she acts completely opposite of that when it comes to Patrick.
I've blogged before about how important music is to me and this is one of those times where it played into my writing. First, Patrick notices, and expresses a dislike for, all of the country music he hears in the bars. That was primarily influenced by my husband's dislike of country music, especially the slow, sad ones. Second, the song they are dancing to, even though I don't name it, was Ten Thousand Angels by Mindy McCready. I used to love that song and I was a big fan when she first arrived on the music scene. This song is the perfect example of the type of song my husband would hate, and it's also the perfect example of a song that sums up Kelsey's thoughts and feelings. Needless to say, if she'd known this song was about to play, she may have waited for her first dance with Patrick.
In college, some friends and I decided to enter the jack-o-lantern carving contest and I was taking my turn at carving when the knife got stuck in the pumpkin. Without thinking, I placed my hand on the pumpkin to brace it and slid the knife out. In the process I sliced through my thumb. I was quickly ushered to the closest dorm room where my thumb as wrapped in a towel and my parents were called. We weren't dating at the time, but it was the first conversation my husband had with my mother and it was when he learned I pass out at the sight of blood (I was agreeing with her from the floor, on my back with my feet in a chair). Since the story happens in the fall, my husband jokingly suggested that Kelsey could do the same thing with Patrick there to help her. I laughed about it at the time (would they really have jack-o-lanterns on set?) but the more I thought about it the more I liked the idea. Of course she's cutting apples instead of pumpkins, but I feel the sentiment is still there. And Patrick may not have a conversation with her parents, but the trip to the hospital gives him the chance to learn more about her that he may not have had otherwise.
My first introduction to Josh Turner was when my mom showed me the video to "Why Don't We Just Dance". With the different dances through the decades, it was such a fun video and a catchy song that I became an instant fan. When the time came to write the scene, that song kept coming to mind. Grayson's attitude toward life seemed to fit the fun shown in the video and I could easily see him dragging Kelsey into the fray with him. I imagine the line dance they lead looking a lot like the dances in the video and despite herself, Kelsey enjoying it just as much as Grayson. Even though I don't mention the name of the song here, toward the end of the book, they do it again and Grayson asks her to dance by using the song's title.
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