Sunday, July 31, 2011

It's Here - Two Brothers is Now Available

I'm super excited to announce that Two Brothers is now available. This is the day I've been waiting for. I'm surprised at how quickly the time went by, but they do say time flies when you're having fun. And it has been both fun and nerve wracking.

To purchase follow this link:

I read the words to Jason Aldean's song Tattoes On This Town. It speaks to the heart of my story, talking about small town life and everything we learned living there. So, I've included a small portion of the song. 

We laid a lot of memories down,
Like tattoos on this town.

There’s still a rope burn on that oak branch,
That hangs over the river, I still got the scar,
From swingin’ out a little too far,
There ain’t a corner of this hallowed ground,
That we ain’t laughed or cried on,
It’s where we loved, lived and learned real life stuff,
It’s everything we’re made of.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Final Excerpt - Two Brothers

Book blurb:
At eighteen, Amanda Riley got her first lesson in love when Jacob Henderson broke her heart. But then she made the biggest mistake of her life – she ran off and married his younger brother.

Ten years later, she’s divorced and moving back to her small hometown. She’s made a name for herself in the cutting horse industry. That should count for something… Right? But decade old mistakes won’t be easily forgotten by everyone in town.

When Amanda and Jacob are thrown together to help an abused horse, old desires ignite and past truths are revealed. And just when they think they’ll get a second chance at love, the younger brother comes home.

Saturday morning Amanda was up and on the road at dawn. The rain had stopped sometime during the night and the sun struggled to break through the thick clouds blanketing the sky. The weatherman predicted a warm and sunny day.

She passed by the Henderson farm and promised herself she’d work up the nerve to stop later to put in an order for hay.

Jacob’s house came into view and she remembered well the morning she’d left his house with her whole world turned up side down. She’d gone to him the night of her eighteenth birthday, determined to make him see her as a woman, not Matt’s little sister. She offered herself to him—heart, body and soul. He’d taken what she offered, never hesitated, and then afterwards told her it shouldn’t have happened. He’d told her to go home, scolding her like a child. She’d cried all the way home and then left town with his brother the next day.

The thoughts were inevitable. It had been a major turning point in her life. That night changed her and made her world less secure. She’d grown up. She knew eventually that she would be able to drive past his house without memories and sadness bombarding her.

As luck would have it, Jacob sat at the end of the driveway in his black pickup truck and waited for her to pass. She raised her hand in a half wave, which he ignored. She fought the urge to flip him the middle finger.

At her place, Amanda parked the car. Grabbing the cooler she’d filled with ice and bottled water, she headed for the house. She set the cooler just inside the side entrance, which served as a combined mud room/laundry room, adjacent to the kitchen. She’d made the decision, for better or worse, to keep the old refrigerator and stove the Ellison’s had left behind. They were easily twenty years old, but they worked and saved her money.

She made a quick run through the house flipping switches and smiling as light filled the rooms. She’d need light bulbs. The faucets squeaked and the pipes shuttered as water rushed forward bringing rust water before running clean. She added air freshener to her mental list to rid the rooms of the stuffy, unlived-in smell.

Satisfied with the house, she headed out to the barn to start stripping down the stalls. She made yet another mental note to stop by the feed mill and see if they could deliver shavings and feed next weekend.

Sweat rolled down the hollow of her back by late morning. She lost count of how many wheelbarrows of manure she’d hauled out of the barn, but her muscles ached with the strain. Her stomach grumbled and refused to be ignored any longer. She washed up at the kitchen sink and dried her hands on the legs of her jeans. Paper towels, toilet paper. She grabbed a pen and paper from her purse and made a list of items she would need.

First stop, the Henderson’s. Pride kept her from buying hay from another farmer. She knew the quality of the hay and while their families weren’t close anymore, she wouldn’t be forced to give her horses a lesser quality hay just to avoid the Hendersons.

She was here to stay and they all had to deal with the fact they’d run into each other now and then. Frank Henderson didn’t seem to have a problem with her, even if Jacob did, and she didn’t have a clue what Jacob’s mother, Grace, thought.

The shop doors stood wide open when Amanda pulled in at the main farm. She parked beside two trucks, one of them Jacob’s, and wished she had access to her truck. Maybe she’d rent a truck for next weekend.

Frank greeted her at the door. “Hey, Amanda.” He hugged her, catching her off guard. “Rumor has it you’re moving home, bought old Ellison’s place. Congratulations.”

“Thank you.” She spotted Jacob standing at the workbench, wiping grease off his hands. “Hello, Jacob.” She forced a smile onto her lips when he didn’t respond and his frown deepened. Never let them see you hurt. She’d used the same motto with Timothy and her father.

“I suppose you want to talk about the hundred acres we rent from Ellison.” Frank turned back into the shop and Amanda followed. “We’ve got soybeans planted for this year. We hope that won’t be a problem.”

“Not at all. I didn’t realize you rented ground from Ellison, but I don’t see any reason to change things.” She stood with her thumbs hooked into the back pockets of her jeans.

“We pay Ellison fifty bucks an acre. We won’t pay more than that,” Jacob stated sharply, refusing to acknowledge the warning look from his father. A truck pulled up outside the open garage doors, but the driver didn’t get out.

“Not a problem, Jacob. I stopped to put in an order for hay. I assume you’ll sell me hay for less than fifty bucks a bale.” Sarcasm dripped from her words in defense against his arrogance.

“Of course,” Frank interjected mildly and cast a pointed look at Jacob that said ‘be nice.’ “Jacob will get you all set up.” He excused himself to see to the passenger of the truck.

“I’m not sure what you have available from last year or your first cut. In three weeks, I’ll need about a hundred bales of hay.” His relentless stare unnerved her, but she managed to keep her gaze steady on his.

“We can manage that. Its four bucks a bale. It’s good hay.”

“I have no doubt. I’m going to need around six hundred alfalfa/clover bales every year, maybe more. I prefer them from the second cut. Any chance I can get on the list for this year?” She turned out her ankles then straightened them, never taking her eyes off his.

“Not a problem.” He took down a hardbound journal from a cabinet over the workbench, wrote down her information and then shoved the book back in place. “Consider it done.” He crossed his arms over his chest. Distracted by the corded muscles bulking around the band of his shirt sleeves, it took her a minute to realize he was dismissing her. What had she expected? And he was right, why pretend?

She turned and made it to the door before he spoke. “Amanda.”

She used to love the sound of her name on his lips, when it had been delivered without the bitterness she detected now. She closed her eyes for a brief second before turning back to face him.

“I’m sorry for the way I treated you at the wedding.” Even though a muscle jumped along his jaw, the words were spoken quietly and honestly.

She saw pain and anger in his ravaging blue eyes before he cast them down. Her heart broke for him. He’d been a part of her life forever and at one time, she’d considered him a friend.

“Thank you.” She wanted to give him comfort, give him something in return, but had little to offer. “I’m sorry, too. About Timothy. If I could change things, I would.”

He didn’t look up to meet her eyes, so she left him staring at his boots.

Thank you for joining me this month. I hope you've enjoyed the excerpts.Two Brothers is scheduled to be released August 1, 2011. Please check back here or my website: for the most updated information.

Monday, July 18, 2011

3rd Excerpt - Two Brothers

Book blurb:
At eighteen, Amanda Riley got her first lesson in love when Jacob Henderson broke her heart. But then she made the biggest mistake of her life – she ran off and married his younger brother.

Ten years later, she’s divorced and moving back to her small hometown. She’s made a name for herself in the cutting horse industry. That should count for something… Right? But decade old mistakes won’t be easily forgotten by everyone in town.

When Amanda and Jacob are thrown together to help an abused horse, old desires ignite and past truths are revealed. And just when they think they’ll get a second chance at love, the younger brother comes home.

The late morning sun slanted though the window, across the bed and pierced the back of Amanda’s eyelids. She rolled away from the light and snuggled deeper beneath the covers. The fresh scent of the fabric softener her mother had used for years brought back sweet memories of childhood.

She stretched, pushed her legs out toward the end of the bed and then tucked them back up into a fetal position. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d slept past six in the morning. Back in Arizona, she’d be in the stables by now, the horses fed and the stalls mucked. Then again, she didn’t make a habit of staying up until two o’clock in the morning either.

After her dance with Mr. Henderson, she’d returned to her table of friends and did her best to push Jacob out of her thoughts. Once the girls realized she would not satisfy their curiosity as to what had been said between her and Jacob, they continued as they’d been. She’d done her best to get back in the spirit of the party, but the confrontation with Jacob acted like a wet blanket, snuffing out the fire.

She let her thoughts drift to him now. She’d never loved anyone the way she’d loved Jacob. He’d been her first crush and her first love. And she’d been so certain she would marry him one day. A teenager’s fantasy.

His shoulders were as broad and tightly muscled as she remembered. His dark hair and deep tan enhanced the cobalt blue of his eyes. A rugged face made more handsome in spite of or because of the fine lines that fanned out around the corners of his eyes.

She’d forgotten how tall he was, how well she fit in his arms. Her height matched well to his six-two frame, ripped with muscle from years of work on the family farm. His musky scent brought back vivid memories of a night spent between his sheets where the smell had surrounded and clung to her.

She closed her eyes against the pain those memories brought, surprised at how raw and fresh the hurt could be. First love left scars that never quite healed.

Distraction came in the form of Emily who burst through the door and jumped onto the bed. “Wake up sleepyhead.”

“I’m awake.” Amanda groaned. “Why are you here so early?”

“It’s after ten, lazy butt.”

The smell of bacon and coffee wafted through the open door, enticing her to get up. She didn’t budge.

“So, did you consummate the marriage?” Amanda giggled into her pillow.

“Oh God, yesss. He…”

“Okay, okay, don’t want to know.” She help up her hands.

They laughed.

Amanda felt a sudden onslaught of emotion at her sister’s obvious happiness. “I didn’t get a chance to tell you how beautiful you looked last night.”

“I could see it in your eyes.” Emily smiled and then gave a short laugh of disbelief. “You aren’t going to cry, are you?”

“No. I never cry.” Amanda twisted her face in disgust. “I know I’ve said it a million times, but thanks for understanding why I didn’t want to be in the wedding.”

“No problem. You would have been a distraction. The whole town would have been more interested in you than the wedding.”

“That’s a little extreme.”

“I’m just glad you were with me on my special day.” Emily settled in cross-legged on the bed. “Before we head down, you have to tell me what happened last night with Jacob. And don’t play dumb.” She pointed a manicured finger to stop the denial.

“I’m not sure, Em. He asked me to dance and then looked shocked to find me in his arms. He acted weird. I know he blames me for Timothy leaving town, but nobody forced him to dance with me.” She never understood the blame, but then she hadn’t ever really understood Jacob. If she had, she wouldn’t have thrown herself at him the way she had. She’d misread his signals and made a fool of herself. “Why the hell did he ask me to dance?”

“I don’t understand why he blames you for choices Timothy’s made.”

“Everyone blames someone when they hurt. I guess it’s easier than facing the truth.”

“What did he say to you?”

“He asked me about Timothy. About where he is and why he never came home.”

“Did you tell him?”

“I told him it was his brother’s choice to leave and his to never come back.”

“I don’t understand you, Amanda. I don’t know why you don’t just tell Jacob and the Hendersons what an ass Timothy turned out to be.”

“The truth would only hurt them and I don’t see a reason to do that. It doesn’t matter what they think of me.” She’d seen the pain in their eyes when, year after year, she’d come home and Timothy didn’t. She’d heard it in their voices when they’d call and Timothy wouldn’t come to the phone. To tell them the truth now would only add unnecessary hurt. “You haven’t told mom or anyone, have you?”

“No, of course not. You asked me not to.” Emily crossed her arms over chest.

“I’m sorry, Em. I should have known you wouldn’t.”

“Yes, you should. You didn’t deserve to get hurt, you know?”

“Yes, I know that, but I married him, so I had to deal with the consequences of my actions.” She said it with a taste of bitterness in her mouth for it was what her father had preached. There were consequences for every action. She’d lived with her choices.

“Come on girls, breakfast,” Adeline called up the stairs.

“I’ll be down in a sec,” Amanda said to Emily as she left the room.

Stretching her arms, Amanda yawned and rolled to her side. Her old room held reminders of the girl she’d been. Statues of horses, trophies and ribbons from the fair mixed in among pink flowers and frilly ruffles. A faded picture stuck out from the corner of the mirror. In the picture, she, Amy and Kimmie stood with their arms wrapped around each other. Big innocent smiles split their faces and their eyes danced free from the worries that the world would one day bring.

Horses still dominated her life. She didn’t win little plastic trophies anymore, but she thrived on the thrill of competition and winning. Somehow, despite the past ten years, bits and pieces of the girl remained.

She lounged a few minutes longer and then climbed from beneath the covers. She found an old pair of knee-length sweatpants and a white tee shirt she’d left behind. The sweatpants clung to her thighs and butt like a second skin, but they fit. She pulled the tee shirt in every direction possible in an effort to give herself room to breathe. They’d have to do until the airlines called with her luggage. She didn’t hold out much hope they’d call on a Sunday. With her luck, they’d find her bags Tuesday when she headed back to Arizona.

At the bedroom door, she stopped and glanced sideways out of the second story window. The little red barn out back stood empty, the fence gone. They’d sold the horses the year after she left, with her knowledge of course, but she’d hated to let them go. She’d wanted to beg her parents to keep the horses a little while longer, but knew she couldn’t ask. By that time, her father had made it clear he wanted nothing to do with her anymore.

Her love for horses had started at an early age and her father encouraged her love. He’d spent so many Saturday’s hauling her and her horse to riding lessons and shows. He’d bought cows when they’d fallen in love with the style and art of the cutting horse. He’d been the first to recognize her talent and always said, “God gave each of us talents and our thanks to Him is to make the most of that talent.” She understood now.

There hadn’t been a day she didn’t think about home, about what she’d left behind. She hadn’t planned to stay away or to marry Timothy. But every time she’d talked to him about home, he’d acted as if she’d destroy his world if she left. He’d said he loved her and at first he’d made her feel special, desired. He’d promised to take care of her. The opposite of what Jacob had made her feel that fateful night.

She’d loved Timothy as a friend and convinced herself that they could make their marriage work. And if he would have followed through on a single promise, she believed they could have. She thought they’d been happy despite her terrible homesickness and struggle to make ends meet. He’d been charming and knew how to make her laugh. He’d spin big tales about the life ahead of them, the house they would someday own, yet things began to unravel after the first year.

He took their rent money to gamble with, claimed he would hit it big and all their problems would go away. When the money didn’t roll in right away, he got frustrated and began to drink when he gambled. She took a second job and managed to keep them in a cheap two-room apartment.

In the third year, he’d bullied her into taking a job at a strip club, said with her looks she’d make more money than any of those bimbos. That had lasted only a few months, when after a day at the casino and a night at the strip club, she'd come home at three in the morning to find one of those bimbos in her bed.

Looking back now, she couldn’t believe she’d stayed, and humiliated herself in the process. He’d apologized and made more promises. She’d wanted to believe they could make their marriage work. She’d been afraid to fail. In the end, after five years, he’d left her.

She’d failed anyway.

In the process she’d accumulated a few additional blunders that, in comparison, made running away and marrying the wrong man look tame.

It all turned out okay, she told herself, and released a shaky breath. The past was the past and she had plans for the future, ones she needed to share with her family. With everyone gathered downstairs, she wouldn’t find a better time to tell them.

I hope you've enjoyed this excerpt and will check back next Monday for the 4th and final excerpt. Two Brothers is scheduled for release August 1st.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

2nd Excerpt - Two Brothers

Book Blurb:
At eighteen, Amanda Riley got her first lesson in love when Jacob Henderson broke her heart. But then she made the biggest mistake of her life – she ran off and married his younger brother.

Ten years later, she’s divorced and moving back to her small hometown. She’s made a name for herself in the cutting horse industry. That should count for something… Right? But decade old mistakes won’t be easily forgotten by everyone in town.

When Amanda and Jacob are thrown together to help an abused horse, old desires ignite and past truths are revealed. And just when they think they’ll get a second chance at love, the younger brother comes home.

Jacob Henderson sat with his date, Maggie, and his parents, but found it difficult to keep from tracking Amanda’s movement around the room. When she stood in the doorway with Matt, he’d seen the tenderness on her face and wondered if she had regrets about her own wedding day.

He took the opportunity to linger over her long, lean body, paying close attention to each and every curve. She’d always been beautiful, but with maturity had come another kind of beauty which made her alluring and untouchable. He wondered if freckles still played across her nose and cheeks, and along the top of her slender shoulders.

Peals of laughter erupted from where Amanda now sat with her friends at a table across the room. He thought about all the times he’d seen them like this. The last time had been on her eighteenth birthday. His heart stabbed against his chest, a warning to stay away from those memories. When he’d been younger, he’d roll his eyes and acted like they were too silly to spend time with. Secretly, he’d been intrigued by their nonstop chatter and giggling. He’d wanted to know what they talked about all the time.

“Excuse me,” Maggie said as she stood and maneuvered between Jacob’s chair and the one behind him. “I’m going to go talk to Mrs. Weaver.” She leaned over, kissed his cheek and then grabbed his and his parent’s empty plates as she went. Nice job Henderson, he thought, not a good idea to ignore your date.

Jacob and Maggie had dated off and on for three years. He knew he should make things permanent between them, but just hadn’t taken the action to make it happen. There was always a good reason, although at the moment he couldn’t remember a one of them.

At thirty-three, he’d expected marriage and children by now. Weddings had a way of reminding him of this particular failure. As a third generation farmer, he’d yet to produce the next generation. If he didn’t have children, there would be no family left to leave the farm he owned and operated with his father.

And he wanted a family. It’s all he’d ever really wanted. Ten years ago, he’d thought his life would be with Amanda. He’d believed they’d have children together—five or six if she’d been able. He’d gotten it in his head they’d grow old together, but things—Amanda—hadn’t turned out the way he’d thought. When she’d disappeared from his life, his plans for the future vanished.

But a chance at a good life with Maggie stared him in the face. She worked as a kindergarten teacher and would be a good mother. He couldn’t ask for a more solid and loyal friend. So what held him back? Why wait? Maggie would make him a good wife.

He didn’t want to think that Amanda was the reason he hadn’t moved forward. His feelings for her had died years ago, right? So why avoid her? What was he afraid of? If anything, he should be pushing her for answers to the whereabouts of his brother.

He shoved to his feet. His chair slammed into the one behind him, startling his parents from their conversation with the Lewis’. He apologized, excused himself and headed straight for Amanda.

He’d prove he wasn’t afraid of her. That she was not the reason he’d never married Maggie. She held little interest to him other than what she might know about his brother.

One by one, the group of girls who hovered around the table began to zero in on his approach. Conversation began to falter and Amanda turned to see what had captured their attention. Those big green eyes of hers travelled up the length of him and rounded with surprise when she realized he was heading straight for her.

He starred into her eyes and felt as if he’d stepped into quicksand.

She hesitated, but stood to face him. “Jacob.” Her eyes darted off to the side.

“Would you like to dance?” He squared his shoulders.

Confusion creased her brow. “Sure.”

He led her onto the dance floor and took her into his arms. The DJ played another slow country song, but he didn’t hear the music. His heart pounded frantically, thumping in his ears and drowning out all other sound. The hand holding hers felt damp. The one resting along the swell of her hip felt too comfortable there. Heat burned his fingers. Her hair smelled of honeysuckle and resurrected the image of her standing in his bedroom doorway, her long dark hair splayed across her bare breasts. His body reacted to the memory, just as it had then, years ago.

For the past ten years he’d stayed out of her way when she came home. When that hadn’t been possible, they seemed to mutually ignore each other. Even though he’d set out with this purpose in mind, it now seemed odd to have her in his arms. She fit so well there and he wanted to pull her closer.

His eyes locked onto hers and the fog emptied from his mind. It was clear he’d failed his own stupid test. What the hell was he thinking?

She must have sensed the change in him because she attempted to step back. He knew he should let her go, but he didn’t. He saw the hurt drift across her face before she looked away. What the hell did she have to hurt over?

He’d lost both his hopes for the future and his best friend, her brother Matt. She’d turned Timothy against his own family and pitted their families against each other. He had a right to his anger and hurt. She didn’t.

“You owe me some answers. I should have asked for them years ago.” Her body stiffened and she stopped dancing. “Where’s Timothy? Why hasn’t he come home?” he asked.

“I don’t know.” She shrugged her shoulders and tried to step away from him.

He gripped her upper arms, fighting the urge to shake her. “How can you not know? You were married to him.”

“We’ve been divorced for five years.”

“You expect me to believe you haven’t heard from him since?”

“Believe what you want, Jacob.” She twisted her arms seeking relief from his grip.

“It’s your fault he left. Your fault he never came back.”

“Good, then you have your answers, don’t you?” she flung the words at him. Her eyes flared with emotion. Again, she tried to step away.

He tightened his grip. “What did you do to him? Cheat on him? Break his heart?” He could feel the heat rise into his face at her callous disregard for his brother’s feelings. He didn’t know this cold hearted bitch? How could he have ever thought he cared about her?

“He walked out on me, Jacob. It was his choice.”

“That’s what you say, but he’s not here for us to ask, is he?”

“Again, his choice.” Jacob’s grip tightened further when she attempted to jerk free. “Get your hands off me before I cause a scene.” Her eyes never wavered from his face. Anger dripped from every word she spoke.

“Excuse me.” Frank Henderson stepped in and laid a hand on Jacob’s arm. “Son, I think you need to sit down or leave.” Jacob heard the warning in his father’s voice and dropped his hands. Red marks encased her slender arms. Shame slithered and tightened his gut.

He turned on his heel and left as if hell itself chased him out the door.

Check back next Monday for another excerpt. Two Brothers will be available in August 2011. I love getting comments, so please feel free to leave one. Please be sure to check out the 2011 Summer Reading Trail by clicking the link at the top of the page.