Over to you, Debra:
Hi, Cathie! Thanks so much for having me here today. It’s always fun to discover new places through reading, and as an author, I’m lucky to have the chance to be the one doing the introducing for others. The setting is more than the background for a story, more often than not it becomes part of the plot, integral to the hero and heroine’s journey of discovery and love.
For the past seven years, my husband and I have been vacationing every summer in the Ozarks. Friends of ours have an aunt and uncle who own a spread of land down there. The first time I saw the place, my immediate thought was, ‘This would make a great setting for a book!’ I spent some time brainstorming ideas for stories to set there, but nothing really gelled. One day, out of the blue, it hit me. It would be the perfect place for Zach and Jessica to fall in love in This Can’t Be Love.
Zach first appeared in my debut release, This Time for Always, as a secondary character. I always knew he’d be getting a story of his own, but I didn’t know what form or shape it would take. Once I decided to set the story in the Ozarks, everything fell right into place. (I did take the liberty of ‘moving’ the setting to Big Sky Country to match the first book, which is a fun privilege authors have!)
Writing about a place I’ve actually visited helps me to be extremely accurate with descriptions and details. Many of the things Zach and Jessica do on their journey toward love are things we do when we visit there: ATVing, swimming in the creek, canoeing, and my favorite, brush hogging on the John Deere. There are two cabins: a main house and a smaller one, an old barn, a historic cemetery, acres and acres of field and forest, and even bluebird houses. Plus I had a plethora of pictures to use for reference and inspiration.
Even though we only go once a year in real life, I can visit any time, just by opening Zach and Jessica’s story. It’s also been a fun way to share this amazing place with readers as well. My friend’s aunt and uncle got a kick out of seeing their place in print, too!
After the disastrous end of another dead-end relationship, all Jessica Hart wants is solitude and time to heal at her grandfather's mountain retreat. Instead she finds Zach Rawlings.
Zach has made himself at home at the cabin. He's house-sitting while the owner is away, and the temporary nature of the job suits him perfectly. For Jessica, Zach is everything she wants to escape.
As she gets to know him better, she realizes there's more to him than meets the eye. His patience and tender concern begin to heal something deep inside of her. But can she trust her heart to a man like Zach?
They laughed together, then fell silent. Crickets chirped in the darkness. The scent of Zach’s aftershave drifted to her on the light breeze.
After a while, he turned toward her. “Do you?”
“Do I what? Like apple pie and ice cream?”
“No,” he said softly. His gaze dropped to her lips. “Do you kiss and tell?”
Jessica’s heart kicked into a fast rhythm and she caught her breath. “I…”
“Shhhh.” He leaned closer. “I won’t tell if you won’t,” he whispered before his mouth claimed hers.
His lips stroked over hers, not aggressively, but softly, tenderly. He didn’t touch her anywhere else, but brushed her mouth with gentle intent.
Her first instinct was to pull back, but something stirred deep inside her. A feeling she’d nearly forgotten. Whispery shivers danced along her nerve endings and fluttered in her stomach. Without meaning to, the action was purely a reflex, she opened to him.
The kiss deepened. Their breath mingled. Her palm slid up his chest, feeling the play of muscle beneath his shirt. She fisted the flannel of his open collar in her hand.
His knuckles grazed the sides of her face.
Her body tingled with awareness. Scattered thoughts flitted through her mind, but she couldn’t hold onto any of them. Not while Zach kissed her. Not when his mouth fitted so perfectly against hers. Not when the pulse racing at the base of his throat matched the cadence of her heartbeat.
She couldn’t remember the last time she’d felt like this. Had felt anything.
Should she be feeling this way about Zach?
Almost as if sensing her conflicting emotions, he softened the kiss, tenderly brushing his mouth over hers one last time.
She waged a silent war within, trying to calm her racing heart.
She still clutched his shirt. She relaxed her fingers one at a time, releasing the twisted fabric from her grasp. Finally she drew in a deep breath, then slowly let it out.
Her eyes found his.
Zach’s gaze searched hers. He smiled. A smile as soft and tender as his kiss. He touched his finger to her lips, then rose. “Good night, Jess.”
This Can’t Be Love is available from The Wild Rose Press.
The first book in the series, This Time for Always, is also available there.
Readers can visit me at my web-site: www.debrastjohnromance.com