Excerpts, Nora's Guy Next Door

Beginnings: Nora’s Guy Next Door

Nora's Guy Next Door HPG2What could possibly be more romantic than a grocery store, right? Hey–I don’t argue when inspiration hits me, and the opening scene for Nora’s Guy Next Door came to me as I was fighting my way through a crowded grocery store. I went with it, and it may be my favorite story opening.

I’m spending April revisiting the openings of each of my romances. Nora’s Guy Next Door is part of The Lowery Women series, but this book also inspired my upcoming Gallant Lake series with Harlequin Special Edition.

………………………………………………

Nora Lowery Bradford didn’t come close to losing her good Southern manners until the third time someone smacked their grocery cart into hers, nearly toppling a package of fancily frosted cupcakes. She spun on her heel, but the angry words died on her lips. The offender was an elderly lady, even shorter than Nora, pushing a cart loaded to the brim with Thanksgiving fixings.

Bless her heart.

Nora smiled and was about to wish her a happy holiday, but before she could speak, the woman rammed her cart into Nora’s again–on purpose!

“What’re you doin’, sightseeing or something? Move over! Other people got things to do.” With that, the woman pushed on by, scraping her cart along Nora’s to drive home her point.

Nora stood there for a moment with her mouth open, then rolled her eyes and pushed on. With Thanksgiving just two days away, the grocery store in Gallant Lake, New York, was mobbed with people. And the mob was cranky. Maybe she was biased, but people seemed just a bit more genteel back home in Atlanta. Unless, of course, you went grocery shopping on senior discount day–then all bets were off, Southern or not.

…………..

The produce section was even more crowded than the aisles, and Nora slowly worked her way through the veggies, taking in the dramas unfolding around her.

A woman threw a round head of pale lettuce into her cart, glaring at the balding man by her side. “Of course your mother thinks iceberg lettuce is the best. Your mother wouldn’t know a romaine leaf if it bit her in the ass!”

Two men leaned intently over a tomato display nearby. “Derrick, trust me. Vine-ripened tomatoes are better for salad than that monstrosity you picked up.” He gave his partner a wink. “I know you love the word beefsteak, honey, but bigger isn’t always better.”

Just a few minutes later, the drama jumps up a notch when Nora runs into a gorgeous, furious man cursing to himself in the fruit section of the produce area. They don’t exactly hit it off, but they can’t seem to stop running into each other…especially once they find out Nora’s daughter is having a baby…with Asher’s son. 

Music Monday, Nora's Guy Next Door

Music Monday – Like I’m Gonna Lose You (Asher & Nora)

Of all my couples, Nora and Asher of Nora’s Guy Next Door are the two who truly understand how fragile life can be. Nora lost a husband. Asher lost a son. And while their story is all about moving on and embracing life and love, the reality of losing someone is surely never far from their minds.

So I can picture the two of them sitting out on the wide covered porch of the log home Asher built on Gallant Mountain, with Meghan Trainor’s beautiful song, Like I’m Gonna Lose You, playing in the background. They’ve watched the sunset together, talking about their day and enjoying a a glass of wine for Nora, whiskey for Asher. The song comes up on Nora’s playlist, and Asher stands and pulls a surprised Nora out of her chair and into his arms. And there, on a warm spring night (spring will get warm eventually, right?), the two of them dance together in the moonlight. Nora’s head rests on his shoulder, and when Meghan and John Legend stop singing, Asher leads her upstairs to continue their slow dance…

Excerpts, Nora's Guy Next Door

A First Kiss: Nora’s Guy Next Door

Nora Checklist (1)

I am all about first kisses this month! This week, I’m sharing the all-important first kiss from Nora’s Guy Next Door (The Lowery Women Book 2). This is a Seasoned Romance, with both Nora and Asher in their forties, so they’re not new to this kissing game. But this kiss is different. With her daughter pregnant with his son’s baby, things are beyond messy. Falling for each other will complicate the family dynamics even further. And yet here they are, right or wrong, no longer able to deny the incredible chemistry between them.

……………………………………..
Asher’s lips were hard and tender at the same time as Nora pushed up onto her toes and kissed him. She kissed him! Because he was right.

She wanted this as much as he did.

At first they were gentle, tentative. Butterfly kisses, teasing and tempting. Making contact, then pulling back. But when his hands moved to her waist, up and around, slipping under her sweater, the feel of his calloused hands moving across her skin unlocked something inside her she’d never known existed, and suddenly she was on fire. Her fingers twisted in his hair and her lips parted. She felt the vibration in his chest as he growled before moving his tongue across her teeth and into her mouth.

Their heads turned and bumped as their tongues twisted together and pushed against each other. Was that him moaning in pleasure or was it her? She didn’t care. She just wanted more. Their mouths came apart only long enough to gasp for air before crashing together again. Her arms tightened around his neck and she pulled herself higher, fairly climbing the poor guy, and he didn’t object. In fact, his hands dropped to cup her buttocks and he lifted her, pinning her against the door. His mouth moved down her neck, devouring her inch by inch, and she lifted her chin to give him full access. He sucked at the base of her throat, and a loud groan echoed in the hallway. Oh,God, that was her!

“Asher…”

She didn’t have any words other than that. She just needed to say his name out loud. How had she come to be here in his arms, moaning his name like some wild woman? It didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was the feel of his lips on her skin, of his fingers gripping her, of her own name being whispered over and over as if he was breathing her in and out.

Music Monday, Nora's Guy Next Door, The Writing Life

Music Monday – There Is Love (Nora & Asher’s Wedding Song)

I’m adding a bit of a twist to my Music Mondays – I’m imagining which of my books a love song might fit into, and where. When it comes to “There is Love” by Peter, Paul & Mary (yes, I’m going back a few years!), I can imagine this being the song Nora and Asher dance to at their wedding. Maybe not in front of their guests, but later, when they’re alone together and amazed at the love they’ve found with each other. Nora and Asher are from “Nora’s Guy Next Door.” This is a seasoned romance, where both hero and heroine are forty and dealing with impending grandparenthood. They (especially Asher) both struggle with the risk of allowing love back into their lives. But once they do, they know it’s what they were needing all along. There is love. There is love. There is love.

Excerpts, Nora's Guy Next Door, Teaser Tuesday, The Writing Life

Teaser Tuesday: Two Days Before Thanksgiving

Nora's Guy Next DoorToday is the exact day my romance novel, Nora’s Guy Next Door, begins – two days before Thanksgiving.

The book opens with Nora (a Southern belle) in a crowded grocery store – you know how crazy they can get, right? I originally come from “Wegmans Country” in the Northeast – if you live anywhere near a Wegmans grocery store, you know how amazing they are (it’s like the Disney version of grocery shopping), and yes, I miss them. I don’t think the little town of Gallant Lake is big enough for a Wegmans, but I did envision their produce section while writing this scene.

I am partying up a storm today over at the Facebook group Coffee, Cupcakes and Contemporaries, with some fun giveaways to celebrate “Two Days Before Thanksgiving” – come join us!

……………………

Nora Lowery Bradford didn’t come close to losing her good Southern manners until the third time someone smacked their grocery cart into hers, nearly toppling a package of fancily frosted cupcakes. She spun on her heel, but the angry words died on her lips. The offender was an elderly lady, even shorter than Nora, pushing a cart loaded to the brim with Thanksgiving fixings.

Bless her heart.

Nora smiled and was about to wish her a happy holiday, but before she could speak, the woman rammed her cart into Nora’s again—on purpose!

“What’re you doin’, sightseeing or something? Move over! Other people got things to do.” With that, the woman pushed on by, scraping her cart along Nora’s to drive home her point.

Nora stood there for a moment with her mouth open, then rolled her eyes and pushed on. With Thanksgiving just two days away, the grocery store in Gallant Lake, New York, was mobbed with people. And the mob was cranky. Maybe she was biased, but people seemed just a bit more genteel back home in Atlanta. Unless, of course, you went grocery shopping on senior discount day—then all bets were off, Southern or not.

The miserable weather wasn’t helping anyone’s attitude. Three inches of snow were on the ground when she arrived in the Catskills yesterday, and she was not happy about it. Oh, sure, the stuff looked like sugar frosting on the rooftops and tree branches, but the air was cold and raw.

The forecast for the week was snow, rain, wind, more rain, then snow again. Her cousin Amanda assured her that was typical for November, which was little comfort. No wonder people were so grumpy here in the North! She’d tried to convince Amanda and her  husband, Blake Randall, to fly south for Thanksgiving with their kids, but they owned a large lakeside resort here and couldn’t be gone during a busy tourist weekend. So the family was gathering at their historic castle-turned-home, Halcyon, located right next door to the resort.

Nora unfolded the store flyer she’d picked up at the door, trying to remember where the produce section was. The only good thing about being in Gallant Lake this week was that her favorite person in the whole world, her daughter Becky, would be arriving later today. Somewhere along the line, Nora had failed as a proper Atlanta mother, because her debutante daughter had inexplicably fallen in love with the Catskills the first time she came here after Amanda and Blake’s wedding. It was disappointing, but not surprising, when Becky hopped the first plane out of Georgia when Vassar offered her a scholarship.

The produce section was even more crowded than the aisles, and Nora slowly worked her way through the veggies, taking in the dramas unfolding around her.

A woman threw a round head of pale lettuce into her cart, glaring at the balding man by her side. “Of course your mother thinks iceberg lettuce is the best. Your mother wouldn’t know a romaine leaf if it bit her in the ass!”

Two men leaned intently over a tomato display nearby. “Derrick, trust me. Vine-ripened tomatoes are better for salad than that monstrosity you picked up.” He gave his partner a wink. “I know you love the word beefsteak honey, but bigger isn’t always better.”

A young woman pushed a cart past Nora with a toddler in the seat and a little boy and girl in tow, all three complaining loudly. The girl stomped her feet.

“I don’t wanna eat turkey! I wanna eat ice cream!”

“You gotta eat turkey on turkey day, dummy.” Her older brother gave her a shove. “And you can’t have ice cream. You gotta eat pie!”

The littlest one, sitting in the cart, started to scream. “No pie! No pie, Mommy! No pie!”

The mother’s face was pinched and tired. Nora reached out, resting her hand on the woman’s arm. “Don’t worry, darlin’, these days will pass. Enjoy these babies while they’re young. Before you know it, they’ll be off to college like mine.”

She got a tight smile in return. “Right now, it feels like that can’t happen soon enough, but thank you.”…

 

A deep voice started cursing behind her as she reached for a bag of lemons. She glanced over her shoulder and spotted a tall, lean man in jeans and a faded flannel shirt. His gray-blue eyes were frosty with anger, but she couldn’t tell where it was directed, since he seemed to be alone.

“Damned idiots. They’re nothing but stupid-ass idiots.” He roughly tossed a bag of apples into his cart, making it rattle, causing a few heads to turn. “Stupid, stupid, stupid…” Another bag of fruit landed in his cart with a bang, and he pushed it closer to hers.

She couldn’t see a Bluetooth device in his ear, so he seemed to be having this conversation with himself. Flat out raging at himself, from the sounds of it. His face was sharp and angled, but the dark stubble along his jaw softened those lines just enough to make him strikingly attractive in a rough-hewn way. Layers of dark brown hair brushed his shoulders, and he reminded her of an aging rock star getting ready to smash a guitar somewhere.

Nora gave herself a mental shake. She hadn’t looked twice at anyone since Paul’s death, much less ogled someone in a small-town grocery store. And this bad-tempered stranger was very much not her type. But still, she couldn’t take her eyes off Hot Produce Guy.

Excerpts, Nora's Guy Next Door, Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday – Nora’s Guy Next Door

Nora - Enough - DarkIn Nora’s Guy Next Door, Nora’s daughter is having a baby. With Asher’s son. Neither Asher nor Nora are happy about it. And now they’re neighbors. And that’s when things get really complicated. In this scene, she’s just brought lunch to his furniture shop after they shared an evening together. Just an innocent lunch, so they can talk things over. And they’ve decided to take things slow and keep the relationship quiet, because people might talk. Luckily, it’s Asher’s pal, Sheriff Dan, who walks in, and Dan already has a pretty good idea what’s going on….

“Slow works for me. And quiet, too.” Asher’s thumb brushed across her cheek. “When you blush like that, your cheeks turn into little roses, all pink and sweet. It makes me lose my concentration, and all I want to do is this.” He slid off the stool and stepped up to her. She parted her legs to let him come closer, and he pressed his body against hers. Then he kissed her—long and deep, slow and possessive—and she would have slid off her stool into a puddle on the floor if he hadn’t been gripping her shoulders and holding her upright. Good god, this man could kiss!

The jingling of the bell over the shop door pulled them apart abruptly. She felt like a schoolgirl who’d been caught kissing the quarterback behind the bleachers.

Dan Adams stood in the doorway, in uniform, with a wide grin on his face.

“Let me guess—Nora passed out and you decided she needed a little mouth-to-mouth?” Dan snapped his fingers. “No, I know what happened! She has a sore throat and you were checking her tonsils, right?”

Music Monday, Nora's Guy Next Door, The Writing Life

Music Monday – That’s When I Knew…

Nora's Guy Next Door Nothing the Same (2)I think this song by Alicia Keys is probably one of the truest love songs ever. Because love often doesn’t arrive with rainbows and choirs and fireworks. Attraction and lust can show up like that, but love? True love tends to sneak up on us, and it can arrive at the oddest times. A word. A touch. Riding in the car and glancing at each other. Just another dance that turns into THE dance. Passing in the hall and stopping for a sweet, lingering kiss that leads to the realization that your life just changed forever. This song captures that sweet surprise perfectly. Enjoy!

 

Meet Me in the Middle, Nora's Guy Next Door, The Writing Life, Whatever Wednesday

Whatever Wednesday – A Timeline

GL StoriesIt’s #WhateverWednesday, and today’s “whatever” is the timeline of how my October novella, Meet Me in the Middle (part of the Falling For You anthology released yesterday) and Nora’s Guy Next Door (Harlequin Superromance) fit together. They both take place in Gallant Lake, NY, and are stand-alone stories. Chronologically in the stories, however, Meet Me in the Middle happens first – it starts in October, and runs into early November. During Thanksgiving Week, Nora meets Asher for the first time in the opening scene of Nora’s Guy Next Door (just a week or so after Ben and Sarah work things out on a mountain road).

There are a couple of characters who show up in each story: Sheriff Dan (although very briefly and “off stage” in Meet Me), and Cathy of Crazy Cathy’s Caffeine Cafe. Those readers with a sharp eye will get a clue in Meet Me of what’s going to happen with the cafe in Nora’s Guy Next Door (what does that sign say that Ben spies in Cathy’s window?). Will there be more stories from Gallant Lake – a fictional town in the Catskill Mountains? Absolutely!

Excerpts, Nora's Guy Next Door

Teaser Tuesday – Nora’s Guy Next Door

Today’s teaser is from my October Harlequin Superromance, Nora’s Guy Next Door.

Nora’s daughter is having a baby. With Asher’s son. Nora moves to Gallant Lake and buys a coffee shop right next door to Asher to be close to her daughter, and the fireworks begin. He’s haunted by a tragedy, and she can’t resist trying to fix the hot, grumpy guy next door, because that what she does–she fixes things with “a smile and a plan.”

But neither one of them ever planned on falling in love.

And love can be complicated.

Nora's Guy Next Door Nothing the Same (2)