August 15, 2013

Lucas Wright

Nancy's back from her much-needed rest, hero-girls! And BOY, do I have a great hero to bring back from my time off. I said on my Facebook page when I finished The Convenient Groom that God had answered a prayer I hadn't even prayed yet with this book. Though this won't post for weeks yet, I'm still basking in the afterglow of a blissful five-hour long reality escape to a sweet romance with an orange-worthy hero and I'm thrilled to get to share him with you. Let's climb in the sailboat with one Mr. Lucas Wright, shall we?

About The Convenient Groom (re-released March 2011):

She wrote the book--literally--on finding the right mate. But does she really understand what love's about?

Five hours before her Nantucket beach wedding--and on the eve of her big book launch--celebrity marriage counselor Kate Lawrence has everything in place. Everything, that is, but the groom. She might not have a career, either, when her nationwide audience finds out their marriage guru has been left at the altar.

Enter Lucas Wright, who offers to stand in for the missing husband-to-be and marry her. Kate's desperate enough to agree--although she's sure this Mr. Wright is completely wrong for her. But can they pull it off? And why would Lucas marry her in the first place?

Could it be that "Dr. Kate" doesn't know the first thing about love?

An inspiring tale of enduring love set in romantic Nantucket.

Each Romance For Good™ novel offers a story of hope and love that positively portrays the eternal impact of relationships.

Excerpt from The Convenient Groom:

"I'm going for a walk." Kate grabbed the doorknob leading to the beach.
"I want him to stop calling here." Lucas crossed his arms over his chest, his right bicep bulging over his left fist. He looked away.
"I'm a little tired of everyone telling me what they want right now." Kate pulled at the door.
Lucas put his hand against it. "He has no right calling my house."
"Your house? I thought I lived here too." Kate turned and was surprised to find Lucas so close, his arm extending past her.
"You know what I mean."
Did she really? Was he being possessive of the house or of her? Why did he care if Bryan called? Sometimes she thought she saw something in Lucas's eyes, but right now she thought it had nothing to do with her. It was about possession. Bryan and Lucas were like two wolves fighting over an animal carcass.
And I'm tired of being caught in the middle.
She jerked on the door, but he held it fast.
What was it with men and control? "Let me go." She pulled at the knob again. It didn't budge. "Lucas! Let me--"
"What if I don't want to?"
And just like that, time slowed.
Almost against her will she looked at him. And was caught by his eyes. They pulled her in, held her hostage. She stilled, her anger fading, replaced by something... more complicated... less welcome...
"What if I don't want to?" What did he mean? Suddenly desperate to understand, she searched his face and watched as his eyes darkened into shadowed whirlpools.
She forgot how to breathe.
"What if I want you to stay?" His gaze traveled the planes of her face and stopped at her lips.
"What..." He was so close she couldn't think. His thumb grazed her cheekbone, barely a touch, and yet it heated her skin. She shuddered and closed her eyes against the riptide tugging inside her. What was happening? This was Lucas, not Bryan. Lucas, who frustrated her with his lack of organization. Lucas, who annoyed her with his sluggishness.
Lucas, who held you in his arms when you were seasick. Lucas, who stepped in and saved you when you were desperate.
"Open your eyes, honey."
Her stomach tightened at the endearment. She was powerless against the emotion raging inside her. It felt wonderful and terrible and scary.
"Lucas." Nothing more than a whisper.
"Open your eyes," he said. "See what's right in front of you."

Excerpt used with permission. All rights reserved.


Gallant Score

There is the whole being a stand-in groom to keep Kate from annihilating her career and being irreparably humiliated in the media and to Dr. Phil. But that's not why made Lucas orange-worthy. To be honest it was a little creepy at first he would so readily "save" Kate but as I followed his thought process through why he wanted to, including the things he didn't tell Kate, I could at least respect it. But his gallantry oozes off the page in quiet moments with Kate, when she'll allow them. With his family, especially his younger sister, and how he keeps to his side of the bed in their one-bedroom house. His biggest gallant moment is a huge spoiler so I can't tell you what he does, except to say you will melt. Totally melt. If there's anything left to melt when you get there. I would also be remiss for not including the real reason he lives next door to his parents, which you will misjudge, as did Kate, and then feel really silly and love him even more when you find out the truth.

Wounded Score

You never think that accidentally buying the wrong kind of potato chips will change your life forever, but it did. I can't even imagine what it was like for Lucas to go through that, and like Kate, I hurt for him when she (and me as the reader) found out. Suddenly, so many things about him made sense and I just wanted to pull him off the page and hug him really tight.  

Softie Score

Oh yeah. Lucas is a softie. Most of the time. I absolutely loved that scene on the sailboat where Kate got seasick. I loved the way he tried to protect her from his mother, and even from Bryan though she wasn't looking at it that way. The way he remembers their anniversaries even though she'd rather not acknowledge them. Even his sense of humor in some of their more amusing mishaps when Kate's blanket barrier between them fails, haha, and the really tender one when she wakes up to find he's been awake a long while watching her sleep. Not in a stalker way, but in a man completely in love way that she STILL doesn't see. Honestly, I'd give Kate the stupid strikes if the blog worked that way, but thankfully Lucas refused to give up on her. Another reason he's here.

Stupid Strikes

I really wanted to give him an orange head for his complete and total failure to tell Kate how he really feels. Except the more I thought about it, the more I realized it wasn't his fault as much as Kate was just completely unapproachable for so long because of her feelings of betrayal toward Bryan and sorting out her grief over being jilted. As for the "issue" with "the red-head", Lucas didn't do anything wrong. He was a perfect gentleman the whole time, every time so I can't fault him for that either.

Swoon Score

He deserves every single one of them. I fell hard and fast for Lucas way before I found out he had my absolute favorite physical trait--green eyes! It's way more about who he really is and what he does for Kate and others that made me love him, but he's certainly wrapped in a hero-worthy matching exterior. =)

Denise Hunter is the nationally published bestselling author of The Convenient Groom and The Trouble with Cowboys. She has won The Holt Medallion Award, The Reader's Choice Award, The Foreword Book of the Year Award, and is a RITA finalist.

In 1996, inspired by the death of her grandfather, Denise began her first book, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her husband says he inspires all her romantic stories, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

When Denise isn't writing she's busy raising three heroes-in-the making with her husband. You can learn more about Denise through her website or by friending her on Facebook.

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The FHF Exclusive Directly from the Author

"The Convenient Groom" was born of my love for "marriage of convenience" stories. I'd read many such historicals and had even written one, but I decided it was time to write a contemporary one--it was a fun challenge to try and make the plot plausible in today's

Lucas has a special place in my heart. His character was originally inspired by Jack Slattery from the "Men in Trees" series. Since the heroine, Kate, is a Type A personality I wanted a strong, silent hero for her, someone who mozies instead of walking and thinks instead of speaking. The opposites-attract rule is definitely in operation here.

Lucas has some great qualities, so when Kate's fiance jilts her just before her wedding, what's a protective and loyal hero to do? Marry her, of course! It doesn't hurt that he's secretly in love with her.

Writing Lucas and Kate's love story was a blast. Conflicts arose naturally because of their different personalities and their forced cohabitation. I hope readers enjoy their journey as much as I did. 


The giveaways

Well this reader certainly did! We are giving away a copy of The Convenient Groom, just let me know you would like in the book drawing. We are also giving away a $10 Amazon or B&N giftcard for existing The Convenient Groom readers who name a character not used in the excerpt (and Dr. Phil doesn't count either, hehe). Once that character's name has been used, you need to choose another. Winners will be randomly drawn on August 31st. If your blogger link doesn't have a way for me to find your e-mail, be sure you leave it in a spam fighting format like customemadefurniture at heartofgold dot com.

So tell me hero-girls, does the idea to marriage to a total stranger absolutely freak you out? Are there any circumstances in which you would consider it? If it was an orange-worthy hero like Lucas, not a box of chocolates luck of the draw, would that make a difference? Let's play!

August 1, 2013

Ian McKay

Hi again! Joy here. So, I have a confession to make. I don’t read contemporary fiction very much. I know, I know- I’m sure there is an untold wealth of stories I have missed because of this fact. I am a ravenous reader, but I’m also a selective, quirky kind of reader. I’m a historical fiction, historical romance, and…fantasy? kind of girl. Did she just say fantasy? As in swords, and time travel, and spaceships, and dragons? Yes, that’s right. When I escape reality- I REALLY escape. (Sister Gretchen, can I get an Amen? =D )Hmmm. Something’s up with that. Anyway- back to my original confession. My former boss (owner of the local Christian bookstore), handed me Wishing on Willows and said “This looks like a Joy book.” I kind of laughed, took the offered novel, and agreed to read it and let him know what I thought.

Which leads me to confession number two: I loved this book. Almost from Ian’s first appearance on page 14, I knew he was going to end up in the spotlight on FHF. Because there is no escaping the fact that, contemporary fiction or not, Ian McKay is a bona-fide hero. In fact, the sigh of “happy ending” contentment had barely escaped my lips before I was clicking (as in, “What’s-wrong-with-this-button-I-only-clicked-eleventy-one times-and- it- isn’t-working!” clicking) the hero nomination button. And here we are! Yay! I ask only that the regular contemporary fiction readers to hold back the “I told you so’s” long enough to allow me to (most humbly) introduce Ian McKay.

About Wishing on Willows (released March 19, 2013):

Does a second chance at life and love always involve surrender?

A three-year old son, a struggling café, and fading memories are all Robin Price has left of her late husband. As the proud owner of Willow Tree Café in small town Peaks, Iowa,  she pours her heart into every muffin she bakes and espresso she pulls, thankful for the sense of purpose and community the work provides.
So when developer Ian McKay shows up in Peaks with plans to build condos where her café and a vital town ministry are located, she isn’t about to let go without a fight.

As stubborn as he is handsome, Ian won’t give up easily. His family’s business depends on his success in Peaks. But as Ian pushes to seal the deal, he wonders if he has met his match. Robin’s gracious spirit threatens to undo his resolve, especially when he discovers the beautiful widow harbors a grief that resonates with his own.

With polarized opinions forming all over town, business becomes unavoidably personal and Robin and Ian must decide whether to cling to the familiar or surrender their plans to the God of Second Chances.


Excerpt from Wishing on Willows:

       “I’ll be right back with one last cup of coffee.” Robin curled her finger under the handles of the mugs and turned around. And in the turning, he saw her.
       His eyes widened. Because Robin, the café owner, was…Janet, the frazzled, pretty woman who almost ran him over outside Sybil’s. She stopped, the smile on her face slowly melting away. Ian crossed his ankle over his knee and waved. She turned around, the porcelain mugs clinking together as she hurried to the counter. Now this was an interesting turn of events. Why would this woman tell him her name was Janet?
       She dropped the refills off with Carl and Mimi and approached his table, her steps slow and uncertain. “May I help you?” she asked.
       He clasped his hands over his knee. “Either you have an identical twin, or your name isn’t Janet.”
       Her face turned red.
       “Or maybe Janet’s a nickname?”
       “I…” her voice faltered. She glanced over her shoulder at the display counter filled with an assortment of pastries, then at the wall clock hanging behind it.
       “Your music…” Really, what could be said about her music? Unlike Carl and Mimi, he’d been to his fair share of concerts. He grew up with a younger sister who loved Chopin and Brahms. Yet he’d never heard anyone play with such passion. It had been palpable. Contagious, even. He draped his elbow over the chair’s back. “What song did you play just now? I didn’t recognize it from anywhere.”
       “I write my own.”
       She pulled at her earlobe. “We’re closing soon. Would you like something to go?”
       He nodded toward the other couple. “Their coffee wasn’t to go.”
       The red came back. It made him smile.
       “You were here earlier, weren’t you?” she asked.
       “You serve very hot coffee.”
       She set her hand on top of the chair across from him. A diamond caught the light and sparkled on her finger. He hadn’t noticed it this morning.
       “Amanda mentioned that you wanted to speak with me,” she said.
       He could have told her about his plans but something held him back. Maybe it was the aftereffects of her music, or the rich scent of coffee in the café, or an instinct he’s inherited from his father. He simply knew now was not the time. “Just wanted to compliment the owner.”
       Her forehead wrinkled. “An employee spills coffee on you and you want to compliment the owner? You do realize that’s not a typical response?”
       “Maybe I’m not a typical guy.” He leaned across the small table and stuck out his hand. “Ian McKay. I’m in Peaks on business.”
       She twisted the ring on her finger. “Didn’t we already do this?”
       “I don’t recall meeting any Robins today. A nice lady named Janet who tried to warn me about the hazardous cloud of incense in Sybil’s Antique Shoppe, maybe. But no Robin.”
       An uncomfortable laugh escaped her lips as she reached out and shook his hand. Her movement was soaked in hesitation.

Excerpt used with permission. All rights reserved.

Gallant Score

Ian has a job to do, and he’s good at it. The beauty of this story is watching as Ian’s priorities shift from what he thinks is best for Peaks, to what he knows is best for Peaks, and himself. When it comes right down to choices, Ian takes a stand because it’s the right thing to do. His journey towards full blown white knight-dom is one of the reasons he slam-dunks the orange here.

Wounded Score

It’s hard to share the depth of Ian’s wounds without giving something away. Let’s just say Ian knows the meaning of loss in some of its darkest forms. It leaves him with a feeling of inadequacy, and Ian believes he still has something to prove to the world, himself, and especially his dad.

Softie Score

Can I just say there’s a puppy involved and leave it at that? =) Ian is a softie when it counts. The vulnerable, tender side of him is a perfect foil to the GQ model, “I got this under control.” side.

Stupid Strikes

Nothing to report here. Ian (like all heroes) has his moments of being less than “perfect”, but nothing strike-worthy.

Swoon Score

Did I mention the GQ model thing? I did? Oh. Yes. Well, moving right along past the physical appearance….I sooooo want to spill all the itsy-bitsy details of just how sweet Ian is! Have you ever just wanted to hug a character because they’re so awesome and you know how much what they’ve done will mean to the other people in the story? I was there with Ian so many times. Let me condense it for you. In a nutshell, the things that are most precious to Robin become precious to Ian, too. And he shows it in a turn-your-insides-to-mush and explode-your-heart-with-happiness kind of way.

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Katie Ganshert is the author of Wildflowers from Winter and Wishing on Willows, both published by Waterbrook Press, a division of Random House. Her debut, Wildflowers from Winter, was a Christian Retailing’s Best and Christy Award finalist in the contemporary romance category and a Carol Award finalist in the debut category. She lives in Iowa with her handsome husband, their dinosaur-loving son, and their goofy black lab, Bubba. When she’s not busy writing or playing or reading or snuggling, she is obsessing over the paperwork and the waiting that comes with adoption, which she and her husband hope to complete sometime before they are fifty. You can learn more about Katie and her books by visiting her website or author Facebook page.

The FHF Exclusive Directly from the Author

Ian McKay is a man who's just trying to do the right thing, but no matter which way he turns, he's going to hurt someone he loves (or is falling in love with). He's got some baggage he's not proud of, a father who's nearly impossible to live up to, and this stubborn woman who is slowly capturing his heart. For all those reasons and more, Ian became one of my favorite characters to write.

Interestingly enough, if you were to read the original draft of Wishing on Willows, you probably wouldn't recognize Ian at all. Somewhere along the line, his name changed, his hair went blonde, he developed that killer crinkly-eyed smile, his personality softened, and he acquired a love for cooking. I even changed his back story and the motivation behind his story goal. Why, you might be wondering? Because I needed to give readers a hero they could fall in love with, someone worthy of Robin's attention. Originally, he was much more the villainous but tortured, shrewd business-man type. I hope readers fall in love with this new, improved Ian McKay much more quickly than they would have with the previous version.

The giveaways

Alright hero-girls, same giveaway setup as always. One copy of Wishing on Willows in the winner's choice of format, but please tell us to toss your name in the drawing. For those who have already enjoyed Wishing on Willows, leave us the name of a character not used in the excerpt and we'll put your name in the bowl for a $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble giftcard. Once that character has been used, you'll need to choose another. Winners randomly drawn on August 14th. Be sure to leave your e-mail address in your comment in a spam-fighting format like Ian (at) wishingonwillows (dot) com

FHF News

Nancy here! If you haven't already seen the change to our blog header, it is with great excitement I'm able to announce that guest feature writer Joy W. Doering has joined FHF as a regular contributor. (We're trying to think of a more awesome title for her but for now that's what we've got. =) Joy and I have so much in common it's kind of scary and please give her an orange-worthy welcome to the FHF family.