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Check into the Inn at Last Chance

I have three brothers.  They taught me much as I grew up.  How to kick a soccer ball.  How to climb a tree.  How to bait a hook.  How to score a baseball game.

They also handed down their books to me.  Books like: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein, and I, Robot by Isaac AsimovI never read a Nancy Drew story in my life but I did jump feet first into all twenty-three volumes of the Tarzan series by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Book 1 - A Princess Of Mars (1)

 

When I was eleven or twelve I would take one or two of these hand-me-down books on summer vacations to South Carolina.  Until the year my Aunt Annie put her foot down.  I believe the book in question was A princess of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  Annie had no idea what was between the covers of this book, she simply objected to its cover.

Not to mention the fact that I was reading all these hand-me-downs from the boys and I was missing out on the good stuff.  Or so she claimed.  I personally thought four armed green guys with tusks were pretty cool.  Annie didn’t agree.

So that summer she took away my Edgar Rice Burroughs and handed me Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  I reluctantly cracked the book, sure that it would be filled with icky, sissy, not very interesting stuff.

 

And then I met Mr. Rochester and . . . *sigh* . . . I’ve never been quite the same since.

I think I’ve re-read Jane Eyre at least twenty or thirty times and I never get tired of it.  It was the gateway drug for many other reading addictions including my love of Jane Austen. 

Anyway, I knew when I started writing about the Last Chance, South Carolina book club that they would eventually get around to reading Jane Eyre.  And that’s precisely what they do in my newest release Inn at Last Chance, which went on sale this week.

Inn at Last Chance cover_hi res2X3This book is an homage to Jane Eyre.  My heroine, Jenny Carpenter, is a modern take on Jane.  She’s a former school teacher who dresses like a little mouse and who has decided to embrace her spinsterhood.  Her plain outsides mask a deeply emotional and passionate woman.  My hero, Gabe Raintree, is Mr. Rochester in spades.  He’s moody, dark, tortured, not entirely honest, and keeps lots and lots of secrets which make for fun plot surprises.  He even has a mastiff just like Rochester, only the dog in the story is named Bear and not Pilot.

There’s a creepy house.  And a ghost.  And lots of gothic goings on.  Of course I’ve blended all of this with the usual matchmaking church ladies who are determined to match Jenny up with the new Preacher in town, Tim Lake, who bears a resemblance to St. John Rivers.

I had a blast writing this book.  And I know I shouldn’t have favorites, but it is probably my favorite of all the Last Chance books I’ve written so far.  That’s how much I love the hero of this book . . . and Jane Eyre.

So here’s my question for all of the readers (and authors) who are dropping by today: What was the book that turned you on to romance, and why?

One lucky commenter will win an autographed copy of Inn at Last Chance.

* * * *

Back Cover Blurb

Jenny Carpenter is the unrivaled pie-baking champion of Last Chance, South Carolina’s annual Watermelon Festival and the town’s unofficial spinster. With her dream of marriage and children on hold, she focuses on another dream, turning the local haunted house into a charming bed-and-breakfast. But her plans go off course when the home’s former owner shows up on her doorstep on a dark and stormy night . . .

Mega-bestselling horror writer Gabriel Raintree is as mysterious and tortured as his heroes. His family’s long-deserted mansion is just the inspiration he needs to finish his latest twisted tale, or so he thinks until he learns it’s been sold. The new innkeeper proves to be as determined as she is kind, and soon Gabriel finds himself a paying guest in his own home. As Jenny and Gabe bring new passion to the old house, can she convince him to leave the ghosts of his past behind-and make Last Chance their first choice for a future together?

* * * *

Excerpt

The coals in Mr. Raintree’s fireplace must have been hot because the wood he stacked on the andirons caught fire right away. He looked down and poked the log a few times. The fire’s glow lit up his stony features, softening them in a way that made the breath catch in Jenny’s throat.

Just then, he looked up at her across the bare, almost sterile room. “You’re staring at me. What is it? Are you checking me out? Please don’t tell me that you think I’m handsome.”

“No,” she said without thought.

He chuckled. And the sound seemed to warm the room by degrees. “You’re a piece of work, Jenny Carpenter. You look exactly like the kind of conventional woman who hands out platitudes. And yet every time I speak with you, you surprise me. Don’t you know that southern women never speak their minds directly?”

The room suddenly felt tropical. Her mother had scolded her dozens of times for speaking her mind. She needed to watch it, now that she was an innkeeper. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I was too blunt. I should have said something about how what’s on the outside doesn’t matter much.”

He snorted a laugh. “I’m glad you didn’t. I like honesty. The truth is I’m not even remotely handsome. I never have been. Unlike…” His voice faded away, and he turned to look at an empty corner of the room.

“Unlike who?”

He shrugged. “No one.” He turned back to the fire, and the muscle along his jaw flexed. “I need to get back to work.”

* * * *

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