Romance Novel Giveaways - Freebies and Giveaways of All Things Romance Romance Novel Giveaways: Hometown Girl After All by Kirsten Fullmer πŸ’• Book Tour & Gift Card Giveaway πŸ’• (Contemporary Romance)

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Hometown Girl After All by Kirsten Fullmer πŸ’• Book Tour & Gift Card Giveaway πŸ’• (Contemporary Romance)

Julia lost everything while she was ill. Self-conscious and alone, she’s moved to Smithville, determined to hide away in her rundown Victorian house. Little does she know, she can’t hide anything in a small town, including her interest in the deliveryman.

Resolved to keep his life simple, Chad has his hands full running his delivery business and supporting his adopted family. So why can’t he get that withdrawn city girl, Julia, off his mind?

Will the eccentric but well-meaning Smithville folk push Julia and Chad to open up, or will the emotional toll drive them both back into seclusion?

I may live and work in a forty-foot trailer, referred to as an RV, but I don’t consider my home a recreational vehicle just because it’s self-contained, and has wheels. My home is spectacularly well thought out, cozy, and complete with everything we need. (washer/dryer, fireplace, even a dishwasher!) So what does my house have to do with my writing? Everything! When I conceptualized Smithville, the small-town setting for the Hometown Series, I didn’t realize that I was creating a hometown for myself.

My husband, Steve, and I, travel for his job with our little dog, Bingo. We usually live in one place for three to six months, then hitch back up and head to the next job. Even though Steve has a job waiting when we get there, the moves are sometimes stressful, but always interesting. I have to put aside my work, pack up all my do-dads, crafts projects, dishes, and plants. We maneuver our home through storms, narrow mountain roads, lost RV park reservations, and traffic. Steve has to start over with a new crew on a different site. Sometimes it seems that only Bingo truly enjoys all aspects of the journey. We do get to meet a lot of great traveling folks, as well as weekend campers, and we see loads of beautiful countryside. Sometimes we even manage to slip a stay on the beach into a move.

I do miss having my own yard and garden, friends nearby, and of course I wish my kids and grandkids were close enough to pop in for Sunday dinner. I miss knowing for sure which way is east. (Am I the only map loving person who is bothered that the GPS is upside down half the time?) To be honest, I even miss running into someone I know at Wal-Mart when I look a mess. But I love being with my husband, and I enjoy meeting new people and seeing new places, so it works out. I even wrote a stand alone novel based on my husband’s work and the lifestyle we lead!

I grew up in a small town, number six of eight children, and I’d describe myself as caring but opinionated, self-sufficient, and very attached to my husband. Maybe that’s because when we travel, we depend on each other. I’ve been writing full time for five years and I’m hooked. My stories take time and effort to mold and shape, but the characters are my companions, my traveling friends. If that means I’m wacko or quirky, all the better! I collect input for my books from my husband and grown kids. I discuss story lines with them, and ask them to read and reread my drafts, helping me create characters and situations that feel real, and that are entertaining. I couldn’t do it without them.

I had written three of the books in the Hometown Series before it occurred to me that, in Smithville, I had created a place for my heart to live. Smithville is filled with people going about their daily lives, dealing with their personal issues, irrational fears, and hard-won accomplishments. They can be silly, flustered, selfish and unaware, as well as resilient and clever, that’s what makes it feel real. It’s a place I’d like to call home.

In book one of the Hometown Series, Tara, who grew up in Smithville, is working to overcome childhood trauma. She learns to loosen up and overcome her control freak nature. (I may, or may not struggle with this, haha) Her loving grandmother, Winnie, is partly my own mother and bits of both of my grandmothers. In book two, Julia comes to Smithville expecting to hide away after a debilitating illness, but colorful characters like Becky and Bobby draw her out and build her confidence. This one was written from the heart after I spent a few rough years healing from my own illness. In book three Lizzie moves to Smithville to live out the dream of owning her own alpaca farm, as well as escape her overbearing mother. (I do love alpacas!) Through friendship, laughter, and Smithville craziness, Lizzie finds illumination where she least expects it. In book four (a Holiday romance) Gloria struggles to overcome her past reputation, one that small towns don’t easily forget, but her kindness hasn’t gone unnoticed. (If you’ve ever had everyone in town know your business, you understand!) And in book five, the one I’m currently writing, Katherine returns to Smithville, after years away, to open a vintage RV glamping park, and is forced to face her first love, as well as her lost naivetΓ©. (I have no idea where the glamping idea came from!) Of course my leading ladies fall for an imperfectly delicious man along the way. I suppose that each of these women, their friendships, and their healing processes, are a part of me looking for resolution to my own upsets and disappointments, in a place surrounded by camaraderie and fun.

I hope you will join me in Smithville, and get to know and love the people there like I do. Bingo and I will be waiting for you in the fifth-wheel parked just outside of town.

At the diner, Chad stepped behind Julia and pushed open the door for her, his hand warm on her back to lead her through. Bells chimed, announcing their arrival, and Marge glanced up from behind the counter. Her customary greeting froze on her lips as she did a double take, her conversation with a bald man seated in front of her forgotten.
The song on the jukebox ended and all the diners turned in the suddenly silent room to watch Julia and Chad walk to a table.
As Chad pulled out Julia’s red vinyl and chrome chair, the jukebox clicked and clattered, changing records. The first few words of the song P.S. I LoveYou, drifted across the room, as Julia did the butt-lift and scoot maneuver so Chad could scoot up her chair. The other diners slowly returned their attention back to their plates and conversations.
“It’s the Beatles,” Chad commented distractedly, shifting his chair up to the table, his eyes darting nervously between Julia and the other customers.
She nodded, engrossed in digging through her purse for something. Giving up in frustration, completely for- getting what she’d been looking for, she turned to hang her purse on the back of the chair, inadvertently catching the eye of a man and woman at the next table who sat staring, with their forks still hovering in mid-air.
Chad cleared his throat and lifted two menus from behind the salt and peppershakers. “So, what do you want to eat?” he asked, his voice a bit too loud.
Jumping in her seat, Julia’s gaze flew from the staring couple, back to Chad. “I—I’m not sure. What’s good here?”
Pretending to glance over the menu, Chad berated himself for bringing Julia to the diner. Why hadn’t her taken her to Uniontown where they could have cuddled in the corner booth of a crowded restaurant where no one would notice them? Feeling the back of his neck burn, he glanced over to see Marge’s pink tennis shoes on the floor next to the table.
He sighed inwardly and followed the pink uniform up to Marge’s face, which clearly but silently said, “I knew it!”
“Well,” Marge stated, her tone speculative, a wide grin on her face. “What can I get for you two this fine evening?”
Chad glanced at Julia, noting the misery written across her face, and he flinched. “I’d like a Coke. Julia?”
“Water please,” she muttered, not making eye contact with Marge.
Pretending to scribble on her pad, Marge sized up the couple over her reading glasses. “You got it,” she finally replied, turning on her heel.
Julia adjusted the salt and peppershakers into a row with the container of sugar packets and the ketchup, then turned her attention back to her menu.
“I like the meatloaf,” Chad said, glancing up. “Hmm,” she mumbled, turning the page. “And the tuna melt.”
Julia nodded.
“Sometimes I get the—”
Marge plopped two large red plastic tumblers on the table, and scooted the one full of water toward Julia. The aging waitress then tugged two paper-wrapped straws from her apron, tossed them on the table, and collected her pad and pencil. With one hip cocked and her glasses balanced on the end of her nose, she glanced between Chad and Julia.
Chad watched as Julia’s neck turned red, the color flooding up over her chin, then her cheeks. “Give us a minute please,” he said, his eyes never leaving Julia, angry at himself for being such a dunce.
Wishing she were invisible, Julia suffered the curious stares of the other diners. Shoving down her discomfort and battling to muster even a dab of confidence, she glanced up at Chad.
He took a long drink of soda, then set down his glass. “Sorry, we should have gone to Uniontown...” he muttered.
Julia straightened in her chair. “No, I’m fine, really.” She lifted her glass. “Have you had time to think about the flower—”The tumbler in her hand shifted in her grip, then fell to the table top, the water and ice pouring across the gleaming white table and directly onto Chad’s lap.
His chair screeched back as he bound to his feet. Wiping at his pants and shaking his hands, Chad danced backward in an effort to miss the torrent, barely managing not to fall into the lap of the woman seated behind him. When he looked up, all he could see was Julia’s stricken expression.
“I’m so sorry,” she gasped, then hurried around the table. Plucking a handful of napkins from the dispenser, she frantically wiped at Chad’s crotch.
“Julia—” he stuttered, still in shock, his hands and shirt drip- ping into the growing puddle.
She continued to press the napkin into his jeans, desperate to help.
“Julia!” he said louder, grasping her wrist in his fist.
She stopped, frozen in horror, finally noticing that everyone in the diner sat staring at her hand pressed to Chad’s crotch. She stood and her hand dropped from Chad’s grip, her face turning so pale he was afraid she would faint.



Tara has always been too engrossed in her work - refurbishing the historical homes in Smithville. She keeps a tight rein on her jobs and her emotions buried, but she’s losing control of both since that ridiculous city boy investor showed up.

New in town, Justin is confident that his ultra modern resorts will bring Smithville into the twenty-first century. If only the local-yokels and their ringleader, the gorgeous and peculiar Tara, would stop interfering.

With her quirky and protective hometown behind her, will Tara confront Justin and the town’s long buried secrets to take on the financial and emotional risk of a lifetime?

The floor sander whirled heavily in large circles. Justin’s upper arms ached as he struggled to control the machine, forcing it in an even pattern across the hardwood floor of his kitchen. Thinking he’d heard a noise, he glanced over his shoulder and was shocked to find Tara standing in the kitchen doorway, waving a set of blueprints.
He flipped off the machine and turned to her, clenching and unclenching his fists, in an attempt to relax his throbbing muscles.
Her eyes bright and prints waving, she shouted, “...and Winnie brought me this!” Her last few words hung awkward and loud in the silence between them.
She didn’t continue so he could only guess she thought he understood. He reached for the water bottle on the counter and gulped, buying time. Finally, he plopped the bottle back down and wiped his sleeve across his forehead. “What’s your problem?”
Startled by his uncharacteristically harsh greeting, Tara was taken aback. “I said, I was working on the furniture and Winnie brought these by.”
 They both waited for the other to break the thorny silence between them. “I can’t believe you had new plans drawn up...” she began.
He cocked his hip against the wall, his expression flat. “And why is that?”

She swallowed once, then again. “I thought we’d talk about it first.”
His lip curled and he snorted. “Well, funny thing is, talking would involve answering the door or the phone, and you didn’t seem capable of either.”
She retreated another step. Her lips moved but nothing came out.
He wiped his arm across his forehead again. “Did you even check your messages?”
She stared at the floor. One shoulder shrugged. “No.”
“Well hell, partner, if you had, you’d know that we are supposed to meet with Muffy and Denny in two days.” He tossed one hand in the air. “Two days!” He stared at the half-sanded floor, then met her eye. “So I take it you were banking on me caving. Backing out, is that it?”
Her head snapped up. “No... I...”
“Why did you come running over here then, if not to yell at me for messing up your resort?” His eyes snapped bitter sparks.
“I...” She cleared her throat. “I was surprised that you changed your whole design.” Her eyes fell and she took another step back. Her arm brushed the wall, startling her, and the blueprints shuffled to the sawdust-covered floor. She scrambled to her knees, gathering the pages with frantic haste.
He bent to help and as he handed her the last page, their eyes met; his bright with anger, hers shimmering with tears.
He shot to his feet in surprise.
She stayed on her knees, clutching the jumbled documents in her lap, her eyes downcast, and her voice a whisper. “It’s beautiful, Justin. These drawings, I mean.” She turned around the top page and smoothed it against her legs, the other drawings sifting back onto the floor. One fingertip touched the paper, to trace the roof outline of the stately wood-shingle-clad house, with two wings added to either side, nine-pane windows, roof dormers, and a long porch sprawling across the front. “I’m sorry. I really...” Her voice broke.
He lurched forward and grabbed her arm, yanking her to her feet. The drawing fluttered and fell between them.
She turned her face away and he gave her a gentle shake to get her attention. “Look at me, Tara.”
She shrugged and sniffed.
“I’m going to stand here until you look at me.”

She glanced up tentatively through her lashes, then back to the
He dropped her arm and took a step back, gesturing with his hands. “This is business, Tara. We are professionals.”
She shrugged.
“Okay! Okay. Look, You’ve made it abundantly clear that I’m not—” He scrubbed his hands across the top of his head. “I’m not to touch you. And that’s fine. But I can’t let this deal go. I need it. I’ve spent most of my savings to get set up and I have to succeed. It’s not an option for me to quit.”
She raised her chin and wiped the back of her hand under her nose.
Justin turned away, shook his head, and gulped more water from the bottle. Finally, he swung back to her. “Are you even going to be able to work with me?”
Her chin jutted out and she crossed her arms over her chest. “I promise to pull myself together and be a professional. I apologize for—”
He waved his hand at her. “No, it was my fault. I crossed the line. You kept telling me, but I was an idiot.”
She reached for him, trying to refute his words but he wouldn’t have it.
He pointed his index finger in her face and she froze. His eyes serious, he spoke low and steady. “Tara, I’m sorry I scared you.” His finger wagged. “That was never my intent.”
She opened her mouth and his finger came back up as he continued. “Winnie filled me in on a few things, and I realized I had been acting like an ass. I had no right to touch you, or kiss you, or to assume you wanted anything from me. I was out of line. It won’t happen again.”
She nodded once.
He dropped his hand in surrender and with a frown, turned to stride out the back door.
Tears shimmered hot in Tara’s eyes. She turned her back to hide the devastating disappointment, embarrassment, and misery that threatened to break her heart. Slowly she collected the drawing and let herself out.

Lizzie gave up her stressful job in Boston to embrace her love of all things country in Smithville PA. Her farm, a new job at the spa, and her pet alpacas are a dream come true, if only her meddling, matchmaking, socialite mother would back off.

Elliot, a successful architect from Washington, DC, designed the new spa, but he certainly hadn't envisioned the exotic bohemian style manager or her intriguing, demanding mother. Small town antics and his interest in Lizzie extend his visit to Smithville, but will the allure of country life draw him in for good?

Once again, Smithville’s folk interfere with plans at every turn, forcing Lizzie and Elliot to face their personal dilemmas and each other, head on.

Tara stepped off the deck and put her arm through his. “Good morning, curious to see your spa?” She smiled, waiting for him to respond.
“Who—who are all these people?” he stuttered.
Seemingly shocked by his reaction to the throng of moving bodies, Tara glanced to the left and right. “Oh, these are our friends. They came to help set up.”
Elliot nodded weakly. In his experience, set-up days for a new spa consisted of moody and emotional designers fluttering their hands and issuing orders to a uniformed group of workers who moved quietly through the space murmuring amongst themselves as they rolled out rugs or shifted furniture to the left or right. The scene spread before him resembled a county fair more than a spa being readied for business.
Tara directed him toward the old woman at the station wagon. “Elliot, I’d like you to meet Winnie,” she said with love in her eyes as she hugged the woman with her other arm. “She is the one responsible for how I turned out, and she runs my remodel and real-estate business now.” She motioned toward the seated woman. “And this is Mrs. Middlewood.”
The large woman bobbed her head in greeting.
The old lady, Winnie, wiped her hands on her frilled apron, then smiled broadly, her wrinkled face crinkling, her eyes shining. “So this is Elliot,” she beamed. “I’m so pleased to meet you, and I’m glad you finally made it out to see your handiwork.”
Elliot nodded, sidestepping to dodge a woman who hurried past carrying a stack of wooden crates. She was wearing a colorful caftan and far too much jewelry, and her huge bun bobbed as she walked.
“Oh, Becky,” Tara said, grabbing the woman’s arm. “This is Elliot.”
Adjusting the crates on her hip, she grinned. Her chest was heaving from exertion, her cheeks were red and flushed, and her heavily made-up eyes flashed. “Well,” she huffed, “of course he is! Who but Justin’s friend would be so handsome?”
Unable to shake Becky’s hand due to the crates she held, Elliot nodded and stammered, “Nice to meet you.”
The woman grinned wickedly and stepped around him. “Watch out, ladies,” she called out as she stepped onto the deck. “We have
a real catch out here!” Her voice faded as she passed through the door of the spa.
Immediately four feminine heads popped around the doorjamb, their eyes round. Just as quickly they disappeared, followed by a cackle of voices — discussing him, Elliot could only assume.
His gaze dropped to Tara at his side and she shrugged. “You’ll get used to it,” she assured him, patting his arm. “Come on in and see what’s going on.”
He followed Tara, steadying his coffee cup with the other hand, carefully stepping around a short, thin man who was shoveling the flowerbed as if the devil himself were prodding him. The man’s eyes bulged and his glassed hung on the tip of his nose.
“That’s Bobby,” Tara said as they stepped into what would become the spa lobby, “and over there are Gloria and Marge.”
Unsure which of the gaggle of women she was referring to, he nodded and gripped his coffee cup tighter. The women all nodded as he passed. The room was just as cluttered as it had been the night before, but now, instead of boxes, the room was filled with piles of items pulled from the boxes, as well as women of all sizes, ages, and types. Flattening against the wall so the redhead could pass, he scanned the room. “Who is in charge here?” he croaked, afraid to ask.
Tara scanned the noisy room. “There she is, come on...” she said, dragging Elliot forward by the elbow.
Elliot shuffled through the piles of supplies as Tara called out to friends. Being a good-sized man, he had to twist and turn to fit through the narrow spaces Tara easily passed. Forced to hold his half-full coffee cup over his head, Elliot muttered apologies for stepping on feet and bumping into women. Finally they reached the other side of the large room.
Gaping behind him at the sea of supplies and bodies he’d traversed, Elliot was caught off guard when he turned to see the gypsy woman he’d met the day before standing in front of him with a clipboard.
Her eyes were bright, and her riot of black curls were held back from her face with a headband. She wore a cream-colored tunic unlike anything Elliot had ever seen. It was rumpled, loose, and long to her hips, and the top of the bodice was comprised of multiple layers of lace. Over the frock she wore a loose-weave grey jacket that hung open, with the sleeves rolled up to her elbows. Soft netting hung out the bottom of the frock at her hips, and around her neck she wore what he could only categorize as a necklace, but was actually a long chain with charms and feathers and scraps of lace shimmering all around it.
He stared at her in shock, not only because of her clothing, but because it was her. The strange bohemian woman had danced in and out of his scattered dreams all night. His eyes roamed over her all the way to the floor, taking in her grey leggings and laced boots, unable to miss her very shapely legs, before traveling back up to her face. This gypsy woman was going to run his spa?
Her perturbed expression clearly asked if he was finished gaping.
Feeling quite the clod, he hurried to extend his hand, forgetting momentarily that he held a coffee cup.
Lizzie jumped back, raising the clipboard in order to miss the torrent of black liquid as coffee sloshed over the rim of the cup.
Elliot jerked the cup back and staggered sideways into a pile of boxes, splashing coffee across his slacks and shoes.
“Let me help you,” Lizzie said, tossing her clipboard on a stack of boxes and grabbing a towel from a nearby pile of linens. Bending, she brushed at the coffee on his shins and shoes.
Embarrassed and numb with what he could only describe as uncharacteristically cloddish behavior, Elliot stood like a statue, his coffee cup held at arm’s length, still dripping onto the hardwood floor.

Even though Gloria is determined to change her reputation, most of the women in town still think she’s a tramp. Sure, she may have dressed a little flashy and dated pretty much every single guy in town, but that’s the past. Now that she wants to make a fresh start, will Smithville give her a second chance?

Ned has heard all the gossip, but being the Sheriff’s Deputy, he sees all the kind things Gloria does behind the scenes for the folks of Smithville. It looks like the upcoming Christmas Pageant will offer him the opportunity to spend time with her, but can he overcome a frustrating stutter and talk to her, face to face?

Your favorite characters from the Hometown Series bring craziness, love, and Smithville Christmas style, to a whole new romance about overcoming your past and sharing your deepest secrets. Fall in love and be swept away with the Christmas Eve celebration of your dreams.

“Then I just had to wr—wrap the baby up and hand her to her mother,” Ned said as he dropped his paint roller in the bucket of hot water.
Gloria stared at him, her eyes wide in fascination. “I can’t believe you delivered a baby by the side of the road. I don’t think I could have—”
“Sure you could,” he said with a shrug. “When the time comes and work needs doing, folks like us st—step up.”
Unsure, she scoffed. “Well, baking a casserole is one thing, but…”
Ned reached out to take her paint roller. “Yeah, okay, the baby was kind of a big deal,” he conceded, “Usually, I just end up learning w—way more about people than I want to know.”
“I understand that.” Gloria nodded. “Given my past, I know—” She stopped, realizing what she was saying. “Of course, I’ve forgotten all about those guys...” She faltered, her words fading away and her cheeks burning red under her freckles.
Ned’s laughter rang out into the workshop. “Oh, I’m sure you don’t know which guys in town burp at the table, who is connected at the hip to their momma, or who snores—” The words chopped off and it was his turn to blush. “I… I d—didn’t mean… I—I w—wasn’t…” His stutter always got much worse when he was upset. Frustrated, he stopped talking and turned back to the water bucket.
“Don’t be embarrassed,” Gloria said, feeling bad for him. “It’s true though, especially with your job. What do you do when you meet someone on the street, and you know intimate details about their personal life?” She waited, but he just pumped the paint rollers up and down in the water, so she tried again. “I’m asking for advice, honest. Do they train you on this stuff at the police academy?”
He shrugged, then straightened and shoved one hand in the front pocket of his jeans. “Well we have to t—take ethics classes, but…” he looked up, making eye contact, “no, they don’t tell you that stuff. You just h—have to act like you weren’t at their house two n—nights ago with the fire chief, helping them get their hand unstuck from the k—kitchen drain they were trying to fix.”
Her eyes widened, and she chuckled in surprise. “Who? No, no don’t tell me.”
He shook his head; his hand raised to stop her. “I wouldn’t,” he said, but his eyes were bright with humor. “It’s a th—thing you have to learn to do I guess. I know you’re g—good at it, I’ve seen you in action.”
She shrugged modestly. “Oh, well, I just try to put myself in their place.”
They were both quiet for a minute, contemplating all the dirt they’d collectively compiled on the people of Smithville.
“Yeah, ” she continued with a sparkle in her eye. “Because if I were a great big guy, I wouldn’t want everyone to know that I scream like a little girl when I see a spider.”
Ned’s eyebrows rose, and a big grin spread across his face. “Now I have to wonder…”
“It will go with me to the grave,” she assured him, looking solemn. But she couldn’t help it and broke into laughter. “Oh my gosh, it was the funniest thing. I thought he was going to run away, but he kept screaming for me to ‘get it’. Of course, I was far too busy laughing and taking video.”
He chuckled, enjoying the way her eyes shone when she was happy. Her laughter was like music, and her cheeks turned rosy with happiness. His own heart swelled, catching him off guard. “You’re a mean one, aren’t you,” he teased.
“Me?” she asked, with her hand on her chest. “No, no, I finally took pity on him and smashed the bug.”
“Well that’s good,” he said, wishing he could make her laugh like that all the time.
“Anyway…” she trailed off, “I better get moving. I have a ton of sewing to do.”
“I wish I could help you with th—that,” he said, collecting the butcher paper he’d spread for them to paint. “But I have no idea how to even thread a needle.”
Her head tilted to one side. “I doubt that.”
“Okay, okay,” he relented, crumpling the paper to stuff it in the trashcan. “I can thread a n—needle, but choir robes and sh—shepherd costumes are way beyond my scope.”
She waved him off. “Oh, these are pretty simple. I figure they’re for one night and no one will really see them up close.”
He waited for her to continue, watching her think, wishing he could hear what was on her mind.
“Well, it’s just…” She chuckled. “Practically every family in town has someone in this thing, so I guess in reality, everyone will see them up close.”
“Right?” he laughed. “I wonder sometimes, who is going to watch this thing.”
“Me too!” she agreed. “We may need to set up a bus service to bring folks from Uniontown.”
He rubbed his chin. “Not a bad idea.”
She chuckled, reveling in the shared moment, then turned away, looking for her purse. “Well, I’d better get going.”
“Thanks for the help,” he said, wishing he knew how to make her stay. “ Do you have to go?”
The question froze Gloria in her tracks. Normally at this point, if a gorgeous man was being funny and sweet and she liked him, she’d stay and talk. And not only that, she amended, she’d sign up for more. But things were different now. She was different. She wasn’t doing any of this to get a man, and, truth be told, she wouldn’t know what to do with one at this point anyway. She wanted to prove to the women in town she didn’t need to flirt, and that she could do a job and do it well, without attracting male attention. She frowned. That wasn’t going so well evidently. Was she attracted to Ned?
Turning back toward the shop, she regarded him carefully. He had a swipe of red paint across one cheek, but that only made him more approachable. The man was a knock out no matter how you looked at him. The paint spear made him cute. Shocked by her appraisal, her eyebrows lifted. When was the last time she’d thought a grown man was cute? Especially one with a physique like the deputy.
He grew uncomfortable under her stare, and she realized she was being rude. “I really do have to go,” her words said, but the rest of her said, “I want to stay.” He was easy to talk to and friendly. He didn’t judge her. He was nice. It came to her then; she had a friend in Ned. They had some things in common, and they could have a laugh together. Given her situation, a friend was something she needed. Gaging her words carefully, she hoped she could make him understand how much she appreciated him. “I really do have to go, but this has been… this has been great.”
He looked so disappointed that she nearly relented, but she knew it was for the best. This pageant was not the time or place to be looking for a new boyfriend. And she was sure she didn’t want to ruin the budding friendship they’d forged. This was new territory, and she had to move carefully and use her head.
“I have to go.” She turned toward the door, then, with her hand on the door handle, she stopped and looked over her shoulder. “But I’ll see you tomorrow night at practice, right?”
For a minute she thought he wasn’t going to respond, but finally he nodded, and an easy grin lit his face. “Sure.”
All she could manage was a quick nod, and then she ducked out the door before she could change her mind.

How did I end up so broken? It’s a question Katherine can’t answer. First, a surprise inheritance tipped her life upside-down, and now her new RV park is a muddy mess of half-restored trailers. To make matters worse, she’s falling for her first crush all over again. The only thing she’s sure of at this point is a full-blown identity crisis.

Alex came home after a life-threatening wound ended his Army career. Now Katie is back too, and she’s building something called a glamping park? He feels like he let her down years ago, can he make it up to her now? Or are his own problems too much to handle?

Fate brought Katherine and Alex back to Smithville, and the town-folk want to see them together again. Will the couple be able to cope with the locals well-intentioned meddling, or did their chance at love disappear a long time ago...

Relieved to have found all the items on her list, Katherine offered the clerk a shy smile and collected her bags. The place was really more of a small town mercantile than a hardware store, being the only store in town that offered more than groceries, and she was glad they saw fit to carry a bit of everything.
When she reached the door, lugging her supplies, she was surprised to see Alex through the glass. He was heading across the parking lot toward her, carrying a small black and white dog, and his characteristic swagger looked more like a limp as he wrestled with the puppy.
Jumping back, her head whipped from one side to the other, looking for a place to hide.
Alex marched into the store, and she ducked behind a rack of men’s overalls. Holding her breath, she crouched and peeked between the overall straps. The little black dog had an adorable smiling face, and her heart melted, but then she noticed Alex’s blustery expression. The puppy wriggled in his grip, and he turned her way.
Her arm shot out to grab a straw hat from the rack, and she plopped it on her head, hoping it would hide her sweaty, lopsided bun.
The dog barked and squirmed, and it was obvious that Alex needed help, but Katherine knew she was a sweaty mess, and she probably looked like she’d just rolled out of bed, since she had, not to mention she smelled like gasoline after spilling on her grubby pants when she filled her can at the gas station earlier.
She’d made a big enough fool of herself already, and she wasn’t eager to repeat the disgrace, so she hunched lower behind the rack, watching with only one eye showing from under the hat
Alex was far too busy wrestling the dog to notice her, so she stayed silent, watching as they passed. Before she could make her move toward the door, however, the dog escaped Alex’s arms and bound down the aisle. Alex reached out, scrambling for the puppy, but lost his balance and fell sideways into a rack of garden trowels that clattered and crashed to the floor.
Dropping her bags, Katherine hurried to his side to see if he was okay. When she reached him, his expression was dark as the devil, so she hesitated, pulling her hand back. “Want me to get the dog?” she asked timidly, and he nodded, so she turned away. Worried about Alex, she glanced nervously over her shoulder, but he was already back on his feet, righting the rack, so she hurried after the puppy.
The little dog hadn’t gone far when she spotted him assaulting a display of chips and other snacks. By the time she reached his side, the puppy had a package of jerky in his mouth.
She scooped up the dog, unable to keep from laughing at his antics. “You’re a naughty one, aren’t you!” she chided, watching the puppy chew on jerky. As cute as he was, she had to wonder why Alex had brought him to the store, and without a leash. “I didn’t take Alex for the dog type,” she mumbled to herself.
“I’m not,” Alex growled, from behind her, causing her to whirl around in surprise. He reached for the dog.

Kirsten grew up in the Western US and graduated from high school in 1984. She married soon there after and quickly built a family. With three young children and number four on the way, she returned to college in 1992. Her career as a draftsman included many settings ranging from a steel fabrication shops to prestigious engineering firms. Balancing family life with the workplace forced her to become the queen of multitasking. In 2001, bored with the cubical life, she moved on to teach drafting in technical college, then to opening her own consulting firm teaching 3D engineering software. Due to health problems, Kirsten retired in 2012 to travel with her husband for his job. She now works writing romance novels and enjoys spoiling her three grandchildren. Since 2017 Kirsten has lived and worked full time in a 40' travel trailer with her husband and her little dog Bingo.


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