Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Teaser Tuesday! Mad Dog and Annie

Snatching a couple of dirty glasses, she got busy, got moving, got her mind off Rob’s latest threats and Mitchell’s outgrown sneakers and the things she did and should have done with Maddox Palmer back in high school.

No regrets, she reminded herself. Figure out what has to be done now, and do it. After nine years of having the spunk and the tar whaled out of her, initiative still came hard. But she was learning, she thought with satisfaction. In the past year, she’d had to learn.

The cheery little bell over the door summoned her back to the hostess station. She grabbed a menu and a smile to welcome the new customer and then stopped dead and let both of them slide.

It was him. Maddox Palmer, in the flesh. In jeans, she corrected herself, and a tan T-shirt that almost matched the color of his skin. She squeezed the menu tighter. This time the Cutler grapevine was right. He was handsomer than ever.

He had to be over thirty now, big and broad and somehow harder. Solid. His face had a lot more lines. Well, he was three years older than her, though only two years ahead in school. He’d been kept back in first grade, she remembered, the year his mama died. He had thick brown hair that his new short cut couldn’t tame and hooded eyes that still saw right through her, and a juvenile-delinquent slouch that made him look tough and ready to react to whatever punch life threw at him. He dangled a cigarette between two fingers of his right hand, and he still had that not-a-dimple in his chin that tempted every good girl to press a finger to it.

Ann damned the way her heart speeded up just at the sight of him. She’d given up Big, Bad and Dangerous to Know almost a year ago.

He smiled crookedly. “Hey, Annie.”

Like they were just passing in the hall in high school. Like he’d never shared gum or secrets with her on the school bus or filched cookies from her mother’s kitchen or stood up for her on the playground.

Like he’d never grappled with her in the back seat of his father’s unmarked police car and then walked right past her locker the next day.

Well, he could take his “hey” and...and... Her racing brain stumbled. Nice Southern girls simply did not think that way. Take his hay and stack it, she amended silently.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Book Club Discussion Questions for Carolina Home

1. There are four point of view characters in CAROLINA HOME: Matt, Allison, matriarch Tess, and ten-year-old Taylor. How did the Tess and Taylor’s viewpoints impact the story? Which character did you feel most emotionally connected to and why?

2. When Allison apologizes for her parents’ behavior at dinner, Matt excuses them. “They were being parents...[they] Want what’s best for you. And they know I’m not it.” What are Allison’s parents’ hopes and expectations for their children? How are they the same or different from Tom and Tess’s hopes for Matt, Meg, and Luke or Matt’s hopes for Josh?

3. How realistic did you find the small town, island setting? How did it add to the story?

4. There’s an eleven-year age difference between Matt and Allison. Did it bother you? Why or why not?

5. How does Tom’s example as a father influence Matt and Luke?

6. Matt left college to raise Josh. Do you agree or disagree with his decision? What do you think of his statement: "I worked damn hard to get where I am. To get what I need. That's enough for me"?

7. How did Matt’s interactions with Taylor affect your view of his character? What about his relationship with Josh? How does the presence of children affect the story?

8. Matt is a serial dater. Allison thinks she’d “had sex with other guys for less reason and certainly with less attraction.” They go to bed with each other pretty quickly. When does their relationship change? What do they offer each other besides sex?

9. Allison’s eagerness to experience life led her to try many different things. Do you she will be happy on Dare Island? Why or why not?

10. Matt remembers “watching his parents get ready to leave for some function on the base, his dad, tall and formal in his dress blues, his mom, unfamiliar in a dress that glittered and clung. The look of pride on his father’s face, the secret shining in his mother’s eyes. The same look they wore now, as if they were the only two people in the room, in the world. Matt had felt, well, weird seeing them that way for the first time, two grown-ups, two strangers, two characters in a story, as if he and his sister and brother were only spectators, minor participants in their parents’ fairy tale.” Why do you think the author chose to focus some scenes on Tom and Tess’s relationship? Did it add or subtract from your interest and enjoyment of the primary romance?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Teaser Tuesday!

Meg stole a glance at Sam’s profile as they left the bobbing lights of the waterfront behind. He looked good in moonlight, strong cheekbones, straight nose, sculpted lips, chiseled chin. And then there were those not-quite- dimples, the promise of humor, the flashes of empathy. Any woman could be forgiven for losing her head a little over Sam.

It wasn’t just his good looks and his money and his charm. Okay, those things didn’t hurt. But the real appeal was his willingness to put himself out, the way he’d driven to the airport to pick her up or built that ramp for her mother, without looking for payback, without figuring the angles or calculating the cost. She liked that about him. She liked him a lot.

He had always been a friend of Matt’s, a friend of the family. There was no reason after all these years that Meg couldn’t count him as her friend, too. Her good, close friend.

But nothing more.

The clouds against the blue velvet sky were the colors of an oyster shell, purple, gray, and milky white. The last time she had been alone in the dark with Sam, he’d kissed her senseless. If he tried anything this time, she was ready. She would just say no.

But despite his words in the restaurant, he was being a perfect gentleman.

She shivered a little from the breeze and disappointment.

He slanted a look at her. “Cold?”

She wasn’t stupid. She recognized a line when she heard one. “Is this where you offer to put your arm around me to keep me warm?”

“No.” He slid out of his jacket. “This is where I give you my jacket to keep you warm.” He put it around her shoulders, smiling down at her, making her feel safe and warm and cared for. His jacket smelled like him, masculine with a hint of expensive soap. “Then I put my arm around you,” he said, suiting the action to the words.

Meg smothered a laugh. “Where did you learn this move, high school?”

He grinned back, not smug, just...Sam. “Why not stick with what works?”

from Carolina Girl, coming June 2013