Rosa has a beautiful daughter and a great relationship with her ex-husband, Jason. But when his childhood sweetheart returns to the small town of Westridge, she begins feeling left out and insecure. She just can’t get used to the idea of sharing her daughter with another woman, and their picture perfect love story makes her lack of a love life feel like a glaring failure.
In the midst of her emotional upheaval, she meets Dylan, a burly, tattooed construction worker who soothes her wounded pride and aching heart. They enter into a fast-paced, passionate affair, and Rosa finds herself falling for him in just a matter of weeks.
Against his better judgement, Dylan falls for Rosa, too. But he’s in no position to be in a relationship. He doesn’t have a car, he doesn’t have a place of his own, and he has the kind of past that matches his rough appearance. He’s made mistakes Rosa couldn’t possibly forgive, and he may never get up the courage to admit to them.
The result? A ticking time bomb of a romance that’s sure to rock both their worlds and leave neither unscathed.
“Mommy, I want to pick flowers.”
Rosa glanced in her rearview mirror. Penny was strapped in her booster seat, looking out at the wildflowers by the edge of a wide, green cornfield.
The field belonged to Mr. Dawson, and half a mile back it met with the Joneses’ field. In one more minute, they’d be at Jason’s house, the one he and Rosa had once shared and he now shared with Gabby Jones. The families were all connected, as if it were always meant to be.
She was separate, living ten minutes east, close to the library where she worked, barely outside of the tiny trailer park in which she’d been raised. She was back to being Rosa Nelson, mother of Penny Dawson, ex-wife of Jason Dawson, and, as she pulled into the familiar driveway and parked in front of the garage, intruder in Gabby Jones’s new home.
Rosa had been the one to leave. She’d taken Penny and moved out after a year of trying to make it work, a year of trying to be someone she wasn’t. She was happy for her ex-husband. She’d encouraged him to reconcile with his childhood sweetheart, but she couldn’t help feeling tiny stabs of jealousy and disappointment. She didn’t fit in.
“Mary had a little lamb, little lamb…”
Penny swung her legs back and forth, singing to herself, waiting patiently for her mother to release her from her restraints. This was the first time Rosa would be dropping her daughter off at the house without Jason present.
Gabby had been back in Westridge for two months now, except for a brief trip to the city to get her affairs in order. The pretty redhead was set to open a new branch of Flowers by Gabby in Middleford in one month. Today, Rosa had to work, and Jason had an emergency repair. “Why not let Gabby have her?” he’d said. He’d meet them in the afternoon for lunch.
Rosa couldn’t say no. Of course leaving her daughter with Gabby was fine. Why wouldn’t it be fine? Rosa was Penny’s mother. She couldn’t be replaced.
She glanced in the mirror again, this time angling it so she could see herself. Her curled hair was perfect, shoulder-length at full volume. Her ruby red lipstick was flawless. She was in great shape.
She was not the type of woman whose confidence should be failing.
Rosa readjusted the mirror and stepped out of her car. She opened the back door to let Penny out of her seat.
“Are you ready to visit Gabby, baby?” she asked the four-year-old.
“Yes, Mommy. We have fun together.”
“I’m glad you do.”
Rosa lifted the round-faced girl into her arms. She was the spitting image of her mother—those same big blue eyes and curly blond hair. Rosa had relied too much on those good looks in high school, throwing herself at boys and compromising her self-respect. She was ashamed now of the way she’d acted, especially toward Jason. She prayed every day her daughter would make better decisions than she had.
They approached the front steps of the white and blue rancher. The door opened, and Gabby stood there with a friendly smile. She wore a cute, dark blue romper that screamed city girl, but the flannel shirt—which Rosa was quite sure belonged to Jason—spoke of her small town roots. She was cute. She’d grown up.
“Hi, Rosa,” she greeted. Her tone was pleasant enough, but Rosa knew she still wasn’t comfortable around her. “And hello, Penny.” She smiled warmly and tugged gently on the little girl’s hair.
“Hi, Gabby.” Penny squirmed, and Rosa let her down, smoothing the little yellow dress her daughter wore before letting her run inside to play.
The two women were left standing alone together. Rosa was a pro at seeming confident, even when she wasn’t. Gabby never had been. Her hazel eyes flitted nervously between Rosa and the door. Neither of them knew what to say. Rosa held nothing against Gabby, but that didn’t mean it was easy to see her standing in the doorway of her old home. And she was sure it was just as difficult for Gabby to see her boyfriend’s ex-wife standing in the doorway of her new home.
“Would you like to come in for coffee?” Gabby asked.
Rosa blinked. She hadn’t expected that. She knew Gabby only said it to break the awkward silence. She expected Rosa to politely decline and be on her merry way. But Rosa didn’t have the desire to make it that easy. They were in this together, no matter how awkward it was, and they needed to be able to sit down and have a cup of coffee together.
“Sure,” she agreed.
I am so glad you could join us here at RomanceJunkies. To start, will you please tell us a little bit about your current projects?
Thanks for having me! This week, I’m celebrating the release of Rosa’s Story, the second book in the Westridge trilogy. This week only, the first novella in the series (Westridge) is free on Amazon. The third book, Caitlin’s Story, is due out in early November.
When was the moment that you knew you had to be a writer?
I guess I’ve always known I would write, but I never considered trying to make it a profession until I was in college. I wrote a piece of erotic fiction, submitted it to a contest, and won $100. So I kept writing and submitting. Now I can’t stop!
Who gave you the one piece of writing advice that sticks with you to this day?
I found the best writing advice in Stephen King’s On Writing. I recommend the book to everyone, writer or not. The line that sticks with me the most is something like (not an exact quote at all) “Do you need me to give you a badge that says ‘writer’ before you’ll believe you are one?” It reminds me that I don’t need others to validate me.
Describe the “perfect” hero. What about the “perfect” hero for you?
This is a tough question. I believe the perfect hero depends on the heroine. Gabby from Westridge had to end up with Jason. She’s insecure and a bit neurotic by nature, and his strong and steady personality balances her perfectly. Rosa from Rosa’s Story needed a different kind of man, one who could match her strength and passion, and she found that in Dylan. Dylan would never work for Gabby, and Jason–as we already found out–would never work for Rosa.
My perfect hero is, of course, my husband.
What are some of your favorite pastimes? Do you have any hobbies or collections?
Reading and writing, of course, and Pinterest takes up a lot of time these days. I’m attempting to do a DIY Christmas this year, so I’m looking forward to all the crafting! I’m also part of a board game club.
What has been your biggest adventure to date?
I went to Germany with my husband last year. It was kind of scary being in a different country where I didn’t speak the language, but he knew enough to get by and I had an awesome time. I can’t wait to go overseas with him again. I’m pulling for Ireland this time. But Germany was great. We met so many interesting people, stayed in some great hotels, and we used the train to get around so we got to see a fair bit of the countryside.
If your fairy godmother waved her wand and whisked you away to the location of your choice, which place would you choose, and why?
Real or fictional? Because I would pick Middle Earth in a heartbeat.
When it comes to food, are you the adventurous type who will try anything once, or do you prefer to stick to tried and true foods and recipes?
I’ve just recently become more adventurous. I went to wine tastings every month for a while, and we would get a small plate of some fancy/exotic food with each glass of wine. And most of it was really good! So I’ve learned to branch out a bit more.
What is this romance writer’s idea of the “ideal romantic evening”?
My husband cleaning the house, cooking dinner, and then watching a movie together.
How would your family and friends describe you?
I would imagine “bubbly hippie” or something similar. I’m optimistic, I like nature, and I wear flip-flops until there is snow on the ground.
What is your favorite comfort food?
Grilled cheese and tomato soup. Because I’m guessing coffee doesn’t count as a food…
What is your favorite season? What do you love about it?
Fall! I love it when the weather turns cool and breezy. There’s something about the smell of it, too. Crisp and clean. It also means the holidays (and my birthday!) are approaching!
What project are you working on next?
After Caitlin’s Story, I’ll be rereleasing my futuristic romance, The System, and working on its sequel. But I know that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so I’ve also got a full-length, standalone contemporary romance novel in the works for early 2015.
Any place we can find you in person or on the net this month or next?
To keep updated on blog appearances and new releases, like Heather Lin on Facebook, follow @heatherlin88 on Twitter, and check out http://www.heatherlin.com.