On tour with Prism Book Tours...
Welcome to my Book Tour stop for
His Hometown Girl
Welcome to my Book Tour stop for
His Hometown Girl
by Karen Rock
Mass Market Paperback, Large Print, 331 pages
March 1st 2014 by Harlequin
He'd always managed to best her…
Jodi Chapman will do whatever it takes to get top care for her autistic son. If that means going home and convincing local farmers to sell their land, so be it. Even if her biggest opponent, childhood rival Daniel Gleason, is equally determined to convince farmers to buy into his co-op plan. And he's not playing fair.
Facing off against Daniel is the last thing Jodi wants. The attraction that's always fueled their competitiveness is as strong as ever and just as distracting. But with both their futures on the line, and years of distrust between them, how can they ever be on the same side?
Strawberry Kisses- Flashback #2 from HIS HOMETOWN GIRL by Karen Rock
Jodi stepped carefully through a row of strawberry plants, her eyes drinking in the field of scarlet fruit dangling from mint green mounds. It felt good to be out in the fresh air, her heart filled with the light that streamed through cotton candy clouds spinning across a cerulean sky. How long since she’d left her father’s bedside? She mentally counted back the three weeks since his accident. It’d been the day before her high school graduation ceremony, when she’d mistakenly thought decorating the gym was more important than heading straight home to help out with chores.
She sighed and stopped at a thick patch, getting on her knees and setting her basket in the dirt. If only she’d been there when his arm had been pinned. She would have called 911, helped move the malfunctioning machine off of him, talked him through a terrifying moment… anything but hanging crepe streamers and taping up glittering signs. Her insides curdled as she remembered the teacher hurrying across the gym floor, the look on her face spelling tragedy. Only the news had gotten worse as the hours went on. Her father’s arm had had to be amputated and now, without his farming income coming in, they were likely to lose the farm. The only home she’d ever known… except, she couldn’t look at the barn again without a shudder, picturing her father’s accident. Maybe being forced to leave all they had, even their friends, family and neighbors at Cedar Bay, wouldn’t be a bad thing. It might stop the nightmares that woke her every night, the bleeding shame that flowed from her guilty wound.
A shadow blocked the bright sun, and when she glanced up she could make out only a tall, rugged silhouette. Yet she didn’t need details to know that shape. She could have traced it by heart. Daniel Gleason.
“Mind if I join you? This looks like a good section.” His husky voice did something funny to her heart and she busied her hands plucking berries from their stems. She’d rather stare at the handsome boy-now-man, but this was her first day of work on his family’s farm. She wasn’t going to mess up this chance to earn money for her father’s medical bills.
“It’s a free country,” she muttered, of two minds. Like always, she wanted him near. Though they’d been childhood rivals for years, he’d been the only boy who made her stomach turn itself into knots, her heart beat faster. Too often, she’d caught herself doodling his name in the margins of notebooks when she forgot herself. Yet his family had loaned her father the machine that’d caused the accident. It was hard not to see him as ‘the enemy’ more than ever.
“Thank you.” His muscular thighs came into view as he squatted across from her, his large fingers pinching off berries and dropping them in his pail.
“Is your mom making jam this week?” she asked when the silence between them felt as heavy as the humid summer air.
He was silent for so long she glanced up and noticed he’d stopped working, his jaw clenched.
“Is everything alright?” It wasn’t until she felt his bicep harden that she realized she’d touched him. When she tried to yank back her hand, his own covered hers and held it there. Her pulse thrummed at the sensation.
“No,” he replied, his answer so uncharacteristically curt she could practically hear alarm bells ringing.
“Want to talk about it?” Not that they’d ever been chummy that way. But he looked pained and something was definitely off. Plus, she couldn’t deny it. She cared. Always had.
He rubbed a finger absently across her knuckles, sending shivers of awareness tiptoeing down her spine. At last, he let go of her hand and dropped a strawberry in his mouth. After swallowing it, he shook his head. “How’s your dad?” he asked at last, changing the subject.
Disappointment filled her. So that’s why he’d come to her isolated spot in the berry field. He was getting the news about her father to share with his family. Not seeking her out.
“Okay. He sees someone in Burlington about a prosthetic next week.” She popped a berry in her mouth, the tart sweetness exploding on her tongue. It reminded her of Daniel. Teasing her one minute, treating her so kindly the next. Overhead, sparrows swooped and dove, their singsong emerging from a nearby tree line that tossed shadows to dance at their feet.
“I’m glad he’s doing okay. That it wasn’t worse.” Daniel’s hazel green eyes looked straight into hers and beyond, as if he could see what was inside of her, how she felt, know her thoughts.
Something wet splashed down her cheek and, with a start, she realized she was crying. Such a strange thing. She’d had to be strong for her parents and keep herself together that she hadn’t given in to tears. But suddenly, alone with this boy who alternately teased and tormented her, she felt she could open up. In a flash, Daniel was beside her, his strong arms holding her close. His heart beat steadily against her cheek and her sobs drenched his worn t-shirt. Yet he didn’t move, only held her closer and stroked her back, his lips moving against her part as he murmured something she couldn’t make out, but sounded reassuring.
At last, she stopped shaking and stared up at him in wonder. Never before had she seen such a tender expression in his eyes. Her chest constricted when his thumbs brushed away the last of her tears before his palms cupped the sides of her face. Did he care about her? After all these years, it seemed impossible to imagine. But he’d never looked at her this way before. Not as a competitor, someone to beat, but soulfully, as if she were someone that he…
Before she could finish the thought, he lowered his face and brushed his lips against hers, the gentle caress making her ache. Their eyes met and held, and she melted inside at the longing she glimpsed in his gold-flecked depths. She slipped her arms around his neck, and with a groan he captured her mouth again, this time kissing her deeper, the intensifying pressure igniting a fire inside that wanted to burn brighter, hotter. He angled his face and drew in her lower lip, his tongue nibbling it before slipping alongside hers. A jolt of pleasure sang through her veins at the unexpected touch, and she slid her hands up his neck through the thick brush of his hair, loving this moment with him.
His mouth left hers and travelled along her cheeks, the delicate sensation making her shudder in delight. When he reached her earlobe, he nipped the hypersensitive flesh and buried his hands in her hair, arching her backward so that she lay across his strong arm, his body bent over hers. Her breath came in fits and starts as his lips continued their trail of fire down her neck, making her chest heave. When he kissed her clavicle then looked up, the happiness dancing in his eyes matched the joy that lit her from within. A part of her knew this should feel strange. They’d been enemies for so long. Yet it felt perfect. Right.
“I’ve wanted to kiss you forever,” he said, his voice deeper that she’d ever heard it.
She raised his handsome face to hers and kissed him long and deep again, unable to taste his berry-flavored lips enough. “I never knew,” she answered when she pulled back, relieved to see that he looked as shaken as she felt.
“Now you do.” He grinned, his deep dimples making her heart stop.
She straightened in his arms but made no move to leave. “Will we – ah- do this again?” Her cheeks burned at the question, but she had to know where they stood.
A cloud seemed to pass over his eyes, dimming them. “Our folks can’t know. Not with them fighting over whose fault the accident was.”
Her shoulders slumped. Any chance of a romance with Daniel was over before it even began.
She made a move to slip away but he pulled her close and rested his head on top of hers. “But that won’t stop us, Jodi Lynn.” A fierce note entered his note. “Nothing will.”
Karen Rock has adored romance since receiving Harlequin Presents books from her grandmother each summer. She formed her Young Adult writing partnership, J.K. Rock- pseudonym for the CAMP BOYFRIEND series, with her sister-in-law and Blaze author, Joanne Rock in 2011. When Karen heard of a call for submissions to Heartwarming, Harlequin’s latest line, she was inspired by the possibilities of writing unforgettable, deeply romantic, tender love stories that mothers would feel comfortable sharing with their daughters. When she’s not writing, Karen loves scouring estate sales for vintage books, cooking her grandmother's family recipes, hiking the ‘high peaks’, and redesigning her gardens. She lives in the Adirondack Mountain region with her husband, daughter, and two Cavalier King cocker spaniels who have yet to understand the concept of “fetch” though they know a lot about love.
For more information about Karen's upcoming books, check out her website, Facebook page, or follow her on twitter. She’d love to hear from you!
1 - Paperback/ebook copies of Wish Me Tomorrow and Camp Boyfriend (format is winner's choice, paperback for US Only) and $20 Amazon gift card
2 - ebooks of Wish Me Tomorrow and Camp Boyfriend (INT)
March 3 - 23
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