The One You Want is here!

The newest Lilac Bay book is available now! The One You Want is the fifth book in the Lilac Bay series but it can be read as a stand alone. This turned out to be one of my favorite books I’ve ever written so I really hope you’ll check it out and let me know what you think!

AmazonAmazon UK, Google PlayNookiBooks

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Sneak peek of the new Lilac Bay book!

The fifth book in the Lilac Bay series is available now! I always enjoy visiting the gang on Lilac Bay and this one was particularly fun. The books that are usually the most fun for me to write are the ones with a lot of character growth, and I just love the journey that Jenny takes in The One You Want. And Grant, the hot florist who steps in to help her get her life back on track, is totally crush-worthy!

Scroll down to check out an exclusive look at the first chapter. You can pick up The One You Want at all the major ebook vendors now.

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AmazonAmazon UK, Google PlayNookiBooks

 

Special Sneak Peek!

***

ChapterOne

Sitting on that bench in the middle of Town Square, I knew my life was going to change. I, Jenny Hillman, was about to get everything I had ever wanted.

At least, that’s what I kept telling myself. I had just finished reading a book about mantras and the power of positive thought, so I was trying to stay hopeful. Apparently if I said it in my head enough, the universe would manifest my desires for me.

Or something like that. I’m pretty sure.

Okay, so I didn’t actually read the entire book, more like skimmed the first chapter, but still. I was sure I had the gist of it down.

Be positive,I reminded myself. You can do this. You are the new and improved Jenny Hillman.

Well, somewhatnew and improved. In all honesty, my attempts to change my lifelong shy and awkward-as-all-hell personality hadn’t really worked out the way I wanted them to. But the important thing was that I was trying, right?

I attempted the whole positive thinking crap one more time, with a few adjustments for the sake of honesty. You can do this. You are the kind of new and almost certainly on your way to being improved Jenny Hillman.

God, I couldn’t even give myself a pep talk properly.

The truth was, self-confidence had never quitebeen my thing. I had spent the first twenty-eight years of my life feeling just a little bit out of step with my peers.

Take my best friend Riley, for instance. That girl never met a challenge she couldn’t face. She was one of the best players on our island’s co-ed baseball team, outshining all the boys almost every time they played. She had a really cool, high-pressured job in TV news over on the mainland. And when she realized she was in love with her lifelong friend Andrew, she had the lady-balls to go after him.

Unlike some people. People who, for instance, had been crushing on the same totally out-of-her-league guy for months on end, without so much as a kiss on the cheek to show for it.

By some people, I meant me, if that wasn’t painfully obvious.

In my defense, I didn’t have a whole lot of experience in dating. There had been a few guys in college, but nothing long term. And they had all approached me. Not because I was some great beautiful catch they just couldn’t live without. No, any guy I attracted was more than likely just interested in my family connections. Or our money. Or both.

That’s the kind of thing that makes a girl doubt herself. When your dates are more likely to spend the whole night talking about your father or your grandparents than about you, it kind of messes with your head.

With that pathetic romantic history, it should come as no surprise that I had never asked a guy out in my life. So when I fell head over heels for Cal Miller, the island’s beloved veterinarian, I didn’t really have any idea what in the hell I was supposed to do about it.

Giving up fifteen hours of my life every week to volunteer at his animal shelter had definitely not been the answer. All that had gotten me was a burning desire to never clean out a litter box again.

Adopting three cats from said animal shelter also hadn’t done much to make him notice me. And now I got to clean out litter boxes at home, too.

Definitely not my brightest idea.

But even though my efforts hadn’t yielded any positive results thus far, I had been trying. I was determined that I wouldn’t remain the same hapless wallflower that I had always been. So what if confidence didn’t come naturally to me? That didn’t mean that I couldn’t learn, right?

So for the last several months I’d been on a personal quest to get control of my previously pathetic life. I signed up for online dating—not because I wanted to meet someone online, but because I figured I could use a little practice before attempting things with Mr. Perfect. The dates…hadn’t gone well. But we can learn from failure as much as success, right?

Then there was the makeover I’d attempted. Probably wasn’t a good idea to go for a new haircut at Sherry’s Hair Barn here on the island. I came out of that looking like an electrocuted poodle. The new wardrobe I’d tried hadn’t helped much either—who knew that it would be so difficult to walk in wedge heels?

Hell, I’d even signed up for a dance class. But I couldn’t even let myself thinkabout what a disaster that had turned out to be. Let’s just say there was blood involved.

So, yeah. My life was still pretty pathetic. But all of that was changing today. Just as soon as I could move my scaredy-cat ass off this bench and go into the shelter to talk to Cal.

Focus on what you can control,I reminded myself. I had read that in one of my many mostly-skimmed self-help books as well. What could I control in that moment? Well, my hair looked pretty decent. I’d spent an hour struggling with a hot curling iron, and for once, my stubbornly straight hair actually seemed like it might just stay wavy. I was wearing my favorite sundress, the blue one that made me feel slightly less immature than most of my wardrobe. My yellow ballet flats, though not as sexy as the scary wedge-heels, felt pretty and feminine.

Plus, I was pretty sure they wouldn’t cause me to fall flat on my face, so, bonus.

And then there was the final touch. I’d stayed up late making a batch of Rose Powell’s famous cherry fudge cookies. Rose herself had taught me her top-secret recipe last year. And though they weren’t half as good as hers, they were still pretty damn tasty.

A fact I knew for certain because I had stress eaten half a dozen before leaving my condo.

Rose Powell’s cookies were legendary on this island. Who would turn those down?

But what if it seemed like I was trying too hard? Oh God. That’s what he would think, right? He would take one look at my outfit and my cherry fudge cookies and be able to see the desperation rolling off of me in waves. Maybe this whole thing had been a big mistake.

Going home right now didn’t mean I was giving up. I could always try again tomorrow—maybe without the cookies next time.

“Hey, girl,” a familiar voice said, and I looked over to see Libby Johnson heading my way through the park. “How’s it going?”

Immediately, all of my confidence in my outfit went out the window. Out of anyone on this island, Libby knew how to dress. She always looked cool and stylish and put-together—three things I had never been able to get the hang of.

Today was no exception. Libby was dressed in a jersey wrap-dress that was doing amazing things for her figure, her shiny blond hair falling in those perfect beach waves I’d spent an hour trying to achieve. She made it all look so effortless—the clothes, her hair, the flawless makeup.

And it wasn’t just superficial stuff. Libby oozed confidence and competence. She owned her own store here on the island, had been elected treasurer of the commerce committee, and had more friends than anyone I knew.

“Sweetie, you look great today,” she said, eyes scanning me as she approached my bench.

Did I mention that she was also really, really nice?

“Thanks, Libs,” I told her, trying not to fiddle with the edges of my cookie box.

“Seriously.” She perched on the bench next to me, bumping my hip with hers to get me to move over. “You should wear your hair like that more often. And I love this dress.”

“The hair took longer than I’d like to admit,” I told her, and she smiled.

“The things we do for beauty. Did I tell you that I agreed to be Sherry’s guinea pig last week? She’s considering adding a new service to the salon. Waxing.”

From the way Libby’s lip was twitching, I had a feeling she wasn’t talking about her eyebrows.

“Oh, Libbs,” I said, horrified. “You didn’t.”

“Girl, you will never know fear until you have Sherry Mercer squinting at you through her bifocals while she approaches your lady-bits with a bucket of hot wax.”

I snorted in laughter and Libby joined me. I loved this about her—the way she viewed everything as an adventure, an opportunity to gather a new story to tell.

“Hey, Libby,” someone called from the walking path.

“How’s it going Hank?” she called back to the man, before turning to me like there’d been no interruption. “Speaking of Sherry, I think she’s leading the meeting tonight. You’re coming, right?”

Again, I fought the urge to fidget. Libby hosted a woman’s club—aptly named after her— on the island. The Libbies was meant to be a book club slash baking type of thing but the meetings usually devolved into lots of drinking and gossip without much concern for whatever books or baked goods were on the agenda.

I enjoyed attending the Libbies meetings, I really did. But those women had a tendency to be…well, let’s just call them wild. It could be a little intimidating.

But I was supposed to be the new and improved Jenny Hillman, right? And the new and improved Jenny Hillman didn’t get intimidated by a bunch of drunk and bawdy women.

Before I could respond, someone else passed by—Jerry Brooks, a local farmer—shouting out a greeting to Libby. Then, as an afterthought, he added “And Jenny. Nice to see you, too.”

I was used to this. Lilac Bay Island was small. In the summer we got crowded with tourists, people pouring in from downstate and all over the country to enjoy our small town vibe and abundant nature offerings. Our population more than quadrupled over the summer months. But those of us who stuck around all year, even through the harsh winter, made up a pretty small and tight-knit club.

Well, most of us did.

It wasn’t at all surprising to me that Libby had been greeted by our neighbors twice since sitting down. Meanwhile, I’d been on this bench for nearly twenty minutes and hadn’t received so much as a wave.

We both called our hellos to Jerry and Libby turned back to me. “The meeting?” she prompted.

I squared my shoulders. “Of course I’m coming. I just hope Sherry doesn’t try to do a waxing demonstration for her activity.”

Libby snorted. “Right? It was bad enough the time she tried to give out free perms. I mean, I love that crazy old woman, but seriously—who wants to look like Sherry?”

I clamped my mouth shut so I wouldn’t be tempted to admit that I had only recently voluntarily let Sherry at my hair. Luckily the really rough parts had grown out now. Mostly.

“Well, I’m glad you’re coming,” Libby said, patting my knee. “It makes me happy to see you getting out more.”

I ducked my head, knowing I was blushing.

“Seriously, Jenny,” she pressed—Libby was never one to leave well enough alone. “I can tell you’ve been trying to get out of that shell of yours lately. I think that’s great.”

I looked up at her, more than a little surprised that she had noticed. Most people didn’t really notice me much at all. “Yeah?”

She nods, grinning. “Definitely. It’s time you showed this whole island how awesome you are.”

To my surprise, her praise didn’t have me blushing. Instead, I felt something rising up inside me, some foreign boldness I wasn’t at all used to. Could this be what confidence felt like?

Just a few minutes ago, I’d been contemplating going home and giving up on my plan for Cal Miller. And then the universe dropped Libby in my lap with her sincere compliments and her encouragement. Was that a sign, or what?

“You know something, Libbs?” I said, tightening my grip on the cookie box as I stood. “I think you’re right.”

She grinned up at me. “Of course I’m right. Haven’t you heard? I’m always right.”

“See you around,” I said, turning on the spot, determined not to let this unexpected burst of confidence go to waste.

I marched across Town Square, heading straight for the animal shelter on Maple, ready to change my life.

 

***

 

The front room of the animal shelter was empty when I walked in. I frowned, looking around. I was sure the manager, Robin, was supposed to be on the schedule. Plus, I was sure Dr. Miller was supposed to be in today.

Not like I had his schedule memorized or anything.

Okay, I totally did. But anyone who saw the guy would never blame me. The man was fine. We’re talking Eric from the Little Mermaid looks—I was kind of a Disney fanatic. But the man had that same thick dark hair and the piercing blue eyes. It was a wonder every woman on this island wasn’t breaking down down his door.

It wasn’t just his looks, either—I’m not that shallow. No, the main appeal of Cal Miller was how kindhe was. He never had a harsh word for anyone, even though pet-owners sometimes had a habit of getting stressed when their fur babies weren’t feeling well. Dr. Miller treated them all the same—the perfect balance of charming and professional.

But it was when he got to interacting with the animals that he really made my heart swell. He always got right down on their level, talking to them like they could understand every word. He cradled grumpy kitties to his broad chest, got down on the floor to rub dog bellies, and always kept a pocket full of little treats to lavish on them all.

And the day he had to put Debbie Franklin’s Pomeranian, Buttercup, to sleep, I had accidentally walked into the break room to find him crying. He wasn’t making a big deal out of it, no noisy sobs. Just a few quiet tears rolling down his cheeks. He hadn’t acted embarrassed at all to be caught, just gave me a sad smile and said, “these are always the hardest days.”

Buttercup wasn’t even a nice dog. But Dr. Miller had morned her all the same.

I think that was the moment I fell completely in love with him.

But today, there was no sign of his disarming smile. No sign of anyone, which was odd—we never left the desk unmanned. Maybe Dr. Miller had been called to his office next door for some kind of emergency? Just when I was thinking I would go over to check, I heard a giggle from behind the desk.

That seemed odd. Robin wasn’t exactly the warmest woman. I didn’t think I had ever heard her giggle.

I ducked around the counter, thinking I’d check the break room before trying Cal’s office next door—and stopped short as the hallway to the back came into view. It wasn’t empty.

Oh. Oh shit.

Apparently Dr. Miller had a rather large birthmark on his ass. Who knew?

Well, I knew, now, because I was currently staring at his very naked backside in the break room hallway. And Robin knew about the birthmark, too, obviously, because she was the one currently pushing his pants down to the floor.

I stood there, frozen, my mind trying to make sense of what I was seeing. Robin was shirtless, her leopard print bar on full display, one jean-clad leg (thank God she was still wearing pants) hitched up around Cal’s waist while she tugged on his slacks. His face was buried in her neck and they were both laughing, clearly having a grand old time.

In the middle of the hallway. Which opened up to the front room. And would be clearly visible by anyone out on the sidewalk who happened to be walking from the other direction and looked in at the right angle.

“Oh my God,” I gasped, slapping a hand over my eyes and spinning around. I tried to dart around the front desk, desperate to escape, but I couldn’t actually see with my hand over my eyes, and I wound up running straight into the corner of the desk. I yelped in pain, pretty sure I was bleeding and then, for good measure, dropped the box of cookies on the floor.

“Shit,” I heard Dr. Miller mutter from the hallway. “I’m sorry, hang on!”

“Oh, don’t get all panicky,” Robin replied easily, as if she hadn’t just been caught dry-humping her boss at work. “It’s just little Jenny Hillman. She’s nothing to worry about.”

Little Jenny Hillman. Nothing to worry about.

Yeah. That pretty much summed it all up, didn’t it?

A Ransom Christmas is coming soon!

Did you know there’s a brand-new Ransom holiday novella coming out next week? I am so excited to share A Ransom Christmas with you!

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Pre-order on Amazon Now!

Pretty much as soon as I finished writing The Ransome Brothers, I knew I wanted to do a Christmas story with the boys. I was really happy with the way their stories wrapped up in that book, but I also was super bummed out that I had to cut certain things just because the darn thing was getting SO. FREAKING. LONG. I have a very clear picture in my mind about the way a few things are going to go for the Ransom gang (hint: there might just be some more babies and weddings to look forward to) but there was just no way to fit it all into one book.

Also, Christmas is my very favorite holiday. You know the scene in Reed’s book where Paige drags them to that Christmas store? Yeah, that store is totally real and I go there multiple times a year because I LOVE IT. So I thought it would be really fun to give you a little glimpse of how the Ransome boys spend Christmas now that they’re all partnered up with their girls.

Bonus: there’s a Levi scene that makes me soooo happy! I didn’t get to include nearly enough Levi in the last book (again, longest book ever!) and I really wanted to give him and Karen a fitting happy ending. I can’t wait for you to read it!

You can pre-order A Ransom Christmas on Amazon right now! It will be available everywhere else on Monday, October 22nd. The book is about half the length of a normal Ransom novel and it’s filled to the brim with Christmas fun. I hope you’ll spend your holidays with my favorite rock star brothers!

One week until The Ransome Brothers!

Last night I finished my last round of editing on The Ransome Brothers! That means we’re getting so close–and I’m freaking out! I’m very excited for you guys to read this and nervous and sleep deprived and all those other things that come with releasing a new book. To celebrate how close we are, I wanted to show you the gorgeous cover Paper and Sage Designs made for the book. What do you think??

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Ever since his wife left him to raise their four boys on his own, Will Ransome has had one purpose—do whatever it takes to give them the life they deserve. Now that they’ve finally made it, now that Ransom is the most successful rock band in the country, Will should finally be able to relax, take time for himself, maybe even find love again. But nothing is turning out the way it should. His boys aren’t talking to him, refuse to even see him. All of the success in the world can’t fill the hole they’ve left in his life.

And Will has no one to blame but himself.

The Ransome Brothers will be available everywhere ebooks are sold on Tuesday, June 12th!

On the road for Ransom

There are several things about the new Ransom book that are unique compared to the rest of the series. It’s the first book where we’ll get to directly see what Will Ransome is experiencing and feeling (which I am super excited about! I wasn’t expecting to enjoy writing about Will as much as I did). The Ransome Brothersis also the first book where we’ll switch Point of View between more than two characters. Another way this book is a little different is that the boys aren’t on tour at all. Redeem is the only other book in the series where we don’t see the boys out on the road.

The fact that 4 of the 6 books show the band on tour probably tells you that I really enjoy writing about their life on the road! That’s mainly because a huge source of inspiration for this series was my own experiences traveling around with my friends to follow a band.  To tell you about this, I’m going to have to confess something: I am a huge Hanson fan. Yes, Hanson, those Mmmbop kids from the nineties. Feel free to laugh at me! The funny thing is that I absolutely hated them when I was a kid and they were popular. But then a good friend reintroduced me to them years later and I fell in love. If you haven’t checked them out lately, you totally should! They all grew up super cute! They own their own record label now and write really fun pop-rock songs and seeing their shows is SO MUCH fun. Seriously, go find some of their new music. Okay, Hanson advertisement over 😉

The band themselves didn’t have anything to do with my inspiration for these books—Ransom has a totally different sound, style, and reputation. But my own experiences as a fan did inspire a lot my writing, particularly about Daisy, Paige, and Karen. When I was in my early twenties some friends and I followed a tour around for a few weeks and it was seriously the most fun I’ve ever had. We slept in crappy hotels and camped out on the pavement in the freezing cold to get good spots inside. We lived on gross fast food and traveled by bus for over twenty hours. And I loved it! It was so great to spend that time with close friends and to get to hear music we were passionate about every night. That was the feeling I wanted to capture when I wrote about Ransom being out on tour—that sense of freedom and adventure, excitement and connection with a group of people.

Beyond those tour memories, travel in general has played a big role in my writing. Traveling is something that I truly love and I try to do it as much as possible. So it makes sense that I love writing about characters who are traveling, experiencing new places and new sights. If I’m writing about somewhere new, I try to visit that place first whenever I can afford it. It’s important for me to really get a feel for the places I write about. I was super lucky to be able to visit Paris before I wrote Rescue. That trip ended up changing the entire book.

I always knew that Lennon was going to go and find their mom while on tour in Europe. Originally this was all going to happen in London (which I’ve visited a few times before). But then I got to Paris and that idea totally changed. Paris seemed like a place that Lennon would have such a connection to. I knew he would love the art and the culture and the food and vibe of wandering along the river, looking at beautiful things. When I walked into the Musee d’Orsay, I immediately envisioned the entire scene where Paige takes the boys there as a special treat for Len and he connects with Haylee. I have no idea how their relationship would have been different if I hadn’t gotten the chance to see that place for myself. Something similar happened when I went to the Monet house in Giverny. It was suddenly so obvious to me that Lennon would take Haylee there and that’s where he would see his mother.

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Gardens at the Monet House in Giverny, where I plotted out Haylee and Lennon’s love story

Little surprises like this are my favorite part of writing. When I see something new or travel somewhere I’ve never been before or catch a glimpse of a stranger who seems interesting and suddenly feel inspired to write—there’s nothing in the world that makes me happier than that. I love it when I have a plan for a story and something new and unexpected comes barreling in to change it. To me there’s nothing more exciting!

The Ransome Brothers is set mainly in LA, which I was lucky enough to visit when I was researching the Lovestruck series. It’s also the place where I first had the idea for the Ransome boys (you can read about that here). In that sense, LA is really where this whole series began for me. And it felt completely appropriate and fitting that The Ransome Brotherswould take me back there.

 

**Book 6 in the Ransom series, The Ransome Brothers, will be available on June 12th**

Coming soon…

Hello, lovely readers! I hope you’re all having a wonderful 2018 so far. It seems like we’ve either had snow or rain all winter long but that’s okay with me–I like to be cozied up inside while I’m writing. And I’ve been writing a lot! I think quite a few of you will be happy to hear that I’m working on the 6th Ransom book–finally!

You guys, I missed these characters soooo much. I’ve been re-reading the whole series to prepare for the new book and it’s been so nice to visit with the boys and their ladies again. People always ask me which Ransome brother is my favorite and I’m constantly changing my mind. Right now I have a huge crush on Reed, which isn’t really surprising. Paige is one of my favorite characters from any of my series. Whoever makes Paige happy makes me happy! Anyhow, I’m really liking the way book 6 is turning out so far and I can’t wait to share it with you soon!

In the meantime, I’ve been working with an awesome cover artist (Shout out to Paper and Sage Designs!) to give the Three Girls series a facelift. I’ve had the same covers on those books for years now so I thought it would be nice to try something new and fresh. What do you think??

The same cover artist has been helping me come up with a more cohesive look for the Lilac Bay series–which is really helpful since the 3rd book is super close to a publication date! All’s Fair is currently in the editing phase and I should have some release news for you in the next two weeks. Check out the covers for this series below and stay tuned for info on the release!

Okay, that’s it for me. Can’t wait to have more news about Lilac Bay and Ransom for you soon. Hope you’re all doing great!

xoxo Rachel