Friday Night Lights meets Sweet Home Alabama in my new release SLOW AND STEADY RUSH. I’m excited for everyone to meet Robbie, a high school coach tasked with turning the Falcon football team around, and Darcy, a librarian reluctant to come back to her hometown.
SLOW AND STEADY RUSH received a 4.5 star TOP PICK from RT Book Reviews “…a marvelously funny, engaging, and memorable romance in a place where everyone knows your name.”
Here’s an excerpt toward the beginning of the book, the second time Robbie and Darcy meet…
She drained the fresh drink, and the man replaced it without comment. The door opened every few seconds, belching groups of two or three. As she sipped, she observed the easy camaraderie and recognized several people. A group of popular women, who had been popular teenagers in high school, bunched around two tables close to the dance floor and attracted a fair amount of male attention. But no one approached her, and she felt invisible—in a good way.
Then he walked in. Dear God in heaven, she hadn’t exaggerated his blatant masculinity. Thick blondish hair settled in wavy clumps as if his routine involved fingers and not a comb. A red T-shirt this time. Nothing special except in the way the cotton spread over broad shoulders and tucked messily into a pair of broken-in jeans as if the shirt begged for some woman to pull it out . . . and maybe even off. Damn, he was hot. Tongue-lolling, fantasy-inducing, panty-dropping hot.
He scanned the room. Choosing his conquest for the evening? She was surprised none of the women raised their hands and yelled “Pick me, pick me!”
She took another sip and snorted. Although there was no way he could have heard above the din, his gaze stripped away her cloak of invisibility. In a loose-limbed amble, he approached. Several men stopped him to chat, but there was no question as to his ultimate destination. His gaze flicked to her even as he replied to them.
Heat prickled her scalp, burned down her face, through her body, and finally banked in her lower belly. Then, he was there, standing a few feet in front of her. Close enough to bask in his maleness and become high on the tang of his cologne. Her inhibitions dangerously low, her knees parted a few inches.
Keep it between the damn lines. She clamped her legs together and swiveled back to the bar. He took the stool at her side. Well-worn denim brushed the skin above her knee sending a small shiver down her leg. A beer landed in front of him without a word to the bartender.
She tapped her fingers on the bar and waited for him to say something, anything. He had stalked her from across the room and had taken the seat next to her. Nothing. What kind of game was he playing?
She opened with an eloquent, “Hi,” and immediately felt like an idiot.
His cutting gaze, expressionless face, and lack of response dampened her uncomfortably potent lust. The man could at least be freaking polite. They were in Alabama not New York, no matter what she was drinking.
She poked him in the arm. “I said Hi. By the way, I was going to make you a blackberry pie. Maybe even pick the berries myself, but not now. No sir-ree.”
He turned and braced his legs wide, nearly encasing her. His finger hooked around the neck of the sweating beer, and he took a drag. The muscles of his throat worked, and she swallowed in response. The beer bottle landed back on the bar with a thump.
“Why would you make me anything?” he asked in a tight, suspicious voice.
“That’s what a good neighbor does. It was for taking care of Ada, maybe for the snake thing, but you can forget it. You’re not even getting dry, store-bought cookies from that stupid elf. In fact, you deserve a kick in the butt for being rude.” She poked him in the chest this time.
He rubbed his nape and shifted on the stool. “I know what you think, but I swear I’m not taking advantage of your grandmother. I worry about her being alone.”
The sincerity shading his eyes threw the door open on the fears that had kept her up at night. “I’m worried too, you know. I’m not a nurse. I don’t know how to take care of anyone. What if something bad happens?”
“Then you call for help. I’m right down the road.” His soft voice offered comfort.
“You don’t have a twin brother, do you?”
“No. Why?” His brows drew in, and his forehead wrinkled.
“You’re being all nice. You were scary this afternoon.”
His head jerked backward. “I wasn’t scary.”
“Right.” She shot the word with sarcasm. “Man holding a gun looms over woman innocently swimming in river. Said man annihilates snake not ten feet away. You’re obviously a fuzzy, soft Care Bear. The one with the rainbows.”
“What are you drinking?” Although he didn’t actually smile, something in his face lightened, and his body relaxed against the bar.
“I wanted sweet tea, but Logan gave me this.” Playing her best Vanna White, she presented the glass with flourishing hands but ruined the effect by bobbling it into his arm. The glass left a damp spot on his shirt, which she felt an uncontrollable need to wipe. A multitude of thin puckered scars peeked from under his shirtsleeve.
Her fingers slipped under his sleeve to trace more scars. “What happened?”
He ignored the question, took her glass between two fingers, and sniffed the contents. His bicep rippled under her hand. “How many have you had?”
“That must have hurt terribly. I’m so sorry.”
His shoulder rolled, maybe to shake her hand off. His jaw clenched, furrows framed his thinned lips, and his body stiffened again. In fact, he looked pained. She took her hand away long enough to kiss her fingers and lay them back over his scars.
They stared at each other. His lips parted, and the frost in his eyes melted. Had she actually . . . yes, she had kissed his boo-boo. She snatched her hand away and tucked it under a leg. Obviously, her appendages couldn’t be trusted.
The bartender slid another full glass between them. Dalt’s gaze stayed fixed on her. “Take it away, Brian. She’s had enough.”
The bartender dumped the contents of the glass behind the counter.
“But . . . but, they settled my nerves.” She reached for the now empty glass and fake pouted.
“You want to wake up hung over in some asshole’s bed?” He chucked his chin toward the end of the bar.
She looked over her shoulder and caught a couple of guys staring at her. One she recognized from high school, and she waggled her fingers. He waved back with nothing more than a friendly smile and turned away. “You seriously think someone would take advantage of me?”
His gaze flickered down her body. “Someone that looks like you? Hell yeah.”
“How do I look?” She wiggled to pull her hemline down as far as the stool would allow. Oh my God, did she look slutty?
“I don’t take bait.”
“I didn’t even know you liked to fish,” she said. Only in Alabama could a conversation about drinking and one-night stands get tangled up with fishing.
He blinked a few times. “I wasn’t fishing. You were. You look real pretty.”
Had someone turned the AC off? Her breaths came faster, but it wasn’t anger driving her lungs in and out. Her gaze dropped to his chest, and she tucked hair behind her ear. This man had seen her naked mere hours ago.
“You spied on me in the river.” Her accusation came out breathy, not blameful.
“Thought you were a pig.”
Outrage shot her head up. “That’s . . . that’s a terrible thing to say.”
Was that red flush coursing up his neck a blush? He grunted in what she could only assume was his approximation of a laugh. “Jesus, not you . . . you were—” He shook his head. “Feral pigs have been rooting the bottoms, causing flooding, overtaking natural species. I fully intended to respect your privacy until I saw the snake.”
Propping his elbow on the bar, he rested his jaw on his fist. Fine blond hair dotted the back, thickening to cover his forearm. How much hair covered his chest? Her stomach tumbled, a different kind of nerves this time.
“Why are you so nervous?” he asked.
“What?” She shifted on the stool. Was it that obvious she found him as hot as sin?
“You said the drinks settled your nerves.”
“Oh, that.” She huffed a sigh and cast a quick glance over a shoulder. It seemed like an inordinate amount of eyes were on her or him or maybe them. She leaned closer and whispered as if delivering a dire secret, “People around here remember me.”
“I thought Logan was the resident wild man growing up. You’re a librarian.”
“What’s that supposed to mean? Librarians know how to party. Anyway, it’s not me they remember.”
His nose scrunched. “That made zero sense.”
“Sense and Sensibility.” She snapped her fingers and pointed a finger between his eyes.
“What?” he asked. This time his laugh was unmistakable. He wrapped his hand around her finger and pulled it away. His fingers skittered over the back of her hand before retreating to the neck of his beer. The heat of his touch made her feel like looking for a brand.
“The last party I went to in Atlanta. Everyone came as a famous author. I dressed up like Jane Austen. A corset and everything.”
“Wow. You librarians are animals.” His smile was wide and sexy and teasing. The somber cast of his face transformed into a thing of beauty. Warm, tingly ribbons trailed over and inside her body.
“Dalt is an unusual name. What’s your last name?” she asked.
“Your name’s Dalt Dalton?”
His smile crinkled his eyes. “Robert Dalton. Most people called me Robbie before I joined up. Dalt since then.”
“Robbie.” It was a good name. A name that felt natural on her lips. “You have a nice smile, Robbie.”
“So do you,” he said with a rasp.
If you want to read more (and I hope you do:) here are some convenient buy links!