“Uh huh.” Noncommittal, he answered in a flat tone.
Jesse lapsed into silence, sensing she walked a thin line. Still, she couldn’t let the subject rest. There had to be a way to convince Ethan that Clint wasn’t a threat to his stability. Until she achieved that, she couldn’t just let go and let him harbor hate. Clint didn’t deserve it. Cautiously, she ventured, “Horses could be a lot of fun.”
“You might give it a try. Something new and different. It can’t hurt, at any rate. If you don’t like Angel, well, then you’ve at least given it a shot.”
He tossed his controller in front of him, his interest in the game lost. She braced herself for the inevitable, knowing full well, whatever came out of his mouth next would hurt.
“Give it up, would you? I don’t want to know him. I don’t have to like your friends.”
He scooted away like she’d cracked a whip in his face. “Enough! Don’t you get it? I don’t give a fuck about him.”
“What? Too crude for you, Jesse?”
She flinched, drew in a deep breath and held it. Jesse. He hadn’t called her by her first name for over a year. Exhaling slowly, she set her controller down and slid off his bed. Though she knew in her heart, too many years of pain drove his emotions, the barb stung. On the same hand, she’d pushed. Ethan couldn’t tolerate pushing. He had to come to things on his own time.
Foregoing the lecture, she crossed to the door. “Goodnight, Ethan.”
He said nothing. Merely picked up his controller and set the options back to one-player.On a heavy sigh, Jesse left his room.
Inside hers, she clicked on the lamp by her bedside and reclined against her pillows. Tears brimmed in her eyes. She closed them to keep the salty flow at bay and curled her fingers into the sheets. In a thousand years, she never would have imagined that the only man she’d ever truly wanted would be Clint. In his arms, she felt safe. Protected. Undefeatable. He lit her up in ways she had only begun to comprehend, and it seemed as if fate determined to work against her.
If she weren’t careful, she’d lose Ethan. Every agonizing step she’d made would crumble under the weight of his fears. He’d close up, inevitably turn back to the life he’d known before he entered hers, and she couldn’t stomach the thought of where that would lead him. Jail, if he were lucky. Dead, if he wasn’t.
Yet, shouldn’t she be allowed some personal happiness as well? There were so many unwritten rules to parenthood – sacrifice for the children, put all personal goals aside, give up everything to see to their happiness. She’d exchange her life for Ethan’s in a heartbeat, but Clint offered something no child could. Even if it was only temporary, and this giddy feeling that brimmed in her soul would end when he left, he promised fulfillment of a need that ran so deep she couldn’t name it.
A tear slipped between her eyelashes and trickled down her cheek. She sniffled to hold the rest in check. She never should have let him kiss her a second time tonight. The first had been catastrophic enough. The second…
She wouldn’t be satisfied with anything but all of him after that second kiss. Instinct demanded she leap at what lay in front of her. Hang on to it until it burned itself out with his inevitable departure. Logic, on the other hand, warned her that if she did, she’d lose the one thing that mattered most – her son.
You just read an excerpt from:
A CHRISTMAS TO BELIVE IN
Today, we’re here with published author, Claire Ashgrove.
Linda Kage: Hi, Claire! Tell us a little about you and what you write please.
Claire:Thanks for having me, Linda! I’m Claire, and I’m published in contemporary romance through The Wild Rose Press. I’ve also recently sold to Tor for a Paranormal series, and will be making my debut in that genre in 2011. For info on the paranormal, you can check out my website, and the PARANORMAL link there!
Kage: What happened to the first book you ever wrote?
Claire:Hee! Linda critiqued it and I shelved it. No… seriously… After extensive work on the title, I realized it had too many flaws to be successful. It did take third place in the 2008 SOLA Contest, and I was quite proud of that. It also went on to become the first book that was requested by an agent in partial format. By the time I sent it off, however, I knew it wouldn’t work, and when the agent returned with the remarks, “Your hero is naive and immature,” I was able to laugh and agree. The book is now stuffed under a corner of my bed, where it will remain
Kage:What’s your backlist and coming soon bookshelf look like?
Claire:Currently available titles:
- Seduction’s Stakes – 2009
- All I Want For Christmas… Is Big Blue Eyes – 2009
- Timeless Valentine – 2010
- A Christmas To Believe In – The Three Kings, Book III, November 24, 2010
- Waiting For Yes – coming 2011 from The Wild Rose Press
- Paranormal Series – coming 2011 from Tor Romance
Kage: So, what story are we going to talk about today?
Claire: I’m here to plug the Trilogy that I wrote with fellow authors, Dyann Love Barr and Alicia M. Dean. My book, A Christmas To Believe In, is the third book in The Three Kings series, which is about three brothers returning home for a Kansas City Christmas. In A Christmas To Believe In, struggling Thoroughbred breeder, Clint King, returns to discover there’s more than he ever realized about his childhood best friend, tomboy Jesse Saurs. But Clint has ghosts from his upbringing he must overcome, and Jesse has a soon-to-be son, who isn’t ready to share his “mom”.
A CHRISTMAS TO BELIEVE IN : Book 3 in The Three Kings trilogy
When a man's dreams are in ruin,
All he needs is someone to believe...
Struggling Thoroughbred breeder, Clint King, hasn’t been home for Christmas in five years. Like his brothers, Alex and Heath, life has kept him away. Clint’s farm is barely hanging on. His prize mare's due to foal any day, and in the wake of his father’s death, Clint can’t stand the idea of returning. The memories are too much, let alone his father’s imposing shadow. Except, Alex is getting married on Christmas Eve, and their mother’s put her foot down. She’ll have her boys at home. With his mare in tow behind him, Clint prepares to meet a sister he’s never known and Alex’s unexpected triplets. The one salvation he looks forward to is childhood companion, tomboy Jesse Saurs. Yet when he reunites with Jesse, he uncomfortably discovers she’s become all woman.
Jesse Saurs has everything she needs – financial security, a home, and a foster child who’s about to become her son. She’s spent two years breaking down Ethan’s emotional barriers, and with the final hearing scheduled just before Christmas, this year promises to make his dreams come true. When she learns Clint and his brothers are returning, she anticipates a holiday reunion that’s sure to entertain Ethan. But on the night of Clint’s return, the ‘brother’ she expected leaves her trembling after just a single hug. Even worse, Ethan makes it clear Clint's not welcome.
Will this Christmas destroy what's left of hopes and dreams, or will it give the three the gift they've all been longing for
Kage: What would the story be rated if it were a movie?
Claire: R – nudity, graphic language. I think those are the tags that would fit..
Kage: If you HAD to fit this story into a cliché, which one would it be?
Claire: Gosh, this is kind of hard. It’s a “Best Friends” love story, but has a Hallmarky twist with a bit of “Broken home” issues.
Kage:Okay, now that we have a general idea which class to fit A CHRISTMAS TO BELIEVE IN under, what makes this book so unique from every other book out there?
Claire: Linda – you ask hard questions! There’s lots of things I could tell you, but most of them would ruin the story in one way or the other. So I will stick with this: Clint has to deal with some pretty tough Thoroughbred breeding issues in the story. He’s trying to realize his dreams, in the midst of set-back after set-back. And for anyone who’s read Seduction’s Stakes, you will find an embedded link to dear old Riley and Maddie. (I couldn’t resist!).
Kage:What was the easiest part to write?
Claire: Nothing about this book was terribly easy to write. Namely because I was working with two other authors, who were crafting parallel stories occurring at the same point in time – not sequentially. So cross-over scenes had to be nit-picked, dialogue had to match. In some cases we had to cut and adjust total time-lines and scenes to make it fit with what everyone else was doing. And as you’ll note, we still can’t separate – good thing I like those gals, eh? (Very Big Grin!)
I would have to say, given that, the easiest part of crafting this story was the characterization. What went on inside each of my character’s heads was, pretty much, all mine to do as I wanted to do with, and unrelated to anyone else’s plan.
All that said, this was probably one of the most enjoyable projects I’ve done, and would love to do another trilogy sometime like it.
Kage:What do you like most about the main character(s) and what do you like least? Did you learn anything from them?
Claire: I like Clint’s vulnerabilities the most. He’s very genuine beneath the surface. Facing things a lot of men and oldest children face, but never own up to. That he can (eventually) admit his fears, touches me a lot. Jesse on the other hand is very strong. Her choices are hard. And I admire the way she handles them.
Kage:Claire, Thank you so much for stopping by today and gracing us with your presence. Before we go, is there anything else you’d like to say to wrap things up?
Claire:Yes! Please come on over and take a peek at the trailer for A Christmas To Believe In. While you’re there, take a look around, check out my reviews, and sign up for my newsletter. I’m very excited about what’s coming down the pipe, both with TWRP and Tor, and will be updating in my newsletter. I’m also going to be running some give-away promos as soon as I have more concrete information on my Paranormal series, which will also include some tidbits from the contemporary department!
Now that Claire has totally made us want to buy her book, she was kind enough to provide us with a a buy link to :
If you're still curious about Claire, here are other places to find her on the web:
- From the Muse
- Romance Books R Us
- Cascade Literary Agency
Facebook: Claire Ashgrove
Twitter: Claire Ashgrove