Imagine my thrill when I found out my debut book was nominated for Book of the Year at Long and Short Reviews. Every year they open their site for readers' votes on romances LASR ranks as the best. I was thrilled to be included on the list.
STORM'S INTERLUDE was at the head of the pack for a few days and then fell to number two. Now, sadly, it's at number three.
I was devastated when it lost it's first place ranking. I confess to wanting that title: Book of the Year for 2011 at Long and Short Reviews. Yeah, you could say my ego got in the way. We all yearn to be the best, don't we? Calvin, being the supportive husband, rubbed my back and said, "At least you were nominated. How many romance books were?"
"Thirty-eight." I swiped at a falling tear, feeling somewhat chagrined I was getting so emotional over a mere title. Really, in the scope of everyday life, what does a title mean? Not much when stacked against current events, illness and personal trials. For right now, my life is so charmed compared to many others battling demons and personal problems.
Take my hero's twin sister, Sunny. A single mother with a three-year old son, Sunny is battling leukemia. Her first round of chemo failed. Now she needs help to regain her strength so she can go through a second round. Seeking someone who might give her that edge she needs, she hires my heroine Rachel to come to the ranch and work with her. Rachel has a Masters in nursing and has also studied acupuncture, raiki, massage therapies and other non-traditional healing methods. She combines them--with the approval of the patient's doctor--to strengthen her patients.
Storm, the protective brother, is not too keen on all this healing "mumbo-jumbo" so he's determined to keep an eye on Nurse Rachel, which turns out to be esier than NOT watching her. In fact, she consumes his every waking and sleeping moment.
Allow me to share a scene around the kitchen table at the ranch. Rachel has just shared the results of Sunny's latest blood tests to Sunny, Storm, Jackson a love interest of Sunny's and the family's housekeeper, Noella. The cancer is no longer progressing...
“We should celebrate.” Storm was grinning. A jovial air had permeated the kitchen.
“No booze.” Jackson held his hand up in a stop gesture. “I promised Noella I’d slow down and I have. Been gettin’ drunk on love lately.” He gazed at Sunny and winked. She beamed a smile.
Storm glanced at Noella, who was giving him a warning look. “No, I was thinking of that apple pie I smelled when Sawyer and I got back from our ride. I say we live dangerously and have it for lunch, not dinner.”
“Wif ice cream!” The child’s eyes were wide. His sweet enthusiasm, infectious.
Noella laughed. “Si, my darling boy. With ice cream. Your Unkie Storm has a good idea. Now eat all your lunch so you can have the special dessert.”
Storm turned to Rachel. “I’m sorry, I didn’t think of your diabetes. Can you have pie and ice cream?”
She shook her head. “I’d love it, believe me, but I shouldn’t have more than a bite.”
“I’ll share a bite with you. You’re part of the reason we’re celebrating, after all. Besides, no one makes apple pie like our Noella. She uses apples grown here in her orchard.” He turned to his sister. “How are you feeling? Not too tired, I hope.”
“Are you kidding? For the first time in months, I feel alive. Rachel and I potted some plants after breakfast. Healing herbs, she calls them. I swam. Got some sun. Had a marvelous massage. You should have Rachel give you one.” She smiled at her brother, and Rachel could have sworn there was a tinge of mischievousness in her patient’s eyes. “Rachel has fabulous hands. Bet she could do wonders with your body.”
Storm had just taken a drink of iced tea. He choked.
“Goodness!” Sunny beamed, spearing a cherry tomato with her fork and holding it in front of her mouth. “Was it something I said?”
The pie a la mode was served. When Storm laid his arm across the back of Rachel’s chair and brought a spoonful of the dessert to her mouth, she held up one finger. “Okay, but one bite is all I can eat.” She closed her eyes and opened her mouth. Sweetness of sugar, the tartness of apples, cinnamon, nutmeg and the cold of ice cream landed on her tongue. It had been ages since she’d indulged. The tastes mingled and melted.
She savored, swallowed and moaned. “Heaven. That was so good it made my toes curl.” She slowly opened her eyes and stared into the piercing gaze of midnight eyes. Storm was watching her as if he were measuring and mentally recording every nuance of her reaction. “Why…why are you staring at me like that?”
His eyes never left hers as he extended a long finger and swiped a chunk of apple from her lower lip. “I’ve never seen anyone enjoy something so much.” He held up his finger. “Here, you missed a piece of apple.”
Rachel coiled her hand around his wrist and brought his finger to her mouth. She sucked the fruit from his finger, twirling her tongue around his skin. Storm’s eyes swept shut and he groaned. For a brief second, she enjoyed the sensual power her mouth exacted over him.