Today I’m sharing a look at the making of my contemporary summer romance, Trust with Hearts.
Readers are always curious about how books “happen” ‒ how do they start out as a random idea and become an actual book, filled with great characters, drama, and sizzling love scenes? The answers vary, and each novel comes to me in a different way.
How did Trust with Hearts come about? Is the sexy and sultry Curtis based on a particular country music celebrity? Here’s the scoop…
The idea for Trust with Hearts came to me before a country music concert. I was sitting in the front row before the show started, when all of a sudden the whole plot and all the characters jumped into my head. Naturally, I started scribbling down notes (on the back of an envelope, of all things!) before the house lights went down.
Although inspired by real-life, the character of Curtis isn’t based on that one particular country music superstar – rather, he’s a blend of three or four cowboy-hat-wearing singer/songwriters. Elements of the “inspirational” singer are there, but I used my imagination to fill in background details and invented whatever else I needed to make the story work.
Trust with Hearts is a bit different from my other romances in that it has a more “traditional” romance novel feel – but still contains plenty of heat. Although Sherrie and Curtis are attracted to each other, they’re total strangers and are hesitant about getting involved in a relationship. They’ve both been unlucky in love, and aren’t sure if giving their hearts away is even worth the time or trouble.
The book gives them the whole summer to get to know each other. Readers peek into their troubled pasts and follow along as Curtis and Sherrie heal their hearts, love, and learn to trust again.
The subplot of the book – Sherrie’s devotion to save Kitty Corner – was crucial because I wanted to give her a purpose, something to build her self-esteem. Sherrie’s cat adoption project lets her help unfortunate cats who need rescuing and good homes. It parallels how Dave takes Sherrie in (aka “rescues” her) and gives her a second chance at a new life.
And, on a more personal note, giving Sherrie the “job” of helping cats allowed me to make a social/personal statement. I’m a cat person and I’ve written three cat care books. I always advocate adopting pets (of all kinds) from shelters and giving them a real home. (Would you want to live out the rest of your life in a wire cage?)
Back on topic: Knowing how I often write sequels, a reader asked if there will be another book following up Trust with Hearts. Will Dave get his own story?
I do have an idea for a sequel in mind. What if Curtis’s cousin Jen suddenly had to move in with Dave? Hmm… I already have a plot brewing in the back of my mind, so if readers would like to see a follow-up story, let me know!
I’m glad to say that the book has received some great reviews:
“Trust with Hearts is a must read. You will laugh, cry, and in the end, you will totally fall in love with the story. It is character rich, and full of drama along with some sizzling scenes to spice it up. The relationship with her characters helps us see that Curtis and Sherrie may not make it, but then, as the drama unfolds, and she shows us their hearts, we realize there just may be more there than meets the eye. This book will remain on my favorites shelf for a long while, and it is a definitely recommended read from this reviewer.” - Rose, Reviewer, Romance at Heart.com
“4.5 stars! Trust with Hearts is beautifully written. You struggle with Sherrie as she tries to regain her footing, and Curtis’s charm is intoxicating as it flows off the pages. I am always thrilled when I get the chance to discover a new-to-me author who I can’t wait to read more from.” - Emily, Reviewer, SingleTitles.com
Here’s the book summary and an excerpt:
TRUST WITH HEARTS
After a bitter breakup, Sherrie Parker seeks refuge at her cousin Dave’s house in rural West Virginia. Early one morning, she runs into Dave’s other houseguest, a singer named Curtis Taylor. The last thing Sherrie wants is to share living quarters with a country music crooner – even if he is sexy, in a cowboy sort of way.
Thrown together by circumstances, Sherrie and Curtis get off to a rocky start, but soon discover they have more in common than they ever imagined. Unable to fight their growing attraction, they give in to their desires and start a sizzling summer romance.
Everything is perfect between them until Sherrie discovers that Curtis is keeping secrets from her – and his biggest secret of all will change everything. Can their newfound love survive, or will destiny keep them apart forever?
A tame excerpt:
“I told Sherrie to work things out with you. She seemed fine with it,” Dave said as he stirred a pot of spaghetti sauce on the stove.
Curtis carried the supper dishes to the table. “Yeah, well, that sure changed fast.”
He set Sherrie’s plate close to Dave’s. The round table would fit the three of them fine, but he didn’t want to get too close to Sherrie. He didn’t need to start a new fight with her when they hadn’t finished the old one yet.
“She came down to the cottage blaming me because she couldn’t sleep. I coulda let that go, until she insulted my music… again,” he added. “Did you tell her about me?”
Dave sprinkled black pepper into the spaghetti sauce. “Of course not. All she knows is you’re staying here and working on your music. I didn’t mention anything about,” he paused and looked toward the kitchen doorway, “CJ, or the hospital. If you decide to tell her, that’s up to you.”
“I doubt that’s gonna happen, seeing how she feels about country music,” he replied as he arranged silverware next to the plates. “You know I rarely offer up opinions, Dave, but your sweet-lookin’ Yankee cousin’s—”
He stopped as he saw Sherrie standing in the doorway. “Oh Lord.”
“His Yankee cousin’s… what?”
He breathed a sigh of relief. At least Sherrie hadn’t heard him call her sweet-lookin’. He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye. Truth be told, Sherrie was sweet-looking.
Waves of chestnut-colored hair framed her oval face. Her almond-shaped brown eyes were draped with long lashes, she had a kissable, rosebud mouth, and from what he’d seen of her this morning, Sherrie was curvy in all the right places. Too bad she acted so moody.
He stared into her eyes for a full fifteen seconds. His piercing baby blues were capable of rendering women speechless. They had the power to charm, as well as disarm, anyone.
Sherrie shifted her gaze to the floor and he smirked. Direct eye contact had done the trick. Sherrie might have lots of fight, but she had nothing to back it up.
“Ornery,” he answered. “I was about to say ‘ornery’.”
Dave banged the wooden spoon on the edge of the pot, breaking the tension in the room. “Sher, I thought you were gonna apologize to Curtis.”
“I did, but then His Royal Majesty dismissed me.”
Curtis moved back as Sherrie strode past him and yanked the refrigerator open. She stuck her head inside and rummaged around.
He took advantage of the opportunity and admired the way her denim shorts clung to her backside. A tingle spread through his groin as he envisioned running his hands up the back of her smooth thighs. He turned his head as she took out the pitcher of sweet tea.
“What were you looking at?”
“Nothin’.” Why did he feel compelled to touch her? It must be hormones, he reasoned. The last thing he needed was to get involved with a Yankee woman who hated him on sight. He scratched his chin and chuckled. Now there was a switch. Women all over the world would pay a fortune to spend five minutes in the same room with him, and yet Sherrie despised him.
“What’s so funny?” she asked.
“Bull.” Sherrie sat at the table and poured herself a glass of tea.
He rolled his eyes. Naturally, she had taken his seat. He wouldn’t protest. Sherrie was Dave’s cousin, and he’d been raised to respect women—even stubborn Yankee women.
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I hope you’ll check it out. Trust with Hearts was a lot of fun to write and blends a sultry romance with heartwarming drama.
P.S. I created a Facebook page for my contemporary romances. Visit it here: