Some people naturally have quiet, placid personalities. I am not one of them. Instead, I laugh loudly enough to be heard several city blocks away. I enjoy swearing. I adore dirty jokes. I cry often, at the first sound of a sad violin in a TV commercial or the sight of someone else’s grief. Worst of all, I’m a perfectionist. I’m hard on myself and sometimes hard on the people around me too.
In my past, I spent a lot of years with my head down, trying to avoid trouble and attention. Trying not to make waves, speak too loudly, or bother anyone with my desires. Trying to make myself smaller, in personality if not in body, so as not to inconvenience others.
Part of me believed that no one would love the real me. No one would put up with the loud, demanding woman I am much of the time.
I’m a feminist. I know my insecurity originated from gendered expectations of what a real woman—a good woman—should be like. But in my heart, I still bought into the stereotype.
And at some point, I realized I’d been doing myself a disservice for many, many years. The idea that only paragons of traditional femininity deserve or receive love is a load of crap. Intellectually, I knew that from a young age. Emotionally and on a visceral level, I should have understood it at least a decade ago, the day I met my husband—a man who not only tolerates my quirks, but loves them. Celebrates them.
You don’t need to be perfect to find love. You don’t need to be selfless or patient or quiet either.
In my writing, I wanted to make that clear. For myself, but also for my readers. So while some of my heroines are indeed quiet or patient—Penny and Mary spring to mind—others are definitely not. Angie, the heroine of My Reckless Valentine, is outrageous and funny and adventurous. Some of my other books not yet in print also feature heroines with big personalities.
And then there’s Sarah Mayhew, the heroine of Ready to Fall. In my fourth Lovestruck Librarians book, I decided it was time to tackle the librarian aptly nicknamed DQ (for Drama Queen). Loud, funny, and prone to hyperbole at all times, she’s almost given up on finding a man who’d love her for her quirks.
Luckily, she bursts into Chris Dean’s life at just the right moment, blasting him out of his taciturn isolation and stirring up unexpected emotion in his scarred heart. Outspoken and persistent, Sarah won’t let him hide anymore. And to a man like Chris, she’s irresistible.
She’s larger than life, and she deserves love. You do too, whether you’re retiring or wild, domestic or allergic to housework.
So I hope you enjoy Ready to Fall—and I hope it reminds you that good women come in all sorts of packages. Including yours.
Elementary school teacher and part-time librarian Sarah Mayhew has the perfect plan: show off her cycling skills at her school’s bike retreat and attract her oblivious coworker in the process. Her end game? Fall in love. Only one problem: she needs to find someone to teach her how to ride a bike pronto. But when she catches sight of Chris Dean’s gorgeous physique, her best laid plans are about to go off track . . .
Chris is not looking for a girlfriend. He’s getting over his last one by focusing on his bike repair business. So when a feisty, sexy schoolteacher urges him to help improve her cycling skills, he does it strictly for the money. He vows he won’t repeat history, even for a blond bombshell like Sarah. But when the two find themselves alone on the road, they can’t help taking a detour straight into each other’s arms . . .
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While I was growing up, my mother kept a stack of books hidden in her closet. She told me I couldn’t read them. So, naturally, whenever she left me alone for any length of time, I took them out and flipped through them. Those books raised quite a few questions in my prepubescent brain. Namely: 1) Why were there so many pirates? 2) Where did all the throbbing come from? 3) What was a “manhood”? 4) And why did the hero and heroine seem overcome by images of waves and fireworks every few pages, especially after an episode of mysterious throbbing in the hero’s manhood?
Thirty or so years later, I have a few answers. 1) Because my mom apparently fancied pirates at that time. Now she hoards romances involving cowboys and babies. If a book cover features a shirtless man in a Stetson cradling an infant, her ovaries basically explode and her credit card emerges. I have a similar reaction to romances involving spinsters, governesses, and librarians. 2) His manhood. Also, her womanhood. 3) It’s his “hard length,” sometimes compared in terms of rigidity to iron. I prefer to use other names for it in my own writing. However, I am not picky when it comes to descriptions of iron-hard lengths. At least in romances. 4) Because explaining how an orgasm feels can prove difficult. Or maybe the couples all had sex on New Year’s Eve at Cancun.
During those thirty years, I accomplished a few things. I graduated from Wake Forest University and earned my M.A. in American History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I worked at a variety of jobs that required me to bury my bawdiness and potty mouth under a demure exterior: costumed interpreter at Colonial Williamsburg, high school teacher, and librarian. But I always, always read romances. Funny, filthy, sweet–it didn’t matter. I loved them all.
Now I’m writing my own romances with the encouragement of my husband and daughter. I found a kick-ass agent: Jessica Alvarez from Bookends, LLC. I have my own stack of books in my closet that I’d rather my daughter not read, at least not for a few years. I can swear whenever I want, except around said daughter. And I get to spend all day writing about love and iron-hard lengths.
So thank you, Mom, for perving so hard on pirates during my childhood. I owe you.