by Liv Rancourt
The hardest part of any remodel is avoiding the studs…
Danielle’s got three months to make her Grandmother’s rundown Craftsman house livable. Her game plan is to get in, get grubby, and get back home to L.A. She needs a carpenter, and her best friend’s younger brother is a good one. It’s hard to ignore the buffed body under Ryan’s paint-splattered sweatshirts, but her friend declares he’s off-limits so Danielle reluctantly agrees.
Ryan doesn’t have the cleanest record, anyway. His recently ex-ed girlfriend wants him back, and he has a reputation for brawling. He’s also had a crush on Danielle since he was a kid. Despite their nine-year age difference, he knows she’s worth pursuing.
Soon the paint under Danielle’s fingernails starts feeling more natural than the L.A. sunshine. She’ll have to navigate plumbing disasters, money problems, and one seriously cranky best friend to find something she hasn’t had before: a real home, and a man who loves her.
“Right.” He flipped the ice pack from one hand to the other. “Why’d your grandmother leave you the house?”
“Because I’m cute.” She scraped back a stray hank of hair, her smile as blank as she could make it. Danielle suspected her grandmother had left her the house because it had always been her safe place, but Ryan didn’t need a rehash of her poor-little-rich-girl saga.
His eyes still held a question, but after a moment he nodded and stepped farther back. “Let’s get those boards.”
They carried in the two-by-sixes, silence buffering their actions. Over the weekend, Ryan had widened the doorways on either end of the dining room, though the rough edges needed to be enclosed in trim. Once they carried in all the supplies, Ryan stroked the molding she’d sanded. “Nice work with these.” A half grin showed off his dimples. “This place is going to be sweet when we get it done.”
“I’ll take your word for it.” She went over to the kitchen sink, looking out over the old wooden porch to the Sound. A single light moved across the blackness. “Was it hard to open up the doorways?”
“Just had to work around the king studs.”
I bet I could work around your king stud just fine. “The what?” Danielle broke out a super-plastic smile, hoping Ryan couldn’t guess what was on her mind.
“The extra support beams framing the doors and windows.” He glanced at her, doing a quick double-take. “What?”
She dredged up willpower from some deep internal source, in need of every shred to keep pretending he was just a remodeling buddy. “Nothing.”
“The homeowner’s always right.” He chuckled and headed back into the living room. “If you’re happy with my work, next summer you can hire me to rebuild that nasty old porch out back.”
Danielle’s feet stuck as she got a sudden visual of Ryan, shirtless and sweaty, working in her backyard under the sun. By the time she could move again, he had his jacket on and was headed for the front door.
“Well, thanks for dropping stuff off,” she said.
“Need more ice on my shoulder.” He paused with his hand on the doorframe, assessing her with that perfectly controlled heat, an expression way too grown up for only twenty-four. “I’ll swing by tomorrow and work on the trim.”
Her fluttery response demonstrated all the maturity of a teenager.
“Oh, and while I’m thinking about it, Mom said to make sure you know you’re welcome to join us for Thanksgiving dinner,” he said.
Since she couldn’t hug Ryan, Danielle hugged herself. “Really? That’d be awesome.”
“Maeve didn’t mention it, did she?”
“No, but it’s not the night before.” She laughed, because Maeve had always sucked at planning things in advance. Her laugh made Ryan laugh, and then things were better. Almost.
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AN INTERVIEW WITH LIV
-What inspired you to become a writer?
Turning 48 (lol). I’d always known I would be a writer someday, and getting that close to the age of 50 made it clear that I was going to run out of time if I didn’t get busy. These five years have been the longest and most productive mid-life crisis I could ever imagine.
-What draws you to romance?
I write romance because I love happy endings. If I want grim, bleak, or bittersweet, I’ll work the day job or watch the evening news. One of the differences between genre fiction and literary fiction is that genre fiction focuses on how the protagonist faces challenges, with the underlying idea that the protagonist has the power to overcome them. Literary fiction focuses more on the process, and the ultimate outcome doesn’t necessarily have to involve the protagonist’s success. So I write genre rather than literary, because I believe in my protagonists, and I write romance because I believe in love.
-Give us a fun or interesting fact you learned researching this book.
Most of my books are set in Seattle, and a lot of the action in King Stud takes place in the neighborhood of Magnolia on the northwest end of the city. Here are three cool things I dug up about Magnolia:
1. The area is named Magnolia because when Captain Cook sailed into the Puget Sound, he thought the madrona trees growing wild along the bluff were magnolias, and named the area after them. The name stuck – and there are still madrona trees taking advantage of the astonishing view of the water.
2. The neighborhood is accessible by three bridges, and it’s fairly self-contained. People who live there like that they never need to go off their little peninsula. Also, the wine section at the Magnolia Thriftway is AMAZING.
3. The house Danielle and Ryan are fixing up is on Perkins Lane, which runs along Puget Sound at the bottom of Magnolia Bluff. The first houses were built on Perkins Lane right around the start of the 20th century, and ever since our rainy winters have brought mudslides, damaging houses and wrecking the road. In the Seattle Times archives, there are pictures and stories from as far back as the 1910-20’s showing the result of these slides, but every time one hits, people clean up and rebuild. The view really is that good.
-Which of your characters would you go out for drinks with?
That’s easy. I’d love to hang out with Ryan, because he’s handsome and genuinely nice, and he’d be handy to have around the house. Sorta like my husband…
-For aspiring writers, any tips?
Butt in chair, babes. The only way to learn how to write is to write. And send your stuff out. And try not to freak when you get feedback you don’t agree with. Keep trying to make your stuff better, and it’ll find an audience.
-Is there a genre you could never write? Which and why?
As I said earlier, I don’t have much time for literary fiction. I’ll leave that to the angsty twenty-somethings who still have the energy to push the envelope. I’m glad they’re out there, but leave me my happy endings please.
I write romance: m/f, m/m, and v/h, where the h is for human and the v is for vampire…or sometimes demon…and I lean more towards funny than angst. When I’m not writing I take care of tiny premature babies or teenagers, depending on whether I’m at home or at work. My husband is a soul of patience, my dog’s cuteness is legendary, and we share the homestead with three ferrets. Who steal things. Because they’re brats. I can be found on-line at all hours of the day and night at my website & blog (liv-rancourt.blogspot.com), on Facebook, or on Twitter @LivRancourt. Come find me. We’ll have fun!
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