Author: S.A. Wolfe
Publication date: October 2013
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Jessica Channing’s big city life should be more exciting than sixty-hour work weeks and popcorn nights with her girlfriends, but it’s not. She has worked hard fulfilling her role as a child prodigy and graduating college years before her peers. She’s the good girl, the brilliant girl.
Unfortunately, she’s also the dateless young woman.
That all changes with one phone call. Jess’s rigid, predictable life upends when she must visit a small, obscure town to deal with a relative’s death. This isn’t just any little speck of a town, though. Long lost memories come crashing down on Jess’s world when two men, the Blackard brothers, seem to lure her in.
Dylan is cover model handsome, and pursues Jess the minute she comes to town. Then there is tall, dark and gorgeous Carson, who hides his own secrets behind his hardened reserve.
For someone who has been governed by her own obsessive behaviors and fears, Jess lets her guard down and jumps at the opportunity to have an affair with a man she actually finds attractive for a change.
There’s just one problem. Jess discovers that she can’t have a simple romantic fling because true passion does indeed come with some very big strings attached to it. She will have to own up to her own truths about love and face the two extraordinary men; both troubled in their own ways and both determined to have her.
Carson takes a couple long strides and is in my face before I can count to one. He has to lean over to be at my eye level. He places his hands on the counter on either side of me so I’m trapped. “He thinks you’re going to stay here for good. He thinks he has a chance with you. I want you to be honest with him and explain that you’ll be going back to your real life in New York.”
He moves so close to my face, I find myself staring back into his beautiful eyes that never leave mine. He is nothing like Dylan; I can see that in this moment. Carson is only three years older than his brother; however, he might as well be twenty years older. He carries a weight—a burden in him—that is marked by a serious, unwavering demeanor. I think a part of me remembers this about him and another part of me remembers trying to coax the fun side out of him. I know I have seen him laugh, the memory is there, buried with all the other fuzzy images, yet right now, I only see a man who is trying to look strong because there’s something that worries him. If he’s trying to be intimidating and rouse my anxiety, it’s working. After a short stare-off between us, he moves back. My small victory is that he seems to be at a loss for words, too.
MEET THE CHARACTERS
I came up with the idea of Jessica because I wanted a protagonist who fit a very different description than what is generally expected. Having spent so much time around women who excelled in academia, particularly the sciences (I’m not one of those women by the way.), I felt many of them were overlooked in contemporary romance novels.
So Jessica is really a composite of some amazing young women I have encountered, working in specialized fields that require advanced degrees and years of post-graduate work, and as I told my husband once, some of these women were stunning, incredibly beautiful. Simply put, some of these remarkable women were put together like elegant women you see on the streets of Paris.
Well, Jessica may be a genius, a child prodigy, and she advances quickly in her education, but she isn’t smooth by any means and she isn’t put together like a Parisienne woman. It takes years for Jess to grow out of her geek stage, and even when she becomes a swan, she still feels like a nerdwho is riddled with obsessive behaviors. Her OCD-type behavior is critical to her character. Most people are unaware of their little rituals in their daily life. Jessica’s issues stem from her analytical personality and they escalate in certain situations. She’s well aware of her peculiar traits,and you even catch her lying about it in the novel. However, the fact that she cannot control these quirky behaviors endears her to others.
Although she is very comfortable in New York City, the town of Hera makes it very apparent to Jessica that what has been missing in her life are meaningful relationships, from both a familial and a romantic aspect. This is where you see her true neurotic self-analysis surface. She is conflicted about men, and even her own family, therefore, she relies heavily on her new support system of friends, and her artwork as a means to cope. I wanted her to have an outlet that was the complete opposite of her work life, which involves systematic procedures and precise numbers. Jessica’s paintings are liberating for her, and I intentionally have her delve into fun, whimsical imagery for that reason.
Carson is a strong sexy alpha male, but I didn’t want him to be perfect in any way. He doesn’t go for the meticulous look, no suits or polished grooming unless absolutely necessary, and even then, he’d rather be in jeans. He’s a guy who works with his hands, and he drives himself to work long hard hours. I wanted that rough and tumble type of man. He seems like the opposite of Jessica in terms of education and his chosen profession, and on first impressions, Jessica assumes he’s just a hunky guy in a truck. I wanted Carson to be a mystery, but not someone who dwells on his past, especially someone who allows his past to break him. His strength comes from forging ahead, his intelligence, loyalty to friends and family, and although he is “stingy with his smiles” as Jessica says in the novel, he actually is an optimist, and we see that grow in his character arc throughout the novel. Of course, he is not without faults, and you can call it overbearing stubbornness or his idea of “taking care of others” that undermines his ability to have what he really wants in life, and this is one of the main catalysts for the story.
Bottom line, Carson, like Jess, is a workaholic. He is driven to work hard, determined to make things right in his world. Whatever his reasons, he’s industrious, and that in itself presents some of his similarities to Jess.
Dylan is a beautiful enigma. Where Carson’s personal life seems like a mystery to everyone, it’s Dylan’s behavior and internal conflicts that are the mystery to Jessica. Dylan is the epitome of those cute hunky surfers or lifeguards you see all over the California beaches, or men engaging in extreme sports anywhere really. He personifies that “too cute and beautiful” man who looks like he gets everything he wants out of life. Without giving away spoilers, Dylan, actually has a serious issue that millions of people have, and it’s through discovering this, Jessica learns more about herself and what it means to be part of a nurturing family. Dylan is the outgoing lovable guy in town, and in many ways he is the linchpin for Hera, the person who is tied to everyone. His overzealous nature plays both an exciting role and major conflict in Jessica’s new life in Hera.
Imogene & Lauren
Jessica’s relationship with Imogene and Lauren are crucial. Although she doesn’t come from a wealthy family, you could say that Jessica’s upbringing in Manhattan was rather privileged, elite private schools and a premiere cultural scene. She knows her genius academic abilities have given her an upper-hand as far as employment are concerned, but I wanted her to be outside of her element, away from the glamorous city, among peers in a small town with down-to-earth type people. I think Imogene and Lauren are perfectly cast as Jessica’s new best friends. They are college educated, but living back in their small town again, working long hours as waitresses, and tackling the difficult dream of launching their own jewelry business. Through these two funny, lovable young women, Jessica sees how most college grads live today, paycheck to paycheck, still trying to find their way in the world. And let’s just say that Imogene and Lauren have some of the best damn lines in the novel. I didn’t want them portrayed as ignorant small town girls; they are smart, funny, insightful, and give Jess plenty of crap when needed, which is often.
Archie, Lois, Eleanor, Aunt Virgina
Dead or alive, these characters are key to the town of Hera and Jessica’s new life there. I love older characters that can offer a serious or even comical perspective on life and these seniors do just that. They know everything that’s going on with all the young players in this town and they love to offer up their unsolicited advice.
Emma Stone as Jessica
or Kate Mara as Jessica
Chris Hemsworth as Carson Blackard
S. A. Wolfe lives with her wonderfully loud, opinionated children and awesome husband. She is a voracious reader and passionate about writing, and when those two activities don’t keep her locked away in her room, she loves hiking mountains as much as she adores all the thrills New York City has to offer.
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