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About the author:
Lauren Faulkenberry is author of the novels BAYOU MY LOVE and BAYOU WHISPERS, the novellas BACK TO BAYOU SABINE and JUST THE TROUBLE I NEEDED (all from Blue Crow Books), and the children's book WHAT DO ANIMALS DO ON THE WEEKEND (Novello Festival Press). She is a contributor to the anthology HUNGRY FOR HOME: Stories of Food from Across the Carolinas With More Than 200 Favorite Recipes.
Lauren divides her time between writing, teaching, and making artist books. Originally from South Carolina, she has worked as an archaeologist, an English teacher, and a ranger for the National Park Service. She earned her MFA in creative writing from Georgia College & State University, where she attended on fellowship, and earned her MFA in Book Arts from The University of Alabama. She was a finalist for the Novello Festival Press First Novel Award, won the Family Circle short fiction contest for her story "Beneath Our Skin," and was nominated for an AWP Intro Award.
She currently lives in western NC, where she is at work on her next novel in the Bayou series.
What inspired you to write your book?
I first wrote this book on a dare. I was writing a women's fiction novel and a friend dared me to write a romance because "the dude in that book is so hot." So, I took up the challenge and started a second book. And it turned out that writing a romance was a lot more fun for me. I'd recently taken a trip to Louisiana, so I set the book in a small town close to New Orleans. I have a severe weakness for charming men with accents, so that was a no-brainer for me. There are bits of my own life disguised in the book, but of course it's mostly fiction. I wanted to write about a woman who had sort of an ordinary life who was thrown into extraordinary circumstances and had to pull herself through the twists and turns of a big ugly family secret—and then save herself. Of course I wanted a solid love story here, but I also wanted a strong, smart heroine and a guy who sees just how incredible she is.
Here is a short sample from the book:
Jack was painting around the bookshelves, streaks of paint smeared across his nose and cheek, and a smaller brush sticking out of his back pocket. With short strokes, he flicked the brush back and forth like a small flapping bird. When he realized I was watching him, he stopped.
“Something wrong?” he asked.
“No, we finished quicker than I thought we would. You’re fast.” “Don’t go spreading that around. Folks might take it the wrong way.”
If he could do other repairs that fast, and that well, I might make my deadline. He dabbed at a couple more spots, then stood back to survey his work.
“Looks great,” I said.
He shrugged, holding the brush out to his side. “Not my first rodeo.”
I smiled. With most men, as soon as you expressed the slightest bit of doubt in them, they wouldn’t stop until they proved you wrong. I’d gotten myself out of a boat load of unsavory tasks that way. All it takes is, You think you can strip those shingles off all by yourself? or That bathroom demo might be more than one guy can handle. Works every time—but you’ve got to play your part too. You’ve got to express the right amount of gratitude.
“Clearly I underestimated you,” I said. “It’s a good thing you were available to help.”
“Well, that was our deal, right?” He wiped his hands on his jeans. “I’m good for my word.”
He walked toward me, and I instinctively took a step back.
Reaching past me, he laid his paintbrush in the tray. “I really make you nervous,” he said, resting his hands on his hips.
“Not at all.” Not for the reasons he thought anyway.
“Listen, chère,” he said, “I’m sorry about before. I wasn’t trying to—”
“I mean, I don’t want you to think—”
“I don’t. It’s fine. I haven’t danced in a long time.”
He smiled and then, in response to my gaze, said, “What?”
“You’ve got some paint here.” I touched my cheek.
He wiped his face, but the streak was still there.
“No, here.” I stepped closer and wiped the paint away with my fingers. There was another spot on his neck and flecks in his hair. “A little here too,” I said, sliding my thumb over his neck.
He leaned over so I could reach.
“There,” I said. “Got it.”
But as I pulled away, he dropped his hand on my hip and kissed me.
I stood still, my hands by my sides.
He stopped as quickly as he’d started, and eyes widened, took a step back. Without another thought, I kissed him back. He tensed as my hands gripped his waist. For a second I thought he’d push me away, but then he slid his hands through my hair and kissed me harder, his tongue parting my lips.
I pulled away just to take a breath, and he tilted my chin back with his fingers. His lips grazed my neck, and my heart pounded, as if willing him to slide his tongue along every inch of my skin. His hands moved to my hips, and he nudged me backwards, pinning me against the wall. I loved the way he tasted, loved the way his chest felt pressed against mine.
I laughed as his chin grazed my neck.
“Liar,” he said, his voice husky as he tickled me with his scratchy cheek.
I laughed harder, squirming in his grip. His lips brushed my ear as he said, “I like a woman who laughs in bed.”
Catching my breath, I murmured, “We’re not in bed yet.”
His finger slid along my neckline, and he said, “God, I love the way you say yet.”
The tacky paint would surely stick to my clothes, but I loved feeling his tightened muscles against mine, and I thought, Hell, what’s one more coat of paint?
“You feel incredible,” he said.
Before I could say anything, he kissed me so hard that I felt the blood in my head rush to my feet. As his hips pressed into mine, I felt him hard against me, and I wasn’t doubtful any more. In that instant, he was all I wanted.
As I reached for his belt buckle, he held my hand above my head. “Not yet, darlin’,” he whispered, his lips brushing my ear. “We take things slow around here.”