By Darcy Burke
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Following a bitter divorce, Brooke Ellis relocated to Ribbon Ridge to rebuild her life. Things will never be the same for her, and she’s coming to terms with that reality when she meets charming, persistent Cam. She can’t imagine a happy ever after given his reputation, but he makes her feel so good.
As the sparks between them intensify, they’re both hesitant to commit for very different reasons. Or are they really just sabotaging their own futures? If they can trust each other—and themselves—they may realize that what they share is too good to let slip away.
He barked out a laugh. “You nearly made me trip. Not going to beat around the bush with that one, huh?” He looked over at her, smiling.
“Nope. I’m taking a page from your playbook and shooting straight. You don’t deny your reputation?”
“Nope,” he echoed. “I will say that I’ve mellowed a bit recently. I’m too busy with the winery.”
“So if not for the winery, you’d be up to your usual shenanigans.”
“Shenanigans… Yes, I suppose so.” He lifted a shoulder. “Maybe not. I don’t know. What do you mean by ‘shenanigans’?”
She kept her gaze forward. “I hear you had a different girl in every city when you were on the road.”
They turned the corner, and she stopped as they reached the door to her building.
He stopped too and turned toward her. “Not every city. And anyway, I don’t travel anymore.”
“Right. You’re busy. Does that mean you don’t date?”
He moved closer. “Are you asking me out?”
The scent of his cologne stole over her. The green of his eyes at this range was so deep, so captivating, she could easily sway toward him and… She straightened her shoulders. “No.”
“Well, that’s a damn shame.” His words carried a dark, seductive tone of regret. “Guess I’ll have to ask you out—since I wasn’t clear about it before.”
“No. Thank you,” she rushed to add. “I had a nice time tonight, but I’d prefer to keep our relationship strictly professional.”
“Too bad,” he said softly. “I was sort of hoping I could kiss you.”
Standing here with him in the early twilight, feeling the intoxicating burn of his stare, she was sort of hoping that too. But she hadn’t done that in so long… And she wasn’t ready. Okay, her body was totally ready, but her mind was still trying to figure out what the hell to do with Cameron Westcott.
“Cam. Everyone calls me Cam.” He inched closer so that she could feel his proximity, and heat raced through her. “At least everyone who likes me.”
“Oh good, you like me.”
She couldn’t help smiling. He was good at that—making her smile. No one had been good at that in a very long time. Not even herself. Especially not herself. “I do. And… Well, ask me again sometime.”
Had she just said that out loud?
“If I can kiss you?” He leaned forward, putting his lips against her ear. “Count on it.”
What Happens in Ribbon Ridge . . .
One of the things I love about writing small town romance is creating a world the reader would like to visit. It’s about the people, the landscape, and the happenings. Ribbon Ridge, the town in the Love on the Vine series, is based on several towns in the northern Willamette Valley. One of the things I love about this area are the events that steep the town in tradition and nostalgia—two things I think are vital to the small town feeling.
In Ribbon Ridge, there is an annual Ribbon Ridge Festival that takes place in July. This is roughly based on the Newberg Old Fashioned Festival. I love that name because it pretty much states what it’s about—celebrating the history of Newberg. They have parades, fireworks, food, arts and crafts, and tons of events. They even have princesses! The Ribbon Ridge Festival is very similar and has played a part in one or two of the Ribbon Ridge books. I haven’t set a scene at the fireworks display and it really seems like I should!
Ribbon Ridge also hosts an Oktoberfest. This made sense to me because the family at the heart of Ribbon Ridge (and who the Ribbon Ridge series focuses on) owns a chain of brewpubs. We have a lot of Oktoberfests around here, but my favorite is in Mt. Angel, which is not in the area in which Ribbon Ridge is based. It is, however, the same kind of small town—and it even has a Benedictine monastery (which Ribbon Ridge once had—the old monastery is now a five-star hotel and restaurant). The Oktoberfest there is amazing, with great food, family fun, and of course beer!
In SO GOOD, I was excited to incorporate an event that occurs every year at Linfield College in McMinnville, which is the largest city in Yamhill County and often mentioned in my Ribbon Ridge novels. The northern Willamette Valley is home to some of the world’s best pinot noir, so what better place to hold the International Pinot Noir Celebration every summer? I’ve never been to the entire weekend (it’s pricey!), but I’ve been fortunate to attend the Saturday night salmon bake twice, including this past July. It’s a fun night where the attendees go casual, enjoy a tasty buffet dinner, and pretty much drink more wine than they probably should. There are wine servers whose sole purpose is to look spiffy in their black jackets and bow ties and bring you awesome wine. Each table is set with a red and a white, but more bottles come as you breeze through them (they don’t let your glass sit empty for long). If you have a great server (which we did!), they seek out really spectacular wine and bring it for you to sample. So.Much.Fun. And the dessert buffet? Try to save room. And if not, wrap it up in a napkin and take it home in your purse!
What sort of small town events do you like to attend in your area? Do you live in a small town with a festival or annual event? I can’t wait to hear about them!
Don’t forget to enter my giveaway and pick up SO GOOD, book one in the Love on the Vine series. And while you’re at it, why not catch up on the Ribbon Ridge series if you’re new to town? The first book, a prequel novella, WHERE THE HEART IS, is a free download, and the first full book in the series, ONLY IN MY DREAMS, is just 99c. I hope you enjoy your visit to Ribbon Ridge!