Bachelor in the Boondocks
by River Ames Genre: Clean Contemporary Romance
Jared Sherman has been coerced into spending six months of his life in the small Missouri town of Green River. His uncle wants to merge their businesses, but before the older man will talk business, he’s made it a pre-condition of the agreement that his nephew move to Green River.
Jared, a big city sophisticate, is having trouble wrapping his mind around country living. He feels as if he’s traded in his life in the fast line for a sojourn straight out of a rerun of the “Andy Griffith” show.
Except, Jared doesn’t remember an episode that had Sheriff Andy standing in the buff with only a flimsy pair of frilly curtains preserving what’s left of his dignity while being surrounded by the broken glass of his bedroom window.
Cue Amelia Greene.
“Call 911, and I’ll break your arm.”
She can understand him not wanting anyone else to see him in this bizarre situation, but his tone is unacceptable.
Being the good neighbor that she is, and because it was her younger brother whose baseball smashed through Jared’s window, Amelia helps Jared free himself from the shards of glass essentially holding him hostage.
Jared Sherman is a man who’s counting the hours until he can escape the confines of country living. Another countdown is underway, however.
He’s counting down the next time he can steal another sweet kiss from a woman who’s so devious he can’t figure out how she manages to be so darned seductive. Maybe by wearing her flaming hair in a bun, going about in long-sleeve blouses, and forgoing expensive perfumes, she’s discovered a sure-fired way to entice even the most dyed-in-the-wool bachelor.
Who would have ever thought the natural look could inflame a man’s desires?
Good grief, she was literally the girl next door.
But, he was a man who had no intention of living in the boondocks, minus the docks.
“Lookit,” he called. “I found another ball. Try and hit it.” When the baseball came flying straight at her, Amelia swung at it in an instinctive act of self-defense. A solid thwack split the morning quiet, and she watched in horror as the ball flew off the end of the bat, heading in a deadly arc toward the neighboring house’s second-story window. She closed her eyes, bracing herself for the sound of shattering glass. Instead, she heard a thump followed by a grunt. Her eyes snapped open and she looked upward. In lieu of a broken window, she found herself looking at a shirtless male torso through a partially-opened portion of the window’s casement. Concern ricocheted through her. “Oh, heaven’s, are you okay?” “I—I’m not sure.” A kind of husky wonder seemed to lace his words. “I hit you, didn’t I? I’m so sorry.” Feeling as if she were holding a smoking gun, she dropped the bat and returned her gaze to the open window and the man standing there. “Can I get you anything?” He reached down and rubbed his stomach. At least, she hoped it was his stomach she’d hit. The window sill blocked the lower portion of the stranger’s body from view. With the sun’s reflection bouncing off the window glass, it was impossible to discern any other parts of him. She had a clear view only of his lightly furred chest. And a very nice chest it was, she couldn’t help noticing. “I’m all right,” the man called back. “The ball didn’t have much force on it.” Immediately, she took umbrage at his dismissive remark. That baseball had been a bullet, a bat-cracking home-run if she’d ever seen one. Prudently, however, she let the man’s statement pass unchallenged. “Hey, mister, are you going to give us back our ball?” Aunt Veronica had mentioned the Claxtons’ house was being rented out, and Amelia assumed the stranger standing in the second-floor bedroom was the home’s new tenant. She pasted an optimistic smile on her face and hoped he wasn’t going to say something obscene to her younger brother. “Which one of you wants to catch it?” Not waiting for an answer, he bent down to pick up what she sincerely hoped was going to be their baseball. Catching a quick glimpse of her new neighbor’s profile, she hoped there beat a gentler heart inside his rugged chest than his stern features suggested. “I’ll catch it! I’ll catch it,” Weston cried enthusiastically. The man in the window reappeared, leaning forward and holding their baseball prisoner. Inside his large hand, the ball looked puny, harmless. An inordinate length of time seemed to pass while he stared down at them. Was he sizing them up? From his unfriendly expression, they evidently didn’t pass muster. “Maybe you better stand back, son. I’ll toss it to the ground.” With a smooth flick of his wrist, he sent the baseball spinning back toward them. It fell with impressive accuracy at Amelia’s feet. Her startled gaze flew from the ball back to the man’s face. For a moment, she simply stared. He was handsome in a rugged, virile way. She was caught off guard by the quick assessment. Heavens, she was not the kind of woman who went around noticing the attractiveness-level of each passing stranger. His eyebrows were brown, the same deep color as his thick hair. And his eyes were dark, too. Dark and rich. Coffee without the cream. But it wasn’t their shade that brought a flush to her cheeks. It was the look in them. Playful. Speculative. Sexy as all get out. Her breath quickened, and the absurd thought struck her that he had been less alarming when he’d been frowning. Unexpectedly, she found herself wondering what, if anything, her daunting new neighbor wore besides his grin. She searched for something to say to break the unnatural silence stretching between them. “Uh, thank you for giving us back our ball.” “No problem.” She had no idea how much longer they stared at each other before Weston tugged on her arm. “Come on. I need to practice hitting.” As she allowed herself to be turned around, she heard the distinct sound of the window being closed. Her brother picked up the fallen bat. It took a moment for her thoughts to return to the business at hand. “Okay, I’ll throw you the ball.” To be on the safe side, she positioned Weston with his back to the neighboring house. Self-consciously, she glanced up. Because the window has been shut, she only imagined the amused look she felt washing over her. The idea of being watched did nothing to make her feel more athletic. “I’m ready. Throw the ball!” She jerked her gaze back to Weston. Frowning, she tried to figure what was wrong with the way he was holding the bat. She certainly wasn’t an expert on the subject, but somehow, his stance looked a little peculiar. Oh, well, the worst thing he could do was miss her pitch. “Here it comes, sport.” She threw the ball. It surprised her by flying in a fairly straight path toward Weston. A hearty smack accompanied his swing. Shock replaced surprise. Defying every law of physics Amelia had assumed to be true, the ball bouncedbackwardoff the tip of his bat. Shock turned to disbelief. The sound of shattering glass exploded about them. Disbelief turned to despair. Her gaze flew again to the second-story window. Horrified, she saw that a jagged window pane now framed her new neighbor. Broken shards of glass seemed to cover every part of him. “Don’t move,” she commanded abruptly. “I don’t think that’s an option. I’m barefoot and there’s glass everywhere.” “Just stay put. I’ll be right over.” She hadn’t realized she could run so fast. Her panic sent a surge of adrenaline racing through her system and in less than a minute, she had entered the Claxton’s house and was charging up the hall stairs. She’d been in her neighbor’s house many times and knew which door led to the bedroom facing Aunt Veronica’s backyard. After flinging open the closed bedroom door, she came running full-steam into the room. Then she skidded to a sudden stop. Standing before her was an obviously naked, six-foot man wearing only a chagrined expression and a pair of Priscilla curtains wrapped around his hips. From the bare drapery rod still vibrating above his head, she surmised he’d ripped down the curtains seconds before she’d entered the room. Visions of Scarlett O’Hara doing likewise to Tara’s portieres flicked through Amelia’s numbed brain. “Don’t just stand there,” he said, flames shooting from his dark eyes. “I need help.” “Are you...” She swallowed, fighting the suicidal impulse to laugh. Meeting his furious gaze, she could tell right off that an errant giggle could incite the man to violence. She approached him cautiously and felt glass crunch beneath the soles of her tennis shoes. “Are you cut?” “I don’t think so.” Slowly, she circled him, wrinkling her brow. “How on earth are we going to get all that broken glass off of you?” His eyes raked her over invisible coals. “One piece at a time?” She knew he was being sarcastic, but unfortunately, he was probably right. “I’ll call 911.” She took a step toward the telephone on the nightstand. “Touch that phone and I’ll break your arm.” Startled, her gaze flew to his glittering eyes. She felt her heart begin to pound. He didn’t look as if he were kidding. And other than the fact that he’d bought the Claxton house, she knew nothing about the man.
River Ames spent the first eighteen years of her life in Southern California. Here is a partial list of some of the cities in which she lived: Pasadena, South Pasadena, Duarte, El Monte, Arcadia La Puente, Lomita, West Covina, Pacifica, Santa Monica, Palmdale, and Hacienda Heights. In some of those cities, she lived at six different addresses. In the city of La Puente, River's family lived in four different houses on the same street. The non-glamorous reason for all the moves was habitual eviction necessitated for non-payment of rent. It was an interesting way to grow up.
River attended twenty-six different elementary schools, two different junior high schools and four different high schools. In one elementary school, she was a student for only three days.
Perhaps, because she was so frequently identified as the "new girl," the pattern of River being an observer instead of a participant in the interactions going on around her seemed a logical fit for her personality.
When she was thirteen, River read "Gone with the Wind." She skipped three days of school in order to finish the book in one sitting. Disappointed in Rhett for "not giving a damn," River wrote her own sequel--in long hand, on three-hole punch, notebook paper. The opening line? "Tomorrow dawned bright and fair." In less than fifty pages, Scarlett had been transformed into Jane Eyre and Rhett had fallen in love with her all over again.
After Southern California, River has spent the next part of her life living in the semi-rural town of Idaho Falls, Idaho. She is a graduate of Idaho State University, majoring in Health Education Sciences and Addiction Counseling. She's worked the past ten years at a Behavioral Health Center where she assisted children, teenagers, and adults committed in a 24/7 secured facility because of mental health challenges they are experiencing.
River's books celebrate the good-natured humor that lays at the heart of most of our human predicaments. The conflicts are significant, yet it is her characters and their quirky (yet somehow universally relatable) thoughts, words, and choices that reflect a light-hearted peek into a world we wish was real. The amazing thing is that these worlds are real to readers for the time they visit there.
Readers have said: "In a River Ames book, one minute I'm laughing out loud, and the next I have a lump in my throat."
River is currently readying a historical novel, "Gideon's Justice." This three-part novel is Book I in a three volume western series set in the Colorado Territory.
Can you, for those who don't know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
As is unfortunately common with a lot of people, I grew up in a broken home. I was the oldest of three children and had the responsibility of making sure they had clean clothes to wear to school, food to eat, and provided with adult supervision at night. I assumed these responsibilities at 10 years of age. Looking back, it breaks my heart to realize how inadequate I was for the job. Being poor and regularly evicted from the places we rented, we moved around a lot. I went to 27 different elementary schools. One of them for only three days before we moved somewhere else. I think that’s where my passion for writing began. I was always the new girl. I’d get the tour the first day and try to remember where my class was, who my teacher was, and where the lavatories were located. I spent a lot of time watching the other kids instead of interacting with them. I think being a “watcher” was a way of being safe. Since I was on the outside, looking in, I think it was a natural step for me to assume a role of observer. And, isn’t that what a writer is, or does? Observes.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
When I was thirteen, I read Gone with the Wind. I actually skipped two days of school so I could read it in one block of time. I couldn’t believe how Margaret Mitchell ended the novel. Remember, I was only thirteen and didn’t know anything about borderline personalities. I got out some lined paper and wrote a sequel where Scarlet reformed herself and developed a personality remarkably similar to Jane Eyre. Rhett fell in love with her all over again—she began helping her neighbors rebuild. She even worked in the fields. (If Rhett couldn’t love her with callused hands, then maybe he didn’t deserve her.) It only took me about thirty pages to have them back in each other’s arms. She even got pregnant again. This time it was twins—a boy and a girl.
One thing about my books, there’s always a happy ending.
What kind of world ruler would you be?
I would be the best ruler ever. I would have schools built where students (of any age) could receive practical as well as intellectual learning. I would invest in urban renewal projects where people who wanted to work would have jobs in their own community building homes and business. There would be programs for individuals to receive medical training. Since I think drugs are the scourge of today’s society, I would also invest in making our public schools a safe place that fully engaged children until their parents came home. There would even be rooms in which they could spend the night if there was no adult supervision available for them where they lived. How to pay for all this besides raises taxes?
I believe there are enough and amazing retirees who would be willing to volunteer several hours a week of their time to make their community a safe and wondrous place.
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
All of them! I think my four contemporary romances: To Each His Own, Bachelor in the Boondocks, Every Good Deed, and Detour to Paradise would make terrific Hallmark movies. My western novels are just begging for cinematic life. Gideon’s Justice, Youngblood’s Rules, and McKenzie’s Law (a western trilogy) are set in the Colorado Territory. That’s some might beautiful country for a backdrop. When my heroes and heroines spar with each other, their dialogue sizzles. My heroines are not shy about expressing their grievances. Nor, are my heroes reticent about speaking the hard truths they think the heroines need to hear (all for their own good, of course).
Which of your books most resembles your life?
Every Good Deed tells the story of Erin Clay who married while still in college. The man who won her heart was sophisticated, wealthy, and charming. When she becomes widowed, Erin learns some things about her late-husband's true character that shatter any remaining affection she might have have felt toward him. When an old friend, Linc Severance, shows up, Erin doesn't trust her judgment to recognize real love and take the risk of opening herself up to possible disappointment. After all, she has a young son to raise and safeguard. The question for Erin is, can she believe enough in herself, in the woman she's become, to give her heart again. For Linc, who's always secretly yearned for Erin, can he give himself permission to claim the woman he's loved from the first moment he saw her?
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