Detour to Paradise
by River Ames
Genre: Sweet Contemporary Romance
Enter Sarah Burke… The innocently enticing young entrepreneur who’s opening an equestrian camp for children with handicaps.
Her initial impression of him is clearly wrong. For some reason, known to the reader but unknown to him, Sarah mistakenly believes that Lucas Rockworth is a shy, sensitive man. After having to deal a lifetime with a dominating older brother and controlling father, she finds these traits very appealing.
Her recent breakup with someone who could best be described as a bully has Sarah longing for a kinder, gentler man in her life.
Lucas tells himself that, since he makes his living as a general contractor, he has the hands-on experience to make himself into anything Miss Sarah Burke is looking for.
It shouldn’t be that great a stretch to become a modern, sensitive kind of guy, should it? She wants Mr. Rogers… Well, darn, he can manage that for the short time he’s in Idaho.
How hard can it be to tame his darker, more cynical side?
As for Sarah Burke? She thinks she’s met a real life version of Mr. Rogers. But, the reader knows its Rambo who’s come a’courting.
Would the real Lucas Rockworth care to step forward?
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Lucas stared at Julie’s earnest expression and felt his forehead bead with sweat. As a favor to his sister, Summer, he’d been spending a lot of time with her new stepdaughter, Julie. Julie’s recent accident coming on the heels of Summer’s marriage to Julie’s father, Damien, had put a noticeable strain on the newlyweds’ first weeks of marriage.
Damien’s exasperating but adorable fourteen-year-old daughter didn’t seem the least inclined to share her father with another woman.
But Julie had taken a liking to Lucas. And, during the couple of weeks Julie needed to recuperate from the eye damage she’d suffered using a tanning lamp, it had seemed a good idea to invite her to spend some time at his cabin with his housekeeper and his housekeeper’s young son.
The idea of including Julie in his vacation plans had seemed a good one. At least better than having Julie accompany Summer and Damien on their honeymoon. But as Lucas stared into Julie’s earnest face, he realized his month in the Selkirks wasn’t going to be all honey and brightness. He was definitely in trouble—deep trouble.
His new niece-in-law obviously had a crush on him that he hadn’t noticed developing. He didn’t want to hurt her feelings. Knowing Julie, she’d probably call her father in Hawaii and insist he arrange for her to join him. And that would spoil his sister’s honeymoon. On the other hand, he couldn’t encourage the girl.
Think man. You’re supposed to be such a red-hot administrator.
Lucas ran a shaky hand through his hair. He might have a hundred employees scrambling to keep him happy at Rockworth Construction, but that fact didn’t seem to cut any ice in his present predicament.
“We could start by going steady.”
He cleared his throat but couldn’t think of anything to say. Nor could he remember ever feeling as helpless as he did in this moment in time. All he could do was look into Julie’s young face and remember how he’d felt when he’d been sixteen and had a crush on Miss Skagget, the prettiest woman ever to teach math at Lincoln High.
“Ah ...” He broke off, having no idea what he meant to say. He looked skyward. What he needed was a bolt of inspiration, or failing that perhaps an earthquake to get him off the hook.
“You do think I’m pretty, don’t you?”
Time had run out. He was going to have to handle the situation the way he handled the rest of his life—bluntly. Obviously there wasn’t going to be any divine intervention to bail him out.
“What I think is—”
A high-pitched cry cut him off. Lucas glanced up and was stunned to see a woman take a running leap from the ledge above them. He reacted instinctively and held out his arms.
“Lucas, what’s going on?”
He didn’t let Julie’s question distract him. Instead, he caught the falling woman, feeling as if he’d plucked a comet from the sky. The spontaneous maneuver wasn’t as neatly performed as if they’d rehearsed it, but his reaction time had been quick enough to save the woman he now held in his arms from a nasty spill.
An enraged growl from above made him jerk his gaze upward. An angry black bear stared back at him. And that explained the “why” and “whence” of the woman’s sudden arrival.
“Don’t move,” Lucas ordered softly to Julie. “There’s a bear on the rise above us.”
Julie froze, saying nothing. Lucas’s gaze dropped from the bear to the woman he now held. He didn’t dare let her go. Any sudden movement could prove the catalyst that would bring the bear charging down on them. A sable-colored length of shoulder-length hair had fallen across the woman’s face. Lucas fought the temptation to push back the swath and see what she looked like.
The lady in red . . . Somehow the term conjured up images of a slinky, low-cut evening gown instead of old-fashioned red underwear.
“Is Mamma still there?”
Her voice, soft and breathless, warmed him. But her words were chilling.
“Your mother is up on that hill with the bear?” he whispered back, without moving his lips.
“Not my mother,” she corrected quietly. “Baby’s mother.”
“My Lord, you mean there’s a baby up there, too?”
When Sarah had opened her eyes briefly, all she’d seen was her own hair. She knew she was being held in a pair of strong arms against a powerful chest—the chest of the man the girl had called, “Lucas.”
She allowed herself a moment of regret that such a strong and virile man, a man endowed with a bone meltingly deep voice, was also slow-witted.
“A baby bear.”
Lucas sighed in relief. “Oh.”
Another furious growl ricocheted through the air. All three humans froze while their hearts raced at breakneck speed. Lucas’s eyes briefly clashed with the ones of the black bear before he quickly looked away. He’d read somewhere that eye-contact with a wild animal incited the primal urge to attack. His grip tightened on the woman in his arms.
One second ground by. Then another. Finally, the black bear’s massive head turned, and the rest of its shaggy body followed. In the space above the mountain brush where once death had awaited, there was now only empty space.
The focus of Lucas’s gaze returned to the woman. He visually followed the trail of tiny red buttons that led from the V of her legs, past pertly tilted breasts to a crew neck. There was nothing flimsy about her. Hers was the well-toned, faintly muscled body of a runner.
“Is it over? Can I open my eyes?”
He shifted his grip, easing her to a standing position. She brushed back the hair that had covered her face.
His mouth fell open in disbelief. Never. Never had he believed in fate. And yet, standing with his arm cradled protectively around her was the woman that for months he’d been unable to get out of his mind.
The last time he’d seen Sarah Burke he’d told himself it would be a wasted effort even to attempt to make her acquaintance.
The lady was taken.
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.
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My days revolve around several compelling interests.
In each day I try to include: Meditation, Gospel Study, Yoga, Elliptical exercise, cooking wholesome meals from scratch, housework, reading, gardening, and continuing with home remodeling projects.
And, of course, working daily on my current novel: “Youngblood’s Rules”, which I’m either editing, generating new drafts, or focused on plotting.
Advice you would give new authors?
Oh my goodness, believe in yourself! I truly believe in the affirmation that states: No desire was ever planted within the heart of a man to accomplish something, save he was blessed with the means to achieve that goal.
Accept where you are right now on your writer’s journey. The sheer act of writing will improve your ability to write.
Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
A River Ames novel is a love story between a man and a woman who, despite their internal and external conflicts, are absolutely perfect for each other. I really try to tap into the warmth and humor of everyday encounters that transcend the ordinary. My books bring to life a world that is overflowing with strong values. My characters grow and change, make stunning discoveries about themselves, and reach a point where they must find the courage to reach out and take what Providence has offered them.
Are you at all like your main characters?
I can really identify with my heroines. They are goal-focused and spend way too much time organizing and planning their lives. When the hero enters their world, it is always at the most inconvenient of times. Also, as my heroines tend to be overly analytical, they usually expect to fall in love with entirely different sorts of men.
As for my heroes… They are such “guys”, meaning they may be heroic in nature, but for them women in general are an alien species. When they meet my heroines, they’re never happy about finding themselves drawn to women who stir their protective instincts while at the same time awakening attractions that interfere with their very strong views on the lives they are determined to live.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
My characters begin as two-dimensional people. I know their physical appearance, and I know what they most want out of life. Achieving their goals is the genesis for the conflict they must face and overcome.
Then, I look into their pasts. What events have shaped their core beliefs about themselves and the world? Why are their goals so important to them? What view of themselves will be crushed if they fail to accomplish their goals?
At this point, I write in-depth biographies that include their early childhoods and the pivotal events they experienced when they were twelve years of age. That’s an important benchmark for all of us.
I know who their parents and grandparents are. I know the landscape in which they grew up. I know their parents’ weaknesses with which my characters had to grapple. I know who their greatest nemesis is or what chronic obstacle they must overcome to achieve happiness.
This is my starting point. If you’re a beginning writer, my advice is to filter this information into the first three chapters of your novel without dumping it all at once. I do this by weaving their backstory throughout the beginning scenes to give texture to their characterizations while keeping the action going.
As the novel progresses, I often go back and add significant details to their pasts that I didn’t realize at the beginning of my story. The really cool part of writing is this: At this point, my characters are talking to me. They speak for themselves, telling me why they are the way they are. I can ask them questions, and (if they’re feeling cooperative) they will answer me.
For me, this is the best and most rewarding part of being a writer.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
I visualize a warrior woman who protects her clan.
Describe your writing style.
My style is fairly direct. Sometimes, though, my characters are astonished by the natural beauty of their home planet. My style is to let my characters tell their own story. I try to disappear as the author and allow their thoughts and feelings to take center stage. My purpose is for my reader to be my heroine and experience her world through her eyes, mind, and skin. The reader has the advantage over her of being able to access the hero’s viewpoint. Inevitably his thoughts are in direct opposition to my heroine’s interpretation of events. My heroes are such “guys”. This results in the often poignant and humorous battle of the sexes.
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Kind. Loyal. Funny. Creative. Determined.
Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I’m currently working on Book II of my Guardsmen Trilogy. “Youngblood’s Rules”. As I’ve been working on this novel, I discovered that its core theme is: People can change. Some of the characters in this novel are considered by society to be significantly flawed. By the end of the story, transformation has taken place, and they are more than they ever thought they could be.
If my characters can change and grow, than so can I. Nothing I’ve done is unforgivable. I am alive and capable of becoming the person I want to be.
What was the very first story you ever told? Was it a romance?
As an older sister to a younger brother and sister, I use to make up stories for them. We would go on evening walks through the neighborhood, and I would let them choose if they wanted to hear a mystery, monster story, fairy tale, shoot-em,-up western, or a dinosaur story. Sometimes I would mix things up. Mermaids and space aliens… Cowboys and dinosaurs… A police detective who was tracking a for-real monster.
My actual first, written-down story was the sequel I wrote for Gone with the Wind. I was thirteen, and I just couldn’t believe that Rhett couldn’t fall in love again with Scarlet. I didn’t understand about borderline personalities. As for Rhett, good grief. How shallow could he be not to give the woman he’d so passionately love one more chance? In my story, Scarlet became Jane Eyre. Rhett had no choice but to lose his heart to her again.
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