by: Candis Terry
Series: Sunshine Creek Vineyard
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: March 29, 2016
Publisher: Avon Books
In Candis Terry’s first novel in her Sunshine Creek Vineyard series, the handsome Kincade brothers convene to rescue their legacy-but the last thing they expect to find is love….
Sooner or later…
Hockey star Jordan Kincade wasted no time ditching Sunshine Creek for the NHL, but his sports career has overshadowed everything else-a truth Jordan confronts when his parents’ deaths bring him home. Now his little sister Nicki is flunking out of school, and only one teacher can help Jordan save her-the shy but incredibly sexy Lucy Diamond, the same girl whose heart he broke years ago. But he’s determined not to make the same mistake twice. If only Lucy would give him the time of day.
Love has a way of catching up with you.
Lucy has no intention of drowning in Jordan’s deep blue gaze again, even if he seems to have turned over a new leaf. Still, his devotion to his sister is impossible to ignore. As they team up to salvage Nicki’s future, Lucy soon discovers that Jordan’s sweet caresses and lingering kisses might just be everything she needs.
Today, she was a different person. Stronger because of the things she’d lived through. Smarter because she’d found a way to survive and come out the other side in a happy place. She knew exactly where she belonged, and that was teaching and helping students like Nicki. Which was why, right now, she was going to pull on her big girl panties and face the boy who had disappointed her head on.
Lucy managed to pull herself together as Jordan removed his sunglasses and slid them to the top of his head. His smile lifted a masculine pair of lips that somehow managed to look cruel and sexy at the same time.
The boy had turned into a man times ten.
Tall and broad shouldered, his chest looked a mile wide. Judging by the smooth ripples beneath his snug shirt he was packing muscle, not pounds. Jeans, worn and frayed at the stress points, accented his long muscular legs and trim waist. His longish nearly black hair gleamed beneath the overhead lights. And his sharp blue eyes focused intently on her.
It was all she could do to keep her heart at a normal pace and her legs solidly beneath her. If ever a man could be described as delicious, Jordan Kincade would be a menu’s specialty of the day.
Too bad he was such a jerk.
“Ms. Diamond?” He came forward and stretched out his very large hand. “Jordan Kincade.”
And clearly he didn’t remember her.
Lucy smiled as a funny little tickle moved through her chest. Maybe this was going to be fun after all. Rarely was she ever given the upper hand or the opportunity to have even the slightest edge.
When he moved closer his warm palm engulfed hers and her triumph died with a sizzle.
Close up she got a better look. She inhaled his sexy scent of worn leather and warm man. Every square inch of her female DNA perked up like it was party time. She hated to disappoint the little darlings but today was all about helping someone else.
“Please.” She kept the handshake brief and formal before she disengaged and motioned toward the chair in front of her desk. “Have a seat.”
He glanced at the standard school chair with a you’ve got to be kidding me lift of his brows. When he sat down, the orange plastic chair creaked and seemed ridiculously small beneath the scope of his height and muscles.
Lucy took her own seat and noticed that the difference in chairs made her tower over him and seemingly give her another advantage. But when he leaned back and crossed an ankle over a knee, he appeared completely comfortable.
So much for one-upmanship.
“I apologize if I seemed taken aback just now.” She opened the folder and pulled out Nicole’s progress report as well as several exams and the few assignments Nicole had actually turned in. Late, of course, but complete nonetheless. “I expected your brother Ryan.”
“He had business at the vineyard and sends his regrets.”
She couldn’t help notice how very deep and smooth his voice had become. Like hot buttered rum on a cold winter night. He had the kind of voice a woman could imagine whispering sweet nothings in her ear while he caressed her in places that tingled beneath his touch.
“I understand.” Snapping out of the fantasy, she imagined the enormous scope of duties Ryan Kincade must need to tend to after the death of their parents. Her heart sank a little further for the family. Especially for Nicole, who was so young and really needed the love and guidance of her mom and dad. “I hope you’ll accept my condolences. And I sincerely apologize for having you come down at this sorrowful time to deal with what might seem insignificant but—”
“Anything regarding my sister is important, Ms. Diamond. Now more than ever.” His brows dipped in a no nonsense fashion. “So don’t judge me when you don’t even know me.”
Oh, she knew him.
Knew he was the type who’d make a promise then shatter it without ever looking back.
But that was then, and this was now.
“My apologies, Mr. Kincade. That was certainly not my intent.”
His piercing eyes perused her face for a long, uncomfortable moment and she had to admit that the look did something funny to the beat of her heart.
Especially when with a slight tilt of his head he asked, “Why do you look so familiar?”
“Do I?” That erratic heartbeat kicked up another notch as she let go a chuckle to cover up what was really going on inside. “People say that all the time. I guess I just have one of those faces.”
She pushed Nicole’s schoolwork in his direction. “If you’ll take a look at these projects, you’ll see that even though she didn’t complete the assignment exactly as it was defined, Nicole has an enormous gift.”
“I’m pretty sure that’s a lie.”
“Excuse me?” Irritated, Lucy’s gaze shot up to the slight smile curling his lips. “How can you say that without even reading anything? I guarantee your sister has a multitude of talent.”
“I’m not talking about my sister’s work. I’m talking about you just having one of those faces.” He uncrossed his long, muscular legs and leaned forward without even looking at the papers she’d put in front of him. “So now I’m wondering why you sidestepped my question.”
Good God the man was intense. There was something in the combination of that nearly black hair that fell over his ears and his nape in perfect waves and those deep blue eyes that seemed almost otherworldly. She could imagine how he’d intimidate an opponent on the ice.
And it had nothing to do with his size.
But as far as admitting who she really was? Not going to happen. No need to dredge up a bad memory when all she really wanted was to help his sister.
“I apologize.” Her heart beat erratically as she avoided the intensity of his gaze. “But I would like to stick to the subject of your sister’s grades—or lack thereof—that may prevent her from graduating with the rest of her class. I genuinely care about her which is why I noticed a problem way before the loss of your parents.”
“And now you won’t even look at me,” he said. “Why is that?”
As he leaned in, his intoxicating scent came with him. Normally such things didn’t affect her. Well, at least not with her colleagues who tended to wear either too much aftershave or worse, too much body odor. Jordan wore his masculine scent like a sexual promise and Lucy swore he should come with a warning label.
First off, congrats on the release of your ninth full length novel and first in the brand new Sunshine Creek Vineyard series, A Better Man. Even though you are a total veteran now at this whole "New Book" thing, do you still get the same excited, nervous, mixed emotion with each release?
Thank you so much! I’m really excited about the new series. The Kincade brothers are super delicious, and this time around I got to include a little mystery.
Honestly, I don’t see myself as a veteran. I’m still learning so much about writing a better book. So for me, each book really feels like the first. I usually get a hard copy a couple of weeks before the release date and the minute I hold it in my hands I feel like I’m getting ready to go to prom. Seriously. All those happy tickles going on inside my heart are like the popping of the cork on a champagne bottle. With a new series I always get very nervous because I really hope my readers will enjoy the new characters as much as the last.
How do you feel your writing had grown from Second Chance at Sugar Shack, your debut release with Avon, to now with A Better Man? What is the one thing you have learned that stands out for you looking back?
I’m reaching outside of boxes I didn’t even know I had! I think the one thing I’ve learned (with the help of my amazing editor, Amanda Bergeron) is to really dig deep into the characters and their situations. More than just a fun story (which I hope they are), I want the reader to get the emotional pull so that they feel like they’re right there in the pages with the hero and heroine. When I receive a note or letter from a reader saying my stories made them laugh and cry, I can’t even describe the absolute satisfaction I feel. Because that’s my ultimate goal–making the reader happy.
What are two of the biggest hurdles you have had to jump in order to make your writing career a success?
Oh my gosh, there have been so many. Balancing a day job, my family, and my writing. Battling self-doubt (probably the biggest one). Finding a new flavor of frozen pizza my family hasn’t suffered through yet. (smiles)
Do you as an author feel like you have accomplished the goals you set for yourself? Is there anything that stands out for 2016 that is an "I WANT" in terms of goals?
In the beginning, my only goal was to write a book good enough that a publisher would want to buy. It took me twenty-two years to make that a reality, so anything beyond that was frosting on the cake. I never dreamed I would be the first of anything. But I was the first for the Avon Impulse line and the first to be moved to mass market. I never imagined that my books would be best sellers. Inside this crazy mind of mine, I’m still the chick who plugged away on manuscript after manuscript for years without any success.
I’m not the kind of person who ever asks for much for myself, so an “I want” in terms of goals is difficult. Of course I’d love to be a NYT bestselling author, and I’d love to win a RITA. But truthfully, I really just want to write really good, heartwarming stories for my readers. Without them I’d just be writing for myself, and my characters would be very sad and probably bored as heck with me.
For anyone who doesn't know, you didn't become a traditionally published writer until your daughter was a grown adult. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors who think it's too late for them to begin a writing career?
Yeah, it took me twenty-two long, tough years. I was just too darned stubborn to give up. I came close a couple of times, but as my husband always said, it’s my passion, so why would I quit. My favorite quote is from the movie Galaxy Quest. “Never give up. Never surrender.” If writing is your passion, stick with it. If publication is your goal, there are a dozen ways to make that happen these days. There are pros and cons to writing when you’re older, just as there are pros and cons to writing when you’re younger. There is never one perfect time and one perfect career. I’m a believer that life is what you make it. If being an author is your passion and your dream, make it happen and enjoy whatever opportunities come your way. I’m now heading into my sixth decade of life. Do I wish I could have become a published author sooner? Not really. I think it happened when it was supposed to. And I’m enjoying it every bit of the way.
You have had a host of different careers in your life as you mention in your website bio, "From working in a Hollywood recording studio to a graphic designer in marketing; from schmoozing with the likes of Charlton Heston and Motley Crüe". Do you ever use your "past life" as a muse for a storyline, a character or a setting?
I use a lot from my personal life in stories, but it never has anything to do with meeting celebrities (although that was always fun). It does, however, have everything to do with personalities, and lives, and the stories they tell. The characters and settings I write about are a lot more grounded than some of those who live behind a mansion’s security gates. But I could tell you stories about those days. Oh yes I could. (wink)
Out of all your romances, do you have a favorite hero among the bunch? The one who gave you the hardest time, the one who made you cry, the one who you let lead the way?
Ah, come on! That’s like asking who is your favorite child. But since you asked . . . yes, I do have my favorites. For different reasons. I always compare my heroes with a bag of M&Ms. Each one has a different substance (because, you know, there are regular, crispy, and peanut butter M&Ms now) and each has a different color to his personality. I’d like to note that not a single one of them has ever let me lead the way. I write alpha males. They don’t like to be led by anything or anyone. Specifically, the hero who gave me the hardest time would be (hands down) Jackson Wilder from Sweetest Mistake. I love him, but we argued the entire time I wrote his book. He was hot-headed and passionate about everything and I could barely keep him reined in. The one who made me cry? Well, there are three. Matt Ryan from Second Chance at the Sugar Shack broke my heart so hard I had to stop writing until I could get my stuff together. Reno Wilder from Anything But Sweet because he was such an amazing guy who’d had such a tough life. And Jake Wilder from Truly Sweet. Jake was a hero from head to toe who was so afraid to live life that he made my heart pound through his entire book. The sexiest? Jesse Wilder from Something Sweeter. Jesse. Yeah. Whew!
Where do you see your career headed in the next few years?
I really have no idea where it’s headed. With the generosity of my readers I hope I’ll still be writing books. I have so many ideas in my head there’s no way I could ever write them all. But I’m going to give it a damn good try.
What do you hope that readers take away from your romances? Who are the kind of readers that you think your books will appeal to?
I’d love for my books appeal to everyone. Realistically, if a reader likes blood and gore they’re not going to like my stories. If a reader is looking for a story that is fast-paced, fun, emotional, and heartwarming, then I think we’ll get along just fine. Oh, and if they like pets, because the little furry guys in my stories bring a whole lot to the page. I hope my readers take away a great amount of satisfaction and that my little tales of love hit them in just the right place in their hearts.
And lastly...I know that you are a HUGE romance reader as well as author...I need your Top Five Romances of All Time.
Good grief! Only five? Have you ever seen my paperback keeper shelf or the library on my Kindle? It’s insane. Okay, okay, I’ll try to narrow it down.
1. Heaven, Texas by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I have two copies of this book because the first one got so dog-eared from me re-reading it so often. Three words. Bobby Tom Denton. Sigh.
2. Whitney My Love by Judith McNaught. Such a wonderful read. My heart pitter-patters just thinking about it.
3. Truly Madly Yours by Rachel Gibson. Another book I have two copies of. Nick’s love for Delaney is just so tortuously sweet and wonderful I will never get enough.
4. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Hey, I’m a Scot, so sue me if I’m crazy over Jamie Frazier and his kilt.
5. Son of the Morning by Linda Howard. Just a breathtaking story with amazing characters. And okay, yeah, another Scot. Can’t help myself.
Candis, thank you so much for this interview.
This has been so much fun! Thank you so much!
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Candis Terry was born and raised near the sunny beaches of Southern California and now makes her home on an Idaho farm. She’s experienced life in such diverse ways as working in a Hollywood recording studio to chasing down wayward steers. Only one thing has remained the same: her passion for writing stories about relationships, the push and pull in the search for love, and the security one finds in their own happily ever after.
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