by: Nancy Stopper
Series: Oak Grove
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 18, 2017
Publisher: Anderby Lane Publishing
A guilt-drive firefighter, a widowed mother, neither is ready for love, but love has other plans.
Firefighter Lucas Bennett had the carefree life he’d always wanted until a deadly blaze took the life of his company mate and best friend. Blaming himself was easy but pulling himself from the tailspin of guilt proved to be much harder. The fog of sadness and guilt pushed him down a dangerous path until he nearly died fighting the beast. Forced to stop and reevaluate his life, he decided to make a change before it was too late.
A fire took almost everything from Sarah Robinson—her husband and her home—leaving her to raise their precious daughter alone. Everywhere she looks holds memories of her husband, pouring salt on her ever-present wound. Unable to live any longer around the memories of her husband, she and her daughter moved to Oak Grove, far away from the grief of the past. All Sarah needed was the chance to start a new life for her and her daughter.
A car accident on a dark, rainy night put Lucas and Sarah on a collision course neither of them expected… with questions they’re not ready to answer. Can a single mother open her broken heart for a second chance at love? Will a broken firefighter risk his heart for what might be his only chance at forever? Are each of them willing to take one last risk to be together? His risk. Her reward. Together, they’ll mend each other's broken hearts.
If you like small-town romance where the heroes are sexy and the women are strong, unlock One Last Risk to start your visit to Oak Grove, Pennsylvania and fall in love with Lucas and Sarah!
Hi Nancy. Welcome to Read Your Writes Book Reviews. How are you?
I’m great. I love spring because the sun comes out and the grass and flowers grow (although my allergies don’t like it as much as I do). I also love that I can take my work onto my screened-in porch and enjoy some fresh air. Besides, spring means baseball, my all-time favorite sport to watch.
I’m with you. I love all the colors Spring brings, but man-oh-man, the allergies!! You are a new author to me. What can you tell me about yourself that isn’t already in your bio from your website?
You know how you read all those author bios that say they were born with a pencil in their hand, well… that’s not me. I have taken a long route to get here. I studied computer science and math at a small women’s college and then got my Master’s Degree in information systems while working for a government contractor outside DC. I left that job in 2003 to stay home with my 2 kids. We added a 3rd one two years later. Since then, I’ve volunteered for a number of youth sports organizations that my kids were involved with and then got involved as a volunteer with JDRF after my youngest was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. For the past 10 years, I was also homeschooling 1 or more of my kids (For 2 years, I had all 3 of them at home). It seems I can’t stand not being busy! I always have multiple things going on.
Hats off to you for homeschooling your kids. I need school for them to get away. Your first published book was a novella, Dreams Come True in Laguna, and part of Kaira Rouda’s Laguna Beach Kindle World series. But you have your own series coming out called Oak Grove. What can you tell me about this series?
This was the series, the characters, that started bugging me first. Oak Grove is my idea of a perfect small town, where the neighbors are friendly and you can walk down the street and people will know you. I grew up in a smaller town, although not as small as Oak Grove, and even now, after all these years, it isn’t unusual for me to run into someone I knew growing up when I head back. I personally love reading series about families, so I knew that once these characters starting bugging me that they were going to be part of a big, loving family.
The family ties are important to each of the Bennett siblings but each of their stories focuses on what’s unique about them, what makes them tick, what they are looking for out of life. Each book can be read stand-alone, but they are tied together through the town and the family.
Last Call is the prequel to the Oak Grove series. I love when the hero and heroine are stranded together and have to end up relying on each other. What was it about Butch and Carla that made you know they needed to be together?
Oh, Carla. Even though her story comes before the main series kicks off, I didn’t write it until after I’d written the first three books. So, I knew Carla really well by then. She kept jumping into scenes I didn’t expect to see her in, and getting all up in everyone’s business. She’s spunky and fun and I knew there was a special hero just waiting for her. Enter Butch. I’m not sure when he came on the scene but he was just the perfect hero for Carla. He’s really complex, a well-respected ER doctor who is also a member of a motorcycle club. He can hide who he really is behind his scrubs and lab coat (and that sexy beard). He’s very emotional and feels other’s pain acutely, which makes him a great doctor… but his heart can be easily broken. Carla is the perfect heroine to take good care of his heart. She’s has a caretaker spirit.
The Oak Grove series is based on four siblings, the Bennetts. What can you tell me about these siblings?
I love the Bennetts. They are a close-knit family that still tries to have Sunday dinner together every week. It’s their chance to check in and stay grounded. Their parents instilled a sense of caring for others and the community growing up and each finds their own way to do that. Each carved out a unique place for themselves in the family, although some took a bit longer to figure out their place than others.
What’s the birth order?
Lucas, the oldest, is the protector, so of course, it makes sense that he’s a fireman and a paramedic. He’s quiet and thinks rationally and doesn’t fly off the handle much, but when he does, whoa boy! His book kicks off the series and sets the stage for the town and the family.
Michael is next. Even though he was born second, we don’t get his story until book 4. He’s an attorney and for the first three books, he lives in Philadelphia, about 90 minutes away. But he tries to come home on the weekends when he can carve out the time from his high-powered law firm. And besides, he’s got something else drawing him back to Oak Grove on a regular basis (but I’m not telling, you’ll have to read the series to find out).
Joey is the third child. After two driven older brothers, he found the best way to get noticed is to be a bit of the class clown. He’s always happy, or at least that’s what his family thinks. You’ll find out more about what’s really going on with Joey in his book. He can be a hot head at times, reacting before thinking. He’s fiercely committed to helping veterans causes. He wanted to enlist with his friends but couldn’t, so this is how he chooses to serve.
Rachel. Poor Rachel. The youngest and the only girl. She has a hard time finding her place in the family. For the first two books, she’s somewhat estranged from her family, although she makes an appearance in both. What’s going on in her life greatly impacts her siblings. But never fear, she finds her happily-ever-after as well. She’s very complicated and so is her story.
You already have blurbs for all the books, does this mean that you already have the books written?
These four books are all in some stage of written at this point. My goal was to have the four siblings stories fleshed out before I published any of them. It allows me to release them close together so readers don’t have to wait too long to visit Oak Grove again and find out what’s going on with their favorite characters. I love a book that when I put it down, I feel like the characters are moving on with their lives without me, and I can’t wait to get back. I want my readers to have that same feeling.
The other nice thing for me, since this was my first series, is that as things came up in subsequent books, I was able to go back and tweak previous books if need be to help with timeline, continuity, characters, etc.
As of this date, book 2 is with my proofreaders and book 3 is just coming back from the editor. Book 4 will head to the editor next month.
But don’t let the fact that the Bennett family only has 4 kids fool you, there are a lot more stories to be told in Oak Grove. Friends, colleagues, new residents, all of them deserve their own love story, don’t they? And there will also be a tie-in to nearby Cedar Hill where new families and friends are just waiting to find their own happily-ever-after. But in true small-town fashion, everyone knows everyone, so it will also give us a chance to check-in with our favorite Bennett family members from time to time.
One Last Risk, book one, sounds like a book I would really like. You have Lucas, a firefighter, paired with Sarah, a widowed single mother. Knowing Sarah has a huge fear of fire, why did you put these two together?
Because life is messy. You can’t choose who you fall in love with, as much as you’d like to. Also, if you have an issue with fire, who better to have around than a sexy firefighter, right? But it’s not that simple because guess what (a little special hint just for your visitors), she doesn’t know he’s a firefighter. Not right away, at least. So, not only does she need to learn how to love again after losing her first husband, she eventually has to decide whether she can accept Lucas for who he really is and his ties to the thing that took her first husband away. Can she really look at Lucas and see him and not his job?
I can feel my heart starting to hurt. I definitely sense a few tears on the characters’ part and mine. What’s your favorite part of writing and why?
Boy, that’s a tough one. In general, I like the first drafts because that’s where the ideas just flow and I can indulge my creative side. Despite being a very organized, planner-type in my life, I don’t plot my books. I have some general ideas of my characters and events that may happen, but I honestly will just sit down in front of the computer and let the characters talk.
Nancy, thank you so much for your time.
Thanks for having me. I hope your fans fall in love with Lucas and Sarah as much as I do. I love to hear from readers so pop over to my website at www.nancystopper.com or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
She pulled the coffee off the burner, pouring the steaming liquid into her cup as the bell above the door announced another customer. With pot in hand, she turned… and stopped short. A man strode into Emma’s shop with his shoulders back and a broad smile on his face. His thick, brown hair was swept to the side and hung a little long over his ears.
Sarah’s stomach leapt into her throat and her breath hitched. Her skin tingled and her pulse raced. She couldn’t move, her feet frozen in place, coffee pot suspended in air. What in the heck was happening to her? She couldn’t remember ever reacting to the sight of a man this way.
A blue T-shirt with a gold logo over his heart stretched over his muscular chest, his biceps stretching the restraints of his short sleeves. Either he earned those on the job, or he spent hours at the gym. She guessed the former. Despite his tough-looking exterior, a gentle, easy smile graced his face. But a storm brewed just beneath the surface of that smile. Everything about him drew her in, pulled her toward him, and her body wavered.
The man stopped halfway to the counter, his rich, whiskey-colored eyes locked on hers. Customers milled around him, but he didn’t move. Sarah’s heart raced. What was happening to her? Images of this man’s arms wrapped around her flooded her mind. Picturing his mouth lowering to hers had her puckering her lips. Heat rose on her cheeks. Even though her face was probably flushed, she clenched her fist at her side to keep from hiding behind her hands.
Stop it. She was married… well, had been married. She was Alex’s wife, she shouldn’t be staring at another man in this way. But she couldn’t help herself. Her rapidly beating heart and the ache in her gut was something she hadn’t felt in a long time. And it wasn’t wholly unwelcome.
Her eyes remained locked on the man as he swaggered toward her, his arms relaxed at his sides, confidence seeping from his pores. Nice that he could be so calm while her skin prickled and her hair stood on end. He stopped when he reached her side, leaning in and crowding her against the counter. A wolfish look settled in his eyes as his face closed the distance between them.
She drew in a deep breath. The musky scent of his aftershave mingled with the aroma of fresh coffee in the air, creating a heady combination.
With his voice barely above a whisper, he said, “Are you finished with the coffee?”
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Nancy Stopper is an award-winning debut author. She writes contemporary romance with strong women and sexy heroes that tug at your emotional heartstrings and leave you with a warm feeling that lingers long after the last page. Her favorite escape is small-town romance and even when set in a larger location, her books have that small-town feel.
Her first novel, One Last Risk, won first place in the Short Contemporary Romance category of the Fool for Love Contest and was a Maggie Finalist in the unpublished Single-Title Contemporary Category.
Dreams Come True in Laguna, Nancy's first novella, was published in the Laguna Beach Kindle World in 2016. Her first full-length contemporary romance novel will be published in 2017.
Nancy lives in Virginia with her husband, two of her three kids that are still at home, and one cat who regards her with disdain daily. When she's not behind her laptop, you can find her at a ballfield, cheering on her favorite team (Washington Nationals) or her favorite player (her son, who pitches for his local high school), or at a dance performance with her daughter.
Places to find Nancy Stopper: