Thursday Book Excerpts

Orchard Hill Residents – lock up your hearts!

Pansy Parker and Misty Green are rivals in romance. Each believes she is the town’s best matchmaker. Now they’re going to settle the question for once and for all. They’re keeping track to see who can make the most matches in a year’s time. Both Misty and Pansy are determined to be the winner. No heart is safe in Orchard Hill – not even their own.

Shy, timid Joy Harper, the organist for Orchard Hill Community Church has long been overlooked by Pastor Isaac. Then Pansy Parker announces she’s retiring and Joy is asked to fill in as secretary. With an unusually large number of weddings coming up and the Christmas holidays looming, Joy and Isaac put in a lot of hours together and he discovers a beautiful and caring woman beneath Joy’s reserved façade. Can he convince her that the only gift he wants for Christmas is her heart?

“May I speak with Joy?”

“Certainly.” The woman led him to a room that reminded him of a Victorian parlor. “She’s filling the bird feeders, but I’ll call her in.”

The large window at one end of the room drew Isaac. It had a view of the back yard. There seemed to be plenty of bird feeders to fill. And they must need to be filled often he guessed. It was one busy bird restaurant out there. A broad lawn sloped down and away from the house. There were beds that must have flowers during summer and walks flanked by concrete planters. The lawn was also dotted with mature trees and shrubs, which no doubt, attracted the birds.

Then he saw her. Joy was standing completely still, the sunshine turning her hair to gold. A chickadee flew down to her outstretched hand and took some of the seed she offered. When the tiny ball of fluff took flight, another eagerly took his place.

Joy’s face was alight with happiness, and she looked more like an angel than ever, standing there with birds fluttering all around her. A brilliant red cardinal rested briefly on her shoulder and then flew away again. She laughed, and Isaac’s heart skipped a beat. What was he doing here?

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Author Leah Smith has fantasized about her neighbor, Houston’s pro baseball player Marcus Slade, for years, but thinks it’s unlikely she’d catch the cowboy’s interest since her IQ is bigger than her bra size. Having already been hurt by a man who wanted size over substance, she’s not in a hurry to play in that ball field again. When an unexpected opportunity gets Marcus inside his favorite author’s apartment, he’s not about to let a second chance at love pass him by. Their attraction is quick and electric and has him instantly thinking about something more long-term. But when a woman from his past intrudes, his hopes of a cozy Christmas with Leah are buried beneath her cold shoulder. Risking a strikeout, Marcus has one chance left...go for the grand slam of his life and crash Leah's annual Christmas Eve party in hopes of convincing her she’s this Cowboy’s Dream.

The mouthwatering scents of seared steak wafted around Leah as Marcus escorted her into the world famous Kemah Boardwalk Steak House. Her stomach grumbled, a reminder she hadn’t eaten since early morning.

The hostess greeted Marcus by name and smiled warmly at her. Leah glanced at him, wondering how often he came to the restaurant. Celebration dinners should be rare, not weekly—unless you found an excuse to celebrate every little thing. But what made them special then?

She slid into the booth and mentally shook her head. No matter what Marcus did in the past, this was her celebratory dinner. She smiled as he sat opposite her and determined to enjoy his company for as long as she had it..

The hostess handed them menus. “Would you like something from the bar, Mr. Slade?”

Marcus placed his Stetson beside him on the booth cushion and raised a brow at her.

“Whatever they have on tap will be fine,” she said.

He grinned and nodded. “Two beers, please.”

Glancing at his ‘celebration clothing,” she was glad she’d summed him up right. She’d nearly put on the $900 designer gown she planned to wear to next month’s charity fund raiser and made her look hot as hell, but at the last minute went over what she knew about pro ball player Marcus Slade. Celebrity though he may be, he was obviously still a cowboy at heart. Instead of the silk and satin confection, she pulled on blue jeans and simple blouse . She matched his jeans and western-styled shirt quite well.

Leah opened the menu and looked it over. “You’re a man after my own heart. There’s nothing better to celebrate with than a beer and a good steak.”

He jerked back as if surprised. “You mean to say you’ll actually order a steak?”

“Well, of course.” She laughed, brushing her hair behind her ear. “What’s the point of going to a steak house and not ordering a steak?”

He opened his mouth, but then shut it for a moment before uttering, “Truth be told, most of the women I know don’t eat much meat.”

That was no surprise. Most of the women she’d seen him with were the size of twigs—except in the bosom area—and probably ate weeds.

“Well, I hope you brought along your charge card, because I haven’t eaten much today and I’m starving. I plan to get a really big steak with all the fixings to celebrate.”

Marcus laughed. “Honey, the day I can’t afford to buy a pretty lady a steak is the day I’ll hang it up for good.”

Her heart fluttered at the endearment. Sure, it was common enough for Texans to drop honey and darling like hello and good-bye, but still, hearing it from Marcus made her insides quiver.

He wagged his brows, then glanced down to study his menu. She released a small sigh. Since she was a Roughrider’s fan and had held season tickets for year, she’d known who Marcus was before he moved into The Towers. To say she had a crush on him was probably an understatement, but she’d never suffered from delusions, either. Leah Smith, plain, average daughter of nomad archaeologists just wasn’t the type of woman the major league outfielder dated. As much as she wished she differently, she shouldn’t read more into this ‘date’ than what it was—a friendly, celebratory meal.

This book releases next week at The Wild Rose Press.


Vicky said...

This book sounds wonderful. I love reading warm, fuzzy feeling books around the holidays. It seems that love is in abundance around this time and this book would fit right in. I would love to read this. Thanks.

Kara Lynn Russell said...

I love your excerpt. There is some great chemistry between your characters.

Thanks for having me on your blog. I love holiday stories and this is a fun way to see what's out there.

ddurance said...

Nice excerpts! These both sound like very heartwarming holiday stories. Good luck with them ladies!


Debra St. John said...

The book sounds wonderful! Congrats on your release! The punch recipe sounds yummy, too!

Cherie J said...

Sounds wonderful! Really enjoyed the excerpt!

linda swift said...

Kara and Anna Kathryn,

I enjoyed your excerpts. I wish you good luck with your books.
Happy Holidays,
Linda Swift

tigger9 said...

These books sound great. The excerpt was awesome.
Happy holidays

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Kara, your story sounds great too. I love series, though I've not done one yet. I have plans to use characters in other stories, but haven't done so yet.

How did you do the planning for your series? Are the heroes and heroines from one book in the others?

Anna Kathryn

kat1reader said...

I enjoyed the story I read in this series, and definitely plan to read them all!
Both stories sound wonderful ~ Perfect for the holidays,

Kara Lynn Russell said...

Thank you Kat and Anna! I had a lot of fun writing these stories.

Anna, a lot of the characters show up in many of the stories. I really love stories with that "family" or "community" feeling and that was what I went for. Some of the characters are even relatives. I do have a couple of short, Orchard Hill Stories that are free reads. "Catching the Bouquet" is available at "A Long Silly Love Chase" is posted on my website -

Kara Lynn Russell said...

Part 2
This is the longest comment I've ever left!

Anna, earlier this year Cindy was kind enough to have me as a guest blogger and I wrote a little about how I planned my series. I can send you a copy if you'd like. I have a gmail account under karalynnrussell.


MarthaE said...

I really liked both of these excerpts! The Orchard Hill series sounds great!
And its nice too to have a jock appreciate brains as well as "body". LOL
Good luck with the books and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
Now I want to check out the recipes and interviews!

Phyllis said...

I enjoyed both the excerpts. I love holiday stories especially with cowboys in them. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season.

Candy G said...

Great excerpt, Happy Holidays to everyone!

robynl said...

I do love cowboy stories. How nice to see different recipes from the authors that one can try out. Thanks.

Sarita Leone said...

Great excerpts! I love reading excerpts! :)