Maggie McGinnis takes readers back to Montana’s sexiest dude ranch, where anyone can start over, and falling in love is just a beautiful twist of fate.
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
At twenty-eight, Shelby Quinn’s already a has-been. Scooped off a country stage at sixteen and remolded into glittery pop princess Tara Gibson, she toured the country for a decade, playing to sold-out stadiums while slowly losing her soul. When her father—her mentor and best friend—dies in a fiery plane crash on his way to see her, she finally comes apart at the seams. Her record company hides her away at Whisper Creek Ranch, convinced she’s one crying jag short of a public breakdown, and she’s sure she’ll never recover, let alone meet a man who helps her find her voice—her real voice—again.
Cooper Davis was one of Boston’s top detectives, until a bogus investigation cost him his badge, his family, and almost his life. Now he’s wrangling horses and guests at Whisper Creek Ranch, none too happy when he’s assigned to keep an eye on some super-secret VIP holed up in a private cabin. He expects a diva, but what he gets is a broken, sweet woman who makes him question…everything.
They both have ample reason to guard their hearts, but Whisper Creek has a way of stripping people to their cores, and surrounding them with all of the right ingredients for their own happily-ever-afters.
Please share the opening lines of this book:
Shelby eyed the funeral buffet, wondering what the tabloids would say if she took the tablecloth and gave it a big yank right now . . . wondering what all of that fine bone china would sound like as it shattered on the marble floor.
She thought it might make a very satisfying noise, actually.
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
Shelby was like a rose that kept hiding under layers. When I started, I truly thought she was a fighter—disappointed in how her life had turned out, but strong enough to break free and start anew. As I got to know her, though, I realized she really was a little girl trapped in a shell others had created, and she didn’t know herself yet. Helping Cooper help her figure it out was all sorts of fun.
As for Cooper, I totally had him nailed … until I didn’t. Turns out he has a little sister I never planned on, but one night she called, and bam. Phoebe arrived on the scene and wouldn’t let go. I love her, and I think she’s the glue that keeps him together when everything else is crashing. The Whisper Creek series is all about family, and finding home, and it was fun—but also heartbreaking—to watch these two characters come to terms with families they had lost … and new ones they could create.
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters and why?
This scene happens fairly early in the book, when Shelby and Cooper are still sort of dancing around each other, not sure whether either of them can trust the other. Though Cooper’s been assigned to watch over her, no one at Whisper Creek really knows her story, so he’s pretty much shooting in the dark, trying to figure her out.
“So? Let’s hear it. What’s your story? A woman your age doesn’t usually just show up at a dude ranch alone for a month unless she’s got a good reason.”
He saw her swallow hard as she looked away. Then she dragged her eyes back to his. “I’ve got a pretty good reason.”
“Want to tell me about it?”
“Okay.” He nodded thoughtfully. “Then I’ll have to guess.”
“Sorry. I’m under strict orders not to reveal my true identity here.”
She closed her eyes like she’d said yet another thing she hadn’t meant to, and he knew he was about six questions out from guessing that true identity. He just didn’t know if he wanted to guess it before she felt comfortable telling him.
“True identity. Huh.” He rocked his chair back on two legs. “Which means Shelby is your cover. And it also means you must be famous.”
Fine. He’d give her the opening to just admit it and save them some time here.
She wrinkled her nose. “I never said that.”
“Definitely not that.” She laughed, then sobered quickly. “You really have no idea who I am?”
“Not an ever-living clue.”
“Huh.” She smiled like that was the best news she’d heard all day. “Is there, like, no media out here?”
He pointed, winking. “Ha. So you are famous.”
She narrowed her eyes, then closed them with a growl. “Dammit.”
“But you come without a bodyguard, an entourage, or even a quirky, not-paid-nearly-enough assistant. So it begs some questions.”
“Everything begs some questions for you, I fear.”
“Job hazard.” He frowned. “Old job.”
She looked at him for a long moment, like she really was weighing whether to tell him her true deal, and he half held his breath, hoping she would. But then she shook her head slightly, looking downward as she scraped at the polish on her thumbnail.
“Just—don’t take it personally that I’m doing the closed-book thing. I don’t really have a choice right now.”
“Okay,” he said, and she looked back up, a glimmer of surprise in her eyes. He shrugged in response. “I get it. I mean—you’re probably the crown princess of some tropical island nation hardly anyone’s ever heard of. There was a terrible coup, and now you’re on the run, in hiding until the rebels can be contained so you can go home and rule your minions.”
“Wow. Apparently my security people are crap, if you guessed it that easily.”
He pointed to his head. “Cop brain.”
“So if all that were true—and I’m not saying it’s not—don’t you think I’d have somebody with me? Like, to guard the crown jewels and all?”
“Nah. Better that you play the part of the left-at-the-altar honeymooner or whatever. Then you get the sympathy without the abject curiosity.”
“I see.” She smiled like she’d just figured something out. “And I’ll try not to mention that the left-at-the-altar shtick is your cover story, not mine.”
“What? No. Not a cover story.” He lifted his beer and frowned. “Real story.”
“Mm-hm.” She raised her eyebrows. “And the description you gave an hour ago of that hillside right there? The one where you described exactly how it looked this spring when you got here? Even though you’ve only been here a week?”
He sighed. “Fine. I’ve been here longer than that. Obviously.”
She crossed her arms, and he could see possibilities flying through her brain at warp speed. Some of them should have scared her, he imagined, but she didn’t look frightened. Just . . . sort of boringly amused.
She nodded. “That’s a long time to recover from someone else’s cold feet.”
“They were exceedingly freezing.”
“I’m going to google you, y’know. So if you’re really a rogue reporter or trained assassin or something, I’m going to find out.”
His gut clenched at the thought of her plugging his name into a search engine. “If I’m a trained assassin, I’m not very good at my job. Also pretty sure those don’t come up in your average Google search. Just saying.”
“Seriously, I’m just a guy who took some wrong turns, so I’m out here figuring out what comes next. That’s as exciting as it gets.”
“I doubt it.”
“We can’t all be fleeing princesses.”
What do you want people to take away from reading this book?
Hope. Really, that’s what I long for people to take from any of my books. These characters have been to hell and back, and they’re both pretty sure there’s no happily-ever-after on the horizon. But by opening their hearts and trusting each other with their truths, they both become better versions of themselves … and then become even better as a pair. If readers can laugh and cry along with them, all the better! ☺
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned for 2017?
Right now, I’m working on the sixth book in the Whisper Creek series, called Taking a Chance. It’s a fun one—a totally out-of-her-element heroine and a hero who thought he had everything figured out…until she showed up. It’ll be out later this year, and I’m obsessively in love with its cover.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: Ebook: MEANT TO BE Maggie McGinnis. *(Gifted via Amazon)*
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: When Meant To Be opens, the heroine has been plucked from the only life she’s ever known, and suddenly she finds herself among strangers, in a strange land. How about you? Have you ever found yourself totally out of your element? For a day? An hour? A week? A year? I’d love to hear about it!
Excerpt from Meant to Be:
Shelby and Cooper are both pretty good at secret-keeping, but they badger each other until finally, the truth comes out. Here’s Cooper, flailing a little bit under Shelby’s questioning:
“Listen,” he said. “If you’re not a princess in exile, I still have a feeling you’re a somebody in exile. Probably a somebody with a capital S. Probably a somebody who—if I ever turned on a television or read a magazine—I might even recognize. And I don’t know why you’re here, or what happened before you came, or what’ll happen when you leave, but while you’re here? We’ve got your back.”
Shelby’s eyes narrowed like she was clicking puzzle pieces into place. “So you’re really an ex-cop—emphasis on ex?”
“And you somehow found your way to a Montana ranch.”
“I’d tell you how, but it’s a little pathetic.”
She nodded slowly. “So . . . you work here, don’t you?”
“I do. For now.”
“Doing what? Besides lying to guests?”
Ouch. But he deserved it, obviously.
“Horse training, mostly. But I help out with the lessons and rides when they need extra hands.”
“And did they run out of room in the bunkhouse? Or do the cowboys draw straws for the honeymoon cabin if it’s empty?”
He gave a short laugh. “Have you seen this cabin? It’s a cowboy’s nightmare.”
“Sure.” She rolled her eyes, but he could almost feel her biting her lip so she wouldn’t smile.
“Dead serious. There’s lace everywhere, and hearts and flowers and crap. There’s a Jacuzzi tub in there that’s big enough for a horse. Everything smells like roses—which I hate, by the way—and it’s stocked with champagne and chocolate and bubble bath.” He shivered. “Nightmare.”
“Horrors! So how’d you end up living in it?”
Cooper sighed, weighing the consequences of just giving up on the cover story and telling her the truth. On one hand, she could be royally pissed off, finding out he’d been assigned to essentially play babysitter. On the other, maybe it would make her feel less defensive to know somebody besides herself had her back.
If he’d known her longer than a few days, he might have a frigging clue which side of the coin she’d come down on.
“Okay, here’s the truth.”
The words were out before he had a chance to finish deciding whether he was even going to tell her the truth, dammit. And now he had to.
She hugged her midsection even tighter, but he could tell she was trying damn hard not to let him see her do it.
“Truth number one—Kyla asked me to keep an eye on you and give you a hand if you need one.” He’d leave out the buddy concept for now, because there was a pretty good chance this might be the last conversation he was ever going to have with Shelby, if the whole truth thing didn’t go well.
“And truth number two—I actually have no idea who you are.”
Her eyebrows furrowed, but he saw two fingers loosen on her midsection. “Right.”
“Dead serious. All I know is that your name is Shelby, and you’re some sort of celebrity. I don’t even know if that’s your real name. And I’ll be damned if I have a clue whether you’re some sort of mega–movie star, a senator, or the front man on a sold-out rock tour.”
“Front woman.” She put up a hand. “Just saying. If that was true.”
“Sorry. That’s what I meant.” He raised his eyebrows. “So is that what you are? Rock goddess?”
She closed her eyes like his words had blades. “Um, no.”
“Actor’s the preferred term.” She shook her head. “But no.”
“I’m not getting a senatorial vibe. Sorry.”
“Are you? A political sort?”
She smiled. “No. But I resent your assumption that I’m not.”
“It’s the teeth. Sorry.”
“What?” She put her fingers over her mouth. “What about my teeth?”
Cooper closed his eyes. He could really use a better self-censor button.
“They’re just—you know—really white. And perfect.”
“I . . . see.” She dropped her hand slowly. “And politician teeth, on the other hand?”
“Can we just forget I mentioned the word teeth? Please?”
She smiled, shaking her head. “Absolutely.”
“So what movies have you been in?”
He shrugged, sighing. “If it matters at all, I’m pretty good at subterfuge and secret-keeping. Then there’s the whole cop-client privilege thing. You can totally spill. I’ll never tell.”
“It’s attorney-client privilege. And I’m pretty sure subterfuge isn’t a skill they teach at the academy.”
“Because you’ve already caught me in my own lies?”
She laughed. “Maybe.”
“So . . . should we go with the foreign princess thing, then?”
He saw relief cross her face even as she rolled her eyes. “Yeah. Terrible coup. Hiding out in Montana until it’s safe to go home. Exactly.”
“Okay.” He waited for a few beats, then stood up and made himself busy shutting the grill and gathering things to take back inside. It was easier than looking into those green eyes that flashed from happy to sad in an instant. Easier than feeling desperate to make the happy part last longer.
“Thanks.” She shrugged slowly. “For not pushing.”
“No problem, princess.” He tipped his hat. “But I’m a pretty good listener, if you ever want to talk.”
“Maybe after I google you.”
His gut froze. “Well, if you do, just remember I have—you know—a pretty common name and all.”
“So any deep, dark secrets I uncover? Probably the other Cooper Davis?”
“Definitely.” Cooper turned away, feeling his shoulders fall in defeat. From now on, this was going to be his life. “Yeah, definitely.”
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
At twenty-eight, Shelby Quinn’s already a has-been. Scooped off a country stage at sixteen and remolded into glittery pop princess Tara Gibson, she toured the country for a decade, playing to sold-out stadiums while slowly losing her soul. Now her sales are waning, and when her beloved father dies in a fiery plane crash, she finally comes apart at the seams. Alone and brokenhearted, she hides away at Whisper Creek Ranch, never expecting to meet a man who understands her in a way no one else ever has.
Cooper Davis was one of Boston’s top detectives—until a bogus investigation cost him his badge, his family, and almost his life. Now he’s wrangling horses and guests at Whisper Creek Ranch, while keeping one eye firmly on a super-secret VIP holed up in a private cabin—a beautiful, soulful singer who knows what it’s like to lose everything. Cooper and Shelby both have ample reason to guard their hearts. But if they can learn to trust each other, something magical awaits them under the big skies and bright stars.
Meet the Author:
Maggie McGinnis is a USA Today bestselling author and Golden Heart Finalist who lives in New England, vastly outnumbered by both children and cats. She writes sweet romances set in Montana and Vermont, and feels extremely fortunate that through her books, she gets to fall in love every single day. She’s a sucker for romantic comedies, popcorn, and the perfect green pen, and if she wasn’t an author, she’d totally be rocking a Nashville club in her pink cowgirl boots. It’s probably good that she embraced the author thing, because her singing skills are better suited to the shower, and really? Pink cowgirl boots?
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