Hi Barbara and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Ryder!
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
RYDER is the first book in a multi-author collaborative series 7 Brides for 7 Soldiers! I’m thrilled to be a part of this fun, sexy, heartwarming contemporary series. Set in the small town of Eagle’s Ridge, Washington State, the series features seven sexy soldiers who bring the heat and the heart!
Ryder’s story begins when a close brush with death causes him to leave the navy and return home. He wants to make peace with his dysfunctional family and start a new chapter in his life. What he hasn’t counted on is the return of Bailey Tucker, a beautiful, passionate chef, who is also looking for a chance to start over.
Unfortunately, Ryder and Bailey are on opposite sides of an intense family feud that goes back three generations. They make a pact to end the feud so they can each get what they want in town, but it may turn out that what they want is each other… Will their last name be an obstacle to their happily ever after, or will a great love story put an end to an old fight once and for all?
Please share the opening lines of this book:
“We’re hit! We’re hit!”
Navy pilot Ryder Westbrook heard the panicked words of his copilot, Michael Valdez, but he was too busy trying to regain control of the SH-60 Seahawk helicopter to reply.
Please share a few Fun facts about this book…
- I got to brainstorm Bailey and her brothers with talented authors Roxanne St. Claire and Christie Ridgway, whose heroes have their own books: Adam and Zane and are coming up next in the series.
- I got the name Ryder from a friend, who just gave her baby boy that name, and I thought it sounded sexy and strong.
- I finished writing the book while at a retreat with seven other fabulous writers in Lake Tahoe. In between walks, dinners, and brainstorming, I pounded out the last few chapters and I think Ryder was definitely inspired by all the creativity around me.
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
Ryder is a helicopter pilot, who found escape from family tragedy in the wild blue yonder and turned his passion for flying into a career as a navy pilot. Bailey is a chef, who left home to chase her dreams. They’re both an interesting combination of dreamer and pragmatist, and they’re both looking for a second chance in life.
When I was writing Bailey, I wanted a woman who had been battered by life but was getting back up again. She grew up with brothers and she can hold her own, but she is thrilled to meet a guy who won’t let her fall.
Ryder grew up as the golden boy of Eagle’s Ridge, but his drive for perfection was feuled by the loss of a sibling, something most people don’t realize. It was interested to write a character whose life is shaped by an early family tragedy and to have that character eventually come into his own and stop living his life for other people.
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters and why?
I’d share the first meet between Ryder and Bailey. She’s watching her brother’s neurotic dog, Gambler, who escapes and runs toward the river, stranding himself on a small island…
“I cannot lose Zane’s dog.” Bailey said. “He will never forgive me. And can this week get any worse—seriously?”
“Go. Call me later. And don’t throw your phone in the river.”
“I can’t make any promises.”
She ended the call, slipped her phone into her pocket and ran out the front door. Her father’s house was in the woods, with the nearest neighbor—her grandfather—almost two miles away. It wasn’t like Gambler could run into traffic, but there was plenty of wildlife in the area, not to mention the river about two hundred yards away.
“Gambler,” she yelled again. “It’s dinner time. Aren’t you hungry?” She ran through the brush, her feet slipping on the wet leaves and muddy ground. Apparently, the first two weeks of March had been very rainy.
Her brothers would be happy about that. The more rain, the higher and faster the river ran, perfect for their adventure watersports business. Unfortunately, it was not perfect for running in the woods in flats better suited for a city street in Manhattan.
“Gambler,” she called out again, pausing as she heard barking.
Following the sound, she ended up in a marshy meadow that had turned into a wet tributary with the nearby river spilling over its banks.
Gambler had somehow managed to get himself onto a tiny island of dirt about ten yards away from her. He was barking and looking at the water and then looking at her.
“Come on, boy,” she said, patting her thighs as she urged him to come back.
Gambler barked in response. He put one paw in the water, then backed out.
“If you don’t like the water, how did you get out there?” she asked.
Gambler backed up, barking again. She suddenly realized what was upsetting him when she saw several splashes in the water near him, along with the sound of frogs.
Frogs! Dammit! Frogs were on the list of things Gambler didn’t like, weren’t they?
She vaguely remembered seeing them on the list, and she probably should have paid more attention, but she hadn’t planned on Gambler getting out of the house. In fact, she still didn’t know how he’d accomplished that. She was one hundred percent sure she’d locked the front door.
Well, maybe eighty percent sure…
She’d opened the door when a package had arrived for her father, and she’d chatted maybe a minute with the delivery man, who was a longtime friend of the family. But she thought she’d closed the door when he left.
She sighed. It didn’t really matter at this point. What did matter was getting Gambler into the house and dried off before Zane came back.
“Gambler, come on, boy. You can do it,” she said again. “I’ll give you a treat.”
Gambler barked, then roamed around his tiny island, before barking again.
Putting her hands on her hips, she assessed the situation. It didn’t look like Gambler was running back through the water to join her any time soon. That meant she needed to go and get him, but wading through the muddy, cold water wasn’t high on her list of things to do. Still, she had no choice. It was a standoff, and Gambler was winning.
“Okay, fine,” she muttered. “It’s not like you’re the first male to want everything his own way.”
She looked down at her flats, debating on going barefoot or using them to protect her feet against the rocky ground. She decided to go for protection after seeing a layer of mud already piled on each shoe. They were done for anyway. She rolled up her jeans to her knees and then waded into the water. It was slow going, her feet sinking deep into the wet ground, the water swirling around her calves and knees, and by the time she reached Gambler’s tiny sanctuary island, she was feeling wet and cold.
She grabbed Gambler’s collar and tried to pull him toward her, but he was ninety-pounds of terrified dog, and he wasn’t budging.
“Come on, the frogs are not going to hurt you,” she pleaded. “I’ll protect you.”
She tried pulling him toward the water once again, but he reared back so abruptly, she was knocked off her feet. She let out a scream as she landed hard on her ass in the water.
Could her life get any worse? And then she realized it could when a frog jumped onto her head. She scrambled to her feet, trying to get the frog out of her now wet, tangled hair.
“Hey,” a man shouted, waving to her. “Are you all right?”
She finally knocked the frog back into the water and then turned her gaze toward the man standing on the bank. He looked familiar, wearing jeans and a black leather jacket over a dark T-shirt. In the evening shadows, she couldn’t see his features clearly, but the sound of his voice had taken her back in time. She pushed strands of hair away from her eyes. “Ryder Westbrook?”
“Yes, and you are…”
He didn’t recognize her?
Well, of course he wouldn’t. Why would he? Ryder Westbrook was four years older than her, and he’d been the golden boy of Eagle’s Ridge—the high school quarterback, the basketball all-star, the class president, following in a long line of Westbrooks who thought they owned the town. His girlfriends had all been beautiful and all had come from the other side of the river, the wealthy side—the side the Westbrooks had stolen from her family sixty-five years ago.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
“Bailey Tucker.” She couldn’t keep the irritation out of her voice.
“Adam and Zane’s little sister?” he asked in surprise.
“That would be me.”
“You need some help?”
She jumped back as a frog landed on her foot. She kicked it into the water while Gambler barked again. “Does it look like I need help?”
“It does,” he said, amusement in his voice. “What are you doing out there?”
“I’m rescuing Zane’s dog.”
“He looks fine to me.”
“Oh, he’s fine all right—he’s just nuts. He’s scared of frogs.”
“How did he get out there?”
“I have no idea. He ran away from the house, and I found him here.” She looked down at the dog, who was nuzzling her hand and now seemed happy to have her with him on the island. “Oh, sure, now you want to make friends, Gambler. You just knocked me off my feet.”
“Gambler?” Ryder echoed. “Your brother’s dog is named Gambler? That’s fitting.”
Since Zane’s love of betting was well known in Eagle’s Ridge, she couldn’t argue with that. “Yes, and you can go. We’re fine.”
“You’re fine? How are you getting Gambler through those frog-infested waters?”
“I’m thinking about carrying him.”
“He looks like he weighs more than you do.”
“Yes, well, it will work out. Don’t worry about it.” She didn’t need Ryder Westbrook witnessing her latest disastrous moment.
“I could help you,” he offered.
“I don’t think so.”
“Because I’m a man and you’re an independent woman?” he challenged.
“No, because you’re a Westbrook and I’m a Tucker,” she snapped back. “Tuckers don’t get help from Westbrooks.”
Good grief! Where had that come from? She was channeling her grandfather’s favorite mantra.
“Seriously?” Ryder asked. “You’re bringing up that old feud?”
“If you spent five minutes with my grandfather, you’ll know it’s as fresh in his mind now as it was when it started sixty-five years ago.”
“Well, it’s fresh in my grandfather’s mind, too, but we’re not them. And if you don’t accept my help, you’re going to have to leave Gambler and go find one of your brothers. Then who knows what will happen to the dog?”
He made a really good point. The last thing she wanted was for Zane to find out she’d let Gambler out of the house.
Taking favors from a Westbrook went against the grain, but there was a part of her that thought it was a silly old feud, too. Besides that, she was getting cold covered in muddy river water. And there was no way she could carry Gambler back to the shore.
Before she could say anything, Ryder was making his way toward her, striding through the foot-deep water with steadier feet and a hell of a lot more purpose than she had.
He looked a bit like a rugged, powerful warrior, and a shiver ran down her spine that had nothing to do with the chill in her bones.
It was possible she might have had a tiny crush on him when she was younger—really tiny—barely there.
As Ryder got closer, the moonlight danced off the planes of his handsome face, and she swallowed a knot in her throat.
Okay, so he was even better looking than he’d been in high school. So what?
She was off men forever, or at least the foreseeable future. And even if she wasn’t off men—Ryder Westbrook would definitely be off-limits. He was a Westbrook and she was a Tucker, and if there was anyone in the world she owed loyalty to, it was her grandfather.
But when Ryder reached her, she felt even more overwhelmed by his attractiveness. Up close, the power of his body, the breadth of his shoulders, the sexiness of his mouth, the hint of humor in his dark eyes sent little trills down her spine. And she couldn’t help but wish she didn’t look a little better than a bedraggled, soppy mess.
“Hey, buddy,” he said to the dog.
Gambler was happy to meet a new friend and immediately jumped up, putting his muddy paws on Ryder’s chest.
To his credit, Ryder didn’t take offense at the new layer of mud on his jacket. Instead, he took the opportunity to swoop Gambler up in his arms. The ninety-pound dog tried to wrangle free, but Ryder was having none of that. “Stop,” he said in an authoritative voice. “You’re fine.”
Somehow Gambler seemed to believe him, quieting his panicked movements.
She watched in astonishment as Ryder carried Gambler back through the frog-filled marsh and set him down on dry land. Gambler barked and then lay down, as if exhausted by his adventure.
She was torn between relief that Gambler was safe and annoyance that Ryder Westbrook had saved the day. But that was petty. All that mattered was that she had not lost Zane’s dog in the river.
“You need some help?” Ryder called back to her. “Want me to carry you?”
“Not a chance,” she said, stepping into the cold water. She waded back to the shore, stumbling a few times as her feet sank into the mud. When she got close, Ryder extended his hand.
She hesitated for one minute, not really sure why. She told herself it was because of the feud between their grandparents, but she didn’t really think that was it.
There was just something about taking Ryder’s hand that seemed dangerous…like she was crossing a line she shouldn’t cross.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
What do you want people to take away from reading this book?
I hope readers will find RYDER to be a sexy, fun, heartwarming read with real people who will stick with them long after they close the book. And I hope they’ll be intrigued to read the next book in the series, which features Bailey’s older brother Adam.
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned for 2017?
I am working on CAN’T LET GO, which is the next book in my Callaway Series. It will be released the day after Christmas 12/26 just in time for readers who are done with shopping, cooking and entertaining, to settle in for a little “me time” and a great book! It’s available for preorder now at all retailers!
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: 3 digital copies of RYDER (7 Brides for 7 Soldiers #1) by Barbara Freethy
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: It’s always interesting to pick an occupation for my protagonists. I loved writing about a soldier, because, well, he’s hot and courageous! And Bailey’s passion for cooking was also fun to write about as I explored exquisite French recipes for her to make. When you’re looking for a book, what occupations draw your eye? Do you love soldiers, billionaires, athletes, rough-edged blue-collar guys, firefighters? What makes your heart go pitter patter?
Fall in love with seven sexy and irresistible soldiers who find their courage and heart tested like never before in the battle for love! This multi-author collaborative series of contemporary romance novels is brought to you by bestselling authors Barbara Freethy, Roxanne St. Claire, Christie Ridgway, Lynn Raye Harris, Julia London, Cristin Harber and Samantha Chase. You won’t want to miss a single one!
When Navy pilot Ryder Westbrook is shot down, his only thought is making it home—to the place he left behind a long time ago. But dreaming about the small town of Eagle’s Ridge and going back are two very different things, and upon arrival Ryder finds himself in the middle of another battlefield—an old family feud between the Westbrooks and the Tuckers. To complicate matters, he needs disputed land to start his second career at the local airfield. He decides to enlist the help of beautiful Bailey Tucker, but the chef soon has his senses spinning in another direction…
The last person Bailey is interested in helping is golden boy Ryder Westbrook. After a painful personal betrayal, irresistible attraction to another man, who is probably too good to be true, seems like a terrible idea. But she also needs something from the Westbrooks, a chance to start over and build the restaurant of her dreams.
Ryder and Bailey make a simple plan—work together to get what they both want, but what happens when they find out what they really want is each other?
Don’t miss any of the sexy soldiers!
Ryder (#1) – Barbara Freethy
Adam (#2) – Roxanne St. Claire
Zane (#3) – Christie Ridgway
Wyatt (#4) – Lynn Raye Harris
Jack (#5) – Julia London
Noah (#6) – Cristin Harber
Ford (#7) – Samantha Chase
Meet the Author:
Barbara Freethy is a #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of 60 novels ranging from contemporary romance to romantic suspense and women’s fiction. Traditionally published for many years, Barbara opened Fog City Publishing in 2011 and has since sold over 7 million books! Twenty-three of her titles have appeared on the New York Times and USA Today Bestseller Lists, including one title, SUMMER SECRETS, which hit #1 on the NYT. In 2014 Barbara was named the Amazon KDP Bestselling Author of all time! She was also the first Indie writer to sell over a million books on Barnes and Noble.
Known for her emotional and compelling stories of love, family, romance and suspense, Barbara is a six-time finalist and two-time winner in the Romance Writers of America acclaimed RITA contest for her novels DANIEL’S GIFT and THE WAY BACK HOME.
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