Hi Donna and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Starfish Moon!
Hello! I’m happy to be here. Thanks so much for having me as a guest today.
Tell us about the book with this fun little challenge using the title of the book:
S is for Starfish, which happens to be the hero’s nickname for the heroine.
T is for trouble, which is what our heroine Kerry is in when her former boss Cooper Jax shows up at her family pub in Blueberry Cove, Maine.
A is for Aussie. Did I mention Cooper’s family owns and runs a cattle station in Australia?
R is for racing, which is what Kerry’s heart is doing when Cooper begins his Cove adventure with a shocking proposition.
F is for family, and Kerry is surrounded by hers. Which is both a comfort and, at times, a bit too crowded for comfort.
I is for Irish, Kerry McCrae’s family ancestry, including her Uncle Gus, who left Ireland to help take care of the McCrae kids after they lost their parents.
S is for sexy. And steamy. And surprisingly sweet. All of things Cooper makes Kerry feel.
H is for heartbreak. What Kerry risks, again, by letting Cooper back into her life.
M is for coastal Maine, the setting of all six Blueberry Cove books and a very special place for me.
O is for ocean. Cooper crossed a few of them to come find Kerry again.
O is for only…as Kerry is the only single McCrae left.
N is for not for long…if Cooper has anything to say about it!
What’s your favorite line(s) from the book?:
It happens at the end of Chapter 1…only I can’t give it away! It’s Cooper’s shocking proposition. I hate to be coy, but at least you won’t have to wait long to find out what it is!
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. What first attracts your Hero to the Heroine and vice versa?
Kerry McCrae is a global wanderer, and has been since she took off at eighteen. She returned home for a family wedding, then stayed to take care of her beloved uncle after his stroke. This is where her story begins. She never stayed in any one place long enough to get too attached…until she hired on to the Jax family cattle station in Australia. She stayed for a year…and she fell not only for Cooper, but the entire Jax family. She just never let them know it. But now her life is in the Cove and the past is the past. No point in wondering what if… Until Cooper shockingly shows up in Maine, intent on finding the answer to that what if…
When you sat down to start this book, what was the biggest challenge you faced? What were you most excited about?
I knew this was going to be the final story in the six book Blueberry Cove series, so I wanted to not only tell Kerry’s story, but bring everyone together in a way that allows readers to have a chance to visit with their favorite characters, both main and secondary, one last time. I wanted to make sure every character who makes an appearance was woven into the story authentically and not simply just to say I did. I worked really hard at crafting my goodbye to Blueberry Cove, and I hope the readers enjoy every page!
What, in your mind, makes this book stand out?
I love that this story begins at a place that many stories don’t get to until right before they end…and focusing on the real life issues that people face. Family versus personal goals. Figuring out what life is supposed to be all about, and whether they’re willing to risk everything to reach for it.
The First Kiss…
Happens early. Cooper can’t let Kerry get away with pretending there’s nothing between them to even discuss now, can he? This kiss has been several years in the making, so when it happens, the earth does shift. In more ways than one.
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters and why?
Probably the scene leading up to the first kiss. It’s emotional, with sexual tension galore, and then there’s that kiss. What better way to find out if your leads share that must-have on screen chemistry?
Here’s s peek at just a part of that scene…
He didn’t lay claim. He made love to her mouth with his, like he’d known this, all along, and just hadn’t had the chance to show her yet.
He drew her in, sharing with her the experience of utter communion that was the two of them, together. He kissed her slowly, intently, and so utterly sensuously, that she was kissing him back, fully partnering him in this communion of so much more than mere lips, tongues, and breaths, without it even being a conscious decision on her part. His tongue slid in along hers as if it had found its mate and was simply happy to be home, curled up again, sated and content. But that beautiful sweetness was all mixed up with the pulse of something darkly sensual, making her crave the discovery of what every part of him communing in this way, with every part of her, would be like. So deeply satisfying, and urgently primal.
She was in trouble here. Real trouble. Because somewhere along the way she’d forgotten he wasn’t a man who called anything quits, and he surely hadn’t come all this way to turn around and head home without making damn sure she knew exactly what she was turning away from.
What do you want people to take away from reading this book?
The feeling of family (all kinds, not just the one you’re born into), of commitment, of love…and the very real fear, and risk, not to mention the important decisions that have to be made, choices that won’t only affect you, but those around you as well…in order to reach for it. Falling in love is one the best and the scariest things we do. I love a story that embraces all of that, and finds a way to triumph. I hope my readers to, too!
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned for 2016?
As sad as I am to leave Blueberry Cove, my next project is so very special to me, and I’ve waited so long to finally embark on this journey, that it makes the parting a bit easier to take. I’m finally settling in to a series of stories set here in my beloved Blue Ridge Mountains of southwestern Virginia and I couldn’t be more excited (and scared and thrilled and terrified and…) I want it to be everything in my head and in my heart…now all I have to do is find a way to get it all down on paper. No problem. 🙂 Blue Hollow Falls is the launch, and will be out next summer.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: I’m giving away two autographed copies of Starfish Moon. Winners also receive their choice of a Blueberry Cove canvas book tote or a Blueberry Cove bookmark charm, designed exclusively for the series by The Cotton Thistle! Open to readers everywhere.
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: Have you ever been the first one to say “I love you” in a relationship…or have you ever wished you’d said those words but didn’t take the (very scary) risk? (Or wished you hadn’t?) What happened?
Excerpt from Starfish Moon:
She was every bit of everything he remembered about her, all at once, and all at the same time.
That was Kerry McCrae in a nutshell, he thought. All at once, full on, one hundred percent real. No bullshit.
She froze on seeing him, and while the wariness in her beautiful green eyes wasn’t a surprise, the vulnerability sure was. “Starfish—“
“Don’t call me that,” she said, then immediately, and less stridently, added, “Not here.” She ducked around him before he could react and was down the set of wooden steps leading off the narrow, cement loading dock that ran along the back of the pub, heading across the gravel lot.
He started after her. He might not have handled any of this even close to how he’d planned, but he wasn’t flying all the way back home without at least a conversation. A private conversation. You might have wanted to lead with that, you yobbo. “Kerry, wait.”
“Not here,” she repeated, then opened the driver’s side door to a beat up old navy blue truck that looked like it was more rust than actual metal. “Get in.”
“I’ve got a rental. I’ll be happy to—“
She swung her laser green gaze to his. “Get in.” She slammed the door without waiting for a reply, then slammed it a second time to get the handle to catch.
He climbed in the passenger side, not all that surprised to find the inside of the cab surprisingly clean and as well maintained as possible, given the thing had one tire, if not two, in the grave. Kerry McCrae was never fussed about how she looked or what she wore, but when it came to property or equipment, whether it be her own or simply entrusted to her care, no matter how old or worn out, she had a dab hand at keeping it clean and neat, all systems go. Her concern was never about appearance, just functionality and getting the job done.
It was sexy as hell then, and it was sexy as hell now.
“You just spent a whole lot of money and wasted even more of your time so I could turn you down in front of an entire town’s worth of people,” she said, giving him a sideways glance as she pulled out the rear lot and swung the truck down the narrow back road, toward the harbor down below. “So, what have you got to smile about?”
He settled back in his seat and put the old felt hat he’d taken off when he’d entered the bar, back on his head, and let the smile slide into the grin he realized he’d been holding back. “It’s good to see you again, Starfish.”
She scowled at that, as he’d known she would, but she didn’t call him on it. No point in it, really. As well as he knew her, she knew him equally so.
“I can’t believe you did this,” she said, a moment later, and he noted that along with her irritation, she was gripping the steering wheel as if her life depended on it.
That shouldn’t have reassured him, but it did. “Which part?” he asked with a chuckle.
She gaped at him, then turned her attention back to the road. “All of the parts.” She drove on for another few seconds, making the turn onto the road that led down to the harbor, then suddenly stomped on the brake, making him brace a quick hand on the dash. She jerked the truck to the side of the road and came to a full stop, before turning to him, her expression urgent. “Did something happen? To your family? Cooper, don’t even think about not—”
“What?” he asked, honestly surprised by the sudden barrage, and more so by the clear concern in her eyes.
“Your family,” she repeated, as if he was a bit slow. And maybe he was. About a lot of things. “I was just thinking I can’t imagine them being thrilled with you taking off like this, halfway around the world no less, leaving them shorthanded and—then I thought, oh no, something must have happened, because why else would you—” She broke off, shook her head, and seemed to look sightlessly at her hands, still gripping the steering wheel.
“Because why else would I what?”
She finally looked at him, and along with that goodly dose of agitation and not a little honest confusion, he saw that sliver of vulnerability again. “Because what else would cause a man I knew to be perfectly sane and fully committed to his life running one of the biggest cattle stations in Northwest Territory alongside his big, loud, boisterous and very close knit and beloved family—to up and run halfway around the world chasing after a…after—“
She blinked, closed her mouth, opened it again, then simply shook her head and looked away. A beat passed, then another. “So, they’re all okay?” she asked him anyway, back to staring at her hands. “Big Jack? Ian? Sadie?” She glanced at him. “Little Mac?”
He lifted his hand, palm out. “All safe and sound, I swear. Last I checked, anyway.” His grin settled back to a quiet smile. “The only one who’s lost anything, is me.”
She ducked her chin, then he saw her pull herself together. And when she raised her gaze to his once more, she was all Kerry McCrae. Bold, confident, smart, and more than a little smart assed. Potent combination, that. Or so he’d learned.
When she’d first come to their station, hired on by his father, Big Jack, as a jackaroo—or jillaroo as the female ranch trainees were called—Cooper had told his dad and his two siblings that the American wouldn’t last a fortnight. A wanderer who’d gone a bit troppo more than likely, traipsing around the world for kicks, thinking station life was some romantic outback romp, was about to find out she’d bit off more than she could chew.
He bit back a grin at the memory of how she’d taken on Cameroo and every single member of the Jax family, wrapping them around her like they were a comfortable, well worn coat. And the only chewing that had been done was by him, eating his words.
“You know, a more prudent man might have wanted to use that new fangled thing called a phone, or shoot off an email on that fancy laptop Sadie was so excited about finally getting for her school work,” Kerry said, more quietly now. “Find out if the other party has even remembered his name, much less if she was interested in doing anything more with him than trying to herd ten thousand head of cattle all over the godforsaken outback.”
“Twenty thousand. And you just told your entire town you loved Australia and its godforsaken outback.”
She nodded, but said nothing, not even a hint of that earthy, easy going smile that was usually never more than a breath away.
He let the silence lay as they drove along the harbor road. She pulled into a sandy lot on the far side of the endless rows of jutting piers. Just ahead the road disappeared behind a thick stand of pine trees before winding its way back out of the harbor and on to destinations unknown.
“Tide’s out,” she said, then got out the truck, closed the door, then banged it shut again to make it stick, before making her way down the rocky ledge to the seaweed strewn ocean floor below. She hadn’t asked for company, nor did she look back to see if he was going to follow.
Cooper wasn’t a particularly well-traveled man. His idea of a big holiday was to go with the family to one of the beaches in Darwin after they’d sold off the annual lot of cattle at the ports there. He’d flown as far away as Auckland, New Zealand, to visit extended family, but he’d never been to any part of the Americas, and had never seen anything that rivaled the coastline of Maine. He’d heard Kerry’s stories about her childhood here, so many of them, but even given how vividly and lovingly they’d been recalled and relayed, they hadn’t done the real deal justice. He’d read up on the country, and specifically the state, before making his flight, had read about the big tidal swings, some of the biggest and most rapid depth changes in the world. Seeing it with his own eyes, however, was far more impressive…and yet his gaze remained fixed on one particularly fiery and unsurprisingly recalcitrant redhead.
She claimed not to want him, not to want what he offered. She’d even made it seem as if his interest in her, his belief that there was something far deeper between them than simply a working relationship, or even a strong friendship, was coming as a surprise. But he knew what he knew, knew the air had fair sizzled between, all but crackling with the kind of sexual tension that took a sort of superhuman control to resist. He knew, first hand, because he’d had to find that control.
He’d been her boss, her employer. She’d been temporary, had made that clear from the start. But then her summer stint had turned into a six month stay, then nine, and then her first full year anniversary was on the horizon…and he’d been forced to admit any ability he had to resist his feelings for her had long since begun to seriously falter. He’d finally stopped denying that there was something there, something special. He just hadn’t known how to take things a step forward. He had been considering the ways, contemplating that first move, what felt like every waking minute of every day. Then she’d gotten the note from her brother. And before Cooper had found the words to ask her to stay, or, at the very least, to come back, she’d been gone.
But he knew what he knew. There had been something there. Something real, and solid, something that because of his superhuman control—and he had to believe hers too—had allowed a true and deep friendship to form between them. Not all at once, either, but slowly, and surely, over time. The kind of time that, by its very nature, brought with it a long string of events that forged lasting bonds. Everything from grand and momentous holiday occasions, to the mundane, everyday, mettle-testing drama that was the reality of running a station the size of Cameroo Downs.
So it wasn’t lust, though she still delivered a fair wallop of that to various parts of his body, and it wasn’t some shallow, love struck notion of what a relationship with her might be. He knew what it would be. He’d lived it. In all the ways except the most important one. He’d seen with his own eyes, and heard with his own ears, the feeling, the emotion in her voice when she said she loved Australia.
He knew what he knew.
It was because he knew what he knew, that he got out of the truck. And followed her.
Excerpts. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Nestled on the Maine coast, Blueberry Cove is a peaceful retreat compared to the excitement of exotic cities and foreign lands. But it’s also the best place in the world for one woman to find her heart’s true home…
Kerry McCrae’s wanderlust has taken her to parts of the globe most people have only glimpsed in pictures. So why is tending bar at the family pub in Blueberry Cove after her Uncle Fergus’s heart attack an easier adjustment than she expected? And why hasn’t she left once Fergus is back on his feet? When tall, tanned Cooper Jax walks through the door, she knows the answer in a heartbeat…
Born and raised deep in Australia’s outback, Cooper never planned to leave the wild country he loves. But after almost a year of having Kerry—with her sparkling eyes and outrageous stories— on his cattle station, Cooper was stunned when she left. Suddenly home wasn’t the same without her. Making his way to Blueberry Cove to find her is a risk, but Cooper is counting on the passionate connection between them to convince her that the only place either of them need to be is together…
Includes a DIY wedding cake recipe!
Meet the Author:
USA Today bestselling author of the Bachelors of Blueberry Cove series, DONNA KAUFFMAN has been gratified to see her books get rave reviews in venues ranging from Kirkus Reviews and Library Journal to Entertainment Weekly and Cosmopolitan. She lives in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in southwestern Virginia, where she is presently applying her crafty DIY skills to decorating her new mountainside abode. Well, when she isn’t busy trying to keep the bears from hanging out in her flower and vegetable garden all day and night! With her Brides of Blueberry Cove series, Donna’s been having a blast applying those same restoration and design skills to doing some fictional wedding planning. Of course, if that means haunting all those lovely antique shops and flea markets that are so plentiful in her new neck of the woods, well, it’s a sacrifice she’s willing to make. When she’s not finding ways to take her love of all things rustic and vintage and give them a fabulous seaside, coastal Maine wedding party twist, she loves to hear from readers! You can contact her through her website at www.donnakauffman.com.
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