Hi Katherine and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Her Texas Ex!
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
Her Texas Ex is sexy reunion story. Amelia Corbyn disappeared from Cal Delaney’s life in high school and they never had any closure she’s back in town and that old spark is still there. But can he trust her not disappear again?
Please share the opening lines of this book:
Sometimes, Amelia Corbyn thought that Last Stand, Texas, was the town that time forgot. Well, except for the busloads of tourists who shopped on Main Street every day, but the rest of the world seemed to have forgotten it, or maybe it was simply that Last Stand had turned its back on the world.
Please share a few Fun facts about this book…
I plotted this book in Texas Hill Country while on a writing retreat with some of my favorite authors. I live in the UK now but miss Texas so much so I made a lot of my old favorite Texas recipes every night for dinner while I was writing. My favorite is Frito Pie and I had to bring back Fritos from the US since they don’t sell them over here. In case you’re interested in making your own Frito Pie, it’s basically chili (however you like it with beans or without) and then layered on with Fritos, chopped onions and cheese. I make my casserole style chili in the bottom, Fritos, onions and then covered in shredded cheese and baked until golden and bubbly – about 30 minutes in a 180c/250F oven.
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
I had the idea for Amelia Corbyn based on some of those rock stars kids who didn’t know who there real dad was until they were older, which got me thinking about how if you learned you weren’t the person you always thought you were at a pivotal moment in your life how would that affect you? My dad always says that by the age of thirteen kids are done listening to their parents and I added his nugget to my thought process. So when I started out with Amelia she’s part of this prominent Last Stand family but she knows (and only her immediate family) that she’s not a Corbyn. That sort of informed every choice she made. So the first time she and Cal are together she’s thinking about maybe staying but she can’t, which surprised me. I thought she was home to make up for the past and get some closure but she was still running.
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters and why?
This is the scene I would have them use for the audition. It’s the first time Cal and Amelia see each other and it’s also when Amelia starts to realize she doesn’t just need closure with her parents.
Her sisters had to leave to go to work but since Amelia was only in town temporarily because their mother was unwell and she didn’t have anything urgent planned that morning, she stayed behind to enjoy a second latte. Kolaches was busy in the morning with the rush hour crowd stopping by on their way in to the office and as that crowd slowed, the vendors who had downtown businesses started to trickle in. Amelia was just about ready to leave when he walked in.
She’d like to say the years hadn’t been kind to him, but they had. When she’d known him in high school, he’d been long and lanky with some overdeveloped arm muscles from working out and playing football year-round. But he’d matured into his frame and now he seemed to be all muscles. He wore a black Stetson, which he doffed when Mrs. Parson greeted him, and his voice was still that deep rumble that made her senses go wild. His jeans fit tight against his butt and thighs and he wore a pair of Kelly Boots on his feet. She sat back in her chair, staring at him, even though she shouldn’t.
She’d heard from her dad that he’d been injured during a game and hadn’t been able to keep playing football. She also knew he had started a tequila business here in town, and from her friends in New York, she knew his top-shelf Outlaw Tequila was a crowd pleaser.
She didn’t stop staring, even when he turned around and noticed her. Lost in her thoughts about him and what a gorgeous man he’d become, it didn’t even occur to her to turn away. He moved toward her with the kind of grace and power that male models seldom achieved. He could make a fortune with those cheekbones.
“Like what you see?”
“Um…actually, yes, I do,” she said, standing up and holding out her hand to him. “Amelia Corbyn. I’m not sure if you remember me from high school.”
“Damn. That’s cold,” he said, glancing over his shoulder as if to make sure no one was close enough to hear him as he leaned down, resting one hand on the table, and brought his face close to hers. “As if I’d forget the first girl I ever slept with.”
“Well, um, yeah, I didn’t forget you either,” she said. All the sophistication she’d thought she’d cultivated in Manhattan was out the door. He made her feel…just like she’d felt when they’d dated. Those three magical weeks, before her world was shaken and broken and she learned she wasn’t really a Corbyn daughter.
“Glad to hear it. I mean I wasn’t at my best, but I didn’t think it was that horrible. I mean, I wouldn’t have run away the next day or anything like that,” he said, spinning the chair across from her around and sitting down on it.
She felt the redness in her face and glanced down at the table, turning her latte mug in her hands. “Oh, about that, I’m sorry for the way it might have seemed. There was a lot going on in my life and I had the offer from Elite to go and model for them.”
“I remember. Looks like that worked out for you,” he said. “Rose is a huge fan of yours. She’s always showing me your covers.”
“Aw, she was always the sweetest little thing,” Amelia said. The Delaney house had been a predominantly male zone when she’d dated Cal. And though his little sister—a card-carrying tomboy—fit in, she’d loved to play with Amelia’s makeup when she was over there. “How old is she now?”
“Nineteen. She took a page from your book and dropped out. She has a little boy—Delaney. We call him Lane.”
“Wow. It has been a while since I’ve been back. My sisters didn’t mention anything about that. Is she…how is she?” Amelia asked at last. She knew that despite it being the twenty-first century, small towns weren’t always accepting of teenage moms.
“She’s good. We have help with Delaney and Rose is still living at home. She’s been going to college over in Austin,” he said.
To anyone else, it would seem as if she was catching up with an old friend, but there was more to it than that. Maybe it was because of the way she’d had to leave, but he’d always been someone she’d never been able to forget. She thought about that night a lot. She had no regrets about sleeping with him. She’d known once she got to New York her life would be different and she had wanted her first time to be with…well, someone she’d cared about.
“Enough talking about my family,” he said. “What are you up to these days?”
“My folks asked me to come back for a while. I’ve temporarily opened an agency here in town to scout for talent and to teach kids what they need to know if they want to model. I’m doing some classes on manners on the side because the Texas Women’s League asked me to.”
“Neither of those. Sounds perfect for you. And if playing pro ball taught me anything, it’s that the world outside of Last Stand takes some adjusting to,” he said, at last.
“It sure does. Took me a while,” she admitted.
“Me too,” he said. His phone pinged, and he glanced down at the screen. “See ya around, Amelia.”
He walked out of the door and she watched him leave. She hadn’t anticipated seeing him or talking to him, having been so focused on her issues with her mom, but she was suddenly glad to be back.
What do you want people to take away from reading this book?
Two things: one that family isn’t just blood, it’s those who love you even when you’re not your best. Two that love doesn’t always follow the same path, every couple picks the one that works for them.
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned?
I’m working on Full Texas Throttle which is my next book in the Dangerous Delaneys series. Then starting in August I have an online read with Harlequin that will launch my new One Night series from Harlequin Desire. I have three titles in that series ONE NIGHT WITH HIS SEX, October; ONE NIGHT, TWO SECRETS, November and ONE KISS AT MIDNIGHT, December.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: Tule tote, copy of ebook Her Texas Ex and Tule swag
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: You know how they say you can’t go home? Do you believe that? I have to be honest and say I love going home and seeing old friends, though my parents just sold our childhood home to move to a smaller place and I can’t make myself drive by the old house. Just thinking about it makes me want to cry!
Excerpt from Her Texas Ex:
Amelia started her day the same way she had been since she returned home but for once she felt like she had a purpose. Yesterday, she’d committed to helping her mom and today she meant to find a way to bring up the things she wanted to discuss. Jax Williams, her biological father, had never contacted her again after she’d helped him, after the bone marrow transplant had been successful. So she hadn’t felt like there’d been another chance for her to talk about it with anyone.
Her grandmother had always been there and willing to talk but Amelia had needed to figure it out on her own. Memaw seemed to understand that.
Maybe if she hadn’t moved away…but she had.
She pulled up in front of her family home and noticed an unfamiliar truck parked in the big driveway. She saw that Stella, her mom’s housekeeper, had parked her car in her usual spot and the door to her dad’s shed was open. She thought about Lane, that poor little boy who’d lost both of his parents and then she thought a bit more about how she’d lost hers…because of her own actions.
Jasper and Lilly didn’t ostracize her. No, she’d done it to herself and had never figured out how to get back to where they’d been before she’d known the truth.
She shook her head. No use in dwelling on the past. How many times had her memaw or even Minna suggested that to her when she talked to them?
The full skirt of her cap-sleeved dress blew around her legs as she walked up the drive to her parents’ front door. It was a gorgeous spring Monday, belying the tragedy of the day before. She’d always sort of thought that weather should reflect mood like it did in movies and books sometimes. But that wasn’t reality.
The door opened as she got there and Cal stepped out, holding his sleeping nephew. She smiled at them both when he noticed her. He looked tired and drained. She’d never seen him this way before and she wished she knew something she could do or say to make this time easier for him. But she was at a loss.
“Morning, Cal,” she said.
“Hiya, Amelia. Thank you for taking care of Lane yesterday,” he said.
“You’re welcome,” she said, giving him a hug. “I’m so sorry for your loss. Is there anything I can do?”
“I don’t think so,” Cal said. “We haven’t had a chance to plan anything.”
“I’m going to bring food out there for dinner tonight,” she said. “Is that okay?”
“Yeah,” he said, nodding sort of vaguely. She suddenly realized that he was sleepwalking through this day. He wasn’t ready to be back in his routine. Not yet.
Lane was curled in his arms and she noticed that Cal rubbed his nephew’s back as he stood there watching her. She remembered something that her dad had said when Grandpa Joe had died, and Memaw was pretty much losing her mind. He’d told her and her sisters to keep her grandmother busy. She was willing to be that work for Cal too.
“What are you doing today?” she asked.
“I have to do some stuff in the office,” he said vaguely.
“It’s hard to picture you in an office,” she admitted. “Whenever I think about you, it’s always on the playing field.”
“Well, that was when we used to hang out,” he said. “But a lot of time has passed since then.”
“It has. I’d love the chance to get to know you now,” she said. She hadn’t intended to say that, but it was truth.
“Hi, Mela,” Lane said, rubbing his sleepy eyes and looking over at her.
“Hi, cutie. Did you sleep good?”
He nodded and when he did, she noticed that Mr. Stuffing was in his arms. Her dad’s childhood bear. She was touched, and she knew her family would encourage her to help the Delaneys. It was the least she could do. Lane was wearing a Last Stand, Texas, T-shirt and a pair of shorts. She had no idea where her parents had found them.
“Do you want to play hooky today?” she asked Cal. There had never been a man who looked more…lost to her than Cal.
“Why?” he asked.
“Memaw’s blackberry bushes are full of ripe fruit and I have my great-grandmother’s blackberry jam recipe…”
He tipped his head to the side, studying her with that dark gaze of his and she felt like he could see through her—that he knew she liked him, and he was one of the wrongs she was back in town to right.
“Sounds like fun. What do you say, Lane? Want to pick blackberries?”
“Sure,” he said.
She smiled at them both. “Um, do you know where Memaw’s house is?”
“I was going to walk over, but if you want to drive, I can meet you there. I have to go talk to my parents.”
“We’ll meet you there. We were heading to Kolalches for some donuts this morning. Can we bring you one?”
“Yes, please. Boston cream,” she said.
He nodded and she turned away, walking up to her parents’ front door. Cal Delaney. She knew that she should leave well enough alone. But he was going through something and of all the people in the world who had walked through her life, he was the one she felt she still owed something to. He’d stayed that sweet boy, her first love, locked in her memories all this time. And she couldn’t just walk away from him when he was hurting.
Her mom was waiting in the foyer when she came in to the house. She was looking a little more tired than usual and Amelia debated if she should stay and talk, but honestly, she wasn’t ready to. Seeing Lane, knowing how lost he was stirred something inside of her. She wanted to be there for that little boy.
“Can you manage the shop without me today?” Amelia said.
“Yes, I can. I think those two need you more than I do,” Mom said. “What’s going on there?”
“We’re just old friends. But he seemed like he could use someone today,” she said.
“I couldn’t agree more,” her mom said. “Enjoy your day and maybe tonight, you can come by for dinner.”
“I promised to bring something out to the Delaneys.”
“Good idea. I’ll bake a casserole, too,” Mom said. “So tomorrow for breakfast?”
She knew her mom wasn’t going to let her wiggle out of talking alone, just the two of them. She sighed and nodded. “Why don’t you come to my place? I’ll cook.”
Kolaches was busy as he walked in and Lane squirmed to get down. He wore his boots and a pair of shorts and a T-shirt that the Corbyns had rustled up for him and his Stetson, which he took off when they entered the building, the same as Cal did. He ruffled his little nephew’s hair as they waited. Slowly as people started to recognize them, they either turned away or came over and offered their condolences.
Shane Highwater hadn’t released the accident report, but it didn’t take a trained investigator to recognize that Rose had run the light. His skin started to feel like it was too tight for his body again. If Lane hadn’t been over at the glass case staring at all of the pastries, Cal would have walked out of the bakery.
He wasn’t ready to talk to anyone in town. Not even the well-meaning people.
Someone slipped their arm around his shoulder and he glanced over to see that it was Delilah. “Dude, you looked like you were about to go psycho killer.”
“I am. I am so not ready for this,” he admitted.
“Yeah, why don’t you chill outside,” Delilah said. “Pretend to be on your phone. I’ll get your order. What do you want?”
He shook his head. That smacked of cowardice. He could stand in a line and order pastries without wigging out. It wasn’t like Rose was waiting for him. Again, he felt that mélange of emotions roiling through him and he knew with absolute certainty that he was going to lose it.
“Whatever you get will be fine,” he said, handing Delilah his wallet. “Your sister wants a Boston cream.”
He walked outside to the jingle of the bell, pulled his sunglasses out of his front pocket and went to lean against the building. Taking Delilah’s advice, he pulled his phone out of his pocket and glanced down at the screen.
The lock screen had a reminder that he was supposed to meet TJ at the bank this afternoon.
He rubbed the back of his neck. Lancey hadn’t called them yet but he knew she’d been on a weekend pass and had to get back to base. He had to get in touch with her and the family lawyer was coming out this afternoon to talk about custody of Lane. He really had no business picking blackberries this morning.
The scent of lavender drifted to him on the wind and he looked up to see Amelia walking toward him. She leaned against the building next to him, her long legs crossed at the ankles. “Do you want to skip blackberry picking and just go home?”
He looked at her, feeling like his emotions were hidden by the barrier of his dark aviator-style sunglasses. Go home?
No matter where he went, he was faced with the truth that Rose was gone. And he couldn’t escape it or find a path to peace. Of course, it had been one day.
“Does it get easier?” he wondered out loud.
“Yes, but not for a long time,” she said.
“How do you know?”
“Just based on losing Grandpa Joe, and when I left Last Stand.”
He tilted his head toward her and then looked away. “How does that compare?”
“I felt like I’d lost my home. That I wasn’t going to ever have it back. The first few months when I was in New York, I reached for the phone to call and ask if I could come back but stopped myself when I remembered the truth.”
“What truth?” he asked. Actually, this was the distraction he needed. “You were a teenager who had a great family and good friends. What secret could have driven you away?”
She chewed her lower lip between her teeth. Before she could answer, the door opened and Delilah came out holding a bag in one hand and carrying his nephew on her back.
“This little cowboy said he needed a piggyback ride,” Delilah said, her long blond hair cascading down her back and over his nephew who was wearing the biggest smile that Cal had seen on him in a while.
For a few moments, he’d forgotten about his mama and Cal was glad. Lane would never forget Rose. They’d make sure of it. But he didn’t want his nephew to grow up in the specter of sadness and grief.
Amelia grabbed the bag from her sister and Delilah stooped down to let Lane get off her back. “Remember what I said about not eating too many blackberries, scamp.”
She stood back up. “If you have some extras, bring them by the restaurant. I’d love to use them in a dish I’m working on.”
“I will. Thanks for this,” Amelia said lifting up the bag.
“Thank Cal. It was his treat,” she said, handing him back his wallet.
Delilah hugged her sister, ruffled Lane’s hair and then hugged him before walking away. They all watched her leave.
“I know the best place to eat breakfast,” Amelia said to Lane, taking his hand in hers. “A big swing under an arbor of rose bushes.”
“Just like Mama,” Amelia said, and Cal felt his throat get tight. He wasn’t going to be able to do this. Not today. Maybe not ever. There was too much inside of him and all the tequila in the world hadn’t dulled it.
“I can’t do this,” he said.
“Okay,” she said. “How about if you come home with me so you don’t have to be alone?”
Cal just started walking up Main toward the cross street that led to her grandmother’s house. She followed along with Lane, thinking that she was the worst person in the world to be trying to help him. She wasn’t good at dealing with emotion. She ran away when things got too dicey—she knew that and so did Cal. Firsthand.
But she wasn’t running this time. When she’d come back to Last Stand, she’d made a promise to herself and she was determined to keep it. No more taking off. No more avoiding the uncomfortable things.
Lane walked slowly and took his time stopping to pick a stick up off the ground and then he took his hat off and straightened it out.
Cal stopped and turned back and she saw a man…so broken. She knew she needed to make today about fun and keep Lane occupied so Cal could deal with everything he had going on.
She didn’t think about it, she knew what she had to do. So she scooped Lane up in her arms and went to Cal, wrapped him in her arms and just held him. “This sucks. This is always going to suck and I wish you weren’t in this position.”
His arms came around her and he held her and Lane tightly to him, his face buried in her neck. She felt the burn of his tears against her collarbone. She just held him.
“Unca, don’t be sad,” Lane said, and Amelia saw his little hand patting Cal’s shoulder.
Cal rubbed his eyes against her shoulder and lifted his head, taking Lane from her. And then he held her hand as they continued walking toward Memaw’s house. She fell into step beside him and when they got to her grandmother’s home, they went around back to the converted carport. Memaw’s car wasn’t there—she had Bible study first thing in the morning.
So they went to the carport with the large swinging bed that was draped with a spring patterned quilt that Memaw and Great-Aunt Edie had made when they were girls. Lane was pretty excited to see a bed that was a swing and Cal sat down on it with his nephew.
“Chocolate milk for Lane? Or juice? Coffee for us?” she asked.
“Apple juice for Lane,” Cal said. “He needs a straw.”
“I got you covered. You guys see if you can get that swing working. I’ll be back soon,” she said. Then she took the path that led to the back door of her memaw’s house and keyed in the code to unlock the door.
Christy, her grandmother’s rescue collie, came running over to greet her, she rubbed the dog’s neck and gave her a treat before she went to make cups of coffee for herself and Cal and fix the juice for Lane.
She added a splash of fat-free half-and-half to her coffee and realized she didn’t know how Cal took his. She started to lean out the back door to ask him and saw him sitting in the middle of the bed swing, holding Lane, his head bent over his nephew’s. They were talking quietly and she realized he might need some time alone with his sister’s son.
So, she sat down at the kitchen table where she had a view of Cal and drank her coffee. She was stumbling her way through this and she wasn’t going to try to stick to a schedule or make him do anything he wasn’t ready for.
It was clear to her he needed time and space. And this place that wasn’t his home. A place where he’d never seen Rose and wouldn’t be surrounded by her memories.
She pulled out her phone and answered a few emails while she gave him his privacy and then she looked up and noticed he was looking at the house. There was something about Cal that made it hard for her to keep her attention on what she was doing. Her gaze kept straying back to him. It didn’t help that he looked even better now than he had in high school. She knew he needed a friend and she wanted to be that to him.
“Hey,” she said, opening the back door so she had a reason to see him. “I don’t know how you take your coffee.”
“Milk and two sugars,” he said with a smile that made her notice how full his mouth was.
She nodded and went to make it the way he’d requested. “Just be his friend,” she muttered to herself.
Then she walked back outside and they had their breakfast with very little conversation. After they’d cleaned up, she gathered some baskets from the bar area on the carport.
Lane stood next to Cal and she was impressed watching him interact with his nephew. But she knew she shouldn’t be. Cal had always had a natural way with people. He was patient with Lane and helped him carefully pick the berries and when they had filled up their baskets, he looked over at her. She had never thought of herself as maternal but when she looked at Lane, she wanted to hold him close and keep him safe forever.
“For?” she asked, trying to play it cool.
“This. I did need to be outside,” he admitted.
“I’m glad. I owe you so much more than I can ever repay you, Cal,” she admitted. She’d sort of used him in a way that she knew wasn’t fair. But he had been the only person she’d felt she could be herself with.
“I think we should let the past die,” he said. “Maybe figure out a way to move forward.”
“As friends, right?”
He quirked one eyebrow at her. “If that’s what you want.”
She didn’t know what she wanted. “I just like being around you. I’m not ready to talk about why I left but I want you to know that you brought me a lot of comfort when I was alone those first few years in New York City.”
He nodded. “See, when you say things like that you confuse me. You always have and I wish there was some way I could just forget you and let you go. But there is a part of me that has always wanted you.”
She knew that he didn’t like wanting her but it made her heart feel lighter when he said that. She leaned in closer to him. Their eyes met and she felt a zing go through her. His lips when they brushed against hers were firm yet soft at the same time.
He put his hand on the side of her neck, his fingers tangling in her hair as she tipped her head to the side, deepening the kiss. He tasted better than she remembered. His kiss had a sophistication to it that he hadn’t had when they’d been teens.
But the attraction that had been between them? That had been dormant all these years, but now, it sprang to life. She shivered, shifting closer to him, putting her hand on his chest as he thrust his tongue deep into her mouth.
She barely heard the sound of a car door closing but Cal pulled back. His lips were moist and swollen from their kiss. Her own were tingling and she rubbed her finger over them.
“That just reinforces my confusion.”
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
She couldn’t forget him, even if she tried…
When Amelia Corbyn was a vulnerable teen, she found out she wasn’t a Corbyn by blood. Her biological father was a legendary country singer who wanted nothing to do with her. Hurt and confused, Amelia fled Last Stand Texas for a modeling career in New York. She left behind her high school boyfriend and family who had kept too many secrets. Years later Amelia’s back in Last Stand, retired from modeling and determined to care for her aging parents. She’s not expecting to see the one man she loved and couldn’t forget. Even worse, the spark is still there just waiting to burst into a flame.
Former pro-football player Cal Delaney returns to Last Stand to raise his sister’s toddler after a car accident claims her life along with her husband. His feelings for Amelia seem stronger than ever, but he has secrets and responsibilities; and Amelia has already proved to him that when things get tough, she skips town.
Can Cal forgive their past so that he and his first love can have a future?
Meet the Author:
USA Today bestselling author Katherine Garbera is a two-time Maggie winner who has written more than 60 books. A Florida native who grew up to travel the globe, Katherine now makes her home in the Midlands of the UK with her husband, two children and a very spoiled miniature dachshund.
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