Hi Juliette and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Pretty as a Peach!
Hey, y’all! xoxo
Tell us about the book with this fun little challenge using the title of the book:
Colt Mancinkus is trying to save his family farm, but he’s got some new competition in town! Darby McCulhane is new to Whynot, NC, looking to make a fresh start. With her ex-husband in her rearview mirror, and her sassy daughter by her side, Darby’s plan to start a peach farm is really putting a kink in Colt’s plans. But these two might just find that the peach tress aren’t the only things in bloom in PRETTY AS A PEACH!
What’s your favorite line(s) from the book?:
During a conversation, Linnie (Darby’s seven-year-old daughter), asks Darby if she is going to kiss Colt that night, and when Darby asks her what she knows about kissing, she giggles and responds, “Mommy and Colt, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G.” It’s just a fun little scene between mother and daughter.
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. What first attracts your Hero to the Heroine and vice versa?
Colt is angry with Darby from the get-go, because she has applied for the same county grant he is seeking for Mainer Farms. But he’s quickly blown away by Darby, first by her looks, but then he quickly realizes he very much likes HER. She’s kind, helpful, and smart, nothing he wants to give her credit for at first, but which he realizes he can’t ignore for long.
As for Darby, she is immediately attracted to his loyalty and selflessness where his family farm is concerned. He’s willing to make personal sacrifices to ensure the success of Mainer Farms (and in turn his family), and to her, that’s an extremely attractive quality.
When you sat down to start this book, what was the biggest challenge you faced? What were you most excited about?
Colt had to work a little to redeem himself, because he acted a bit like a spoiled brat previously. But that’s the most exciting part–helping him redeem himself.
What, in your mind, makes this book stand out?
This series is set in the small, fictional town of Whynot, NC. These stories are all sweet, low-angst, honest-to-goodness love stories. Perfect afternoon reads!
The First Kiss…
Her laughter ceases, but her smile stays in place. “I wanted to give you one last chance to run. But I won’t do that again.”
“That works out nicely for me then,” I say as I step even closer to her. I bring a hand to her hip, the other to the side of her face. Her eyes are so clear and trusting as she blinks up at me. “I think I’m going to have that first kiss right now.”
“That would be an awesome idea,” she murmurs.
It doesn’t matter we’re in broad daylight in front of my parents’ house, or that we didn’t just finish a romantic date that would end perfectly with our first kiss.
No, this is absolutely the right time.
My lips touch hers, and I’m almost bowled over by the surge of adrenaline that floods my entire body. Darby feels it too because she gasps. We pull back, both of us wide eyed and staring at each other.
I kiss her again, and it’s so “wow”. Both my hands come to her face as I tilt my head and deepen the kiss. My tongue touches hers gently, and she makes a kitteny purr deep in her throat.
With my heart pounding and about to burst out of my chest, I reluctantly pull back from her mouth. There’s no doubt in my mind it could ignite into something that would be uncontrollable, and now is definitely not the time for that.
“So, um… that was… nice,” she says, her cheeks pink and her expression bordering on flustered.
I give a tiny cough to clear my throat, which is dry as the desert right now. “Yeah… nice.”
We stare at each other a moment, then both of us burst out laughing. I reach out and snag her by the shoulders, pulling her into me. She presses a hand, then a cheek, to my chest, and I wrap my arms around her back, giving her a hug.
“It was more than nice,” I murmur. “And I can’t wait to see how much nicer it will get in time.”
“Agreed,” she says softly.
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters and why?
This is a snippet of the first time Colt and Darby meet. He’s angry with her for applying for the same county grant he applied for, but she’s trying to understand why. Oh, and they find one another extremely attractive, which always makes things…interesting.
“Colt… can you talk for a minute?”
With a sigh, I shut the door and step back onto the sidewalk to face Darby. I grimace over the fact she looks even more beautiful in the sunlight, and I don’t want to have any positive feelings toward this woman right now. It’s easier to be mired in the negativity.
Still, I manage to put a bland yet polite smile on my face. “What’s up?”
She studies me for a moment as if trying to figure out the best approach to take. Darby doesn’t know me at all, only that I’m not happy she applied for the grant. She also knows her family and mine may ultimately be merged at some point if Laken and Jake were to get married. This makes things a little sticky between us.
Finally, she says, “I know you’re angry with me. And I’m sorry for that. Had I known you before I applied for that grant, things might have been different.”
I can’t help raising a skeptical eyebrow. “So now that you know who I am and how important this grant is to my family, are you going to withdraw your application?”
This takes her by surprise. She blinks repeatedly at me while her mouth opens and closes as she tries to answer. I put her on the spot, but I’m genuinely curious as to what her position might now be.
I’m slightly disappointed when she says, “I don’t know. I still don’t know you and why the grant is so important. But I need you to know it’s important to me as well.”
I can’t help but scoff. “Yes, because you need to write a paper about it. I’m sure you must be in a very dire situation.”
She narrows those beautiful eyes at me, which are now very, very frosty. “It may not be dire, but it goes directly to my livelihood. I need this degree in order to provide a good life for my daughter and me.”
I wish she wouldn’t have brought her kid into it because that is actually something that would pull at my heartstrings if I let it. I’ve got to stay focused, though, on the fact my family and our farm is more important than any need that she may have. Before I can tell her that, she asks me, “What exactly would you use the grant for?”
I wasn’t prepared for this question, and I haven’t discussed my plans for a winery with anyone. I think the fear of failure has me hesitant to even voice my plans out loud. Ridiculous, I know, but there it is.
I start to tell her it’s none of her business, but she steps in closer and lowers her voice. Putting a hand on my arm, she says, “I’d be glad to help you with whatever project you have.”
There’s no stopping the sarcastic bubble of a laugh that wells up. “And just how much farming experience do you have?”
I know the answer to this already as Laken had told me enough about Darby McCulhane. She grew up on a commercial farm, which was mostly mechanized production. I doubt she’s ever put her hands in the dirt before.
My surly attitude is not appreciated. Her hand drops from my arm, and she takes a step back while lifting her chin in an aloof manner. She doesn’t reply to my question. “Well, whatever it is you’re doing, I wish you the best of luck. And I wish you luck on the grant as well.”
My jaw locks tight. I can’t wish her luck back because I might jinx myself and not get the grant. And that would be unthinkable.
Darby stares at me for a moment. When she realizes I’m not going to wish her luck back, she understands I’m being a complete jackass. She gives me a curt nod before turning on her heel. A strange sensation bubbles up within me, and I realize I’m being swamped with regret over my manners. My mother raised me better than this. Before I can stop myself, I’m calling out, “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be such a jerk about this.”
Darby whips around to face me, her face awash with surprise, but hesitant to believe my words.
I take a step toward her, shoving my hands into the pockets of my jeans. “I just take all of this very personally since it’s my family’s livelihood and has been that way for eight generations.”
Darby’s eyebrows raise upward, and she whistles through her teeth. “Eight generations?”
I nod with a smile. “We were deeded the land from the King of England.”
Darby steps in and tilts her head, lifting her chin slightly. “Seriously… what are you going to use the grant for?”
My eyes cut over to the clinic door as if I expect Laken to be leaning out and eavesdropping. I don’t see her, so I turn back to Darby and decide to let her in on it. “I’d like to plant grapes. I want to open a winery on Mainer Farms.”
There is no mistaking the look of respect on Darby’s face. “Now that sounds like a cool plan. Have you ever grown grapes before?”
I give a shake of my head. “I’ve done a lot of research, and I talked to a man who owns a winery a couple of counties over yesterday. I feel confident I can do it.”
Darby nods in what seems to be agreement in my abilities even though she doesn’t know me from Adam. “Well, I’d be glad to talk about the sciences behind it anytime you want. I’ve actually got a good friend I completed my master’s program with who works at a vineyard out in California if you want me to put you in touch with him.”
This is all kind of weird. Ten minutes ago, this woman was as close to a mortal enemy as I had, and now she’s offering me help on starting a vineyard. Well, not to help but at least to advise. Proves to me Darby McCulhane is good people despite my initial perception about her.
Beautiful and good people. Quite the combination, and it means I can’t stay mad at her.
If your hero had a sexy-times play list, what song(s) would have to be on it?
Something sweet and sexy–maybe something from Tim McGraw and Faith Hill?
What do you want people to take away from reading this book?
I want readers to enjoy a sweet, fun love story. This series is intended to be full of real life humor and situations, without a lot of angst.
What are you currently working on? What are your up-coming releases?
There will be one additional book in the Sex and Sweet Tea Series, tentatively scheduled to release later this year. My alter ego, Sawyer Bennett, will be working on more hockey romance this year–an additional release in the Cold Fury series, plus the launch of the Arizona Vengeance series. There is another release coming in the Wicked Horse Vegas series as well.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: Signed paperback of Pretty as a Peach by Juliette Poe
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Excerpt from Pretty as a Peach:
“Look… the line for the Ferris wheel isn’t long at all,” Linnie says with excitement as she points that way.
It’s been the one ride she hasn’t been on yet but was on her list to try. I silently groan at the thought of waiting for her to ride it. I’m not into the rides at all. No offense to the carnies, but they don’t look like the most reliable workers in the world. My luck, I would end up on the ride where an important bolt was misplaced, and I’d be facing imminent death.
I wanted to hold to this philosophy with my daughter and forbid her from going on any of the rides, but I couldn’t face her disappointment. So I relented and prayed the entire time she and Colt rode one.
“Okay,” I say tiredly. I hold my arms out for Colt to transfer all the stuff to me. “I’ll just wait over here.”
“You should come on this one with us,” Colt says.
I’m shaking my head before the words come out. “No way. Terrified of heights.”
And you know, this thing is probably not built very solidly.
“Come on, Mom,” Linnie pleads. “Just go on one ride with us. This one is really slow, and I’m sure it’s super safe.”
There’s no way that thing is safe.
But I also see something in Linnie’s eyes I used to see a lot but has been a rarity of late. She truly wants to spend quality time with me.
“I have an even better idea,” Colt says as he nods to the Ferris wheel. “You two ladies go ride that, and I’m going to sit here and hold on to everything.”
“Awesome,” Linnie exclaims without even waiting for my agreement that I’d be a willing participant. She grabs my hand and starts pulling me toward the end of the Ferris wheel line. I look over my shoulder helplessly at Colt, who grins at me. He doesn’t even look the slightest bit worried I might be marching off to my death.
My stomach rolls the entire time we are waiting, and Linnie just chatters on excitedly about the farm animals we had seen in one of the buildings. She’s trying to talk me into some cows and chickens and has promised she will take care of them.
It’s not that I doubt her sincerity, but she is only seven and isn’t the best on follow through. Still, it might not hurt to get a few chickens. Carlos can easily build us a coop. It would be nice to have fresh eggs each day.
It happens all too quick, but we are now at the front of the line and being ushered into one of the carts. A thin-looking bar is placed over our laps, and Linnie starts rocking the cart back and forth.
“Stop doing that,” I say, clutching onto the bar for dear life. We’re currently suspended two feet off the ground, yet my pulse has gone through the roof.
Linnie laughs, but she stops the rocking motion. “Sorry, Mom.”
She doesn’t sound sorry at all.
“I can get off right now, and Colt can get on,” I suggest. “He’d be glad to let you rock this back and forth.”
“No way,” she says. She peels one of my hands off the bar and holds it tightly with hers. “I won’t do that anymore. I want to ride this one with you.”
That was all I needed to hear from my sweet little girl. A burst of confidence and bravery wells up within me, and I give her hand a squeeze back. Besides, if I’m going to fall to my death, at least it will be doing something that makes my daughter extremely happy.
Excerpts. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Mainer Farms is steeped in family history, but it’s also deep in debt from the effects of the ever-changing farming industry. Not about to let his family’s legacy go under, Colt Mancinkus is willing to do anything he can to save the farm.
Darby Culhane is the new farmer in Whynot, North Carolina, and she’s proving to be quite the forbidden temptation for Colt. Darby isn’t looking for anything but a fresh start, and she’s got it all figured out. Get settled in? Check. Apply for the rural county grant? Check. Confrontation with the steaming mad, smoking hot local farmer? Well, that wasn’t on the agenda.
As pretty as she is sweet, Colt can’t help but be drawn to Darby’s…peaches. No really, she’s a peach farmer. Get that mind out of the gutter, and get on down to the farm to see what happens when circumstances force Colt and Darby to team up. They may just find that the peach trees aren’t the only things in bloom.
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Meet the Author:
Juliette Poe is the sweet and swoony alter ego of New York Times Best Selling author, Sawyer Bennett.
A fun-loving southern girl, Juliette knows the allure of sweet tea, small towns, and long summer nights, that some of the best dates end sitting on the front porch swing, and that family is top priority. She brings love in the south to life in her debut series, Sex & Sweet Tea.
When Juliette isn’t delivering the sweetest kind of romance, she’s teaching her southern belle daughter the fine art of fishing, the importance of wearing Chucks, and the endless possibilities of a vivid imagination.
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