We’re kicking of Valentine’s Day Weekend with a Series Spotlight featuring Dangerous Love and Jaded Love, books 1 and 2 in The Mending Hearts Series by Kara Leigh Miller and Jody Holford.
And here to share a special Valentine’s Day post with us are the authors themselves, Kara and Jody.
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, which to some, is considered the most romantic day of the year. It’s a day for candlelit dinners; boxes of heart-shaped candies; bouquets of red roses; new engagements and shiny diamond rings. While Dangerous Love and Jaded Love don’t take place near or on Valentine’s Day, that doesn’t mean there isn’t romance blooming or romantic dates happening. It wouldn’t be a romance novel without a first date, now would it?
In Dangerous Love, Josh takes Alessa to a nice dinner at a Greek restaurant where she experiences new foods and striking conversation. This scene wasn’t just fun and romantic, it was pivotal to the development of their relationship because this was when Alessa learned the truth of Josh’s deceased wife and where she begins to learn more about herself and reclaim some of her memories. But it didn’t end there! After the meal, Josh takes her to a local aquarium. Because we both love admiring sea life, this was a very fun scene for us to write. This simple yet fun date really brought the couple closer and helped give them the strength they needed to face Alessa’s past.
In Jaded Love, Jackson takes Kristy to his favorite restaurant — Carver’s Steakhouse. Unfortunately, Kristy is more of a salad type of girl, and the resulting banter between them was so much fun. Here’s a sneak peek…
“I work for the FDA. Mostly I review files and approve or deny products and additives.”
He gave a low whistle. “That’s really interesting. So, you could approve a chocolate additive to all vegetables so they didn’t taste like dirt?”
She laughed, and his chest tightened again. “No. But I could recommend that you wash them before eating them.”
“Why would I want to do that? That’s why God invented steak.” He liked the punch of pleasure that came with making her laugh.
“Technically, I don’t think he invented steak. Even so, I’d way rather have a salad than a steak.”
He widened his eyes in mock horror. “I don’t think I would have driven you home if I’d known that.” What had come over him? Was he being… playful?
“Ouch. Then I’m glad I didn’t tell you until now.”
“You just haven’t had the right steak. You been to Carver’s?” She shook her head. “Well no wonder you think you don’t like it. You haven’t had the best there is.”
“Is that so?” She looked down and this time, he reached out his hand without thinking it through and tilted her chin up. The sparks he’d felt just looking at her shot up his arm. Not a lot shocked him anymore. But this sensation, by this woman, did. He stepped back, his chest tight. The air felt thick, like he was in a cramped room. Confusion crinkled her eyes. He had to push the words out of his throat.
“It is. You should go some time.”
Luckily, Jackson is able to convince Kristy to take him up on his offer, and they have a fun — and awkward — first date at the steakhouse.
The waitress’s eyes sparked with pleasure at Jackson’s simple courtesy. “I’m good. Thanks for asking. Can I start you with a couple of drinks?”
Jackson looked at Kristy who answered, “I’ll take a water and a soda, please.”
“I’ll have the same,” Jackson said.
Kristy didn’t know it was possible to feel a smile all the way through her body but every bit of her warmed with contentment when she looked at Jackson. “This is the antithesis of anything I could have imagined for a steakhouse.”
Jackson beamed at her, pleased by her words. “It’s what I love about it. I came in here expecting the best burger in town, but Sal specializes in anything related to beef.”
Jackson hooked his thumb toward the kitchen. “He owns the place. He’s a master on the grill but a diehard fifties fan. Said there were no rules saying he couldn’t merge the two worlds.”
“And there aren’t. I think sometimes we get too caught up in self-imposed borders. The way we think things should be or look,” Kristy said.
The waitress set their drinks in front of them. Jackson arched a brow at Kristy. “You trust me?”
She held his gaze and answered honestly. “Completely.”
Something she couldn’t read flashed in the way he looked at Kristy. It made her chest tighten. He turned to the woman waiting patiently, her pen and pad of paper at the ready.
“We’ll take two house specials, medium rare, one with fries, one with a baked potato.”
She nodded, took their menus and promised it wouldn’t be long. Laughter rang out from across the room and Kristy only then noticed the other people eating and visiting. Being with Jackson pushed everything else, everyone else, to the far edges of her vision. She could sense they were there, but all she could see was him.
“Who gets the fries?” She kept her voice light; the opposite of how she felt inside.
“Tell me about your family.” Kristy leaned back against the booth.
Jackson frowned, stretched out his long legs until his feet were on the outside of her own, like he couldn’t physically keep himself from being protective. Or from touching her.
“Three sisters. I’m the oldest. My parents are happily married and so are two of my sisters. One of them has three kids. Somehow, I thought Janie having kids would get my mom to stop nagging me about settling down. But nothing stops my mom.” He smiled fondly when he said it.
“I bet you were a nightmare when your sisters were dating.” Kristy took a sip of her soda, enjoyed the popping of bubbles on her tongue.
Jackson’s grin was slow and wicked. It made Kristy’s stomach twirl. “I did everything in my power to chase off their prospects. That’s how I know Will and Travis are good guys. They didn’t run scared.”
Kristy leaned forward and matched his smile. “You’re awful.”
He shrugged, still grinning. “I’m not sorry.”
“They’re lucky to have you.”
He shook off the praise and sipped through his straw. “Your turn.”
Kristy sipped her drink. “No protective siblings but very protective parents. Some overprotective friends.”
Jackson’s eyes darkened. “With some good reasons.”
In that moment, she understood why Jackson had been averse to her attending his group session. They already knew things about each other that they wouldn’t have shared otherwise. It was easier to accept his baggage than have him know her own.
“Honestly, I think it’s just several coincidences on the heels of something traumatic. And even that, the thing with Raymond happened a year ago. So much has happened since. So much good. My family and friends think I’m avoiding the topic but I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want it to be part of my life; part of who I am.”
A woman laughed loudly from the kitchen area and music played over the speakers. It was all background because the only thing she could see or feel was Jackson’s intent gaze. He had a way of consuming her with his gaze that made her think she could get lost in it. In him.
“I don’t believe in coincidence. Most cops don’t.” His voice was grim but his words made Kristy smile. Jackson arched an eyebrow at her. “What?”
“Most cops? I thought you didn’t see yourself that way anymore.”
An odd look crossed his face and in an uncharacteristic gesture, he looked away.
He picked up his napkin and twisted it in his fingers, saying quietly, “I’ve taken on a case. My captain needed someone to cover it, and I said I would.”
Kristy leaned forward, put her hand over his to stop his movements. “Jackson, that is fantastic. Truly. I’m so happy for you.”
He shrugged. “I didn’t win the lottery.”
“No, but you went back to something that I’m positive you were good at. You took the first step toward getting your life back.”
He gave a harsh laugh. “Honey, I did that when I decided to pull myself out of bed in those first few days.”
His tone was hard, but Kristy’s insides went soft at his term of endearment. She bit her lip to avoid grinning like a dork.
In any romance, especially a romantic suspense, there are outside forces at work and the characters don’t often have time to just have fun, which is why writing these date scenes are exciting for both the characters living them and the authors writing them. So, tell us, what is your idea of a perfect date?
Kara’s Perfect Date — Having dinner at the Olive Garden (which is my favorite restaurant), complete with dessert (their Black Tie Mousse Cake….Mmmmm!) and then either going to a movie or curling up at home with a good movie. I tend to watch a lot of movies, and on the rare chance there’s nothing I want to see or haven’t already seen, I like to just walk around the mall and look at stuff, especially books!
Jody’s Perfect Date — My ideal date is definitely different now from what it would have been even a few years ago. I love having a several episodes of a favorite show recorded and ordering in Greek food. We eat in front of the television while we watch the shows and I get way too caught up in all of the imaginary characters and their issues. If the date is absolutely perfect, there are cookies, or some other form of chocolate, involved.
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