I don’t talk about this series much, but I should.
Have you read The Dark and Damaged Hearts?
The first romance book I ever started writing was Sex, Heat and Hunger (James and Emma’s story). I started writing it after our six-month, twelve-country backpack trip. I’d really gotten into reading romance while we traveled, and I read some great books, and some really not great books. However, it was those really not great books that prompted me to think, “I could do this. I could do better than this.”
I know what you’re probably thinking, “how arrogant!”
And in a way it was. But it was also what led to me to go back to my one true passion which was writing, so however terrible some of those books may have been, I will be forever grateful to them for helping me get back to what I love. And no, it doesn’t matter what the names of those terrible books were, that’s not the point. It’s also just fuel for an argument, because I KNOW a lot of people LOVED those books, so I’m not going to go there. Some people don’t like my books, and that is 100% okay. That’s the beauty of romance books, there is something out there for everyone!
James and Emma’s story took me over a year and a half to write. Mostly because I was just doing it in the evenings after work and wasn’t really serious about it. I just had a story in my head and needed to get the words down. There was no plan to publish or anything like that. Then, I finished their book and decided I wanted to give Justin and Kendra their own story. Only, since Justin and Kendra were already married in James and Emma’s book, I needed to go back five years and dig into their beginning which is why their book, Love, Passion and Power is book 1 and 2 in The Dark and Damaged Hearts Series.
I was almost finished Justin and Kendra’s story by the time I had my first daughter. And it was her birth and the complete and total upheaval of my life that prompted me to start writing Amy and Garrett’s story, True, Deep and Forever. Only, instead of going back even further in time to their beginning, I wanted to write about what happened after they said “I do.” Because life doesn’t end when you get married. The drama and dilemmas, the arguments and frustrations don’t immediately stop the moment you kiss at the altar and are declared “husband and wife.” If anything, all the trials and tribulations of being “bound” to someone else for the rest of your life, are just getting started when you slide on those rings.
It’s easy to see how much Garrett and Amy love each other. Their romance was intense from the very beginning. She was a bit of a wildling and he was clean-cut and trying to make a name for himself in the architectural world. Together, they grew up, got married and started a family.
But they don’t call it the “seven-year itch” for nothing.
Nobody really knows what goes on behind closed doors. Or what goes on behind a closed bedroom door.
So, I wanted to take a stab at writing a “beyond the happily ever after moment”
To show you the nitty gritty, the ups and downs of marriage and how kids, work and daily stressors can impact a couple.
Now, in no way is this a glimpse into my marriage. Not at all.
But I will say some of the conversations, the one-liners are similar to those I’ve had with my husband. And the way Amy thinks about herself, and some of the things she experienced as a new mother are reflective of how I was feeling at the time when I wrote it. The insecurities, the dark thoughts, the total disorganization and slow loss of self. This books was more than just a story for me. It was therapy.
Becoming a new mom is really fucking hard and if you know me and my writing, I don’t sugarcoat crap.
I actually had to tone things down, and cut a bunch of stuff, because in the end, I went too deep. But I still have those scenes, and they were still the therapy I needed.
You’d be surprised how much ends up on the “cutting room floor” or in the author world we call it “killing our darlings.” A lot of stuff gets cut because it ends up bogging down the story, not making sense, or not working well within the tone of the scene or book. But often those scenes or lines that get cut are some of our very best work. Our darlings. So have I them tucked away in a file, because in some ways they were like a journal for me. A way to express how I was feeling in an indirect way. It was almost like Amy was my safety veil, my nursing cover, or big baggy T-shirt to hide my mummy tummy. I’m not Amy, but I sure understand how she was feeling.
Like all the books in The Dark and Damaged Hearts series, True, Deep and Forever is a duet. In hindsight, I wish I hadn’t split them into duets, but live and learn. They originally hadn’t been separate books, but advice for various people and word-length had me tweaking the books and cutting them in half. Oh well. What’s done is done. I’m still really proud of them.
Anyway, here is a small excerpt of True, Deep and Forever: Part 1. I hope you enjoy it. 🙂
“What are you doing down here in the middle of the night … eating ice cream?” Garret asked, lazily sauntering into the kitchen and pulling out the chair next to me, knuckling sleep from his eyes. He wasn’t wearing anything besides his Fruit of the Loom boxers, and there was a healthy prickling of hair on his chin and scalp. Pillow creases ran across one side of his face, and the half-pitched tent in his pants told me he’d been having a racy dream.
“I couldn’t sleep,” I muttered, shoveling another spoonful of Turtles ice cream into my mouth, cringing immediately from the brain freeze.
Why’d I have to make my bites so bloody big?
“I’ve just got a lot on my mind.”
More like a ton on my mind. Most of that was Daxon van Camp, but a bit of it was also Christopher Weston and the thought of possibly running my own gallery. Could I do it? Since Christopher had offered me the job, I hadn’t been able to stop thinking about it. What would I name it? How would I run it? How would I decorate it? What artists would I approach? The idea of running my own gallery, or running a gallery for someone, kept sleep on the run, so instead, like any person with an addiction, I turned to my vice.
Garret nodded methodically, a half-smile turning up at the corner of his mouth when he realized there was no way in hell I was going to offer him a spoon or give him mine. We might be teaching Henry to share, but I was a grown-up, and grown-ups don’t always have to share. “Is that good ice cream?” he asked. “I can’t decide if I like the Turtles or the Rollo better.”
“Turtles all the way!” I scoffed. “The pecans are what makes it. Plus, the chocolate is better quality.”
“I seem to remember other ways, besides gorging ourselves on chocolate, at”—he leaned over to check the clock on the microwave—“two-thirty in the morning that we spent our time. And we usually always fell asleep right after. That rush of dopamine, ain’t nothing better.”
I smirked and snorted a laugh through my nose. “I’m sorry, but as much fun as being thrown down on the table and ravished right now sounds, I just can’t.”
He dropped to his knees and brought his chair around, grabbing my leg and placing my foot on the seat. “No, you can’t. But I can. It doesn’t always have to be fifty-fifty. Sometimes you can just spread your legs and let me lick your clit until you scream.” He grinned like the devil. “Let me, Ames.” His eyes lifted as he hiked up my nightshirt to my waist. “Let me make my wife feel good.”
Eight years ago, Garret Banks swept me clear off my feet, catching me before I fell on my ass.
Our love was instantaneous, all-consuming and intense. We never thought the flame would die down, let alone extinguish.
We have everything we’ve ever wanted. Successful careers, a beautiful son and a rock-solid marriage. We’re living the dream. Right?
But how quickly dreams can turn into nightmares. Garret’s job is taking its toll on him, my whole world seems to be in shambles, and now I’ve got to deal with a blast from my past I thought I’d long buried. And that past wants answers—answers I’m not willing to give.
We grab quick and dirty sex when we can, but that just doesn’t seem to be enough and our marriage feels more tested and strained than ever before.
I was sure that I’d found my knight in shining armor, my happily ever after, my forever, but my marriage is being forced to bend more than it should—more than it can. So much so that I’m afraid it might just snap.