When Pelican Book Group asked me to write a “New Adult” novella for their Pure Amore line, I jumped at the chance. I had a story in mind that came from the heart. A large part of this book harkens back to my teenage years, to a boy I had a huge crush on. He was definitely in the “elite” segment of our church youth group—the cool kids I so longed to be a part of.
In A Semi-Sweet Summer, I tried to transfer some of that raging angst into fodder for Cassidy’s discomfort in finding her unrequited love living right next door. Cassidy never really fit in, hardly that enviable cheerleader, not a person that anyone would notice. Rather, she sees herself as sort of an ugly duckling. Can anybody out there relate?
Cassidy Cooper is back in town. Ten years earlier, she’d given her heart to a boy who’d humiliated her deeply. As the beneficiary of her sister’s estate, she’s determined to accomplish her sister’s dream, a chocolate truffle shop.
Hunter Gray is intrigued by his new neighbor. His escape artist cow, Marigold, engineers an introduction…but it’s not the impression he was hoping for. Baffled by the suspicion he’s seen this woman before, he plots to win Cassidy’s heart.
With her unrequited love interest living so close, Cassidy prays for strength. Hunter? He just wants to get to know the pretty girl next door.
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With weighted steps, Cassidy headed toward the car and crumpled into the passenger seat. “Where’d you get all that energy, Gabby? Don’t country people meander?”
She vaguely remembered when her life felt more like a brisk walk than the frantic gallop of her life in the big city. Vaguely.
“Us country-people tend to stroll through life and enjoy the journey—unless there’s fried chicken involved. Then it’s every man, woman, or child for themselves. Ready?” Gabby shifted into gear and prepared for take-off.
Out of the corner of Cassidy’s eye, something huge and decidedly bovine moved over by her property line. “Hold up.”
Gabby pulled up short and Cassidy stiff-legged it out of the car. She strode across the lawn, her heels sinking into clover with every step. When she was ten feet away from a mangled fence, she spied a man headed in her direction, picking his way across the field next door. His periwinkle-blue cotton shirt stretched across broad, muscular shoulders, his thick, dark-brown hair was ruffled by the light breeze.
OK, he had nice, wide shoulders, but she had a damaged fence. She stepped closer. The oxford button-down fit him as if it was made for his fine physique. Her ex-boyfriend’s London tailor couldn’t have done any better.
Cassidy moved another step closer. The man’s chestnut-brown eyes, with a hint of copper, zeroed in on hers as he swiped an errant lock of hair off his forehead.
The blast from her past nearly slapped her to the ground. In high school, she’d pined for this man from afar. In her adolescent journal, she’d waxed lyrical about his many fine attributes. She’d lain awake countless nights dreaming of the dimples in his face, his broad chest…and his lips.
And then, at the end of her sophomore year, he’d ruined it all. Her passion swung the other direction—hatred for his despicable self.
Hunter whistled through his teeth, a slow smile gracing his lips. “Well, hello, neighbor.”
“Is that your animal on my lawn?” She knew a bovine when she saw one, and this one was impressive. Long, long legs, massive hooves, and…who knew cows could be so whopping enormous?
The cow turned dark, liquid eyes on Cassidy and she could swear the creature smirked. Wickedly. As if it were claiming the lawn as its own.
“Oh, you mean Marigold?”
He named his cows after flowers? “Yes. Why is Marigold on my lawn?”
“What can I say? She’s the adventurous type.” He pushed a hand through hair the color of brisk iced tea—that wavy, tousled hair. “Don’t worry. I’ll fix your fence.”
She screwed up her face until she found the semblance of a smile. “Fine. And I’d appreciate it if you’d get your cow off my turf. Now.”
Why wasn’t she over this stomach-clenching angst? She’d forgiven him years ago, so why did the rusty barb of humiliation pin her like a bug to a board?
She smothered a sigh just as the recalcitrant cow lifted her tail and plopped a cow-pie on spring-green grass.
JAN ELDER is an inspirational romance writer with a passion for telling relateable stories. She strives to write novels that will strengthen the reader’s faith, while also providing an entertaining and engrossing love story. She lives in Maryland with her beloved husband and two pampered cats.
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