Today I want to welcome Leah Braemel to my blog. :)
Thanks so much to Toni for inviting me to be on her blog. I love the pictures of all the places she’s been; I could get lost scrolling back through her previous posts...Ooops, I’m supposed to be telling you about me.
I’m Leah Braemel, and I’m Canadian! Though I was born in Montreal, my parents moved while I was a baby to the small town of Smiths Falls just outside of Ottawa. Then, just before I was ten, my family moved to a rural community north of, hmm, let’s say an hour or two northeast of Toronto. They were building a house on ten acres a couple miles north of a ... well, some generous folks called it a town. Others more truthfully called it a village. My mother calls it a hamlet. You see, the road signs claim its population was 250. If you noticed the sign as you whizzed past it on the highway, that is. Blink and you’d miss it. It had a hardware store, a gas station (a single pump), and a grocery store that was the lower floor of a house. A commuter train would rattle through it twice a day, once on its way into Toronto, and once on its way back out. The main crops were cows, corn and Christmas trees. (See where my love of alliteration got its start?)
When we moved there, they’d just closed down their one-room school houses and built a brand new 15 classroom school the year before. Some parents weren’t too happy that their kids were being bussed halfway across the township to that “other” town. Oh, the school wasn’t really near any of the three villages in the municipality. The school board built it in the exact middle of the township, at a junction of the two highways that transected the area, specifically so no one could complain, but that wasn’t good enough for some folks. They wanted their kids raised with their area’s kids, not the kids from that other area.
For someone who had previously lived in a larger town (Smith Falls boasted almost 10,000 people when we lived in it), their objections were funny. Because everyone in my class seemed to be related to everyone whether they were from Village A, Village B or Village C or any of the county lines in between. There were four or maybe five surnames in my class. Strong. White. Preston. Gallagher. Fallis. Maybe there were a couple of other names thrown in there on occasion. Billy White was third cousin to Bobby Preston who was the nephew of Mrs. Fallis, the grade six teacher. Billy lived in Village A, Bobby lived in Village B and Mrs. Fallis lived in Village C. As you can imagine, part of living in such an intertwined community mean everyone knew everyone else’s business. And everyone had an opinion about everything everyone else was doing and they weren’t hesitant to voice it.
So when I was writing Texas Tangle, even though it was set in a different country, I felt fairly confident that my characters would be dealing with similar rural grapevines. (Those grapevines can be deeply rooted, and thorny!) And I confess, it didn’t hurt that one of my critique partners owns the horse farm in the second picture, and she could confirm that, indeed, rural life in her part of Texas was pretty similar to how I’d been raised. Oh, the euphemisms may have been different, and the speech patterns, along with the heat (or lack of it) but family life--farm life--was the same whether north or south. Look at these two pictures – other than the snow, country is country. Animals need to be fed and cared for, crops need to be sewn and land tilled. And people are people. Driven by the same needs, the same desires.
Texas Tangle is about a set of friends, Dillon and Brett, who both love the same woman, Nikki. At first, they ask Nikki to choose between them. But something happens later, and they realize there might be another choice, a more scandalous choice. For Nikki to choose them both. But can you imagine living in a rural community when you’re deciding to thumb your nose at societal standards? The gossip Nikki would have to endure if she agrees to their arrangement is a very real concern for her—she’s already gone through her share of gossip thanks to her cheating husband. And it’s an issue the guys have to address to help convince her their suggestion should be taken seriously. Because if they can’t, someone’s going to end up having to walk away, from everything they love and need.
The story would have been totally different if they’d lived in the city where you don’t know your neighbor’s name.
Oh, and that village near my parents’? It’s doubled its population – last time I went up there, the sign said 500! But do those folks “back home” know what I write, you ask? Well, my mom does. Although come to think of it, despite me showing Mom my previous book Personal Protection, I’m still not sure she understands that I write erotic romance. But if word gets out, well, maybe it’s a good thing I don’t live in a small town anymore...
Thanks to her cheating ex-husband and her thieving brother, all horse breeder Nikki Kimball has left is a bruised heart, an overdrawn bank account and an empty home. When sex-on-legs Dillon Barnett and his brooding foster-brother Brett Anderson start showing more than just neighborly attention, Nikki is intrigued…and a little gun-shy.
Dillon and Brett have a history; back in high school, the two friends fought a bitter battle over Nikki. Now, ten years later, Brett still longs to be the man in Nikki’s life, but he’s determined to stand back and let Dillon win Nikki’s heart.
Society says Nikki must choose between the two men she loves. Is Nikki strong enough to break all the rules in order to find happiness?
Read an excerpt here and here. Or you can download the entire first chapter. You can pre-order Texas Tangle from Carina Press.
If you want to know more about TEXAS TANGLE, or any other of Leah’s books, visit her website or her blog. You can also find Leah on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.