Love in the Adirondacks—
where hearts come together
like the moon and the stars
shining bright in the sky,
showing the boats
the way home at night.
USA Today Bestselling Author
Her world as she knew stopped.
And then he walked in.
Tiki Johnson had a perfect life. A wonderful career and a loving boyfriend. Or so she thought. In an instant, everything changed. Her boyfriend left her for another woman—her boss—who decided her services were no longer needed. Feeling as though she needs a break from life, she takes the family boat to the narrows for a camping trip. Alone. All she wants is a little time and space to re-group and plan her next steps. She never expected to meet a sexy stranger who offers her a distraction from her problems.
Lake Grant has been going to Lake George for years. He loves to camp and fish and spend time forgetting whom his mother is while pretending he doesn’t come from New York royalty. When he first meets Tiki, he’s totally amused by her inability to camp, but even more, so that she has no idea who he is. It’s a novelty he’s not used to. And frankly, he doesn’t trust. However, the longer he spends time with Tiki, the more his heart begs him to do the one thing he swore to his mother he’d never do.
Fall in love.
All in one horrible day, Tiki Johnson lost just about everything, her job first followed by her boyfriend. The one was good riddance the other economics but they both hurt. After commiserating with her sisters, she decides to go camping alone. The real thing on one of the islands, not like they used to do in the yard. She has the skills; her father just couldn’t bring himself to take them to the real campsites after his brother died. She’s going to use this time to write a book. It was her passion to become an author one day but had listened to someone who shouldn’t have mattered and let the dream die.
Lake Grant goes camping every year at the same time. No one knows where he goes exactly since he has his assistant lay a fake trail to the Caribbean. Being the acquisitions editor at Grant Publishing takes all his time and he really wants to write his own book. It will also give the tabloids time to turn their attention elsewhere. He’d been photographed with Sarah, an old college girlfriend, now friend and they’d been all over it. She was dating his friend Paolo and knew the important question was going to be asked very soon. The gossip just wouldn’t leave it alone.
Lake is already set up when Tiki arrives her boat laden with supplies. Being a gentleman, he assists her in getting everything to her campsite next to his and he extends the offer of help should she need it. Turns out she does and invites him to dinner. It’s as they are enjoying the wine he brought, that she asks what he does for a living. She’s surprise to find he’s an acquiring editor and he gets a bit suspicious.
This is a favorite scene.
“Truth be told, that’s one of the many reasons I decided to go camping alone. To work on a novel. But I can’t say I have something worth pitching to an editor yet, so it would be silly for me to waste your time. Besides, that’s not why you’re here.”
“I appreciate that.” Lake rested his hands on the table. “To be honest, when I tell people what I do, either they tell me about the great American novel that they haven’t written yet but plan to or shove their manuscript in my face and tell me I’m going to want to offer them a contract immediately.”
“That sounds unpleasant and I can promise you that I won’t do either. However, I do have another question. Do you only take agented material?”
“In general, yes. But that doesn’t mean I won’t look at an unagented novel. It just depends on how I come across the author. I attend two conferences a year where I take pitches. Those come in from authors who aren’t represented. Every once in a blue moon, I find a diamond in the rough. Occasionally, a writer approaches me somewhere and the idea blows me away, so I’m intrigued, and I’ll ask to see the first chapter or two. But outside of that, I usually let agents vet the material for me.”
Tiki wanted to ask for a business card, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. She could hear Tayla’s voice whispering in the back of her mind that she was missing a golden opportunity, but she did have a week before she and Lake parted as neighbors. That should give her enough time to establish the idea she wasn’t going to be one of those crazy writers he spoke of.
However, the problem she faced was the fact that even though she had written a few things over the years, nothing was ready to be seen by a publisher. Or even an agent. If she wrote every single day and her sisters and Gael were still willing to be her beta readers, she might have something in a month.
But that was if all the stars were aligned.
“You don’t have to worry about me talking your ear off about my book. I’ve barely flushed it out and I’m kind of fumbling around with it. So, I’m nowhere near ready to share it with a seasoned editor.”
“I don’t do this for everyone, but I’ll give you my business card, and when your novel is finished, feel free to send it to me. If it’s not something I personally am interested in, and if I think it’s good, I’ll recommend it to another editor at my publishing house.”
“That’s very kind of you, but you don’t even know the genre. What if you don’t publish what I write?”
“I know people. If it’s good, I’ll get it in front of someone who will.”
“And if it sucks?” She inhaled slowly and let it out with a swish. That was exactly the kind of attitude that had been crushing her dream for years. Butterflies jumped around in her belly. In high school, most of her teachers told her she had a flair for the written word. That praise continued in college. However, all it took was one person to read some of her fiction work and tell her that she didn’t have it. That what she’d written was basically garbage. That no editor or agent would give it breath.
Tiki never took into consideration the source of this critique. Because it came from a person in power and someone she admired, she took it as gospel instead of either one person’s opinion or, perhaps, one person’s jealousy.
And then there was Josh. His criticism didn’t come in the form of a critique of her work. No, he had a special way of making her feel bad about herself in general. He could have been trying to tear her down, something she had to come to terms with, and that was something she didn’t enjoy facing.
Her sisters were something entirely different. While they did often give her negative feedback, it was always laced with how much they loved it and how talented they thought she was. They loved her and would always have her back.
“Will you be honest with me? Or will I get some standard rejection letter? Or some kind words like it’s good but not for us.”
“What would you like?” Lake held her gaze. He had such honest eyes and it drove her crazy. It was as if she could see right past his heart and into his soul. Even with the sensitivity he carried, he also had a touch of mystery to him which drew her in like a piece of candy on Halloween.
“Complete honesty,” she said without reservation as she stiffened her spine. “I want to know if I have what it takes.”
“What have others told you about your work?”
That was a loaded question. Insecurity settled in her gut, swirling around like a massive hurricane waiting to make landfall. She’d stopped showing anyone her work because she worried she wouldn’t be able to take their criticism. If it was praise, she wouldn’t believe them, so it was quite the conundrum. “No one whose opinion matters has seen it.”
He pursed his lips and tilted his head. “Most authors wouldn’t admit to something like that. May I ask how long you’ve been writing to be published?”
She glanced at her watch. “About five hours.”
“Are you writing longhand? Or did you bring a laptop?”
After they’d gotten her campsite settled, she’d taken her computer and sat on the other side of the tent, out of view of Lake, but not so much because she didn’t want him to see her, but because of where the sun came through the trees. “I’m doing both, but I prefer the click of my fingers on the keyboard. Plus, my brain works so fast it’s hard to write longhand. I tend to jot ideas down and outline. Or at least that’s what I think my process will be.”
“Do you have a book plotted? Or do you think you’re a pantser?”
“Oh, I don’t believe in pantsing. That’s just one big hot mess of an outline.”
Lake arched a brow. “How do you know if you just started writing to be published?”
“I’ve been dabbling in writing my whole life. And while I don’t have anything that I think is publishable, I have written things. Short stories and what I guess you would call novellas since I was in middle school. I’ve started a dozen novels; however, I never finished one. Not because I didn’t think I could, but because it wasn’t something anyone thought was a bonified career path. Even me way back when.”
“What is it that you do now?”
“I’m between jobs,” she admitted. “But I was a paralegal.”
“Lawyers are usually excellent writers because they understand the English language better than the average person.”
She chuckled. “I’m not a lawyer, but English— specifically literature— was my favorite subject.”
“How do you feel about me taking a look at your work now?” He raised his glass and sipped, but his gaze never left hers and it was unnerving.
Along with the suggestion.
She’d barely shown people she loved what she’d been working on over the last few years.
Sharing it with a complete stranger while it was raw and unedited could be disastrous considering what Lake did for a living. He could take one look at the crappy words she’d put on the screen and her career would be over before it started.
“It’s a rough draft. And I mean rough. What I wrote today I haven’t had the chance to go back and fix up and make look pretty.”
“I’ve been editing for a long time and there is a huge difference between good writing and good storytelling. The former means nothing if you can’t master the latter. I can overlook bad grammar and spelling and even some stupid rookie mistakes if an author has a unique voice and can tell a fabulous story.”
“I bet you say that to all the girls.”
“Only to the ones whom I help set up tents with.” He winked. “This is an opportunity because you happen to be at the campsite next to me and you’re not being pushy. I believe I am a good judge of character and you’re being genuine with me, so I don’t mind. I can tell you if what you’re doing has merit and give you some suggestions on where to go so that you have the best chance of getting picked up by a publisher or an agent, or both. Or whatever it is you want. If I were you, I’d take advantage of it.”
She lifted her gaze and focused on the setting sun. The sky had turned a breathtaking purplish-blue. A few boats hummed by the island. Laughter filled the cool summer air. “I’ll be honest, I’m utterly terrified to show you because if you tell me that I’m so far off the mark, I’ll be packing up this tent and going home to look for a real job.”
He reached across the table, grabbed her hand, and squeezed. “Writing is a real job and don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise.”
“Thank you for that.”
“Now go get me your computer and I’ll have you email me what you’ve got.”
She blew out a puff of air as if to get rid of her fear. Only it stayed as a big pit of energy in the center of her gut. “All right. But if it’s the worst slosh you’ve ever read, please let me down easy.”
Jen Talty. Shattered Dreams ARC (Kindle Locations 837-908). Jupiter Press.
Tiki hasn’t explored the actual publishing world yet. She wants to have something worthy of submitting before diving into that. As such she’s never heard of Lake, a fact he finds hard to believe. Especially from an aspiring author. He just can’t help himself from offering to read what she has written so far.
There’s a definite attraction, and since things are going well, you just know something has to happen. Indeed, it does and not in a pleasant way.
I couldn’t put this book down, there was something fun, interesting, sexy, or intriguing on just about every page.
I can’t wait to read the next book in this series.
5 Contented Purrs for Jen!
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Welcome to my World! I’m a USA Today Bestseller of Romantic Suspense, Contemporary Romance, and Paranormal Romance.
I first started writing while carting my kids to one hockey rink after the other, averaging 170 games per year between 3 kids in 2 countries and 5 states. My first book, IN TWO WEEKS was originally published in 2007. In 2010 I helped form a publishing company (Cool Gus Publishing) with NY Times Bestselling Author Bob Mayer where I ran the technical side of the business through 2016.
I’m currently enjoying the next phase of my life…the empty NESTER! My husband and I spend our winters in Jupiter, Florida and our summers in Rochester, NY. We have three amazing children who have all gone off to carve out their places in the world, while I continue to craft stories that I hope will make you readers feel good and put a smile on your face.