Spotlight & Guest Post: ★Anything But Broken★ by Joelle Knox

Spotlight-ABBANYTHING BUT BROKEN
Series: Hurricane Creek #1
Genre: New Adult Romance
Author: Joelle Knox
Release Date: August 25, 2015add-to-goodreads-button3

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After five years, tragedy brings Hannah Casey back to Hurricane Creek to bury what’s left of her family. She’s flunking out of college, haunted by scandal, and the only person who cares is Sean Whitlow, an irresistible bad boy with a soft spot for her. The problem? He’s her dead sister’s ex.

Sean doesn’t bleed red, he bleeds motor oil. During the week, he struggles to turn his auto repair shop into a profitable business. But when Saturday night rolls around, he’s the reigning stock-car king of the local race track. He doesn’t know how to lose–or how to walk away and leave Hannah alone with her grief.

Between her grades and her wealthy family’s dark secrets, Hannah’s barely holding her life together. And the last thing Sean needs is to get tangled up with another Casey girl. As the attraction between them spins out of control, they’ll either find a love with no limits–or go up in flames.

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AbB2Excerpt

I don’t stay in bed. By the time Sean comes knocking on Evie’s front door, I’ve washed my face, brushed my teeth, and torn through my room, kicking dirty clothes into the closet and wondering how I made such a damn mess when I don’t even have all my things with me.​

I’m at the door before I remember I forgot to change, and it’s too late now. So I answer the door in my pajamas—cotton shorts and a tank top that feels transparent right now.

“Hey. Come on in.”

“Good morning.” He actually did something, one of the bright blue boxes from the bakery down the street from the boutique, and he hands it to me as he walks in.

“Thank you.” I carry the box into the living room, where my quilting supplies are spread out on the floor in front of the TV. Evie helped me sort scraps last night, and I went to bed without putting anything away. “Are you thirsty? I can make coffee, or we have some Cokes.”

“The bakery thinks of everything.” He tilts his head toward the box, and I open it to find two covered cups of coffee nestled inside along with the pastries.

“You’re going to spoil me,” I tell him as I sit on the couch. The coffee table is another of those pieces that looks either cosmetically distressed or lovingly salvaged—only now I know which. Evie finds them at flea markets and yard sales, dropping ten dollars on pieces of furniture no one wants, only to turn around and make them beautiful.

Just like Sean and his car—or me with my scrap quilts, I guess. Maybe we’re all obsessed with rescuing broken things.

Sean takes one of the coffees and sprawls out beside me, one arm looped casually around my shoulders. “Got any plans for today?”

Just the hospital later, but I don’t feel like bringing it up. So I reach for one of the pastries instead, breaking off a corner to nibble. “Not really. I need to open up my laptop and actually deal with some of my email, I guess.”

“Sounds fun.” He wrinkles his nose as he leans his head back and closes his eyes. “I left Gibb alone at the garage.”

I should probably feel guilty about that, but it’s hard to when he’s here, next to me, and I get to snuggle into his side as I eat breakfast. “I’m sure he can handle it. He seems really good at his job. Evie says he is, anyway.”

“She’s right.” Sean tilts his head my way and opens one eye. “You look good.”

My cheeks aren’t the only part of me that heat at the compliment. I abandon the pastry and coffee in favor of curling closer to him, because every point of contact means another giddy spark of anticipation.

It’s easier to flirt with him in text messages, but I try to capture a hint of that mischief as

I smile at him. “I stayed in my pajamas just for you.”

“I like it.” The back of his hand brushes my bare thigh.

An accident? I don’t want it to be. Holding my breath, I shift closer, chasing his fingers.

But he hasn’t moved, so I wind up rubbing my leg against his hand.
Sean is watching me now. “Does Evie come home for lunch?”

I don’t think I’ve been here long enough to know for sure, and I can’t remember right now, anyway. Because that’s not what he’s really asking. This isn’t safe like the lake, with people nearby to keep us from going too far.

Whatever too far means.

“I think she might be meeting Sawyer for lunch,” I tell him, because I know she talked about it. Was it today? God, I hope so, because I can’t think with Sean watching me.

He slides his free hand into my hair and cups my neck. He doesn’t say anything, but he’s utterly focused on my mouth, and he draws in a sharp breath when I lick my lips.

It’s the reminder I need—that I’m not the only one caught in the grip of needy hunger. I press my hand to his chest, splaying my fingers wide. Not to hold him back, but to brace myself as I lean in.

He lifts me into his lap instead, his steely grip a shocking reminder of his strength. I end up perched on his thighs, my knees riding alongside his hips. Straddling him, and it’s nothing like the lake. We might be wearing more clothing—well, he is—but there’s no darkness or water to hide behind.

He can watch my cheeks flush, and he can watch that warmth spread. My tank top is too thin to hide the tightening tips of my nipples, so I crush my chest to his and kiss him before reality can catch up with me.

But it isn’t reality that crashes into me a heartbeat later. It’s sensation, the tightness spreading into a deeper heat as his tongue slicks over mine, and his fingertips edge beneath the hem of my tank top.

I want to melt. Everything inside me is screaming for it, but I break away and pant against his cheek. “I should tell you. That I still don’t—that I’m not ready—”

“For sex?” His voice is low, hoarse. Filthy.

I never thought anything could weaken my resolve. But I didn’t know I could feel like this—flustered and turned on and achy. Empty, and just thinking that makes me feel debauched. “Can we still do other stuff?”

His chest rumbles beneath mine, and his hands slide higher up my back. “Hell, yeah.”

AbB1

Guest PostBree Bridges is one half of the co-writing partnership behind Joelle Knox, Kit Rocha and Moira Rogers. Together with her best friend Donna Herren, she’s written over a dozen novels and over fifty novellas and short stories. Anything but Broken is their first New Adult romance.

Sometimes I like to joke that I have a New Adult backstory, and that it was only a matter of time until I switched to writing New Adult instead of remembering living it. But that doesn’t mean Anything but Broken is my story. The New Adult we wrote may involve tragedy and heartbreak and dark, dramatic secrets—but it’s still more believable than my own story.

When I was nineteen, I dropped out of college. At the time, most people who knew me were shocked. I’d been a very dedicated student and had started college as a freshman with enough AP and college credits to make me almost a junior. I had been awarded scholarships and living stipends from a very prestigious business school. There was just one problem.

I didn’t belong there.

I hated business school. I spent most of my time in my room reading and learning how to program websites because I wanted to build fanfiction archives. (Isn’t that why everyone learns to build websites?) The friends I made were online, and the communities I joined were virtual. In the late 90s, that made you a bit of an outsider.

One of those friends lived in California. In 2000, I flew across the country to join her there. She got me a job working on websites. I tried—I really tried! But I was twenty, and still a bit of a hot mess. Building websites for businesses wasn’t as exciting and rewarding as building websites for fanfiction. Who would have guessed?!

Within four months, I’d been downsized. I found a job selling non-denominational angel products. (Yes, non-denominational angel products are, indeed, a thing.) It wasn’t paying the bills, and the bills in California demand a lot of paying.

Another friend from the internet met me in Los Angeles for my twenty-first birthday, where we drank too much and tipsily convinced a band’s drummer to update their website’s security. (Nerd girls know how to party.)

I told my friend I was running out of money. She said, “Hey, come live with me. It’s cheaper in Alabama.”

That friend was Donna. In May of 2001, she flew to California to help me pack my books and my clunky computer into boxes. I abandoned everything else, including my overdrafted checking account, and climbed onto a Greyhound bus with $25 in my pocket.

I called my parents from Texas to tell them I was moving to Alabama. They said, Can we talk about this?! I said, Sorry, the bus is about to leave! I’ll call you from Mississippi maybe! Please don’t try this at home, kids.

After over fifty hours on multiple buses and a few experiences we won’t tell you until we’ve had three drinks, minimum, I arrived in Alabama. I was twenty-one. Broke. More than a little adrift. And I still had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up.

That night, I met my husband at a comic book store. On December 31st, we went on our first date. Within eight months, we were engaged. We got married at twenty-four, and celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary last year.

On the first day of business school in the fall of 1998, the teacher made us go around the room and say where we wanted to be in ten years. I listened to my classmates talk with passion about high-powered meetings and executive suites and fancy cars, and I knew then that I didn’t belong there, even if it took me almost a year to admit it out loud.

When I’m uncomfortable, I crack jokes. So when it was my turn, I said, “Hey, I just want to work at home in my pajamas.”

Ten years later, in the summer of 2008, Donna and I released our first published story. Within two years I was a full-time writer, working at home in my pajamas and having the best damn time of my life. So I guess I always knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. It just took me ten years to realize I wasn’t joking.

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