When I hit junior high, my dad retired from the Marines and moved back home to Idaho, to the tiniest damn town you’ve never heard of, with a population of 200. We had more cows in this town than people, by a long shot.
I hated it there.
I didn’t fit in; my classmates teased and bullied me to within an inch of my life.
I finally broke and quit school one day. I went up to the school secretary, Charlie, who’d graduated from this same school 30 years earlier in the same graduating class as my father (a graduating class of five, I might add), and I told her that I was quitting school. Either my parents would get me into a new school, or I would homeschool, but I was never coming back to this school again.
Charlie took a long look at me and finally said quietly, “Okay.” She didn’t call the cops and tell them that I was a truant sophomore; she just let me walk out the front door. (Which goes to show that there are some positives to small-town living).
I never returned. I ended up getting into another school 45 minutes away, and spent the next three years of my life commuting 45 minutes each way to school so I could graduate from a school that didn’t slowly torture me into insanity.
When I sat down to write the McLain sisters’ stories, I wanted to show what that was like – to be pushed around and bullied until you simply break, because you have no choice.
And then you get up and you keep going, because you have no choice.
In many ways, Ivy McLain is nothing like me. She’s an artist; I’m lucky to draw a decent stick figure. She moved to the big city; I never really did (I don’t like traffic and honking, what can I say?) She hates snow and the cold; I like it. (I’m weird, there’s no doubt about it). She can ice skate beautifully; I am lucky not to kill myself or break an extremity when I’m dumb enough to actually get onto the ice.
But in some ways, Ivy is more like me than any other person I’ve ever written.
I hope you read and love this story as much as I loved writing it.
Ivy McLain’s grand scheme of making it big? Yeah, it’s going nowhere fast. Every day, her dreams of a fabulous art career are fading a little more. And just when she didn’t believe things could get any worse, her parents plan their huge 40th anniversary party.
In cold, snowy Podunk, Idaho.
It’s been five years since Ivy’s stepped foot in her hometown, and that was on purpose, thankyouverymuch. The oversized wide spot in the road holds nothing but truly awful memories for her.
All right, fine.
She’s stuck having to return, and she’s stuck playing the part of a dutiful daughter, but that doesn’t mean she has to like it.
All of that changes the moment she meets a rugged cowboy with a slow and sexy smile.
Okay, bowls him over and spills his drink everywhere. Details, details…
Up next: A girl to tear your heart apart…
Austin Bishop is hiding from the world in the small, mountain town of Sawyer, Idaho.
Okay, maybe not from the world, but definitely from the females of the world.
It isn’t that he thinks they have cooties. After all, he’d had a childhood sweetheart who he’d loved with all of his heart and soul for five years…right up until she dumped him. Receiving her engagement ring in the mail wasn’t exactly the Christmas present he’d been hoping for that year.
That’s all behind him, though. He is girl-free, and thrilled to be that way. Never better. Couldn’t be happier, actually.
All the way up until he runs, quite literally, into the most beautiful, curvy redhead he’s ever seen in his life. Suddenly, canoodling under the mistletoe seems like the best Christmas activity this side of eating homemade snickerdoodles. A fling with no strings attached? There’s no better way to celebrate the holidays.
Except, partway through the twelve days of Christmas, it stops being a fling and starts feeling like a whole lot more.
But Ivy is hiding secrets, and so is he.
When their secrets unravel, can their relationship last? Or will their Christmas romance fizzle once the eggnog runs out?
Christmas of Love is the fifth novella in the Long Valley world, although all books in the Long Valley world can be read as standalones.