I started Plumb Twisted in April and currently have about one third of the novel written. I'm looking forward to getting the story out of my head and into my computer. The romance is set in the small town of Fortuna where everyone knows everything and the men can't get enough romance novels to read.
Q: What happens when you mix a gun toting, action and adventure loving, plumber's daughter with a town saturated with romance?
A: A fast flowing escapade where even the clogs won't stop the reader from circling the drain wanting more, especially when you throw in a perverted town prankster, a horny old lady and sexy cowboy addicted to romance novels.
Piper McCracken's father suddenly dies prompting her to make a bold change from life in the Windy City to the Double D Ranch in Fortuna, Texas. Hired by Jessie Barnes to be secretary she becomes much more: personal assistant, friend and... intimate apparel model?
Tall, sexy, cowboy Cole Dart works at the Big Deal Ranch, next to the Double D, and doesn't know what to make of the strong-willed Chicago native who wins bar fights against men, sings like an angel or is a woman who would rather be riding a horse instead of going shopping or doing her nails like other ladies.
When Piper's stalker ex-fiancé comes to town and a tornado strikes Cole sees a fragile side of her that kicks his protective instinct into high gear. An unlikely friendship between Piper and Cole leads to more when the romantic juices start flowing in this Fortuna, Texas love story.
They arrived at Stitts' truck stop. Piper’s quizzical face glanced around the room at the people, taking it all in. Cole tried not to stare at the girl but it proved hard not to watch her first encounter with a Texas truck stop.
“There are three men reading romance novels,” she said in awe.
The place was packed, mostly with men but there were a few women and children. She was right. “I’m surprised it’s not more.”
“Really?” said the shocked woman.
“See that bookshelf? It’s a major exchange center for the book trade.”
“You’ll have to ask Miss Jessie about how it started,” he began to explain.
A man came in and placed two books on the shelf then ran his finger down the spines in the line and pulled out another. He stood there reading the back and must have liked it. He picked out two more then left.
“Did you see that man?” She nodded. “He’s a farmer. Owns a couple hundred acres, a modest spread and loves romances.”
“Ah, romance books. This is what you were referring too?” Her cheeks pinked up.
“Yes,” he cleared his throat which suddenly went dry. “It started with a personal challenge to one man, a dare, he didn’t back down from it. He liked the book and dared others to read it too then it spread like wild fire on dry prairie grass.”
They ordered and sipped rich dark coffee. “This is good coffee.” She cupped the ceramic mug like it was ambrosia. He leaned back and relaxed, happy to have pleased her.
“So who dared you?” She asked him.
He nearly spit out the coffee he drank.
“I mean why do you read them?” Somehow she knew he liked to read.
“I like the stories.”
“You mean you like the sex.” She grinned calling him out. Sure, he was a man and liked the steamy sex scenes but that wasn’t the whole reason he read them.
“I like happy endings,” he offered with a shrug. She raised a skeptical brow. “Okay, I like the love scenes but only because of the love.” His face felt hot.
The food arrived and they ate in silence with the exception of an occasional comment about the taste of the food. After she pushed an empty plate away she asked, “Are all cowboys like you?”
Uh oh. “Like, how?”
“You know, crunchy on the outside, gooey on the inside?”
He started laughing. “Most likely,” he answered as another man took more books.
“I don’t like romance novels,” she admitted in a quiet voice. Before he could ask she started to explain. “The heroines are usually too soft. I don’t like to read about weak women. Plus those men are always perfect looking, acting and rich. You can’t find your soul-mate in a romance book.”
“But you might find personality traits you like,” he offered. She shrugged not buying it. “I don’t see the women as weak only flawed with obstacles to overcome. That’s more realistic.”
“That’s true. Everyone has flaws.”
“What’s yours?” he asked with a smirk.
“Liking the wrong kind of men,” she muttered.
“That’s a cop out answer.” He unfairly asked so he offered her his shortcoming. It was only fair. “I’m self-conscious about my looks.”
She inspected him critically. “Most people are.”
“It keeps me from talking and interacting with people. I get nervous and won’t go places if there’s a crowd.” He leaned closer and said the words quietly. It was years since the operation and therapy but it still affected him.
“You’re fine, Cole. You’re more than fine. Look, you’re talking to me and I’m a stranger and a woman.”
He nodded. “Normally, I’d be a basket case of nerves.”
“Looks are all personal taste. Someone might think you’re ugly and someone might think your the sexiest man alive. The thing you have to ask yourself is: does their opinion matter to me?” She smiled sweetly.
“What’s your opinion?” he needed to know.
“Does it matter to you what I think?”
“Yes. It matters greatly.” He replied and it was true but he didn’t want to ask himself why. The smile that lit her face made his heart shift into second gear.
“Well, Cole, I like the crunchy-gooey combo. It’s very appealing.” Her cheeks blushed and long eyelashes hid her eyes as she looked at the table. “I find you,” she paused and hoped to find the right word.
“Pretty, right?” said a short old woman as she slid into booth next to Cole and pinched his cheek. “This one’s a hot tamale.”
“Hello, My heart’s Desire,” welcomed the embarrassed man. “This is Piper McCracken. Piper this is Desire Hardmann.”
“Hello, young lady.” She took Piper’s hand and held it. With a wink she yelled to a man with a white apron, “Hey, Hugh Stitts! Come over her and meet Cole Dart’s Russian mail order bride.”