Sunday, September 14, 2014

More Than A Rancher By: Claire McEwen

More Than A Rancher
By: Claire McEwen
Releasing September 2nd, 2014
Harlequin: Superromance


Does he dare follow her lead?

Ballroom dancer Jenna Stevens is done with all things romance. It’s so much more satisfying to focus on her career. That is, until she meets Sandro Salazar – a handsome, brooding small-town chef and sometimes rancher. Jenna is drawn to him immediately, but there’s no way Sandro could fit into her fast-paced, urban life.

Still, as she gets to know this reformed bad boy, she begins to wonder if maybe their two worlds can merge. One thing’s for certain – Jenna will have to take the lead if she has any hope of Sandro seeing what’s possible for the two of them… together.

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Author Info

Claire McEwen lives by the ocean in Northern California with her husband, son and a scruffy, mischievous terrier. When not dreaming up new stories, she can be found digging in her garden with a lot of enthusiasm but, unfortunately, no green thumb. She loves discovering flea-market treasures, walking on the beach, dancing, traveling and reading, of course!

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Jenna is trying to convince Sandro to let his little brother Paul study ballroom dance. Sandro refuses and he and Jenna argue.  In this excerpt, their argument is coming to an end…

Sandro watched Paul go and then looked at Jenna. He must have seen the outrage in her eyes because he set the cooler on the counter and sighed. He looked away, running his fingers through his unruly hair in a gesture of frustration. “You must think I’m a jerk.”
            “Pretty much,” Jenna answered truthfully.
            “I’ve got my reasons.” He looked almost as sullen as Paul.
            “I’m sure you think you do. But I wasn’t kidding when I told you he’s got talent. He’s a natural. Why won’t you let him pursue it?”
            Sandro shook his head. “You wouldn’t get it, Jenna. You grew up in San Francisco, right? With Mommy and Daddy signing you up for your ballet classes and clapping at your recitals?”
            She nodded. It had been true, once.
            “It’s different out here,” Sandro told her.
            “Wait.” Jenna stopped him. Her heart ached for Paul. She knew what it was like to want, more than anything, to dance. “I’ll be right back.”
            Jenna went back to the hall for her purse, found her wallet and took out a business card. On the back of it she scribbled her cell phone number and her weekend class schedule. She returned to the kitchen, relieved to see that Sandro had waited. She pressed the card into his hand. “Take this,” she ordered, “in case you change your mind.”
            Sandro studied the card for a moment. When he looked up, he was half smiling. “There’s glitter on your business card.”
            “It’s ballroom dance. We’re way into our glitter. And sequins.” She tried not to sound defensive.
            “Well, thanks, but I won’t be calling,” he told her, shoving the card into his back pocket, the hint of humor vanishing.
            “Why not?” This was all so mysterious. Clearly she wasn’t going to win this argument, and she wanted to understand why.
            He must have seen it in her face, because the steel in him softened just a little. “Because I can see down the road for Paul and it isn’t pretty. I wanted to cook and my family and my friends gave me nonstop grief for being different. I handled it, but it made me a lonely, angry kid. Eventually it made me a runaway. I don’t want that for my little brother.”
            Jenna studied the stern lines of his face, new sympathy filtering through the irritation and frustration. Sandro might be misguided, but his motives were pure—he was protecting the brother he loved.
But poor Paul was going to have some long, bitter teenage years ahead if he wasn’t allowed to dance until he left home. She couldn’t do much more for him, but she had to try. “I’m sorry that happened to you, and I admire you for wanting to protect your brother. But don’t you think that if you forbid it, he’ll just want it more?”
            There was a bag of groceries on the floor and Sandro was nudging it with his foot. Fidgeting, but possibly listening.
            Jenna played her last card. “Maybe you should just let him try it. Dance training is hard. It’s difficult, repetitive and sometimes even boring. Most people end up quitting. Paul will probably lose interest when he gets to know the reality of it.” It was true that most people quit, but Jenna was pretty sure Paul wouldn’t. She could recognize a fellow fanatic when she saw one. Paul would make dancing his life—but Sandro didn’t need to know that right now.
            He was watching her speculatively. For an instant she thought he’d say yes, but the moment passed and the wall was back between them. “I think I know what’s best.”
            “Maybe.” Anger rose again. Her voice was sharper than she meant it to be. “But I suggest you think a little more carefully before you squash his dreams.” She turned on her heel and left the room, sad for Paul and, oddly, sad for Sandro, too

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