The fine folks at three related sites, CataRomance.com, SensualReads.com and SingleTitles.com are sponsoring a blog hop from now until June 10. They’re giving boxes of books away, and every participating author is giving something, whether swag, a print book or an ebook. I’m giving away an ebook to a randomly chosen, lucky commenter–and this giveaway opportunity is open to anyone, regardless of where you may live.
The people at this site have always supported my books, even back when I was writing traditional romance for Silhouette– a looooong time ago. So I’m happy to support them.
So here’s a little about my other June book release–this isn’t fiercely erotic, like Temptation in Tartan. Walk Like A Man was my first manuscript and, as such, is a simple boy-meets-girl, boy-gets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-gets-girl back story. It’s been quite successful, but I don’t know why. Maybe readers prefer simple to entangled, but these so called “simple” books are very hard to write. The more that happens to my characters, the more I have to write about. So simpler is harder. In general, I like my characters to have a mystery to solve or a danger to confront while falling in love. It’s easier.
So here you are, for your reading pleasure: Walk Like A Man.
Macho quarterback Jim Wellman meets his match in bright and sassy physical therapist Marti Solis, who goads him out of his wheelchair, pushing him to walk again. Unlike every other woman Jim has wanted, she refuses to jump into the sack with the celebrity athlete. Though attracted to his bedroom smile and rugged good looks, she’s intimidated by his fame and turned off by his arrogance.
Can Jim become the lover Marti needs? Can he learn to walk like a man?
Set in California’s beautiful Napa Valley, this multicultural romance delivers humor and pathos, sparkling dialogue, layered characters, a heroine to root for and a hero who’s pure fantasy.
“Mr. Wellman, you’re not concentrating.”
Jim glared at his physical therapist. He was concentrating so hard the top of his head was gonna blow off. Didn’t she get it?
His life was on the line. He had to walk again, because he’d lose everything if he couldn’t. His legs had shattered eight months ago at the Pro Bowl in front of a TV audience of millions. His career as an N.F.L. quarterback had shattered with them.
Jim searched for her nametag, but couldn’t see it through the sweat dripping into his eyes during this first painful therapy session at the rehab center. He leaned against the parallel metal bars and rubbed his forehead dry with his wrist, then peered down at his therapist.
A small woman, his brunette taskmaster had a cute pointy chin and greenish eyes. Her nametag, pinned over her left breast, drew his glance; the breast, small but perky, spiked his hormones. “Miss, er, Marti, I’m trying very hard.” His glance shifted to her ringless left hand.
“Staring at my hand won’t help.”
She’d caught him. Embarrassment made him hotter and sweatier. He couldn’t help his habit. Whenever he met a pretty woman, he automatically looked at her left hand to find out if she was free. “Just checking for a ring.” Concluding that Marti was available, he grinned at her and waited for her to smile back.
“I’m not available,” she snapped. “Mr. Wellman, if you don’t want to focus on your recovery, it’s nothing to me.”
She turned and pointed at his wheelchair. “You can sit there like a fat, useless blob for the rest of your days for all I care. In the meantime, I have other patients. Patients who care.” Pivoting, she walked to the door, her steps decisive.
He recovered, managing a laugh. “Good try, but you’re as transparent as glass. What happens now? Does Katrin pat me on the back and play the good cop?” He glanced at the other therapist, a pretty blonde with a big, square rock on her ring finger.
Marti returned and gave a little shrug. “Well, it was worth trying.”
“Yes,” Jim said. “Very entertaining.”
“Now that the banter is over, can we get back to work? I want you to focus, Mr. Wellman. Focus on the muscles of your legs, how your feet feel on the floor.”
Jim glowered at his sarcastic little slave driver, who glared back, not giving an inch. He swallowed his annoyance and focused, tensing then relaxing his leg muscles. Damn, it hurt! But it was a good hurt, the hurt of muscles on the mend. Jim knew and welcomed that ache. After eight months, it felt great to finally get out of the wheelchair. He looked at his therapist for guidance.
“Now, push your feet into the floor and stand up straight.” Marti’s voice rose. “Come on, I know you can do it!”
Jim hitched his pants and pushed, stubbornly willing his legs to hold his weight. Clutching the parallel bars, he hauled up his body, using the strength in his shoulders and arms. The championship ring on his right hand clattered against the metal bars. The clank cut through his harsh, raspy breaths.
He placed his feet onto the floor beneath his body. For two exhilarating seconds his legs held firm. Joy shot through him. He pictured himself running down the field, escaping a horde of linebackers and passing for a touchdown. Then his ankles buckled. His sweaty hands slipped off the bars, and he collapsed toward the floor.
Marti and Katrin grabbed Jim on his way down, breaking his fall. “Be careful,” Katrin said, as the two therapists guided him down to the mat. “Let’s not get hurt.”
Jim sat limply, shoulders bowed, letting his head drop into his palms. Thirty years old, and my life’s in the toilet. He rubbed his damp face as he bit back a string of pungent curses.
“Let’s try just the one leg,” Marti said. “Mr. Wellman, there’s nothing wrong with your left leg that a little exercise won’t cure. Your file says that ankle healed months ago. It’s the right that’s giving us problems. Katrin, let’s get him up again. Tommy, help us out.”
A male attendant came forward to assist. Jim gritted his teeth against the ache as the trio helped him get onto his feet. Sweating, he leaned against one end of the therapy bars.
“Katrin, let him go. Hold on now, Mr. Wellman.” Marti backed away to the other end of the bars. Her hazel-green eyes narrowed, and her little chin reminded him of a feral cat. She was as focused as any feline on the hunt.
“Come on, come to me, Mr. Wellman.” Marti raised a clenched fist. “Come on, I know you can do it!”
Held by her compelling gaze, Jim found himself responding to her intensity. A sudden superstition came over him: this was the moment where it all had to happen. He’d walk now . . . or never.
Tension thickened the air. Sucking in a deep breath, he went for it.
Miraculously, his left leg held when he pushed down hard, grabbing onto the parallel therapy bars with both hands. He clenched his jaw and took a couple of quivery, hesitant hops toward Marti.
Katrin and Tommy burst into applause. Sighing with relief, Jim leaned against the parallel bars as Marti slipped a supporting arm around him.
“Yes! Excellent! Excellent job!” she cried. “Okay, that’s all for right now. Good work.” She smiled up at him. Again he noticed the sharp little chin, but ignored her catlike aura as Tommy pushed out Jim’s wheelchair. “Not that,” his therapist said. “Get a walker. No more chair.”
Katrin turned, raising her eyebrows.
“He’s too dependent,” Marti said. “The wheelchair is the reason he can’t bear his own weight anymore. He should have been out of that chair as soon as the left ankle healed. Someone with Mr. Wellman’s excellent physique should have made far more progress by now.” She loosened her right arm from around his waist to give him an impersonal pat on the shoulder.
Jim slid his left arm around her so he wouldn’t fall, keeping a steadying grip on the parallel bars with his right. He managed to keep a grip on his resentment as well, though he didn’t like her condescending little pat. He wouldn’t let this woman treat him like a child.
“That’s not his doctor’s orders,” Katrin pointed out.
Marti folded her arms across her chest. The frown that creased her mouth didn’t look good with the chin. “I’ll talk to the doctor, but in my professional opinion, the wheelchair is contraindicated.”
Jim turned and lifted her chin so she’d have to look him full in the face. He jutted his head down toward her. “I’m sorry, but I won’t use a walker.”
“Excuse me?” Marti’s face was less than four inches from his.
Keeping his arm around her shoulders, he fingered her chin with a practiced hand. A slight tremor ran through his therapist’s slim body.
If you like what you read, check it out at http://tinyurl.com/6mn6hr9 or at my site, http://www.sue-swift.com