By Caroline Clemmons
Happy holiday weekend! At least it is to those of us who live in the USA. If you live elsewhere, I wish you a pleasant time. If you have an extended weekend, I hope you spend it enjoying yourself. Traditionally, it’s a great time for family reunions, picnics, barbecues, and the start of vacations. Those of you who love the sun, rejoice. As for me, I’m a fan of spring and fall when the weather is a little more moderate than triple digit degree days. By the way, we should erect a monument to whomever invented air conditioning!
One of the delights of the long weekend is attending a community firework displays, usually held at a park or lake. These are controlled fireworks which do not threaten anyone’s roof, grass, or people. (In spite of them being against the law in the city limits, we hear them from July 1-6.)
One of my books which contains a July 4th picnic and celebrations is HOME SWEET TEXAS HOME. To me. HOME SWEET TEXAS HOME is a modern day Cinderella story with a happily-ever-after ending that (I hope) will leave you sighing and wishing for another of my books. If HOME, SWEET TEXAS HOME did not contain the words damn and hell in a few places it would be a sweet, inspirational romance. The contemporary is set in West Texas near Lubbock, where Hero and I grew up. My uncle and cousins were farmers who also sometimes raised cattle. Can’t keep all your eggs in one basket, right? My husband had several uncles who were ranchers and farmers, and some of his cousins still farm.
West Texas cotton fieldTo raise money to build their new house, my father-in-law raised cotton on a field at the edge of town and my husband had to help. Hero remembers clearing hundreds of tumbleweeds from the land and burning them. Needless to say, he hates tumbleweeds. After several years, the family had saved enough to buy a lot and build on it, with my father-in-law as contractor and doing some of the work himself. Once they’d saved enough to build, that was the end of their cotton farming. My husband was grateful.
But while they were raising cotton and he came in dirty and tired from working in the field, his mom would tell him that if he didn’t go to college, he’d be doing that or similar work forever. At the time, he didn’t know what his degree would be in, but he knew that he was going to college so he’d never have to farm again. He earned an electrical engineering degree and worked as a rocket scientist. But years later, we bought a small acreage where we cultivated several hundred peach trees and raised vegetables. Life certainly plays tricks on us, doesn’t it? After 26 years there, we’ve moved to the big city now where there are no tumbleweeds in sight.
Unchecked tumbleweedsAbout the time my future husband was burning tumbleweeds and “chopping cotton,” as hoeing weeds is called, my family moved to Lubbock so Dad could buy cotton. He also wanted my younger brother and me to be able to live at home and attend college. My dad picked out our house at the same edge of town as where my husband lived. Our family was pleased to have our own new home. Dad had built houses when we lived in California when I was small, but the house he was building for us always ended up sold because he and Mother couldn’t turn down a tidy profit. Anyway, we were happy to finally own one similar to--though not nearly as well built--those he had built in California. Our first year in Lubbock, cotton plants came up in our flowerbeds because the housing development was carved from a cotton farm.
Although it’s one of the first books I wrote, you can see that HOME SWEET TEXAS HOME might be close to my heart.
Courtney Madison has battled poverty her entire twenty-five years but is determined to make a safe and happy home for her teenaged brother after the recent death of their mom. Her mom’s illness left Courtney with a mountain of hospital bills, her formerly sweet brother Jimmy is now cutting class and hanging with a rough crowd, and she’s just learned she’s being downsized in two weeks. Hanging on by the threads of a fraying rope, she learns she’s inherited two million dollars from a kind elderly man she befriended when he was in the hospital across the hall from her mom. She thinks her inheritance in West Texas is the answer to all her prayers--but Courtney learns that while money improves her life, it doesn’t guarantee happiness. This modern Cinderella encounters problems even a fairy godmother couldn’t imagine.
Rancher/entrepreneur Derek Corrigan has incredible instincts for flourishing in the business world. With women, not so much. In fact, his friends bemoan he’s King Midas where money is concerned, but his judgment of women is pathetic--evidenced by his wife before her death and now the flamboyant woman he’s been escorting of late. As far as Derek is concerned, all he wants is to be a good dad to his children Warren, aged 8, and Meg, aged 5. Derek suspects the worst of his new neighbor and vows to fight his attraction for her. The only way he can protect his children and himself is to keep his private life very private. Besides, he knows what women do to him--they always leave and take chunks of his heart with them. He's been there, done that, had the vaccination and is cured. Isn't he?
The set up is that hero Derek Corrigan drove Courtney to see more of her inheritance, much of which is shared with Derek. She asked to get flowers so she could lay them on the grave of the man who left her the legacy, Sam Warren, and his wife, Maggie. Derek was adopted from a terrible situation by Sam and Maggie. Courtney and Derek are back at her home when her teen-aged brother comes in from school.
She opened her mouth to explain, but nothing came out.
Derek figured the bizarre situation defied description. He patted Jimmy on the shoulder. “Don’t worry, she’s okay now. We were at the cemetery putting flowers on Sam’s and Maggie’s graves and your sister got trapped in the bathroom.”
Jimmy shook his head. “I don’t understand. How could that hurt her?”
Courtney sighed. “The knob came off in my hand and I couldn’t open the door. So, I climbed out the window.”
Derek held out his hands to indicate the small rectangle. “A small, high window.”
Jimmy looked from his sister to Derek. “I still don’t understand what happened.”
Courtney snapped, “I got stuck, okay?”
Now that he knew her to be okay, the week’s tension suddenly snapped in Derek, and he lost his perspective on the whole situation. He grimaced at Jimmy. “She, um…” He coughed to keep a straight face. “When she tried to go out the window, she got stuck with her head and one arm sticking outside and the rest of her inside.” He stood like a bird with a broken wing to imitate Courtney’s position. A grin spread across his face in spite of all his efforts not to smile.
Jimmy gaped at his sister. “Courtney? But she’s always so sensible. She’s never does anything stupid.” He began to smile also.
Both males burst into laughter.
“Listen, if you two are so amused, go into the other room to discuss my apparently hilarious antics and leave me to suffer in peace.” In spite of her strained muscles and injuries, she threw a box of tissues in their direction. “Go on, get out of here. Now.”
Derek glanced over his shoulder before he left.
She’d stuffed a pillow over her ears, to block out their laughter.
HOME SWEET TEXAS HOME is available in e-book and print from Amazon, and it is enrolled in KU.
Stay safe and keep reading!