From the time a car accident took her parents lives when she was a child, Hope Hendrix has lived in perpetual fear of most everything. Tired of always chickening out, she decides to grab onto life and really live it. For Hope, that means finally telling her best friend, Brock Camden, that she’s been in love with him since high school.
Misplaced cowboy and the town’s famed football star, Brock Camden, has lived a life of lies for so long all he knows is regret. It was never the life he wanted, but the past can’t be undone. Now, Hope, the one girl he’s always longed for, admits she wants him, too. Can he escape the web of deceit thrust upon him when he arrived at the shores of Gypsy Beach and have a real life with Hope, or will all the lies and uncertainty ultimately be their undoing?
Amazon Kindle: http://amzn.to/1g7B1qb
Hope Hendrix needed to have sex. Not the epically disastrous sex she’d already had, either, but the mind-blowing sex her every-other-Thursday night book club friends were presently raving about. The kind the romance novels she loved to devour proclaimed possible. The kind that sizzled on the pages of the erotic novel the book club was reading. Somewhere between attempting to style her hair exactly like Tiffani Thiessen’s—from the 90210, not Saved by the Bell years—killing herself to get outstanding grades, trying to take care of her sister, Skye, minding her aunt’s archaic ideas about proper decorum for girls, getting through college in three years, and opening her own bookstore, she’d somehow forgotten to have good sex.
Now, she was 26, and quite possibly the least experienced person she knew. She’d finally come to accept that her stringy blonde, baby-fine hair was never going to do that sexy, shoulder-length, edgy thing, but never having an orgasm, or any fulfilling bedroom experience at all—she just couldn’t accept that.
“Okay, you all know that I love Arley Copeland’s books as much as you do. All I’m saying is that her heroine got to have more orgasms in this book than I’ve had all freaking summer. I’m jealous. It’s getting to me,” Sophie DePriest huffed before downing another gulp of Sauvignon Blanc.
Hope joined her friends’ laughter, but didn’t comment. Sophie may not have had many orgasms in the last few months, but at least she’d had some. Her dry spells would be some kind of bountiful harvest for Hope.
With a sigh, Hope stood and headed to the storeroom of her beloved little beachside bookstore, Bandana Books. She returned with another bottle of wine, Pinot this time, and settled into the worn tweed sofa she’d picked up off of Craig’s List so patrons to her store would have a place to get lost deep between the covers of a book. That had been the idea, at least. Unfortunately, most of them used the sofa to flip through a book or magazine without ever making a purchase.
Discreetly, Hope slid to her left to cover the slight tear in the fabric with her thigh while she refilled a few of the empty glasses. She couldn’t afford to recover the sofa. She couldn’t really even afford the wine and snacks for her book club, but she hated to complain. She loved books and authors of all kinds. Her own bookstore was where she belonged … she hoped.
“Okay, but what did you think of the silk robe belt as a tie-up scene?” Hope felt her pale cheeks begin to heat from the wine and the discussion. “I’ve met Arley. I always wonder if she and her fiancée do that, or if she just comes up with it off the top of her head when she writes.”
“That scene is responsible for me attacking Kevin in bed four times in the last three days, so I’d say he’s a big fan.” Julie Morgan laughed hysterically, letting everyone know she wasn’t exaggerating.
Hope grinned. Kevin and Julie always made her wistful. They’d been married for five years, had adorable twin boys, and were still hot for each other. They had most everything she longed for. As always, whenever Hope considered marriage, she reminded herself that maintaining a decent dating relationship would be an excellent first step, and that always meant her next thought was going to be … Brock Camden. She’d just had breakfast with him that morning at Mac and Molly’s Surf, Turf, and Coffee shop, but she already missed him. Lately, he’d been busy helping Ryan McNamara with the new hotel that was going in on the other side of Gypsy Beach, the tiny, bohemian, North Carolina, beach town that had raised Hope. The hotel was a big job, and Brock was Ryan’s go-to roofer and framer.
She’d been swooning over him since ninth grade when he’d actually asked her to be his lab partner in biology. Hope always took advanced courses. She was one of the only freshmen in the class. Brock was a year older.
She could still recall the dumbfounded awe that had worked through her puberty-laden body when the star receiver for the Wellsley High football team asked if she’d like to sit with him at that lab table. The cool black laminate top that she’d clung to as she’d taken the seat had likely been what kept her from spontaneously combusting when he’d winked at her. No one like Brock had ever noticed her before that moment. And yet now, all these years later, they were still great friends. If Hope were being honest, as much as she adored the women seated around her in her book club, Brock was her best friend.
“Well, you brought it up, Hope, so what did you think of it?” Sophie demanded, effectively ripping her out of the past and thrusting her firmly into the present.
Grinning, Hope set her wine glass down on the table and considered. “Honestly, that’s the thing I love most about Arley’s writing. She’s able to put so much emotion into her work that you’re onboard with whatever the couple is doing. He was tying her up, and honestly, I thought the whole thing was very intimate and loving. If an author can’t effectively capture the emotions of both of the people involved, it comes off as cold and abusive, but hers never read that way. She’s my favorite erotic writer. In fact, I’m not reading any more BDSM books unless the relationship is healthy. It can be healthy and seductive, and should be for all parties involved not just the creepy, control-freak, sadistic guys.”
“Hear, hear!” Jana Evans, the fourth member of the Guilty Pleasures book club, lifted her wine glass. Julie and Sophie nodded their agreement as a wicked glint lit Sophie’s sky-blue eyes. “I’m taking a group poll. Who here has either tied up a guy and had their way with him, or has let some guy tie you down and banged your brains out? Obviously, our little Hope-y hasn’t, but how about you two?”
Hope tried not to let the comment get to her. She often exaggerated her experiences when talking to her friends, but they all knew she read about sex a lot more than she actually had it. That problem didn’t just cover sex. It pretty much applied to her entire life. She read about everything, but never did anything.
Rolling her eyes, Julie laughed. “How the heck do you think I got Kev to sleep with me again after we birthed twins? We were terrified to touch each other. Two is enough. He has Superman sperm or something. At that point, we were certain we’d never sleep again, so I finally had to tie him down, show him the paperwork I made Doc Thompson sign swearing that he’d tied my tubes, and rode him cowgirl-style until we both temporarily forgot how freaking exhausted we were.”
The group cracked up, but Hope doubted Julie had to work quite that hard to get Kevin in bed. He always seemed to be drooling over her. Kevin was a baseball coach at Wellsley High, the high school they’d all attended. Julie had been the cheerleading coach right up until the moment they’d gotten pregnant with twins and she could no longer see her feet.
Before anymore confessions could be made, thunder rumbled out over the Barrier Islands that buffeted Gypsy Beach from the stronger tides. A streak of lightning fractured the sky.
“Oh, no.” Hope groaned as she frantically raced to the large plate-glass windows and tried to determine how long it would take the storm to reach them.
Brock Camden sat at a table in Whiskey Dave’s Sportsbar, nursing his second beer and contemplating approximately how hard he’d have to smash his head into the cheap wood-grain laminate to knock himself out cold. It seemed the only way to avoid hearing Matt Logan, Seth Moyar, and Ben Davis retell the story of how they’d taken Wellsley High all the way to the state championship back in the day, and how Brock’s impossible, behind-the-back catch and seventy-yard touchdown had brought home the trophy. It was eight fucking years ago. Why must they still talk about it every single time they all got together? Didn’t anyone have anything noteworthy to discuss that had happened in the last decade? His best high-school friends may want to revel in their heyday, but Brock would prefer to never think about the sham that had been his high school career ever again.
“And here’s another round for the heroes of Gypsy Beach.” Dave, the owner and head bartender, placed several additional pitchers of beer before them. Brock fought not to vomit. The entire stupid town would never forget that championship game. Pictures of it were plastered all over the bar. Brock could never escape his legacy, no matter how hard he tried.
Turning to stare out the large windows that constructed the front of the only sports bar between Gypsy Beach and Wilmington, Brock noted the way the lightning danced in the distance. He grimaced and pulled his phone from his pocket to make sure she hadn’t already tried to call. Looked to be a heck of a storm. Late summer storms in Gypsy Beach always were—beautiful in their power, quick in their deluge, and a disaster for Hope.
“Hey, I’m gonna head on.” He threw down two tens even though he’d never received a bill from Dave, who always insisted that it was a pleasure to serve the town heroes. Brock always insisted on paying anyway.
“Nah, not yet! We haven’t even gotten to the no-hitter you pitched junior year,” Seth scoffed.
Brock rolled his eyes automatically. “Are those stories ever going to get old? No one gives a fuck what I did in high school.”
“He’s in a bad mood. Needs to get laid,” Matt chuckled derisively.
Feeling no need to respond to the truthfulness of that, Brock slung his chair into the table and turned to leave.
“Hey, wait. Nate said he’d take us out Saturday at half price since the season’s over. You in?” Matt urged as Brock headed towards the parking lot.
Oh yeah, that’s what he wanted to do. Spend all day Saturday stuck out on a fishing boat listening to more remembrances he wanted desperately to forget. He turned back briefly. “Nah, I can’t. I’m hanging out with Hope.” He wasn’t certain that was true. They didn’t have anything planned, but if nothing else, he could go to her house, watch a movie or something.
“Man, why don’t you just nail her and get her out of your system? You’ve been hanging out with her for years. She cannot possibly be that interesting. Just get a blow-up doll,” Seth chanted derisively.
Brock’s eyes narrowed. He fought the desperate urge to slam his fist into Seth’s smug face. “Shut the fuck up, Seth. She’s one of my best friends. What’s it to you, anyway?”
“Don’t lie, man. You’ve had a thing for Hope Hendrix since before you caught that interception. Why not just ask her out?” Matt tried to smooth over Seth’s crude remark.
“I’m leaving.” Brock offered a half wave and headed out. There were a million reasons he couldn’t ask Hope out, none of which he would ever get into with those morons, or anyone else for that matter. She was so far out of his league it wasn’t even funny. He counted himself lucky that she always seemed to want to hang with him. She was sweet, funny, smart as hell, and beautiful. He loved the way she just said whatever she was thinking. She was unlike any other woman he’d ever been around. He never had to guess with her. She was open and honest with him, and somehow seemed to think he was smart. When she asked his opinion, he was always dumbfounded. She was perfect and deserved so much more than he could ever give her. And she always has her head stuck in a book. That was the biggest problem, he reminded himself before he cranked his F-150 and headed back towards the shore.
He couldn’t make out one word of all of those books she read without end. That meant doing anything more than being Hope’s friend was absolutely out of the question.
How did you research your novel, if applicable?
A large portion of the research for Gypsy Hope actually came several years before the novel. Six years ago my eldest son was diagnosed with dyslexia. It was then that we learned that millions of people around the world were illiterate, ways to help, and what portion of dyslexic Americans make up the staggering statistics of illiteracy. I knew then that I wanted to give voice to illiteracy. Several years later, Brock Camden from Gypsy Hope was born.
Where can readers find you online?
You can follow my newsletter for updates on new releases, signings and events I’ll be attending, and what I’m up to at my website: http://jillianneal.com
And on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jilliannealauthor
And Instagram: https://instagram.com/jillianwrites/
When you are stuck on something, what is your go to cure?
Coffee! That’s my go-to for most every situation in life. There are few things that don’t improve with a cup of coffee and a deep breath.
Do you have a real life hero? If so, can you tell us who and why?
My real life hero is my oldest son. He’s worked so hard to cope with his learning disabilities. He never gives up no matter how difficult something is. I want to be just like him when I grow up. 😉
Who is your favorite literary hero and heroine?
Gilbert Blythe and Anne Shirley, of course! I’ve been in love with Gilbert since he tugged on Anne’s braids in the Avonlea Schoolhouse.
Are you character or plot driven? Why?
I am so character driven it isn’t even funny. I believe that the only way for an author to really capture the essence of humanity is through their characters. People often comment that my characters feel so real that they want to me adopted into the Haydenshire family from The Gifted Realm or to move to Gypsy Beach to meet them. I always strive to make them fully-formed human beings that could be your best friends. I often have absolutely no idea where the story is going. I just know that as long as I let the characters drive the car we’re going to get somewhere far better than we ever would if I tried to steer it myself.
How do you feel about social media? Is it a help or hindrance to you?
I love talking to fans on social media. It’s one of my favorite things to do. But there are times I have to turn it all off, dig deep down in my soul, and pour my heart out onto the pages. Being a writer is definitely a very solitary career, but I do love the times I get to interact with people that
What are the first five titles on your kindle?
- Fortune Cookie Principle by Bernadette Jiwa
- The Joy of Writing Sex by Elizabeth Benedict
- Cowboy Take Me Away by Lorelei James
- Hidden Prey by Cheyenne McCray
- Intersections by my pal Nicki Salcedo
Where do you see yourself and your writing in the next five years?
Gypsy Hope makes book # 11 for me. In the next five years maybe we’ll be celebrating book #40 or 50! I love writing. I love having conversations with my characters and bringing them to life for all of you. I was put on this earth to write, so I hope that’s what I’ll always be doing.
How many books do you own and what does your bookshelf look like?
Oh goodness, I feel certain I own more than 400 books. I have bookshelves in several rooms of my home and most of them are full to bursting. I believe we own 4 different sets of the entire Harry Potter series, yet I refuse to give any of them away. I have a trunk in my office jam packed with my favorite romance novels, and my purse almost always has 2 paperbacks and my Kindle inside.
If you are published traditionally and independently, which do you prefer and why?
I am independently published. I love the control I have over everything from the story to the covers. I also write rather quickly and am glad I can publish as often as I’d like. I do work with absolutely phenomenal editors and a publicist that I adore. That helps tremendously.
What advice do you have for people that are trying indie publishing right out of the gate?
- Get an editor.
- Get a proofreader.
- Keep at it. It is a very, very slow process to get your work out there. Painfully slow sometimes, but keep writing.
- Get your work in front of as many people as you possibly can.
What do you find inspiring?
I find inspiration in everyday things. I am a lover of love. Couples kissing on a park bench, the woman racing into her lover’s arms at the airport, that kiss that comes after the last push that delivers the baby, those spark my soul with joy and love. I try to capture that feeling in every book I pen.
Do you have a favorite charity?
The ProLiteracy organization! They are on the forefront of the fight against illiteracy, providing education, materials, and help to those that need it most. I’ve partnered with them for the release of Gypsy Hope. For every copy sold I’ll be donating $1 to their efforts.
About the Gypsy Beach Series:
Single father Ryan McNamara returns to the only place he’d ever been happy, Gypsy Beach. This time he’s divorced, broken, but determined to make something of his life. Sienna Cooper is determined to forget Ryan, the last decade, and all of the hurt he’d left her with. She’s got enough spunk and gypsy fire in her soul to make this work. She’s going to run her grandmother’s inn and make it a success. But when a chance encounter throws them back together, the passions ignite and the past doesn’t feel so far out of reach. Can they rekindle the love they’d once had? Can he convince her that he never intends to walk away again? Will a potent dose of unending lust, a lifetime of love, and enough hot-blooded Gypsy spirit be enough to save them both?
Arley Copeland vows never to trust anyone, much less a man, ever again. After her fledgling career as a romance writer grinds to a halt and her ex blabs to the press about her preferences in bed, she heads to Gypsy Beach, desperate to regain some anonymity and maybe figure out what to do next.
Divorce attorney John Rowan has been in on the explosive end of more marriages than he can count. Love never lasts. Of that he’s certain. Sick of barely existing inside the concrete jungle of Atlanta with the endless traffic and endless noise he heads towards a two-week reprieve in Gypsy Beach, North Carolina.
From the moment he lays eyes on Arley Copeland, John is determined to prove that not every guy on the planet is out to hurt her, and maybe teach her a thing or two about herself in his bed and out. With every sinfully sweet caress, they’re falling more and more in love. Their pasts may be fading away, but will John ever be prepared to risk it all on a lifetime love when he doesn’t believe such a thing could ever exist?
Nadya Montgomery was Gypsy Beach’s own personal wild child. There was nothing she wouldn’t do, especially when it came to Grady Havens. Until disaster struck and tore them apart. Desperate to protect Grady, she ran away from everything and everyone she’d ever known.
Fourteen years later, Nadya returns to the beach to try to rebuild some semblance of her life out of her ex-husband’s shadow, but that means returning to her past and seeing Grady Havens again.
Now a charter boat captain constantly trying to put his past behind him, Grady doesn’t know what to make of Nadya’s return. All he knows is she was always meant to be his, and he intends to make his claim. He wants her back in his life and most certainly back in his bed.
When his entire family is threatened, he’s caught between rekindling his relationship with Nadya and protecting what belongs to him.
Together they try to rebuild what always should have been, but their pasts are determined to keep them ensnared. As passions ignite between them, they realize that even Grady may not be able to keep her safe this time.
Amazon – http://amzn.to/1P71f8P
Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/569344
Jillian Neal is a Romance author that manages to blend her imagination, Southern sass, and loving heart in every novel she pens. She showed her talent for weaving intricate plot lines and showcasing dynamic characters in her seven-book, urban fantasy, series, The Gifted Realm. Her skillset continues to shine in her contemporary series, Gypsy Beach, which will leave you with a longing to pack your bags and move to a tiny beach town full of bohemian charm.
She lives outside of Atlanta with her husband and their children.