My love affair with California began at the tender age of fifteen and continues yet today. So it should come as no surprise that the book of my heart, which somehow turned into a trilogy, is set there. I could attribute that frisson to the thrill of a midwestern girl seeing the ocean for the first time. Or the unapologetically bronzed coeds with movie-star teeth driving convertibles and playing volleyball in the sand. Maybe the towering palm trees swaying against the impossibly blue sky. But it’s more seminal than that.
Like many writers, I was an avid reader from an early age. And as an only child, books were my default playmates. As a teenager, I found myself drawn to the revolving wire rack of musty-smelling, dog-eared paperbacks at the public library. Some days I would get off the city bus a few stops early and pick some up on the way home from school. The novels took me to places all over the world where effortlessly beautiful, wonderfully flawed heroines were swept off their feet by unapologetically successfully, wildly handsome heros to live happily ever after. And in the event I found the ending to be unfavorable, I would simply continue the story in my head to my liking. Characters, layered in observation and steeped in expectation were formed. The framework of a story was subtlety built as innocence became experience and naivety became discernment.
Writing such ideas down, however, took nearly thirty years.
In the interim, I met my own alpha hero and went to San Francisco on our honeymoon. And, as cliché as it sounds, that’s where I left my heart. Part of it, anyway. For the last decade or so, Lake Tahoe has shared custody. I hope my Chances trilogy will take you there. And you’ll leave a little piece of yours behind too. Martha O’Sullivan’s Chances trilogy is available now from Red Sage Publishing. Second Chance, the trilogy opener, is a reunion/love triangle romance that keeps the shores of Lake Tahoe blazing hot long after the sultry summer sun has set. Chance Encounter, the trilogy's second installment, heats up San Francisco’s chilly days and blustery nights with white-hot passion and pulse-pounding suspense. And in Last Chance, the conclusion of the trilogy, lifelong friends-turned-lovers melt the snow-packed Sierras into lust-fueled puddles despite the single-digit temperatures of the Lake Tahoe winter. Here’s a blurb and an excerpt from Second Chance:
Lindsay Foster has convinced herself that marrying Paul Webster is the right thing to do. But she and Brian Rembrandt have some unfinished business. And now that Brian is standing in front of her again, undressing her with his eyes, she finds herself torn between the life she's always wanted and the man she'll always love.
Brian's up for that fight; he's used to getting what he wants. And he's never met a rule, or a
woman, that couldn't be broken. So when Lindsay won't come to him, he goes to her.
But it's more complicated than that.
This love triangle has an extra side. Lindsay's best friend Moira Brody has a game-changing secret. And she's not the only one. The chain of events set in motion on the tranquil shores of Lake Tahoe come to an astonishing end on a foggy San Francisco night. And alters the course of four lives forever...
Excerpt (PG) from Second Chance, Chances Trilogy #1, by Martha O’Sullivan
“Married?” Brian was still on top of Lindsay, rising and falling with her shallow breaths. And hard as a rock. He had never been so aroused without making love before. “To Webster?” The words burned his tongue and he jolted back, repulsed.
Lindsay’s nod was swift and, he told himself, the least bit reluctant. As if suddenly modest, she began fumbling with her top. “I should have told you before.”
Brian sat on the edge of the sagging cushion and ran a dumbfounded hand through his hair “Yeah,” he huffed out, “that would have been nice.” He was thoroughly spent, all the life suddenly drained out of him. And his erection. “Why didn’t you?”
“I don’t know.” She finished tying and stood. “I guess.” Her eyes went hollow. “I was afraid.”
She searched the air for the words. “No, of me. Of it. Once I tell you, it’s real. No going back.”
It was frighteningly real to him already. He stood and took her hands, grazing her fingers with his thumbs.
“It needs to be sized,” she ground out with a gulp, reading his mind.
“The setting has to be rebuilt—” “No. When?”
Her eyes softened with understanding. “We haven’t set a date. Before the end of the year.” She withdrew her hands and started to walk away.
Brian grabbed her arm. “Why?”
“Why?” Her expression became strained, puzzled. “Why are you getting married?”
She took a deep breath, held it for a moment, and then replied inadequately, “Paul and I have known each other forever. We want the same things. We are...familiar.”
“That’s qualified. Why?”
Her face bore more struggle than strain now, which pleased Brian. “Because he asked me and there’s no reason not to.” She tried to shake him off, but he tightened his grip.
“I can give you a reason.”
Her mouth parted slightly, allowing a short gasp of air to escape. “You can?”
He whirled her around and bringing their mouths within inches of each other said, “Yeah, I can.” He could see the fear in her eyes but it was laced with hope, so he continued. “But first things first. Do you love him?”
That stung, especially since she didn’t hesitate. “Did you run away because of him?”
She deadpanned him. “What?”
Narrowing his eyes, he clarified, “Did you leave me for him?”
She shook her head incredulously, as if no farther-fetched words had ever been spoken. “No! Brian, I didn’t leave you. I left San Francisco,” she explained, looking away. “We were unraveling. You didn’t want to make a commitment; I couldn’t go on without one. Gram’s illness precipitated the inevitable.”
“I was committed to you. There was no one else. I—”
“I know that,” she broke in. “I mean marriage, a family. You’d already done that.” Her shoulders stiffened as if to summon courage before she faced him again. “It hurt too much to keep pretending.”
“Were you pretending when we made love the night before you left? Or had you been pretending all along?” His attempts to stay hinged were proving increasingly ineffective.
Unceremonious teardrops were gliding down her cheeks now, leaving behind threadlike, sooty tracks. “I couldn’t have pretended that. Any of that. I mean pretending that we had a future.”
“So you left, cut me out of your life and found someone to give you that future,” he argued in a voice colored with indignation.
“It wasn’t like that. It just...” She settled on the word. “Happened. Paul was very supportive when Gram died.” The pain was etched in her eyes now, tearing at Brian’s heartstrings.
“And I wouldn’t have been?”
She dropped her broken gaze. “I wanted to call you a hundred times. But it wouldn’t have changed anything. Other than both of us ending up even more hurt.”
“It would have changed everything,” he surprised himself by saying and tilted her chin. “The end of the year, huh? That gives me a few months to change your mind. Looks like I got here just in time.”
Second Chance and the Chances trilogy by Martha O'Sullivan is available at: marthaosullivan.com
Martha O'Sullivan has loved reading romance novels for as long as she can remember. Writing her own novels is the realization of a lifelong dream for this stay-at-home mom. Martha writes spicy, contemporary romances with traditional couples and happy endings. She is the author of the Chances trilogy from Red Sage Publishing. Her current work-in-progress is steamy Christmas novel set in Florida. A native Chicagoan, she lives her own happy ending in Tampa with her husband and two daughters.
Please visit http://www.marthaosullivan.com for reviews, excerpts and more.