To say I've swooned over Frankie Love's characters for awhile is an understatement. She writes InstaLove, but manages to grab ahold of the heartstrings with emotional storylines and characters. So don't let the Insta fool you into thinking you'll get anything less than a memorable romance reading experience.
Enjoy this excerpt from her new book, Rough & Tumble:
Now it’s my turn to smile. I want to reach for her hand. I want to hold it. I want to do more than hold it. I want to hold her. Hug her, take care of her. She seems lost, but not in a fragile, breakable way. She seems lost in a way that says she really does need to come home, here.
“Rye is certainly the oldest. You'll know that when you meet him, but he is different than me. He's an ass, if I'm going to say it bluntly. Me? I'm the nice guy. The guy who plays it safe. Who always does what he's told and who makes his mama happy.”
“Ah, I see. You're a mama's boy,” Abby teases.
“Hey,” I say, pulling up to the big old house where I was raised. Abby's eyes widen as she takes it in. The house is huge. “My parents own a construction company called Rough House,” I clarify. “My hardware store, Hammer Home, was my dad's shop for years, and their office is above my store. They build custom homes all over the mountainside. My dad built this home with his own two hands.”
“It's incredible,” Abby says.
The headlights on my truck show off every big bay window of the two-story house, with attic rooms. There's a big barn and a garage with a rec room over the three bays.
I open my car door and jog around to open hers. “I'd say, for being the Rough family, we're pretty gentle, but I wouldn’t want that rumor to spread.”
“Says the mama’s boy,” Abby teases.
I take Hijinx from her and hold him in my arms, not wanting her bandages to tear. “You okay?” I ask.
She nods. “Yeah. I mean, I have no idea what I’m in for, but I appreciate the invitation.”
“It would have been terrible for you to go eat by yourself at the diner tonight.”
“I’ve eaten plenty of meals alone.”
“I thought you did a bunch of things with your family?” I ask, looking for clarification, trying to understand what Abby’s life is really like.
“Yeah, I did. But you know how you can be with people and still feel really alone?”
I shake my head. “Actually, no, I’ve never feel like that.”
Abby's lips twist into something wistful. “You're lucky, Bartlett,” she says. “And right now, I feel pretty lucky to be here with you.”
Walking inside the house, I’m suddenly nervous. I’ve never brought a woman home – and I have this deep need for my family to like Abby. To love her. She looks over at me as I close the heavy front door, and we stand in the big foyer, alone for a moment. A rare quiet moment in this loud, rambunctious house. There is a big staircase leading upstairs to the bedrooms, a hall leading to the kitchen and my dad’s den. To the left are the big family and dining rooms.
But the foyer is filled with shoes and coats, a closet overflowing with decades of hunting jackets and rain boots, clogs and sweaters. I watch as Abby takes it all in.
“This feels like a real home,” she whispers as we both slide off our shoes, adding them to the pile by the door.
I take her hand protectively. “You okay?”
She nods, but I know there is a well of emotion in her eyes as we walk into the family room, together, where my entire family is gathered.
Watching through her eyes, as she takes in the family photos hanging on every square inch of the walls, I see the house in a new light. The warm wood finishes my father added, the wicker baskets filled with the books my mom is reading next to her favorite chair. The basket of yarn and knitting needles for when Grandma Rosie comes over, the blazing fire warming the room, the chess match on the coffee table between Graham and Mac. Fig braiding Plum’s hair. My mom calling for Rye to grab some cans of chicken stock from the pantry. Lemon showing Dad how to download some app on his phone.
No one notices us for a moment, and time seems to still. My hand in Abby’s, hers squeezing mine right back, and suddenly I don’t feel like I’m bringing home a stranger for dinner. I feel like I am bringing home Abby. My Abby.
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