We’re truly delighted to welcome L.B. Simmons to Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews today to talk about her new book, rewrite a scene from Blake’s POV, we grill her for information in an interview and we have 2 ebooks to give away!
I had the perfect life.
Beautiful and loving husband.Three gorgeous little girls.
The only thing missing was the white picket fence. I really wanted that fence.
Three years ago, I lost that life. I lost my husband. And I lost myself. But, eventually, I found my way through the darkness. I’ve made peace with my new life. I have my girls, and that’s all that matters. They are my world. I have no illusions of ever falling in love again or getting whisked away on a white horse.
But then he came back into my life. On a freakin’ motorcycle.
There’s no way I’ll let him turn my life completely upside down.Absolutely no way.
The question is…
How long can I keep pretending that I’m happy with my life being right-side up?
Win a copy
We have two Kindle ebooks of Running On Empty to give away to two lucky commenters. In the story, Alex’s favourite line from a movie is ‘You look good wearing my future’. To enter our competition, just reply to the blog post below and tell us what your favourite one-liner from a movie is by Saturday 26th Jan mdnight GMT. I think mine is ‘You had me at hello’ from Jerry Maguire. Looking to hear what you’ve all got to say!
Blake is an awesome hero and, as the whole book is written from Alex’s POV, we asked L. B. Simmons to rewrite a scene as told by Blake. She chose the scene the morning after Alex has ranted at Blake at the bar with Harlow and Trace and she goes to his house to apologise. It’s wonderful read – it shows the moment when Blake decided not to give up on her.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
I can barely open my eyes. I roll over to look at the alarm clock on the bedside table. My eyes can’t quite make out the time. I rub them and attempt to take another look. 7:37AM. Who the hell is knocking at my door this goddamn early in the morning? It’d better not be Ms. Mabry again. The last two days in a row she’s shown up in the morning, complaining about something or someone in the neighborhood. Lids not on trash cans, overgrown yards, trucks with trailers parked on the street. Who gives a shit? After last night, I don’t have the patience to deal with this today.
I rub my hands repeatedly up and down my face, trying to wake myself up. Shit. I guess I need to get up anyway. After Alex’s outlandish tantrum last night, I’m done with her. I’m packing my shit and getting out of here. I’m obviously not wanted here; my being in town seems to have only exasperated her already foul mood. And, since I came here looking for closure, I’m pretty sure I was given exactly what I needed to let her go and move forward in my life. She wants to be left alone, I’m gone.
I haul my ass out of bed and stomp down the stairs. When I reach the door, I unlock it and throw it open. Hopefully, Ms. Mabry will get the message that this isn’t a good time to bother me with neighborhood violations. As the door opens, I see Alex standing in front of me, eyes wide and her hands over her mouth. Is she giggling?
I don’t really see what the hell is so goddamn funny. It’s just like her to come over here and try to act like absolutely nothing happened last night. I’m over this shit.
I start to close the door in her face, because that’s exactly what she deserves, when the woman decides to make her move. I watch as she puts both hands on the door and sticks her foot in the door jamb to try to keep me from closing it. I taught her that goddamn trick and I know from experience that there’s no way she’s gonna be able to keep this door open…even when we were kids she never seemed to grasp the fact that I’m stronger than her. The only reason it worked for me was because of my size.
I shake my head in disbelief. ““Nope. Mmm-mm, Alex. It’s too early for this right now. Go home.” Before she has the chance to talk her way out of this, I decide to cut off any plan she has for redeeming her actions last night. “There can’t possibly be anything left for you to say after the drunken tantrum you threw last night. You remember? The one you decided to throw in the middle of a bar? The one in which you embarrassed the shit out of yourself? Very classy by the way…”
Nope. Not gonna work this time, Alex. I shove the door as hard as I can because I don’t want to hear a goddamn word that comes out of her mouth. She said enough last night. “I don’t want to talk right now, Alex.”
“Well…too bad. You need to hear what I have to say, Blake!”
She has completely lost her mind. Did she not hear the words that came out of her mouth last night? Because I sure as hell did and she got her point across loud and clear. I don’t want to hear anymore of her shit. I push the door as hard as I can, knowing that there’s no way she can overpower me. I just need her to go. Get out of my life. Get out of my fucking mind.
As I finally manage to get the door shut, I hear, “Blake! My fingers! Damn it, open the door! Now!”
Shit. I immediately jerk the door open and see Alex standing in front of me, cradling her hand against her chest and her eyes tearing up from the obvious pain.
“Shit, Alex. Let me look at ‘em.” Goddamn it. She just couldn’t leave it alone. She just couldn’t leave me alone. And now I feel like the asshole because I probably broke her fucking hand.
I open the door further and step out onto the porch.
“Really, Blake? What the hell? I get that you’re pissed, but can you at least act like an adult about it? Slamming the door in my face? Real mature, jerk.”
Jerk? Jesus, I feel like I’m twelve years old again. I’m not gonna let her pin this on me after the shit she pulled last night. “Really? You want to talk about mature right now? After last night? You want to go there?”
With no comment from her, I add, “Yeah, that’s what I thought.”
I reach my hand out for hers. I look at her face, her eyes full of tears, and I just want to shake her. I know she’s not a bad person. I know this shit is coming from her pain. But she can’t keep acting this way…pushing people away and treating them like this. She’s better than this.
I let out a quick breath. “Just let me look at them, Alex.”
Surprisingly, she lets me take her hand and I do so as gently as I can. I can tell she’s in a lot of pain. I look over her fingers and notice they are swelling quickly. I glance up to make sure I’m not hurting her, and her eyes meet mine. My heart stops for a second, but I hold her stare. Where are you, Alex? Are you still even in there?
After a few seconds, I look back at her hand. “You need to get some ice on them. Come on. I’ll get you something.” I step to the side, signaling for her to go ahead of me into the house.
“It’s fine, Blake. I’m just going to go. I think enough damage has been done.” She removes her hand from mine, and turns away from me to walk back to her truck.
I reach forward and take hold of her other hand, letting my fingers slide down to her tiny wrist. “Alex, don’t. Let me get you some ice.” God, why can’t I just let her go?
I pull her behind me and lead her into house. When we get to the kitchen, I scoot out a bar stool for her to take a seat. Once her stubborn ass sits down and I’m sure she’s not gonna leave, I let go of her wrist and make my way to the freezer to grab some ice. As I fill the bag, I can’t help but think about her. Sometimes, although very rarely, she’s so vulnerable. She wants to be so strong, so tough, but I know her. I’ve known her since we were kids. And I know this is all a fucking show she’s putting on. I don’t know if it’s for other people, for me, or for herself, but there’s only so long she can go on like this. Not needing anyone. Being strong all the time. She needs me. But unless she gives a little, there’s nothing I can do.
I let out a long breath and turn to her. I walk to where she is sitting and once again gently take her hand and place it in mine. I place the bag on top of her swollen fingers and just look at her. Jesus, just let me in, Alex.
We continue to watch each other for a couple of seconds before she speaks.
“Listen, I just wanted to come by to say I’m really sorry about last night, Blake. Things have been a little stressful over the last couple of days and I’m dealing with a lot right now. And seeing you the other day…well, it just threw me. Then you helped me and… honestly, it’s been a long time since someone has helped me like that. Except Harlow of course, but that’s kind of her main job right now.” I continue to stare at her because there is nothing about what she just said that sounded anything like an apology. I keep waiting, hoping one will eventually find its way out of her stubborn mouth.
“Blake, you have to understand that it’s hard for me to accept help sometimes. It isn’t easy for me to admit that I need help, but I needed help that day. So, not only were you incredibly blessed with having the opportunity to help me that morning, I’m sure ruining whatever plans you had for the day, but you were also the victim of my misdirected anger last night simply because of the help you provided.” Getting closer…
“I guess you can say that I have issues with help in general.” She’s rambling now, so I know she’s nervous. I continue to watch her, waiting for the words I need to hear.
“I’m sorry, Blake. Do you think we can just start over? Forget the last couple of days?” There it is. There’s my Alex. She’s still in there.
But she doesn’t get to get off that easy. No way. I let out a long sigh, to throw her off a little before I start.
“Listen, Alex. You need to know something. I didn’t come here for you. I didn’t come back to help you, or save you, or take care of you. I feel that I need to say that. I didn’t come here to be your hero or to carry you away on a white horse. I came here solely to help my family. My father’s retiring and I need to decide what I’m going to do with his business. I might take it over, I might sell it, I haven’t decided yet. Regardless, my coming back had nothing to do with you. ”
I watch as her face contorts itself into one of her cute angry faces. This is just way too easy.
“Okay, Blake, I get it!” I watch as she starts to push herself off the stool in anger, and it takes everything in me to not break out into laughter. Okay, I think playtime is over. I hold her in place so I can finish my statement.
“No, you don’t get it, Alex. I need you to know that so you can get over whatever dumb ass, anger projecting issues you have going on regarding being helped, saved, or taken care of in any way. I don’t plan on doing any of that for you. So that means we should be able to be friends, right? If I promise not to help you?”
I once again try to hold back my outright amusement that this is so Alex; the fact that to be her friend and gain her trust, I have to promise to not help her in any way. Typical. “But you do realize how backwards that actually is, don’t you?” I ask.
I watch her face as it relaxes and I can actually feel her tension as it releases from her body. Then, she gives me the most amazing, most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen on her gorgeous face. She reaches for me and hugs my neck. I smile to myself. Jesus, I love having her in my arms.
Keeping my smile on my face, I release her and then look down at her hand. Having driven her truck just the other day, I know for a fact she’s gonna need my help. I can’t help but take one more little jab at her and her ridiculous “no help policy”.
“Yeah, well, don’t come running to me when you figure out your fingers won’t be working right for the next couple of weeks.” I chuckle underneath my breath before continuing. “Oh, and by the way…It’s gonna be a bitch driving yourself to the emergency room to see if they’re broken. I would help you, but…”
I grab a piece of ice and toss it into my mouth as I leave her alone in the kitchen, knowing that she will have to ask me for help…and that I’ll be there for her. For now and always…as long as my Alex is still in there somewhere, I will find her.
Thank-you! We loved that. He was so very close to giving up on her!
Interview with L. B. Simmons
SSBR - We’re so delighted to welcome L.B. Simmons to Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews today. Thanks for agreeing to talk to us.
L.B. - So glad to be here. Thank you for having me!
SSBR - We really loved Running on Empty. Has this book been a long time coming? Has it been living in your imagination for a while now?
L.B. - Well, the book actually started because I wanted to document the situations I find myself in because of my children. Everything in the first half of chapter one happened to me, unfortunately. Every day, I would come to work with hilarious stories…so I figured why not write them down. So, I did and it just fell into a beautiful story. I actually dedicated the book to them so they will always have something to remember their childhood.
SSBR - How did the idea for Running on Empty and the whole Mending Hearts series first come about?
L.B. - As I said previously, the story started because I wanted to write stories about my children. But as it took on a life of its own, it became more of a story of survival. Learning to cope and live your life after a loss. I admire strong heroines, and wanted to create women who face real life struggles, who aren’t perfect and who make a lot of mistakes, but find the strength to overcome and find the happiness they deserve. That’s what the Mending Hearts Series is all about.
SSBR - It’s a very heartfelt tale of a woman coping with loss with trying to raise three young daughters. Is there someone in your own life who has inspired this story?
L.B. - Thankfully, no. But it is what I would like to see happen for someone who had experienced such a devastating loss. I would like to think that we all get more than one happily ever after.
SSBR - After reading the book, we’re definitely Blake-Fiends. He’s one awesome hero. Please tell us that he’s real!! Is he based on someone you know?
L.B. - LOL! Well, there are definitely some traits in Blake that I lovingly stole from my husband. There are also traits that I love to find in a man that I included in Blake’s personality. I love a man who isn’t scared to stand up to a woman when she is being irrational. I love a man who can be sweet and sensitive, but also rough and tough and rugged. I love a man who is HOT! Who doesn’t? I think Blake pretty well encapsulates all of these qualities.
SSBR - Definitely – who doesn’t love a man who is HOT! If Running on Empty was made into a movie, who would you like to see take on the central roles of Blake and Alex?
L.B. - Ummmmm…a young Marissa Tomei and an older Henry Cavill (with lighter hair)??? It’s so hard for me to find someone for them because they’re in my head…
SSBR - Mmmmmm……..Henry Cavill!! The book doesn’t contain any sex scenes at all. Is this something you feel uncomfortable writing about in graphic detail? Was it a conscious decision to write a ‘clean’ novel?
L.B. - It wasn’t really decision for me. I don’t really think it was necessary to tell their story. I don’t mind writing it, but I also believe that there is a time and place for detailed, graphic sex, and I really didn’t feel it was right for this book. Plus, I dedicated the book to my girls…who are young in age. I wouldn’t feel right dedicating a book to them and then filling it with sex.
SSBR - Yes, we can understand that. The first few pages of the story depict a working Mom trying to get her mischievous kids ready for school in a hurry. This felt so reminiscent of our own lives and very realistic – is this based on crazy mornings in your own house?
L.B. - Yes. That is my life. Every single morning. The yelling, the arguing, the chaos, the seat checks, the herding to the car…every single day. There is never a dull moment in my house, but I’m not sure I would be satisfied with my life if it was any other way.
SSBR - We’re with you there, for sure! We got a small glimpse of the burgeoning relationship between Trace and Harlow. Are you planning to write a full length novel for them?
L.B. - No at this time. I know that’s what everyone wants, but I just feel there isn’t anything I can do with them regarding a full length novel. I’m not saying it won’t happen eventually, but it’s not where I want to go with the series just yet.
SSBR - Running on Empty is the first book in the Mending Hearts series. Can you tell us what you have planned for the rest of the series? How many books are you intending to write and who will star in them?
L.B. - For now, I have only thought as far as the second book…Running in Place. It will center around Trace’s sister and why he actually came back to Waco. There will be a new male lead as her love interest. But, all of the original characters from ROE will be in it and the readers will see how their lives are progressing.
SSBR - We’ll be looking forward her story! Do you have plans for other books after the Mending Hearts series?
L.B. - I hope so. I hope to write for the rest of my life. When an idea hits me, and I can’t stop thinking about it, I know I’m about to start writing a book. I hope I’m lucky enough to have those ideas for many, many more years.
SSBR - Running on Empty is your first published novel. Have you been writing for long? Do you write under any pseudonyms?
L.B. - This is the first book I have written and/or published. But I hope there are more!!! No other names…yet!
SSBR - Now that Running on Empty has become successful, do you feel more pressure publishing subsequent novels now that there are readers out there anticipating them?
L.B. - It does add pressure, sure. But when I start to stress, I just have to remember why I started writing. I sure didn’t think, hey I’m gonna write a GREAT book! I just thought, hey…I love this story and I want to write it. It’s about remembering why you started to write, and remembering you can’t please everyone.
SSBR - Tell us a secret!!
L.B. - Names of the girls in the book are my girls middle names, using a “y” as the second letter for all of them.
SSBR - Aw – that’s so lovely. Tell us a little about what you like to read. Who is your current favourite author? Which books did you enjoy the most in 2012 and what are you most looking forward to in 2013.
L.B. - AHHH! I love to read. And I have such a random, eclectic mix. I read YA, Paranormal Romance, Erotica…basically everything. My favourite authors of 2012 are Jennifer L. Armentrout, Abbi Glines, Colleen Hoover, Jamie McGuire, JR Ward, RL Mathewson. My favourite books were basically anything these ladies wrote…LUX Series, Covenant Series, Breathe Series, Hopeless, Beautiful Disaster, Black Dagger Brotherhood, Neighbor from Hell Series. My most anticipated release of 2013…Lover at Last, JR Ward…Hands down.
SSBR - Thank-you! It’s been our pleasure!
Running on Empty is quite a departure for me as a reader and a reviewer. I’m heavily into erotic romance and this one is very low on the steam factor but it had something a little extra special that held my attention – it had a truly awesome hero. Yes, I am now a total Blake-fiend!
From that very first moment that Blake walked up to Alex on the side of the Interstate in his faded jeans with his boot buckles jangling, I was pretty much lost. He’s a fantastic hero and I fell under his spell pretty quickly.
Alex is a widow having been married to her High School sweetheart, Derek, and is now raising her 3 beautiful daughters alone. She’s doing OK but she’s not really living, just carrying on from day to day on a kind of auto-pilot. Her sadness and loss is palpable and radiates right off the page. She’s got a great support network but she’s putting her life on hold to raise her kids as she is overwhelmed by her grief. She’s running on empty.
Blake comes back to town – Alex and Blake had been best friends at school before she’d met Derek and they have a long history. He rescues her from an out of gas incident on the side of the interstate but Alex is prickly and not really receptive to his help but circumstances contrive to throw them together and they begin to rekindle their friendship.
Alex is not about to make things easy and she’s so used to employing her various coping mechanisms, she finds it difficult to let go and really feel some emotion and allow Blake to get through to her. Her inner turmoil is well described and poignant as she feels herself developing stronger feelings for Blake but tries to keep a lid on them, refusing to fully acknowledge them as the thought of loving and losing again is so very painful to her. She hurt Blake’s feelings more than once and I so wanted to comfort him but I understood why she behaved the way she did, even if I didn’t like it.
Blake – oh, Blake! Be still my beating heart. What a gorgeous, caring, patient, attentive man. What woman, widow or not, wouldn’t want someone like Blake to have their back. He’s never forgotten how much he and Alex meant to each other and is prepared to play the waiting game, to give Alex the space and time she needs but he loves her deeply. He’s also brilliant with her three lively daughters and they adore him almost straight away. He’s going to slowly bring Alex back to life at a time when she needed it most.
So, this is a soulful, deeply emotional romance – very low on the steam factor but high on chemistry and just full of feel-good, goofy-grin loveliness.You look good wearing my future
4 stars contemporary romance
Mending Hearts Series Reading Order
1. Running on Empty
2. Running in Place
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