Today I am so pleased to welcome A.M. Arthur to Joyfully Jay. A.M. has come to share an exclusive excerpt from her latest release, Lucky Break. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Thank you, Jay, for having me here today to celebrate the release of LUCKY BREAK, the fourth book in my Clean Slate Ranch cowboy series. The ranch is a place for second (and sometimes third) chances in life, and there’s all kinds of romance in the air. LUCKY BREAK brings together quiet, temporarily-homeless pastry chef Shawn Matthews with flirty cowboy Robin Butler—quite literally when Shawn is offered a cabin right next door to Robin. But Robin doesn’t date, Shawn doesn’t do hookups, and both men have emotional baggage they need to unpack before they can find their happily ever after…
Shawn squinted at him. “So are you only interested in me because I look like Xander?”
“God, no. I mean, once I talked to you and saw you up close, the resemblance isn’t as strong. And you have such a different personality from Xander. It’s not about you being like him, it’s just…you. I like you, Shawn. I like you more with every conversation we have. Xander had a big personality, and a smile and joke for everyone, and I loved that about him. You have this beautiful inner strength that you try to hide but can’t, because it shines through in everything you do.”
“Oh.” He couldn’t tell in the dim light but Shawn might have blushed. “Thank you.”
The conversation was getting a bit too serious for Robin, so he pulled out his inner flirt. “What’s something you like about me?”
Okay, that somehow came out more awkward and less charming than Robin had hoped, but Shawn still laughed. “Well, you’re blunt, which is nice. Honest and open about what you want. I’m gay, but I’ve never had good luck with my gaydar, and more than once I’ve flirted too much with a straight dude who didn’t appreciate it. I guess I’m attracted to the wrong type of guy.”
“Really? Am I the wrong type?”
“Probably.” Shawn’s gaze dropped briefly as he very openly cruised Robin. “Physically, you are definitely my type. I think I’m a little intimidated by your age and experience.”
Robin pretended to be offended. “I’m thirty-two, not at my expiration date.”
“I didn’t mean it like that. Yeah, you’re older, but you’ve been married and had this whole other life before now.”
“Well, so did you. Where did you go when you left your hometown?”
“San Francisco, to live with a distant cousin. We weren’t friendly, but it was a place to live, and I worked any job I could get, so I could send money home. I tried taking college courses, but they didn’t seem to do anything for me but cost money. I learn things better hands-on, and kitchens were a good place to hide.”
Robin didn’t like Shawn’s frown. “Hide from who?”
“People in general, I guess, and it was an old habit from before I left home.” Shawn nibbled at his thumbnail. “One of the reasons I left was because of a semipublic…incident that made me famous in my hometown, and not in a good way. People were coming down hard, on my side or against me, and it sucked.”
It took all of Robin’s self-control not to ask about the incident, because Shawn looked absolutely miserable now. Robin chanced sliding an arm across Shawn’s shoulders, and he was relieved when Shawn didn’t pull away. He didn’t lean into Robin, either, but he did accept the comfort.
“I’m sorry that happened,” Robin whispered.
“Is that why you never visit home?”
“Pretty much. My grandparents never stopped supporting me but it embarrassed them, I could tell, and they lost some lifelong friends over the whole thing.”
“Guilt can be a powerful thing. Trust me, I know guilt.” Guilt kept him awake at night. Literally. “But you’re here now. Safe and sound.”
And right next door to me.
Welcome to Clean Slate Ranch: home of tight jeans, cowboy boots and rough trails. For some men, it’s a fantasy come true.
Shawn Matthews never imagined he’d be living out of his car, trying to make ends meet, but life doesn’t always go your way—he knows that better than most. When an accident leaves the Clean Slate Ranch shorthanded, Shawn is enlisted to help cook and finds himself bunked next to the sexiest cowboy he’s ever laid eyes on.
The first time Robin Butler spots the new chef, he thinks he’s seeing an actual ghost. Shawn is the spitting image of his late husband, and it spooks the hell out of him. The former rodeo-star-turned-ranch-hand does his best to avoid the soft-spoken cook—except it’s kind of tough when the man makes the best damn grub this side of the Mississippi and has a boy-next-door charm that’s impossible to resist.
Even though the tension between them practically sizzles, Shawn doesn’t do hookups and Robin isn’t ready for a new relationship. Besides, Robin can tell Shawn’s been hurt and deserves a partner who isn’t saddled with a tragic past. But chemistry doesn’t lie. Maybe finding each other—and a second chance at love—is the lucky break they both need.
A.M. Arthur was born and raised in the same kind of small town that she likes to write about, a stone’s throw from both beach resorts and generational farmland. She’s been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long, in a losing battle to make the fictional voices stop.
She credits an early fascination with male friendships (bromance hadn’t been coined yet back then) with her later discovery of and subsequent love affair with m/m romance stories. A.M. Arthur’s work is available from Carina Press, SMP Swerve, and Briggs-King Books.
When not exorcising the voices in her head, she toils away in a retail job that tests her patience and gives her lots of story fodder. She can also be found in her kitchen, pretending she’s an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments.
Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org with your cooking tips (or book comments). For updates, info and the occasional freebie, sign up for her free newsletter: https://vr2.verticalresponse.com/s/signupformynewsletter16492674416904