Monday, February 4, 2019

Desert Rose and Armchair Travel by J. Arlene Culiner #romance #secondact

Muse Monday

My guest today, J. Arlene Culiner, makes a great point. Through a book, you can travel the world!

Armchair travel? Nothing like it. No last-minute panic while getting out to the airport; no check-in, or security check; no obnoxious seat partner on the plane; no screaming babies; no lost baggage; no lousy exchange rate; no pickpockets; no struggle, no bad weather. But, snuggled into your favorite chair, or propped against your pillow, you open your book (or e-reader) and are immediately transported into another world. Not only that: unlike a real tourist, you get to see what’s happening behind the scenes.

Which brings us to Blake’s Folly, Nevada, the setting for my latest romance, Desert Rose, and the soon-to-be released All About Charming Alice (release date February 26). Blake’s Folly is a semi-ghost town in Nevada, a backwoods community of abandoned clapboard shacks, endless wind, and
scraggly vegetation with strange local names like snatch-it shrub and sticky snakeweed. Back in the late 1800s, Blake’s Folly boasted three mining companies, a railway line to Reno, a lot of money, many saloons, and quite a few brothels, but the glory didn’t last. It was soon clear that the silver was running out, and those sane enough to do so, pulled up stakes and left town.

But even half-abandoned, rusty trailer, semi-ghost towns can have great charm, and my hero, geologist Jonah Livingstone, takes great pleasure in sighting the other inhabitants of this flatland: mule deer, bobcats, mountain beaver, spotted bats, desert tortoises, sidewinders, rattlers, chukar partridges, and little gray lizards. Of course, there’s another attraction too: the lovely Rose Badger. But how does Rose see Jonah? She doesn’t seem to favor any one man…

Do you want to know more? Why don’t we go visit Blake’s Folly right now, do it via Armchair Travel, and this excerpt from Desert Rose:

     Rose looked up. “You pass by Blake’s Folly from time to time? Whatever for? This is the end of the world.”
     “The world has several ends, and I work in all of them. I’m a geologist.”
     “Ah, I see. Well, that explains it.”
     “That explains some of it,” he said, taking her in from head to toe with undisguised curiosity. “If this place is the end of the world, how did you get here?”
     “The easiest way possible. I was born here.” Rose glanced out of the window at the early evening light touching up a bleak, empty landscape that would never interest a city slicker; at the gentle snowflakes drifting lazily, as though they had no intention of ever reaching the ground.
     “And you stayed?”
     He was looking even more curious now — if that were possible. She couldn’t blame him. “I did leave Blake’s Folly when I was young. I stayed away for years and was absolutely certain I’d never return, that this place was the absolute pits. It’s funny: there’s nothing going on here. The greatest social event of the year is the Blake’s Folly Get-Together — and that’s just bad music, awkward dancing, and gossip mongering. There’s no cinema within reasonable distance, no shopping outside of Reno — and that’s a very long, boring drive away. Yet, this place has a strange pulling power. So I came back, decided to settle.”
     “Your husband is from Blake’s Folly too?”
     Rose’s eyes flicked back to his. Ah ha. So, he was interested and checking out the territory. “No husband.”
     He looked surprised. “An unmarried woman in such an out-of-the-way place?”
     What was he asking? If she was lonely? Desperate for male company?
     Rose laughed outright. “Oh, there are plenty of men around, believe me.” There were. They were out on the ranches, or climbing over the hills, or looking for gold, or photographing, or pounding along the history trail, or doing research, or taking care of animals, or looking for fossils, or stopping at the Mizpah Hotel and Restaurant for a drink, a chat, a meal, and a little human warmth out here on the lonely flatland. She’d always had her share of admirers too, although none lived in Blake’s Folly — they’d have to be half-mad to do something like that. This place was a rusty trailer, scrapyard, abandoned car, clapboard shack, sagging old house community: a dead end if there ever was one.
     He took the little gift-wrapped packet she held out, slipped it into the pocket of his leather jacket. Turned, looked out at the night, but didn’t move towards the door. Rose watched him, wondered why he was hesitating. Because he wanted to stay? Talk to her? Get to know her? Because he too acknowledged the buzz that was still hovering in the air around them, and he wanted to explore it, see where it would go?
     Then he shook his head, turned back to her, the smile still playing softly around his lips.
     “Well, I’d better be on my way. Looks like the snow isn’t letting up.”
     “No,” Rose agreed. “There have been blizzard warnings all day.”
     “Yes.” His eyes held hers. Warm eyes. Intimate eyes. Eyes that, in certain circumstances, could create havoc with a woman’s senses. “Nice talking to you.”
     “Nice talking to you too.” She meant it.
     He still wasn’t heading toward the door. “My name is Jonah. Jonah Livingstone.”
     “I’m Rose Badger.”
     He nodded. “Until next time, Rose.”
     “See you then.”
     He stepped out into the night, half-turned, just briefly, his hand raised in a half-wave, half-salute. Then, vanished into the falling snow and dusky evening.
     Rose shrugged. Next time, he’d said? What sort of next time? This was Blake’s Folly. People always said they’d be back, but they rarely were. Why return to a pile of clapboard shacks and abandoned trailers? This was nowhere. This was the end of the line, socially speaking. This was a has-been. This was home. 

Men love Rose Badger, and if the other inhabitants of dead-end Blake’s Folly, Nevada, don’t approve, she couldn’t care less. With a disastrous marriage far behind her, settling down is the last thing she intends to do. Isn’t life for fun? Doesn’t a stable relationship always mean predictability and boredom? Well… perhaps things might be different with Jonah Livingstone, but he is off limits for anything other than friendship. Even though, secretly, she’s deeply attracted to him, she knows he’s still entangled in a complicated past relationship. Besides, Rose has another secret life—one that she’ll never give up for any man.

The last person geologist Jonah Livingstone expected to meet in a semi-ghost town is Rose Badger. She’s easy-going, delightfully spontaneous, and Jonah is certain their attraction is mutual. But Rose is always surrounded by a crowd of admirers and doesn’t seem inclined to choose a favorite. Though Jonah has also suffered a failed marriage, he can’t help being drawn to Rose—and he dares to hope she may feel the same for him. But is Jonah too independent to settle into a permanent relationship again? He’s leading his own very private life, as well…and secrets are an excellent protection against love. Will he do what it takes to hold on to his Desert Rose?

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