Detour to Paradise
by River Ames
Genre: Sweet Contemporary Romance
Lucas Rockworth—a hard-driving force of nature has been ordered by his doctor to take some time off and get his blood pressure under control. You would think buying a cabin in the natural splendor known as Gray Horse Lake, Idaho, would do the trick. All that mountain greenery, crystal blue lakes and rivers, and nature-run-amok had to be exactly what the doctor had ordered.
Enter Sarah Burke… The innocently enticing young entrepreneur who’s opening an equestrian camp for children with handicaps.
Her initial impression of him is clearly wrong. For some reason, known to the reader but unknown to him, Sarah mistakenly believes that Lucas Rockworth is a shy, sensitive man. After having to deal a lifetime with a dominating older brother and controlling father, she finds these traits very appealing.
Her recent breakup with someone who could best be described as a bully has Sarah longing for a kinder, gentler man in her life.
Lucas tells himself that, since he makes his living as a general contractor, he has the hands-on experience to make himself into anything Miss Sarah Burke is looking for.
It shouldn’t be that great a stretch to become a modern, sensitive kind of guy, should it? She wants Mr. Rogers… Well, darn, he can manage that for the short time he’s in Idaho.
How hard can it be to tame his darker, more cynical side?
As for Sarah Burke? She thinks she’s met a real life version of Mr. Rogers. But, the reader knows its Rambo who’s come a’courting.
Would the real Lucas Rockworth care to step forward?
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“Good morning, Sarah.”
Lucas’s low-voiced greeting reached Sarah as she picked up a crisp strip of bacon. Looking up from the table, she encountered his formidable expression. No gentleness lurked within the hard-planed contours of his face. No light sparkled in his dark eyes, and no smile softened the firm line of his mouth. Lucas Rockworth did not look like a man who’d spent a restful night.
“Good morning, Lucas.” Sarah let her gaze drift away from him and return to her plate.
After Tansy had dished breakfast onto heated serving plates, she and her little boy had gone outside. Without Julie’s presence, there was no buffer between Sarah and Lucas’s dark mood. She was reluctant to inquire how the impromptu poetry reading had gone.
Lucas pulled out a chair next to her and claimed it. Sliding another quick glance at his somber face, she noted that his gloomy state in no way diminished his handsomeness. The light blue shirt he wore did wonderful things to his broad chest, and his dark slacks accentuated his muscular legs. It wouldn’t do to sigh at his ruggedly attractive appearance, but the sigh was there, inside her, just waiting to slip out.
Lucas didn’t break the silence, and Sarah wasn’t inclined to rush in and fill it. Instead, she methodically pushed the food around on her plate, making interesting geometric configurations from the scrambled eggs and hash browns.
Lucas just as methodically ate everything he’d served himself. When he was finished eating, he drained his tumbler of orange juice and reached for his napkin. Then he pushed back his chair, obviously about to leave the kitchen.
Sarah cracked. “All right, Lucas. It couldn’t have been that bad. What happened?”
He looked down at her with a martyred expression, opened his mouth, then closed it. He shook his head twice and walked away from the table. Sarah jumped to her feet.
“Lucas, wait. You’ve got to tell me what happened.”
She put a hand on his forearm to stop him from leaving.
He glanced down at her restraining hand, then into her eyes.
“My ladylove is Sarah.
She was almost devoured by a ‘bear-ah.’
Then she fell into my arms and
I sampled her charms.
Now I live to make her mine,
for all time.”
Sarah’s mouth fell open at Lucas’s deadpan recitation. The poetry was too awful to be real. Except for the last line. That last line wasn’t half bad.
She jumped at his terse question. “That’s really nice, Lucas.”
He cringed at her use of the word he fully intended to eradicate from his vocabulary. “Three hours, Sarah. It took me three hours and about a hundred sheets of paper to come up with that.”
He stepped closer, and Sarah snatched her hand from his arm. “Well, you hung in there until you finished. That’s what’s important. How did...uh...Julie react to it?”
“By the time I got to my room, she had fallen asleep—in my bed. When I was walking past your room, I debated waking you to give you a progress report. But I decided to let you enjoy your undeserved
“That was ni—”
“Don’t say it.”
“What?” Sarah squeaked, more than a little awed at Lucas’s demonstration of anger.
“Nice. You were going to say ‘nice,’ weren’t you?”
Eyes wide, she nodded.
He sighed hugely. “Thank you.”
“Come on. Let’s go.” He took her arm and led her toward the back door.
“To the future site of Camp Grey Horse. I want to go over your plans with you before the architect shows up.”
Sarah found herself taking two steps to each one of his. “What’s the hurry?”
“I want to get out of here before Julie comes downstairs.”
“And I need your help on this poetry business. I want to be able to rattle off six or seven love poems to Julie. That ought to discourage her.”
“But I’m no poet,” Sarah protested.
Lucas dropped her arm and turned to face her. He was smiling, a thoroughly nasty smile. “But you’re going to hang in there till you come up with something—right?”
Sarah studied his militant expression. Boy had he woken up on the wrong side of the bed!
“How do I love thee? Let me count the—”
“It’s been done, Sarah.” A smile threatened the severe line of his mouth.
“Well, then, how about:
Rose are red
violets are blue
Sarah Burke is as beautiful as. .. ”
“...Timbuktu?” Lucas filled in, smothering a chuckle.
Dark brown eyes met golden brown. Laughter shone in both.
“We’ll work on it,” they promised in unison.
River Ames spent the first eighteen years of her life in Southern California. Here is a partial list of some of the cities in which she lived: Pasadena, South Pasadena, Duarte, El Monte, Arcadia La Puente, Lomita, West Covina, Pacifica, Santa Monica, Palmdale, and Hacienda Heights. In some of those cities, she lived at six different addresses. In the city of La Puente, River's family lived in four different houses on the same street. The non-glamorous reason for all the moves was habitual eviction necessitated for non-payment of rent. It was an interesting way to grow up.
River attended twenty-six different elementary schools, two different junior high schools and four different high schools. In one elementary school, she was a student for only three days.
Perhaps, because she was so frequently identified as the "new girl," the pattern of River being an observer instead of a participant in the interactions going on around her seemed a logical fit for her personality.
When she was thirteen, River read "Gone with the Wind." She skipped three days of school in order to finish the book in one sitting. Disappointed in Rhett for "not giving a damn," River wrote her own sequel--in long hand, on three-hole punch, notebook paper. The opening line? "Tomorrow dawned bright and fair." In less than fifty pages, Scarlett had been transformed into Jane Eyre and Rhett had fallen in love with her all over again.
After Southern California, River has spent the next part of her life living in the semi-rural town of Idaho Falls, Idaho. She is a graduate of Idaho State University, majoring in Health Education Sciences and Addiction Counseling. She's worked the past ten years at a Behavioral Health Center where she assisted children, teenagers, and adults committed in a 24/7 secured facility because of mental health challenges they are experiencing.
River's books celebrate the good-natured humor that lays at the heart of most of our human predicaments. The conflicts are significant, yet it is her characters and their quirky (yet somehow universally relatable) thoughts, words, and choices that reflect a light-hearted peek into a world we wish was real. The amazing thing is that these worlds are real to readers for the time they visit there.
Readers have said: "In a River Ames book, one minute I'm laughing out loud, and the next I have a lump in my throat."
River is currently readying a historical novel, "Gideon's Justice." This three-part novel is Book I in a three volume western series set in the Colorado Territory.
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