Once and Again
Return to Briarwood, #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Date of Publication: July 14, 2015
Number of pages: 287
Cover Artist: Diane Lugar
For readers of Shannon Stacey and Susan Mallery, the heartfelt new Briarwood series begins with a tale of forbidden love, broken promises, and second chances.
Growing up in Eastbridge, Connecticut, Carolyn Rivington was a young debutante who did whatever her parents asked. So when her father demanded that she break things off with the boy from the wrong side of the tracks or else, she did. Now Carolyn’s family is deep in debt. She’s no longer a member of the Briarwood Golf and Yacht Club, she’s an employee. And the tanned, tattooed, dangerously handsome stranger who saunters into her lobby isn’t just her new boss... he’s also her first love.
The last time he saw Carolyn, Jake Gaffney was in the back of a police cruiser, handcuffed and humiliated. But seeing her again stirs other memories: a blanket on the beach, the moon above their heads, and the most expensive bottle of wine he could afford. Now the tables have turned. As a real-estate magnate and Briarwood’s new owner, Jake doesn’t have to answer to anyone. But now that he’s back home, he’s finding it hard to live down his old reputation.
Before they can move forward, Jake and Carolyn must face their pasts. But it’ll take more than sizzling chemistry for them to heal old wounds and return to the love they once shared.
The conference room was bustling when she arrived. After grabbing a cup of coffee from the sideboard, she took a seat at the enormous table in the center of the room, next to Eric Lefoute, the head chef of Waves, the club’s restaurant. Unsurprisingly, the handsome Frenchman was scowling. Eric hated answering to authority and made no bones about the fact that attending such a meeting was going to take away from the prep time he needed for this afternoon’s luncheon.
Sinking back into one of the slightly worn but still functional chairs, she glanced around and took a bracing sip of black coffee. Everyone was seated now, impatiently waiting for the new owner to appear. Orwell Tippett, the athletics director, tapped a pen over and over again on his notepad. Even Summer Lawrence, the spa manager who’d found a seat on Carolyn’s other side, looked less-than-Zen as she twisted her straight, light brown ponytail into a tight corkscrew.
Summer leaned over to whisper in her ear. “What kind of changes do you think the new owner will make?”
Carolyn shrugged. “I’m not sure. We’ll have to wait and see.”
“Do you think everyone will get fired?”
“God, I hope not.”
Getting canned was her biggest worry right now. Despite the fact that members and staff seemed to like her—both personally and professionally—her family’s reputation and the fact that she was the new kid on the block both weighed against her. Now that the family fortune was decimated and the Rivington name was mud, it didn’t matter a whit that her maternal great-grandfather had been one of the club’s original investors.
Just as everyone’s anxiety was reaching a fever pitch, the door to the conference room opened. Her heart skipped a beat just before Richard stepped inside. Beside her, Eric emitted a sharp breath. He was just as worried as anyone else about the changes that might come.
She’d almost collected herself before he stepped in.
Everything kind of slipped sideways for a minute while she sat there, barely breathing. He belonged here, didn’t he? And she’d tried to kick him out! It was impossible for this day to get worse.
And then it did.
He removed his sunglasses, and familiar deep-blue eyes swept the room, sizing up everything and everyone. When his gaze finally met hers, his lips curled into the merest hint of a smile and his eyes narrowed.
“Hello, everyone,” he said in a deep voice. “I’m Jacob Gaffney, Briarwood’s new owner.”
At that moment, her heart stopped. Actually stopped, just like her dad’s had last week when he’d suffered a massive heart attack brought on by the huge amount of stress he was under. But Carolyn wasn’t having a heart attack, because her organ kick-started up almost immediately.
It had been the best summer of her life—until everything had come crashing down. As she stared at him, trying to morph these new, hard, masculine features onto the boy she knew, Jake stared back. A complicated mix of emotion passed over his face—awareness, desire.
Sure that her cheeks were turning a furious crimson, she looked down at her fingers, now twisting in her lap. For a long time, she’d put up a wall to stop the ache, telling herself it was for the best. That she had been too young. Too inexperienced. But she was just fooling herself. Regret, sadness, and not for the first time, the intense desire for a do-over coursed through her in a wave of emotion. But in life, there were no do-overs, were there?
This hardened, transformed-to-the-point-of-unrecognizability Jake wasn’t going to give her one. Why would he, considering what she and her family had done?
Jake was now introducing himself and laying out the game plan for the staff for the next couple of weeks. The words, the room, even the walls were a blur. She was screwed, utterly and completely.
Because as soon as Jake got her alone, he was going to fire her ass, and then she’d be back where she started: a former socialite with crippling debt and a family on the brink of collapse.
Not that Jake would care, given that the last time she’d seen him, he’d been handcuffed in the back of a police car.
And her father was the one who’d put him there.
Today, we welcome Elisabeth Barrett to Musings and Ramblings. Let's all give a big Geeky welcome!
Thanks so much! I’m thrilled to be here!
Let's start with some writer specific questions before moving into the fun stuff. That way everyone can really get to know the person behind the writer. We will finish things off with a round of Think Fast. Ready for the interrogation to begin?
Absolutely. Let’s go!
Is your writing style more plotter or pantser?
I’m a pretty good mix of the two. I like to plot out the general arc and themes, but once I have that framework, I like to let the characters and the flow of the story lead me. That being said, I do tend to write in a set pattern. First I focus on the core story and loosely plot the arc, then, without going into too many details, I write the first three chapters of the book. This helps me set the tone. Once I have those three chapters down, I go back and fill in a good chunk of the outline, usually the first ten chapters or so. I write those chapters, seeing where things lead. Then I plot out and write the rest of the book. This technique seems to be working for me, so I’m sticking to it!
When is your favorite time/place to write? Do you write structured or patchworked?
I am (in)famous for doing a lot of writing in my car, which I call my “mobile office.” I park in the same few spots in different places, depending on my kids’ schedules, and set myself up with my laptop right in the driver’s seat. (If anyone else works in their car, please give me a shout-out in the comments section).
I’m a bit Pavlovian about the writing, actually. I pull my laptop onto my lap, lean back the seat just so, and that’s my signal that I’m ready to write. I like writing in the mornings, if possible. Afternoons are more for editing.
I much prefer to write in a structured fashion, and block out chunks of time to get real work done. When I’m under deadline, I write 2000 words/day for a total of 10,000 words/week. When I’m not under deadline (which seems to be *never* these days), I don’t push myself as hard, but I still try to write every day. There are always days when I can’t schedule writing time, and I just make up the words other days during the week. With three kids, I have to be flexible.
How do you deal with Writer's Block?
By pretending it doesn’t exist! I think this comes from my days as an attorney. When the brief was due, it was due, period. Opposing counsel won’t wait. The judge won’t wait. You just get it done. I feel the same way about writing fiction.
How involved are you with Social Media and self-promotion?
I am on the usual channels of social media – Facebook and Twitter, especially. I used to blog a lot, too, but have cut back thanks to looming deadlines. I will admit to being completely awful at self-promotion. I only want to talk if people want to listen, and I’m bad at just shouting out to the ether. But I love talking with readers and other authors, so if you see me online, please ping me!
What one thing do you wish someone had told you before you started writing?
That it had the power to consume me. I never felt like this when I was practicing law. It was a job, and it was easy to compartmentalize the work. I still do a lot of academic editing, and I find that I can turn it on and off like a switch. I’m also wickedly efficient at it, which may help.
Fiction, however, is a completely different story (no pun intended). This may sound a bit crazy, but once I start thinking about ideas, it’s like a spigot that won’t turn off. They just keep coming and coming and the only way I can stop them is by getting it all out onto my laptop.
So if there are any aspiring fiction writers out there, I’d say be aware that writing may become a compulsion!
What was the last movie/concert/show that you saw?
I recently went to see Pitch Perfect 2. I snuck out to the theater while the kids were all in school and saw a matinee with some friends. It felt very decadent. And the movie was hilarious.
What was the name of the last book you read?
I re-read Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy and loved it…again. Bathsheba Everdene is so strong, so independent, and I love that she finally marries because she wants to, not because she needs to.
Tell us 2 positive and 2 negative character traits you possess.
Positives—I’m fiercely loyal. It takes a long time to get to know me well, but once you have me, you have me forever. I will do anything for my loved ones. I’m also funny, and I don’t say this lightly, because for years I really wasn’t. At all. But I will credit Mr. Barrett for instilling in me a decent sense of humor. (Thanks, honey!)
Negatives—I’m a worrier. I’m getting better at it, but it still is a big challenge for me, and something I work daily to overcome. I’m also really bad at saying “no” to people.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
My biggest pet peeve has to do with communication. I see so many people RSVPing to things they don’t intend to attend, or making dates they don’t intend to keep. It drives me batty, because I’m super organized and typically punctual. When someone bails on me or makes it too difficult to schedule a meeting, that gets a big dislike from me.
And let me be clear—most of the people with whom I interact aren’t like this at all. It’s with the few people who don’t know me that well or have some ancillary connection to me where this might happen. But when it does….grrr!
What would we find in your refrigerator right now?
I do a *ton* of cooking, so in my fridge and freezer, I have pretty much everything—proteins, carbs and veggies. My pantry is much more interesting. I have a lot of good pastas, fruit (my kids love it), and for myself—chocolate! I’m kind of a chocoholic and I love sampling new/different bars, so I have some pretty cool ones in there now. My favorite area chocolate shop is Fog City News up in San Francisco. They have some rare and unique bars, and their staff is super knowledgeable. If you’re ever in SF, I’d highly recommend you stop by!
Elvis or Sinatra? Sinatra! Especially In the Wee Small Hours, but pretty much anything.
Mountains or Sea? Sea.
Meat or Veggies? Meat. Red, and almost raw.
Coffee or Tea? Earl Grey, baby.
Cake or Pie? (Chocolate) cake, cake, cake!
Thanks for coming by and spending some time with us. Any final words of wisdom to pass along?
Thank you so much for having me! It’s been a pleasure!
As for final words of wisdom, if you’re a writer, keep at it. If you’re thinking about becoming a writer, what are you waiting for? Go for it! And if you’re a reader who loves emotional, sexy contemporary romance, pick up a copy of Once and Again.
Elisabeth Barrett lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and spends her days teaching, editing, writing sexy contemporary romance, and enjoying time with her sometimes-bearded husband and three spirited children. She is constantly perfecting her home-work-writing juggling act, but in her free time she loves to hike open-space preserves, grow orchids, bake sweet things her husband won’t eat, and sing in grand choruses. For more about Elisabeth, please visit her website.
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