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A Semi-Sweet Summer by Jan Elder

Today sees the release of A Semi-Sweet Summer by Jan Elder. Jan very kindly not only sent me an author interview, but also a character interview. So please read on to the end of the page :)

With weighted steps, Cassidy headed toward the car and crumpled into the passenger seat. “Where’d you get all that energy, Gabby? Don’t country people meander?”

She vaguely remembered when her life felt more like a brisk walk than the frantic gallop of her life in the big city. Vaguely.

“Us country-people tend to stroll through life and enjoy the journey—unless there’s fried chicken involved. Then it’s every man, woman, or child for themselves. Ready?” Gabby shifted into gear and prepared for take-off.

Out of the corner of Cassidy’s eye, something huge and decidedly bovine moved over by her property line. “Hold up.”

Gabby pulled up short and Cassidy stiff-legged it out of the car. She strode across the lawn, her heels sinking into clover with every step. When she was ten feet away from a mangled fence, she spied a man headed in her direction, picking his way across the field next door. His periwinkle-blue cotton shirt stretched across broad, muscular shoulders, his thick, dark-brown hair was ruffled by the light breeze.

OK, he had nice, wide shoulders, but she had a damaged fence. She stepped closer. The oxford button-down fit him as if it was made for his fine physique. Her ex-boyfriend’s London tailor couldn’t have done any better.

Cassidy moved another step closer. The man’s chestnut-brown eyes, with a hint of copper, zeroed in on hers as he swiped an errant lock of hair off his forehead.

Hunter Gray?

The blast from her past nearly slapped her to the ground. In high school, she’d pined for this man from afar. In her adolescent journal, she’d waxed lyrical about his many fine attributes. She’d lain awake countless nights dreaming of the dimples in his face, his broad chest…and his lips.

And then, at the end of her sophomore year, he’d ruined it all. Her passion swung the other direction—hatred for his despicable self.

Hunter whistled through his teeth, a slow smile gracing his lips. “Well, hello, neighbor.”

“Is that your animal on my lawn?” She knew a bovine when she saw one, and this one was impressive. Long, long legs, massive hooves, and…who knew cows could be so whopping enormous?

The cow turned dark, liquid eyes on Cassidy and she could swear the creature smirked. Wickedly. As if it were claiming the lawn as its own.

“Oh, you mean Marigold?”

He named his cows after flowers? “Yes. Why is Marigold on my lawn?”

“What can I say? She’s the adventurous type.” He pushed a hand through hair the color of brisk iced tea—that wavy, tousled hair. “Don’t worry. I’ll fix your fence.”
She screwed up her face until she found the semblance of a smile. “Fine. And I’d appreciate it if you’d get your cow off my turf. Now.”

Why wasn’t she over this stomach-clenching angst? She’d forgiven him years ago, so why did the rusty barb of humiliation pin her like a bug to a board?

She smothered a sigh just as the recalcitrant cow lifted her tail and plopped a cow-pie on spring-green grass.

My Review:
This one held my attention from first page to last word, making putting it down virtually impossible. Cassidy and Hunter's story pulls you in, tugs on every heart string you have, and a couple you didn't know existed. From chuckles to sobs, this story has it all and shouldn't be missed.

buy here:

How did you come up with your premise? Is there a story behind your book? How did the story evolve?

A Semi-Sweet Summer is a “new adult” novella, part of Pelican Book Group’s Pure Amore line. A large part of this book harkens back to my teenage years, my thoughts swinging to a boy I had the biggest crush on in school. He was three and a half years older (I even still remember his birthday) and he was definitely in the “elite” segment of our church youth group—the cool kids I so longed to be a part of. Sorry to say, I followed him around like a puppy, learned all of his favorite foods, his chosen hobbies, etc. I try not to think I actually stalked him, but I was very aware of his presence, and searched for ways to be near him.

In A Semi-Sweet Summer, I tried to transfer some of that raging angst into fodder for Cassidy’s discomfort in finding her unrequited love living right next door. Like most of us, Cassidy never really fit in—hardly that enviable cheerleader, not a person that anyone would notice. Rather, she sees herself as sort of an ugly duckling. Can anybody out there relate?

For those who are not familiar with this story, would you please give us the blurb?

Hunter Gray is very intrigued by his new neighbor. His escape artist cow, Marigold, engineers an introduction…but it's not quite the first impression he was hoping for. Baffled by the nagging suspicion he’s seen this woman before, he plots to win Cassidy’s heart at every opportunity.

With the object of her unrequited love living within shouting distance, Cassidy prays for strength to forgive and forget. And Hunter? He just wants to get back to his own dream to grow his farm and get to know the pretty girl next door. If she'll let him.

Are there any fun titbits about this story you can share with us?

In order to research the story, I “had” to visit a local upscale chocolate truffle shop, The Perfect Truffle in Frederick, MD. Randy, the owner of the shop, spent a whopping three hours with me, telling me all about the ins and outs of making the finest chocolate. And THEN, he let me choose twelve truffles to take home. I shared the chocolate with my writers group, and luckily, that day, there were six of us. Two for each! Seriously delicious!

Here's the website in case you just want to drool at the photos:

How did you decide on the setting?

I was walking by a chocolate truffle shop one day, stopped in to “take a look” at the “display” and, well, there ya go…

When will it be released?

August 18, 2017 – TODAY! Yippee!

 Where were you born?

Washington D.C. Keep moving north and west and currently live 75 away, near the skinny part of Maryland.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?      

Idaho. My sister lives there and I miss her. Plus, it’s slower paced than where I live and the people are nice. And, from visiting my sister many times, I have learned there are chocolate truffles there too. Having chocolate nearby is a must for me now, apparently.

What’s your favourite colour?  

I have three just because … I can. Twilight blue (see previous novel Love, Lies, and Fireflies for a description), lilac, and dusty rose. They also happen to look good together.

What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?

Your first draft is going to be awful. Get used to it. Just keep writing and fix it later—one of the most useful things I’ve ever read about writing. I think it was in Writers Digest magazine. Kinda takes the pressure off.

Are you working on anything at the present you’d like to share with us?

Part three of the Moose Creek series. Part one, Moostletoe, part two, Moosed Opportunities, and now… part three Almoosed Heaven. Lots of fun, lots of romance, lots of moose to love. Should be coming out the November.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Too easy. An author.

Do you really, really want a dog?

No. Have two cats. Love them both. Don’t have to take them outside. And they’re self-cleaning. And to all of you dog people out there, I do love dogs also. I have been owned by four at various times growing up. If there were no cats in the world, a sheltie would be my fall-back animal.

Do you hate how you look in pictures?

Good gravy, doesn’t most everybody? I’ll get back to you when I lose 20 pounds and let you know if that helps.

What were you doing at midnight last night?

Writing. My best time to think, create, and write. If I’m not doing that at midnight, I’m reading a good fiction book. Or petting a cat. Or watching my neighbor have to walk his dog out in the elements.

What is your favourite animal?

I believe we’ve covered this but just in case … cat, cat, cat, and uh, cat. I wanted four, my husband wanted zero, so we have two. Love my husband. Lots.

Have you ever cried during a movie?

If the movie is a good one, I cry. All the time. I cry at Hallmark card commercials. Just do.

What is your favourite pizza?
Anything that doesn’t have anchovies in it on it or near it.

Are you a morning person or a night person?

Extreme night owl. The rest of the world needs to start everything later. Like four hours.

Tell us your name and a little bit about yourself?

Hello. I’m Hunter Gray. Thanks for having me here today. The most notable thing about me, I guess, is that I’m a dairy farmer. My favorite cow is named Marigold. (Hunter laughs). I’m not sure how my new neighbour Cassidy feels about her though. The cow has a habit of showing up on Cassidy’s property. Without an invitation.

Tell us about where you live and why you choose to live there?

I live in a sleepy little town called Crystal Falls. A slice of heaven, really, in the rolling hills of western Maryland.

What is a quirk of your personality that most people wouldn't know?

I’ve always been a sucker for red-heads. With blue eyes. And a taste for chocolate.

What obstacles did you have to overcome in order to reach your Happily-ever-after?

I grew up on the farm and sort of took it over when Dad retired. I wanted to make it my own though and do it right. Got my agriculture and husbandry degree from The University of Maryland and I’ve worked hard to make it profitable. It’s hard though. My sister is tied to a wheelchair and she needs … extra consideration. Takes a lot of time, but I’m working on a solution to that problem.

Tell us about your special lady. What makes her special?

What I really love about her is that she was willing to give me a second chance. Not everyone would do that, especially these days. She has so much love to give, but I gotta tell you it was hard to soften up that hard shell. In the end, it was oh so worth it.

The first time you saw her, what did you think? Did you like her immediately, or did she have to grow on you?

You know that’s a great question. I was sure I’d seen that woman before, but I couldn’t place her. I kept asking her questions, tried to get her to talk, but to say she was “evasive” would be putting it mildly. The lady was downright secretive. But did she have to grow on me? No. I liked that feisty woman from the moment I saw her stamp her cute little foot at my cow.

And now some silly questions.

Pepsi or coke

Pepsi – it’s a tad sweeter and I have a real sweet tooth.

tea or coffee

Coffee, with plenty of cream. I am a dairy farmer, you know.

elephant or tiger –

Tiger. I even have an orange cat.

roast dinner or burger and chips (fries for our US readers)

Burger and fries. I’m a simple kind of guy.

classical music or pop

Anything with a beat, so I guess classical is out.

sunrise or sunset

Sunrise. I have to get up to milk the cows so I’ve seen quite a few.

walk or run

I’m a country-boy. I don’t walk. I mosey.

chocolate or crisps (chips for our US readers)

Oh, I’d better say chocolate here. My gorgeous new neighbor owns a chocolate truffle shop!


Contact Information:


Jan Elder said…
Thanks for having me on your blog today, Clare. Lots of fun. I'm going to go have a chocolate truffle now with cat on lap. -Blessings, Jan

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