Everyone knows that the Dakotas didn’t get the name Badlands for nothing. Harsh weather and rough living are a way of life. But single dad, Logan McKinnon, had seen more than his share of bad times after the death of his wife a year ago. The last thing he needs is Poppy Erickson, an old flame and his late wife’s best friend, showing up unannounced to help after devastating floods nearly washed away their hometown. With no place to stay in town, he has no choice but to offer her a bed at his house. But can he live under the same roof with a woman he’d once loved passionately without feeling he’s betraying his late wife?
Poppy Erickson had spent the year wondering how all their lives might have been different after hearing the death bed confession of her childhood friend. She’d left South Dakota years ago because she couldn’t bear to watch the man she loved loving another woman. But now she knows the truth.
She’ll keep the promise she made to a friend, but will Logan understand when he learns the truth? More important, can they again recapture the passion that had been between them all those years ago?
One look on Logan McKinnon’s face told Poppy that his foul mood had very little to do with the devastating destruction all around the Badlands of South Dakota…and everything to do with her showing up in town after nearly ten years.
She didn’t have to be standing next to him to feel his anger simmering just below the surface of his composure. Sitting in her rental sedan was close enough. What the hell was she thinking coming back home? Why had she made that ridiculous promise to Kelly?
She parked the car next to his truck and took a deep breath, mumbling under her breath as she pulled the door handle, "This may just turn out to be the stupidest thing you have ever done, girl."
Truth was, even as pissed off as Logan looked, he was still an amazing sight to see. Part of her had hoped that she was wrong. That she’d gotten over him a long time ago. That she’d take one look at him, make sure he and Keith were okay, and be able to get back in her car and drive right to the airport in Rapids City.
He turned to her, standing tall and proud. His thick dark hair blew in the March wind, fluttering around his face and making him all the more strikingly handsome.
He was taller than she’d remembered, and he’d long since lost that too-lean teenage body that had driven her crazy in her youth. He worked hard on his ranch and it showed in how much his arms and chest had filled with muscles.
Despite the cold, he’d taken off his jacket while he worked in the yard and Poppy had a clear view of just how much his male body had filled out in places she’d dreamed of touching.
Lord, help her. She was in trouble. And she hadn’t even stepped out of the car yet. She pushed the door open and stepped outside to get it over with. It was either going to be the shortest visit on record…or a life changing experience she’d been dreaming of ever since she was a teenager.
Logan starred at he for a long, agonizing moment. She read the emotional tug of war playing on his face as the sudden chill from the South Dakota winds bit into her exposed skin like a whip.
Then his expression turned hard. "What are you doing here?"
He must have heard the car drive up. But Logan’s four-year-old son, Keith, remained focused on the mud puddle he was poking a stick into to even notice anyone was around. That was good. The next few minutes would go easier for both of them if Keith weren’t aware of the tension.
Logan stared at her as if he’d been startled. Or maybe too focused on making sure his four-year old son, Keith, was safely playing nearby to notice her car had driven up.
Or perhaps he’d been too pre-occupied with assessing the damage the recent angry South Dakota weather had done to his property. Poppy had seen just how Mother Nature had shown no mercy to her childhood town as she drove from the airport to the ranch. She couldn’t exactly blame Logan for being in a foul mood because of that.
Seeing her was just the icing on the cake.
"What the hell are you doing here, Poppy?" he repeated.
She took in a deep breath, smelled the muddy earth and decay all around her, and said, "I came to help."
He took one long look at her, from her high-heeled boots, up the length of her legs, pausing at her hips. She could almost feel his eyes as if he were staring at the flesh beneath her fresh pair of blue jeans. When his gaze finally reached her face again, she slid her sunglasses to the tip of her nose and stared right back at him in challenge. A slow smile played on her lips. She could never last as long at this as Logan before caving into laughter. But she knew Logan was in no laughing mood.
"Poppy Ericksen. Rudolph was practically washed off the map from all that rain we had? After all this time, what makes you think I need anything from you?"
Even though his voice was even, she could tell he was still pissed. But he’d never show it. Keith was still poking at the mud and puddles on the driveway just a little ways away, completely unaware of present company.
"What’s the matter, Logan? You don’t look happy to see me," Poppy said, pulling her sunglasses off her face with a wary smile.
About the Author:
USA TODAY Bestselling Author, Lisa Mondello, has held many jobs in her life but being a published authors is the last job she'll ever have. She's not retiring! She blames the creation of the personal computer for her leap into writing novels. Otherwise, she'd still be penning stories with paper and pen. Her first book, All I Want for Christmas is You won Best First Book in the Golden Quill. Her books have finaled in the HOLT Medallion, and the Colorado Award of Excellence contests.
In 2011 she re-released her award winning book All I Want for Christmas is You along with a re-issue of her romantic comedy, The Marriage Contract, with a new contemporary romance called The Knight and Maggie's Baby. In 2012 she reissued the first 3 books of her popular Western Romance Series TEXAS HEARTS including Her Heart for the Asking, His Heart for the Trusting and The More I See.
Writing as LA Mondello, her romantic suspense, MATERIAL WITNESS, book 1 of her Heroes of Providence series made the USA TODAY Bestsellers List. You can find more information about Lisa Mondello at lisamondello.blogspot.com.
1. If you could live back in time, what time period would you choose and why?
Oh, that is scary. When I think of what life was like for women in the past, I cringe. I fear that I would have been one of those women who would have been shackled for speaking out…a lot. I have opinions and I’m not shy about stating them. I really can’t imagine living in a time other than now though.
2. Have you ever come across a song that might fit the theme of one of your books?
All the time!! In fact, for each book I write there is a song that drives me. Sometimes there is more than one song that I listen to over and over again as I’m writing the book. Then when the book is done, I don’t listen to that song/soundtrack. But it’s cool when I’m in the car months or years later and that song comes on the radio. It brings me right back to where I was when I was writing the story. For HER DAKOTA MAN it was Lifehouse’s You and Me.
3. Do you remember what you felt when you had your first kiss?
LOL Yes, and it was less than wonderful. I stole a kiss from my neighbor when I was just nine years old. Freaked out my mother and surprised the heck out of that kid.
4. What do you do when you think nobody is watching?
Apparently my lips move and I play out dialogue out loud. I was never aware of this until my youngest daughter felt like she needed to have an intervention with me about it. She said she was worried because when I’m washing dishes or driving, my lips move like I’m talking to someone who isn’t there. LOL I told her not to worry, that I was just hanging out with my imaginary friends. I don’t think it made her feel better.
5. What was your favorite childhood book?
Always by Trevor Meldal-Johnsen. I read it when I was 14 and I still have the book! I love reincarnation stories, romance and suspense and this one had all three!
6. What is your favorite addition to chocolate?
Chocolate. Why does it need anything else? Although I must say that I’m a chocolate snob. I love Hershey’s chocolate. That’s it.
7. What does your husband/significant other say about your writing erotic stories? What about your family and/or do they read your books?
My stories aren’t hot, hot. In fact, I write across the sensuality board. I’ve written Christian romance, traditional romance and spicier books with love scenes. My husband doesn’t read my work at all and my mother tells me that while she’s reading she forgets that it’s me who wrote the book, so it doesn’t bother her.
8. Besides your own, what is one of your favorite series to keep up with?
One of my favorite series recently was C. L. Wilson’s The Tairen Soul series. I was sad to see that one end!
9. What do you think you would be doing if you weren't writing?
I worked in special education with autistic kids and kids with learning disabilities for a while. If I wasn’t writing, I’d probably be doing that because it was one of those jobs where they’d hand me my paycheck and I’d think, “They actually pay me to do this!”
10. Do you have any hobbies or activities you enjoy doing?
I love music. I can waste…ur…spend a whole day just listening to music and letting the dishes pile up in the sink and forgetting about the laundry. (Yes, I know. Tough choice, huh?) I love spending time with my family and cooking. I’m not really a fabulous cook. But it’s relaxing. I just hate cleaning it up afterwards.
11. What is something you do to de-stress?
Listen to music and watch movies. I’m a big movie fan. I’d rather watch movies than watch television shows, although I do have my guilty pleasures. (Project Runway!!) But I love movies and going to the movies. I love talking about story and how the story comes together. I drive my family crazy. There was a time no one wanted to watch movies with me because I’d pick them apart while I was watching them. I don’t do that anymore. (Out loud, that is.)
12. We all know about muses...what do you think inspires you to allow your creative juices flowing?
I don’t know. I’ve often said that I think I was a storyteller from the cradle and that is why I don’t recognize my muse. Music can get me into a story. But I’ve been writing stories and listening to music my whole life so I can’t disconnect them. I remember writing what would be considered a novella with pen and paper when I was 10 years old. These stories just come to me. I get ideas from the news, from life, from songs, from somewhere deep in me. I really can’t pinpoint one thing.
10 Fun Facts (things the fans don't know)
- I used to manage a Boston/Worcester rock band.
- I love strawberries but not strawberry ice cream.
- I’m a coffee fiend, but I hate coffee flavoring.
- I once slept at a real medieval castle! (Okay, so it was the back lawn of the castle overlooking the cliffs and the Atlantic ocean, but I did sleep there!)
- I’m not even five feet tall. Close, but not quite…
- I will never take another red eye flight from LA to Boston again. (It was the longest night of my life!)
- I love slapstick romantic comedy movies. Why don’t they make more movies like What’s Up Doc?
- I’m a huge Elton John fan. (I think everyone in the free world knows this by now!)
- I sometimes do my best writing at the Laundromat. (I think it’s the white noise sound from the dryers. Or maybe just because no one can find me there.)
- I love World War II romances. One of my favorite movies is Shining Through with Melanie Griffith and Michael Douglas. But I have a list of favorites that’s longer than my arm.