Winner of the New England Readers' Choice Award and the Aspen Gold Readers' Choice Award, and a featured review in Kirkus Magazine, Angel Falls is the first book in the upcoming series of romantic fiction that is sassy, sexy, smart, and southern. These character-driven novels explore the dynamic relationships between lovers, friends and family members. Real-life situations and themes like reinvention, redemption, and self-realization force characters to grow and change while achieving greater self-knowledge on the way to their own happy-ever-after.
And also, there’s hot sex.
“De Jongh’s debut novel hits all its marks and blends romantic comedy, drama, and suspense. The characters are well-crafted—there’s no perfect Prince Charming—and Ben’s kids make for a compelling complication to the love triangle. … this is a lovely story about the intersections of love, friendship, duty, and self-care. A thoughtfully written, rewarding read.”
Casey’s story came to me as a what-if. As a lifelong reader of romance, I had read a few novels in which the heroine had to choose between two men, but one was always the clear best-choice, the other usually the evil antagonist. I had never read a novel in which the heroine must choose between two, equally-matched potential heroes. I wanted to explore that dynamic, and juxtapose the lure of rose-colored past memories against the attraction of an exciting, but unknown future. I hope you enjoy getting to know Casey. You’ll meet her again, in the next Angel Falls book.
Ian Buchanan started out as a Sean Connery type. But that iteration of Ian–the good-looking arrogant playboy with the devastating Scottish accent–lacked the emotional depth Ian needed to compete with Ben. The more I wrote about Ian, the more he resembled Gerard Butler in Attila, a gorgeous, sexy man with tender, wounded depths behind those smoldering eyes. Ian’s Scottish accent and his last name, Buchanan, is a nod to my heritage. Buchanan is my maiden name, and a good Scottish accent has always made my toes curl.
Yours too, right? ;-)
I believe that animals enrich our lives, so all of my books will have animals as important characters and beloved family members of the protagonists. The character of Lizzie was modeled after our dog, Molly, who crossed the rainbow bridge at a ripe old age. We're not sure exactly how old she was, because she came to us second-hand when the mail carrier saw our other Aussies in the yard and asked if we had room for one more. (And there's always room for one more.) Molly was a good dog, and we'll miss her, but she will always live on in Lizzie.
Ben started out looking like one of my old boyfriends, then he sort of morphed into himself entirely. Because Ian was dark, Ben had to be light. Not blond, exactly, but his light brown hair had to have blond, surfer-dude streaks. Where Ian's hair was short and businesslike, Ben's had to be scruffy and messy. Because Ian had amber eyes, Ben's had to be blue. Ben's coloring and Casey's were similar, because I wanted the reader to subconsciously see them as a compatible couple. Ben's cuteness had to compete with Ian's compelling good looks. Ben's familiarity had to trump Ian's mystery. I have spent many frustrating, fruitless hours on Shutterstock, trying in vain to find a portrait of Ben. So far, I've struck out--this random guy with the right coloring was the best I could do. My husband is a little worried that I spend so much time scrolling through pages of photos of cute guys that don't quite meet my expectations. But that's okay. I'll keep looking anyway...
We meet Jack in the first book. A classmate of Casey's, Jack is the cop who visits Casey in the hospital, and we see him again, from a distance, in the cemetery. Jack has two older brothers and a younger sister, and his mom remarried after his father died when Jack was a senior in high school, during a time when the old man felt like a mortal enemy. So there's a lot of baggage there. That year, Jack also lost his best friend in a car accident, and his own injuries cost him the career he'd been planning for. Those events pushed Jack into law enforcement--a career he loves, and sometimes hates. But he's locked-into his life and career in Angel Falls for a lot of reasons, even though he's doing his best to flit through that life unscathed, without getting too involved with anyone. He's a master at keeping his distance, but he may have met his match in the compelling young woman who doesn't have any intention of letting him into her life, even though she desperately needs his help.
As children, Mia and her two sisters were dumped onto their grandmother's doorstep in Angel Falls. Grandma was a free spirit who dressed in Goodwill finds and engaged in feuds with the congregation of the Baptist Church behind Grandma's B&B, the Take It or Leave It guest house (a title that summed up Grandma's worldview). The place was rumored to be either an establishment of ill-repute or a witch's haunted house, depending on the age of the person telling the tale. Neither was true; Grandma was just a recluse who took in boarders to make ends meet. But the stigma shaped each of the girls, who left Angel Falls ASAP after they grew up. Mia, the middle child and the responsible sister, has to come back for the summer and help Grandma recover from a stroke. Mia's little sister and her stupid boyfriend show up, expecting Mia to deal with their drama and take care of their infant daughter. Mia's going back to Houston in the fall, to begin the teaching job she accepted back in May. But the universe has other plans...
…we crossed the street to the sidewalk in front of the newspaper office. I glanced inside and saw a man so gorgeous, so sexy, so perfect, I forgot to walk. I forgot to breathe. I forgot to do anything but stare. … Lizzie, the best dog ever, trotted to the pressed-metal staircase sandwiched between the Angel Falls Informer and the Gulf States Bank. She turned and sat on the first step, waiting for me to follow. I couldn’t. I stared through the window of the newspaper office, afraid that if I blinked, this mirage of masculinity would disappear. But I blinked, and he was still there.
The canal wasn't anything like you'd expect, certainly not a slow-moving waterway filled with picturesque boats. It was a twenty-foot-deep by twenty-foot-wide runoff trench carved into the town's limestone foundation. Sometimes it was nearly empty, a truant's playground of algae-slick tadpole pools and assorted wildlife. Other times, it was full to the brim with a torrent of brown water hurling itself mindlessly toward the river.
Empty and alone, the old abandoned high school stood on a hard foundation of cracked red dirt, its vacant eyes put out by hooligans with slingshots and too much time on their hands. Chipped brick walls served as billboards for graffiti artists, making the place look more like an inner-city ruin than the cultural arts center the city wanted to turn it into. We unlocked the chain wrapped around the door's push bars, and entered the ghost of the old building quietly, stepping lightly on the dusty floors as if treading on someone's grave.
Then, we were standing on the sidewalk in front of my house. The white planks of the old Victorian farmhouse glowed under the streetlight. The facets of the antique beveled glass front door sparkled in welcome. Chester roused from his spot on the porch rail and meowed, arching his back and rubbing his face against the upright post. Dimly, I heard the dog door bump as Lizzie entered the house from the side yard, ready to meet us at the front door. Ian turned me toward him and linked his hands behind my back, holding me loosely in his arms.
I licked suddenly-dry lips. “Would you like to come in?”
His amber eyes met mine. “Only if you want me to.”
I could have kissed him good night on the sidewalk and gone safely inside. But instead of “Good night,” the words that jumped out of my mouth were, “Come in."
Amber came running into the classroom, panic-stricken. "Miss Casey, the toilet's overfloating!"
I ran to the bathroom with eleven little girls behind me. "Back up," I yelled to the excited, curious crowd. "Don't step in the water." I rolled up my tights and waded into the bathroom. A double-sized roll of toilet paper lay like a pufferfish at the bottom of the bowl. I shoved up my sleeves and reached in; the waterlogged mess came apart in my hand, and thin strips of toilet paper floated wraithlike in the water. I worked the plunger, and even more paper swirled up through the yellowish water like some demon version of egg-drop soup. The door at the top of the stairs opened, and a chorus of voices informed the visitor, "Miss Casey stuck her hand in the potty water!" I shook my head to get the wildly waving hair out of my face, and stood to confront Ian. Holding the plunger out in front of me like a sword, I warned him: "Don't say a word. Not one word."
With the flashlight's uncertain beam probing the darkness in front of me, I picked my way through the humped shapes of indistinct objects and jumbled debris. At the door, I swung my flashlight's inadequate beam down the dark hallway. Open doors lined the hall, some still on hinges, others leaning drunkenly against the walls. Trails of dusty footprints went in both directions, sometimes veering into one doorway or another. Not just one set of footprints, but several. the trail to the right seemed more distinct. Clenching my flashlight and my teeth, I followed the trail, calling the boys' names. At the end of the hall, I had to make a choice. One trail of footprints lead upstairs. Another, newer-looking trail led down, into the basement that yawned before me, pitch black. With my heart galumphing like a herd of startled wildebeest, I started down the stairs.
Sign up to hear about new releases, sales, upcoming events, and more.