I'm delighted to have Karen Rock as my special guest on the Flightdeck today, with her latest book, the heartwarming 'His Hometown Girl.' Over to you, Karen:
Today is my stop during the blog tour for His Hometown Girl by Karen Rock. This book blitz is organized by Lola's Blog Tours. The book blitz runs from March 31 till April 13, you can view the whole tour schedule here.
Karen Rock: Caught between a Holstein and a Gander!
Growing up, I looked forward to visiting my grandparents’ Century dairy farm every Sunday. A century farm is a farm that’s been owned, continuously, by the same family for over a hundred years. Mine had raised Holsteins on their land in Malone, New York, for over two hundred plus years. Although Malone is a small, rural town, it’s famous in a way that meant everything to me as a girl. Still does. As a fan of the Little House on the Prairie books, I thrilled at knowing that my family had known the Wilder family and that Almanzo, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s husband, had grown up in this beautiful countryside. It fired up my imagination to read Farmer Boy and see Malone through Manny’s eyes. Although I loved every book in that series, especially These Happy Golden Years, I reread Farmer Boy the most since it was so close to home.
Like Almanzo, I had my own set of adventures on the farm and though some didn’t end well, as the one I’m about to relate, they’ve all stayed with me and inspired me while writing His Hometown Girl. This particular adventure began while I was spending a summer weekend at my grandparents’ farm house. I loved any excuse to stay there since it meant I got to sleep in the guest room which had cream wallpaper with a pink rosebud pattern, slanted ceilings, a four post bed and a cherry vanity. It made me feel like royalty to stay there, especially since my grandmother always fussed over me and made my favorites like chicken and biscuits and shepherd’s pie.
Best of all, I got to spend time around the farm animals. I helped my Uncle Bob in the barn a bit, though I usually got up too late to do much with the morning milking. Nevertheless, I considered myself good at handling cows and their size and strength had never intimidated me, not with those large brown eyes and docile nature. So when my grandmother told me the goslings were learning to swim in the duck pond, I didn’t think twice about jamming my feet into sneakers and heading for that pasture.
It was a bright summer day, the morning air so crisp I could have taken a bite out of it. I raced down the long driveway shadowed by towering sugar maples and ignored my grandmother’s shout to be careful around the cows. She always said that. I did, however, look for a spot to get through the electric fence where there weren’t any around. I didn’t want them thinking I had carrots in my pockets (which I usually did but forgot in my rush). The black and white Holsteins were a bit of a distance off, their heads lowered as they nibbled at the shorn grass.
I ignored the urge that always had me holding on to electric fences to see how long before I let go, and ducked between the top and middle barbed wires. Immediately, a number of the cows’ heads popped up. I was about thirty feet from the fence before I few started trotting my way. Instead of the friendly lowing I heard whenever I entered the barn, I heard their stomping feet and angry breaths. My heart hammered. Where were the gentle creatures that tickled my fingers with their velvety muzzles? Suddenly the sun felt hot on my neck and a trickle of sweat ran down my back. I eyed the fenced in duck pond area then the electric fence along the driveway. Did I need to make a run for it? If so, the driveway was closer. But through the rushes, I glimpsed a pair of tall Canadian geese and their goslings swimming on the pond. I had to get a closer look.
I raced for the pond and the cows charged. I could hardly believe how aggressive they were. They knew me. And I thought only bulls charged… boy was I wrong! These gals were tough… terrifying actually. I barely made it to the duck pond before the cows stopped short and stared me down across the flimsy divide. My breath couldn’t be caught and it left me as I collapsed to the ground. I was glad to have made it, but frightened about getting back. Would the cows forget about me? Let me sneak away in peace after I got my fill of the adorable baby geese? I hoped so.
I crept to the pond’s edge and sighed in delight as I spotted them. They were so tiny as they paddled after their magnificent parents! As their feathers hadn’t come in, they were still covered with a fuzzy- looking beige and tan down. They kept calling to their mother and the din made me forget, for a little while, about the huffing cows that still hadn’t left the pond’s fence. Lost in that moment, I laid on my stomach and watched the water ripple behind the proud family as they circled the pond. I must have closed my eyes because a loud
squawk made them snap back open. The gander had spotted me and he wasn’t happy to have an intruder near his children. I jumped to my feet, remembering times I’d felt the pinch of a beak on my hand when I’d fed overeager birds. Scrambling backwards as the male goose waddled faster than I could have ever imagined, I slipped and fell hard. His nip on my sneaker had me back on my feet and this time, I all out raced to the fence. Only… the cows that had chased me there hadn’t left. I was literally caught between a protective goose and territorial cows. What to do?
Since we didn’t have cell phones back then, and the farm house was too far away to call for help, I raced around the pond, the gander on my heels, honking all the way. I leaped on top of a small house we’d built for them, out of reach of his snapping beak. Hours passed, or at least it felt that way, as I sat on the roof, my knees clutched to my chest. Eventually, the goose returned to his family, but the cows never wandered far, essentially pinning me down.
At last, I saw one of my uncle’s farm hands driving a tractor up the drive and stood up to flag him down. He waved his hands up and down when he entered the pasture, and the cows shied away from him. I was so relieved that I hugged him when we were out of the pasture. Later, at dinner, he stayed to regal everyone with the tale about how I’d been held hostage by a twenty pound goose and a bunch of cows. It was hard not to laugh along with the story, but I never forgot to have a healthy respect for ‘innocent’ farm animals again!
That's a great story Karen. As a country girl myself, I know how threatening geese and cows can be, although they're usually just curious. Thanks for sharing this with us. Now to find out more about your book.
by Karen Rock
He'd always managed to best her…
Jodi Chapman will do whatever it takes to get top care for her autistic son. If that means going home and convincing local farmers to sell their land, so be it. Even if her biggest opponent, childhood rival Daniel Gleason, is equally determined to convince farmers to buy into his co-op plan. And he's not playing fair.
Facing off against Daniel is the last thing Jodi wants. The attraction that's always fueled their competitiveness is as strong as ever and just as distracting. But with both their futures on the line, and years of distrust between them, how can they ever be on the same side?
You can add His Hometown Girl to your to-read list on Goodreads.
At last, off they went with a jerk that made her teeth knock together.
Wow. The thrum of the machine beneath her and the sense of control as she steered
filled her with a rush of adrenaline. It’d been such a long time since she’d driven a
tractor, and the thrill of it returned to her. The wind whipped her hair behind her, carrying
away her fear. Tyler’s screeching echoed her own elation and the air she breathed smelled
slightly sweet, like growing things.
When she looked over her shoulder, Sue waved and Daniel jogged beside them. When
they rounded the last barn and headed out into lush, open fields, Tyler squealed and she
wanted to join him. She hadn’t been surrounded by this much unbroken greenery in a
long time. Even when she spoke with farmers, she met them in their homes, not on their
fields. Perhaps she should have followed up on Midland’s purchases and seen the
improvements they’d made as Daniel had suggested. She’d actually missed this. When
she returned to Aunt Grace’s house, she would set up an appointment with a company
farm and bring Daniel as promised.
Daniel disappeared for a moment and she thought they’d left him behind until she felt
the tractor dip in back and his voice whisper in her ear.
“So far so good.”
She shivered in awareness of his proximity as he balanced behind them on the storage
box. His fingers rested on her shoulders as he stood to his full height.
Jodi peeked up at him and took in the handsome picture he made. Beltless, low-slung
jeans rode on his narrow hips and a thin T-shirt stretched across his well-defined chest.
From this angle, his jaw looked more square than ever, his muscular neck rising from
broad shoulders. The bright blue sky behind him contrasted with his dark hair and hazel
Another bone-jarring mud hole made Tyler flap his hands and Jodi return her eyes to
the straightaway. And that’s when she saw them…
The sun-kissed rows of plants stretched to a distant tree line, the berries so blood-ripe,
so rich and lovely, that the invitation to pluck and sink her teeth into them was
irresistible. How long since she’d gathered fruit? Delight filled her.
“The local schools and families have picked most of the fields, but this section is
unharvested,” he hollered over the engine’s roar.
“Okay.” She slowed the machine, feeling shaky but victorious when it rolled to a stop.
Since her father’s accident, she’d avoided machinery like this. Now she’d conquered it,
and a feeling of lightness grew within her.
Daniel jumped off and held out a hand, his eyes dancing. The sun brought out the
lighter brown in his hair and made the yellow flecks in his eyes shine like gold beneath
thick lashes. “Ready?”
More than, she thought, her excitement hard to contain. She wanted to rush through the
rows of plants, trailing her fingers along the crinkly leaves, inhaling the earthy goodness.
Her hands fumbled to take out Tyler’s earplugs before she undid the buckle and handed
him to Daniel. He held the wiggling boy with one hand and extended another to help her
“Thank you. Oh.” An idea pulled her up short when her heels sunk into the ground.
“What will we put the berries in?”
You can buy His Hometown Girl here:
- Amazon U.K. (Print and Kindle
- eHarlequin (Print Book)
About the Author:
Karen Rock has adored romance since receiving Harlequin Presents books from her grandmother each summer. She formed her Young Adult writing partnership, J.K. Rock- pseudonym for the CAMP BOYFRIEND series, with her sister-in-law and Blaze author, Joanne Rock in 2011. When Karen heard of a call for submissions to Heartwarming, Harlequin’s latest line, she was inspired by the possibilities of writing unforgettable, deeply romantic, tender love stories that mothers would feel comfortable sharing with their daughters. Since then, her first Harlequin, WISH ME TOMORROW came out in September, 2013 and her next novel HIS HOMETOWN GIRL comes out in March, 2014 with three more releases expected this year.
When she’s not writing, Karen loves scouring estate sales for vintage books, cooking her grandmother's family recipes, hiking the ‘high peaks’, and redesigning her gardens. She lives in the Adirondack Mountain region with her husband, daughter, and two Cavalier King cocker spaniels who have yet to understand the concept of “fetch” though they know a lot about love. For more information about Karen's upcoming books, check out her website at http://www.karenrock.com, Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/karenrockwrites or follow her on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/karenrock5 . She’d love to hear from you!
You can find Karen here:
There is a tour wide giveaway for the book blitz of His Hometown Girl. These are the prizes you can win:
- Grand Prize: $50 gift card and a signed copy of Karen Rock her earlier Heartwarming Wish Me Tomorrow and her YA contemporary romance, Camp Boyfriend.
- Two runner-ups both win a 15$ amazon gift card
For a chance to win enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway