Today, I have fellow eXtasy Books author Hope Parker in the interview chair. We’re discussing her latest release Rhythm of the Rain, book two in the Unbound series, an erotic romance. Be sure to check out the excerpt.
All About Rhythm of the Rain:
1. First, what’s your favourite scene in the book? Not in regards to writing, but reading, and why?
Hope: This is a second chance romance and there’s a scene in the beginning of the book where Sam and Kit are reunited under these stressful circumstances. Both are hesitant to bring up the past but when Sam is hurting, Kit impulsively wraps her arms around him and comforts him, which begins to repair their broken relationship. It’s a touching moment that makes me root for them every time I read it.
2. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
Hope: I don’t think so. I’m happy with the final product. I would be open to writing more about Kit and Sam in the future as well.
3. Share a “side story” about the characters.
Hope: I actually wrote a short addition to the story about Sam and Kit’s first Valentine’s Day after they move in together and Sam surprises her with a trip back to Texas to see her family that you can read at http://www.theinfinitelimitsoflove.com/ starting February 8th!
4. If you could spend time with one character from your book, who would it be? And what would you do during that day?
Hope: Sam. Not only is he funny and sweet with a boy-next-door vibe, but this is a BDSM romance and Sam loves rope work. I’d want him to show me what he knows! I’ve always been fascinated by the beautiful rope work on kink blogs and would love to learn firsthand how to do it.
5. Did the characters hijack the story or did you feel like you had control of your book?
Hope: This book was one of the few books I’ve written that I had control over. I was eight months pregnant when I started it after completing a rough outline and I needed the help of the outline to finish the story. My baby ended up coming early and there was a gap of five or six weeks where I didn’t touch the manuscript. Once I came back to it, I was able to spend a few hours reacquainting myself and them took off writing.
6. How did you come up with title for your book?
Hope: The Rain plays a big role in showing the romanticism and emotion of the characters. There’s also a significant scene where they are making love under a tin roof in a rain storm and I wanted to draw attention to those rainy details with the title.
7. If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the leads?
Hope: Sam Claflin for Sam and Rachel McAdams for Kit.
8. If your book was a candle, what scent would it be and why?
Hope: Rain and cotton. The story is set in Texas and I always think of fresh air and open countryside.
9. If your book had a theme song, what would it be and why?
Hope: “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz
10. If your book was a colour, what would it be and why?
Hope: Blue for the theme of the rain and the Texas setting.
11. What did you edit out of the book?
Hope: Throughout the writing process, I used a sensitivity reader to help me write Sam’s disability in an authentic and respectful way. I ended up editing out much of the language and scenarios that were disrespectful and hurtful to any disabled reader who may pick up this book. In the process, I learned a lot about crafting characters and how I had harmful preconceived notions about the disabled community that made me shift my perspective. Working on this book really opened my eyes and helped me grow as an individual.
12. What can we expect from you in the future?
Hope: My third book in the Unbound series, Savored Surrender, will be out in a couple months, and I plan to release the first book in my cowboy romance series in mid-May 2021.
All About Hope Parker!
1. What is something unique/quirky about you?
Hope: I review every book I read. I use my personal Goodreads page to keep track of all my reading throughout the year.
2. What about your hobbies/interests? Please, share.
Hope: Horses and hobby farming. I foster a horse and a donkey for a local horse rescue and enjoy doing research and planning projects for my small farm in my spare time. I’ve had chickens and hope to add in a huge garden this spring.
3. What are some of your pet peeves?
Hope: When someone chews with their mouth open. I know some people can’t help it but it seems so disrespectful when people do it in public.
4. Where were you born/grew up at?
Hope: I grew up in a suburb of Chicago, Illinois.
5. Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Hope: Determined, hard-working, quiet country girl.
Hope Parker on Reading:
1. What book do you think everyone should read?
Hope: The Picture of Dorian Gray. It was the first book I had to read for school that I truly loved.
2. What fiction genre(s) do you read the most?
Hope: Contemporary, romance, and thriller.
3. If you could have been the author of any of your fave books that you’ve read, which book would you choose and why?
Hope: The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd. This is just an impeccably researched, emotional, beautiful story that was all at once heartbreaking and inspiring.
4. Share your favourite character from a book that you’ve read, and why they are your fave.
Hope: Leni from The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. She grows up over the course of the story and is a tenacious, tender-hearted kid that does what she has to do to protect herself and her mother. She’s my favorite because I rarely find a character so well-rounded and real. I appreciate how Leni is so mature and determined to keep her mother safe that she grows up faster than she should and makes difficult decisions that no child should have to make.
5. On average, how much do you read every week?
Hope: I read on average two books per week.
Title: Rhythm of the Rain
Series: Unbound, Book #2
Author: Hope Parker
Heat Rating: 4 Flames
Genre: Erotic Romance
Publication Date: January 15, 2021
Publisher: eXtasy Books
Length: 71,044 words, 216 pages
Three years after a falling out with his father, Sam is back in Texas ready to face his ailing parents. On his way home, tragedy strikes as his car careens off the road and wraps around a tree, leaving Sam paralyzed from the waist down. He’s forced to adapt to a new normal and struggles to reconcile his life in Texas with the big city life he left behind but will a second chance with his first love inspire his return to dominance?
Blurb: Three years ago, Sam Rutledge left Texas after a falling out with his father. Now, he’s back to help his sister make tough decisions and assist on the family ranch due to his parents ailing health. Before he reaches his childhood home, he’s involved in a serious car accident that alters the course of his life forever. Responsible for the future of his family’s business and reeling as he adapts to life as a paraplegic, Sam clings to the part of himself that always brought him peace—being a dominant.
Kit Boyce thought she’d seen the last of her first love. But there he was, lying on a hospital bed at Cottonwood Medical Center. It’s her job as a nurse to take care of him but she needs to put her feelings aside to overcome the past, be professional and make sure Sam has the best environment to heal in.
When the pull of unresolved feelings and raw passion brings these two together again, Sam takes the opportunity to ask Kit to help him rediscover who he is as a dominant. Will Kit and Sam work through the past and overcome the obstacles of the future for their love to survive?
Three Years Later
Familiar landmarks rushed by, their faded edges blurring together the closer my BMW flew toward Dallas. On the heels of my father’s cancer diagnosis was my mother’s failing health and my sister’s need to get back to Seattle. She had a family waiting for her. Imagine that. It’s easier to deal with family when you don’t have to see them every day.
I fought the anger that threatened to cloud my vision as my speedometer crept toward one-hundred miles per hour. My knuckles were pressed white against the wheel and my wrists shook. It was the worst fucking time for me to leave. Unbound, the adult kink club where I worked, was taking off again and rebuilding after Lacey had passed away last year in one of the private rooms. She was the manager, Reyn’s, fiancée, and her death had destroyed him, but he was back on his feet. He had fallen in love with a journalist he met last year who was investigating Lacey’s death, so he’d given most of his trainees to me, which meant that my list of clients was growing by the day. I was taking Chicago’s BDSM scene by storm and finally settling into my own skin. Gone was the anxiety of living in my family’s shadow. I was my own man. A little aimless, but I was figuring it out.
There was a reason I lived a thousand miles away.
Oklahoma was the most depressing damn state I’d ever seen. Miles of empty highway made the drive feel like a time warp. I knew I was moving, but only because the GPS told me. The scenery all looked the same. This entire state looked like it had been ravaged by one too many tornadoes. My Bluetooth phone rang, the sharp noise filling the car.
“Yes, Angie?” I answered, hearing my sister sigh in response.
“Are you almost here?” she asked.
“Twenty miles from the Texas border, should be another few hours,” I replied, trying to keep the edge out of my voice. It wasn’t her fault, not really. She had been with Mom and Dad for the past five weeks, probably putting up with more than I ever would. She had a life she wanted to get back to just as much as I did. Problem was, she couldn’t take care of her kids and our parents, so she had to go back to Seattle while I figured out what we were going to do.
“Okay, call me when you’re a few minutes away and I’ll open the gate,” she said.
“Did you look anymore at the links to the assisted living facilities I sent you?”
A door shut in the background and Angie’s voice dropped.
“Sam, you and I both know that getting either one of these two to leave the ranch isn’t possible. Are you planning on staying here to run it?” When I didn’t respond, she soldiered on. “Didn’t think so. I’m not even broaching that subject until you get here. If it’ll make you feel better, I’ll look, but I can tell you now that Dad grumbles about going to the hospital for treatment and Mom loses more of her mind every day.” Angie’s voice became garbled and muted. Fuck, I’d made her cry. This was why we both hated these conversations. I got angry and Angie cried.
“All right, all right. We’ll talk when I get there. Once we get them both to bed, we’ll talk more about it.”
She sniffled. “Fine. See you in a bit.” The line went dead, the car once again filled with silence. Angie and I went back and forth on what to do with our parents every day. Originally, I was supposed to come help Mom move into assisted living, but once Angie got to Cottonwood and saw how much Mom would struggle to leave, she did a one-eighty and vowed to find a solution to keep her at the ranch. I disagreed.
Problem was, neither Angie nor I could stay here.
I stopped at a diner just outside of Dallas, a little over an hour from the ranch. The last thing I wanted to do was sit around our tiny table with mom’s failing mind and dad pretending he didn’t have cancer while Angie fussed over them. It was selfish, but my heart had long ago hardened to the reality of my family. Angie could handle things for one more night alone, and with any luck, mom would be on her way to an assisted living facility and dad would have a home nurse within a month. Dad might be battling a life-threatening disease, but he wasn’t giving up on the idea of his only son running the ranch that easily. When Angie first told me about his diagnosis, I asked her to text me a picture of the medical records. Sure enough, in black and white, the doctor confirmed that it was lung cancer, stage two, and immediate chemotherapy and hormone therapy was recommended.
The ranch was only fifteen minutes from Cottonwood, the closest town, but sometimes that felt like a lifetime, and takeout dinners would be few and far between. I scrolled through Angie’s and my texts, seeing photo updates from every appointment. The reality was that Dad wasn’t getting better, at least not yet. Mom either. They would both need around-the-clock care within a matter of weeks.
My arms tightened and hands clenched into fists when I thought about the last time I’d left home.
My dusty duffel bag still sat in the front door, coated in Iraqi dirt, the silt never quite coming out no matter how many times I washed it. Mom was thrilled that I came home on leave, and even Dad made an effort for the first hour. They politely asked about Iraq (yes, Mom, it was great, almost like a vacation except all the locals hated us and I was worried I was going to die every day) and repeatedly told me how excited they were that I was back in Texas. Angie and her family came down for the week to welcome me back and we were fine until dinner. That’s when Dad started in on my future. Not two days after I had left the desert, only on leave for a matter of weeks, and he was asking me what I was going to do after my contract was up. He had big plans for the ranch, and I was an integral part of those plans. My contract was set to end in six months. He wanted to expand, wanted me to apply myself and go back to school to get my degree in agricultural engineering. That had never been my dream. After a week of relentless prodding and college applications to Texas’ three largest universities, I’d called my sergeant and told him that I wanted to re-enlist, right in front of my father. But after my final deployment, I couldn’t run anymore. When I came home to face my father, I thought my engagement would be enough to satisfy him. But he kept pushing, kept prodding until we broke.
I balled up my dirty napkin and set it on the empty plate with three five-dollar bills. The waitress waved on my way out and winked as she tried to hand me her number. I thanked her and quickened my pace to the door, not interested in anything she had to offer. Unbound offered me plenty of options—I rarely took them further than a scene or two.
The growing dread that gnawed at my stomach the entire fifteen-hour drive finally became too much. I heaved into the grass by my car, barely keeping dinner down, and checked my phone. Angie had left me alone. The sun was fading on Dallas behind me as I drove the car toward home. There was nothing left to avoid, no one left to blame. My tour had ended three years ago and I’d come back for barely three months before I moved to Chicago. Mom was sick the entire time and I hadn’t been back to see her until now. The unease continued to grow the further I pressed on the pedal and I let it consume me. It wasn’t going to get any better. Would she even know me? Would Dad care that I came at all?
With each passing thought, I pressed harder on the gas pedal, blowing by the sign welcoming me to Cottonwood. Angie was blowing up my phone, demanding to know where I was. When she called for the eighth time, I glanced down and grabbed my phone from the passenger seat, registering the sharp turn of Dead Man’s Curve a split second too late. I jerked the wheel to the right, praying to make the turn, adrenaline flooding my veins and muscles braced for impact. The car careened off the road, far too late for me to stop it. The impact didn’t even register. My head hit in the steering wheel and I slumped over. Everything turned black as I lost consciousness, fading into the night.
Hope Parker fell in love with an unconventional hero in high school lit class and has had a passion for romance novels ever since. Her contemporary erotic romances explore themes of forbidden love, couples who test each other’s limits, and those who will do whatever it takes to stay together. In 2020, she received her Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing. She lives on a small hobby farm in Tennessee, where she resides with her husband and son.