Romance & Writing by Valley Brown
The Rocky Road Series novels center around heroine Christine Cassler and her new-found love, Doug the Biker. Their tongue-in-cheek romance is funny and touching, but the two characters have some unexpected skeletons in their respective closets that tend to put their relationship through the wringer.
Christine Cassler may be slightly less than perfect – she is blonde and over 50, and has plenty of neurotic tendencies like the rest of us – but she’s no ditsy air head and is pretty darned cute. Chris loves to quilt, and has been trying to write that Great American Novel since fifth grade. In the meantime, she plans to put a few miles on her little red motorcycle and maybe even find a guy out there who fits in with all of that. Of course, he’ll have to pass the Cat Test first. (Cat owners understand. If your cat doesn’t like the person you bring home to meet it, then you probably shouldn’t either – cats know!) But you’ll have to read the book to find out more!
Book One: Speeding Tickets
From the moment their motorcycle-riding paths cross, Christine Cassler and Doug Hartford feel an unsettling connection. It’s a dicey roller-coaster-of-a-ride romance for a widow who is up to her biker-babe boots in angst as she uncovers a spiraling scheme of deceit and embezzlement at work, a scheme that threatens more than her job.
Book Two: Rough Piece of Road
The road trip to happiness can be pretty rough.
Christine Cassler Hartfords romantic honeymoon takes a nose-dive the moment Doug mistakes her for another woman in his sleep. It’s a sucker punch that has her questioning the new life she started with the man she can’t live without. Chris planned a smooth ride, but this was one road hazard she didn’t see coming and it’s making her crazy. When a local mobster threatens them over money her recently deceased employer stole from him, her stress level skyrockets. The Feds want to use Chris as bait to catch this guy, and the gangsters voluptuous daughter wants Doug. Can Chris find money she never knew existed and stay alive long enough to keep her marriage and sanity intact?
Read an Excerpt from Speeding Tickets:
This is it, I thought, my lower lip trembling. They’re going to find my scrawny little fifty-year-old carcass, broken and bloody, at the bottom of this ditch and say a woman her age had no business riding! I dug the heels of my over-priced leather biker boots into the loose soil of the highway’s shoulder, the front of my little 250cc Honda motorcycle sliding past the lip of the drainage ditch. Fumes of spent rubber and exhaust burned in my throat as tiny pebbles gave way beneath my soles. Oh God, oh God – what the hell am I doing?
My hands struggled to maintain a rigid grip on the controls, but I was certifiably stuck. I couldn’t get off of the bike – and I couldn’t let go. Gil’s response to my insistence on learning to ride echoed inside my helmet.
“You’re the one who wants to do this. If you’re gonna ride your own bike, you gotta expect to get into trouble sooner or later, kid.”
Ya think, honey?
Everything had been in soundless slow-motion: The big Unidentified Furry Object shooting across the road directly in front of me, the view through my windshield turning into a grassy abyss, the obscenity that never quite left my mouth.
“Something happens fast – just hit the brakes, kid!”
Well, Gil, I did hit the brakes. Unfortunately my less-than-perfect reaction resulted in a heart-stopping short skid to my current position. All 120 pounds of me was concentrated on keeping nearly 300 pounds of stalled bike from rolling head-first into the ditch as my feet slid further, leg muscles simmering in a slow burn.
I barely heard the deep throaty engine sound closing in on me. Glancing out of the corner of my eye – too afraid to turn my head – I saw a man hurriedly park a big bike. My boots lost more ground. Oh God. Desperate for any solution that didn’t involve imminent demise or permanent disability, I prayed he would yank me off the seat before the inevitable plunge...
Copyright©2011 Valley Brown
Read an Excerpt from Rough Piece of Road:
Doug’s deep voice coming through the ‘com in my helmet was as husky as when we made love last night. “I know you’ve done this before, baby, but glue yourself to my backside and move with me for all you’re worth!”
A twinge of jealousy tightened my gut. My husband was about to make love to eleven miles of two-lane road – and the two hundred and ten tight curves we would encounter riding over it. Then again, I was almost hyperventilating in anticipation of the rush.
“Ride ‘em, Cowboy!” I shot back, tweaking my grip and boot placement.
The Valkyrie rumbled and roared down the pavement, leaning casually into the first curve. Slithering crazily through the Tennessee mountainsides, the narrow highway wiggled southward, toward North Carolina. Here, the earth crinkled into tight ridges and gorges, an undulating scaly spine of a primeval beast – the Dragon, a route upon which untold numbers of motorcyclists and sports car drivers paid white-knuckled homage each year. Trees and rocks whipped past as we picked up speed. The lines on the road melted together, blurring out of the corner of my eye.
It had been twenty years since I first encountered this road on a motorcycle, and that had been with Gil, my first, late husband. The way Doug rode – no, make that flew – over it made it an entirely new experience in adrenaline rush, just short of an overwhelming orgasm. Certain of my body parts clenched up, tingling, as I held my breath.
Stands of impossibly tall, scraggly pines and half-bare branches of trees groping skyward flanked the serpentine pavement. I caught glimpses of thick mounds of clouds, bruised to a deep indigo, off to the southwest, through a copse of trees. The storm front Doug had worried about earlier this morning was rapidly catching up to us. The bike snaked through a series of hairpin turns. We were in the heart of Deal’s Gap – The Tail of the Dragon.
Doug leaned the bike over hard, nearly to the pavement in places. My heart forgot to beat and my lungs forgot to breathe. My chest and arms molded to him. We flowed in synch with the machine, one sinuous movement up and down, left and right, flowing with the hard gray current of asphalt under the tires.
Down a steep incline and around one last turn, and the Valkyrie cruised into the parking lot of the store named after the road. Dozens of motorcycles grumbled, parked while their riders slipped on rain gear. I remembered to breathe. Doug straightened, flexing his shoulders, and I peeled myself off of him with a sigh.
“You alive back there, Chris?” Doug’s voice crackled in my ears as we pulled up to the gas pumps.
“Oh, yeah! God, that was so wonderful! I wanna do it again!”
Doug flipped up the front of his helmet, laughing at me. “Evil woman! Not today, babe. We gotta get somewhere before this storm hits.”
I had totally forgotten the clouds. They were nearly upon us, building, piling up in ugly blackness. As I pulled off my helmet, a cool breeze ran its damp fingers through my short, shaggy layers of graying blonde hair. “Dang.”
We fueled up the bike, split bottled water, and headed out. If the weather had been fair, we could have done the whole Devil’s Triangle, but it was not to be. Doug and I streaked down the Cheoah River Run, then on to Robbinsville, where we found a small rambling motel with other bikes parked out front. Doug halted the Valkyrie at the office door, standing up so I could slide off. Approaching thunder rumbled as I hustled inside. They had one room left. I took it and ran back out.
“Last one on the left, Cowboy!” Shouting over the engine noise, I waved a key in the general direction of the room. “Meet you there!”
Doug nodded and cruised over, pulling up beneath the broad overhang which spanned the length of the motel. The first sheets of bone-chilling rain fell from the deepening sky. Wind blew icy droplets against the building. Doug yanked our squished duffels out of the saddle bags and into the compact room. He tossed them onto a low dresser next to a queen-sized bed. We shed our dampened gear.
“That was close,” I sighed, spreading our jackets out to dry.
Later that night, thunder boomed through the valley. Bursts of lightning illuminated the edges of the heavy curtains in our room. I jerked awake. Each sharp crack of electricity overhead was like a gunshot in the room. My breath came in shaky bursts as the building rattled against the storm’s rage.
Surreal images flashed in and out of my mind with the lightning: Frank, my former employer, with his silver-haired head resting in my lap as he breathed his last, both of us red with his blood; Rob, his former partner, falling away in an explosion of crimson liquid. Blood, so much blood… I squeezed my eyelids shut, but the sanguine afterglow of lightning kept turning to blood. My eyes were better left open.
Beside me, six feet of hard lean muscle fidgeted, alternately stretching and scrunching under the sheets. Doug grumbled unhappily in his sleep. Shivering, I snuggled up to him, seeking to provide some semblance of comfort for both of us. His grumbling changed to mumbling. I smiled, nudging closer to my new husband.
He nuzzled the top of my head, moaning softly. “Ruthie . . .”