Come on in and join the party- it’s release day for my new contemporary romance, “Love at the Library”! Be sure to leave a comment to enter my giveaways– over $100 in prizes! But before we get to that, let me tell you a little bit about my new book.
Love at the Library is a clean contemporary romance set in my hometown, Austin, Texas. A Jane Austen fan and a sci-fi-loving librarian hit it off over their shared love of books. But Megan struggles to trust someone new after her last boyfriend broke her heart. When Levi’s old flame shows up, can Megan trust that Levi’s heart is true to her?
The book takes place in December, with lots of cozy and romantic scenes, including a visit to the Trail of Lights holiday festival- an Austin tradition, and spending Christmas with Levi’s family in Spring, Texas. Megan introduces Levi to her favorite author– Jane Austen, and even convinces him to read some JA variations! Levi, on the other hand, in his attempt to expand Megan’s horizons beyond the classics, lends Megan some books by one of his favorite indie sci-fi authors, and she’s quickly hooked.
If you love books about books, and sweet, clean romances with a happily-ever-after, I think you’ll like this story.
You can pick up a copy of the book from Amazon or Barnes and Noble
Here’s the first chapter of the book.
The sun had just disappeared below the horizon when Megan Vasquez finished her shift at the coffee shop where she worked. The twenty-four-year-old traded her apron for her favorite purple hoodie and clocked out on the timesheet hanging in the back room. “Bye, Duke!” she called to her manager, a cheerful, pot-bellied man with dark skin and graying hair who Megan guessed to be in his early fifties.
“Take care of yourself, Megan! See you tomorrow!” Duke waved to her as she headed out the door. Duke would keep the Enchanted Moon coffee shop going for the late evening shift, finally closing up shop around ten. Until then, the hipsters and college students that frequented the Rosedale neighborhood’s most popular hangout would continue to sip artisanal caffeinated beverages, endlessly clacking away on their laptops.
Megan shivered in the windy autumn air and pulled her hoodie over her brown wavy hair to keep warm. It was a long walk back to her apartment, about 20 blocks away. She wished that she could afford a car, or even a bicycle, to make the trip quicker. Sometimes she took public transportation, but the busses on her route between work and home ran infrequently, and they were often late. She had just missed the last bus, and it would be another hour before the next one came– too long to wait around in the cold. She wished the City of Austin would improve their public transportation system.
Overhead, thunder rumbled, and the wind began to whip. Megan tried to take a shortcut through the neighborhood streets to get home faster. She hoped she could make it back before the rain came down. No such luck. She only made it one more block before the heavens opened and great drops came tumbling down onto her, soaking through her favorite purple hoodie. She needed to get her dad to send over her winter coat before she froze to death. Wasn’t Texas supposed to be hot all the time?
She ducked under the nearest building that had an awning to try to escape, but the driving wind sent the torrents of rain at her in an almost-horizontal fashion. Megan began scanning the area for a better place of refuge. A few little retail stores, and some restaurants, lined Burnet Road. But with no money to spare, Megan knew she would just be loitering to kill time. Besides, she had just bought groceries to stock up her fridge and pantry. It would be a waste of money dining out, even just for a snack, when she knew there would be food waiting for her at home. Then she spotted a circular driveway leading off towards an old concrete building, set some distance from the main road on a side avenue. In the growing darkness she could just make out the sign: “Yarborough Library.” What luck! Her pace quickened as she made her way across the driveway. She hurried up the slippery steps and inside, trying to shake the wetness off her shoes and clothes.
A buxom woman with skin like ebony sat at the front desk. “We close in thirty minutes,” the woman informed Megan as she passed by.
“That’s OK,” Megan told her, ”I just needed to get out of the rain for a bit.”
In truth, she couldn’t have picked a better place to wait out the storm. Libraries had been her place of refuge for as long as she could remember– though not necessarily from an actual storm! Megan loved books. Her favorite childhood memories were of her mom reading Curious George and Madeline stories to her before she drifted off to sleep. As soon as Megan learned to read for herself, she would read any book she could get her hands on. Her mom and dad didn’t have much money for books, so her mom would take her to the local library, where every week she could fill up a big canvas bag–or two– of new stories to devour. But the library itself became a place of solace. As financial troubles piled higher, the fights and arguments between her parents grew louder and more frequent. Megan didn’t want to go home after school, where the tension was high and the shouting made it impossible to enjoy her books or do her homework. So, Megan began stopping by the library on her way home from school every day. She would get her homework done first, then curl up with a book or two for the next few hours. Sometimes, if the book was really good, she would even skip dinner to finish it. There was a big old armchair in the corner of the library by the art history books, made of the ugliest green upholstery you ever saw, and which bore some permanent brown stains on it. But Megan loved that chair. She sat in it so much that the librarians began calling it “Megan’s chair” and kindly asking patrons to move from it if they knew it was almost time for school to let out. Megan missed that library. She hadn’t been back since before college.
This library was old too, maybe built around the same decade as the one in her hometown of Santa Fe. Photographs on the walls showed that at one time, the building had been home to a movie theatre back in the 1960’s, then later converted to a library. It gave her a sense of comfort to be there, surrounded by shelves of books. Plus, it was a place she knew she could go that was free; nobody would expect her to buy something or glare at her for gasping at any price tags. She wandered over to the fiction section, looking for one of her favorite authors. She thumbed through all the “A”’s, but didn’t find what she was seeking. She checked some of the other shelves, thinking perhaps they organized things a little differently than other libraries, but still no luck. A search on the library’s computer showed they had several copies of titles by this author, so she jotted down the call number of her favorite one, then returned to the section where it ought to be. Nope, not there.
Puzzled, she left the aisle. A young man with fair skin and glasses came around the corner pushing a cart full of books. He noticed the confused expression on Megan’s face and stopped his cart. “Can I help you find something, ma’am?” he asked.
“Yes, actually. I’m looking for Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, but I can’t seem to find any of her books.”
A smile creased the corners of his mouth. “Ah, there’s a reason for that. We’ve moved all of the Jane Austen books to a special display this month, in honor of the author’s birthday.” He shoved the cart off to the side and led Megan to a circular display in the middle of the room with a big sign. All of Jane’s books were arranged on the feature, as well as some by similar authors from that time period.
“Here you go,” the man handed her a volume of Pride and Prejudice. “I think this is what you were looking for, right?”
“Yes,” Megan blushed. “I must be blind. I walked right past this display on my way to the fiction section and didn’t even see it.”
“That’s OK.” He absently raked his hand through his chestnut hair, making pieces of it stick up in the back. “So, uh, you’re an Austen fan, huh?”
“Yeah,” Megan nodded. “I’ve read all her books. I even read the unfinished ones, and the juvenilia.”
“Wow. I don’t think I’ve ever read any of hers.”
“You’re kidding! Not even in school?”
“Nope.” He shook his head. “Our English lit teacher in High School must not have been a fan of hers; it wasn’t required reading. He had us reading Tolstoy, Hugo, Wilde, Dickens, and plenty of others. Austen was on a list of optional reading, along with Trollope and the Bronte sisters, among others. I recall I ended up picking Shelley’s Frankenstein off of that list. I think my fourteen-year old self thought that reading about a monster that comes to life sounded a lot more interesting than a romance book.”
“I can’t say I blame you,” Megan shrugged.
“I’m Levi, by the way,” he stuck out a hand.
“Megan,” she returned the handshake.
“Pleased to meet you.”
“Well, uh, I’ll let you enjoy your book, Megan,” Levi said, “but let me know if there’s anything else I can help you with.”
She beamed back at him. “Thanks!”
As Megan wandered towards an upholstered sofa in the corner, she watched Levi return to his cart and begin reshelving the books. He’s kinda cute, she thought, and nice. She shook her head to dismiss this train of thought. You just got a new job, Megan, she told herself, you don’t have time or money to be thinking about anything else right now. Besides, it’s too soon…
Megan had been lost in the world of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy for about twenty minutes when the grumbling of her stomach brought her back to reality. She checked the window outside. The rain had let up, it seemed. Time to head home, she decided. She went to return the volume to its display and noticed Levi watching her.
“You can check that out, if you want to,” he offered.
Megan fumbled with the book, trying to get it back onto the little metal book stand where it had been. “Oh, um, I don’t have a library card.”
“I can help you get one.”
She shook her head. “I don’t have a state driver’s license or proof of residence with me.”
“Not even an ID card?”
“I mean, I have my old driver’s license from New Mexico. It works to get me into a club or buy a beer, if I want, but I can’t drive or get registered for anything.”
“You’re not from around here, then, huh?” Levi’s eyebrow shot up.
Megan bit her lip. ”I moved to Austin a few months ago, but I only just got my own apartment last week. I don’t have any utility bills to prove my address yet, and I don’t have a car, so I haven’t bothered to go to the DMV to update my license.”
Levi nodded. “Understandable.” He motioned for Megan to follow him to the front desk.
Leaning over towards the woman at the desk, he asked, “Hey, Loretta, do we have any of those little postcard thingies?”
“You mean the blank ones that patrons can use for change of address?” She reached under the counter and pulled out a card.
“That’s the one.” Turning to Megan he handed her the card and pen. “Fill this out, please.”
Megan did as she was asked, then returned it to Levi.
“Thank you, Ma’am.” With the card still in hand, he walked out the front door, leaving Megan bewildered.
“Mail’s here,” Levi announced as he waltzed back in. He went to the incoming mail slot and retrieved the postcard from the box attached to the wall.
“Is he always like this?” Megan whispered to Loretta.
“Honey, I’ve learned it’s best not to ask,” Loretta nodded in a hushed voice.
“Well, Ms. Megan,” Levi grinned as he returned to the two ladies at the counter. “We have received mail from you with your address on it. We can now offer you a library card so that you can check out up to fifty books, four CDs, and two videos at a time.”
Megan chuckled as a flush stole across her cheeks. “Just this one, for today, I think.”
“Absolutely. Loretta, can you help Megan to check out her book?”
“Sure thing, Honey,” the robust woman answered in her typical Southern fashion.
It was one thing that Megan still hadn’t gotten used to. In New Mexico, most people reserved nicknames of that sort for their significant other. Since coming to Texas, she had been called “Honey,” “Sweetie,” “Darlin’,” and a host of other sugary terms by perfect strangers, usually women. She found it very odd, until she realized they applied the terms to practically everybody they saw.
Loretta scanned Pride and Prejudice for her. “You’re all checked out, Honey!”
“Thanks!” Megan beamed.
Megan looked forward to re-reading her favorite book, much like she would enjoy a visit with an old friend. She tucked the book carefully inside her hoodie in case the rain started to pour again, thanked Levi and Loretta again for all their help, and headed for home. Luckily, the weather held out and she made it back to her tiny third-floor apartment without incident.
Megan’s stomach was threatening to eat her from the inside out if she didn’t feed it, so the first thing she did was throw a pot of water on the stove and crack open a packet of ramen noodles into a bowl. A few carefully portioned squares of tofu were cut from the container in the fridge, for added protein, then she stirred the boiling water in and waited for the noodles to soften. She fingered the lettering on the cover of Pride and Prejudice, which sat on the table where she had deposited it after shedding her hoodie. It made her think about Levi. The way his short hair had stood on end when he ran his hand through it. The endearing smile that lit up his face. The horn-rimmed glasses that made him appear bookish, but not too nerdy. The brilliant blue eyes behind those glasses. Stop it, Megan! She chided herself. She shoved a big bite of ramen in her mouth, burning her tongue in the process. “Ow!” she said out loud.
Just then, her cell phone rang.
“Hey, Chica, whassup?” It was her best friend, Sierra.
“Nothin’ much. Just eating some ramen.”
“Ramen? I can feed you better than that. Listen, me and Patrice are about to get some grub over at Kerbey Lane. You wanna join us?”
“That’s OK, I’m fine. I just got back home from work.” Megan knew if she went out her friends would want to treat her. She hated always being the “broke girl” who was never able to treat them in return.
“This late?” The cresting intonation in Sierra’s voice showed her surprise. “Duke didn’t make you work overtime did he?”
“Naw, I got stuck in the rain, but don’t worry, I took shelter at this cool library I found.”
“Ha, leave it to you to get stranded in your favorite place in the world– somewhere loaded with books.”
Megan laughed at Sierra’s remark. “Yeah.”
Sierra knew Megan well– since High School. Sierra had been popular and on the cheerleading team, and Megan was the quiet one who always had a book at hand. Yet somehow, the two had hit it off and their friendship had stuck. Sierra had moved to Austin a year before Megan did, to go to grad school, and Megan was glad to be living in the same city with her again. Especially after Brad…
She didn’t tell her friend about meeting Levi. Sierra would jump all over her if she heard she’d met somebody. Sierra had been trying for weeks to set her up with somebody new, but Megan was resistant. The person who’s the rebound always gets hurt.
“You sure you don’t wanna come out?” Sierra asked again. “I’m gonna order the Kerbey Queso. You know I can never finish that by myself, and Patrice is lactose intolerant.”
“Naw, I’m good. I’m sure you can take home the leftovers.”
“Okaay…well, if you’re not gonna meet up with us, then we should definitely hang out this weekend.”
“Yeah, for sure!” Megan answered.
“Oops, our table’s ready, gotta go! Talk to you soon. Besitos!” Sierra made affectionate kissing sounds.
“Muah, muah! You too! Bye!” Megan returned the kisses before hanging up.
Megan turned back to her now-cold ramen. The noodles tasted soggy and mushy. She took the bowl to the microwave to reheat it and see if it could be salvaged. She would eat it anyways, even if it couldn’t. Luckily the modern technology put enough life back into her soup to make it palatable.
Too bad she couldn’t reheat her life as easily as she could reheat her dinner, she thought.
If you enjoyed that excerpt, I hope you’ll check out the book for yourself or as a gift for someone else.
I’d like to take a moment to thank my friend and fellow author Taylor Hohulin, for generously donating a full paperback set of his trilogy The Marian, The Hunted, and The Cloud in sponsorship of my giveaway! In Love at the Library, Levi’s favorite indie author is Taylor Hohulin, and he loans Megan his signed copies of The Marian book series. Taylor’s dystopian steampunk and cyberpunk novels are well-written and full of adventure and excitement! If you’re interested in checking out Taylor’s books, you can find all of them here on his website.
Some other fun trivia about Love at the Library
- Megan’s all-time favorite book is Pride and Prejudice. She has read it more times than any other book.
- Megan also loves to read Jane Austen variations, and uses Pride and Prejudice and Zombies as a means of convincing her sci-fi and horror-loving new friend to try reading Austen.
- Levi’s Christmas gift to Megan is a necklace with the quote from Pride and Prejudice, “I declare after all, there is no enjoyment like reading! How soon one tires of anything than of a book!”
- Megan loves to drink tea
- Levi’s parents own a coffee shop that supports their ministry in the Dominican Republic. Their store was inspired by the real-life Dominican Joe Coffee and the Makarios organization.
- Megan and her best friend, Sierra, both love Kerbey Lane Cafe. Megan’s favorite item on the menu is their chocolate chip pancakes.
- Levi takes Megan to the Trail of Lights, an annual Christmas light display and festival with rides, entertainment, and food. The centerpiece is the gigantic Christmas tree made of lights, which is actually one of Austin’s Moonlight Towers that have a unique history of their own.
- In Levi’s hometown of Spring, Texas, they visit a quaint gift shop called “Little Dutch Girl”. Those who enjoy collecting Delft Blue china and other Dutch knick-knacks will enjoy this treasure trove.
- 3 winners will receive a Kindle e-book copy of Love at the Library
- 2 winners will receive a signed paperback copy of Love at the Library
- 1 grand-prize winner will receive the following gift package worth over $100 containing:
- A signed paperback copy of Love at the Library
- A signed paperback copy of Marriage and Ministry: a Pride and Prejudice Novel
- paperback copies of The Marian trilogy by Taylor Hohulin
- a Jane Austen mug
- loose-leaf tea inspired by Pride and Prejudice
- a 1lb bag of Dominican Joe coffee
- a pendant necklace with a quote from Pride and Prejudice
- Kerbey Lane Cafe’s signature Buttermilk Pancake mix + a bag of mini-chocolate chips
LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW TO ENTER THE DRAWINGS
Giveaway ends on Thurs, December 17 at 11.59pm EST. Winners will be announced on Austen Authors on Sunday, December 20.
Good luck, and happy reading!