Hello, Dear Dishers and thank you to PJ for letting me hang with y’all today.
For those who don’t know me, I’m Terri Osburn and I write contemporary romances with heart, hope, and lots of humor. I’m best known for my Anchor Island series, set on a tiny island in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, but I also have the Ardent Springs series set in small town Tennessee.
With all that said, you might think it odd that I set my new Shooting Stars series in the city of Nashville, but that isn’t really odd at all. You see, if you’ve ever visited, you know that Nashville is the city that feels like a small town. (Ignoring the traffic issues, of course.) Downtown is honkytonks and high-rises, but drive fifteen minutes in any direction and you’re back in the country.
And then there’s the fact that the books are set in the country music scene, which is a tiny world all its own. In the first book, RISING STAR (released Sept 2017) we met aspiring singer Dylan Monroe and Nashville’s newest radio personality Charley Layton. Their story is about young people chasing their dreams, and learning how to mesh love and ambition.
FALLING STAR (released March 2018) goes to the other end of the spectrum. Chance Colburn has been on top for more than five years. He’s ruled the charts, played to sold-out crowds, and won awards. Naomi Mallard is an established publicist running the PR department of Shooting Stars Records. She’s helped successfully launch Dylan Monroe’s career and now it’s time to tackle the task of redeeming a man who once broke her heart.
I’ve made a habit, consciously at times, of writing second chance stories, but this one goes a step farther, venturing into redemption and forgiveness. We often see celebrities make headlines for going off the rails or stumbling into trouble, and the world-at-large passes judgment. But the truth is, we don’t know these people. We have no idea what has made them who they are, or know the battles they’re fighting in their own minds.
There is rarely justice in the court of public opinion, and FALLING STAR explores what it might be like to be the individual on trial. Chance owns up to his sins and failings with no illusions about being forgiven. In the end, he’s a man trying to do better. To learn how to make music without the help of Jack Daniels, and win back the love of the only woman who ever really saw any good in him. If he can do that, he might even learn to forgive himself, which is all that really matters.
Here’s an excerpt that shows where Naomi and Chance are at the start of the story.
“Answer your damn phones!” she yelled at the useless piece of metal in her hand.
“Unless that’s connected to a string and a can on the other end, I don’t think it works that way.”
Annoyed by the sarcasm, Naomi replied, “Screw you,” and immediately regretted saying something so horrible to a stranger. But when she looked up to apologize, the person she found was no stranger.
Chance Colburn flashed his trademark bad-boy grin, and Naomi’s body tightened in response. Memories, both good and bad, filled her mind, and she was torn between physical longing and the intense need to punch something.
“Hello, Nay,” he purred, transporting her back seven years to when she had lived to hear that nickname on his lips. Back when she’d been ready to give up everything to make a life with him. Too bad he hadn’t been willing to do the same.
“Chance,” Naomi replied, her voice barely a whisper as her heart pounded in her ears. “I . . . I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.”
Broad shoulders shrugged beneath a worn Johnny Cash T-shirt. “I was getting tired of all the happy birthdays. ‘Screw you’ is a sentiment I’m more comfortable with.”
“I, um . . .” Naomi tucked a dark lock behind her ear as she cleared her throat. “I planned to come find you.”
Brown eyes held her hazel gaze. “No, you didn’t.”
Calling her bluff shouldn’t have been sexy, but her body begged to differ. “Shouldn’t you be inside?”
“You’ve been avoiding me,” Chance accused, ignoring her question.
“I told you. I intended to find you.”
He shook his head, sending a strand of jet-black hair trailing over his left eye. “I don’t mean tonight,” he said in his deep Texas drawl. “You make it tough for a man to apologize.”
If Chance was trying to throw her off-balance, he was doing a spectacular job of it.
Squaring his stance, he slipped strong hands into the front pockets of his black jeans. Regardless of the venue, Chance maintained his casual style. Ruggedly handsome and screaming virile male—from the thick black hair dancing along the edge of his collar to the snakeskin boots on his feet. And the parts in between could bring a woman to her knees, as Naomi knew all too well.
“That’s part of the recovery process,” he explained, eyes cutting off to the distance. “Making amends for all the damage I did along the way.”
“You don’t owe me anything,” Naomi replied, words clipped. She needed this to be over.
“Your forgiveness isn’t required,” he continued. “Or expected.”
Silence reigned. Hell no, she didn’t forgive him. But she saw no point in bringing any of this up at all. Not after seven years of nothing. That’s when she’d needed the apology. Back when he’d slept with her boss.
“What do you want me to say?”
“Well,” he offered, “we’ve gotten the ‘screw you’ out of the way, so maybe a ‘go to hell’?”
Naomi couldn’t help herself. The bastard always could make her laugh. Almost as much as he’d made her cry.
If he could be man enough to offer an apology, she could be woman enough to accept one. “I don’t want you to go to hell, Chance. My job of redeeming you in the public eye is already going to be difficult enough. Explaining how you dethroned the devil in his own house might be more than even I can handle.”
His rich chuckle filled the stately hall. “Fair enough.” After a less awkward pause, he asked, “How’ve you been? Other than becoming a PR powerhouse. I always knew you’d rule the world someday.”
“You give me more credit than I deserve.” Naomi could barely run her own life, let alone the world. “But I’m good. I’d ask you the same question, but that seems unnecessary given the press coverage.”
“Don’t believe everything you read.” Chance leaned in as if they were suddenly old pals. “Nothing is ever as simple as it seems, right?”
Despite the tentative truce, one apology didn’t erase the past.
“Chance, as a member of the Shooting Stars staff, I will do all I can to promote you and your forthcoming album, but I’m not interested in being your friend.”
With a silent nod, he stepped back. “Right. There’s the ‘go to hell.’”
He was not going to make her out to be the jerk here.
“You can’t really expect anything more than that. Not after what you did to me.”
Holding her gaze, Chance said, “I’d say it’s what I did for you.”
“What the hell does that mean?”
“You got out before I could really screw up your life. Be grateful, Nay. Some people weren’t that lucky.”
Before she could reply, Chance strolled back into the small ballroom, and it was all she could do not to scream at his back. He’d slept with her boss as a favor? Really?
Going to rehab may have gotten Chance Colburn off the bottle— for now—but it sure as hell hadn’t cured him of being an asshole.
As you can see, they have some work to do. 😊 So how do you feel about celebrities? People like us or attention-seekers who should be held to some higher standard? Let me know here and I’ll have PJ pick one person to win a digital copy of FALLING STAR. (Also, this site often refuses to let me comment but I’ll do my best to figure it out and try to answer when I can.)