With: Delancey Stewart
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I’ve talked to lots of readers lately about the kinds of heroes they love to root for, and beyond the typical descriptions of their jobs (CEO, fireman, rock star), one thing comes up over and over. Lots of readers love a tortured hero. We love rooting for the guy that’s got something dark and anguished twisting in his soul, the guy so deep in his own troubles he doesn’t see the girl coming his way—or at least he doesn’t realize she just might be his salvation.
Rob deRosa is that kind of hero in my new book, Without Words. He’s a firefighter—or at least he was, before he suffered a terrible injury in the line of duty. Now he’s an ex-firefighter trying to figure out how he fits in a world that doesn’t make sense anymore, and the only creature that seems to understand him is a huge German shepherd he rescued as a puppy, Sampson. Words don’t come easily to Rob as a result of his traumatic brain injury, but when words are set to music—specifically his own guitar—the world slows down for a while. He’s focused on the music one night at the club where he plays, and when Dani Hodge walks in he knows he hasn’t got a shot…but he’s wrong.
Dani’s renovating a small storefront where she’s going to open her dream—a small wine and book shop in San Diego. But she doesn’t have a lot of experience with renovation, and she could use a hand. When the hot guitar player she saw at the club downtown appears out of nowhere and offers to help, she accepts…
This is from Without Words—the scene where Rob offers Dani some help using the tile saw she’s trying to wrangle as she works on her shop.
“What’s your plan for this place? Or are you just the construction crew?” The smile appeared again and my heart jumped back to attention, along with a few other parts of my body that were supposed to be on hiatus. His words were clear enough, though each one sounded labored, and I wondered again what affected his speech that way. It might explain why he hadn’t responded to my babbling when I’d gotten up the nerve to try to talk to him in the club. Maybe I hadn’t given him enough time. I decided to blame Amy for forcing me to approach him. Clearly, neither of us had been ready.
“I’m opening a bookstore and lounge,” I said, trying to avoid the gravity of those eyes by looking into the shop. “And I’m the construction crew, too.” I shrugged. “Keeps the costs down.”
He nodded and made no move to go, so I stuck out a hand, pulling my glove off first. “I’m Dani.”
He took my hand in his own. “Rob deRosa.” The buzz from the club was still there, zinging between us as he took my hand. I wondered if he felt it, too. I’d never experienced anything so elemental before. It was like my cells were responding directly to his, trying to line up for some kind of atomic tango. It was compelling and frightening all at once. “This is Sampson,” he added, nodding at the giant dog.
Sampson recognized his name and got back to his feet, stepping forward as if indicating that I could pet him now.
I glanced at Rob to make sure it was okay and then held out a hand. Sampson nosed at it and then pushed his huge head under my palm. I laughed, kneeling down and petting him properly. “Hi, buddy,” I crooned. “Hi Sampson. Nice to meet you.” Sampson’s huge, expressive eyes never left my face, and I felt my heart soften a little bit. For the first time in my life, I found myself thinking maybe I needed to get a dog. I grinned up at Rob. “He’s amazing.”
He nodded, something soft passing through the fierce eyes. “Need a hand with this?” He waved a hand toward the store.
I stared at him, unsure what he was offering. He wanted to just hang out and lay tile with a stranger? “The tile? Seriously?” I rose back to my feet, and my gaze met his again. Zing.
He lifted a shoulder and looked up and down the street. “Not much else to do today.” He paused again, a furrow appearing between his eyebrows. “Happy to help if you need it.”
I considered turning him down. Spending the day—hell, spending five minutes—with this guy would be a challenge. Not because of his unusual speech or the way he seemed to move just a few beats behind the rest of the world, but because I would have to admit to myself that I was insanely attracted to him. And I didn’t need that kind of distraction.
Tell him no, my mind said. Thank him and send him on his way.
My mouth didn’t get the memo in time. “I could definitely use help.”
Stupid mouth. Now we’re both screwed.
About the author:
Delancey Stewart writes contemporary romance from her home outside Washington D.C. In a house populated by two tiny pirates and one full-sized Marine aviator, inspiration for her heroes is never hard to find—though quiet time to write often is!
Author Website: http://www.delanceystewart.com/
Author Blog: http://www.delanceystewart.com/news/
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Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6581742.Delancey_Stewart
Do you have a favorite tortured hero? I’d love to hear what books you’ve loved for their dark heroes in the comments section! Enter the Rafflecopter for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card!