His Hometown Girl
by Karen Rock
Mass Market Paperback, Large Print, 331 pages
March 1st 2014 by Harlequin
He’d always managed to best her…
Jodi Chapman will do whatever it takes to get top care for her autistic son. If that means going home and convincing local farmers to sell their land, so be it. Even if her biggest opponent, childhood rival Daniel Gleason, is equally determined to convince farmers to buy into his co-op plan. And he’s not playing fair.
Facing off against Daniel is the last thing Jodi wants. The attraction that’s always fueled their competitiveness is as strong as ever and just as distracting. But with both their futures on the line, and years of distrust between them, how can they ever be on the same side?
Daniel Gleason Interview- His Hometown Girl- by Karen Rock
So, Daniel, after reading His Hometown Girl, the reader understands more about you and how you became a dairy farmer who produces organic dairy products from ethically treated animals. What can you tell the folks who haven’t read the book yet about your situation?
Growing up on a farm was the best. Ever since I was old enough to carry a bucket, I followed my Pop around the barns, helping. I didn’t like waking up so early to get chores done before school, but it was the only way to work and get the education my parents valued. After I graduated from Cornell’s agricultural program, I came home to take over the farm when my father’s Parkinson’s got too bad for him to manage on his own. I’d learned a lot of new methods and I put them into practice when I got home, like using natural alternatives to pesticides and not using hormones. I also upgraded the barns and put in a rotating, circular milker to make things more efficient. Because of that, I’m able to charge more money per pound of milk. For once, my family is not in debt and we’re turning a profit. I’m trying hard to convince my cash-strapped neighbors to join in a co-op with me and make these upgrades. I believe in the farming way of life. It’s shaping your life, molding your future, with your own two hands. You’re your own boss. I value my independence, and I’ll work hard work to keep it. Mostly, farming is a tradition that goes back hundreds of years in Cedar Bay, and it needs to be preserved. Neighbors helping neighbors, the community coming together to celebrate and mourn together means we are all a family. We need to work together to stay together.
Your sister, Sue, was a seriously funny lady! And very smart. Why do you think she won’t go back to Princeton and finish her dissertation on Child Psychology?
My little sister is the most stubborn person I know- besides me. She wants to prove she knows best how to treat autistic children and doesn’t want to present findings using a method her advisor suggested. When Jodi returned home with her son, Tyler, Sue figured she had the perfect chance to use her experimental methods to help the boy talk again. And that’s a good thing. I’d much rather she’d spend her time working with Tyler instead of in the kitchen or mooning over our new farm hand. We’ve had too many burnt pot roasts and potatoes as hard as rocks- or as we call them- ‘Sue’s specialty’. Of course that means I’ve got to do the cooking, but since it relaxes me, and I get a meal cooked all the way through, I don’t mind. Still, I wish I had someone by my side. Farming can by lonely.
You had strong connection with Jodi growing up. Do you think you’ll ever be close again?
Jodi Lynn used to drive me nuts as a boy- still does. She’s smart, pretty and always sure she knows best. I couldn’t help, growing up, wanting to best her every chance I got. Seeing that line appear between her blue eyes always made me smile. At least she knew who I was, even if she seemed like she hated me. Except one summer, the year we worked together after her father’s accident, she kissed me while we were berry picking. That changed everything. I wanted to hold her every chance I got after that, but we had to keep our relationship a secret because our family’s were feuding. My parents loaned her family a machine that mutilated her father’s arm and ended his career as a farmer. The machine was ruined and the cost of replacing it was more than my family could handle without going under. Both blamed each other, but Jodi and I grew closer and closer. Then she overheard me admit that I did resent her family. She accused me of hiding my feelings and pitying her. I couldn’t deny any of it, especially since my mother couldn’t take our financial troubles and was leaving. A part of me was mad at Jodi’s family. But I still loved Jodi. Wished I’d told her. Before I had a chance to explain, she left and never came home again until ten years later.
Were you surprised about how willing Jodi was to return home and purchase her neighbor’s farms for her employer, essentially destroying the community you both grew up in?
Yes and No. I knew that Jodi wanted nothing to do with me or Cedar Bay since she never sent word or came back all those years. Since her dad was hurt in a farming accident, I understood why she thought farming wasn’t the best job. I guessed she thought she might be doing her old neighbors a favor by getting them out of it. But she forgot how special Cedar Bay is and it was my job to remind her of that. I picked her up at Burlington airport and gave her the scenic drive to her Aunt’s house on Lake Champlain. I drove her nuts talking about all the old places and when she reminded me weren’t kids, battling like we used to, I told her that I agreed, because this was bigger. It was war. I wasn’t going to let her get away with destroying a community that had existed for centuries. We have traditions that go far back. In the same way, Jodi and I had a long history and the more time we spent battling each other to win over the farmers- I wanted them to join my co-op and she wanted them to sell out- the closer we got again. It was hard to fight my feelings because she made me forget she was the enemy. Someone that’d broken my heart before and would, I suspected, do it again.
How did you feel about Jodi’s son, Tyler?
Tyler’s an incredible kid. He doesn’t have much to say, but a lot of people who talk a lot don’t have much to say either. He’s got a good sense of humor and he wants to help out on the farm. Kind of reminds me of me. He’s autistic which makes it hard for him to control how he reacts to things, but on a farm, we don’t have to behave any certain way that doesn’t suit us. In fact, the farm suits Tyler. His temper tantrums disappear whenever he’s here, spending time with Sue. He does her therapy which is a lot of hands on work with the animals. He’s really an amazing boy and it kills me that his father abandoned him. If he were mine, I’d be the proudest dad in the world.
When did you realize you still loved Jodi?
I’d like to say it was when she drove the tractor into the strawberry fields, Tyler on her lap. That really impressed me. Or when she helped me birth a breech calf and got her foot fractured in the process without complaining. Maybe it was the moment she stepped out of the terminal and I saw her again for the first time. It felt like a ton of bricks had been dumped on my chest. But no. I never stopped loving Jodi Lynn. Never will.
When she admitted that she loved you, did you hear anything else or were you stuck on that? I’m glad she said it again!
I’m glad too. I couldn’t believe it and needed to hear her say it twice. After everything we’d been through, past and present, she realized she loved me and Cedar Bay. Enough to give us a second chance. I’m the luckiest man for it.
stories that mothers would feel comfortable sharing with their daughters. When she’s not writing, Karen loves scouring estate sales for vintage books, cooking her grandmother’s family recipes, hiking the ‘high peaks’, and redesigning her gardens. She lives in the Adirondack Mountain region with her husband, daughter, and two Cavalier King cocker spaniels who have yet to understand the concept of “fetch” though they know a lot about love.
Grand Prize: Hand-stitched, authentic Amish quilt (uses their overlapping
heart-stitching- pattern), with matching dust ruffle for a king-sized bed, signed copies of Wish Me Tomorrow & Camp Boyfriend, and some surprise swag (US Only)
1 – Paperback/ebook copies of Wish Me Tomorrow and Camp Boyfriend (format is winner’s choice, paperback for US Only) and $20 Amazon gift card
2 – ebooks of Wish Me Tomorrow and Camp Boyfriend (INT)