Home Matters by Julie N. Ford
According to her mother, Olivia Pembroke was born to be a star. But how is she supposed to be famous when she can’t even get a decent acting gig? Her lucky break comes when she lands an audition for a wildly popular home improvement show. Even though she has no design training and has never even held a power tool, she refuses to let that stop her. She’s confident that her destiny is finally within reach.
When her affections are torn between her heartthrob co-host and the irritating, yet somehow endearing lead contractor, does she continue to reach for the stars? Or does she design a new happily ever after? One that leads not to the fading lights of fame and fortune, but to a love that will burn forever.
Pete scratched the scruff on his chin. “Olivia Pembroke,” he repeated, as if giving her name some serious thought. “Sounds like a character from a Jane Austen movie.”
Olivia responded with a dour look. “You a fan of turn- of-the-century romance films?”
Pete shrugged off her comment. “I have three older sisters,” he said, his eyes studying her from head to foot. “Except, the more I’m getting to know you, with that fiery disposition and those Bambi eyes, you’re reminding me more of a feisty little Disney fairy than a demure lady of class.” He lifted his thick eyebrows, curious. “Is that your real name, or some sort of made-up stage name?”
Just because a girl had a heart-shaped face, turned-up nose, and bow mouth, didn’t make it okay for people to tease her about resembling any sort of cute little pixy. She hated when people made the connection. He was really starting to annoy her, which was obviously what he intended, so she refused to allow him the satisfaction of knowing just how much.
“Not that it’s any of your business, but both.” She idly examined her manicure. “My momma named me Olivia because she thought Olivia Pembroke would look good all lit up on a marquee. She knew I was going to be a big star when I grew up.”
He huffed out a laugh. “You, and about a few thousand other pretty faces in this town.”
Olivia shot him a withering look. “What’s your point?”
Pete shrugged. “Why waste your life chasing what will likely amount to no more than two minutes of fame when there are nobler causes out there worth pursuing?” He almost sounded genuine. “After all, love and fame can’t live in the same place.”
Olivia’s hands curled into tight, angry balls. Who did this man think he was to lecture her on the nobility of her ambitions? The most infuriating man she’d ever met, that’s who. “Says the man who was obviously born to clean toilets.” Taking a step closer, she faced him straight on and planted her fists on her hips. “And just a tip, Socrates. The next time you go all philosophical on a girl, and you expect her to take you seriously, try not using movie quotes to prove your point.” She slid him a superior glance. “Like I wouldn’t recognize a line from Country Strong.”
Pete moved closer as well. Their noses were barely inches from touching. She could actually feel his breath on her face, and for some unconscionable reason, she found the sensation oddly tantalizing. Then he opened his mouth to say something else. But before he could get a word out, a voice from the near distance interrupted.
“And, that’s a wrap!”
Olivia jerked toward the casting director. “What?” she questioned, though she knew fully well what “that’s-a-wrap” meant. “I’m sorry, but unless I’m mistaken, we haven’t begun shooting yet.”
The director rolled his hand through the air. “Yes well, we’ve seen all we need to,” he said, his attention already diverted to the phone his assistant was handing him. “Thank you for coming down today, Olivia. We’ll be in touch.”
Julie is a forty-something, dangerously close to becoming a fifty-something, graduate from San Diego State University with a BA in Political Science. In addition, she has a Masters in Social Work from the University of Alabama, which has only made her better able to recognize the unhealthy, codependent relationship she has with writing. Professionally, she has worked in teaching and as a marriage and family counselor. She is the author of four women’s fiction novels, including Count Down to Love, a 2011 Whitney Award finalist. When she’s not writing, she entertains delusions of being a master gardener, that is, when she’s not killing the unsuspecting plants in her yard with her good intentions. She lives outside of Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, two daughters, a Betta named Bob, and a Scottish fold kitten, Ardweal.
Home Matters Guest Post by Julie N. Ford
A few years ago I wrote a romantic comedy, Count Down to Love, about a young woman whose bad luck landed her on a reality dating show. Since then, I’ve discovered a whole new variety of reality TV—DIY television. Although not quite as glamorous as reality dating, DIY has its share of drama, heartache and intrigue. One night, I found myself engrossed in yet another episode of Love It or List It when I began to wonder, what if a major network blended the glamor of reality dating with the creativity of DIY? Hmm. And that was when the concept for Home Matters was born.
So, in honor of all the hours I spent watching home improvement shows, doing research per se, I’ve come up with a tens list:
Top Ten Signs You Might Be Watching Too Much HGTV
1. You start having dreams involving twins, Jonathan and Drew, from the Property Brothers that you can’t tell your husband and/or mother about.
2. When your kids want to know why they have to wear sunblock at the pool, you tell them it’s because ‘natural light’ is damaging to the skin.
3. In the spring when all your neighbors are having yard sales, you’re having an “outdoor living space” sale.
4. You come home from the mall, and when your husband asks where you’ve been all day, you say, “Out ‘sourcing’ about a half-dozen pair of shoes,” to which he responds, “That’s nice Honey. Glad you didn’t spend any money,” to which you don’t say, “Who said anything about not spending any money?”
5. You’ve begun to truly believe that everything you see on HGTV is as easy as it looks, and thus have cancelled your yearly vacation to Club Med so you can stay home to “reimagine” your master bath into a “spa retreat” you can enjoy year round instead.
6. When your DIY project lands you in the ER with injuries to body parts that are a little awkward to explain, and the doctor asks, “What were you thinking, operating a power tool while wearing only a tank top and shorts?” You say, “Well, I suppose I was thinking that if Nicole Curtis can renovate, and look sexy at the same time, why can’t I?”
7. You begin to seriously consider that quitting your job and selling your home so you can move to a tropical, third-world country where you know no one, and can’t speak the language, in order to open a surf shop, slash, yoga studio, slash, hookah bar is the most brilliant idea you’ve ever come up with.
8. You understand that in order to secure a guest spot on most any HGTV show, you “must have” a love of both “entertaining” and “enjoying a glass of wine,” a desire to live close to “restaurants, bars and shops,” and have at least one dog and/or a variety of other random pets. Children, however, are more or less optional.
9. You’re life has begun to resemble the last five episodes of Renovation Realities and thus you are no longer able to either “entertain” or “enjoy a glass of wine” because you have a house full of DIY projects you’ve started but can’t seem to get finished.
10. You’re constantly looking for ways to work Piėce de rėsistance into regular everyday conversations.
If you are experiencing six or more of these signs and/or have even an inkling of what the aforementioned is even talking about, you might want to delete any and all DIY shows from your DVR, turn off the TV, and pick up a book, or six. 5 out of 5 therapists recommended The Ripple Effects Romance series as a good place to start.
Although there are some fun moments in Home Matters, the underlying message and the thread that binds each book in this series together, has to do with the acts of kindness we do for the people around us—the good works that are then paid forward. The Ripple Effect. I think we’ve all seen examples of “ripples” in our lives.
One act of kindness I will never forget happened about eight years ago, shortly after I was diagnosed with cancer. At that time, I had two young daughters, and was driving back and forth between my home in Birmingham, and Tuscaloosa where I attended graduate school. About the same time, my husband’s job ended and he was offered another position out of state. Flying home when he could, he left me behind with the girls to finish out the semester and sell our house. Not long after, we learned I had an aggressive form of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and was encouraged to start chemotherapy immediately.
Alone, and with the stress of finals and caring for two young children on my own, I’ll never forget the morning after the day all of my hair fell out. Donning a hat, I’d dropped my girls off at school, and then come home exhausted where I laid down on the couch, and fell asleep. A little while later, I woke up and looked around, confused as to where I was. I remember glancing from the fireplace to the Christmas tree, and then on to what should have been familiar surroundings, but somehow none of it was. And because abnormal psychology was part of my current studies, somehow through my confusion, I was able to recognize the signs of a dissociative episode. More afraid than I think I’ve ever been, I picked up the phone, and called the first person that popped into my mind, a friend.
Near hysterics at this point, I cried out for help.
Dropping everything, she rushed to my house, and held me while I cried, and cried—for hours. When the crying subsided, she made me some tea and toast, and forced a Xanax down my throat, saying she would stay with me for as long as I needed her. Then, she led me upstairs, and without even flinching, or showing one sign of pity, she took a razor, and shaved what little hair was left from my baldhead. Joking and teasing, because she knew that a little humor was what I needed, she then helped me figure out how to position, and style my wig. Essentially, through her calm, loving concern she showed me that everything was going to be okay—that I wasn’t alone, and if I would simply ask, the Lord would send an angel to help me.
To this day, I have no way of gaging the depth of effect my love and service has had on those around me, but I do know that I’ve tried to be the kind of friend to others, my friend was to me that day. And I can only hope that my acts of kindness for others have mirrored hers in at least some small way.
The Ripple Effect Romance Novella Series
Enjoy this exciting new series of clean novellas by six critically-acclaimed authors.
“Like a pebble tossed into calm water, a simple act can ripple outward and have a far-reaching effect on those we meet, perhaps setting a life on a different course—one filled with excitement, adventure, and sometimes even love.”
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