Tess Dougherty plans every aspect of her life right down to the last detail. But she doesn’t plan on running her boyfriend off by bringing up the topic of marriage before he’s ready. And she doesn’t plan to lose her job on the day she’s set to receive a huge promotion. So when her perfect world unravels, Tess makes a new plan: disappear.
Tess packs her bags and leaves her city apartment for a remote vineyard in North Carolina. At first, she’s put off by the slow pace of small-town life in the South. She’s especially irritated by Thatcher, the vineyard’s smart-mouth, dimple-faced farmhand. But she soon begins to appreciate the area’s charm, and Thatcher’s charm, too. She even swaps her trademark heels for a pair of cowboy boots. As Tess spends more time getting to know Thatcher, she finds herself loosening her grip on her old life little by little. Unfortunately, things on the vineyard aren’t as simple as they seem. There’s a secret here, and when the truth comes to light, Tess is forced to reconsider every plan she’s ever made.
Courtney Rice Gager graduated from Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in communication and a minor in creative writing. Courtney is also the author of The Buggy List. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and daughter.
Guest Post: What it Felt like to Fall: Lessons in Love from an Old Shoebox
Considering how much fiction trends can ebb and flow over time, I find the lasting popularity of the romance genre to be fascinating. People love a good love story. They always have and they always will.
Perhaps this is because real life isn’t very romantic.
I’ll be the first to admit that lately my real life has been a bit heavy on the real side of the scale. Don’t get me wrong, I’m married to an amazing man. He has this gray-hair-around-the-temples thing that he hates, but it’s really working for me. He’s funny, kind, and adorable. It’s just… we have a lot going on.
He’s busy getting into the swing of a new role at work, and I’m working on publicity for the release of Tess in Boots. Plus we have a two-year-old, a baby on the way, and an ancient Saturn which barely runs and is in perpetual need of repair and/or a good hard kick.
What I’m trying to say is, no matter how charming your prince, assembling a crib together while discussing the longevity of spark plugs doesn’t make for a romantic evening.
We were recently cleaning out a room of our home to clear some space for the new baby, and I stumbled upon a shoebox that I almost threw out, because I’m in a big throwing-things-out phase. Right before tossing it in the trash I lifted the lid and saw that the box was crammed with old love notes I’d written for my husband when we were dating. There must have been a hundred of them. (When you’re dating a writer, you get a lot of love notes. I’m just saying.)
I unfolded one of the notes, and my heart softened as I read it. For those few seconds, I was taken back to the place before life got so… well, real. I was reminded of the time when the most urgent thing in my world was to know and be known by this man. Most importantly, I was reminded of the fact that I’m living my happily-ever-after right now. Spark plugs and all.
I couldn’t read every note in one sitting, because there was too much to do that day. There always is. What I did do was make a plan to pull one note out of the box each day for the next thirty days. This way I could take a few seconds to read it before leaving it out for my husband to read, too. We’re in the middle of those thirty days now. Some days, it’s hard to find time to even pull the note out of the box, but the gift of remembrance is worth the trouble. We’re re-reading our love story, one page at a time, and remembering how it felt to fall for one another.
I believe that’s why people read love stories. In the midst of real-life pressures, they want to pause and remember what it felt like to fall. Or maybe they’re looking forward to what it might feel like in the future. Either way, it’s no wonder the love story is here to stay.
Speaking of love stories, Tess in Boots is officially out! It’s a new love story wrapped up in an old one. I hope you’ll give it a read and celebrate the timeless beauty of falling in love.
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