I’m always so glad to feature my bestie, Liz Flaherty, here in the spotlight and never happier when she has a new book out. We process story every single day so I feel the birth pains of her books and she feels mine. Reinventing Riley grew so naturally out of Syd and Clay’s story, A Year of Firsts, and I loved seeing her back in her little town of Fallen Soldier, Pennsylvania. Writing a series is hard and more than once, Liz and I have giggled over one or the other of us has forgotten a detail about our little towns. We have a bunch of fun being each other’s sounding boards for writing and just about everything else.
USA Today bestselling author Liz Flaherty started writing in the fourth grade when her Aunt Gladys allowed her to use her portable Royal typewriter. The truth was that her aunt would have let her do anything to get her out of her hair, but the typewriter and the stories it could produce caught on, and Liz never again had a day without a what if… in it.
She and Duane, her husband of at least forever, live in a farmhouse in central Indiana, sharing grown children, spoiled cats, and their grandkids, the Magnificent Seven. (Don’t get her started on them—you’ll be here all day.) To find out more about her and to follow her on social media, check out the links below:
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Thanks for having me back, Nan. I love talking about Riley and Jake–Riley if for no other reason than she’s a little different for me and I kind of had to dig to get to know her. And then there’s Jake—the pastor with a rock and roll heart and a true gentle spirit. Have I mentioned that I really love him a lot?
Reinventing Riley is Book Two of the Second Chances series from Magnolia Blossom Publishing. In all honestly, I didn’t choose the name of the series—someone at Magnolia Blossom did. And I’m so grateful. Because, more than a series, second chances is about my favorite trope in both romantic and women’s fiction—especially, perhaps, because I write seasoned romance and, frankly, later-in-life love is something I can identify with and enjoy every day of my life. The romance of protagonists in seasoned romances are more than likely to be taking their second—or more—chances
I worry sometimes that, although I’m well into the seasoned part of my life, I’m not knowledgeable enough about the second-chances part to make it real. I’m afraid I’ll insult people who really have started over with my lack of understanding of how it really is. While a long marriage is comprised of falling in love over and over (because of those days when…you know…you’re just not), I realize it’s different.
I hope I do it right, and I hope you love Riley and Jake’s story.
Pastor Jake McAlister and businesswoman Riley Winters are in their forties and widowed. Neither is interested in a relationship. They both love Fallen Soldier, the small Pennsylvania town where they met, even though Rye plans to move to Chicago, and Jake sees a change in pastorates not too far down the road. Enjoying a few-weeks friendship is something they both look forward to.
However, there is an indisputable attraction between the green-eyed pastor and the woman with a shining sweep of chestnut hair. Then there’s the Culp, an old downtown building that calls unrelentingly to Rye’s entrepreneurial soul. And when a young man named Griff visits Jake, life changes in the blink of a dark green eye.
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Riley Winters made it a habit not to be afraid of things. It wasn’t a natural habit, by any means—she didn’t like emptying mousetraps of their contents any better than the next person, but necessity—as Granny Kamp always said and Rye tried to ignore—was the mother of invention. She learned, shuddering and swallowing hard, to pick up the mousetrap and its prey with long-handled tongs and put them into a zippered plastic bag. She’d dispatch the bag to the trash—outside—then wash her hands a few times with a lot of soap and maybe a scrub brush before sitting at the table with a glass of wine and something with chocolate in it.
So she wasn’t even scared when the door to her office appeared to have been vandalized. Just…irritated. This was Peru, Indiana, for heaven’s sake, a little town full of friendly people and helpful neighbors. She’d gone in the back door at DeRozier’s Bakery and laughed with Joe and bought two doughnuts, got coffee at Aroma, and walked to the storefront on Third to start her day.
Plus, what had happened with that alarm system she’d paid way too much for?
It didn’t occur to her that whoever had broken into the Center Ring, her party-planning shop, might still be there. Surely they would have just emptied the cashbox of the fifty dollars’ worth of change and small bills she left in it, latched onto some of the more expensive decorations, and gone on their way. They might have disabled or stolen the computer, too, but it was old, as was the furniture and the collection of umbrellas that stood in a tall crock by the door. The crock was new—she’d bought it from a pottery shop in town, and a glance told her the intruder had smashed it to pieces.
That was what got her. She’d loved its shade of blue and had bought it on a lonely whim after her best friend moved away. She’d sent Syd a picture of the crock when she saw it and it was as if they were shopping together. She knelt beside its shards, paying scarce attention to the slam of the building’s back door, and mourned its loss. One more in a too-long string.
She called the police, and while she waited for them to come, she sipped her coffee and called the person who’d stopped in the day before. “I’ll accept your offer,” she said. “Could you come in later this morning so we can go over the details?”
She still wasn’t afraid, she told herself later, after cleaning up the mess the vandals had made and listing her house with the realtor who had sold Syd’s less than a year before. She was just done.