Sometimes only the wrong guy can bring the
right happy ever after.
(Balls To The Wall Series #6 )
by Tara Lain
Though only twenty-six, single father Theodore Walters lives with his head in the clouds and his feet firmly planted in reality. At the center of his life is Andy, his seven-year-old son, with whom he shares no DNA, though nobody—including his religious-fanatic in-laws—knows that, and Theodore will do anything to keep them from finding out. Theodore works hard to get his PhD and the tenure and salary that might follow to make a better life for Andy—but the head of his department thinks his dissertation on Jane Austen and romance novels is frivolous.
Theodore’s carefully planned life goes off the rails when he walks into a popular Laguna Beach bar and meets the bartender, “Snake” Erasmo, a pierced and tattooed biker who sends Theodore’s imagination—and libido—soaring. Snake has even more secrets than Theodore and couldn’t be a less “appropriate” match, but he might be the only guy with the skills to show Theodore that happily-ever-after is for real.
Excerpt – High Balls by Tara Lain
“Mr. Walters, please explain the methodology of your research.”
And so it began. The words flowed across his tongue—the thousands of questionnaires and over a hundred personal interviews showing the education, expertise, and experience of romance writers, their use and extension of techniques pioneered by Austen and other major literary figures. He discussed tropes and their application in so called “fine” literature as well as genre fiction. Quoting verbatim from scholars he’d interviewed, he showed how many academics dismissed romance fiction purely because of its association with female readers.
Dr. Willamette said, “How large is the romance market, Mr. Walters?” She actually seemed interested.
“It’s a moving target and difficult to pin down due to the vastness and fluidity of the ebook market, but well over a billion dollars, for sure. It’s the largest book market in the world by double over the next genre.”
“Oh my. Wouldn’t it be nice to bring those people more actively into the field of literature? More teachers and more students?” She smiled.
“My point exactly.”
Ashworth sputtered, “You want to bring these illiterate, uncultured old maids and housewives into the literary tent? You must be joking.”
Dr. Willamette’s face fell, and Theodore worked to ungrit his teeth.
Dr. T. tried to keep the tone upbeat, but every time Mr. Karl or Dr. Willamette asked a good question or seemed to show interest in his research, Ashworth would find a way to belittle their opinions. They practically shrank in their seats. The chances they’d stand up to the chairman? Zilch.
Theodore kept fighting, but he felt like a salmon on a dammed-up stream.
Dr. T. said, “Why did you undertake this research, Mr. Walters? What do you feel it contributes to the future of literature?”
Theodore gazed at the carpet for a minute. “When my wife was dying, I would read to her. Classics and current literary fiction felt so cold and helpless in the face of death. Only love prevailed. So I bought a romance novel, just for diversion. I was amazed at the true literary value the book possessed. I tried another and another. Yes, I found bad ones, but then that can be said of any type of literature. Gradually I came to realize that what I’d been taught about romance fiction was bull. Here were truly gifted writers, more of them than in any other type of fiction, toiling away with not only no recognition, but also actual denigration, and still producing exceptional work. I decided to find out why.”
He looked up at each member of the panel, even the sneering Ashworth. “I think if I can encourage or inspire even one of these excellent authors to persevere and have some of their work recognized, my research will have succeeded.”
Dr. T. said, “Thank you, Theodore. I wish to add that the dissertation reader agrees with Mr. Walters. She states that the paper has done more to legitimize one of the most popular forms of world fiction than anything she’s seen. She highly recommends the paper for publication.” He looked down the panel. “If there are no more questions, Mr. Walters can go and we can determine the time for our deliberation.”
Ashworth said, “I have one more. Walters, do you really expect us to take this dissertation seriously?”
Theodore stood. “Yes, sir, I do.” He looked down the table. “Thank you all for your consideration.” He turned and walked from the room with a straight spine.