Odes to Ashland
Hi. I’m so happy to be here to celebrate the release of my new romance, HOME IMPROVEMENT – -A LOVE STORY, my first book set in Ashland, Oregon.
You might know that for most of my writing career (first published in 2011) I’ve been associated with southern California. Heck, I have two series plus additional books totaling around 17 or 18 books set in Laguna Beach alone. Then almost exactly a year ago, I moved. Yes, it was a huge deal. My hubby was a native Californian and aside from a couple years in his teens, had never lived outside of California. But SoCal, while grand, has more traffic than practically anywhere on earth. Even in charming, ocean-side Laguna Beach, you can sit in traffic for hours just trying to get home. My honey, who drove everyday, was done. In search of less cars and more trees, we went looking for a new home.
We had been to Ashland, Oregon a few times to attend the famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF). Far from a “summer theater”, OSF operates four theaters nine months a year doing a repertory of eleven plays. It has one of the largest budgets of any theater in America. It’s an industry — and an artistic triumph! I adore theater (my degree is in theater) so the idea of being able to go any time I wanted was amazing. OSF presents more than 780 performances annually with attendance of over 410,000 people. Because of all the tourists, Ashland has tons of 5-star restaurants. Other artistic endeavors like an art museum, a symphony, a cabaret theater and many of the trappings of an upscale artsy metropolis. It also is a college ton, so there a mass of young people.
BUT, the permanent population of Ashland is only 21,000. There’s a town square that could be in a movie next to a flowing creek with restaurants beside it. There are parades for July 4th, Halloween, Christmas, Hannukah celebrations on the square, Pride parades and more super picturesque stuff. No chain stores are allowed in Ashland, so the totally walkable downtown is also shippable because all the stores are adorable, unique boutiques. And yet, there’s an airport 20 minutes away.
I have a friend who’d been sending me photos from Ashland for over a year. My honey and I took a serious trip to consider the town as a place to live and we lost our hearts. We sold our California house and moved north. While the move was super hard, the outcome was super happy. I’ll still be writing books in California. I still love it. But expect to make a lot of visits to my hometown, Ashland.
I hope you love your first visit in HOME IMPROVEMENT – A LOVE STORY.
Excerpt – Home Improvement – A Love Story
Jerry pretty much smiled all the way through the unloading, which was damned hard and took an hour of trying to maneuver the huge pieces of furniture across the lawn and up the stairs to the nearest door. Once inside, they placed the credenza at one end of the dining room that looked over the pool. The gleaming wood of the cabinet glowed against the Saltillo tile floors and gave the room—which still needed paint, rugs, and a table—some promise.
When they’d wrangled the coffee table into place in the middle of the huge great room, Gabe laughed. “I guess we can call it a start.”
Jerry threw his arms out and spun. “But it’s sooooo beautiful.” He kept swooping and twirling around the room until his head spun and the floor of the room and the wood ceiling far above kind of blended together. He threw his head back and laughed, his foot hit one of the rough places on the tile, and he staggered. “Whoa!” He slid and teetered toward the floor.
Before he could hit, Gabe snatched him into a full-body grab. “Hang on.”
Jerry took him at his word. Wrapping his arms tightly around Gabe’s neck, he hung on like crazy. Truthfully, he was too dizzy to stand up—
—and the Captain America arms didn’t help that dizziness one bit.
Before he could really analyze his situation, he’d pressed himself full length against Gabe’s tall, sturdy body, laughing tipsily.
Yes, the contact was pretty wriggly, and if he’d asked himself a hundred times whether Gabe might, just might, like guys since he seemed to look at Jerry like an hors d’oeuvre sometimes, he now got his answer. One formidable protuberance rose in the middle of the embrace and seemed to be matched in his own pants. Gabe’s heartbeat pounded against Jerry’s chest.
Oh fuck! Just one taste. Jerry slid the arm that was tightly wrapped around Gabe’s neck up a couple inches and yanked Gabe’s head down so he could lock their lips together.
The first touch produced an electric spark that slammed straight to Jerry’s balls so hard, for a second he had to hold his breath to keep from embarrassing himself with wet sweats. As the first gasp came under control, a tsunami of heat washed through him, and he slid his fingers tightly into Gabe’s shaggy, silken hair, as he pressed closer from lips to hips.
Gabe had been holding Jerry around the waist. His strong hands slid down and grasped Jerry’s butt and squeezed. Jerry gasped at the amazing pressure, and everything in him wanted to climb Gabe like a tree and then plant that evergreen where it would do the most good.
Before Jerry could anchor a leg around Gabe’s hips, he was gone, and Jerry was staggering backward to keep from falling.
Gabe gasped, “Oh God, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I hope you enjoy the furniture. Let me know if you change your mind about the other pieces. Otherwise I’ll make sure they get here while you’re gone.” With that he turned, hurried from the house, and before Jerry even made it to the front door, had disappeared out of sight.
Jerry slammed the front door, leaned against it, then slowly collapsed to the floor. Fuck-a-doodle-doo. Good job, asshole. Find somebody you actually like and enjoy being around and screw it up by being you.
He dropped his head onto his bent knees.
Tara Lain believes in happy ever afters – and magic. Same thing. In fact, she says, she doesn’t believe, she knows. Tara shares this passion in her best-selling stories that star her unique, charismatic heroes — the beautiful boys of romance — and adventurous heroines. Quarterbacks and cops, werewolves and witches, blue collar or billionaires, Tara’s characters, readers say, love deeply, resolve seemingly insurmountable differences, and ultimately live their lives authentically. After many years living in southern California, Tara, her soulmate honey and her soulmate dog decided they wanted less cars and more trees, prompting a move to Ashland, Oregon where Tara’s creating new stories and loving living in a small town with big culture. Likely a Gryffindor but possessed of Parseltongue, Tara loves animals of all kinds, diversity, open minds, coconut crunch ice cream from Zoeys, and her readers. She also loves to hear from you.