Author Debra St. John is here to share the story behind her novel Halloween at The Corral.
I’m a big fan of series. Both to read and to write. When I finished my Corral Series, I wasn’t quite ready to let the world I created go. I wanted to stay and visit for a little while longer. So I came up with the idea of doing a spin-off series. I thought about what format I wanted to use and finally decided I would write several holiday stories. The characters in these stories would be characters we first met in the original trilogy. And all of the stories would take place, at least in part, at The Corral, the honky tonk bar I created and which the series revolves around. It’s modeled after the bar where my hubby and I met over twenty years ago.
Dan Jenkins, the hero in Halloween at The Corral, is the first character I purposely put in a book with the intent of using in this spin-off series. We first meet Dan in This Feels Like Home, where he’s helping Jake Hawkins get ready to ride a bull. He gets one mention. That’s it.
All I really knew about Dan when I started his story was he’s a bull rider. When I decided to use his character in my Halloween story, I gave him a background very different than the bull rider he is today. My theme became, ‘You don’t need a costume to hide who you really are.’ Throughout the story, Dan is trying to figure out who he really is.
To help him figure that out, I brought in another minor character from the original series, Kelly. Kelly works at the local dry cleaners, but again, we don’t really know anything else about her. While Kelly tries to figure out who Dan really is, she adds the holiday flavor to the story: jack-o-lanterns, costumes, and holiday parties.
I didn’t purposely plan to pair Kelly and Dan, but it all worked out, and I was able to tell a fun Halloween story AND help Dan figure out who he really is. Along the way, Kelly found a man worthy of her heart.
The cover for this book is one of my favorites. Not only does it evoke everything fall with its brilliant colors, but with Dan’s face hidden by his hat, it really ties in the whole ‘hiding who you really are’ theme. From the moment I first saw it, I knew it was perfect!
Kelly Harper has no interest in egomaniacs like Dan Jenkins. She also has no patience for the entourage of groupies who follow him while he basks in their attention. Her experience with her ex-fiancé has taught her to steer clear of guys like Dan who see women as no more than a pretty face to parade around.
Dan Jenkins is something of a local celebrity. His charm and good looks ensure he never lacks for female company, but truth be told, he finds their attentions shallow and superficial. No one bothers to get to know who he really is. Trouble is, Dan’s not sure he knows either.
Will Kelly be the one to figure out who Dan really is behind the good ol’ boy facade? If so, she just might discover a man she never expected—a man worthy of her heart.
“I enjoyed spending time with you today. I didn’t want it to end. You said I don’t talk to you like I talk to other girls. Well, you don’t talk to me like they talk to me.” He scooted closer across the bench seat. His breath fanned her face. “You don’t bat your eyelashes. Or flip your hair. Or smile like a beauty pageant contestant. You’re real.” His fingers brushed her cheek.
Her body hummed and her head buzzed like a sugar rush after too much Halloween candy.
“You got one thing wrong,” he whispered.
Her scrambled brain struggled to make sense of the words. “What?”
“Only sometimes, not many times, does it turn into more than flirting. And I wasn’t lying earlier. Even if it is more than flirting, I never bring women back to my house. I like my privacy.”
Great. She’d barged in and invaded the man’s personal space all day. “Why didn’t you slam the door in my face this morning?”
He chuckled. Low and intimate. Goosebumps chased down her arms. “I already told you. You’re different.”
His fingers wove through the hair at her nape. His mouth settled over hers and her pulse fluttered. Caught. Raced. Firm, yet soft, lips stroked hers. Even though her limbs went all melty, like the rich caramel center of a chocolate truffle, she wrapped her arms around his neck and sank deeper into the kiss. Which got better and better the longer it went on.
When Dan pulled away, all too soon, her breath was battered. Her heart raced. Every inch of her felt alive and aware. And wanting more.
“Do you want to come up?”
He kissed her again. Once. Softly. “Yes. But I’m not going to tonight.” The shadows hid his eyes, but his voice held the hint of a promise. There would be other nights. “We’ll take this slow. We’re still figuring each other out, remember?”
“Oh, I remember. And I am going to figure out who you really are, Dan Jenkins.”
“Good. Let me know when you do.”
Halloween at The Corral is on sale for 99c this month!
The original Corral series, the holiday spin-offs, and the rest of Debra’s bookshelf can also be found at Amazon, B & N, and The Wild Rose Press.
Debra St. John has been reading and writing romance since high school. She always dreamed about publishing a romance novel someday. Her dream came true when she started writing sultry contemporary romance with spunky heroines and sexy heroes for The Wild Rose Press. Although she’s country gal at heart, she lives in a Chicago suburb with her husband, who is her real life hero.
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