Title: Changing Times
Series: Hidden Mountain #2
Author: Jacqueline Rhoades
Published: Jan 29/14 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Genre: contemporary romance
Hard living Lorelei Stewart has always accepted her role as the town tramp's daughter and has earned her fast and loose reputation, but times change. Pregnant and overburdened with responsibility, Lorelei's given up men and hopes to provide her baby with what she lacked as a girl; a decent home and a loving mother. The old bootlegger, Rollie Roper, needs a caretaker and has room for Lorelei and her coming child; a fair exchange.
Everything's almost perfect until Rollie's long lost nephew, Cob Thornton, turns up with money and plans of his own and those plans don't include the woman living in his house, yet something about Lorelei fascinates him. He begins to see past the cold armor she wears and discovers a vulnerable and loving woman within. Now all he has to do is convince the pessimistic Lorelei that sometimes, Changing Times can be a blessing in disguise.
Adult-content rating: This book contains content considered unsuitable for young readers 17 and under, and which may be offensive to some readers of all ages.
Lorelei pushed away from the door and marched down the hall, forcing him to plaster his back against the wall to let her pass. She pushed through the screen door out onto the porch. Cob followed, catching the wooden door before it slammed.
She whirled on him, hissing, “You didn’t see him. You didn’t hear the shot and know, know that shot was meant for your friend. There was blood everywhere. There and there and over there.” She pointed randomly to places around the stairs and the ground below.
“Rollie almost died, right here on these steps and there was nothing I could do. Do you know how long he was in the hospital and rehab after that? Do you know what that was like for him? Do you know how long and hard I had to scrub those damned steps to get the blood out? Just in case he came home?”
Lorelei sputtered the last of her tirade and collapsed into Rollie’s chair. Elbows braced on the arms, she shaded her downcast eyes.
“Goddamned fucking pregnancy,” she sniffed.
“I know how you feel.” Cob went down on one knee in front of her. She was weeping for Chrissake. Weeping! He wanted to touch her, comfort her, but wasn’t sure how.
Her head snapped up. “You can’t. You weren’t there.”
“But I’ve been there,” he said quietly. “I’ve seen it happen to friends I was sharing jokes with not ten minutes before. I’ve been where Rollie is, too.” And he doesn’t need coddling, he wanted to add, but didn’t dare.
Lorelei dropped her head down. She couldn’t look at him. Of course he’d seen friends shot, probably worse. He must think she’s a fool and he’d be right. He’s probably thinking Rollie’s alive, what does the bitch have to whine about? But how could he be so calm about it? And why couldn’t she get past it?
A year ago, she might have. She could’ve handled anything a year ago before everything came crashing down around her. She felt his hand stroking lightly through her hair and she slapped it away.
“Don’t touch me,” she snapped.
She was on the edge of blubbering. If he showed her any kindness, she would make a complete ass of herself rather than the plain fool he must already think her to be. He held a hand full of cobwebby stuff under her nose.
“What the hell have you been doing?”
“My job, cleaning,” she said and sniffed back the last of her tears, “Like you said. It should have been done already.” She struggled up from the chair. “And if you want to sleep in a bed tonight, I’d better get it finished.”
“I didn’t say… Okay, I did, but I didn’t mean…”
“I know what you meant.” She made it to the door before he grabbed her arm.
“No, you don’t. Now sit back down.”
She was the most aggravating woman he’d ever met and he wasn’t going to spend the rest of his life tiptoeing around worrying over how she would interpret everything he said.
“Let me go.”
He did, but only long enough to rearrange his arms. One went around her back and under her arms. The other went under her knees. He scooped her up and plopped her back in the chair, gently because of the baby. He pointed his finger at her nose.
“I said sit and don’t move.” He stood tall and folded his arms across his chest. “Thanks to you, this house is cleaner than it’s ever been and that includes the time my mother lived here. I couldn’t see someone that spotless not being driven crazy by those rooms upstairs.”
“Rollie said not to,” she whispered, a little shocked at how easily he'd picked her up and plopped her in the chair.
“Then do what he says,” Cob shouted and then shut his eyes and took in a calming breath. “I’m more than capable of cleaning my own damn room, which is what I was planning to do as soon as Rollie was settled," he told her ad then pointed at her with a warning finger. "Now you sit until I tell you to get up.”
He left her there, too stunned to answer him back. Good. That was a step in the right direction. He stepped into the house and back out again with a foot stool in his hand. He placed it under her feet.
“You need to put your feet up.” He picked up Jerry’s shopping bag and put it next to the chair. “While you’re sitting there, you can read one of these.”
When the screen door shut behind him, Lorelei stared at it for a moment and then huffed. She couldn’t believe she let him talk to her that way and didn’t say anything to stop him. This wasn’t the Army and he wasn’t her boss. How dare he order her to sit here and…? She looked in the bag. It was filled with books about babies. She looked at her feet propped up on the stool and huffed again. The bastard had no business being nice to her.
She should tell him what he could do with his orders. Instead, Lorelei started to cry.
I love how down to earth this little town is. The people stay the same and really grow on you. There is a strength to each of the characters. They stand up for themselves and for those around them without compromising who they are at the core. Sure there are ‘crazies’ but it just adds to the fullness of the town. You really get into the nitty gritty of life through the characters in this one. Rhoades doesn’t present them as perfect individuals, but as real life people who are trying to make the best of what they have. I also love the local ‘twang’ that shines through (and stays consistent in) the dialogue. That’s not to say that everyone speaks the same. It changes from one character to the next, but you can see the regionality of it as well as the consistency from character to character.
Although Rhoades has written this in such a manner that it could easily be read as a standalone, reading Preston’s Mill will give you background on the characters (and it’s a brilliant read too). Will I reread this book? Probably a few dozen times. Am I dying to see what happens next? YES! But the real question is, were this my intro to the author, would I read more? And the answer is a resounding HELLS YEAH!
About the author:
Jackie believes in the beauty of all women and thinks most women don't see themselves as they should (herself included). She tries to make the women in her books reflect the best of 'average' in a variety of shapes, sizes, personalities and backgrounds, and each is beautiful in her own way. Some of her heroes are movie star handsome, while others are not. All her characters are beautiful in the eyes of their lovers and that, to Jackie, is the most beautiful of all.
The Guardians Of The Race Series
| Preston's Mill |