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Fun Friday–Sneak Peek at THE ART OF ROMANCE

Friday, February 11, 2011

So, since I’m running a contest for y’all to win copies of books that don’t even have the “Look Inside” feature available on Amazon yet, I thought that for this week and next week, I’d give you a sneak peek inside my two summer releases. Today, it’s The Art of Romance.

A couple of months ago, I uploaded the (unedited) first chapter of TAOR, which you can read as a PDF here. I highly recommend you read that before you read the rest of this post.


Book 2 of the Matchmakers Series
ISBN-13: 978-1-60260-990-7
Barbour Publishing
Copyright © 2011 by Kaye Dacus

Chapter Two

Dylan pulled his Ford Escape into a parking space right beside another Escape. He’d wanted to get the small, hybrid SUV in the white, but not a single dealer in Philly had one with the options he wanted, so he took it in blue instead. He sure did like the way it looked in white, though.
. . . . .The parking tag hanging from the rear-view mirror announced this SUV belonged to a member of the faculty. And the Improve Your Future—Read a Book Today bumper sticker made him suspect that faculty member was one of the English professors.
. . . . .He took out his phone and used its web feature to pull up the map of the college campus again. This building should be where he would find Perty’s friend’s granddaughter, as long as she wasn’t in class. He let himself in a side door of the stone building that looked like it had been a house, albeit a large one, in a previous life. A musty smell—one he usually associated with old people’s houses—permeated the building. Not surprising, given that every window had an AC unit hanging out of it, covered with tarps to try to hold out the chilly weather.
. . . . .The quiet that filled the hall pressed on Dylan’s ears. The few offices on this floor were all closed up. He found the stairs. According to the school’s website, Dr. Caylor Evans’s office was on the second floor of Davidson Hall. He reached the top of the stairs and turned left. Yep, there it was. Room 203. But the door was closed.
. . . . .She could have a student in there—or she could be in class, or even gone for the day.
. . . . .He knocked.
. . . . .No response.
. . . . .Oh, well. He could tell Perty he tried.
. . . . .She had all kinds of stuff taped to her door. Quotes from Byron and Elizabeth Browning and Jane Austen and Sir Walter Scott. A final exam schedule—and her exams were all scheduled for next week. And—
. . . . .He lifted the corner of the exam schedule.


      Auditions for the spring production of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING will be held in Rutherford Auditorium January 10 & 11 from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. Open casting call for the following roles. . .

. . . . .What followed was a list of the secondary characters and bit players in what was the only Shakespeare play Dylan knew well—and then only because Rhonda had loved the movie version of it so much.
. . . . .He really needed to stop relating everything in his life to Rhonda. But, truth be told, she’d exposed him to many things he otherwise would still be ignorant of. He wished he could get some of that innocence back. Culturally speaking, she had enriched his life.
. . . . .But anyway. . .
. . . . .He released the exam schedule and let it fall back over the audition announcement, then started back down the stairs. At the halfway landing, he almost ran into someone coming up.
. . . . . “Sorry,” they both said at the same time.
. . . . .The woman he’d almost bowled over steadied herself with one hand on the railing, the other arm wrapped around a pile of books. He reached out to assist, just in case, but she regained her balance quickly. She blinked at him a couple of times.
. . . . . “I know you, don’t I?”
. . . . .No—he was pretty sure he’d remember a gorgeous redhead who was probably the tallest woman he’d ever met—almost as tall as his own six-foot-three. “I don’t think so.”
. . . . . “You look so familiar to me.” She shook her head and laughed, showing slightly crooked front teeth that only made her cuter. “I’m getting to an age where I’ve met so many people that I’m starting to get that sensation no matter where I go—you know, the sensation that you’ve met the people there before?”
. . . . .He couldn’t really identify. And, besides, she couldn’t be much older than him, if at all.
. . . . . “Well. . .is there someone or something I can help you find? You look a little lost.”
. . . . . “I. . .” He searched his pockets for the slip of paper with the name he needed. “I need to see Dr. Holtz in the Art Department.”
. . . . . “Oh, you’re in the wrong building, hon. You need to go out the front door and across the quad to Sumner Hall. That’s where the Art Department is.” The woman’s blue-green eyes scrutinized him as if trying to figure out who he was and where she might know him from. “Are you a student here?”
. . . . . “No. I haven’t been a student for several years now.”
. . . . . “Oh—you’re an adjunct?”
. . . . . “I hope to be.” He returned the note to the coin pocket of his jeans.
. . . . .She shifted the pile of books into her left arm and extended her right hand. “Well, if you ever need anything, feel free to ask. I’m Dr. Caylor Evans.”
. . . . .Really? She was Caylor Evans—the woman he’d wanted to avoid? He took her outstretched hand. “Dylan Bradley.”
. . . . . “Brad. . .” Her eyes widened and she held onto his hand. “You’re not related to Perty—Helen Bradley, are you?”
. . . . . “She’s my grandmother.” He pulled away from her grasp.
. . . . . “That’s why you look familiar. I met your brother—oh, what was his name—the physicist?”
. . . . . “Paxton?”
. . . . .She snapped her fingers. “Yes, Paxton. I met him at a family cookout back in October. He looks a lot like you. I hope that theoretical physics stuff is going well for him.”
. . . . .He liked her crooked grin, the way the right corner of her mouth came up just a little higher than the other when she smiled. “I guess it is.”
. . . . .He avoided getting into any kind of conversation with Pax—a candidate for a PhD in Medical Physics from Vanderbilt University, though with as often as the oldest of Dylan’s three younger brothers used the word theoretically when talking about his research, it was no surprise Caylor had misinterpreted what he did as theoretical physics.
. . . . . “I couldn’t understand a word of it when I met him.”
. . . . .She had perfectly shaped lips. He could almost feel the sweep of his pencil as he outlined them and then shaded to show their fullness.
. . . . .But, no. He didn’t do art like that anymore.
. . . . .Her smile started to falter. Probably because he hadn’t said anything yet, and it was his turn. “Out the front door and across the quad to Sumner Hall?”
. . . . . “What—? Oh, yes. I believe Dr. Holtz’s office is on the third floor.” Her short hair danced in asymmetric layers and waves around her head. He would need oranges and reds and umbers and golds—
. . . . .No. He did not paint people anymore. Just abstracts. That was his style. Not beautiful women he ran into, whether by design or accident.
. . . . .He backed away. “Thanks.”
. . . . .She shifted her stack of books again. “You’re welcome. It was nice to meet you.”
. . . . . “You, too.” He went down a few steps, then turned around. “Merry Christmas.”
. . . . .She looked down from several steps up, and the lopsided grin had returned. “Merry Christmas to you, too, Dylan.”
. . . . .He ran the rest of the way downstairs and hurried out the front door and down the steps from the building’s porch.
. . . . .There. He’d met her. She would tell her grandmother and her grandmother would tell Perty. And everyone would be happy.
. . . . .He stopped in the middle of the quad. Everyone would be happy but him. The memory of her face, her hair, her lips, the curve of her neck between her almost-square jaw and the collar of the white blouse she wore under her purple sweater. . .her image would haunt him. Would drive him to the brink of cracking until he gave in and drew her.
. . . . .He’d met hundreds, maybe even thousands, of gorgeous women in his life. Before he met Rhonda, he’d sketched many of them. Since Rhonda had convinced him to change his form to abstract, he’d given fleeting thoughts to drawing a beautiful specimen. But none of their images had urged him to put pencil to paper once more the way Dr. Caylor Evans’s did.
. . . . . No.
. . . . .Trying to brush the annoyance from his mind, he started walking toward Sumner Hall again. He would not draw Caylor Evans. He would not give her one more thought. He’d done what his grandmother wanted. Now it was time to see about doing what he wanted, and that was teaching art. Dr. Evans was a passing distraction.
. . . . .And as long as they never passed each other again, he might get over this urge to draw every feature he could remember—from her slightly crooked front teeth to the way her right eye squinted up just a little more than the left one when she smiled.
. . . . .While JRU wasn’t a huge school, it was big enough. It couldn’t be too hard to avoid her. Could it?

* * *

“Do you remember Mr. Science Guy from the family cookout back in October?” Caylor twirled a bent-open paperclip with the thumb and forefinger of her left hand.
. . . . . “The tall skinny guy with the pimply neck?” Zarah Mitchell, one of her best friends from college, asked.
. . . . . “Yeah. The one who wanted to tell me all about his experiment while we were there.”
. . . . . “I remember him. Don’t tell me he called you and asked you out.”
. . . . .With her cell phone tucked between ear and shoulder, Caylor used her right hand to scroll through the list of unread e-mails sitting in her inbox to determine if any of them needed to be addressed before she left for the day. “No, he didn’t call. But I met his brother Dylan a few minutes ago—his older brother, by the looks of him.”
. . . . . “Really?” A hint of excitement came through Zarah’s voice. “How much older?”
. . . . . “Probably not much. I’d say he’s probably in his late-twenties.”
. . . . . “Does he look just like the scientist?”
. . . . .Caylor didn’t have to search hard to recall the memory of Dylan Bradley’s looks. In fact, she hadn’t been able to stop thinking about him since the run-in. “A little bit—but even cuter. Oh, and he’s taller than me, too.”
. . . . . “That’s a bonus.”
. . . . .Right at six feet tall—with a love of shoes with two- or three-inch heels—Caylor’s head was always turned by a man whom she had to look up to. Physically and intellectually. Today, she was wearing flats and he’d been a few inches taller. His face floated before her mind’s eye again. “There’s something about this guy that’s so familiar, and I can’t put my finger on it.”
. . . . . “He looks like his brother?”
. . . . . “Yeah. . .that’s partly it. But I feel like I know him from somewhere—like we’ve met before.” She opened an e-mail to see if it was as important as the subject made it sound, but it wasn’t so she closed it again.
. . . . . “Your grandmothers are best friends. It’s likely that you met him sometime when you were both younger and just don’t remember it. So. . .are you going to go for it?” A teasing lilt softened Zarah’s voice.
. . . . .Caylor leaned back in her chair. “Go for what?”
. . . . . “This guy. . .Dylan. You’ve been saying you might have to start taking the initiative if you’re going to have any marriage prospects before you’re forty. You only have five years left, dear.”
. . . . .The bent paperclip flew from Caylor’s fingers and landed with a slight tick somewhere across the small office. “Thanks for the reminder.” Actually, she had five years and six days left. “I don’t think so—he’s way too young for me.”
. . . . . “If he’s in his late twenties, he can’t be more than five or six years younger than you. That’s nothing.”
. . . . . “Says the lady engaged to a man two years older. Any change on setting a wedding date?” Though haranguing her friend about her open-ended engagement took the focus off the idea of Caylor’s asking a younger man out, she had to swallow back the bitterness of envy every time she talked to Zarah about the engagement or the as yet unscheduled wedding. Two years older than Zarah and a year older than their other best friend, Flannery McNeill, Caylor had always assumed she would get engaged and married first. None of them, Zarah included, had ever dreamed that Zarah would be the first engaged, first married. Of course, considering she was engaged to the guy she’d met and fallen in love with when she was seventeen years old, his coming back to town after so many years had given Zarah an advantage in the snag-a-man category.
. . . . .She hadn’t told Zarah yet, but Zarah and Bobby’s experience—meeting young, falling in love, being broken up by her emotionally abusive father, resenting each other for years, and then coming back together fourteen years later—had inspired a novel idea for Caylor. And now she had returned all of her edits on the last manuscript on her current contract, she could start working on the proposal for a new series.
. . . . . “No change. We’re still discussing whether I’ll sell my house or he’ll get rid of his condo. He likes the more urban-lifestyle feel of the apartment—reminds him of living in L.A. He says my house feels too suburban for him. But I hate the idea of sharing walls—or that our floor is someone else’s ceiling. It creeps me out.”
. . . . .Caylor picked up a pen and pulled the black-vinyl covered spiral notebook out from her messenger-style bag. She flipped open to the first blank page, about halfway through, and wrote: Have engaged couples argue about where they’re going to live? Too urban/too suburban.
. . . . . “You’re writing down what I said, aren’t you?”
. . . . .She closed the notebook and clicked the pen closed. “Just jotting down an idea while it’s fresh in my mind.
. . . . .Zarah gave a long, exaggerated sigh on the other end of the phone line. “Just mention me in the acknowledgments, okay?”
. . . . . “As always.”
. . . . . “My tour group just arrived. Everything ready for tonight?”
. . . . .Oh, yes, the original reason for this phone call. “Would I miss our Christmas dinner? It’s been a tradition for—what?—ten, eleven years now? In fact, I need to get out of here and stop by Publix on the way home so that Sassy can—I mean, so I can finish up the desserts I’m bringing tonight.”
. . . . . “Oh, good—you’re not cooking.” Zarah’s voice echoed funny, and Caylor assumed she was in the stairwell headed down to the small history museum on the first floor of the Middle Tennessee Historic Preservation Commission’s building.
. . . . . “Ha-ha. So funny. The one time I tried to make meatloaf, and y’all will never let me live it down.” She closed all of her programs and shut down the computer.
. . . . . “More like a really big hockey puck. Gotta go. See you tonight around six.”
. . . . . “I’ll be there.” They said good-bye, and Caylor tossed the phone into her bag, along with everything else she might need over the weekend.
. . . . .The lines at the grocery store made what should have been a relatively quick stop into an ordeal, but she finally made it home with all of the ingredients on Sassy’s list.
. . . . .The sugary, cinnamony, spicy, warm aroma of baking treats wrapped around Caylor as soon as she opened the kitchen door—though the loud music nearly forced her back out again.
. . . . .Sassy danced around the kitchen singing along with Burl Ives on “A Holly Jolly Christmas.” Before Caylor could get her attention, the song ended and a random 1980s hair-band rock anthem started. Caylor heaved the grocery bags onto the table, reached for the portable speakers, and turned down the volume.
. . . . . “You know, I think it might have been a mistake for me to get all of Papa’s vinyl transferred to digital and give it to you on an MP3 player.”
. . . . .Sassy sashayed over toward her, waving a wooden spoon, and took Caylor by the hand. She led her into the middle of the room and started dancing the jitterbug. “You always say that, and then you always end up having a good time anyway.”
. . . . .Caylor gave in and danced with her grandmother for half a minute, then broke away. “There’s cold stuff that needs to be put in the fridge.”
. . . . .After she put the groceries up—those that Sassy didn’t need immediately—Caylor returned to her car for her school stuff, which she took upstairs to her office. While there, she changed into jeans—a pair of sixteens that were on the loose side of fitting, just so she’d be as comfortable as possible tonight—and a white turtleneck with reindeer all over it. She pulled out her pine-tree green cardigan to wear over it. The weather had been mild since the cold snap just before Thanksgiving, but the forecast called for a front to come in this afternoon and make the temperature drop near freezing by nightfall.
. . . . .After a cup of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich, Caylor put on an apron and did what she could to help Sassy—which pretty much meant trying to stay out of her way and hand her things as she needed them.
. . . . .At five thirty, Sassy put the dome over the coconut cake, and Caylor covered the pan containing the Coca-Cola cake with foil. After setting the cake carriers in the back of her small SUV—in weather definitely colder than when she’d gotten home a few hours ago—Caylor took the large tray of cookies Sassy had covered with plastic wrap out, glad she had opted for the SUV instead of the smaller car when she’d decided to get a hybrid vehicle.
. . . . .She ran back upstairs and got her leather jacket to put on over her sweater. Back in the kitchen, she grabbed her keys and slung her purse strap over her shoulder. “Anything else you want to send?”
. . . . . “Oh—wait, the fudge!” Sassy pulled the pan of chocolaty goodness out of the fridge, cut it into one-inch squares and arranged it on a glass plate, which she then covered loosely with plastic wrap.
. . . . .Caylor’s mouth watered. She loved Sassy’s fudge more than anything else, and her grandmother only made it a few times during the Christmas season each year. It was so tempting to conveniently “forget” this in her car and keep it all to herself. But she didn’t want to undo the good she’d done losing weight over the last few months. So she’d limit herself to one piece. Five, tops.
. . . . .With the fudge in the back of the SUV along with everything else, safely out of reach, Caylor headed up to Zarah’s house. In the complete darkness that was six o’clock in the evening in mid-December in Nashville, most of the houses lining Granny White Pike had their Christmas lights turned on, putting Caylor even more in the mood for the dinner she, Zarah, and Flannery had started when they lived together in college. They each invited three people, making an even dozen, and the three of them prepared all the food.
. . . . .Flannery’s car was already in the driveway when Caylor pulled up. She tapped the horn, and Zarah and Flannery came out to help carry everything in.
. . . . .Just like Caylor, neither of her best friends could resist indulging in a piece of fudge as soon as Caylor uncovered it inside—and then laughed at the moaning that ensued.
. . . . .Bobby, Zarah’s fiancé, arrived a few minutes later—having gone home to change clothes after spending the afternoon at the house helping Zarah set up. Caylor averted her eyes when they kissed in greeting. Even though it was no more than just a peck on the lips, a surge of jealousy flared which she couldn’t control, and she didn’t want them to see it.
. . . . .Zarah flew around, being obsessive-compulsive over making sure everything was arranged perfectly while Caylor and Flannery chatted about whom they’d invited. With Caylor, it was the usual suspects—one of the drama professors and two of the English professors, all single, all with no family in the area.
. . . . . At ten ’til seven, the doorbell rang. Caylor crossed to answer it, still laughing over Bobby’s teasing of Zarah.
. . . . .The laughter froze in her throat when she opened the door.
. . . . .On the front porch, his curly dark hair mostly slicked back into a stubby ponytail, his face clean shaven, and looking handsomer than she remembered from just a few hours ago, stood Dylan Bradley.

  1. Friday, February 11, 2011 6:23 am

    So when can I read the rest of the book? 🙂 LOVE it so far!


  2. Friday, February 11, 2011 7:53 am

    Such a great teaser! Can’t wait to read the rest!


  3. Leah permalink
    Friday, February 11, 2011 7:56 am

    It sounds SO good!!!!


  4. Jackie S. permalink
    Friday, February 11, 2011 8:00 am

    Whoopee this sounds great……can’t wait to read the book!!!


  5. Friday, February 11, 2011 8:07 am

    I. want. to. read. this. book!!!! Oh, it sounds sooo good!!


  6. Leigha permalink
    Friday, February 11, 2011 8:28 am

    Oh my goodness, I don’t know much about your ‘Art of Romance’ series, but I LOVE the Ransome series and can hardly wait for that little exert…. Thanks Kaye!!!


    • Sylvia M. permalink
      Friday, February 11, 2011 10:23 am

      Leigha, have you read the Brides of Boneterre series from Barbour Publishing? They are wonderful too!


      • Sylvia M. permalink
        Friday, February 11, 2011 10:23 am

        Sorry, I meant Bonneterre.


  7. Friday, February 11, 2011 10:09 am

    And we have to wait HOW LONG? Ugh. . . . I want it now!!


    • Sarah Noland permalink
      Friday, February 11, 2011 11:45 pm

      79 days!


  8. Sylvia M. permalink
    Friday, February 11, 2011 10:27 am

    I’m just waiting for May so I can go order this book. 🙂 My eye is also on that little counter, Kaye. 🙂 LOL!


  9. Mary-Louise Johnson permalink
    Friday, February 11, 2011 12:40 pm

    I’m hooked! Looking forward to the whole book. I generally read your books in one day. I read while I ride my exercise bicycle, while I travel in the car (my husband driving :),) and in any spare minutes. Yes, I stay up late if I’m nearing the end!


  10. Lynn permalink
    Friday, February 11, 2011 12:50 pm

    Working in a Christian bookstore make me keep my eyes wide open for fantastic fiction. The problem I have is that I want it all NOW! It’s especially hard when you’ve read the rest of the series and are waiting for the new one to be released.
    We carry all your books and are looking forward to more (but could you hurry it up please) 😉


  11. Dianna permalink
    Friday, February 11, 2011 2:00 pm

    Would love to win your books!!!!! They sound so good!!!!!!


  12. Michelle permalink
    Friday, February 11, 2011 4:23 pm

    Sounds great! I can’t wait to read the rest of it!


  13. Friday, February 11, 2011 5:06 pm

    Anxious to read the rest of it. What a neat idea. What a great story!!!!


  14. Lissie permalink
    Friday, February 11, 2011 5:24 pm

    I love it!


  15. Jill W permalink
    Friday, February 11, 2011 5:53 pm

    Woman! Don’t leave us hanging! We want more! 🙂 Have a great weekend.


  16. Friday, February 11, 2011 7:50 pm

    Love the first two chapters! Can’t wait to read the rest of it.


  17. Sarah Noland permalink
    Friday, February 11, 2011 11:44 pm

    I CANT WAIT TO READ IT!!!!! Only 79 till it comes out!!! I have a countdown on my phone till all your books come out!!! 171 till Ransome’s Quest and 273 till Turnabout’s Fair play! Yes I am a nerd! Proud of it!



  1. Fun Friday–Sneak Peek at RANSOME’S QUEST «
  2. THE ART OF ROMANCE–The Inspiration «

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