Thursday, August 22, 2013

Saint and Scholar

Today's special guest is Holley Trent. Holley will be joining us at Book 'Em North Carolina on Saturday, February 22, 2014. I hope you'll drop by and chat with her!

She calls herself a Hard-Wired Carolina Girl. In her own words, she says:

I spent about 25 of my [fill in the blank] years in North Carolina. I always tell people I wasn’t born there, but I belonged there. Actually, the maternal side of my family tree is deeply rooted in Eastern NC, and has been since, oh, The Lord Proprietors were handing out tracts of land.

My grandpa Frank was a Halifax County boy, and his wife Mary—one of the grandmothers whose lineage is celebrated in my penname—was born and raised in Chowan County. Chowan County is where I grew up, too, in a tiny, unincorporated community called Welch or Tyner, depending on who’s asking.

I believe there’s a such thing as genetic memory—where you know down to your cells where your people are from. That way you always know where to fly home to, if you listen in well enough. In the past couple of years, I’ve been even more convinced of the phenomenon because my husband and I uprooted our little family back in 2011 for a move to Colorado. We made a “Yeah, we should live while we’re young!” decision. Decided to be adventurous and stuff.

Well. Colorado sure is pretty. Lots of mountains and clear skies and fluffy white snow (I hate snow). But, I’ve never been more keenly aware of my place on this big spinning rock than when we moved to the wrong part of it.

Some people call this off-center feeling “homesickness,” but I think that’s an entirely different dysfunction. Homesickness can be cured with care packages and the occasional plane ticket, and over time, the feeling may abate altogether. This thing I feel, and that I feel everywhere I go that’s not haunted by familiar ghosts, is more like I’ve been uprooted and replanted into soil I’m not meant to thrive in.

I’m making the most of my time in this not-so-wild West. Of all the romances I’ve written since the move, all but one was set at least in part in North Carolina. If I can’t be there, at least I can tell people about it. I can go home whenever I’m in front of my keyboard. Unfortunately, my imagination doesn’t provide me with barbecue sandwiches and Lance honey buns.


Grant Fennell seems to lack the luck of the Irish. He’s had his nose broken three times, his dissertation advisor was a useless lump, he’s thirty-one and finishing his PhD, and he can’t find a teaching position in the US. Then he accepts a job in his native Ireland on the same day the stunning former student he’s been intrigued by for nearly eight years shows a shred of interest. Finally, he catches a break: Carla Gill needs his expertise.

Carla is at a dead end on her late Irish-American father’s family tree project. Who better to assist than an expert on Irish history? But when Carla accompanies Grant to Ireland to conduct her research, he makes it clear he wants to put her on the fast track to matrimony. The professor wants to teach her something about “happily ever after.” Does she really want her happy ending to start right now?


“Hey, give me your phone.”


He held out his hand. “Your phone. I’m supposed to already know your phone number since you’re my girlfriend.”

She arched one eyebrow up into a question mark. “I’m sorry?”

“It’s a long story. Suffice it to say it has to do with those loudmouths at the bar and the chick who’s squawking at them.” He held out his hand.

She studied his face and upon finding he looked absolutely mortified, gave him the device.

He punched some information into her contacts list while occasionally glancing back over his shoulder to watch the mounting fracas. “Here. That’s my stuff. Come over in the morning and I’ll help you with your project. I live at Hillside.”

“Um…okay.” She studied the screen. Grant Fennell.

“And one other thing.” He bent down and put his lips next to her ear. “Listen, I hate to drag you into this craziness, but I have to do this.”

“Do what?”

When his gaze darted over to the bar yet again, she followed it with her own. The tall woman had stopped yelling at the bouncer and Grant’s friends. Now she was glowering at Grant.

She suddenly understood. “You want me to pretend we’re…together?” Hardly an inconvenience.

“It’ll either make things worse or better. I’d certainly feel better.”

How could she refuse? She laced her fingers through his hair so the tips met at the crown, and pulled his face down toward hers. His green eyes closed as their noses touched, then there was the press of lips. It wouldn’t have taken much to make it look like a good show from a distance, but she wanted to put everything she had into that kiss. She needed to redeem herself with it. She needed redemption for being so damned clumsy and awkward, for not remembering his last name and for the fact that once he walked away, she would probably be too cowardly to call him.

She wound her tongue around his, searching his mouth, emboldened by his moan and the tightening of his fingers around her thighs.

The noise at the bar escalated. When she drew back, she wasn’t finished; she could’ve sucked on his lips all evening.

He drew back panting. “That was like a going-off-to-war kiss. I’m not going to die, love. Might go to jail tonight is all.”

Love. A careless use of a pet name and she was smitten. And when he dragged pad of his thumb over her cheek, spontaneous human combustion suddenly seemed like a feasible phenomenon.

With one last smoldering smile, he straightened up and moved with graceful ease through the tables to his friends.

She felt a tinge of arousal watching his agile form skirt away, thinking of how strong and forceful his tongue was, but quickly drowned it with the remnants of Sharon’s Long Island Iced Tea.


Saint and Scholar, a contemporary romance published by Lyrical Press, is available for purchase as an e-book at Amazon (, Barnes and Noble (, and other major vendors, including Overdrive for libraries.

Learn more about Holley Trent’s books and upcoming projects at Like her Facebook fan page at or follow @holleytrent on Twitter for random bon mots and book-related news.