I grew up in an old river town in a blue collar neighborhood. Since both of my parents worked when I was small, I spent a great deal of my time in the company of my grandparents. My Granny always liked to claim she raised me, something my mother still disputes but the reality is – Granny did. Although I no longer live in either the old neighborhood or my hometown of St. Joseph, Missouri, I possess very deep roots there. Someday I may even go back - go home although sages have often said you can’t go home again. I dispute their notion and the idea of going home is at the heart of my new release, Urban Renewal.
Urban Renewal, however, is not my story. It’s the tale of a movie star who finds herself jaded with her life and realizes she’s not only unhappy but that she’s become someone she doesn’t know. Somehow she became the persona behind her stage name – Mercedes Montague – and realizes she’s lost Marie Dillard.
Here’s the blurb:
Movie star Mercedes Montague has it all – the fame, the fortune, and the glittering celebrity lifestyle. But she lost herself somewhere along the way. On a publicity tour for her next movie she realizes she’s just fifty miles from her hometown. Mercedes – real name Marie Dillard – decides to bolt and go home to see if she can find what’s left of herself. Hiding away in her grandparents’ old home in a working class neighborhood she’s haunted by memories and reminders of her first and only love, Joe Shelby.
Marie’s stunned when Joe shows up at her door. Passion kindles between them from the first moment their eyes meet but she won’t let it consume her unless it’s going to include a lasting love. As they renew their relationship, Marie and Joe face many struggles.
Can a movie star return to reality or is love just a distant dream?
Here’s an excerpt – the moment of “truth” when her first love confronts her at her grandparent’s former home:
“It was you,” Joe said, face drained of color, lips so pale they weren’t the slightest bit pink. “God, I thought I’d gone crazy.”
His voice sounded the same, a little gruffer maybe, but the roughness might be from emotion. Hearing it brought a rush of feeling and a powerful need to put her head against his shoulder. Two feet separated them, the shortest distance in more than twenty-five years and Marie burned as the old flame between them ignited. Heat rippled between them like summer lightning, faint but full of potential. Their eyes met and held. Marie stared into his baby blues until she thought she might drown. Her numb lips refused to respond but she swallowed hard and after minutes passed, she managed to nod. “No, it’s me.”
“So you saw me last night at Green Hills?”
“Yes,” she said, dragging the word up out of the sawdust filling her throat.
“You couldn’t bother to say hi?” Joe asked, the question a challenge. His eyes darkened from blue to indigo and she glimpsed decades of stored pain, hurt she inflicted.
“I wanted to talk to you but I ran away because I didn’t know what to say,” Marie told him. “I didn’t know if you’d want to see me. I didn’t come back to interrupt your life. I didn’t even know you were here, in town or in the old neighborhood.”
Joe glared at her and snorted. “What in hell are you back for?”
Five minutes, not more than two decades, might have passed since they last spoke. Anguish revived their last argument but he went for the offensive attack, abrasive and intrusive. Marie, who learned to field the questions of the pushiest paparazzi with skill, known for her ability to ice the biggest boors in the business, caved and answered, “It’s a long story, Joe, but I’ll tell you if you want.”
“Give me the short version.”
“I wanted to be me again,” Marie said, cutting through all the complicated layers to offer the truth. “I realized I don’t like Mercedes.”
“Neither do I,” Joe replied. “I never did.”
His short staccato words wounded her so much Marie took a step back. Feeling very self-conscious about her unkempt appearance, she grasped the handle of the screen door and prepared to shut it. “Then I don’t know why you came over,” she said in a voice as brittle as antique glass. “It was nice to see you again, Joe. Good-bye.”
As the door swung toward her, he stopped it with one hand. “God damn it,” he said, “Don’t be so prickly. It’s Mercedes I have a problem with, not you.”
Hurt yielded to a burst of anger. “Oh, yeah?” Marie asked, pure St. Joe, not Hollywood. “Prove it.”
Joe pushed the door open wide and walked through it. He wasn’t smiling when he took Marie into his arms and kissed her before she could protest. Her hands balled into fists and she meant to hit him but his embrace defused her ire. She relaxed into the strong circle of his arms and when his mouth touched hers, the single flame lit when she recognized him on her front porch exploded into a conflagration. He wasn’t gentle as his mouth devoured hers with hunger, with stored passion and maybe a taste of revenge. Heat rocketed through every nerve ending in her body and sweet little thrills erupted along her spine. As his mouth bruised her lips with force and need, Marie’s body softened as it hearkened to the hardness she felt through the crotch of his jeans. Her nipples ripened with desire and Joe’s kiss erased decades of stage kisses, social busses and meaningless smooches.
As Mercedes Montague she’d locked lips with most of Hollywood’s leading actors, the stars who incited lust in every woman across America from pre-teens to great-grandmas. More than a handful found their way into her bed and onto her expensive silk sheets for intimate encounters yielding physical release but nothing more. Sex turned into a celebrity rodeo as each man tried to prove his talents, to top the others and although maybe Mercedes liked it, Marie loathed it. She hated the lack of any real emotion, any passion beyond the need for another body in the lonely night and the few times she felt a spark with someone it always faded fast with morning light.
Joe brought back expectations long forgotten and evoked desire with such depth Marie sank into it as it sucked her down like quicksand. She should have fought it but couldn’t and didn’t even want to struggle against it. Her fingers clawed against his plaid flannel shirt as he tightened his grasp on her, his tongue darting into her mouth like an exploring snake. New waves of pleasure brought intense delight and Marie leaned against him so her weak knees wouldn’t dump her onto the floor.
His mouth stirred the ashes of their past and restored dozens of memories, brought back the memory of other kisses just as sweet. Whatever emotions they once claimed, all the old bonds connecting them renewed as power roared to life between them. Marie never knew how long it lasted and she never thought of anything but Joe within the same span. Her world shrunk to this, to his mouth and hers, connected. Driving in St. Joe yesterday she thought she’d come home but she hadn’t, not until now.
Urban Renewal is now available at Amazon, All Romance Ebooks, Bookstrand and Champagne Books…coming soon at Barnes and Noble and Coffee Time Romance
Watch the book trailer here: http://youtu.be/_v5hfB_uQgc
You can also find me at:
From Sweet to Heat: The Romance of Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphyhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/From-Sweet-To-Heat-The-Romance-of-Lee-Ann-Sontheimer-Murphy/287540748010934?ref=hl
My Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/#!/leeann.sontheimermurphy
Blog: Rebel Writer: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
Author In The House blog:
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Lee-Ann-Sontheimer-Murphy/e/B004JPBM6I