The inspiration for this novel is rooted in a single catalogue photo. I work security for a high fashion clothing retailer, in their distribution center as my day job. Some years ago I was browsing through their latest monthly style guide and one image caught my attention—and imagination. The setting was made to look like a library or den in someone’s house. A handsome model guy reclined comfortably in a high-back chair, modeling corduroy pants. How corduroys could be new was beyond me, or even considered fashionable, but that was not the point. What got me was the entire scene. He could have been modeling tuxes or boxers and gotten the same response. He was holding a tome of literature, pretending to be reading, while soft light spilled out over him from the vintage lamp on the table next to the chair. Literary classics piled around him in perfect stacks. The scene was peaceful and provocative, stirring something within me.
The seed for my book was planted, and over time, it grew. Storyline, characters, setting, all came to life.
And the scene is replicated in “Beside Still Waters”. The hero, Clay Michaels, retreats to his den after a precarious situation with the kids at the camp. The heroine, McKayla Buchanan, finds him, and the camp dog, there. High backed chair, shelves of books, soft light, they all come from the pages of the catalogue to the pages of the book. Clay is reading a copy of “Pilgrim’s Progress”, looking for insight to the circumstances. Her heart melts at the tenderness of the picture he makes. They chat a bit, discussing the situation with the kids, and various literary classics, and then they go out to the labyrinth. One had been created for Clay’s birthday years ago and it is a constant within the story.
With the full moon and twinkling stars watching, they begin a walk along the labyrinth that will bring them closer together.
Top Journalist and corporate climber, McKayla Buchanan, is sent to a remote California mountain camp for inner-city, at-risk teens. Accustomed to political corruption and high-society drama assignments, she is suddenly a fish out of water. At Camp In As Much, she meets eight hostile and distrustful teens, assorted volunteers and rescued horses—and Clay.
Clay Michaels is the man who founded Camp In As Much and made it the success it is now. His hope for the highly recommended journalist is to come and write a feature to send seeds out to form other camps like his nationwide. He never considered the reporter would turn out to be a lovely woman, or for him to have such an attraction to her.
Between McKayla’s worldly experience and Clay’s strong faith, they form a partnership to help with the endless challenges of the kids. While McKayla’s assignment is supposed to be temporary, it isn’t long before she and Clay are each wishing it could last longer. A serious situation will force McKayla to decide if she can give up her worldly ways and place her faith in the same higher source that earthy and godly Clay does.
Ryan Jo Summers writes romance across the genres. Her books contain love stories blended with any combination of mystery, paranormal, time travel, shape shifting, Christian and humor elements. She comes from a family of wordsmiths. Her dad is a songwriter and his aunt wrote poetry. Ryan Jo dabbles in poetry, short stories and non-fiction articles.
In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and baking, reading, spending time with friends,
growing plants, playing chess, mah jongg, and wiggly word find puzzles and exploring the great outdoors. She lives in the heart of Appalachia in Western North Carolina in a charming old cottage with a menagerie of rescue pets
Amazon buy link: http://amzn.to/2dvkUEe
“Haven’t you ever done anything out of character for you? Something you regretted later?” His eyes fell on the skeleton pendant again.
“Recently? Or further back?” She gave a little laugh.
“Either. Or both,” he said, lifting a shoulder. “Whatever you want to share. Hey, I just bared my soul to you here.”
She reached out for his hands. “And I thank you for that.” She rubbed her thumbs over his knuckles, moving back to lean against the gazebo railing. Clay was glad she was holding his hands so he would not be tempted to move her flyaway hair lifting in the breeze.
“I’ve always been a believer in myself. In things I could see. In climbing the ladder of completion. Either the ladder of success at work or the ladder of society. But I always had to do it under my terms and in my style. High style of course. Nothing else ever occurred to me. It was always just me.”
He nodded, thinking that sounded pretty much like the McKayla that first came to In As Much.
“Then I met you, with your belief in something other than yourself. In invisible things. A belief I found almost naive at first. Then I started to wonder at it. You were fearless in this belief. And unstoppable.”
“Thank you. Quite the flattery from before.” This time his smile was real and deep.
“I regret now having always lived like that, without knowing this belief was available.”
“I’m glad to hear that. A belief in something other than our own limited self is an empowering thing.”
She nodded. “I think I see that in you now. And I also regret I was not better prepared when I came here.”
“What do you mean?”
“I was not ready to come here. I had no idea what I was getting into.”
He nodded. “I had wondered about that.”
He nodded again, waiting.
“Oh, great. Well, my boyfriend, Steve, left me the Friday I was assigned to come here. My boss was a little vague in what In As Much was about. That’s no excuse, I know. Usually I research any subject before I go on assignment. But my boss had said some harsh remarks about my job performance and then Steve dumped me within hours after. I was just overwhelmed and didn’t care. Again, no excuse. But I was hurt. I only wanted my promotion and I didn’t care about anything else, even coming up here. This was just a step to get me there.”
Clay cupped her chin, gently tilting her to face him, seeing the tears glistening in her eyes.
“And what about now? What do you care about now?” he asked gently.
She blinked back the tears. “I don’t know. I feel so different. I am different. This place has changed me.”
“I can tell. Perhaps it’s more the people here then the place itself.”
“Somehow it doesn’t seem to matter what the change is caused by. But it’s real, inside me”
“But what do you want, McKayla? Now that you can feel a difference in your heart?” He traced her chin again.
She gave a sad shake of her head. “I wish I knew. But the longer I’m here, the less I seem to care about the promotion and my personal success. I look at you and see so much personal success. You have no corner office, no eight-figure income, but you seem so content. I want to understand that.”
He swept her into his arms, holding her tight. “I can help you with that, McKayla. I would love to help you with that.”
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