Happy Book Birthday Laura Trentham! When the Stars Come Out, the latest in the Cottonbloom romance series is out tomorrow. Check out our exclusive interview with Laura + giveaway.
No one does small-town romance like Laura Trentham! Her Cottonbloom series is one of my favorites. I really enjoy how the development of a core romantic relationship is joined with family drama, all within the context of a broader community. It takes a lot of talent to weave all these pieces together in a compelling way. Time and time again, Laura Trentham has knocked the ball out of the park!
As a reminder, the series takes place in two sister-cities, both named Cottonbloom. Many years ago, after an argument over fishing rights, Cottonbloom split into two towns separated by the river: Cottonbloom, Louisiana and Cottonbloom, Mississippi. The initial trilogy follows the Fournette siblings and their journeys to love. Now, Laura has expanded the world of Cottonbloom for us, this time through the lens of the Abbott family, four brothers who own an auto repair and restoration shop in town. The first book, Leave the Night On, came out this summer and follows Wyatt Abbott (one of the younger brothers) and Sutton Mize, a boutique owner from the wealthy side of Cottonbloom.
The next novel in the series, When the Stars Come Out, is available tomorrow! This book follows Wyatt’s twin brother, Jackson, and his budding romance with Willa, one of the mechanics in their shop.
To celebrate Laura’s book birthday, we have some goodies to share! First, we have an exclusive interview with Laura where she talks about the inspiration for the Cottonbloom series and her broader thoughts about the romance genre. We also have a swoony excerpt from When the Stars Come Out to share, along with a giveaway where you could win the first FOUR books in the series.
1. We’re huge fans of the Cottonbloom series and have been addicted since the first trilogy and the Fournette siblings! What was your initial inspiration for these small-town romances?
The original trilogy was a request from my publisher (St. Martin’s Press) for a “summer series.” They had the release dates already set; they just needed the books! I got out my old fashioned paper atlas and flipped through it looking for a setting. I saw the east-west running border between Louisiana and Mississippi and the idea of competing summer festivals across a town split over the state line snapped into my head within seconds. Even before I pitched it to my editor, I knew it was a winner. Sometimes writing feels like bleeding on the page and sometimes it’s pure magic.
2. What are you reading right now and who are some of your favorite romance writers?
I am reading Artemis by Andy Weir. He wrote The Martian which I loved. I enjoy historical fiction and thrillers as well. As far as romance, I’ve been loving Amanda Bouchet’s Promise of Fire fantasy romance trilogy. I will read anything Sabrina Jefferies writes. Love her. I enjoy Tessa Bailey if I’m in the mood for contemporary. I actually don’t read a lot of small town romance because I’m terrified I will subconsciously pick up something and incorporate it in my books. It’s not uncommon for writers to avoid reading the genres that they write in!
3. Lately, there’s been a lot of criticism (bashing) of romance as a genre and romance readers. As a writer, what do you find most appealing about romance stories?
I grew up in a house where both my parents read voraciously. My mom read everything, but she always had a stash of romances from the used book store or library by her bed. So, I never had any sort of stigma against romances. (Sweet Valley High was an early staple in my reading diet before I graduated to Harlequin and eventually the old school historical romances of the late 80s/early 90s.) To me, romance and love are essential to the human experience, and I prefer to have a romantic thread in pretty much any genre I read from thriller to historical fiction. Basically, I love the way reading romances makes me feel when I finish a book and the haters can kiss my grits (as Flo would say!)
“I’ll have a pork plate and sweet tea to go.” Willa did a mental calculation for tax and pulled out two fives. More than she should spend, but her stomach vetoed any protest.
Now not only was she saving to fix her car, but she needed a cushion. If she had to move, money was a necessity. Any decent place required a deposit for rent. Not to mention utilities. And how long would it take her to find another job that didn’t require her Social Security number or real name? The thought made her stomach hurt from something other than hunger.
“Make that two for here, Rufus, and I’m buying.”
Willa spun around. Jackson Abbott’s chest filled her vision. The animal-like noises her stomach was making must have drowned out his approach.
“Sure thing, Jackson.” Rufus favored them with a grin and turned to dole out barbeque, baked beans, and slaw.
She tucked her hair behind her ear, feeling intensely vulnerable without her steel-toed work boots, coveralls, and ball cap. Her flip-flops, worn-out jeans with a rip at one knee, and a black T-shirt with the emblem of a band she’d never listened to were from the thrift shop down the street.
“You don’t have to pay.” When she found her voice, it was breathy.
“I want to.” His words were low and rumbly and sexy, and she resisted the urge to lay her cheek against his chest, desperate to have someone, anyone, to lean on, even for a moment. Obviously, hunger was impeding her mental faculties.
In the two years she’d lived in Cottonbloom, she’d never run into Jackson outside of the garage. Her forays to secretly watch him race didn’t count since he’d never noticed her. The only place she was a regular was at the library, because it offered free Internet and entertainment—two things she couldn’t afford to waste money on.
Her mental faculties slipped further away as she allowed her gaze to wander over his shoulders before rising. He’d showered, his damp hair darker than its usual rich brown, but hadn’t shaved, his stubble even more pronounced from the afternoon. The scent of soap and clean laundry was mouthwatering in a different way than the barbeque was. The butterflies in her stomach did a slow bump and grind. God, she was hungry for so many things.
Enter to win the first four (4) books in the Cottonbloom series HERE!
Kiss Me That Way, Book 1
Then He Kissed Me, Book 2
Till I Kissed You, Book 3
Leave the Night On, Book 4
Cottonbloom. A beautiful, faraway place where a woman can escape her past—and find reason to stay forever in Laura Trentham’s When the Stars Come Out…
Willa Brown never planned to stay in Cottonbloom. She was on the way to somewhere else when she landed there and found work at the Abbot brothers’ garage… and a sense of comfort and safety that she had never known. The same holds true for Jackson Abbott himself. With one glance in her direction, he can make Willa’s heart melt. But what begins as an unrequited crush turns into something far more powerful than Willa could have ever imagined…
Jackson’s most meaningful relationship has always been with his car—and he’s not afraid to admit it. Still, he can’t help but become emotionally entangled with his new star mechanic Willa, who is definitely hiding some dark secrets of her own beneath the hood. Jackson desperately wants Willa to trust him, and to seek protection in his arms. But even as the two slowly surrender to their shared attraction, the danger lurking in Willa’s past remains a stubborn obstacle. Can she open up enough to give them both a chance at having real and lasting love?