Stepping Up to Love
by Katie O’Boyle
When her boss Joel Cushman catches her using the spa shower at The Manse, junior accountant and graduating college senior Manda Doughty comes clean about the alcoholic drinking that has led her into a disastrous relationship with a predatory professor. Joel, who is also a trustee of the college, is faced with more problems than a beautiful, naked woman in his shower. While he’d rather make love all night with funny, brainy Manda, Joel knows his desire for her has no future if Manda cannot stay sober, grow up, and face her problems. While Manda immerses herself in AA, Joel uncovers harassment and embezzlement that threaten the existence of the college his ancestors founded. Can he fix the problems at the college without exposing Manda to public humiliation? Can Manda clean up her mess and trust the love she feels for Joel? The odds may not be in their favor, but miracles happen for those who are willing to change their lives and open their hearts.
Read an excerpt:
“I got the plea from Remy to go easy on you, but I’m not inclined to do that.” He perched on the corner of his desk and glared down at her. “What were you thinking, living with this lothario professor? Aren’t you supposed to be a student? A top-of-your-class business major, the kind we’re proud to employ at an upscale inn and spa? Do you get that’s not consistent with shacking up with some divorced sot that doesn’t know how to keep it in his pants?” He bet that was language she never expected to hear from Joel Cushman.
“I so don’t deserve that!” Manda glared at him.
He glared right back. He wanted to wring her neck, her beautiful bruised neck.
“And quit yelling at me. I’ve had enough explosions.” She choked on the last word. She pressed the back of her hand to her nose to stop it running.
Joel crossed the room, grabbed a box of tissues, and tossed it at her. “Use these.”
“Thank you.” She pulled two out of the box and dried her eyes and nose.
"Nice clothes. You need a scarf. Ask Remy for one. You’ve got three minutes to save your job.”
I was drawn to this book simply from the the blurb. I grew up in the world of AA, because my father sponsored dozens of young men throughout my childhood. It was like having a ton of older brothers. I admire the courage of people who work hard at overcoming their addictions and usually enjoy reading stories about them. A bonus when I started reading was the setting. It takes place along the gorgeous Finger Lakes in Upstate New York. In the acknowledgments in the beginning of the book, author Katie O'Boyle thanks people from Writers and Books in Rochester, which is two minutes from my house. I also noticed that the publishing house is in Macedon, which is one of our suburbs. That local connection made me appreciate it even more and helped me to envision where characters were. If you're going to find yourself again and fall in love, spending time along the lakes is a great place to do it.
Manda has problems. She has been abused by one of her trusted professors, who is also her employer, and who is determined to hurt or kill her. Her drinking problem has escalated to the point where she admits that she is an alcoholic. She has managed to fly under the radar at school, somehow still getting her work done on time. Joel manages to find out about her problems, recognizing a bit of himself in her, and takes her under his wing. He doesn't take over her life by enabling her. Instead, he gives her little boosts of assistance to get her back on track to being the strong and independent woman that she really is.
It doesn't hurt that he is also attracted to her. In AA, they recommend waiting at least one year before getting romantically involved with someone. You have to take care of YOU, first. Chances are you were in a detrimental relationship before you joined, or perhaps are currently in one. You have to heal yourself before you can open yourself up to a new, healthy relationship. Joel knows this and tries very hard to curb his attraction and actions. Manda seems to love having a positive male presence in her life and being appreciated for who she is. They are naturally drawn together, actually helping each other to become better people along their journey.
It isn't a perfect romance by any means. Both of them are struggling with their own demons. Manda is under a threat. But they show that love can help to conquer all. It's an inspirational story that debuts what could be a warm and fuzzy series taking place practically in my own backyard. I look forward to more installments and will probably read at least one lakeside!
Born in the upstate-New York village known as the Birthplace of Women’s Rights, Katie O’Boyle passionately loves the Finger Lakes in every season. She cherishes the lakeside porch as a place for intimate sharing, laughter and inspiration.
Some years ago, Katie was a stellar student and closet substance abuser at a picture-perfect small college. She credits loving friends, 12-step spirituality, and plenty of hard work for her transformation into her grown-up self: tech-savvy college professor and passionate author of warm-hearted romance.
While Katie is hard at work on book three of the Lakeside Porches romance books (Finding the Way Back To Love), she invites you to imagine yourself reading on the lakeside porch of an inn on one of the beautiful Finger Lakes. Fall in love with the characters of Lakeside Porches:
Book One: Stepping Up To Love (Joel and Manda’s story, available from Amazon)
Book Two: Coming Home to Love (Justin and Gianessa’s story, coming in June 2014 from Soul Mate Publishing)
Links for Katie O’Boyle:
Katie will be awarding an eCopy of Stepping Up To Love to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Follow the tour for more chances to win!