Today I’ve got Char Chaffin, fellow Soul Mate Author, talking to us about her latest release, Jesse’s Girl, and showing off her new cover. Take it away, Char!
When I started working on what would become my third full-length novel, everything seemed to come to me backward. I had my main characters before I had a plot. A conflict before a synopsis. A title before anything else. Not my usual deal at all. I always dig up a title last, often throwing myself on the mercy of my fellow authors for help in choosing one because I’m so awful at thinking of something that fits.
Not so with Jesse’s Girl. Thanks to a ride home from the grocery store and an Eighties marathon happening on the radio, I drove along humming to Rick Springfield’s big hit. And the song was nearly over before I realized I’d have to change the name of my antagonist to ‘Jesse.’ And then, why.
There are a few books online with the title of ‘Jessie’s Girl.’ It’s hard to say if either plotline follows the song, but for anyone living under a rock who never heard the lyrics: Jessie’s got a girl and his best buddy wants her. The buddy’s the lady-killer, the one with all the cool moves, and yet he’s not the one who’s ‘holding her in his arms, late-late at night.’ The girl stays with Jessie and the buddy is left alone and mourning his friend’s fortune.
That’s not quite what I ended up doing with my Jesse (I took out the ‘i’), and his best buddy, Tim.
I had Tim first; the dark, unruly hair, Irish green eyes and easy smile. Tall, wide-shouldered, long-legged, with beautiful hands and a sexy fullness to his mouth, Tim’s the boy from the junk side of a small lakeside town in central Ohio, whose friendship with Jesse Prescott goes back to sixth grade.
Then I created Dorothy, the girl whose Christian roots ran deep. Beautiful, hazel-eyed Dorothy with the silky, strawberry-blond hair and the tender, earnest demeanor. Only child, dedicated gal friend, nurturing daughter, and Tim’s infatuation since they were old enough to ride the teeter-totter on the grade school playground. Just when Tim is ready to declare his feelings for Dorothy, Jesse breezes into her life and claims her. It doesn’t matter that all this occurs in eighth grade because Jesse’s always gotten everything in life he ever wanted, and Dorothy, once claimed, is loyal. Tim steps back with a sore heart and watches his best friend and the girl he yearns for begin dating, going to the prom, becoming the teenage darlings of Skitter Lake, Ohio.
And then, one night, everything changes.
In a nutshell, this went through my mind when I heard ‘Jessie’s Girl’ playing over the radio the day I drove home with ten bags of groceries in my trunk and an idea rushing through my head. I didn’t have the ending. I barely had the plot. But I had my three mains, a skeletal knowledge of how I wanted the book to play, and the certainty that Tim, not Jesse, would eventually get the girl. It even made complete sense to me, once I fleshed it out, why I should leave the title Jesse’s Girl and not change it to Tim’s Girl or Dorothy’s Guy.
The reason Dorothy remained devoutly dedicated to Jesse for so long, why Tim finally decided to fight for her, and my own thought process in setting the story fifty years in the past, well . . . all that is revealed. In due time.
I hope you’ll stick around and discover for yourself.
Here’s the blurb for Jesse’s Girl:
In 1965, Tim O’Malley returns to his home town of Skitter Lake, Ohio, to clear his name and get the girl: Dorothy Whitaker, the love of his life since eighth grade. Blamed for a destructive fire he didn’t set, only Tim and Dorothy know the truth; that Jesse Prescott, Tim’s best friend and Dorothy’s boyfriend, did the deed that changed an entire town. But Jesse died in that tragedy and seven years later, Skitter Lake still honors him as a hero, rather than Tim, the boy from the seedy side of town whose father was a drunk . . . and whose quick actions saved six people from perishing in that horrendous fire.
In trying to set the record straight and finally claim Dorothy as his own, Tim—and Dorothy, too—will discover that in some small towns the legend often outweighs the truth . . . and their family and friends will forever see Dorothy as “Jesse’s girl.”
Now the need to lock Dorothy in a tight embrace, and never let go, overwhelmed him. He would have picked her up and carried her to his car, then driven her all the way back to Los Angeles just to get her away from a life he instinctively knew made her miserable. Tim remembered her folks. Wilma Whitaker had been a difficult woman when she was healthy and relatively happy. He couldn’t imagine how losing Dorothy’s dad would have twisted Wilma up inside.
He must have squeezed too tightly, because Dorothy let out a breathy gasp and wriggled until he loosened his arms. She stepped backward with a blush and downcast eyes. “I really do have to go, Tim.” She raised her head and all the longing he’d already been experiencing, all the need, was plain to see on her lovely face, for about half a second.
Then, her expression shuttered, she picked up her purse from the battered nightstand next to the bed where she’d laid it, and moved toward the door. Tim followed, unsure what to say even though a hundred different lines crowded his head. Stay with me. Get to know me, again. Love me, the way I never stopped loving you.
They remained locked behind his compressed lips as he escorted her to the door and wished the last seven years had never happened.
In the open doorway she formed a smile that fell short of her eyes. “I’m glad we got to spend a little time together, Tim.” She slipped her arms around his waist for a quicksilver hug, then stepped back before he could reciprocate. “Please give your folks my best when you get back home.”
Tim flicked his eyes up to hers, then over her face, prettier than ever and without a speck of makeup. Her silky, red-blonde hair, combed back in its usual ponytail, was so unlike the current style he’d seen not only in California but here in Skitter Lake. Her dress wouldn’t have been out of place at the sock hops he remembered from twelfth grade. It was almost as if Dorothy Whitaker had frozen herself in time.
And he suddenly knew he wouldn’t be leaving at the end of the week. He’d stick around and see what was what. For Dorothy, and maybe even for Jesse.
Slowly, Tim reached out and clasped her fingers, then her wrist. Before he could talk himself out of it, he yanked her into his arms, up against his body, catching the back of her head, right below her ponytail. As her lips parted to speak, protest, whatever, he covered them with a kiss that spun out of control the instant it began. He wound an arm around her waist to anchor her tightly, but she’d already thrust her hands into his hair as she kissed him back. Tim groaned into her mouth and felt it echo back to him in the whimper she uttered that throbbed in the scant space between them.
For what seemed like an eternity, he kissed her, deep, then slow, then fast, greedy, pouring years of want and desire into a single, perfect moment. If he’d ever kissed another woman like this, he couldn’t remember. He deepened the kiss even more, and felt her fingers fist reflexively in his hair. He didn’t care if she ripped it out by the handfuls, as long as she never let go.
And as if she’d somehow heard his thoughts, she stiffened, opened her fists, slapped her hands on his chest, and pushed until he released her lips. Rosy red and swollen, they quivered as she stared up at him with shock in her eyes. She pushed again, a silent demand for him to let her go. It about killed him, but he loosened his arms and stepped back.
Silently, Tim bent to pick up the purse she’d dropped, and gave it to her. As her fingers closed over the pale yellow leather, she whispered, “Why?”
He managed—barely—to keep his hands to himself as he replied, “Because I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying. And when I do leave, Dorothy, you’ll be coming with me.”
Check out the trailer for Jesse’s Girl.
Buy Jesse’s Girl now!
Char Chaffin writes mainstream and contemporary romance filled with family, rich characters and engaging plots. For her, it all comes back to the love.
From crafting Victorian-style poetry to writing short stories and novellas, Char finally settled on romance novels as her true passion. Over the years she worked a variety of jobs, from farm hand to costume designer to fiscal accountant, before deciding a writing career was her desired focus.
In addition to writing, Char is also an Acquisitions Editor for Soul Mate Publishing.
A displaced Alaskan, Char currently divides her time between Fairbanks, Alaska and an Upstate NY, sixty-acre farm with husband Don. Their extended family is scattered all over the Lower Forty-Eight and Alaska.
When she’s not pounding away at her keyboard, sneaking away to the Last Frontier or burying her nose in books and her beloved Kindle, she edits manuscripts and helps Don maintain their farm.
You can catch up with Char at any of these internet stops:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads