Friday, June 18

What I'm Working On, Part Two by Jana Richards

STRONG ENOUGH is Damon and Charlotte’s story, and is book four in my Masonville Small Town romance series. Other books in the series are CHILD OF MINE (book 1), TO HEAL A HEART (book 2) and the upcoming UNEXPECTED that I told you about back in May. Being strong enough to overcome the traumas of the past is a recurring theme in the series. The title came to me in a Pilates class (pre-Covid) when "Strong Enough" by Sheryl Crow was played.

Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

Charlotte and Damon have been noticing each other ever since Damon moved to Masonville. Actually, they’ve been noticing each other for much longer than that. The Greyson children, Ben, Damon and Blair, visited their grandparents on their farm outside of Masonville every summer when they were children and teens. The Saunders family farm was down the road, and every summer the six kids hung out together. But then several years pass before they see each other again.

If there were ever two characters who deserved a happily ever after, it’s Damon and Charlotte. Both have suffered trauma and pain in their lives and have worked hard to overcome it. Or in Charlotte’s case, to bury it deep inside. I really want to give them that happily ever after!  

Here’s a very unofficial blurb for STRONG ENOUGH, to give you an idea of what the story’s about:

Charlotte Saunders has a full life. She has a fulfilling career as a nurse, meaningful volunteer work at an animal shelter, and family, friends and pets she adores. But no matter how hard she tries she can’t forget a trauma in her past. 

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, Damon Greyson has worked hard to come to terms with the abuse perpetrated on him and now helps others suffering from trauma. He sees all the signs in Charlotte and wants to help her, if only she’d let him. 

As Damon and Charlotte work together to help veterans suffering from PTSD and abused dogs needing homes, their feelings for each other deepen. But when the trauma from Charlotte’s past roars back to life, both will be forced to confront their painful histories. Or die trying.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Here’s excerpt from STRONG ENOUGH. Damon and Charlotte are at Blair and Garrett’s wedding: 

Charlotte made her way to the refreshments table and grabbed a glass of lemonade. She sat in an empty seat at the back of the hall and slipped off her shoes, sighing with relief as she tossed them aside. Smiling, she watched her sister Lauren dance with her husband Cole. Lauren had been crazy about Cole’s brother Billy through their teen years and believed she and Cole were simply good friends, but he’d been secretly in love with her all along. Cole continued to love her even after she’d married his brother. They’d been through hell, but now they were happy together and had a beautiful baby, her niece Piper. Charlotte was pleased for them.

She watched the couples dance by. Chris and Alison. Ben and Jamie. Even her parents, Grace and Robert. And now she could add Blair and Garrett to the list of happy couples. 

At one time she’d believed she’d be part of a happy couple someday, too. But those dreams had died a long time ago.

“Do you mind if I join you?”

Charlotte startled at the sound of the deep male voice. She looked up to see Damon standing next to her, a glass in his hand.

“No, of course not. I was just resting my feet for a minute. These new shoes are killing me.” 

“Yeah. I needed to get away from the crowd for a few minutes, too.”

“Speak for yourself, Greyson. I wasn’t being anti-social.”

“Just anti-shoes?” 

He always managed to make her laugh, even when she was annoyed with him. “Yes. Anti-shoes. I may start a new support group.”

For a few moments they didn’t speak. Instead, they sipped their drinks and quietly watched the dancers. All the happy couples. The group to which she’d never belong.

“Okay, that’s enough. Put your shoes on.” Damon got to his feet.


“Enough brooding. Let’s get back out there and dance.”

“I wasn’t brooding.” Where did he get off telling her what to feel? What did he know about her? 

“All right. Wallowing then. Call it whatever you like, but we’re putting a stop to it right now.”

He held out his hand. Charlotte looked away, feeling petulant and angry. And scared. Why was she scared?

“Go annoy someone else, Greyson.”

Damon sat beside her once more. “When I get in one of these moods, I’ve learned it’s best for me to get out of my own head. I need to be with people, to change my thoughts before I’m that little boy once more, the one whose parents have repeatedly left him with a family friend who’s touched him in places no adult should ever touch a child. I need to change the channel, Charlotte. Will you come with me?”

He rose once more and held out his hand to her. Charlotte stared at it, her heart racing. Dear God. She'd never guessed what hell Damon had been through all those years ago when they were kids. Had he tried to push away memories of the abuse back then, to pretend it never happened? She could understand if he did.

She looked up into his face and saw calm acceptance there. Charlotte cried inside for the little boy he’d been, for the child whose parents had failed him so miserably. She had a strong urge to follow that child, to find out everything about him.

“Okay, but I’m not wearing those shoes. I’d rather go barefoot.”

“Suit yourself.”

Charlotte placed her hand in his and rose to her feet. Damon tightly squeezed her fingers.

She squeezed back. After what he’d just told her, Charlotte was overcome with the need to comfort him. “It’ll be okay.” 

He grinned at her. “Yeah. It will. I promise.”

As they walked to the dance floor together, she had the disorienting thought that he was the one comforting her. 

STRONG ENOUGH stills needs a lot of work but it's getting there. I'm currently working through critiques with some writing friends. I love these characters and I want to do justice to their story. I'll keep you updated on its progress!