Sunday, May 27, 2012

Nanny and the Professor by Donna Fasano: Guest Post & Excerpt

Contemporary Romance



Professor Joshua Kingston thought he'd found the perfect nanny for his son. But once Cassie Simmons stepped into his life, she turned it upside down! His son no longer played by the rules – and Cassie kept making up new ones. He would fire her – if he didn't find her so utterly enticing.

Cassie had a huge secret to hide, and she couldn't afford to lose her new job. But her handsome employer wasn't making things easy. All those silly rules. How was an eight-year-old boy supposed to have any fun? The professor definitely needed a lesson in laughter – and love!

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Why I Write Romance Novels
By Donna Fasano
I can’t tell you how many times over the course of my 20-plus year career as a published romance author I have been asked, “When are you going to write a real book? You know, a [insert genre of choice, such as mystery, family saga, historical, thriller, horror, western, etc].” So I’d like to take this opportunity to tell readers why I write romance novels.
I suffered a lot of tragedy while I was growing up, the worst of which was losing my mother just as I was entering my teens. I felt as though I went from 13 to 35 overnight, and when my friends were off having fun, I was cooking and cleaning and helping my little brother with his homework. Romance novels were an escape for me. The Wolf and the Dove, The Far Pavilions, Whitney My Love, Rebecca, The Thorne Birds…if the book featured one man and one woman falling in love, I read it! Romance novels offered me hope for a happy future filled with love (hokey, yes, but I was young). As a young wife and mother, I discovered Silhouette Romance Novels. These books were short and sweet and uplifting. Each and every story put a smile on my face, and the happily-ever-after endings always boosted my spirits. Are romance novels real? No. Does every relationship end in HEA? Of course not. But if I wanted doom and gloom, I’d watch the evening news.
As an author, I can’t think of a better way to use my talent than to bring pure enjoyment to my readers. I tell people that I write cotton candy for the mind. Think about that. When you were a kid and you put a small cloud of that wispy confection on your tongue, what did you do? You smiled. And maybe you even laughed. That’s the reaction I’m going for with my short, upbeat stories. That’s why I write romance novels. So if you’re looking to get lost for a few hours in a fun, cheery story, I hope you’ll try one of my books.




Chapter One
Cassie Simmons parked her car in front of the impressive stone Tudor-style home and rechecked the house number carefully. In the hopes of calming her jittery nerves she smoothed her hand against her tense abdomen, closed her eyes and inhaled deeply several times. Mary Kingston, Cassie's landlady, had claimed that her nephew was desperate for a live-in nanny. Cassie hoped it was true– because she was desperate for a job.
She turned off the ignition and fixed her anxious gaze on the big house that sat back some distance from the road. The butterflies in her stomach were having a grand old time dancing a jig to the music her apprehension provided.
Mrs. Kingston had said that, although her nephew wouldn't be the easiest person to work for, the nanny position came with room and board, and the salary was generous. Of course, Mary could have gotten the details wrong. It was a well-known fact that Mary could be a little… absent-minded. The polite word choice that had run through Cassie's thoughts had her grinning in spite of her angst. Mary Kingston wasn't just absent-minded; hell, she was downright scatterbrained, a half-baked ball of wacky sunshine. In the most lovable, slap-happy way, of course.
But if Mary's information was even partially accurate, this job could be the perfect solution to Cassie's predicament. Working for a demanding employer didn't worry her in the least. She'd been there, done that. She only hoped that, once she landed the job, she could make Professor Joshua Kingston understand that Eric came as part of the package. There was no compromising on that.
As she thought of the impending interview with Professor Kingston, her hands started to tremble slightly. The man couldn't have become a college professor without possessing his fair share of smarts. Cassie knew she'd have to keep her wits about her if she were to keep him from discovering her secret.
She'd kept the awful truth from her last employer for years. She hadn't lied; she simply hadn't felt the need to answer questions that had never been asked. She'd lost the position, though, regardless of her excellent job performance record, once the plant manager had found her out.
Cassie would need to practice extreme caution when answering Joshua Kingston's questions. She planned to be truthful, as always, but that didn't mean she had to bare her soul to the man.
Tucking her purse under her arm, she started up the long, gently curving walkway. The air was thick with humidity as only summers in New Jersey could be. Yet, she was oblivious to the August heat as all the reasons she so crucially needed this job swam through her head; Eric needed new clothes, she owed the doctor for the last office visit when Eric had been so sick, and she still owed Mrs. Kingston for this month's rent. Next month's rent would be due in two short weeks.
The sigh she heaved did nothing to relieve the tightness in her chest. If she could convince Professor Kingston to hire her, she needn't worry about next month's rent. Her gaze swept across the front of the house. Living in digs this nice was an employment perk she'd never had before.
Halfway to the front door, an odd sound caught her attention. The sharp snap of a twig. Then another. She stopped and scanned the yard. Movement at the side of the house, way up near the second story, drew her gaze. She sucked in her breath. There, perched precariously high in the tree, was a little boy. His hold on the branch looked awkward as he reached out toward a furry ball of fluff. Cassie had to squint to see the tiny kitten out on the limb.
Cold fear crawled over her skin and she shuddered. The child was going to plunge to the ground, she was sure of it. Heedless of the flower bed bordering the walk, she dashed straight toward the tree.
"Here, Tinker," she heard the boy coax the kitten. Uncertainty wavered in his voice and he clearly wobbled on the narrow branch.
Looking up through the leaves, she could see him inching out farther, slow and unsteady. She was reluctant to call out to him, afraid that if she startled him he'd lose his already precarious perch.
The child's breath became raspy. "Oo- oo-" The utterance quivered with fear. "Oh, somebody help." But he said the words very quietly as if he weren't in the habit of causing a stir.
"I'm here," Cassie called. She could see the bottom of one of his sneakers protruding over the edge of the tree branch.
"I think I'm in trouble, lady," he said. Then with more certainty, he added, "I'm in big trouble, lady. Big trouble."
Cassie was distressed by the wheezy quality of his breathing. She could tell he was terrified. It struck her suddenly that the little boy in the tree must be Joshua Kingston's son, the child she'd be caring for. Well, this was as good a time as any to start.
"Don't look down," she told him. Her words were a hell of a lot calmer than what she was experiencing on the inside. "Hang on. I'm coming up to get you."
She jumped, trying to grab the lowest, fattest limb of the tree, but couldn't quite reach it.
"Where can I find a ladder?" she asked.
"I need help," the boy said, this time louder.
"I'm going to help you," Cassie explained, "but you need to help me too. I can't reach the branch to climb up to you. I need a ladder. Where can I find one?"
"Um, there should be one in the. . . in the garage. Over there. Aa-aah."
Cassie heard rather than saw him slip and catch hold. Her heart leapt into her throat, and the kitten offered a plaintive mew. Two green leaves sailed lazily toward the ground.
"Don't point," she said. "Just hang on with both hands."
"Around back," he told her. "Around the house."
"Okay, listen-"
"I'm gonna fall, lady."
The helplessness and fear he conveyed tore at Cassie's heart. She tried to gauge just how far he was from the ground. If he did tumble from the tree, there was no doubt he'd be seriously injured. Bumps and cuts and bruises and broken bones and… The thought was just plain scary.
"I won't let you fall," she promised. How the heck she could keep it, she had no idea.
She heard him sniff jerkily, and when he started to cry, she knew she would have to calm him before she could go off to find the ladder.
"What's your name?" she asked, using an upbeat tone she hoped would both soothe him and instill his trust.
"Andrew."
"Listen to me, Andy. I want you to sit down. Slow and steady. Good. Now, clamp your knees against the branch and lock your ankles together, okay?"
Without speaking, he followed her instructions.
"Good boy. That's perfect. Hold on tight, now." She watched him clutch the limb with all his might. Her clear, unruffled directions seemed to give him a small bit of security. "Now, listen," she continued. "I'm going to get a ladder from the garage. I'll be back in less than a minute. Can you hold on that long?"
"Only one minute?" he asked.
"Yep. In fact, why don't you count New Jersey and I'll be back before you get to sixty of them."
"Count New Jersey? Wha'da'ya mean?"
"It's a game." She knew if he was concentrating on his words, no matter how silly they were, he'd be less focused on his hairy situation. "And it goes like this, one New Jersey, two New Jersey…"
"Three New Jersey, four New Jersey, five…"
She tossed her purse at the base of the tree. "Keep going and hold on tight!" Cassie cheered him on over her shoulder and then raced around the house, where she was relieved to find the garage door sitting wide open. The ladder hung on the wall in plain sight, and she lifted it off the hooks. Andy's counting reached her while she was still several yards from the tree.
"Thirty-seven New Jersey–"
"I'm here, Andy," she called, her voice sounding a bit breathless. "And thirty-seven seconds must be some kind of record. Don't you think? I sure do." She fumbled to open the ladder, a stream of yammering flowing in order to keep the boy's mind occupied. Her anxiety certainly had something to do with it as well. "I'll be up there before you can say 'Sally sells seashells by the seashore.'"
After checking to make sure the ladder was secure, she kicked off her leather heels, climbed the rungs and stepped onto the lowest tree branch. "Or how about 'big brown boxes bursting with blue balloons?'"
Andy opened his eyes, his mouth cracking into the beginnings of a smile. She still couldn't reach him, so she hoisted herself onto the next highest limb. Her knee scraped against the rough bark and she winced.
"I know one more." She maneuvered to a higher branch. "Four fat frogs feasted on fluffy fried feathers."
Pulling up face-to-face with him, she returned his grin. He looked so relieved to see her. She noticed his breathing wasn't nearly as labored as it had been before.
"'Four fat frogs,'" he began, and then he relented to a wheezy chuckle.
The tree branch wobbled and Cassie's eyes darted toward the ground.
"No laughing, now. Let's save that for later."
Sliding her hands over his thin arms, she felt his fatigued muscles quaking and knew he couldn't hold on much longer.
"How in the world did you get up here?" she whispered. "I couldn't even reach the first branch."
Before he could answer, the kitten gave another pitiful cry.
"Tinker's scared," Andy said, worry biting into his brow.
"We'll get you and Tinker down as soon as we can."
"Can't go down," he informed her. "Gotta go in."
"In?" She looked at the side of the house and saw an open window. "Oh, I see."
She shook her head and laughed, despite the situation. "Actually, it would probably be easier to get you in than get you down, don't you think?"
"All I know is I want to get somewhere."
"Okay," Cassie said, calculating the length of the branch between Andy and the window. "I want you to inch backward, a little at a time."
He craned his neck to judge the distance himself. "I dunno if I can..."
"Sure, you can. Have you ever seen an inchworm bunch up the back part of his body?" Cassie was pleased to see that she'd gotten his attention. "Then the front part moves forward."
"Yeah."
"Well, we're going to do that, only backward. Push your body back and then wiggle your legs toward the window. Simple, right?" Cassie only hoped the suggestion worked as well in practice as it sounded in theory.
Grasping his forearms securely, she said, "Let's try."
Getting Andy back into his bedroom was surprisingly easy once she started him moving. But once inside, he was upset that Tinker was still stranded in the tree.
"I'll get the little rascal." Cassie inched her way along the branch to the kitten, then back again, handing the furry creature through the window.
"Oh, no," Andy wheezed, his voice filled with dread. "It's Dad." He grabbed a small aspirator, inserted the nozzle into his mouth and sucked deeply on the medication.
Cassie looked through the branches and saw a tall, dark-haired man standing at the back corner of the house. He frowned as he searched the yard with his intimidating gaze.
"Please don't tell on me," Andy pleaded in a whisper, snatching the kitten to his chest. "Dad will be so mad. I'll get in big trouble. I'll be punished for… forever. I'm not allowed to climb the tree."
With that, Andy slid the window closed and pulled down the shade, leaving Cassie out on the limb, literally.





Growing up the third child of five--yes, smack dab in the middle and the only girl to boot--Donna Fasano had no idea she would one day become a published author. Her bent for story-telling came to light when she conjured lively tales of pure blarney (yes, she has a bit of Irish in her blood) for, first, her youngest brother, and years later, her children.

Donna sold her first manuscript in 1989, and since then has become a bestselling, award-winning author of over thirty novels and four audio books. She writes under her own name, Donna Fasano, as well as under the pen name Donna Clayton and is known for her "smooth, polished" writing style and for creating "strong, complex" characters. Reviewers have described her stories as "poignant," "richly textured," "enticing," and "absorbing." The writing process can be extremely engrossing for Donna, so much so that she's missed appointments and lunches, and once she even missed her carpool run. Luckily, the people in her life love her enough to make allowances.
Still happily married to her high school sweetheart, she is the mother of two grown sons who have left the nest. She and her husband share their home with Jake, a couch-potato, black and white border collie, and Roo, a spotted tan and cream Australian cattle dog that looks (and acts) like a wild dingo. Donna's spare time is spent reading, hiking, or trying out new recipes from one of the dozens of cookbooks she has collected over the years. Oh, and one night a week she and her hubby nab some alone time from their busy schedules to enjoy a nice glass of wine and a video--preferably a romantic comedy. Donna also volunteers loads of hours to her small church, writing newsletters, scheduling acolytes, working fund-raisers and serving on committees. She divides her time between northern Delaware and Maryland's southern seashore.
Donna is a bestselling, award-winning author of over 30 novels that have sold over 3.6 million copies worldwide. You can find her on the web at www.DonnaFasano.com, or on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/DonnaFasanoAuthor, or on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/DonnaFaz.


Donna loves to hear from her readers. Please contact her through her website at www.DonnaFasano.com.



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