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A sidesplitting, enemies-to-lovers 101 Dalmatians-inspired romantic comedy


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Cowboys live by their word, their wits, and their loyalty.


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How much will she risk to keep her perfect life?


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Garrett will use every tender weapon to seduce herand prove shes worthy of true love.


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The Albertini family has no intention of letting a possible romance fizzle out


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Lady Mary's traveling companion has disappeared and only one man believes she ever existed.


Excerpt of Redneck Cinderella by LuAnn McLane

Purchase


Signet Eclipse
March 2009
On Sale: March 3, 2009
Featuring: Jolie Russell; Cody Dean
304 pages
ISBN: 045122633X
EAN: 9780451226334
Paperback
Add to Wish List

Romance Contemporary

Also by LuAnn McLane:

Shape of My Heart, April 2018
e-Book
It's Gotta Be You, October 2017
e-Book
All I Ever Wanted, July 2017
e-Book
Marry Me on Main Street, December 2016
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book
Wish Upon a Wedding, May 2016
Paperback / e-Book
Written in the Stars, October 2015
Paperback / e-Book
Walking on Sunshine, May 2015
Paperback / e-Book
Sweet Harmony, October 2014
Paperback / e-Book
Wildflower Wedding, April 2014
Paperback / e-Book
Moonlight Kiss, November 2013
Paperback / e-Book
Christmas On Main Street, November 2013
Paperback / e-Book
Whisper's Edge, May 2013
Paperback / e-Book
Pitch Perfect, September 2012
Paperback / e-Book
Catch Of A Lifetime, January 2012
Paperback / e-Book
Playing For Keeps, March 2011
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book
Wicked Wonderland, November 2010
Trade Size
He's No Prince Charming, October 2009
Paperback
Redneck Cinderella, March 2009
Paperback
A Little Less Talk And A Lot More Action, July 2008
Paperback
Trick My Truck But Don't Mess With My Heart, January 2008
Paperback
Dancing Shoes and Honky-Tonk Blues, May 2007
Paperback
Love, Lust and Pixie Dust, October 2006
Trade Size
Dark Roots and Cowboy Boots, August 2006
Paperback
Wild Ride, March 2006
Trade Size
Taking Care of Business, August 2005
Trade Size
Hot Summer Nights, July 2004
Trade Size
Wildest Dreams, December 2003
Paperback

Excerpt of Redneck Cinderella by LuAnn McLane

Reality Check

“Oh come on, Jesse, you’re joking, right?” I pause in my task of filling saltshakers and glance across the counter at my brother who’s wiping down the speckled green Formica. Mama’s already gone home and we’re buttoning up the diner for the night. “Who in their right mind would bring a ballroom dance competition to Misty Creek, Kentucky?”

Jesse gives me a sheepish look. “Um… well… Comedy Corner, maybe?”

“You mean the cable channel that you watch all the time?” I sputter and he opens his mouth to answer but I just keep right on talking. “The one that has that disgusting cartoon that mama said you couldn’t watch?”

“Give me a break, Abby, I’m eighteen. I watch whatever I want to.”

I ignore this and continue, “The station that makes fun of midgets?”

“Little people,” he corrects, “and they don’t exactly make fun-”

“The same station that defames The President of The United States of America?” I slam down the salt container and narrow my eyes at my little brother… well, at six feet two he’s hardly little, but I’m six years older so that still trumps his height advantage.

“Yes Abby, and it’s called political satire. Comedy Corner does parodies… spoofs on pop culture. Most of their stuff is pure genius.”

Okay, so he’s taller and smarter. Jesse belongs going to a big, fancy college next year but although the diner we own pays the bills we don’t have that kind of money. “Whatever.” I wave my hand like I know all about political satire and whatnot. “So, explain to me how and why Comedy Corner is coming to Misty Creek of all places to do a ballroom dance competition.”

“Well…” His sheepish look gets more pronounced and all of the sudden I get it.

“To poke fun of us!” I sputter. “Gee, what are they gonna call it? Dancing With the Rednecks?” I’m joking but red heat creeps up his neck and I have to gasp. “My Gawd, I’m right?”

“It’s more of a spoof on reality TV, Abby, not rednecks. Where’s your sense of humor? You laugh at Jeff Foxworthy and he makes fun of rednecks.”

“He’s one of us. That’s different.” I point at him. “Jesse William Harper did you somehow have something to do with this?”

He runs his fingers through his dark blonde hair that would be the same color as mine if I didn’t get mine highlighted.

“Well?” I demand, nearly shouting. Jesse is such a hardworking, good kid that mama and I rarely raise our voices to him but I’m getting a prickly feeling running down my spine about this whole thing so I want to know what’s going on. “What’s this ballroom dancing competition all about and just how are you involved?”

He takes a deep breath and jams his hands in his jeans pockets. “Well, a few weeks ago I was surfing the Comedy Corner website and I read about the ballroom dance competition spoof that they were going to do. There was a place where you could type in an essay on why your hometown would be the best location for the show and well,” he pauses and then finishes in a rush, “I suggested Misty Creek.”

I put my hands to my chest. “How could you do such a thing? Why would you want them to come here and make fun of us?”

“Come on, Abby think about it.” Jesse slices his hand through the air in the direction of the big picture window overlooking Main Street. “Misty Creek has been like a ghost town lately. Business is suffering in all of the antique and craft shops. The inns are practically empty. Our traffic here has been off too, and you damned well know it.”

“Watch your language!”

He rolls his eyes.

“This is the slow time of the year. Business will pick up when the weather gets warmer,” I protest even though the lack of customers has been a real cause of concern lately.

Jesse shakes his head. “With the insane price of gas people aren’t gonna take day trips like they used to. We need a reason for people to come here other than shoppin’ and stayin’ at bed and breakfast inns. Havin’ this show filmed here could be the shot in the arm that Misty Creek needs.”

I know he’s right but I stubbornly remain silent and cross my arms over my chest.

“Abby, this show could put Misty Creek on the map. People will flock here if it’s a hit and I think it will be.”

“Yeah, but at our expense. I’m proud of this little town and I don’t relish being laughed at,” I tell Jesse in a bit of an uppity tone that’s not like me at all. Being laughed at is something I’m no stranger to so this is hitting close to home. As I start to screw the silver caps back onto the saltshakers I mutter, “Dancing with the rednecks… just who would even try out for such a thing?” I glance up from my task and guilt is written all over his handsome face. Yes, Jesse is quite a hottie with his shaggy blond hair and deep blue eyes even though he has yet to realize it since he’s such a nerd. Just this past year he’s filled out from the tall and gangly proportions that had plagued him all of his life and let me tell ya, the girls have noticed. His tousled hair and stubble on his cheeks is from lack of caring how he looks rather than trying to sport the Keith Urban scruffy look so he just doesn’t get it that the giggling girls who stop in the diner after school for cherry cokes and chili cheese fries are mostly here to see him.

I too grew up being all knees and elbows, hating my long legs that made me tower over boys like the jolly green giant. But now those same boys are men and tend to give me the once over every time they come in for the blue plate special. Jackasses. Where were they on prom night? But I’m going off of a tangent. Right now all I want to know is why Jesse looks so damned guilty. “There’s more to this story isn’t there?”

Jesse puts his palms up in a whoa there position and gives me a level look. “Now just keep your cool and hear me out.

Of course that’s the kind of statement that makes a person immediately lose their cool but I take a deep breath and say as calmly as possible which is not calm at all, “Tell me what the hell’s goin’ on here!”

“Well, after Comedy Corner showed interest in my essay, they e-mailed me this form that asked for names of potential contestants.”

“Go on.”

“See, they wanted six men and six women representing… ah, various walks of small town life. I had to provide names of these certain individuals to help them narrow the field since they want to get this show on the air right away. For instance, they wanted a farmer and I suggested Travis Tucker.”

“To ballroom dance?” I squeak. “No…”

Jesse nods. “And they wanted a truck driver. Mac Murphy came to mind.”

I’m trying to picture three hundred pound Mac Murphy doing the Tango and I have to chuckle. My mirth encourages Jesse and he smiles. “See, you’re catching on to the concept. It’ll be a riot. They wanted a high school lunch lady and I suggested Betty Cook.”

“Olive Oil?” We called her that because she looks just like the cartoon character and I try not to snicker. “Who else?”

He hesitates but then says, “Julia Mayer.”

“Why her?” My good humor evaporates like rain on a summer sidewalk. Julia Mayer is one of the few people in Misty Creek that I don’t like. She was miss popularity back in high school, homecoming queen and all that and never gave me the time of day. Although… the thought of her being ridiculed by some snarky judge in front of millions of people does have a certain appeal. “Well?”

Jesse shrugs. “They needed a hairdresser. She may actually be kind of good.”

I narrow my eyes at him. “Fat chance.”

“Why do you hate her so much?”

I angle my head and tell him firmly, “I don’t hate her. Although she did steal my boyfriend in high school.”

“I don’t remember you having a boyfriend.”

Details, details. I feel heat creep into my cheeks. “Okay, potential boyfriend. I was making huge strides with Danny Becker when Julia up and snatched him away from me.”

Jesse swallows and gives me a look that I don’t like. “You mean Danny Becker, the mechanic?”

I roll my eyes. “How many other Danny Beckers are there in Misty Creek? Of course I mean him. Ohmigod, is he part of the competition?”

When Jesse nods I have to snicker once more. Seeing Danny taken down a peg or two would suit me just fine, too. My major crush on him in high school went unnoticed because his sights were set on petite and perky Julia Mayer instead of tall and dorky me. Of course just last week I gave him a little bit of payback for snubbing me when I was a teenager. I had my Ford Ranger in at Becker’s Garage for a lube job and when Danny was coming on to me like gangbusters I ignored his flirtatious comments even though I secretly wanted to flirt back. My mama tells me that I have a bad habit of cutting off my nose to spite my face. While I know that she’s right it’s hard to get over my hellacious high school years.

“Dancing With the Rednecks might be fun after all,” I admit and chuckle again. I expect Jesse to laugh with me since I’m coming over to his way of thinking but he blinks at me for a second like he’s trying to think of how to word something so that I won’t freak. “You’re fixin’ to tell me something that I won’t like, aren’t you? Ohmigod, did you enter mama into this farce?”

No…” he says slowly but then clears his throat, which is a tell sign for Jesse. He’s chock full of tell signs which is why I always beat him at poker.

“What then?” I prod but then it hits me like a ton of bricks. While shaking my head I point at Jesse. “No… no tell me you did not give them my name!”

“They needed a waitress, Abby!”

“I won’t agree to do it! I refuse to humiliate myself on national television! Do you hear me?” I’m on the balls of my feet shouting so he doesn’t have to answer that particular question. “No way! I won’t, I won’t, I won’t. My God, you know I have two left feet. I would suck… suck! There’s nothin’ you could say to make me do this. Not one thing!”

“How about a fifty thousand dollar first prize?”

“Whoowee, shut my mouth!” I blink at him. “Except for maybe that.” I continue to blink dollar signs at him while cha-chinging is ringing in my head. “Fifty. Thousand. Dollars?”

With raised eyebrows, Jesse nods. “Yeah.”

“Wow.” I’m still cha-chinging.

“I know.” He’s still nodding. “Think of what we could do with that kind of money.”

“Yeah…” I respond breathlessly, placing my palms on the cool countertop. But then reality slaps me right upside the head. “I’m a horrible dancer, Jesse. There’s no way I could win a ballroom dancing competition no matter how good my instructor might be.”

“Come on, did you hear some of the names I threw out there? Besides, you’re a hard worker and a quick learner, Abby. You can do this.”

“Ah, so you think that I could be the best of the worst?” My voice is dripping with sarcasm.

“Something like that,” he responds with a grin.

I’m not so sure but I don’t want to burst his bubble. “Are these people really going to compete? Has Comedy Corner decided that Misty Creek will be the location? Where would all of the people stay? All we have are bed and breakfasts- ”

Jesse puts up his hands again. “Whoa there, motor mouth. One question at a time.”

“Okay, first tell me, is this a for sure thing?”

“Not definitively until today.”

Now what teenager uses words like definitively? Jesse has been using fifty-cent words since he was a little kid. It occurs to me that winning this money could send him to a fine college that he deserves. “Why today?”

“Well…” He starts wiping down the already clean counter so as to avoid looking directly at me. Not a good sign…

“Jesse…” I say his name in a low octave voice of warning that used to get his immediate attention. It has little to no affect now but I’m desperate.

“Well, I’ve sort of been showing a couple of big shot producers from Comedy Corner around Misty Creek for the past week.”

“What?” I squeak two octaves higher and a lot louder. “Why didn’t you tell me about all of this?”

He shrugs. “I guess I didn’t think it was really going to happen so I didn’t want to get you all wound up for nothin’. Comedy Corner had to go through some red tape to get city permits to do the filming and take care of some other legal stuff.”

“But it’s a done deal?”

He nods. “Yep. They’ve rented out Rabbit Run Hunting Lodge. The whole doggone thing. Nothing is in season right now so it was just sitting there empty and there’s plenty of room. The actual dance competition will be filmed live every Saturday night at the Bluegrass Dance Hall.”

“Have all of your suggested contestants signed on to do the show?”

“Except for you. I asked them to wait until last to approach you since I thought it might take a bit of convincing. Are you willing, Abby?”

I look around the diner that could use some serious updating. I think of my mama who has worked her fingers to the bone providing for us after my daddy died in a tragic farm related accident twelve years ago. Without asking for a lick of help she sold the farm to get us out of debt and bought this diner. Yeah, I could send her to a fancy spa for some much deserved pampering. I think of my old truck that coughs and sputters… man how nice would it be to get a brand spanking new pickup with all the trimmings? But most of all I think of my little brother who deserves the best education that money can buy and who has never asked for a damned thing.

“I’ll do it.”

“Woohoo!” He gives me a very un-Jesse-like whoop and a double knuckle-bump that nearly knocks me over. It’s great to see my laid-back brother so revved up and I’m feeling pretty excited too; but in the back of my head I’m wondering what the hell I just got myself into. While my brain is still trying to wrap itself around this whole thing Jesse is already dialing up someone on his cell phone.

“Well?” I ask when he finally finishes his conversation and hangs up.

“Mitchell Banks, the head producer, wants to meet with you at nine o’clock tomorrow.”

“That’s during the breakfast shift, Jesse!”

“Yes and he’ll eat breakfast here,” Jesse says patiently. “He just wants to meet you and probably have you sign some paperwork. No big deal, Abby. You can sit a spell with him. Mama won’t mind.”

All the sudden another thought occurs to me. “What will happen when the show starts? Who will help mama out?”

Jesse takes a step toward me and puts his hands on my shoulders. “Norma can come in early and I’ll work extra hours.”

“No! Not with your class schedule! School comes first, Jesse.”

“I’ve got school under control,” he assures me with a gentle squeeze. My classes are easy. And if business picks up we’ll hire another waitress. Don’t worry, I won’t let mama overdo it in your absence.”

I inhale a shaky breath but nod. “Okay. This is just all so unexpected, ya know?”

Jesse grins. “Yeah. It’s about time we had some excitement here in Misty Creek. Things have been rather mundane here lately.”

I think mundane means ordinary so I nod. “When are you gonna tell mama? Tonight when you get home?”

He takes a step back. “I already have.”

“And she was okay with it? I mean, what if-”

“Abby, stop!”

I’m so surprised by his outburst that I actually quit talking.

Jesse closes his eyes briefly and swallows before saying, “Listen, mama and I both appreciate all of the time that you’ve put in here at the diner.”

“Well yeah, it’s our livelihood.” I’m not sure where he’s going with this but it’s making me feel uncomfortable. “Almost sounds like you’re firing me,” I tell him with a laugh.

“Well, you could certainly use a sabbatical.”

This makes me frown at him.

“A break, Abby.”

“I know what sabbatical means,” I hotly assure him with a little head bop… and I do in theory anyway. “So you and mama have been discussing the state of my mundane existence?” I cross my arms over my chest and tap my rubber-soled shoe on the floor.

“Ironically, yes, even before this competition was a reality. Let’s face it, Abby. You’ve been is a rut. It’s high time you shook things up a bit and this ballroom competition is the perfect solution.”

“Tell me how you really feel, Jesse. Don’t hold back.” I say this in a joking manner but he doesn’t laugh.

“You deserve a break.”

“We all work hard.”

He nods. “Yeah, but Abby you work too damned much. And listen, as much as I want you to win the money, promise me that you’ll have fun with this. If you win, then sweet, but use this as an opportunity to chill… have a few laughs, okay? Don’t obsess over winning.”

“Right...,” I draw out the word with a shake of my head. “With fifty thousand dollars on the line I’ll just kick back and chill.”

He grins and gives my shoulder a gentle shove. “Okay, you can obsess a little.”

I shove him right back and then tell him, “Go on home. I’ll finish up here.”

Jesse’s grin fades and he gives me one of his usual serious expressions. “Do you have any idea how many times you’ve said that to me?”

My throat sort of closes up but I give him a casual shrug. “Go on… get outta here,” I gruffly tell him and give him another shove. I watch him walk out the door all big and grown up but still my baby brother. I would do anything for him I think to myself as I grab the broom and begin sweeping but then I stop in my tracks and lean against the handle. “Me, ballroom dancing on national television? Oh, Lord have mercy.”

Copyright © 2005-2006 LuAnn McLane - All Rights Reserved

Excerpt from Redneck Cinderella by LuAnn McLane
All rights reserved by publisher and author

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