Title: Secondhand Heart
Author: Kristen Strassel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: 10/7/14
Daisy Mangold thought she had her life figured out until a roadside bomb in Afghanistan changed everything. Now a twenty-one-year-old military widow, Daisy moves back home to start over.
Cam Hunter won the reality show The Spotlight, and thought he was on his way to becoming the next big country star. But when whispers of how he won begin to surface, Nashville is less than welcoming. After he loses his record deal, Cam heads back home to open a country bar.
When Daisy meets Cam, she isn’t sure she’s ready to let go of the ghosts from her past. Cam’s ex-wife isn’t ready to move on either, and the tragedy she causes will expose Cam’s secrets and shatter Daisy’s family.
Will Daisy be able to follow her heart into a future with Cam, or will her grief keep her trapped in a past that no longer exists?
Oh my God, that’s Cam Hunter!”
“Can I have your autograph?” Cam got swarmed by fans as soon as we arrived at the baseball game. People of all ages first pointed at him, needing assurance they actually had spotted a country singer and not a stunt double, then once they were sure, they didn’t hesitate to pounce. They whipped out their phones and asked for pictures. Mothers pushed their young kids forward through the crowd. Like the kids had any idea who Cam was.
Cam took it in stride, smiling, posing for pictures. I had to remind my heart to keep beating as the crowd threatened to chew me up. I don’t think anyone realized I was there with him. Five minutes into our first date and I was going to have a panic attack.
“Isn’t that the girl whose husband died in Afghanistan?” someone asked their friend, talking about me like I wasn’t right there.
“Yeah, I think she walked in with Cam.” Her friend eyed me, not caring if I noticed or not. “Maybe they’re throwing out the first pitch or something.”
“It’s got to be a charity thing.” The first woman shrugged. I wanted to die. People thought Cam would only bring me out for charity? This was such a horrible idea. We should have gone someplace else, like Connecticut. They might know Cam there, but no one would have known me.
About Kristen Strassel
Kristen shares a birthday with Steven Tyler and Diana Ross. She spends each day striving to be half as fabulous as they are. She’s worn many hats, none as flattering as her cowboy hat: banker, retail manager, fledgling web designer, world’s worst cocktail waitress, panty slinger, now makeup artist and author. She loves sunshine, live music, the middle of nowhere, and finding new things to put in her house.
- What inspired you to write SECONDHAND HEART?
Daisy was the first character who introduced herself to me. I started thinking about a girl who didn’t want to go out to celebrate her twenty-first birthday, and her friends insisted that she did. Of course, I had to ask why she would feel that way, realized she was a widow, and then thought about the challenges that would present to someone who was so young. I always knew she was going to meet someone that night, and I had to ask the same sort of questions about Cam. Why he’d be in a small town, even though he was sort of a celebrity. That’s where the reality show scandal came into play. This gave me a couple who were starting over from very different places, when they’d though they had it all.
- What were the challenges while writing this book?
Daisy spoke to me very loudly when I started writing this story. At first, she was angry. Who could blame her? Her husband had been killed in the line of duty. As all of us who’ve lost someone close to us know that life goes on whether we’re ready to join in or not. Almost a year out, she wouldn’t be wallowing in grief every second, but of course she wasn’t over losing her husband. Even though some very traumatic things happen to the characters, I had to balance that with their regular nature. When things are going good, they’re lighthearted and funny. As I revised, I balanced Daisy out, but you still know where she stands.
- What is your favorite scene or was your favorite to write?
The first night Daisy and Cam spent together, and the morning after. I wrote the night scene in a local bookstore that didn’t have any wifi, so I was more focused than usual. I kept giggling at Daisy’s account of the night. It’s an awkward, honest sequence of scenes that tells you a lot about where Daisy is in her life.
- Is there anything you would like readers to take away after reading the book they may miss that you want to point out?
Daisy and Cam came together out of tragedy, but they were able to help each other heal. You can work really hard, and do everything right, and still it can all be taken away for no good reason. It’s up to you where you go from there.
- When will the next book release and what can you tell us about it?
Silent Night, which is a part of my paranormal Night Songs Collection, will be released on November 18. I’m billing it as Pretty Woman meets Dracula at Midnight Mass. Secondhand Heart is a standalone book, but I enjoyed writing Cam’s story so much I wrote about another contestant from The Spotlight. That book is tentatively titled Too Many Reasons and I’m looking at a late winter/early spring release for that.