Ah, contemporary romance stories between people who knew each other back in the day are always so much fun, aren’t they? And this one has a few twists in it! Enjoy an excerpt from Skate Cute and stay tuned for the interview with author Melissa J. Roche. Be sure to ask more questions in the comments section before you download your copy and follow the tour. Best of luck in the giveaway!
Kriss heads home to her small prairie town with 98% of an astrophysics PhD, a load of memories she’d rather not think about, and a survival plan: skate and graduate. Her plan doesn’t include the attention of a familiar admirer from the nearby fire station, one with an impressive physique, a hidden singing talent, and a smile dazzling enough to sweep her off her skates. Before she knows it, she’s falling for him—hard.
Chase has settled into the rhythms of his small-town firefighter routine, but he remembers Kriss from high school: the starry-eyed skater girl on her way out the door of his life. Now she’s back, just as gorgeous as ever, spinning around the next-door rink without a care in the world. Or so he thinks, until Kriss is targeted with mysterious acts of vandalism designed to derail her dreams. Can he help Kriss find the courage to stand up under the attacks and trust herself to love again?
Read an excerpt:
The door on the south side of the rink banged against the wall, the noise jerking Kriss out of her emotional puddle. Her eyes flung open and her body surged upward, her head jerking toward the sound and the intruder. Crap, someone from the skate park must have thought the rink was empty and come over to goof off— But it wasn’t a skater. It was a dude in jogging shorts and a dark navy-blue T-shirt with a fire department logo on the front, one earbud dangling against his collar. Kriss met his wide eyes for exactly one shocked microsecond before dropping her head in embarrassment. “Oh… I’m sorry,” he mumbled. “I thought you were… Um. Are you okay?” She nodded, hastily swiping at her cheeks. But it was too late; he had to have seen the tears already. “Sorry, no, I’m fine. I just… felt like lying down.” She stole another quick glance at him. He was nodding sheepishly, his arm raised to scratch awkwardly at the back of his neck. A detached corner of her mind noted that his face looked familiar from somewhere. Another very, very detached corner of her mind noted the way his T-shirt stretched over his upper arms with the motion. “Well, um, glad you’re okay,” he said, his chest bouncing with a hasty chuckle. His voice wasn’t what she was expecting. It was deep, but not too deep, and definitely more… smooth, or something. Maybe resonant was the right word.
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Describe your book in one sentence or fewer than 25 words.
Kriss, an astronomy grad student and artistic skater, and Chase, her secret admirer turned firefighter paramedic, meet on the rink. And it’s cute.
What was the inspiration behind this book?
This book has such a fun origin story! I remember the date when the idea came to me: October 12, 2020. I’m an artistic inline skater, like Kriss, and that afternoon I was spinning around my neighborhood rink in Colorado on my old, scuffed up skates, enjoying the song in my ears and the sun on my face. I looked up, only to be swallowed by the endless dome of the forever-blue sky. For a crazy second, I wanted to lie down on the concrete in the middle of the rink and soak it all in… But then I stopped myself, thinking that someone from the nearby fire department would probably see me lying on the ground and come check on me, and wouldn’t that be embarrassing.
Then it hit me. That would be the BEST meet-cute EVER.
Why should we read your book?
Skate Cute is such a fun sweet romance, but it’s the layers of the story and characters that make it worth reading. Kriss is an astronomy grad student, and I’ve peeled back a few of the layers to share the raw reality of her life. She struggles with “impostor syndrome,” always asking if she’s good enough to deserve a degree or worrying that everyone around her will figure out the “truth” that she’s not smart enough to do science. She has faced harassment at many points along her academic journey, a cruel reality for so many women in academic fields. I don’t want these stories to go untold.
And yet, all is not hopeless. Skate Cute offers a hero who, at first glance, fits the macho type. Chase could easily choose to be part of the problem, to fall in line with all the warped masculinity that has haunted Kriss her whole life. But he chooses instead to fight for her, valuing her and helping her heal. Chase is a tribute to the guys out there who use their strength for good, many of whom I interact with on a daily basis. Good heroes exist, and their stories need to be told too.
On what are you currently working?
I’ve just finished the first draft of Ever After, Etc, Book 2 in the Sacreola series! It’s about Angie Hoffman, Chase’s mom, a character who literally flew off the pages of Skate Cute with more story to be told. Ever After, Etc picks up the timeline only a few months after Skate Cute, with romance author Angie falling asleep at her favorite downtown bookstore during a late-night writing session, then waking up after hours to the sound of beautiful cello music. The musician is Ben, of course, the widowed shop owner who makes those amazing caramel lattes Angie can never resist. Pretty soon she can’t resist him either…
What is your favorite part about writing?
I love the way the words land on the page. I love how they can catch me by surprise, make me laugh or cry, or take my breath away. I love watching the various arcs of a novel take shape, word by word—character arcs, plot arcs, scene arcs, even the mini-arcs of conversation and dialogue and turns of phrase. I could write and read words all day.
What is your least favorite part about writing?
Promoting my writing on social media. As a human being who deeply values personal, one-on-one interactions with other human beings, I haven’t wrapped my mind around social media yet.
But if I had to pick a least favorite aspect of writing in particular, I’d say worldbuilding. I’ve worked in fantasy and science fiction before, where worldbuilding is essential, and yet it’s always the task that feels the most tiresome to me. Even in contemporary romance, I have to force myself to do the research necessary to create a believable setting. Thus my favorite elements of setting are those borrowed straight from my own backyard, or shaped from my own life experience.
When not writing, what can we find you doing?
Skating! I live right next to my neighborhood outdoor inline/roller skating rink, and every other evening finds me strapping on my skating backpack and trotting through the park to the rink. It’s the best place to let loose the imagination, and maybe plot out a novel or two.
But when I’m not skating or writing, I do have an official day job: I’m a planetary scientist. I have an astronomy PhD (like Kriss!), and I’ve studied asteroids for years, particularly the clusters of fragments left over from giant and ancient asteroid collisions. I’m also a mother of two elementary school kids, so these summer days find me crawling under the lilac bush in our front yard to scribble scenes in a novel we’re writing together, full of adventure on the high seas of young imagination.
What is one skill you wish you had?
Rhythm and dance. I know rhythm and dance are supposed to be universal skills, spanning cultures and histories and all that, but I swear I was born on the wrong side of the disco ball. Only time and patience and practice will tell if I am capable of changing my fate.
Melissa received her first pair of black-and-hot-pink inline skates in fourth grade, a couple of years before she swore her life to the study of the stars (in a fit of sci-fi inspired passion). Two decades later, she has acquired several larger pairs of skates and an astronomy PhD, both of which tend to slip out from under her at the most inopportune moments. She enjoys skating and singing at the neighborhood rink in her small town in Colorado, where she lives with her husband, two boys, and a cozy lap cat. Only one of which is allowed to read her writing over her shoulder.
Melissa J. Roche will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC or a digital copy of the book to two randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.a Rafflecopter giveaway