Taylor Martin and Jan Stoddard on the bank of the French Broad River in Asheville, North CarolinaLast week I promised sneak peeks at three major characters from No River Too Wide, which arrives at your local bookstore at the end of this month.

Since Taylor Martin is featured so prominently on this cover–that’s Taylor standing on the riverbank–we’ll start with her.

Do you remember Taylor, Charlotte Hale and Ethan Martin’s daughter from the first two books? Taylor had a lot of growing to do in One Mountain Away, and she was just beginning the process by the book’s end.

Taylor and her eleven-year-old daughter Maddie live in Asheville, North Carolina and always have.  You’ll remember Taylor was a yoga instructor in the previous two books, but in No River Too Wide, she’s opening her own health and wellness studio, Evolution, in Asheville’s River Arts district.

I always love my readers’ comments about characters. Taylor was the one you weren’t sure about, the one you didn’t really like, even when you understood why she and Charlotte had grown so far apart. I decided it was time to explore her life a little further and let you decide for yourself how much she’s changed.

So meet Taylor, two books later, and see what you think.

In this scene Taylor has just met a man named Adam Pryor, who has applied to teach self-defense at her new studio, which is one week away from opening.  They’ve had a major misunderstanding, and now that it’s been cleared up, she’s explaining her plans for Evolution.

Join them and see what happens next.

*****

When he didn’t add anything she continued.  “I’d like to offer cooking classes, maybe some stress reduction or coaching, even support groups. We’ll start slowly and build up.  I don’t want to poach customers from other places.  I’m hoping to fill a different need for people who want a community, not just an occasional class, but a place where they’ll make friends and hang out in their free time at our café or patio and drop into classes to try them on for size.”

“Classes like self defense.”

She thought of Jan, who hadn’t been able to defend herself against her husband.  Wasn’t self defense appropriate here?

“Who’s your target student?” she asked.

“Whoever you might want it to be.”

“What’s your ideal then?”

He studied her.  She thought he might like what he saw because his gaze seemed to warm.  “Women who feel helpless in their daily lives and need  confidence.  Women who don’t know what danger signs to look for, so they fall into situations they can’t fight their way out of.”  He paused.  “Women who aren’t afraid to run and run fast if that’s their best option.”

“So we aren’t going to pretend that women can beat men at their own game with just a little training?”

“Some women actually can.  I’ve met a few I’d never want to go up against myself.  But there are lots of things all women can do to stay safe and increase their chances of survival in a dangerous situation.  The other things you’re planning here are important.  Strength, agility, stamina.  Those things matter, but using them to stay safe is a different skill set.  And in the long run, what good is anything if a woman’s life is in jeopardy because she doesn’t know what to do in a confrontation?”

“You’ve done this before?”

“Like I said I brought my resumé.”

“Why didn’t you tell me you weren’t a cook right at the start?”

“Because I was enjoying myself, and you let me in here so easily I thought it would be a nice chance to look around.”

“Maybe I could use a few tips on avoiding dangerous situations.”

“You’re not in any danger from me.”

As if on cue there was an explosive bang above their heads and startled, Taylor jumped back and snapped her head toward the ceiling.

Adam’s reaction was more marked.  He grabbed her before she could even see if plaster was about to rain down on their heads, and together they hit the floor, his powerful body half covering her before she could protest or even gasp for air.

Above them muffled curses replaced the banging, and Taylor registered the harsh sound of Adam’s breathing, the heat from his body, a whiff of spicy aftershave or cologne, before she put her hands on his chest and shoved.  “Hey!”

In an instant he had rolled to the floor beside them and pushed himself upright.  He hesitated, then he held out his hand.  She just stared at him a moment, trying to order her thoughts, then she pushed herself to a sitting position and finally up to her feet again, without his help.

“One too many tours of duty,” he said without looking right at her.  “I’m sorry.  Are you okay?”

He looked sorry, but she wasn’t sure for what.  For knocking a stranger to the ground to protect her?  Or for demonstrating that he hadn’t yet recovered from life in a war zone?

As she straightened her T-shirt she questioned him.”How long have you been out of the service?”

He shook his head, as if he couldn’t believe what he’d just done.  “Apparently not long enough.”

***

For more about the novel, check my book pages here for an overview, inspiration, praise, a reader’s guide, excerpt, and buying links.

7 Comments

  1. Lynn Ross on June 13, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    What a terrible tease you are! And I have to wait until the end of the month for a book I can’t wait to read. 🙂

    • Emilie Richards on June 13, 2014 at 5:05 pm

      We aim to tantalize.

  2. Lil Baker on June 13, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    I am looking forward to reading this book, but I must admit that I may have to glance back at the previous books to remember the characters that I should already know.

    • Emilie Richards on June 13, 2014 at 5:06 pm

      I suspect you have read many books in between. No wonder you need to refresh your memory. I always do, too.

  3. Kathy in FL on June 17, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    Looking forward to the beginning of July! Can’t wait to read this book.

  4. Debbie Haupt on June 19, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Hi Emilie, Great Post! Taylor was actually my least favorite character in book one, I warmed up to her in book two and by the end of this book I was totally charmed. She’s matured, she’s learned forgiveness and tolerance and I can’t wait to see how far she goes in futures episodes.
    I loved all the novels so far and am excited about the ones to come.
    deb

    • Emilie Richards on June 19, 2014 at 4:57 pm

      Your feelings about Taylor are echoed by others, Debbie. I have really enjoyed “watching” her struggles unfold and the changes she makes. A character has to have a place to grow, and she did. Thanks for all your kind words.

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