Dallas is a nurse by trade who always dreamed of being a novelist...and now that dream has come true! She is a Texan transplant who now lives on a Virginia lake with her husband, kids and 5 spoiled canines. When she's not dreaming up new characters, she likes to create yarn colors and drink Margaritas - sometimes at the same time.
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JT can’t forgive himself for bringing the wrong date to a wedding—one that nearly killed his sister. While things turned out fine and Maggie is blissfully happy with her new husband, JT’s guilt is eating him alive. Certain his "crazy" detector is broken, he's sworn off dating, and his friends and family are worried that he’ll never let himself live, or love, again.
Sofia Benevides, Common Grounds Café’s sunny, raven-haired manager, has worked with owners JT and Maggie for years, and their partnership runs like a well-oiled machine. She loves her job, but her traditional Latino family is constantly on her back about her lack of matrimonial prospects. No one knows that she has secretly carried a torch for her hunky, normally happy-go-lucky boss since she started there as a waitress five years ago.
Acutely aware of his family’s worry, and with Sophia’s family putting her under ever increasing pressure to find a man and settle down, JT comes up with the perfect solution: fake dating. But his win-win scenario takes a hit when they realize their feelings are anything but fake—and way more complicated than they anticipated…
Note: Reedeemed is book 3 in the Gladewater series, but can be read as a standalone.
Dani handed him an Amber Bock and clinked their bottles in a toast. "To the happy couple. May they have a zillion gorgeous babies and live happily ever after!" Dani said and grinned.
JT's lips twisted. "Let's get them through the first two before we start wishing for more," JT said wryly. "Of course, if they keep popping them out, it'll keep Mama off my back."
Levi laughed and shook his head. "We've only been married a few months and my mom is already dropping hints," Levi confessed. "I keep telling her we're practicing real hard, but that doesn't seem to cut it."
"Oh, you're impossible!" Dani said to Levi. "Your poor mama. You've probably scandalized her with talk like that."
"Ahh, I don't think anything I do shocks her anymore," Levi drawled, raising a brow. "Especially after the chicken incident."
Dani gave him one of her famous eye rolls. "I don't even want to think about that day, Levi Cooper," she admonished him. "And that's not why we're sitting here anyway, is it?"
"Nope," he agreed, glancing over at JT who had been sitting silently watching their by-play. He gave JT a look that said, 'I'm sorry man' before Dani started speaking again.
"So, how's the whole pretend boyfriend thing treatin' ya?" Dani asked quietly.
JT's eyes glanced quickly from Dani to Levi and back again. "Oh, he knows about it all," Dani told him. "You know I couldn't keep a secret like that from him. Could I, baby?"
"Nope," Levi repeated. He was going to let his little spitfire of a wife handle this interrogation all on her own.
"It's fine," JT said. "We've shown up for a family party, been out on a few dates, been seen around town. No random men have shown up recently in the café asking for Sofia, so I guess it's going fine."
Dani graced him with another eye roll. "You know good and well that's not what I mean. I've seen the way you've been looking at her. You like her for real."
"Look at her what way?" JT sputtered. "I do not. We're friends doing each other a favor, that's all."
"Uh, huh," Dani answered, the disbelief clear in her voice. "They're just friends. Hear that, baby?"
"Yep," Levi answered, fighting the grin that wanted to take over his mouth. "Just friends. Exactly."
JT glared at him. "I have no idea what you're talking about. You know what the arrangement is. Hell, Dani, it was your idea."
"Oh, so you haven't looked at her like it's 100 degrees in the shade and she's a popsicle you'd like to lick?"
JT narrowed his eyes. He couldn't have been so apparent. "You're crazy. I haven't looked at her any way at all."
"Uh, huh. Okay. I totally believe you. I believe you even though I've caught you making calf eyes over her more than once through the server's window at Common Grounds."
JT rubbed the back of his neck. "You're making all this up to razz me, right? Tell me I haven't been that obvious."
"I knew it! I knew you really liked her! Yay, me!" Dani smiled and did a little seated happy dance in victory. Levi shook his head and chuckled at her antics. The woman did love it when she was right.
"So why are you sitting here like a sad sack instead of christening your new bachelor pad with Sofia?" Dani asked, smirking.
"Jesus, Dani! You really had to go there? Now I'll have that image stuck in my head wherever I look," JT grumbled. "And I'm here instead of there because we are just friends."
"My question is why?" Dani asked, taking a sip of her beer. "Why are y'all still playing the pretend game?"
"Because she doesn't think of me like that, okay?" JT said gruffly. "She needs a friend so that's what I am. I'm nothing more to her and I'm not going to ruin our friendship and our business relationship by trying to make it more. It's simply not possible. End of."
Dani put a hand on his arm. "JT, I think…" she started softly, but he cut her off.
"No, that's the end of the conversation. It's not happening. It can't be anything other than what it is, so leave it alone."
"Levi, say something to him," Dani insisted.
"Babe, he's made his decision. If he changes his mind, I'm sure you'll be one of the first to hear about it. Now leave it be," Levi said in his calm but firm tone. He'd been on the other end of that determination more than once. He knew she wouldn't really drop it for good, but maybe she'd let JT escape for now.
She huffed out a breath. "Fine, I'm not going to say anything at all about how she looks at you as googly-eyed as you do her when you're not looking. Not a thing."
"Babe," Levi said warningly.
Dani threw up her hands. "I'm done. Really. It's fine." She turned to JT again. "If you do ever decide you want to hear more about that, you let me know." She threw an arm around his neck and gave him a smacking kiss on the cheek. "Go and enjoy your new abode before Maggie comes out here searching for you and gives you another project."
She grabbed Levi's hand and pulled him from the porch. "See ya, man," Levi said, tossing him a wave as he followed Dani to their truck.
JT sat quietly swinging on the porch thinking about what Dani had said. He heard a giggle and a squeal from inside the house and decided that was his cue to leave. He huffed and made his way to his Jeep. Dani couldn't be right about Sofia looking at him like that. He would have noticed with as closely as he was watching her these days. Wouldn't he?
Q&A with Dallas Ryan
Q: Can you tell me a bit about yourself and how became an author?
A: I’ve always loved to write and been told I’m pretty good at it, but life always got in the way. When Covid hit and I found myself with more time on my hands than usual with my JOB slowing down and my kids being older, I decided to try to write something and see what happened. It seemed once my writer's brain got turned on, it tried to make up for lost time! I’ve got the Gladewater Series, of course. I’m simultaneously starting a new 3 book series based in Savannah, and I’ve got a shifter paranormal romance book started (which may or may not turn into a series) as well. I’ve also got pieces of 3 other books started, and, by popular demand, I have a Gladewater Cookbook in the works! The spigot just keeps flowing! 😊
Q: What is your writing process like?
A: I’m a total pantser and I write in order. When my characters are speaking to me, I may get on a roll and write several chapters at once! When they are being stubborn, I may go for a week and write little of nothing. After I finish a section, I like to walk away for a little while then come back and edit and tweak before I move on again. That process often tells me what needs to happen next.
Q: What do you like to do when you are not writing?
A: When I’m not writing, I’m either doing my day JOB, or wrangling our 5 dogs and my teenage son!
Q: How do you celebrate when you are finished writing a book?
A: I really like to type THE END when I get finished even if it doesn’t make it to the actual book. Wine or margaritas are also on the menu!
Q: How do you celebrate when your books are released?
A: I mostly stress once it’s released, praying people will like it!
Q: Can you tell me how the book/series came about?
During Covid, I was bored so decided to try to write about my great-grandmother, who was a total badass btw! I started the story and found myself writing more about the town where she lived and remembering it and her homestead in the East Texas woods where we would visit every summer. Somehow, it morphed into Dani and Levi’s story in Collide and the rest of the series built from there.
Author’s note: There is actually a little East Texas town called Gladewater. My mother was born there. It is only a few miles from my great-grandmother’s town of Kerens, TX. My fictional Gladewater is actually based on Kerens, TX but Gladwater sounds prettier! My great aunt and uncle ran the general store. Main Street is still lined with bricks. The house Dani renovates is my great-grandmother’s house.
Q: Are any of your characters similar to real-life friends or family?
A: Not really though I used a lot of family names – not that the characters I used them for matched the names. For example, my grandfather’s name was Eustace. I had great aunts named Maggie and Lu though the characters personalities were in no way matched to the real people.
Q: What was the most challenging part of writing this book?
A: This is the 3rd book in a series but I always try to write them so they can stand alone. It’s a challenge to make sure people who haven’t read the books before know what’s going on and who the characters are without doing a giant, boring information dump at the beginning. All my characters in the 3 books are intermingled – Book 1 is Dani and Levi’s story where Maggie, Zane and JT are secondary, in Book 2, Maggie and Zane take the forefront and you see much more of JT and a little bit of Sofia, whereas Dani and Levi are bit players. Book 3 is JT and Sofia’s story so they are the main focus but you also see everyone else. I work very hard to make it NOT confusing for the reader so you can pick up any of the three books and enjoy the story on it’s own. Of course, to get the whole Gladewater experience, go pick up all 3!
Q: What part of writing this book was the most fun for you?
A: Getting to explore relationships further. I have a lot of fun writing Maggie and JT as siblings. They love to pick at each other, but when it comes down to it, they are as close as they can be. Being an only child, I like to think that’s what it would have been like to have a sibling.
And Dani and Maggie being life-long besties, of course, and such completely different personalities is always a hoot to write.
In general, continuing to get to explore all these various personalities and how they interact with each other is always fun for me.
Q: What Authors or other Books have inspired you to write this book?
A: I’m not sure an author particularly inspired me to write this book, however, my favorite authors are Diana Gabaldon (I’m a total geeky fangirl when it comes to her!) and I love Nora Roberts’ storytelling as well. Over the course of the series, I’ve met and read so many incredible indie authors as well. It’s too hard to chose just one or two.
Q: If you could meet any of your characters, who would it be and what would you say to them?
A: This is such a hard one as I feel like I know them all so well. I’d love to hang out and have margaritas with Maggie and Dani. I’d love to meet Levi just so I could stare at him a while. LOL