Hi friends! I’m so excited to welcome back K.M. Jackson, who has a new book out today! She’s absolutely fabulous, and I’m thrilled we get her on her release day too! 😀 Extra bonus, she’s provided ALBTALBS with an exclusive excerpt! *fist pump*
Though As Good as the First Time is at its core a romance, I had lots of fun exploring the family dynamics of this story, especially the female family relationships and how they intertwined throughout the romance.
As the oldest in my family and the only girl grandchild, I always wondered what it would be like to have a tribe of sisters and girl cousins to hang with, bond and of course argue with during my formative years. That’s why it was such a treat to create the female characters in As Good as the First Time.
We have the business minded, type ‘A’ baker sister, Olivia, then there is her opposite, carefree sister, Drea, next is their fun and exuberant cousin, Rena then there is their long suffering, wanna be southern beauty Queen cousin, Pearl.
Each woman is very different in her thinking and they often times butt heads, but at their core they are family though and through. And with that family always takes priority, so even though they have different outlooks on life and have grown up in different parts of the country they always come through for each other and have each other’s backs.
Oliva and Drea, our sisters, blend about as good as oil and water. They got along fine in their younger days. but eventually grew apart as some siblings do. Constantly butting heads, the two find themselves in an uncomfortable situation when Oliva is jobless and recently dumped so she decides to go and help their aunt in need with the family’s pie shop, Good ‘N Sweet in fictional Sugar lake, Georgia. Looking for some sort of purpose, Drea who is a fledging actress and singer with more rejections and heartache than she can count decides to join her sister and the two are now essentially a couple of fish out of water in a town they only knew from when they were kids summering with their parents.
Their turbulent relationship is mirrored back at them though in their interactions with their aunts, Joyce and Kath and in their interactions with their irreverent cousins, Rena and Pearl who are just as estranged as they are.
The following excerpt is a bit from a girl’s night out in AS GOOD AS THE FIRST TIME:
As Good as the First Time Excerpt:
With her big-city career and relationship in sudden free fall, Olivia Gale isn’t sure where she belongs. So when her help is needed at Goode ʼN Sweet, the family bakery in Sugar Lake, she jumps at the chance to indulge her pie-making hobby while getting her life back on track. Olivia’s not looking for any distractions. Even if the boy who once left her without a word is now a grown man with intriguing secrets—and the same tempting hold on her heart . . .
A firefighter and single dad, Clayton Morris is trying hard to fix his past mistakes. He thought he was doing the right thing by leaving Olivia—and now he’s sure he has nothing to offer the accomplished woman she’s become. But ignoring the sparks between them is impossible. And as unexpected surprises and hard choices endanger their fragile reunion, they’ll have to decide which direction to take if they want to find the road back to love . . .
Rena, not missing a beat, took the seat next to Drea, but looked straight ahead at Liv. “Oh, don’t try to ignore it, cousin. I saw you eyeing Clayton. And better than that, I saw him eyeing you right back. Hot jam! That didn’t take long.” She picked up the plastic placemat that also served as Jolie’s menu and waved it in front of her face. “Talk about a spark of magic. That man has been a dormant explosive for the longest time and suddenly you step into town and it feels like he can blow at any moment. It’s like watching a volcano. A person should hold on to their weave in the same room as you two.”
Hot jam? Liv would have laughed at Rena’s choice of words if they weren’t directed at her.
“I don’t know what you two are talking about. Leave the poor woman alone. Can’t you see you’re embarrassing her?” Pearl coming to Liv’s defense was a surprise. “Besides, Clayton Morris is nothing to get all in a tizzy over. Livy, being a woman of the world, has got way more sense than that. So what? They may or may not have had a thing back when. I’m sure that ship has sailed, and anyway, he’s got enough on his plate with that half-wild child of a daughter that he’s got.” She turned toward Liv. “You mark my words, just stay away from Clayton Morris. No matter what people say about him being all sweet and scout like with his kind firefighter ways, he’s not as sweet as he seems.” She shook her head and then slid a slightly disdainful look toward the table where Clayton was seated with his crew.
For the first time, Liv noticed a particularly pretty woman with wide eyes and a wider smile who was laughing at something Clayton was saying while she had her hand draped casually across his forearm.
What was Pearl going on about again? Liv pulled her cousin back into focus.
“I tell you he’s more than likely nothing but trouble,” Pearl said.
“Really, Pearl, you only say that because Clayton’s been nothing but trouble for you. Or a lack thereof,” Rena replied.
What had been going on all these years that she’d been away? Had Clayton and Pearl had a thing? For as long as she knew, Pearl only had eyes for her very own football star husband.
Rena continued, “Talk about holding a grudge. You’re still mad over the fact that Clayton Morris never gave you the time of day and neither did his brother. Not when you thought you were the hottest thing in a cheerleader skirt back in high school, nor when you won Miss Sugar Lake. And not even when you and Mr. Perfect were on the rocks and you went out to his fishing cabin crying on his shoulder and he carted your drunk behind back home.”
At that, Pearl put her hand on her chest and pulled a shocked expression. “Why, I never. You know I don’t go around getting drunk.”
“Ahh,” Rena said. “But you’re saying nothing about going to men’s fishing cabins.” She nodded.
Pearl shook her head. “You are the worst. As usual you don’t know what you’re talking about, and your overactive imagination is running away with you.”
“Okay, Miss Pageant, you play it like you want to,” Rena said. “But just know that some of us understand that everything that glitters really ain’t gold.”
Just then their waitress came over to the table. She was a pretty, brown-skinned young woman with an easy, open smile. Liv found it funny how, despite her protests over supposedly not being a frequent patron of Jolie’s place, Pearl didn’t have to glance at the little placemat menu once, but instead quickly placed her order for a combo of the barbecue ribs and chicken with slaw, mac and cheese, and greens on the side. Liv, Rena, and Drea exchanged pointed looks as they went around the table with a round of, “I’ll have what she’s having,” but instead of going for the sweet iced tea that Pearl had ordered, since she was indeed eating for two, the trio opted for the locally famous Jolie’s Joy juice, a rum punch that packed quite a kick with its first sip.
As the cousins prodded on with the chitchat, Liv tried her best to join, but she couldn’t quite let go of the little bombshell that Rena had placed when they first sat down. She shouldn’t be surprised to hear about Pearl’s feelings for Clayton. Just about everybody had a crush for Clayton back in the day. But the fact that there was or could be some recent lingering, and the fact that he had to take a drunk Pearl home, now that really gave her pause. Did he actually take her home? And did anything ever happen between them before he did? Was there more to this than even Rena’s deep wells of Sugar Lake history knew about?
There was no time for Liv to get into that. The food was up, and so was the music and the mood. Liv let out a long breath and decided then and there to let herself have fun and enjoy the barbecue in front of her. She picked up a rib and took her first bite, savoring the sweet and spicy flavor as it exploded on her tongue, suddenly finding herself seat-shimmying in time to the bar’s soul livening music. “This is absolutely delicious,” she said to the table in general, then turned to Rena. “I’m so glad you thought of it. Now I’m actually feeling like a real Sugar Laker.”
“Make yourself right at home, cousin,” Rena said. She picked up the pitcher of Joy juice and topped off Liv’s glass. “Wait, when did it become half full?” Liv grinned as she took another sip of the sweet concoction. Pretty slick of Jolie; making those ribs so deceptively spicy on the back of a person’s tongue. She suspected half her profits were due to people replenishing their drink pitchers.
“Hurry up and finish that. I want to get in a game of pool because I’m a little low on funds, but still feeling lucky,” Rena said. She turned Liv’s way again. “Do you still play? You used to have a real mean game back when we used to play in Uncle Clint’s basement.”
Liv practically choked on her drink and shook her head quickly. “Oh, no, I haven’t played in such a long time.” She let her mind flip back, and she remembered that the last time she shot pool was a particularly disastrous online date two guys before Damon. She’d won the game, which totally put the jerk off. Her winning closed the door on any options for a second date. He could barely look her in the eye after she won, let alone text her back. Insecurity was a terrible look on a man. Still, she refused Rena. “I don’t think you should count on me. I’m too rusty. What about Drea or Pearl?”
Drea held up her hands. “Not with these nails. Sorry. I’d be useless.”
Pearl held up a rib and shook her head. “Sorry, with this belly my balance would be too off. You’re on your own.”
Rena turned back to Liv and gave her feigned sad eyes. “Come on, Livy, for old times’ sake. I promise I won’t be mad if we lose, though I know we’re gonna win!”
As Good as the First Time by K.M. Jackson (Sugar Lake Book #1)
Sweet contemporary romance published by Kensington Dafina.
You can buy a copy of the book here.
K.M. Jackson’s Bio: Native New Yorker, K.M. spent her formative years on the ‘A’ train where she had two dreams: 1) to be a fashion designer and 2) to be a writer. After spending over ten years designing women’s sportswear for various fashion houses this self-proclaimed former fashionista, took the leap of faith and decided to pursue her other dream of being a writer.
A multi-award winning women’s fiction and contemporary romance writer, K.M.’s THE BETTING VOW was named one of NPR’s Great Reads 2017.
A mother of twins, K.M. currently lives in a suburb of New York with her husband, family and a precocious terrier named Jack that keeps them all on their toes.
So what’d you think?! 😀 Thanks again for sharing with us today, K.M.!