In Annie, E.J.’s found his North Star. In E.J., Annie’s found someone who truly loves her for just her. Everything’s great, right? Wrong! Despite their obvious feelings for each other, somebody’s intent on tearing down the foundation they’ve built. And E.J.’s the target. First his career is derailed. Then his reputation is sullied.
Annie’s determined to find the culprit. But how’s she going to do that when, as her alter-ego Cassandra Lawrence, she has a new album to record and a tour to plan? E.J. desperately wants to prove he’s worthy of Annie. Is it even possible when every time things are headed in the right direction, disaster strikes?
Can they figure out figure out who is so intent on driving them apart and put a stop to it before irreparable damage is done? From Northern California to New York and points in between, our lovers struggle to keep their unlikeliest of relationships alive amid joy, heartache and everything in between. But it’s not until all appears lost once and for all that they learn faith–in themselves and each other–is what matters most.
Available 2/14/14 at all major ebook retailers!
When our wine glasses were empty and our plates had been taken away, Annie sat back in her chair. She nodded to the quartet, who gathered their materials and made a quiet exit.
“I can’t believe I went on all through dinner. You must be rubbing off on me.”
I laughed. “You act like talking all night long is a bad thing. It was fun listening to you. But if you don’t mind, I’d like to shift to a different country for a minute or two.”
“Oh? Isn’t France romantic enough for you?”
“It totally is. But I’d like to give you your Valentine’s present and it’s not from France. It’s from Ireland.”
She arched an eyebrow.
I withdrew a black, felt-covered box from my pocket and placed it on the table.
Annie drew in a little breath. “E.J.?”
She picked up the box, and as if she was afraid it was booby-trapped, opened it ever so slowly. Her eyes widened and she put one hand over her mouth when she saw the contents of the box.
“Oh, E.J., it’s beautiful. It’s a…don’t tell me. Oh, I can’t think of the name.”
“It’s a Claddagh. Some folks call it the Irish Wedding Ring. Do you know the story of the Claddagh?”
She shook her head, her eyes riveted on the ring.
“Take it out and let me tell you a story.”
She did as requested and held it by the gold band between her thumb and forefinger. I went around behind her so I could point out the facets of the ring.
“There are three parts to the Claddagh. See these two things on either side of the face that look like fingers?” She nodded. “Those represent hands, which symbolize the first part–friendship.
“And above the hands, what do you see?”
Annie tilted her head to the side for a second. “Well, the two gems appear to be sitting on top of something so it looks kind of like a crown.”
I gave her shoulder a little squeeze. “Exactly. That’s the crown, which symbolizes the second part–loyalty. And now for the third part there in the middle.”
“Oh that’s easy. The gem in the middle’s a heart.”
I stepped to face her and took the ring in one hand and her right hand in the other. I looked into her eyes.
With wide eyes, she nodded.
“The heart is the third, and most important part.” I slipped the ring on.
“It symbolizes love.”
The ring in place, I took her hand and kissed it. “Those are the three parts of the Claddagh–hands for friendship, crown for loyalty, and heart for love. This ring symbolizes my pledge to you. It’s a pledge to be your best friend, to be loyal to you and to love you unconditionally. Happy Valentine’s Day.”
She held her hand out so the ring could catch the light from the candles and the tea lights. “Oh, E.J. It’s absolutely beautiful. The heart, is it–”
“And the clear stones in the crown?”
Annie’s eyes moved from the ring to me. She started to say something and then stopped. Instead, she eased her seat back and stood. She blinked a couple of times and took a deep breath. Then she threw her arms around me and buried her head in my chest.
“Thank you E.J. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I love it.” She looked into my eyes then kissed me, a long slow kiss that between the candles and the setting, was the most romantic kiss I’d ever shared.
A lifelong resident of the State of Indiana, Jim Cangany is proud to call himself a Hoosier. The youngest of eight children, he grew up in a household full of books and people. Thanks to the influence of his older siblings, Jim gravitated toward fantasy and sci-fi when looking for something to read. He wrote his first story at age fourteen. A school project, The Magic Coin was a fantasy that involved a king, some bad guys, and, not surprisingly, a magical token.
These days, Jim writes romance on the sweet end. If you ask him what is a guy like him is doing writing romance, he’ll reply, “Those are the stories in my head.” A believer that the world has enough doom and gloom, he likes stories with a happy ending, regardless of genre. He lives in Indianapolis with his wonderful wife Nancy and his two sons, Seamus and Aidan.
Also by Jim Cangany:
Fallen Star, Book One of the North Star Trilogy was published by Uncial Press on June 14, 2013. It is available at all ebook retailers. My holiday short story, The Christmas Angel, was published by Uncial on December 13, 2013.
Interview with Holly Hewson:
HH: Jim, thank you so much for talking with us at TRS. Your featured book is Lucky Star and the second book in your North Star trilogy. What can you first tell us about this amazing trilogy?
JC: First off, I’d like to say how much of a thrill it is to be here, thank you so much for having me. The North Star trilogy tells the story of the kind-hearted bike mechanic E.J. McCarty and the unpredictable media star Annie Wilson. The stories are sweet, contemporary romances with humor, heartache and a handful of fun characters.
HH: What can you tell us about the first book, Fallen Star?
JC: Fallen Star is my debut novel. I got idea for the story in my college days back in the late ‘80s but didn’t get around to actually writing it until a few years ago. It’s a bit of a mash-up in that in along with being a traditional romance, it’s also road trip story. Annie and E.J. first meet in Chicago and then head west on a cross-country ride of their lives. It’s my answer to the question what would it be like to meet a mysterious stranger while you’re traveling.
HH: How does Lucky Star continue it?
JC: Lucky Star picks up shortly after Fallen Star ends. I love happily ever after endings, but with Annie and E.J., I wanted to know more about them. This is the story of what happens after they’ve made their commitment to each other. Given their vastly different lifestyles, from their careers to where they call home, can they really make this precious thing they’ve found work?
HH: What do you like about Annie and why will readers identify with her?
JC: Annie’s smart, talented and has worked hard for everything she has. She’s no wallflower waiting to be rescued by Prince Charming. You have to give Annie a chance, because at the beginning, she’s not the most likeable gal around. Once you get to know her, though, you come to find that deep down she wants what we all want—to be respected for what she does in her chosen career and to be loved by someone who will take her for who she truly is, once all the glitz and glamour of that career are peeled away.
HH: What do you like best about E.J. and why will readers love him?
JC: What I really like about E.J. is that while he’s easy-going by nature, he’s also fiercely loyal and will do practically anything for those he cares about, including Annie. I think readers love E.J. because he’s such a genuinely nice guy. Don’t get me wrong, he’s far from perfect, as we find out in Lucky Star. But he’s a gentle soul who’s tried very hard to do make the best of some very trying circumstances. I think readers appreciate that he’s kind of an old school hero. He’s not flashy, but there’s a depth and honesty to him that’s very appealing.
HH: What can you tell us about the final book in the trilogy?
JC: The final book, Wish Upon a Star, will be out in October. I don’t want to give away too much, but I will say that it involves a journey that Annie and E.J. must take together before they’re finally able to reach their happily ever after. It’s a deeply personal story for me and one I hope will provide people with comfort and hope.
HH: What else do you have in store for lucky readers?
JC: Annie and E.J. have been through the ringer, so the three of us have agreed their story is complete. I’m currently working on a contemporary romance involving a new set of characters. Tentatively called On the Rebound, it’s the story of a disgraced men’s college basketball coach who’s been given a second chance as an assistant on a women’s college basketball team and the Academic Advisor who wants to see him, and his bad reputation, gone from the school as soon as possible. It’s a story that deals with redemption, trust and exorcising old demons.
HH: What are you reading now?
JC: All I Ever Wanted. It’s a contemporary romance anthology written by four authors including Rhonda Helms and Lexi Ryan, whom I adore.
HH: What appearances do you have coming up in 2014?
JC: I’ll be doing a blog tour the second week of March in support of Lucky Star. We’re still working out the details of where exactly I’ll be, so stay tuned on that. At the end of April, I’ll be at the Chicago North Romance Writers of America Spring Fling Conference. In October I’ll be making a return visit here to dish about Wish Upon a Star. I can’t wait for that! I’ll also be hitting the cyberspace road for another blog tour on behalf of Wish.
HH: Where can readers find you online?
JC: You can always find me at my website – www.jimcangany.com. I’m active on Twitter and my handle is @jimcangany. If you’re on Facebook, you can find me at Jim Cangany Author. I’m also on Goodreads and LinkedIn. One of the great things about having an unusual last name like mine is that I’m not hard to find.