Hi guys, we have Brooke Edwards stopping by today with her new release Sweet Dreams, we have a brilliant guest post from Brooke, a great excerpt and a fantastic giveaway, so check out the post and leave a comment to enter the giveaway! ❤ ~Pixie~
Benji Crowe runs a little boutique of all things sweet in an out of the way alley, nice and secluded with a loyal clientele that keep him comfortably afloat and not much in the way of foot traffic. Occasionally someone new will find their way in, either on the advice of a regular or by accident.
When the door slams open one day, Benji thinks that his newest customer must just be really hungry. The man who sprints inside isn’t interested in the pastries, though. He snatches the beanie right off the college student sitting closest to the door before throwing himself into a vacant chair and bundling his distinctive blue coat into a ball that just barely makes it into the trash can. Benji is about to give him a piece of his mind when a dozen teenagers pour through the door shouting about Dane Harper, the latest Hollywood box office favorite.
From that moment, Benji could have been forgiven for thinking he’d fallen headfirst into the latest Hollywood box office feature. Luckily, Dane has enough box office experience for the both of them.
Hi Pixie! Thanks so much for having me here to chat about my new release.
Sweet Dreams was originally just a short, fluffy little story for an anthology that ended up being cancelled due to lack of submissions. I loved the characters and their story so much that I decided to self-publish it. Although Mens Rea was accepted for publication just over 2 years ago and I released my novella When Fate Falls Short last August, I haven’t been particularly prolific as a writer so still consider myself very green. The idea of being responsible for everything that went into a book, even one so short, was a little overwhelming at first but this community is so wonderful and a whole bunch of people put their hand up to help me figure out the ropes.
Most of the big ventures take a village, after all, and that’s the perfect segue into my topic for today! Most of my MC, Benji’s journey is flavoured with a tinge of loneliness. As much as he gains a mentor figure in Cara, and leans on his twin sister in the early days of his business, he often finds himself left behind. Cara takes off across the world on an adventure, and Sienna leaves him behind too when she falls in love and settles down. Benji doesn’t have many deep, meaningful connections so he feels the loss and distancing of the ones he does very keenly.
Writing the gradual expansion of his world to include all the characters that came in, I realised how much Benji’s village grew from the moment he first stepped into Cara’s studio as a teenager. His regulars, Annie and Glen and Mrs. Carlisle, the addition of Graham and his frightfully large dog, and most importantly, Dane. I think, and this is especially true in Benji’s case, that often we don’t know how big that vacant space is until just the right person comes along to fill it. There was still a long way to go for Benji and Dane, from figuring out the logistics of having a relationship with the constant media scrutiny that Dane’s career would bring all the way to getting to know each other on that deeper, more intimate level that they can only get through spending more time together. For me, I think time gives relationships a comfort and familiarity that even that insta-connection that we value so highly in romance can’t compete with. That’s a good place for me to wind up, with an exclusive excerpt that showcases both old and new connections for Benji!
The afternoon rush is well and truly over, Sienna packed off home with sore ankles and in dire need of a nap, when the door flies open. Benji glances up from the refrigerated display, halfway through boxing up a selection of petit fours that Annie had texted through an order for, just in time to see a blur of blue crash through the doorway.
He watches, a tiny éclair crushed between his fingers in surprise, as the person shrugs out of the royal blue coat and bundles it straight into the trashcan near the window. He throws himself (definitely a him, Benji can see now) past Glen’s table. He grabs the beanie from Glen’s head as he passes and jams it onto his own as he all but falls into a free seat with his back to the door. Glen makes a delayed and aborted sound of distress and Benji drops the box, and the crushed éclair.
His blood is boiling by the time he skirts the counter, ready to snatch Glen’s beanie right off that arrogant asshole’s head and drag him out by his ear.
He’s just opened his mouth to let rip with a tirade that would do his grandmother and Cara proud when the door flies open again and, this time, a crush of bodies push their way through. The sudden din is almost deafening and mystery man’s shoulders rise towards his ears.
Benji stops dead in his tracks, still staring at mystery man’s back. The regulars are staring at the hoard of people, mostly teenage girls but a couple of notable exceptions, who are looking around the bakery with laser focus.
“I swear he ran in here!” one of them calls out.
Another suddenly grabs Benji by the apron strings and he startles, jerking backwards in surprise as a young, female face ends up barely inches from his. “Dane Harper came this way,” she says breathlessly. Her eyes are wide, dark and terrifyingly intent. “Did you see him? He had—he had a bright blue coat on!”
Benji glances up and can see the man’s back from where he’s standing, broad shoulders hunched up around his ears in obvious distress and hair dishevelled. He feels a sudden rush of sympathy and refocuses on the woman with what he hopes is a convincingly confused expression on his face.
“No one’s come in here in the last few minutes,” he says, stepping backwards so her grip on his apron falters. “Also, the fire warden would shut me down for being this many people over so I’m going to need you to either line up outside or get moving.”
She looks unhappy, a sudden disgruntled glint in her eye that makes Benji a little unnerved as she looks around again. Her eyes pause over the man’s back but luckily miss the hint of blue still peeking out of the trash can. The crowd disperses almost as suddenly as it formed and Benji is only a little offended that none of them stop to buy anything.
The air is heavy with anxiety and anticipation in the seconds after the last of the stragglers depart with a suspicious glance backward.
“Oh my God, you don’t understand how grateful I am,” the man, Dane Harper, blurts out as he leaps out of the chair, pulls the beanie off his head and fumbles with it as he presses it back into Glen’s hands. Benji loses himself a little in the sharp lines and dark stubble of Dane’s jaw. “I’m so sorry but I was actually frightened for my life, my security coordinator is going to kill me but I kind of don’t blame him after that–”
“All cool, man,” Glen assures him with a wave of his hand that sends a spray of sugar from the bun in its wake as he takes the beanie with the other. “I would have jumped the counter if those girls had been after me.”
Dane chuckles, the sound tinged with embarrassment, as he ducks his head. “I can’t say I didn’t think about it.”
“Well, I’m glad you didn’t because I have a baseball bat for counter jumpers and your face definitely doesn’t deserve that,” Benji says, without thinking.
Glen snorts and says, “Smooth, Benji,” before jamming his beanie back on his head and slipping around them towards the door. “Later!”
Seventy-six-year-old Mrs. Carlisle is giggling to herself in the far corner, not even bothering to try and hide it with her coffee.
Benji knows that if he opens his mouth again he’s going to sputter something else stupid so he just swallows and hopes that his face doesn’t go entirely red.
From the grin and twinkle that light up Dane’s face, he’s sure it does.
“Dane Harper,” he says and the grin turns just a little shy as he reaches out to shake Benji’s hand.
Benji fights the urge to moan and slide down the side of the counter because there’s a twisting feeling in his gut that says he’s done for.
“Benji Crowe,” he says and grasps Dane’s hand. He’s immediately horrified at how awful the burns and calluses on his fingers must feel against Dane’s warm, smooth ones. Dane grips harder and his smile brightens, the corners of his eyes crinkling. Benji, dumbfounded, thinks this must be how flowers feel when sunlight hits them.
Twenty minutes later, when Dane is gone and the worst of the attraction hangover has faded, Mrs. Carlisle pats Benji’s cheek on her way out the door. “He’ll be back, darling,” she assures him with a wink. “Don’t you worry your pretty little head about that.”
Author, dreamer, fangirl and foodie – twenty-something Brooke Edwards will always call Australia home no matter where the wanderlust takes her. Her tertiary education bounced from history and linguistics to criminology and history and even went as far as nutrition and sports/exercise science. Making ends meet through a similarly wide variety of jobs from education, retail, fitness, hospitality and finance means she never has any shortage of inspiration for characters or their adventures. Writing, closely followed by the culinary arts, has been her longest-running and most consistent passion and her greatest dream would be to one day not have to do anything else but write. Until then, she can probably be found in a caffeine-induced haze either behind her computer or in the kitchen.