- Pelican Book Group
- Release Date
- January 2011
Contemporary Romance, Inspirational Romance
When Lexi Taylor resorts to hosting an online auction to raise money for her fledgling youth center, the last thing she expects is to be matched for a date with Cooper Jackson. Lured by the promise of a lucrative NFL career, the hometown hero and former University of Tennessee quarterback broke off their engagement without so much as a backward glance.
Now, six years later, he's come home to nurse an injured knee and his wounded pride—and he wants Lexi back. But a heartbreaking secret stands between them, and Lexi plans to keep it that way.
Can Cooper's gentleness and renewed faith coax the secret to the surface? And if he does, will forgiveness draw them close…or will their love be shattered forever?
BOOK INTERVIEW on April 2011
Hi Mary, thanks a lot for joining us today and giving us an insider's glimpse into TENDER MERCIES.
Q: Where did the inspiration for TENDER MERCIES come from?
My husband loves football, and though I'm not a huge fan of the sport itself, I do enjoy when human interest stories on the players air. So I wondered…what would it be like to show the tender side of a player, the fragile side? Soon, Cooper Jackson was born!
Q: Using an online auction to bring the two characters together is ingenious! Where did the idea for that come from?
We have several charitable organizations in the Knoxville area, and one evening while my husband and I were discussing this, he mentioned that while living in Jacksonville, Florida before we were married, he participated in a Most Eligible Bachelor auction to raise money for a children's charity. The light bulb flared and I thought, wow, that's a great premise for a book!
Q: That's certainly interesting! Tell us more about Cooper and how has he grown from the boy who broke Lexi's heart?
Cooper was always a good guy, but he let the promise of fame and fortune lure him to the NFL and away from Lexi and from his faith. He took the long way home, but he found his way back, eventually.
Q: Why are Cooper and Lexi perfect for each other?
Cooper and Lexi are a perfect match because they are both so real. They wear their hearts on their sleeves, and they've been beaten up by the world. They're not perfect, but they strive for the best. They also love with everything they have—no holds barred.
Q: How did Lexi's faith play a part in getting past the hurt she felt at Cooper's rejection of her so many years back?
Lexi knows she has to let go of the hurt and disappointment to lead a full and happy life. When her best friend, Kelsie, suggests her failure to move on has hobbled her, Lexi takes the words to heart and digs deep to find the purpose in the hurt, and ways she can use the experience on her journey to help others.
Q: What characteristics of yours do you see in Lexi?
Lexi gets things done. She's not afraid to roll up her sleeves and get dirty. I am much like that. I love building and animals and especially kids. I've been a teacher for 25 years, and I hope I've left the kind of positive impression on the kids I've taught that Lexi imparts on the kids who come to the Thursday's Child center.
Q: How did Cooper deal with his (possible) broken football dreams, aka his injury? How did his faith play a part?
Cooper was broken both physically and spiritually following his accident. He might have turned to drugs as a means of escape from the physical and emotional pain, but instead he chose to open his Bible and find meaning and application in the scripture. That's when his life truly began to transform.
Q: That's amazing! What is the most romantic thing that Cooper did to win over Lexi?
Ooooh…what a great question! Readers will have to, well, read the book to find out…
Q: What is your favorite line of exchange or scene from the book?
Cooper watched the news anchor lean into Lexi a little too closely. The guy had a smug look on his face and belly rolls like a Shar-Pei puppy. Something in his watery eyes told Cooper he thought he had won the bid. Well, wouldn't he be shocked?
Lexi would be shocked, too. Cooper's gut suddenly clenched and his knee throbbed. Maybe this was a mistake. They hadn't seen each other in more than six years, hadn't so much as spoken a handful of words since that awful night.
He'd been such a jerk to her…so callous. Even now, his gut twisted into a tight knot as words echoed through his mind.
"Talk to me, Cooper." Lexi's chocolate eyes melted in a pool of tears. "I thought you had another week before you had to leave."
"I do…but I should go now. I need to get settled in." He turned away from her and set his gaze to the mountains in the distance, turning smoky-pink beneath a dusky sky. "Besides, I'm suffocating here, Lex."
"Suffocating?" She choked on the word. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"You're putting too much pressure on me, Lex. I can't love you the way you want me to—need me too. I've just got too much on my plate right now."
He heard her sharp intake of breath. "So that's how it is, Cooper? After everything we've shared...I'm just another item on your plate?" She strode around to plant herself in front of him, and one glance at the tears cascading down her cheeks made him wish he could take the words back.
"I just mean—"
"Forget it, Cooper. You've made it more than clear exactly how you feel." She turned her back to him and crossed her arms tight over her belly. The tremble in her shoulders matched her voice. "Just go, then. Your plate is clean, at least as far as I'm concerned. I don't want to be a burden to you."
Realization smacked him like a sucker-punch as he took another look at Lexi waiting on the stage. This wasn't the football field he was playing on, and the studio crowd hadn't come to watch him run his famous million-dollar plays. This was a benefit for underprivileged kids, something obviously close to Lexi's heart. What was he thinking, coming here trying to buy his way into a date with her.
Good grief, what have I done?
Q: What can fans expect from you in the coming months?
Oh, I have several projects brewing, all at White Rose Publishing. April 15th brings a Free Read, LOVE'S KINDLED FLAME, which is a story about Jeanne from my latest release, LIGHT THE FIRE and how she finds new love with a fire fighter who treats her son.
I also have a full-length romance, BURIED TREASURES, and a four-book series named Sweet Treats Bakery Series, which includes the stories of the Spencer sisters and how they each find love. The stories are titled: KATE'S KISSES, GRACE'S GOLD, TESSA'S TEACAKES, and MATTIE'S MELTAWAYS. Look for these throughout 2011 and 2012.
Also, my Dollar Download, STARFIRE, will release later this year.
Stalk Mary Manners at the following place:
Brenna's Choice (A Dollar Download)
Light the Fire
Mary Manners is giving away a copy of TENDER MERCIES (winner's choice of digital or print)!
Simply write a comment or ask a question to be entered into the giveaway!
Contest ends April 30.
Winners will be announced in May.