Saturday, May 7, 2011

Kaye Dacus' The Art of Romance

Humor, Hope, and Happily Ever Afters! Kaye Dacus is the author of humorous, hope-filled contemporary and historical romances with Barbour Publishing and Harvest House Publishers.

She holds a Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, is a former Vice President of American Christian Fiction Writers, and currently serves as President of Middle Tennessee Christian Writers.

She loves action movies and British costume dramas; and when she’s not writing, she enjoys knitting scarves and “lap blankets” (she’s a master of the straight-line knit and purl stitches!).

Kaye lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and even though she writes romance novels, she is not afraid to admit that she’s never been kissed.

You can find Kaye online at

The Art of Romance

Sassy Evans and Perty Bradley are determined to get their older grandchildren married off, but when twenty-eight-year-old Dylan comes home after being fired from his teaching position because of the betrayal of his ex-girlfriend, Perty knows her grandson has more important issues to deal with first.

Sassy understands her friend’s reservations about timing, but she also sees so many ways in which Dylan would be the perfect match for her thirty-four-year-old granddaughter Caylor. With his record of acclaimed paintings and Caylor’s bestselling novels, they could complement each other’s talents and provide each other support and encouragement. And there’s no denying the spark of attraction between the English professor with the untamed red hair and the painter with the unusual tattoos.

But neither grandmother realizes the secrets both Caylor and Dylan are keeping from each other. Will pain and embarrassment from the past keep Caylor and Dylan apart, or will they develop the courage to be truthful with each other and discover the true art of romance?

Here's an excerpt of The Art of Romance:

Dylan Bradley picked at the dried blue paint on the large knuckle of his left hand. He hoped this wouldn’t take long—if the canvas dried too much before he could get back to it, the painting would be ruined.

“We’re happy you decided to move back to Nashville, to let us and your parents help you get back on your feet. But while you’re living in the guest house, there are some ground rules we wanted to cover.”

Rules, rules, rules. That was all anybody ever wanted to talk to him about. What good were rules when all they did was keep people from pursuing what made them happy?

Though he currently sat at his grandparents’ kitchen table, the tense atmosphere created by being in the same room with a retired university president and a retired judge reminded him forcibly of the meeting he’d had just over a week ago with the president of the art college where he taught. Used to teach. It was easy enough for him to think of this as a Christmas break just like every other Christmas break—except he was here in Nashville instead of enjoying the gala art scene in Philadelphia.

Not the way he’d expected his Friday morning to go, Dylan feigned attention as his grandmother reviewed the “agreement” they expected him to sign and abide by in exchange for living rent-free in the converted carriage house behind their large Victorian home. Paying utilities. Blah, blah. Respect the historical integrity of the building. Blah, blah, blah. Find some kind of paying work. Blah, blah, blah, blah. No women spending the night.

Dylan’s face burned. He’d never felt comfortable with the level to which his relationship with Rhonda had progressed—though it had been an eye-opening lesson on living outside of the rules; but he’d hoped his grandparents hadn’t figured it out. In vain, obviously.

“And you are to attend church every Sunday. You can go to church with us, or you can find another church that you prefer.” Perty gazed expectantly over the rim of her fashionable, aqua-framed reading glasses at him.

He should’ve known—his parents had freaked out two years ago when he admitted to them he no longer attended church regularly. Why wouldn’t he expect the same from his grandparents? “And if I choose to go somewhere else, how will you know?”

“Dylan, dear, we’re not doing this to make you feel like a child.” Perty reached over and wrapped her small hand around his larger one. “We’re hoping that by asking you to start attending church again, you’ll regain some of the self-respect you’ve lost over the last couple of years.”

The last couple of years? Ha. If his grandparents or parents ever learned what he’d really done to put himself through college and supplement his teaching income the first year or two, they would know he had no self-respect to rebuild.

“We would like for you, as an adult, to determine the best way to show us you’re willing to abide by this agreement.” Gramps should have been wearing his black judge’s robe, as Dylan could not imagine his voice had sounded much different fifteen or twenty years ago when he passed sentences in civil court cases.

“We also think getting involved in church will help you meet people your age who can help you settle in to your new life here more quickly,” Perty added.

And, no doubt, act as good influences on him. “Okay.”

“Okay? As in okay to the entire agreement, or okay you understand this part of it?”

“Okay as in let’s sign the agreement.” What was the point in arguing or trying to negotiate? He didn’t have a job; he didn’t want to cash in his 401(k); and just paying utilities, groceries, and gas would start dwindling his savings account pretty quickly.

As instructed by Gramps, Dylan initialed and dated the bottom corner of each page of both copies of the agreement before signing and dating the last page of both beside their signatures. Perty collated the pages, stapled each copy, and handed one to Dylan.

What, no notary public? No case number and surety just in case he broke the agreement?

All right. This over-the-top cynicism was starting to get to him. He put down the pen and flexed his left hand against a sensation of his skin’s being too tight and not stretching correctly. He looked down. Blue. He needed to get back to his painting.

“Is that everything?” Dylan drummed his thumb against his thigh.

Gramps raised his eyebrows, but before he could speak, Perty reached over and squeezed his arm.

“I suppose,” Perty said, her blue eyes twinkling, “it would be too much to ask you to cut your hair?”

Dylan reached up and touched the bush of curls held back from his face with an elastic band around the crown of his head. He’d started growing it out when Rhonda mentioned how much better she thought certain male celebrities looked with long hair.

“Don’t worry. We don’t want to put too many unreasonable demands on you.” Perty handed him his copy of the agreement. “Oh, but that reminds me, if you have your curriculum vitae ready, I can pass it along to Sassy Evans’s granddaughter who teaches at James Robertson University. Caylor says they’re always looking for adjuncts, especially in the Art division.”

Perty’s suggestion surprised him. As an alumna, former professor, and the first female ever to become president of JRU, Perty could have simply made a phone call to one of her many contacts at the college and ensured Dylan the choice of any course he wished to teach.

“Maybe I should take it out myself tomorrow.” Last thing he wanted was to have everyone at the college believing he’d gotten the job simply because of his grandmother’s connection to the school. He was tired of taking handouts.

Perty reached around to the kitchen breakfast bar behind her and grabbed a notepad from one of the open shelves below. She scrawled something and handed the top sheet to Dylan. “This is Caylor’s office number. Give her a call, and I’m sure she’d be happy to give you a tour of the campus and introduce you around.”

I’m not a child, Perty. I can figure out how to get around a college campus on my own, thanks. He didn’t even want to know why his grandmother had this woman’s office phone number memorized. He tucked the note into his shirt pocket—where he’d probably forget about it until his next load of laundry came out with little bits of paper all over it.

He looked at them with raised brows. He shouldn’t have to ask his question again. I’ve eaten all my Brussels sprouts. May I please be dismissed? Actually, he liked Brussels sprouts, especially the way they made them at the little German restaurant and biergarten near the art school. Oh, how he would miss hanging out there with his graduate students after studio on Thursday and Friday evenings.

“If you don’t have any questions for us,” Perty looked at Gramps then back at Dylan, “you can go do whatever it is that we took you from earlier. And you know you’re welcome to join us for lunch at noon.”

He graced them with a single nod of his head and left the table—only to turn back after two steps and snatch his copy of the agreement to take with him. If he was going to have to depend on his grandparents’ charity for his temporary living arrangements until he could figure out where he wanted to go from here, at least he had the carriage house—set back about fifty feet from the museum-like Victorian he’d always hated visiting as a child, from being told not to touch anything. Back then, the upstairs of the carriage house had been nothing more than a big, open space where he and his younger brothers could run around to their hearts’ content in bad weather. Now it boasted an apartment any of those hoity-toity patrons of the art school would have been jealous of. Almost nine hundred square feet, granite and stainless kitchen, wood floors throughout, and big, airy rooms. An apartment like this in Philly would have been far out of his price range. Thus his primary reason for ignoring his conscience and moving in with Rhonda.

He entered the outbuilding through the side door. He supposed he didn’t mind having his grandparents’ Mercedes and Lexus as his downstairs neighbors. He crossed the garage and stepped up into the workroom—the workroom that was now his art studio.

The canvas on the easel taunted him, as if it knew what he’d just been though.

Blue. Gray. Green. No. All wrong.

He grabbed the tubes of lemon yellow and cadmium red, streaked them together on his palette, and slashed yellow-orange-red across the boring fades of blues and grays. He stepped back, dipped into the puddle of swirled brightness, and went a little Jackson Pollock on the canvas, enjoying the stark droplets of brightness against the somber background as he flicked and flung his brush to splatter and drip the paint onto the image.

Of course, the composition happening on the canvas bore absolutely no resemblance to the image he’d carried around in his head all day. But he’d promised himself he’d never paint anything like that ever again. For now, he’d stick with the abstract, ambivalent dreck that had garnered him so much praise at the three gallery showings he’d had in Philadelphia over the past five years. Three gallery showings in Philadelphia. Friends from college had yet to land one showing anywhere.

He mashed the brush into the black paint and daubed it in lopsided polka dots across the surface, leaving plenty of texture. Rhonda had always liked the texture he created in his paintings. Dimensionality, she’d called it.

Child’s finger-painting, he’d thought it looked like. Not something he would be adding to his portfolio.

Speaking of his portfolio. . .

He grabbed the rag hanging from the top of the easel and wiped his hands while crossing to the super giant economy size worktable that filled the end of the room. Finished canvases of all shapes and sizes sat seven or eight deep leaning up against the wall. He hadn’t updated his portfolio since before the faculty art show back in October. He hadn’t painted anything he liked since then, but he hadn’t painted anything he’d liked in the last two years, so what did that matter? Rhonda said—

He supposed it didn’t really matter anymore what his former department head and secret partner—she’d hated the term girlfriend—had said about his work. She’d been the one to make him completely change his style after hiring him as a full-time assistant professor of art.

After flipping through most of the couple dozen canvases, he felt like throwing them all away instead of taking digital pictures of them to print and add to his portfolio.

He crouched down and pulled out one of the big cardboard boxes from under the table, the one with the address of his apartment in Brooklyn written in black magic marker across the face of it. Ah, the Brooklyn years. The years when painting and drawing actually made him happy—and money. The years when art—doing, learning, and teaching it—had been about his own expression of ideas, thoughts, innovation, and creativity, not about trying to bamboozle some wealthy fat-cat in Philadelphia into buying one of his paintings because it was a quote conversation piece. Unquote. Or to give some bored socialite high on prescription drugs the feeling that she had one-upped her rich snotty friends by buying a one-of-a-kind, original, unique, one and only, exclusive, one-off work by somebody who actually looked like an artist should look: curly black hair stylishly unkempt, three days’ worth of stubble, an earring, a large silver signet ring on the middle finger of his left hand, and a couple of tattoos. At least Rhonda had not put up too much of a fight over his own designs for the tattoos she insisted he get.

He pulled his watch out of his pocket. Not quite eleven o’clock in the morning. If he got cleaned up now, he could make it out to the college campus before noon. He was pretty sure this was the week before finals, so most of the professors and deans should still be on campus, even on a Friday.

And just in case his grandmother asked, he would go ahead and pop his head into the friend’s granddaughter’s office, just so he wouldn’t have to lie about meeting her.

It wasn’t like he’d ever have to see her again.

Purchase at CBD

Purchase The Art of Romance at CBD.

Kaye is giving away a copy of The Art of Romance. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.


Judy K said...

The Art of Romance sounds like a good read. I haven't read anything by Kaye Dacus yet but she is definitely going on my list. I love finding authors that I didn't know about!

Judy K

cjajsmommy said...

The title didn't catch me but the excerpt sure did. Please enter me in the giveaway for this book.

CarlybirdK said...

I would love to win this book. Please enter me. Thank you.

Anne Payne said...

I read this on Kindle for PC but I would love to have a "real" copy! It was fantastic. I reviewed it on my blog :)


apple blossom said...

please enter me thanks

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Jackie S. said...

I have not read anything by Kaye...but am anxious to! I follow her blog and enjoy it.
Thanks for entering me!

Linda Kish said...

I would love to read this book.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Pam K. said...

I have the first book in this series so would really love to win "The Art of Romance." I enjoyed the except.Thanks.


Amy said...

I would enjoy reading this book. PLease enter me. Thanks.


Courtney said...

Sounds like a great book! Thanks for the chance to win it!

Tracy Smith said...

It really sounds like a wonderful book. Please enter me please.

Thank you.

Cindy W. said...

Enjoyed your post and would love to be entered to win The Art of Romance. Thanks for the chance.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.


Charity said...

Please enter me! Thanks!!


Anonymous said...

I'd like to win this book!

karenk said...

thanks for the chance to read this novel :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Roanna said...

I would like to be entered. Thank you!

Charity U said...

Sounds fun. Please enter me! :)

Meredith said...

Interesting excerpt!

meredithfl at gmail dot com

Ann Lee Miller said...

Count me in!

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