JACOB’S LADDER: GABE by Katie Ashley: Excerpt and Review

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Jacob’s Ladder: Gabe by Katie Ashley is AVAILABLE NOW!

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As the lead songwriter for Jacob’s Ladder, the last thing Gabe Renard needs is a debilitating case of writer’s block. After years of meaningless one night stands, he’s finding it hard to pen the love-filled ballads the label is requesting. In an effort to clear his mind, Gabe takes his jeep off-roading in the North Georgia Mountains. When a wrong-turn leads to him getting stuck more than just creatively, he’s forced to call for help. To his surprise, the “Ray” who has been sent by Hart Wreckers to his aid is actually “Rae”—a sexy-as-hell spitfire in a pair of tight-as-hell jeans. The combination of Rae’s sassy mouth and rocking body might be the inspiration Gabe needs. But for the first time since becoming a rock star, his advances have been shot down.

Reagan Hart has never been a fan of musicians. In fact, just the mention of one might cause her to throw a tire tool. Her disgust for them started when she was just eight and her mother ran off with a traveling country singer, and it only worsened when at seventeen, her rocker boyfriend knocked her up before blowing out of town. As a single mother taking care of her family’s collision business, Rae doesn’t have time for hook ups, much less a relationship. And if she did make time, a musician would be last on her list, even one as good-looking as Gabe Renard.

Can Gabe find the words to prove not only to Rae, but himself, that she’s the only one for him?

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EXCERPT:

My tirade was interrupted by my phone ringing. It was Eli.

“Hey man, are you alive?” he questioned.

“Yes, I am.”

“Are you just saying that because the Deliverance people who kidnapped you are forcing you to say that? Cough once into the phone if you’re not okay.”

Rolling my eyes, I laughed in spite of myself. “I have not been abducted by any Deliverance people. I am here in Hayesville of my own volition.”

“Yes, it’s your volition that’s questionable. I mean, you said yourself they don’t even have a Starbucks. What could you possibly still be doing there?”

“Actually, I’m here writing.”

Eli sucked in a breath. “Holy shit. You are?”

When I’d called him the day before, I hadn’t told him anything about Rae or songwriting. Since everything had still been up in the air with her, I’d just told him I was just staying in Hayesville to get away. “Yeah, man. I’ve gotten two songs done already.”

“I’m so fucking proud of you.”

“Thanks. I’m not gonna lie, it sure feels good to be putting words on paper. They’re good words, too, and you know I wouldn’t just say that.”

“I sure do. You are your own worst critic. When were you planning on sharing them with me and Abs?”

“Are you still at Jake and Abby’s?”

“No. I came back to Atlanta the day you left.”

“As soon as I get back to the hotel, I’ll Google Hangout with you guys and play what I have.” At the familiar tingle running up my spine, I said, “Strike that. I think I’m feeling something new coming on.”

“Seriously?”

“Yeah. I’m not too surprised considering I was just with—” I abruptly cut myself off. For reasons I didn’t understand, I didn’t feel ready to tell Eli about Rae.

“You were just with who?”

“Nobody. Forget it.”

“Look, if you’ve fallen in love with some hillbilly woman named Earlene, it’s okay. You don’t have to be ashamed.”

I laughed. “Considering I’ve only been gone for forty-eight hours, I’m not quite sure how I could have fallen in love with a hillbilly.”

“You never know—they move fast.”

“How the hell would you know? Past experience?”

“Just an observation.”

“Whatever.” A knock came on the Jeep’s window, causing my phone to fly out of my hand and onto the passenger seat. When I glanced over, Rae was grinning at me. After I rolled down the window, I said, “Hey.”

“Hey. Listen, I was thinking instead of coming over here, you should just come to the shop to pick me and Linc up. Dad lives closer to the shop than here.”

“Okay. I’ll see you at the shop.”

She smiled. “Okay.” Jerking her chin, she added, “Now get the hell out of here so I can go to work.”

“I’m on it.”

After she waved and headed back to her car, I leaned over and picked up my phone. I knew there wasn’t a chance in hell that Eli had hung up. The minute he heard a female voice, he would be hanging on to every word he possibly could. “Hey. I’m back.”

“Was that Earlene?” he asked teasingly as I cranked the Jeep up.

“No, smartass. Her name is Rae.”

“Sounds like you guys are having dinner tonight.”

“We are, at her father’s house,” I replied as I backed out of Rae’s driveway.

“Mmhmm.”

I laughed. “Like that’s all you have to say. I mean, don’t hurt yourself holding back.”

“It’s just that you said it would be impossible to have fallen in love with a hillbilly girl in two days, yet here you are having dinner with a woman. Not only that, you’re having dinner with her family. Do we need Selma to prepare a press release on your impending nuptials?”

“Har fucking har.”

“Hey, you told me not to hold back. I mean, you’re already eating dinner with her parents—what am I supposed to think?”

“It’s not like that with Rae.”

“Then enlighten me.”

I sucked in a deep breath before unloading the soap opera of what had transpired.

“Holy shit,” Eli remarked when I finished.

“Yeah. Pretty much.”

“I can’t believe you found your muse in the backwoods.”

“It surprised the hell out of me as well, but I’m not going to question it.”

“I wouldn’t either.” After pausing for a moment, Eli asked, “So she’s beautiful, huh?”

“Gorgeous, but not like the fake women I usually go after. She’s real.”

“She’s real or her tits are real?”

Groaning, I replied, “Once again, it’s not like that with her.”

“It’s not like that because she won’t let it be like that,” Eli countered, amusement vibrating in his voice. It was times like these I lamented having a twin brother who knew exactly how my brain worked.

“Yeah, it’s true that she shot me down, but I’m glad she did.”

“Seriously?”

“If we had fucked, who knows what would have happened to my songwriting mojo? I might still be blocked.”

“That’s one way to look at it, and a very mature way, I might add.”

I snickered. “I’m not sure I would trust your judgment on what’s mature.”

Eli laughed. “Whatever. So you really think you have another song brewing?”

“Yep. I’m pulling into the hotel now. Just as soon as I can get to my pen and journal, I’m at it again. Once I get to a stopping point, I’ll text you about doing a Google Hangout with Abby.”

“Sounds good. I’ll call her and let her know what’s going on.”

“Thanks, man. I probably need to text Jake and tell him I’ll be commandeering his Jeep for a little while longer.”

“I don’t think he’ll mind, especially if you’re finally getting the words you need. When do you think you’ll be back?”

“I’m not leaving here until I have enough to fill the album—or until my mojo runs out.”

“I’ll be interested to see what you come up with, but more than the songs, I’m interested to see how things pan out with Rae.”

“You mean you’ll be interested to see if we finally bang.”

“Actually, I was thinking more long-term than that.” Really, Eli?

“Like a relationship?”

“Bingo.”

“Get real, bro.”

“You’re the one who needs to get real, not me.”

“It’s not happening.”

“We’ll see.”

Scowling at the phone, I replied, “If you don’t have anything else to do but give me shit about Rae, I’ll let you go. Unlike someone else I know, I have work to do.”

Eli chuckled. “Whatever, man. Call me when you’re done penning our next CMA winner.”

“I don’t know about that, but I’ll let you know when the next song is done.

“You do that—oh, and tell Rae hello for me.”

“I will.”

“And thanks for putting up with my knuckleheaded brother.”

I laughed. “Goodbye, Eli.”

“Bye, Gabe.”

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Kim’s Review

It’s been a while since I have read one of Katie’s books and I was in the mood for a rock star read so Gabe’s story was perfectly timed for me!

As the primary songwriter for Jacob’s Ladder, Gabe finds his writers block inconvenient at first. Now, with a rapidly approaching deadline to present new music to the record label, he is starting to feel panic setting in when nothing is working for him. An off-roading mishap in his brother-in-law Jake’s Jeep leads to an encounter that just may change his current run of bad luck though.

Suffice it to say Gabe doesn’t put his best foot forward when he meets Rae and he ends up coming across as a total d-bag! After a lifetime of bad experiences related to musicians in various ways, Rae is pre-disposed to hate rockers on sight so Gabe is already digging himself out of a hole from moment one, and his “no woman can resist me” attitude just digs it deeper by the minute. He never expects her fiery responses to spark his creative juices, but the words and melodies start flowing after their encounter. Now he has to convince his newfound muse to spend time with him despite the fact she completely shut him down and may just hate him.

Rae is a devoted single mom to her son Linc who is a wonderful part of this story! At 10 going on 30, he is more mature than his years at times while at others he is just a typical kid. He becomes Gabe’s biggest champion with Rae, and they form a bond of their own that is a pleasant surprise to Gabe since he has never really been all that comfortable around kids.

As they get to know each other, Rae sees a different side of him, and she has to wonder which one is the real Gabe Renard. Watching him interact with her family and friends and witnessing his little acts of kindness and generosity convinces her that the jerk is the anomaly- although that side does still come out occasionally! She lets her guard down a little but trust doesn’t come easily to her so there is a bit of a one step forward, one step back dance as things move rapidly between them with the simmering UST constantly just below the surface.

Gabe has some vulnerabilities Rae never expects to see in a celebrity which causes her to really see the man behind the public profile. They complement each other well, but they don’t always communicate well. For a man who can write beautiful lyrics, he struggles to find the right words to tell her what is on his mind at times, and trust issues don’t make it smooth sailing either. Hurtful words are hurled at perceived betrayals and stubborn pride may just derail their future.

I really enjoyed this story overall! Gabe, Rae and Linc were well written characters, and we are treated to glimpses of a few familiar faces from the Runaway Train world too. Gabe’s twin Eli is searching for his own HEA, and I am hoping we see his story coming our way soon!

About the Author:

Katie Ashley is a New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon Best-Selling author of both Indie and Traditionally published books. She lives outside of Atlanta, Georgia with her daughter, Olivia, and her spoiled mutt, Duke. She has a slight obsession with Pinterest, The Golden Girls, Shakespeare, Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Scooby-Doo.

With a BA in English, a BS in Secondary English Education, and a Masters in Adolescent English Education, she spent eleven years teaching both middle and high school English, as well as a few adjunct college English classes. As of January 2013, she became a full-time writer.

Connect with Katie!

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