Title: Nurturing Hope
Author: Kara Ripley
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: 08/23/2022
Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex
Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, children, criminals, interracial, law enforcement, pets, political
Desiree Adler does not want a girlfriend. Why would she? She has a demanding career as a photographer and content creator, an eccentric but supportive family, and a huge responsibility as a foster parent to a teenager named Hope.
Desi’s life is just fine the way it is. Why risk another heartbreak?
However, Desi’s sister is annoyingly persistent and when she arranges a blind date for Desi, it’s less trouble to agree, get it over with, and return to normal life. The blind date is every bit as terrible as predicted. So why can’t Desi stop thinking about Soledad Reyes?
If Desi has any hope of finding balance in life, she must help Hope confront the ghosts of her past, while confronting her own assumptions about race, power, and identity in the present.
Kara Ripley © 2022
All Rights Reserved
There are a lot of things I love about living in Sacramento. For a start, there’s enough distance from Silicon Valley that I can actually afford rent. Having grown up in one of the less-appealing suburbs of San Francisco, being able to get a place with a bathroom built for actual human beings and a little yard space is a nice change from the sardine box I’d shared with my parents and sisters.
Then there’s the aesthetics of the city. Driving beyond the stoic government buildings and office spaces, citrus trees line the streets like scented sigils and neat, paved driveways stretch up to meet welcoming houses. The whole place has a real sense of home about it, the kind of comfort and connection that can only come from a well-organized city with a steady rhythm of activity.
I’ve got routines, things I do to provide structure to my life. Early on Sundays, before I dig into my work for the day, I take my teenage foster daughter to the Farmer’s Market and we wander through stalls that sell the best fresh food California has to offer. Strawberries. Beets. Eggs. All of it delectable. Hope says she hates our weekend excursions, but I think I’m gradually wearing her down, convincing her that maybe she isn’t allergic to peaches, tomatoes, and fresh air after all.
Given the nature of my work, with most of my time spent in an office chair staring at a computer screen, getting outside, whether to the market, to the gym, or, like today, to an off-site job, was normally a real joy.
I grimaced as I scanned yet another useless street sign. I normally love driving around Sacramento. But I don’t love being lost when I’m meant to be at a job site taking photographs.
“Where the heck is this damned street?” I yelled at my steering wheel, which obstinately refused to help. Surely cars should be advanced enough to get me where I need to go. I mean, it’s the twenty-first century and that’s a basic part of the job description for a vehicle: taking me from one place to another.
“Turn left here.” The assertive New Yorker who voiced my GPS had never annoyed me more.
“There is no left!” I waved toward the sidewalk to prove my point. I was already fifteen minutes late and the car’s navigation system wasn’t doing me any favors by insisting I drive straight into some poor family’s front lawn.
I’m not always this irritable, honest. Most of the time, I’m fairly calm. But today was not my day.
“Does this place even exist?” I drummed my fingers against the gear shift. “This is your fault. Why can’t you find Morts Road? What am I even paying you for?” I shook my head. “Meet Desiree Adler folks, the woman who drives around yelling at nobody.”
The fact I was arguing with a piece of software didn’t deter me from swearing at her repeated instruction. It felt like whatever could go wrong that morning, had gone wrong.
My water heater, after weeks of whining and moaning every time someone took a shower, made a valiant last stand before finally dying in a cacophony of hoots and whistles. Of course, this happened before I needed to rinse the conditioner from my hair.
Let’s not even talk about what our ten-month-old Labrador did to my new jeans while I finished off my ice-cold shower. I’d planned to wear those jeans to the blind date my sister Clara had lined up for that night. It took about sixty minutes of throwing clothes about my bedroom to finally decide on a suitable replacement outfit, and even then, I settled for something that looked kind of ordinary because I was sick of trying things on.
Ginger Snaps—I let my boss’s son name the dog—may be freaking adorable, but she’s also a menace.
So, given the first two hours of my day had already been pretty crappy, when the police lights flashed red and blue in my rear-view mirror, you can imagine the whole new level of obscenities that escaped my mouth. But, if you can’t, it was something like this: “For fucking fuck’s sake. Just fuck right off, fucking fucker.” The Monty Python team would have been proud.
Shaking my head, I flicked on my turn signal and pulled over. I sighed as I tapped at the steering wheel. I wasn’t sure what I had done but between arguing with the GPS and rolling my eyes at non-existent roads, I certainly hadn’t noticed myself speeding or going through a red light. Maybe the cop needed to meet some quota for random breath tests. I just hoped he was quick about it. My boss was not exactly going to get happier the later I was.
I glanced in my rear-view mirror and nearly spat out the gum I’d been chewing. The cop wasn’t a he. It was a she, and I started to wonder if she’d gotten lost on the way to the audition for a blockbuster film.
There’s no way a police officer, on an average day at work, should be allowed to be that attractive. As she sauntered toward me, I watched her move in line with my side-view mirror. The officer had a dark beige complexion and long, black hair pulled into a tight and high ponytail. Intelligent brown eyes rested between slightly arched eyebrows and an aquiline nose that complimented the delicious seriousness of her face. It wasn’t normal for a real-life human being to be so beautiful.
I couldn’t be sure if I hated her for being stunning, or if I wanted her to show me how her handcuffs worked. A confusing thought, given the way my palms always turned clammy whenever cops were around.
Meet the Author
Kara Ripley is the romance-writing alter ego of Australian sci-fi and fantasy author, Rebecca Langham. Even though she’s named after two iconic sci-fi characters, Kara reflects Rebecca’s inner romantic, that part of her secretly wanting to leave the aliens, magic, and spaceships behind every now and then.
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