Authors in the Spotlight


Book Title: BABY, DRIVE SOUTH


Category: Contemporary Romance

Description: Porter Armstrong climbs the water tower every day to see if anyone has answered an ad for “women with a pioneering spirit” to help rebuild Sweetness, Georgia. When he sees a caravan approaching, he falls off the tower! Thankfully, one of the arrivals is a lady doctor with a good bedside manner.

 

Author Spotlight: Stephanie Bond

What was the inspiration for the Southern Roads trilogy?

Stephanie Bond: My own background! I grew up on a tobacco farm in a tiny town in eastern Kentucky. I wanted to write a series of books featuring men who were raised in the rural South—in this instance, the north Georgia mountains—because Southern men embody so many heroic characteristics: they’re strong, outdoorsy, proud, patriotic, and chivalrous. That’s a powerful package!

Tell us about the Armstrong brothers.

Stephanie Bond: Marcus, Kendall, and Porter Armstrong were all raised in the remote town of Sweetness, Georgia. As young men, they joined different branches of the military and scattered to the far corners of the globe. A decade ago, when one of the brothers was home on leave, a powerful tornado devastated the town, and residents abandoned their land. The brothers have now returned to civilian life and, driven by promises to their parents to keep Armstrong blood in Sweetness, they reunite to rebuild the town.

How do they rebuild an entire town?

Stephanie Bond: Drawing on their experiences in the military, the brothers secure a federal grant to re-establish the town on the industry of recycling and alternative energy. They have a two-year window to prove the viability of the town’s economy. The reconstruction is going well—until their army of workers threaten mutiny because there are no women! So the brothers decide to advertise in the newspaper of a northern community that’s been hit hard by the economy for women “with a pioneering spirit looking for a fresh start.” And they wait.

Don’t keep us in suspense! Does anyone answer the ad?

Stephanie Bond: Yes! An entire caravan of women! An entire caravan of northern women who aren’t accustomed to rugged conditions.

Ah…a twist on “Here Come the Brides”?

Stephanie Bond: Yes. The brothers soon realize they’ve unleashed a natural force upon the town not unlike the tornado that once swept through!

So each book in the Southern Roads trilogy tells a brother’s story?

Stephanie Bond: Yes. In the first book Baby, Drive South, the youngest brother (and the most reckless of the three), is so excited when he sees the women driving into town, he falls off the water tower! Thank goodness one of the arrivals is a doctor with a good bedside manner. In the second book, Baby, Come Home, the middle brother is successful in luring his high school sweetheart back to Sweetness, but will she stay? And in the third book, Baby, Don’t Go, the eldest brother, who is the most stoic, finally lets down his guard for a woman, but she isn’t what she seems.

And throughout the series, Sweetness is rebuilt?

Stephanie Bond: Yes, readers will actually see a town emerge as its residents rush to meet the federal deadline. It they meet it, Sweetness belongs to all of the residents—if they don’t, the land is reverted to the government. Hearts are won and lost and won again to the tune of a ticking clock!

- Stephanie Bond

 

Excerpt

Marcus Armstrong gaped at his two younger brothers sitting on the other side of his desk. “Is this a joke? The last thing we need in this town is women!”

Middle brother Kendall averted his gaze, but their younger brother Porter leaped from his chair.
“This isn’t a joke, and you’re being an idiot!”

Kendall stood and positioned himself between them. “That’s enough, you two. Let’s sit down and discuss this like businessmen—and brothers.”

At Kendall’s calming tone, Marcus’s anger diffused. Kendall’s refereeing was the only way the three of them had gotten as far as they had rebuilding their hometown of Sweetness, Georgia, which had been leveled by a tornado ten years ago. No lives had been lost, but with the infrastructure of the dying, remote mountain town obliterated, residents had abandoned their property.

It had been Kendall’s idea to rebuild the town of Sweetness on the industries of alternative energy and recycling. Four months into the undertaking, they were making progress and seeing eye to eye on the reconstruction efforts…except on one critical topic.

“Kendall,” Marcus said, “surely you don’t support Porter’s cockamamie idea of bringing women here.”

Kendall shrugged. “The men want female companionship.”

“We’re only a few hours from Atlanta,” Marcus remarked.

Four hours,” Porter reminded him. “And when the men caravan into the city, some of them don’t come back because they’re either in jail or in love.”

Marcus pulled on his chin. It was getting harder to recruit new workers to replace the men who went AWOL.

A commotion outside the office trailer caught their attention. Kendall looked out the window, then bolted for the door. “It’s another fight.”

Marcus followed his brothers outside where a few hundred yards away, two men rolled in the red mud, fists flying. Marcus reached for a water hose nearby and turned a stream full force on the fighting men to break them up. “Now everybody—get back to work!”

Grumbling, the men returned to the mountainous pile of tires that were being shredded for mulch.

Everything was moving forward as planned…except for the constant interruptions of fighting among the men.

“It’s only going to get worse,” Porter said. “These guys are together all the time, with no way to blow off steam.”

“I agree,” Kendall said. “And having women here will help to grow the town faster.”

Marcus gritted his teeth. “Where are they supposed to live? In the men’s barracks?” The utilitarian rectangular building sat at the end of the work site.

“We could build a boarding house across from the diner,” Kendall offered. “It could be the start of our downtown.”

With the whiff of defeat in the air, Marcus sighed. “Okay. Porter, you get the men started on building a boardinghouse and Kendall, you figure out how to import women.”

Marcus turned, his muscles tense from a palpable sense of impending doom.

“Where are you going?” Porter called.

“To take cover,” Marcus yelled. “Because you boys are about to unleash another natural disaster on this town.”

 

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