Kaylee Losey lives in Michigan with her husband and three dogs. She is a fitness enthusiast, bookworm, and lover of nature, wine, and dogs.
Raelyn DeRose has it all- almost. Great friends, a wonderful- not to mention insanely wealthy- family, and a fulfilling, successful career as one of the best physical therapists around. Her love life, however, is a bit lacking. After a failed engagement, she’s on a bit of a hiatus from men, and is definitely feeling the effects of her dry spell. When she catches an article about her childhood best friend and his booming professional baseball career, she can’t help reminiscing and feeling as though she may have lost her shot at true love ages ago.
Meet Quinn Casey: Major League All-Star, hard-hitter, and okay, he’s kind of a sex icon. When Quinn finds out he’ll be sitting out this season after an injury, he gets called back home to deal with something he thought he’d left in the past. Not only is he confronted with his beyond complicated relationship with his drug-addicted mother, but he’s also thrown a curveball when he runs into his childhood best friend- more accurately known to him as the love of his life- at his first physical therapy session. With their history and his new reputation, Quinn knows he’s got a lot of work to do if he wants to take his last chance all the way home.
It’s obvious after their first run-in that there’s still a lot of steam between these childhood sweethearts, but will their passion- and let’s not forget the amazing, even bed-breaking sex- be enough to make up for their past mistakes? Or will this hard-hitter strikeout on love?
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"So, what do you have going on when you get out of work?" Quinn asked as Raelyn walked with him back out to the lobby. "Or are you taking a lunch break? I could pick you up and we could catch up some more."
"Actually, I have a lunch date already," Raelyn replied. It was selfish to put it this way, but she had been observing his reactions when telling him about Emerson and thought she'd seen a bit of that green monster that is envy shadowing his face. The same shadow fell across him again at the mention of a prospective date, so she finished, "with my mom. And Camille."
Quinn's features immediately brightened as he looked up. "Oh, right. How is the queen of the grapes?"
Raelyn smiled at this, "And her apprentice? They're good." A memory bloomed in the forefront of her mind: An aw-struck, eight-year-old Quinn stood in the driveway of Raelyn's family's French Provincial home, wearing ripped mud-covered jeans and a T-shirt that he was quickly outgrowing. "Remember when you came to my house for the first time and were convinced it was a palace?"
He laughed, evidently revisiting the memory, too. "That place is a palace, Rae. It literally looks like Malfoy Manor."
"That's a bit of an exaggeration," Raelyn chortled.
"I told you I didn't think they let peasants enter the castle so I couldn't possibly go in," Quinn mused.
"You called me Princess Raelyn DeRose of the Vine for a month."
"Until you challenged me to a backyard volleyball game." Quinn nodded. "If you won, I had to stop calling you Princess, and if I won, you had to start calling me King Amazeballs."
Raelyn let out a burst of laughter, having forgotten his terms of the deal.
He turned to face her in the middle of the lobby. “I let you win, you know.” He was close to her again, and though the heat was still evident between them, the air was somewhat lighter, and she felt a sudden flare of joy blossom in her chest.
"You did not.” Raelyn playfully pushed his good shoulder, an unwavering look of defiance on her face.
Quinn mock-staggered back. "It's not polite to shove cripples, Rae. And yes, I did. You're a great athlete but," he shrugged and sniffed arrogantly, "I'm better."
Raelyn shook her head, "You may be Mr. Baseball Man-"
"I prefer King Amazeballs, but continue…”
"But I know I won that game. Fair. And. Square," Raelyn finished, poking him in his hard and toned pectorals with the last three words.
Quinn leaned in next to her ear and paused briefly before whispering, "No, you didn't." When Raelyn scoffed derisively he added, "I just wanted to make you happy."
She halted, caught off guard by the sexy but sincere tone of his voice. She looked in his eyes, and this close up she could see how they softened when they looked back at her. There was a tug in her chest, an aching sensation picking at an old wound, threatening to bring so much of their past to the surface. Things she wished she’d said, things she wished she could take back. The raw intensity of how she’d felt after he left all those years ago, like he’d taken the most crucial piece of her with him. God, she had missed him. And…here he was.
Q&A with the Author
Q: Can you tell me a bit about yourself and how became an author?
A: Ever since I can remember, I’ve enjoyed writing. In elementary school I’d jump on any chance to create a story, often with illustrations. By middle school, I would fill notebooks with stories- my teachers probably thought I was taking thorough notes when I was actually creating a whole world of characters for my and my friends’ entertainment. It had been years since I’d written or even thought about a story plot when the pandemic hit in March of 2020. I was working at a school and we got shut down and I absolutely needed something to keep myself occupied. Fitness has always been another passion of mine, but you can only do so many Chris Hemsworth workouts in a day when you’re stuck at home. I needed a hobby. Specifically, a creative outlet. I started reading books about writing your first novel and began taking notes any time an idea popped into my head. It was January of 2021 before I had a whole storyline planned out, and when the school shut down for two weeks again, I decided if I didn’t sit down and start writing now, it wasn’t going to happen. So I compiled all my little notes and just started stringing sentences together. Fourteen weeks later I had my first rough- and I mean rough- draft of Hard Hitter.
Q: What is your writing process like?
A: When I am working on a whole new plot, I write down every detail that comes to me, whether it’s in a little notebook or on the notes app on my phone. I write character backgrounds, traits, quirks, everything you could possibly need to know about the two main characters, and then I work on the general outline. Yes, I’m an outline person, otherwise I will be completely scatterbrained and have no idea where I’m going with anything! I typically try to write a pretty detailed outline for about five chapters at a time, and then I get to work. If I get stuck, I always have to physically put pen to paper and write until it starts flowing before I can bring it back to the computer.
Q: What do you like to do when you are not writing?
A: If I’m not writing, I’m probably outside with my dogs, bugging my husband, or out with the girls. I can lock myself in a room for half a day writing, but when I’m done I need to be social. I love taking group fitness classes, humoring my husband by attempting his ridiculously manly hobbies like bow hunting or ax throwing, I’m always down for wine tasting, and talking books and book boyfriends with my best friends.
Q: How do you celebrate when you are finished writing a book?
A: My best friend, who gets an all-access pass to every book I write as I’m writing it, and I typically have a sleepover like we did back in high school: Themed food, movies, wine. She’ll usually drag me shopping to some trendy place, and we’ll brainstorm what comes next.
Q: How do you celebrate when your books are released?
A: I’ve only had one book release so far, and while it was an extremely exciting and surreal moment in my life, it unfortunately came only a week after a major tragedy hit my family. My niece who was only 15 months old had lost her battle with leukemia, and while my friends and family were thrilled with my accomplishment, celebrating felt…odd. I’m hoping with my next book we are able to start some kind of celebratory tradition.
Q: Can you tell me how the book/series came about?
A: Hard Hitter was intended to be a stand-alone, not part of a series, but as I wrote the story, I fell in love with other characters and wasn’t ready for this world that I’d created to end. Quinn and Raelyn are characters that have lived in my mind for what feels like years. I can’t pinpoint exactly how the story evolved from the idea of two characters into 476 pages, but I certainly have a collection of four or five authors who have strongly influenced my writing.
Q: Are any of your characters similar to real-life friends or family?
A: I’ve been told on more than one occasion that Raelyn reminds readers who know me of, well, me. I think she was a very easy character for me to write because of our similarities, but there are obvious differences. I have characters in books that aren’t yet published who have been based off of real people, and I definitely take some of the more unique quirks of my friends and family, sometimes even direct quotes- usually from my husband- to influence my characters.
Q: What was the most challenging part of writing this book?
A: The most challenging part was to remember that this is my book. I was so concerned with comparing this book to other romances that I’ve read, whether they had similar tropes or just in the overall rom-com genre, and wanting it to fit the mold. But I’m not other authors, I shouldn’t be trying to write a book that’s just like every other friends-to-lovers story, or every other spicy romance. Finally around my hundredth read-through, I got it through my head how important it was that I stuck out from other authors and other books, especially as a debut. Comparing yourself to others in your field is such a tough obstacle to overcome.
Q: What part of writing this book was the most fun for you?
A: Brainstorming with my best friend was always a blast; we’d come up with all these ideas for what should come next and I’d get so excited to get it on my screen. I loved the characters, loved their interactions, and making them really come to life on the page.
Q: What Authors or other Books have inspired you to write this book?
A: Tessa Bailey, Emma Chase, and Christina Lauren have all be major influences for me. The Wild Seasons series by Christina Lauren absolutely gave me the push to amp up the spice in my book!
Q: What is your favorite passage from this book?
This is a really tough question, and while this passage may not be super profound on its own, I think the reader will understand the significance of this moment once they’ve read the whole story. From chapter fourteen:
Though her whole body was humming, pulse practically vibrating, so ready to get the release it had been deprived of for far too long, there was the slightest notion of hesitation. The faintest bit of tension. She needed to relax, she needed reassurance that she could fully give herself over to him this time.
It must have been written all over her face, or he could feel it in the way her body refused to go pliant. Quinn cupped her face with his hand and traced his thumb lightly over her bottom lip. “Rae, I know I’ve made mistakes...I won’t do anything you don’t want me to, but you need to know that this...this thing between us...it’s not going away. I’ve wanted you over half my life and that’s not changing. I’m all yours...if you want me.”
Q: If you could meet any of your characters, who would it be and what would you say to them?
A: You may have noticed that I’ve talked a lot about my characters and character development as part of my writing process, so this is a tough one. I spend so much time trying to make my characters feel real and like someone you’d want to know. I guess I would have to choose Quinn Casey, and not just because he’s the dreamy book boyfriend. I would tell him how loved he is, how impressive it is that he’s overcome so much from sheer willpower, and then I might ask him to marry me because, well…duh, he’s the dreamy book boyfriend.