Book Babes Trilogy by Jean Brashear

CHAPTER ONE

Austin, Texas

August

“You answered a freaking personals ad?” Ava Sinclair burst out

laughing. “Which one, Laken? Six foot tall hunk of burning love seeks

woman into foot massage and Bob Marley?”

Three other heads swiveled, waiting for the inevitable flare-up when

Ava’s exasperation overcame her love, and Laken Foster’s shark-lawyer

ego couldn’t stand coming in second.

“Laken, you didn’t,” Luisa Martinez protested, her soft voice barely

heard above the sudden din. She squeezed Laken’s hand in

Laken shot her a look that forbade pity. Luisa settled back to drink

“Well, I for one, darling, think it’s about time you made the switch

from the singles bar scene. All those dreadful married men with white

bands on their fingers.” Sylvie Everett’s elegant nose wrinkled faintly.

“Now tell all. Dish the details. What’s he like? Any orgies in the offing?”

Ava watched as Ellie Preston returned to her cozy living room, fresh

wine bottles in hand. Ava could have predicted the rescue.

She wasn’t wrong. Ellie eased in between them, soothing. “Now,

Sylvie. Laken may not want to talk about it. More wine, anyone?”

“Since when does Laken withhold a single detail of her sex life?” Ava

couldn’t resist prodding Ellie’s perpetual air of virginity. The mother of

five, her baby about to start first grade, Ellie could pass for sixteen in all

but the harshest light. There was something of the ingénue about their

auburn-haired friend that life couldn’t seem to erase. The room around

them reflected her: lush green plants at every window, the bright spill of

knitting yarns in a basket, pillow tops she’d quilted by hand.

The dusting of freckles across Ellie’s nose dimmed as her cheeks

turned pink. Then her grin turned impish. “Well, far be it from me to

discourage her from talking about it—” Her eyebrows rose with her

The whole group broke up laughing, Laken’s sultry chuckles blending

“Come on, Laken, spill your guts. Luisa hasn’t been laid in two years

and Ellie’s still trying to figure out where all those kids come from.” Ava

poured herself a second glass of pinot noir.

Laken slugged down the last of her wine, holding out the glass for

Ellie to refill. Her spiky dark mane shook with the force of her denial.

“You do not have my permission to steal this for your next book, Ava.”

Ava clutched one hand to her breast with a dramatic sigh. “Trust me,

Laken, I haven’t run out of imagination yet. This crew has a ways to go

to catch up with my heroines.”

“Too true,” Sylvie nodded. “Thanks to your incredible imaginary

men.” She lifted her glass. “To Ava’s heroes, long may they inspire our

They all clicked glasses, laughing, and drank—Luisa her tea, Ellie her

watered wine, Ava and Laken red, Sylvie her customary chardonnay.

Another meeting of The Book Babes was well underway.

Laken sprawled back and sighed, fanning herself against the summer

swelter of Austin, Texas. “If only you could conjure some of them up in

the flesh, Ava, I wouldn’t be reduced to scouring the earth for one good

“There are good men all around you,” Ellie objected.

“Yeah, but you and Ava are married to them.”

“Stop right there,” Laken flashed her palm at Ellie. “No more

matchmaking. Period. There are three men in this town worth a damn;

Ava’s got Tom, you’ve got Wyatt, and Sylvie’s going to keep Gabe waiting

“No, Sylvie’s not.” A tiny tremor shook the carefully modulated voice

that matched Sylvie’s ever-faultless appearance.

Ava shot a glance across the coffee table, seeing what she should

have recognized earlier in Sylvie’s silence. “What happened?”

Sylvie shook her head, the ash blonde shoulder-length pageboy

shimmering. “It’s over, that’s all.”

Ever the nurturer, Ellie placed a hand on Sylvie’s shoulder. Only Ellie

would dare, and only Ellie would not be shaken off by shoulders

tightened into almost military posture. “You don’t have to talk about it,

Silence stretched out, an unheard-of occurrence at their monthly

meetings. Far more common was the clamor of all of them talking at

once, too much to say, too much to share, words tumbling in pell-mell

fashion from the lips of intelligent women trying to piece out the ways

Luisa filled in with their topic of last resort—the book they were

supposed to be discussing. “So what did anyone think of Smilla’s Sense of

Ava held back. She’d hated its dearth of emotion. The plot was

intriguing, but the writing was so spare and sterile. But she knew that

Sylvie had loved it, and Sylvie was already hurting.

Laken had no such restraint. “It sucked.”

“Laken!” Ellie reached over, patting Sylvie’s knee. “It was really

“I loved it, Sylvie,” Luisa responded. “I had to wrap up in a blanket,

reading it, the setting was so vivid.”

Ava chuckled and shook her head. A blanket in August in Texas.

“What was the a/c setting? Fifty-five?”

Laken intoned, “Thank God summer doesn’t last forever.”

Sylvie’s smooth tones interrupted their laughter. “What about you,

Opening her mouth to respond, Ava glanced around the room,

distracted by the tears brimming on Ellie’s lashes. Ava’s comments were

forgotten as she took in the startling sight. “What’s wrong, Ellie?”

The auburn pageboy swung with the shaking of Ellie’s head, her

fingers pressed tightly to trembling lips.

Even the Ice Queen was disturbed by the sight. Ellie always smiled,

always ministered to the rest of them. “Is it one of the children?” Sylvie

The tears overflowed ginger lashes, brown eyes filled with hurt. “I

swore I wouldn’t do this. It’s silly…millions of women deal with this. I

know it’s dumb, but—” She shook her head again, dropping her gaze.

“Sam’s starting first grade, and Christy is leaving for college, and all of a

sudden, all I can think is: what happens when they’re all gone?”

Ava and Luisa exchanged glances. The empty nest. It hit everyone.

Laken and Sylvie had no children; they could look sympathetic, but

they’d never truly understand.

She tried for reason. “It’s a long time until Sam leaves the nest,

Ellie sniffed. “I know that. Intellectually, I understand all of this. But it

doesn’t change the fact that being a mother is all I know how to be. Look

at you, Ava. You’ve created a whole new life, becoming a writer. You’re

“—crazed and despairing and insane to have tried it.”

Ellie brushed at her eyes. “But the fact remains that you know what

you’re doing with your life. You’re a mother, but you’re not only a

mother. Luisa has her Ph.D. and tenure—”

“And a mother driving me nuts.”

Ellie ignored her, leaning forward. “Laken’s a successful lawyer,

Sylvie’s got her gallery. What do I do that’s interesting? I drive carpools

and bake cupcakes and do laundry and feed the damn chickens.” For

Ellie to swear was almost earth-shattering.

“And lead Scouts and sew and garden—hell, Ellie, you can do

anything,” Laken’s voice rose above the others.

“Jack of all trades, master of none.”

Ava drew a breath to respond, but Sylvie beat her to it.

“You need to be painting, Ellie. It’s criminal that you ignore your

Ellie blushed. “I just fool around. I’ve never had lessons.”

“Anyone can take lessons. You have a gift.”

Ava could see that Sylvie meant it. Sylvie’s life revolved around art; it

was the great sorrow of her life to have an unerring eye for the

beautiful, for startling new talent—and to be unable to draw with more

than mediocrity herself. Sylvie did not suffer fools gladly; even with her

great affection for Ellie, an alliance that surprised them all, she would

never say something she didn’t mean. Saving feelings was never a

Ava added her weight to the proposition. “I only had two children,

not your five, but I know all too well the toll a family takes. You need to

be feeding your soul, Ellie. You’ve still got a long way to go down this

road of life, and you have a right to reserve some of it for yourself. You

give everything to Wyatt and the kids, but Wyatt is a grown man, and

the kids will need you less and less as they get older. It’s time to start

“But I know how fast it goes. Before I know it, Sam will be leaving for

college. I can’t miss these years.”

“Come on, Ellie,” Laken’s dry tones crackled. “You’re not talking

about abandoning them. You can do this while they’re all at school.”

“But they’re not used to—”

Ava spoke gently. “Your kids are great and amazingly unspoiled, but

they won’t die if you don’t lie down in the road to be run over by them.”

Ellie blew her nose, her back stiffening. “I don’t do that.”

Luisa’s hand touched her gently. “What Ava means is that you give

yourself to everyone you know, including us, and never reserve

anything for yourself. We’re all very lucky that you do, chica, but you

have to look out for yourself, too.”

“The well runs dry, kiddo,” Ava reasoned. “Nothing faster than a

family to drain you. Cut yourself some slack and think of it this way: if

you’re happier, they’ll be happier.”

Ava waved a dismissive hand. “We should all be happy. None of us

are starving in Africa, we all have roofs over our heads, we have love in

“Speak for yourself,” Laken said dryly.

Ava shot her a glare. “All right, everyone but Laken has love in her

life, but constant hot sex is a workable substitute—”

The entire group broke up laughing. Even Ellie grinned.

 

 


Texas Ties
Book Babes Trilogy
Part One
Texas Heroes 13
Jean Brashear
Genre: Romance
Date of Publication: March 15, 2015
ISBN: 9781942653080
ASIN: B00U7L2PYQ
Number of pages: 150
Word Count: 33,000
Cover Artist: Covers by Rogenna
Book Description:
A new 3-part story in the Texas Heroes series from New York Times and USAToday bestselling Texas romance author Jean Brashear!
The Book Babes reading group began as five women wanting to talk books—but now they’ve become family. There’s romance author Ava Sinclair, organizer and backbone; happily-married mother of five Ellie Preston, group mom; patrician art gallery owner Sylvie Everett; single mom and sociology professor Luisa Martinez; and ambitious attorney Laken Foster, the wild child of the bunch. For several years now, they’ve met monthly and discussed the current book a little–and dissected their lives and loves far more often.
But now change is rippling through the group, begun by Laken’s restlessness with her freewheeling life of serial hookups and sent into hyperdrive by Ava’s suddenly-hot career, while Luisa’s abusive ex tries to reclaim their teenage son and Sylvie faces her mother’s decline. But it’s when Ellie takes her first step into life after her children fly the nest and falls under the spell of the sexy artist who’s teaching her to paint that the group’s orbit begins to wobble on its axis, and life–for all of them and the men they love–will never be the same.
And then there’s the Sweetgrass Springs surprise…
Available at  iTunes    BN    Kobo

 

Texas Troubles
Book Babes Trilogy
Part Two
Texas Heroes 14
Jean Brashear
Genre: romance
Date of Publication: March 26, 2015
ISBN: 9781942653097
ASIN: B00U7HOWE
Number of pages: 150
Word Count: 33,000
Cover Artist: Covers by Rogenna
Book Description:
The second serial installment of a new 3-part story in the Texas Heroes series from New York Times and USAToday bestselling Texas romance author Jean Brashear!
The Book Babes reading group began as five women wanting to talk books—but now they’ve become family. There’s romance author Ava Sinclair, organizer and backbone; happily-married mother of five Ellie Preston, group mom; patrician art gallery owner Sylvie Everett; single mom and sociology professor Luisa Martinez; and ambitious attorney Laken Foster, the wild child of the bunch. For several years now, they’ve met monthly and discussed the current book a little–and dissected their lives and loves far more often.
But now change is rippling through the group, begun by Laken’s restlessness with her freewheeling life of serial hookups and sent into hyperdrive by Ava’s suddenly-hot career, while Luisa’s abusive ex tries to reclaim their teenage son and Sylvie faces her mother’s decline. But it’s when Ellie takes her first step into life after her children fly the nest and falls under the spell of the sexy artist who’s teaching her to paint that the group’s orbit begins to wobble on its axis, and life–for all of them and the men they love–will never be the same.
And then there’s the Sweetgrass Springs surprise…
Available at BN    Kobo
Texas Together
Book Babes Trilogy
Part Three
Texas Heroes 15
Jean Brashear
Genre: Romance
Date of Publication: April 9, 2015
ISBN: 9781942653103
ASIN: B00U7l2PUU
Number of pages: 150
Word Count: 33,000
Cover Artist: Covers by Rogenna
Book Description:
The final installment of a new 3-part story in the Texas Heroes series from New York Times and USAToday bestselling Texas romance author Jean Brashear!
The Book Babes reading group began as five women wanting to talk books—but now they’ve become family. There’s romance author Ava Sinclair, organizer and backbone; happily-married mother of five Ellie Preston, group mom; patrician art gallery owner Sylvie Everett; single mom and sociology professor Luisa Martinez; and ambitious attorney Laken Foster, the wild child of the bunch. For several years now, they’ve met monthly and discussed the current book a little–and dissected their lives and loves far more often.
But now change is rippling through the group, begun by Laken’s restlessness with her freewheeling life of serial hookups and sent into hyperdrive by Ava’s suddenly-hot career, while Luisa’s abusive ex tries to reclaim their teenage son and Sylvie faces her mother’s decline. But it’s when Ellie takes her first step into life after her children fly the nest and falls under the spell of the sexy artist who’s teaching her to paint that the group’s orbit begins to wobble on its axis, and life–for all of them and the men they love–will never be the same.

 

And then there’s the Sweetgrass Springs surprise…
 
About the Author:
New York Times and USAToday bestselling Texas romance author of over 40 novels, including the popular TEXAS HEROES series, a five-time RITA finalist and RT BOOKReviews Career Achievement Award winner, Jean Brashear knows a lot about taking crazy chances. A lifelong avid reader, at the age of forty-five with no experience and no training, she decided to see if she could write a book. It was a wild leap that turned her whole life upside down, but she would tell you that though she’s never been more terrified, she’s never felt more exhilarated or more alive. She’s an ardent proponent of not putting off your dreams until that elusive ‘someday’—take that leap now.
Twitter: @JeanBrashear