Run Away Charlotte
Ask Me Again
The Courting of Charlotte Cooper 1 & 2
By: H.M. Shander
**For the first two weeks of November, all PROFITS from the sales of ASK ME AGAIN are being donated to SAIF - Stop Abuse in Families - Society. (www.stopabuse.ca). This not-for-profit organization provides services and counselling to its clients (and families) who are experiencing abuse. They also have support groups, and have partnered with schools and community groups to provide education and prevention. Locally run and operated, they are an organization near and dear to H.M.'s heart.
Run Away Charlotte: The Courting of Charlotte Cooper #1
Released December 10, 2014
Trusting and depending on others has never suited nineteen-year-old Charlotte Cooper, who believes she’s unworthy of a happily ever after. She’s fiercely loyal to one - her BFF Joe. Afterall, Joe’s the only one who knows everything about Charlotte and he’s sworn to protect her heart, and her deep dark secrets.
Until Andrew Wagner walks into her life.
Despite his attempts to court Charlotte, she pushes him away, believing he can’t handle her past shadows. After a horrible accident, she slowly learns to trust and depend on him. As she shares her darkest secrets, he falls in love with her. Several incidents thrust the young lovers together, and Charlotte falls hard, giving her whole being to Andrew. While trying to be everything he can for Charlotte, he struggles to find the balance between family, school, love and commitment.
However, their different definitions of love and what it means to love unconditionally come to a head after Andrew spends a summer abroad and Charlotte crosses a line. His reaction sends a devastated Charlotte into the arms of Jack, an older man who can successfully balance what Andrew failed to do. He puts Charlotte first, treating her like a princess while capitalizing on her vulnerability. He gives her everything her heart desires… except Andrew.
When it comes to matters of the heart and mind, which direction do you follow? Love or Logic?
From RUNAWAY CHARLOTTE
He gathered up some papers and shoved them into his backpack. “So that’s it. That’s why you’re acting this way. But I want you know something. I’m here to help you. That’s all. I’d never hurt you. You don’t need to put on a brave face for me.”
Her voice softened. “Thank you.” She reached out her hand to him.
“Don’t hide from me. If nothing else, tell me what you’re thinking. Promise me you’ll try.”
“Okay,” Andrew said as he squeezed her hand. He continued to hold it, rumours be damned, as they walked out the main doors into the biting January air. “I could get used to this.” He stared down at the bond between them. “Holding your hand all the time.”
Charlotte’s cheeks warmed. “I could too, but we’re just friends, okay? You understand why, right?”
“No, but I’m willing to play along.” He smiled at her as they walked the snow-covered, curving path to his car. The cold air nipped at their exposed skin.
“My walls aren’t ready to come down yet. It’s a scary world behind them and I don’t want you to see me like that.”
“Whatever you’re protecting, I can handle.”
Cheeks warming from the flood of heat, she tried to hide her blush. In a serious tone she said, “It’s my heart I’m protecting, and I can’t let you into that yet.”
“I do understand. Joe told me it was a dark place.”
Her eyes popped.
Andrew raced to cover. “But he told me nothing, I swear! Ask him. He just told me that it was a dark place, and said it wasn’t his story to tell.”
“Well, that does sound like something Joe would say.” She looked at him, her eyes returning to a normal size as her suspicion faded.
Ask Me Again: The Courting of Charlotte Cooper #2
Released: October 15, 2015
After years of feeling alone and unwanted in her unhappy marriage, Charlotte longs for a time when she was happy and truly loved. When her world is turned upside down by a broken water main, the true loneliness of her life becomes overbearing.
When Andrew shows up on her doorstep as Project Manager in charge of repairing her home, Charlotte’s heart come alive after years of it slowly tapping along.
It’s been more than 13 years since they broke up, she’s married and he’s engaged, but that doesn’t mean the past is forgotten. The more time they spend together repairing the house, the harder it becomes to resist their intoxicating chemistry.
From ASK ME AGAIN
She reached for her phone and as he slid it into her hands, he wrapped his around hers. It was warm and soft, and for a moment made her forget where she was.
Slowly and gently, he turned her left hand over and stroked the inside of her wrist with his thumb. “What happened to your tattoo?”
A white scar looked burned into her skin, hiding the blue and red blood lines that ran beneath. She closed her eyes. “I had it removed.”
“You did, or Jack did?” He released her hand gently although his stubble covered face had disgust written all over it.
“Stop painting him in such a negative light. You don’t know anything.”
“Please, enlighten me then? Everything that I’ve seen, as of late, has not been the picture of romantic bliss.”
Charlotte swallowed hard. “We’re having a dry spell right now. There’s a lot going on, Drew. Between the house and his caseload, and work functions, and galas and hobnobbing, there’s barely time to breathe. He’s even at work today – it’s a Saturday for crying out loud.”
Andrew sat and stared at her.
She lifted the cup to her lips, and allowed the warm fluid to wet her parched throat.
“What’s happened to you?” His voice warm with concern.
“Your spirit, that amazing spirit, seems pushed down, far away.”
“It’s called life, Drew. You might want to look into getting one.” She sneered at him.
“Cat.” His voice was hushed and soft, emotion ringing through it.
“What?” she said joylessly.
“When was the last time you two went dancing, just for yourselves?” She said nothing. “When was the last time you watched the sunset? I remember how much you loved doing that. It was almost like the highlight of your day – those fifteen minutes of serenity.”
Charlotte closed her eyes, trying to visually block out the look of sadness Andrew mirrored. She didn’t want to see it. She knew what her life had become, and she felt helpless to do anything about it.
“I’ve got it.” Andrew snapped his fingers, springing open Charlotte’s eyes. “I’m going to make you feel alive again.”
Many thoughts crossed her mind, unsure of Andrew’s plan. Some were dirty, some were clean, but almost every thought made her shudder with excitement.
“Come with me.” His smile was contagious, but she crossed her arms.
“Why? What are you going to do?” Sitting firmly in her place, she refused to move.
“Not just me, us.” He rose. “Do you trust me?” He extended his hand to her.
She placed a trembling hand into his, and stood.
I have been writing since I was fourteen – I’m not going to tell you how many years that’s been (haha) but it’s a few. (wink wink) My original stories were handwritten on loose-leaf paper tied together with yarn, and each story has its own custom cover courtesy of whatever magazine I had around. I’d cut out the main character and tape her onto the cover, and decorate around her with the title and other pictures. Oh, the days before photoshop and awesome cover designers… Anyways. I developed a deep love of romance books, as I always loved it when the heroine overcame the odds to get the man of her dreams.
That early love has developed into a passion – I continue to write contemporary romance novels. Now, as an adult who has experienced reality (not like my wildly naïve fourteen-year-old self) my characters still overcome those tough odds, but their obstacles are also very real, and sometimes very dark. However, the rewards are even sweeter.
My heroes who are swoon-worthy and handsome and gentle, who have their own issues. No domineering alpha-males from me – I’ll leave those to many other wonderful authors I know and adore. My heroines are those women who are less than perfect, with a very select few she’ll call friends. She is neither popular nor outgoing but deeply loved by those lucky enough to know her.
Right now I am hard at work on a sequel to Duly Noted as well as a second-chance romance story. I’m also tinkering on a novella which follows after Ask Me Again as many emails have come in from readers saying they hope for more from Charlotte and Company.
It’s because of wonderful readers that I continue to write and develop my stories. I absolutely adore it when fans connect with me on twitter (@HM_Shander) because I’m very chatty on there, more so than my Facebook page (hmshander). Regardless of the way you contact me, I’m sure to respond.