Title: The Pick Up
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
Publication date: March 5, 2018
Length: 337 pages
Kyle’s life is going backwards. He wanted to build a bigger life for himself than Red Creek could give him, but a family crisis has forced him to return to his hometown with his six-year-old daughter. Now he’s standing in the rain at his old elementary school, and his daughter’s teacher, Mr. Hathaway, is lecturing him about punctuality.
Adam Hathaway is not looking for love. He’s learned the hard way to keep his personal and professional life separate. But Kyle is struggling and needs a friend, and Adam wants to be that friend. He just needs to ignore his growing attraction to Kyle’s goofy charm, because acting on it would mean breaking all the rules that protect his heart.
Putting down roots in this town again is not Kyle’s plan. As soon as he can, he’s taking his daughter and her princess costumes and moving on. The more time he spends with Adam, though, the more he thinks the quiet teacher might give him a reason to stay. Now he just has to convince Adam to take a chance on a bigger future than either of them could have planned.
Welcome to The Pick Up’s blog tour, presented by Allison Temple and Riptide Publishing! The Pick Up is Book 1 in the Up Red Creek series. This cozy small-town romance tells the story of single dad Kyle, who moves back to his hometown with his princess-obsessed six-year-old daughter Caroline. He doesn’t expect them to stay long, until he meets Adam, Caroline’s too-hot and too-serious teacher.
Shopping for Shannon only took twenty minutes online. Kyle found a gift set, no doubt a new release since the movie had been spun out into a TV show too. It was a too-convenient ploy to separate doting parents from their money. The set was complete with all the dolls and the Princess’s jungle tree hut. Caroline assured him that it was . He pretended not to see the wistfulness on her face when he showed her the picture of the giant tree fort. A toy like that would earn him at least a month’s worth of Dad Points if he bought it for her, but the total cost was more than Kyle’s income that week, and maybe the week after too. Enough of Shannon’s money spent though, and shipping was guaranteed to arrive, wrapped, to the birthday girl’s house by noon the following day, so at least one little girl would be happy.
He was pulling a lentil loaf out of the oven when his dad got home from work.
A month into his return to Red Creek, and Kyle still wasn’t used to how much older his dad had gotten since Kyle had gone away to college. His thinning hair had turned silver where it had once been a soft brown. The strain of the last few years had etched new lines in his face that were visible all the time, and not only when he laughed or frowned. His shirt stretched over a gut that balanced precariously on his belt.
“That smells amazing,” he said.
Kyle grinned. “Bet you say that to all the girls. The kale will be ready in five minutes.”
“Kale?” His father’s expression clouded.
“You liked it last time, Dad. You’re worse than Caroline sometimes.”
His dad smiled, the way he always did when Kyle said his daughter’s name. “It amazes me that you know how to make all these things. Did you at least make mashed potatoes?”
“Yes, Dad. And if you eat it all, you can have two scoops of ice cream instead of one for dessert.”
“Can I have two scoops of ice cream?” Caroline asked as she wandered into the kitchen.
“We’ll see.” Kyle meant , but he knew she’d take it as . It was a trap he fell into less lately. “Go wash your hands. We’re going to have dinner.”
Ten minutes later, the Fenton clan, all three of them, were circled around the small kitchen table.
“So how was school today?” Kyle’s dad asked Caroline.
“Good.” Caroline pushed her lentils around her plate. “Daddy was late to pick me up, and Mr. Hathaway was mad.”
Kyle wondered at his daughter’s ability to always zero in on the details he least wanted to talk about. Hadn’t anything notable happened at recess?
“Mr. Hathaway was mad?” his father said.
“Yes. Because he got all wet and Daddy was supposed to call to say he was going to be late, but he didn’t and that made Mr. Hathaway angry, but he said it was unfor . . . unfor . . . What did he say, Daddy?”
“Unforeseen and so it was okay. And then Daddy said Mr. Hathaway was hot.”
A mouthful of mashed potatoes lodged itself in Kyle’s throat, and he choked.
“Are you okay?” Caroline asked. He tried to smile, but that seemed to make it harder to breathe somehow. His eyes watered and he flailed, knocking over Caroline’s juice cup as he reached for his own drink. Caroline leaned over to pat him on the back, and Kyle gave a weak smile and wobbly thumbs-up. His dad appeared next to him, with a cloth to wipe up the spilled juice. Caroline kept patting him, her little hands becoming increasingly forceful, although they didn’t cover enough area to really make any difference. Eventually he held up a hand and gulped down big swigs of water from his glass.
“Sorry. I’m okay, Bean.” He smiled at her and wiped his eyes with a napkin. Her lower lip wobbled, so he pulled her onto his lap and buried his face in her hair. The smell of his daughter, warm bread and a hint of sweetness from her No Tangles shampoo, was one of his favorite things.
“Well, I think that’s pretty much it for dinner, don’t you?” his father said as he came back to the table. “Caroline, how about we watch a movie tonight?”
“!” Caroline shrieked as she scrambled from Kyle’s lap. “Come on, Grandpa!”
He smiled at her. “Why don’t you go get it set up? I’ll be right in.” As he glanced at Kyle, the expression on his face said . Kyle had seen that pointed glint in his eye so many times over the course of his life, and it almost never boded well for him.
The two men sat in silence at the table while they listened to Caroline’s little feet thump toward the den.
“You’re going to rot her brain if you keep suggesting after-dinner TV,” Kyle said when he heard the TV turn on. “Aren’t I supposed to be signing her up for endless cello and tennis lessons?”
“Kyle.” His dad was apparently unwilling to be distracted by the idea of his only granddaughter as a prodigy. “I’m not sure that telling your daughter you’re attracted to her first-grade teacher is the best way to get settled here.”
Kyle rolled his eyes and sighed. “I’m not attracted to him, Dad. I was simply stating an empirical fact. It was nothing.”
“It’s not nothing if she’s bringing it up at dinner.”
“It was nothing. Although if you’d seen him, you’d know I’m not wrong.” Kyle smiled and waited for his father’s returning smile at the joke. It didn’t happen.
“That’s not the point. Your daughter has lost her mother, and you don’t want to confuse her about . . .” His father’s brow creased as he searched for words, showing those worried lines Kyle didn’t remember again.
“Please, Dad, spare me. I’m not going to do anything stupid. My daughter’s ogre of a teacher gave me a lecture for being late, and I wanted to lighten the mood afterwards. I didn’t mean it and Caroline knows that. We play around all the time,” he said. When his father grimaced, Kyle sighed and tried a softer approach. “If it will make you feel better, I’ll tell her I wasn’t serious about it, but trust me. I know my kid. In an hour, any thoughts of hot Mr. Hathaway will be replaced by Princess Amazonia and her jungle friends, and nothing else will matter.”
On cue, Caroline’s voice called from the other room.
“Grandpa, it’s starting! You’re going to miss it!”
“There’s popcorn in the cupboard if you want it.” Kyle stood to collect their plates.
“It’s not the all-natural crap you bought last week, is it?”
“Yes, it is. Fake popcorn butter is all chemicals. I don’t want Caroline eating that.”
His dad rolled his eyes. It was a Fenton trait, passed down through generations.
“Grandpa!” Caroline called again.
About Allison Temple
Allison Temple is a romance writer from Toronto, Ontario. She lives with her very patient husband and the world’s neediest cat. Her debut, The Pick Up, will be published by Riptide Publishing in 2018.
Allison has been writing since the second grade, when she wrote a short story about a girl and her horse. Her grandmother typed it out for her and said she’d never seen so many quotation marks from a seven-year-old before. Allison’s fascination with the way characters speak and communicate with each other in novels has not diminished in the ensuing thirtyish years.
Despite living in Canada’s largest city for more than a decade, Allison’s fiction writing draws inspiration from her small-town roots. Originally from Brockville, Ontario, she knows what it’s like to live in a place where nothing is more than a ten-minute drive away, and you’ll see everyone you know on Saturday morning at the farmers’ market. Her first job was selling coffee and making sandwiches at a bakery that has been family owned for over a hundred years. She was once given an award for “most improved tomato slicer.”
Since that early professional start, Allison has been, at various times, an odor lab technician, environmental consultant, corporate proposal writer, and marketing manager. She fills her free time with writing, community theater stage management, and traveling to destinations with good wine.
Allison came late to reading and writing romance novels. She didn’t read her first one until she was twenty-six years old, but it has been a landslide since then. She loves LGBT romance for the stories it tells and the characters it brings to life. She is very excited to be joining the circle of passionate and talented authors in the genre, and credits Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton for introducing her to it.
Connect with Allison:
- Blog: allisontempleblog.wordpress.com
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/allisontemplebooks/
- Twitter: twitter.com/allitemplebooks
To celebrate the release of The Pick Up, one lucky winner will receive a $25 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on March 10, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!