Monday, October 13, 2014
Informed Risk by Robyn Carr
In Informed Risk, Chris Palmer is a hard working, divorced mom of two little kids. They are living in a run down house while she works days at the grocery store and writes a novel at night. The furnace starts a fire in the house on the first cold night of the fall. Chris gets the kids out of the house and into the car where they will be safe. But she remembers the laptop and all her hard work on the book. She runs back into the house and gathers her stuff and throws it into the refrigerator. On her way out, she passes out a bit. Then a fireman rescues her. The house is burnt to the ground. Since it was during the night she was only wearing a shirt and panties. What are they going to do? Chris has about $12 in the bank. They have no where to go.
Mike Cavanaugh is the fireman that rescued her. He offers the little family his house to stay in. Chris wonders what he wants from her. He stays at the firehouse most of the time and he can stay with his parents on his days off. Gradually, they get to know one another. Her kids love him and he likes being around them. Will they become a couple? Chris has a past that she does not talk a lot about. Mike had a family but they died in a car accident ten years ago. Is he trying to replace them?
In A Hero For Sophie Jones, Sophie runs Mountain Star, a vacation getaway on a ranch. It was owned by some teachers but they sold it to a corporation in LA. She has a lease on 5 acres for the next ten years so she is not worried. One night a man shows up. For Sophie it is love at first sight. Sinclair Riker is the owner of the land. He has come to throw her off. But he is drawn to Sophie. He never gets around to telling her the truth of why he is in the area. The first night they have amazing sex. They cannot get enough of each other. Everything is going pretty well until his ex shows up and tells Sophie the truth. What will she do?
Chris heard a loud thump. The furnace had turned on: soon warmth would begin to flow through the rickety little house. She wrinkled her nose, then remembered that heaters always smelled of burning dust and soot the first day they operated. She returned her fingers to the laptop keys, and her concentration to the last chapter of her story about a twelve-year-old boy named Jake. After seven rewrites, Jake was finally about to enjoy some resolution to the previous 122 pages of pubescent tribulation he'd suffered in his first year of junior high school.
This was her fourth attempt at a young adult novel, and Chris knew she was getting closer. Of earlier attempts editors had used such words as brisk, lively, smooth. Also words such as awkward, unresolved, clumsy in places.
She stopped typing and wrinkled her nose again. Should it smell that bad? She had asked the landlord if the furnace should be serviced or cleaned before she set the thermostat, but he'd assured her it was fine. Of course, he said everything was fine, and this old rat-trap was anything but. To be fair, she had never actually seen a rat, but she had swept up plenty of suspicious little pebbles, which she assumed were mouse turds. The traps she set, however, remained--thank you, God--abandoned.
She and the children had made do with oven heat until now, waiting as long as possible before turning on central heat. Utility bills were hard on a Christmas budget, and, when you got right down to it, hers was hardly a budget. But the temperature might drop to freezing tonight, and sleeping bags alone wouldn't keep the kids warm.
She looked at the kitchen clock. Nearly midnight. Her eyes were scratchy, but tonight she was determined to finish the last chapter. To be published...finally? Much of this great push, she had to admit, was for Jake himself, a great kid who deserved a resolution that was not awkward or clumsy in places. As did she.
As for publishing, the responses she collected had been consistently more encouraging, asking her to send future work. "Write what you know," a writing instructor had advised. Chris certainly knew what it was like to be twelve, to be struggling for self-reliance while simultaneously fighting feelings of incompetence. She knew this dilemma even better at twenty-seven.
The shrill siren of the smoke detector interrupted her musings. The sound wrapped strangling fingers around her heart and squeezed. Stunned, she looked up from the gridlock of library books, photocopied magazine articles and her laptop on the kitchen table. Through the kitchen door, her wide eyes quickly scanned the little living room with its two beanbag chairs, old television, clutter of secondhand toys and card table littered with the remnants of the macaroni-and-cheese dinner she had given the kids hours earlier.
And there, from the floor vents in the living room, poured smoke.
She bolted from the chair, fairly leaped to turn off the thermostat and raced into her kids' room. She grabbed one in each arm--five-year-old Carrie and three-year-old Kyle.
"There's a fire in the house," she said, hustling them through the thick smoke and toward the door. "We have to get outside, quick." As she rushed past the smoking vents, she prayed the situation wasn't as grim as it looked. Maybe it was only dirt? Soot? Dead bugs? But she didn't pause in her flight out the front door.
Only when they were safely outside did she stop to take stock of her predicament. The neighborhood was dark. Even in broad daylight it left something to be desired; at night it seemed almost threatening. There was not so...
Published: 2013 for this edition