Drummer Micah Sullivan lost his music and his dreams when his wife died unexpectedly. In the emotional aftermath, he quit his successful country band and pushed away his family and friends. Three years later, he’s opened a music shop on Hale Street in Nashville and tells himself he’s content trying to make it a hit. What he failed to consider is that success requires connections—including the very ones he turned his back on.
Sloan McGuire is up for a new challenge…never realizing it might lead to heartbreak. When she takes a job as entertainment manager at a bar not known for its music, she doesn’t bargain for running into Micah, whose late wife was her best friend. She can tell within minutes that he’s still grieving. Out of love for her friend, she attempts to reconnect with the reclusive drummer. Falling for him isn’t in the plans, though—not only because he was married to her friend but because she’s been second-best before, and she never wants to play that role again.
As Micah starts finding his rhythm, life throws him a different beat. But with a little improvisation and a lot of courage, he just might tap into the one and only connection he needs.
Amy Knupp is the author of contemporary romance, a freelance copy editor for Blue Otter Editing, and a freelance technical writer. While the collection of professional hats she wears sounds a bit scattered and broad, the common thread among all of them (perhaps the little ball on top of each hat) is the written word. She loves words and grammar and meaty, engrossing stories with complex characters.
Amy lives in Wisconsin with her husband, two teenage sons, four cats, and two box turtles. She graduated from the University of Kansas with degrees in French and journalism. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, breaking up cat fights, watching college hoops, and annoying her family by correcting their grammar.
How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
Micah Sullivan, the hero, showed up in my first book in the series (Sweet Spot) wanting to rent space for a music store on Hale Street. Whenever a new character is mentioned in a scene, I go to Pinterest and find inspiration for the character so I can better describe him or her. The photo I found of Micah is (of course) hot, but in it, he’s not happy, and that got my imagination going. Why isn’t he happy? (Turns out his wife died unexpectedly three years ago.) He’s also wearing a hood in it, and that led me to think about why he might be “hiding.” (In a nutshell, grief, sadness, and a little bit of guilt.) His journey drives the story, so in this case, the picture was sort of worth 75,000 words.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
The Hale Street series is a multi-author series I’m writing with two of my best friends, Emily Leigh and Natasha Lake. While each story is stand-alone, we collaborate constantly on the setting and character crossover, and the collaboration is the very best part. The synergy the three of us have makes writing kind of magical, even on the hard days. If I’m struggling with a plot point, my girls are all over it with me because they know my characters almost as well as I do. Plus we do girls’ writing retreat weekends a few times a year and a weeklong private writing retreat in a lake cottage each summer. Not only is it great for the writing but it’s soul time.
What gave you the most trouble with this story?
It was a challenge to take Micah from a grieving, hiding-from-life man to a happy, in-love one. You can’t rush grief. Further complicating things was that his heroine, Sloan, was his wife’s best friend. That’s not the main conflict between them, but I couldn’t gloss over it either.
What 5 things should readers know about you?
1. ONE AND ONLY is my 18th published book and my favorite one (at least today!)
2. I have four cats and have told my husband he can never leave me or I’ll be a cat lady.
3. Making decisions is often excruciating for me. I can weigh pros and cons until my eyes cross.
4. I have an obsession with office products—pens, Post-its, pretty notebooks, gel pens, colored binder clips, penguin-shaped paper clips…
5. I live in Wisconsin, the cheese state, but I can’t eat dairy. Before that, I lived in Kansas, the wheat state, but I can’t eat gluten.
What do you like best about being a writer? What is the most challenging part?
This might be revealing my inner geekiness, but I love the psychology aspect of writing two people who fall in love. When two people come together with an assortment of baggage, you’ve got a lot of stuff to work through, and I love the puzzle of it all and figuring out how the pieces go together. I love it especially after the hard part’s all done!
What do you do when you are not writing?
Work-wise, I’m a full-time freelance copyeditor, so I read all day every day (and correct grammar, etc. to my OCD heart’s content). I get to read/edit just about every genre/sub-genre imaginable, though more than half my projects are romance. Tough job but somebody has to do it! I feel blessed that I can say honestly I love what I do. Between freelancing, which can mean working weekends and holidays, and raising two teenage boys with my husband, I manage to maintain a fairly high level of crazy.
Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
I don’t know a lot yet because I’m in the early stages of writing it, but my next book, out this summer, is a novella about two characters from ONE AND ONLY. Lena Kessler is the oldest of four sisters and the only one still single. She longs for love and babies like the rest of her family has. Former NHL player Ash McGuire is the last person who could give her what she dreams of but the only one she wants.
His eyes were closed, and he was … lost in the music. No question about it.
He wore headphones, so whatever song he was playing to, she couldn’t hear, and he was jamming out hard enough that his hair was flopping all over the place. His whole body was in action as his sticks flew from one element to another. It seemed wild and out of control and … God, so sexy.
Sloan frowned at the thought, intended to get his attention and put an end to her private ogling session, but she couldn’t make herself do it quite yet. Because she was riveted by the sight. The expressions on his face, so animated, so full of feeling. The way his biceps flexed and rippled, partially visible beneath his T-shirt sleeves. His hands, in command of two thin wooden sticks, able to make such powerful, moving music. It was just percussion, but she felt it in her chest. The beats, yes, but also the emotion. And Micah himself.