Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Walk Away with Me by Darby Davenport (Guest Post, Excerpt, Review, Give away)

I'd like to welcome romance author, Darby Davenport, to the my blog today as part of the celebration for the launch her new novella, Walk Away with Me. You may know Darby under her other pen name, Emlyn Chand

A man with a painful past, a woman who fears commitment, and a dog with only one more chance at life--together, can they find love?

What is Charlie Rockwell supposed to do when the sad Rottweiler's eyes connect with hers through the TV screen and work their way straight into her heart? She adopts him without a second thought or the slightest knowledge how to take care of the large, needy dog with the traumatic past.

Ethan Porter is not happy when a savage Rottweiler picks a fight with his mild-mannered Golden Retriever at the dog park. But his anger quickly dissipates when tears begin to form behind the eyes of the dog's beautiful owner--eyes that are far too familiar for his liking. Disregarding his instincts, Ethan can't deny her plea when she asks him to teach her the basics of dog ownership.

Can he ignore the fact that she bears a strong resemblance to his ex and finally learn to trust again? Will she find committing to both man and dog more exciting than the freedom of a single, unrestrained life?

Walk Away with Me is just $2.99 for the eBook and $9.95 for the paperback. Here are all the links you'll need: Amazon USAmazon UKBarnes & NobleSmashwordsKobo BooksGoodReads.
"Lovable characters, compelling plot, and an exciting twist that will leave you on the edge of your seat as Charlie and Ethan find their happily-ever-after." ~ Lucy Kevin, New York Times bestselling author of THE WEDDING KISS


Darby Davenport
 Darby Davenport never believed in love--that is, until it happened to her. Now she's a firm believer that every story is a love story, and has taken to writing out her favorite romantic fantasies and sharing them with the world.

Darby, who also writes young adult and children's fiction under the pen name Emlyn Chand, lives in suburban Detroit with her own personal soul mate--fellow writer, Falcon Storm--and private zoo, which includes a music-loving Sun Conure, hyper-active Golden Retriever, and two scrappy little rescue mutts.

You can connect with her at www.DarbyDavenport.com.

When I post guest posts and reviews, I sometimes find myself following an old, but familiar routine - book blurb, author bio, excerpt, etc. When I read the guest post that Darby wrote, I decided to mix it up and bring it to the top of the page. I was that touched by it. You will see after reading it, why I think that maybe she was destined to write romance. I think you will agree. 

A Guest Post by Darby Davenport

Learning to Believe in Happily-Ever-Afters

I've never been a girly girl. As a child, I preferred bugs to dolls and books to dresses. Yeah, I'm not that much different as an adult, either. As my life experience invariably grew year after year, I found myself becoming embittered, cynical, and suffering a bad case of the mully grubs. A string of failed relationships followed by a failed marriage is enough to turn even the warmest heart to ice, and I was no exception.

In the summer of 2012, I found myself moving to a new house in a new town to start my new single life. I was fully prepared to live out the rest of my days as a spinster recluse and had no doubt that one day neighborhood children would think I'm some kind of evil witch and thus be too afraid to even walk past my house.

Oh, well. At least I had my pets, my writing, and an active social life... on Facebook. That would be enough, right?


Sometimes rock bottom is a good place to be. As those annoyingly optimistic people like to say, "You can only go up from here." For once, they were actually right about something.

So I met a guy. A pretty great guy, actually. And I did everything in my power to friend-zone him. How rarely things go according to plan.

We grew closer and closer through a string of Facebook conversations, then started spending some time together in the real world. It didn't take me long to see that he was a genuinely kind man who liked me for who I am—warts and all.

My mind was blown.

After a month of chatting online, we spent a 4-day weekend together in constant company. At the conclusion of which, we shared our first kiss. Well, that was the end of my resistance to love. He practically moved in then and there, and we officially started living together within a month. Two months later, we snuck off and eloped in a beautiful ceremony in the park that was made even more special because it was just for us.

As of today, we've been together for nearly 7 months—more of it married than not. And you know what? I'm deliriously happy. Neither of us thinks we're worthy of the love the other gives, which makes us absolutely perfect for each other. While we do in fact live real life together—chores, financial decisions, and serious talks about the future—we also still whisper sweet nothings, slow dance in the living room, hold hands, and find special ways to express the love that's just bursting from both of our hearts.

What changed? How did I go from a future of certain spinsterhood to a love zealot?

I just happened to meet the right person. It seems so simple, yet so immensely difficult. If such a thing as soul mates exists, then we have—what?—a 1 in 3.5 billion chance of meeting our perfect other? I never believed it could happen for me... until it did and at the absolutely perfect time, might I add.

I learned to believe in happily-ever-after when I met and married the embodiment of mine. I love you, Falcon!


Read the First Chapter of Walk Away with Me


The scrawny Rottweiler's eyes connected with Charlie's through the TV screen, begging her to save him.

What if nobody else calls in? What if I'm his last chance at finding a home? Well, crap. I can't just let him die. She grabbed her cell phone, called the local news station hosting the adoptable pets segment, and signed on the dotted line. Not once did she think she might be making a mistake. Not once did she consider the fact she'd been unable to commit to a man—or even a roommate—longer than two measly months.
And now she planned to commit to a one-year-old canine coming straight from a neglected past?
Well, adventure had certainly found her, whether she'd asked for it or not.

The rescue volunteers didn't ask many questions before inviting her to visit the kennel and come pick him up. If they had, maybe she'd have changed her mind.

She might have seen this as a move with the potential of becoming the biggest mistake of her entire life. 
Worse than the time she'd left mid-semester her junior year to travel to India in search of the answer to life. 
Worse than the time she'd got so caught up in the cinematic excitement of V for Vendetta she'd shaved her head in homage. Even worse than the time she'd practically eloped with a guy she'd only dated three weeks, because it seemed like a good and wildly romantic idea at the time.
At least she'd talked herself out of that one.

But what good did escaping one bad decision do her, if she'd just replaced it with another by committing herself to a strange dog for, at minimum, the next ten years?

Charlie took a deep breath and gripped the steering wheel until her knuckles turned white. No going back now. She may have been impulsive, but she had a heart, damn it, and she wouldn't abandon a dog no one else wanted in the first place. Definitely too late to change her mind at this point. "Now or never," she said to the hula dancer figurine on her dashboard before grabbing her purse and slamming the car door behind her.

"Oh, you must be Charlotte Rockwell." A volunteer with a sloppy button-up shirt and a way-too-large smile greeted her the second she entered the shelter.

She nodded, pretending her feet were one million pound weights gluing her to the linoleum floor below—the only way she'd be able to avoid making a break for it.

"I'm Angela. Come on and follow me to the back." Her oversized smile grew even larger as she turned and trotted toward the back of the building.

Charlie's eyes darted to the floor to check if Angela's shoes sported actual springs.

"I'm sure Ruby told you everything you need to know when she stopped by for the home check, right?"

She nodded, even though she didn't have the slightest idea who Ruby was. The woman certainly hadn't been by her house for a visit.

"Perfect! Rugby's such a sweet boy once you get to know him. I'm so glad he's finally found a good home. You must be thrilled."

'Once you get to know him?' What does that mean? She was this close to changing her mind and dashing straight out of there, but when they pushed through the large metal door to the kennel, Rugby glanced up at her with those same sad eyes that had melted her heart in the first place.
She was screwed.

"Hi, Rugby," Angela cooed in a goochy-goo voice. "Look who it is. Your new mommy's come to take you home. Who's a good boy? Yes, you are."

Charlie sank to a squatting position and stuck her index finger through the metal fencing.

Rugby stretched and raised himself into a sitting position. He sniffed her hand delicately and gave her a huge sloppy lick.

"Oh, see. You two are perfect! Best buds already," Angela squealed. She rattled off a litany of instructions, shoved the folder of paperwork into one hand, and the leash to Charlie's new 115-pound baby in the other, and together dog and woman headed home.


Ethan stifled a laugh as he watched the petite blonde tear into the dog park at the end of her Rottweiler's leash. Hardly three seconds passed as they sprinted from the parking lot to the first entry gate.

When the girl unhitched the second entry gate, her dog ran away at lightning speed, not even allowing her to remove his leash. Her eyes darted from side to side as if to make sure nobody had witnessed the mishap.
Luckily, Ethan looked away before she could catch him staring. He allowed his gaze to settle on her again as she ran after her squatting dog with a plastic baggie cupped over her hand.

Despite the circumstances, she was beautiful. Blonde hair escaped from her pony tail and clung to her cheeks in tendrils. Her delicate lips and nose were balanced by huge brown eyes and thick lashes. She almost reminded him of....

He snapped his attention away. Couldn't be thinking like that. Not today. He needed a distraction, and fast.

His golden retriever jogged over and nuzzled Ethan's thigh.

"Good boy." As he scratched the dog's head, he sensed her eyes on him, but he refused to look—refused to give her any reason to come over and attempt to start a conversation. When had he become such a bitter old man?

He was hardly thirty—way too young to write off the opposite sex altogether. He should still be in his party phase, flirting with any pretty girl who happened to look his way, taking as many of them to bed as possible. 
But, no, he wasn't like that—even though he often wished he was. Would have saved him the heartache of....

He grabbed the ball Tuck had dropped at his feet and hurled it toward the horizon as hard as he could. The dog raced after it in a blur of golden fur and pounding feet.

Too late, he noticed the massive black blur moving in on the ball from the opposite side of the park.

"Rugby, no!" the blonde girl screamed, but her reprimand fell on deaf ears.

The two dogs reached the single ball at the exact same time. The Rottweiler bared his teeth, a low growl emanating from his throat, but Tuck wouldn't back down. The poor dog didn't even realize what was about to happen. Why would he? He'd never run into such an aggressive, undertrained beast before.

Tuck barked an invitation for the other dog to play, and Ethan took off running to save his poor, over-trusting pet from the inevitable fight.

The hairs on the back of the Rottweiler's back bristled. His growl grew louder, more defined. And he lunged at the unsuspecting Retriever.

"Rugby, no!" the girl screamed again as she, too, raced toward the scene.

Tuck whimpered and ran back to Ethan, but the other dog slinked after him with a predatory gait.
"Hey, lady. How about controlling your dog?" he spat.

The blonde grabbed the end of the leash that was still attached to her dog and pulled him back. "I'm so sorry. I...." A sudden onslaught of tears overwhelmed her attempt to speak.

Great. Now Ethan felt like a bigger monster than her damned dog. "Hey, it's okay. Tuck's just fine. No harm done." He patted the dog's head and turned toward the other side of the park, but before he could gain much distance, she spoke again.

"Really, I'm sorry. I've only had Rugby for a few days, and I don't really have any experience with dogs. I thought if I brought him here, I'd see how more experienced people act with their dogs. Maybe learn a thing two." She sniffed back a tear and stared up at him with large, brown eyes—far too familiar for his liking.

Why did she get such a difficult breed if she knows nothing about taking care of a dog? Ethan wondered. Still, he felt like he should offer something helpful before parting ways. "Good luck with your training. Try watching The Dog Whisperer if you have time."

His hold on her eyes broke when Rugby stood on his hind legs to lick the tears from his owner's face.

She chuckled and gently pushed the Rottweiler back on all fours, then wiped the slobber from her cheeks with the backs of her hands. Turning serious again, she said, "Thanks, I will, but... I just don't know what to do. I'm his last chance. The shelter had him for weeks. He even appeared on the adoptable pet segment of the news three separate times. Nobody wanted him except me. If I can't make it work, I'm practically signing his death warrant."

Ethan frowned. What could he say to that?

"Hey, your dog is really well-behaved. Maybe you can help us?"

Crap. He didn't want to spend time with a girl who reminded him way too much of the woman who'd turned him off love altogether, but at the same time, he couldn't refuse if it meant saving the dog's life.

"I—I'll pay. I'll pay whatever it takes. Only, please help us." She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and offered a weak smile.

"Okay, sure," he gave in. "And don't worry, you don't have to pay me anything." He didn't return her smile. He couldn't let her think he was doing this for any other reason than to save the dog.

"Oh, thank you. Thank you so much!" She wrapped her arms around him in a tight hug. "You have no idea how much you're helping me. Thank you, thank you, thank you."

Warmth spread through Ethan's body. He took a deep breath and let his arms go slack. She's just a girl, he reminded himself. Just a girl.

"I'm Charlotte by the way. Friends call me Charlie." She released him from the hug and tucked a strand of hair behind her other ear.

"Ethan." He drew a business card from his wallet. "Call me, and we'll set something up."

As soon as she accepted the card, he retreated to the other side of the park and tried not to think about how her touch had stirred something deep within him. A girl. Just a girl.


An interview with Darby Davenport

You're fairly well known as a YA author, why did you decide to start writing romance as well?

My life-long love affair with reading knows no bounds. I find it hard to write in only one genre when I enjoy reading so many. While I plan to right much more YA (I have to finish the Farsighted series, after all), I'm also drawn to romance in particular. Who doesn't love a happy ending that leaves the reader feeling warm and cozy? My cheerful romances help to counterbalance my dark and brooding YA. Together, they form the complete picture of who I am as an author. I wouldn't trade either for the world!

What are you doing differently with one pen name versus the other? Are you worried that the two different names will fracture your author identity?

It's definitely scary starting all over with a new pen name. I have 9 books out as Emlyn Chand, and this is just my first as Darby. YIKES! My publisher and I decided it would be best for me to take on this new romance alias to protect my younger readers from accidentally picking up a book they shouldn't be reading. My Bird Brain Book series is for readers ages 3 and up, while Walk Away with Me is really only for the 18+ crowd.
At first it was difficult figuring out where Emlyn ended and Darby began, but now I've really started getting into the whole multiple personalities thing. Yes, I have to start over with my author brand, but on the other hand... I get to start over! I've learned so much since first releasing Farsighted back in October 2011. I now have the opportunity to do everything better, stronger, faster. Maybe the lessons I learned as Emlyn will unlock a higher success for Darby. I don't know what the future holds, but I'm so excited to find out!

What is your favorite thing about the romance genre?

The idea that no matter how bad things get, everyone in entitled to a happily-ever-after.

You dedicated Walk Away with Me first to your dogs and then to your husband—why?

As much as I love my husband, this book really was written for the dogs. The two dogs in the book are modeled after our three dogs at home. My Lhasa Apso, Rugby, played a huge role in my love story with my husband. In fact, during our early days dating, Rugby would get so upset when Falcon wasn't around that he refused to eat, to play, to do anything but mope around and try to electrocute himself by chewing on cables. True story!
Dogs are such loving, intelligent creatures, and it breaks my heart that so many of them are without homes. Walk Away with Me isn't just an opus dedicated to my dogs but to all rescue dogs. There's even a special section in the back of the book where I talk about my lovable mutts, how they came to me, and why everyone should consider giving one of these wonderful animals a second chance at life.

What kind of reader will enjoy Walk Away with Me?

Obviously, I primarily had a female audience in mind, but if fellas are willing to give it a chance, I think they'll find Charlie is a woman they can get behind. Lovers of animals, nature, Thai food, and Cesar Milan will also enjoy the story :-)


My Review

I really enjoyed Darby's first crack at writing romance. It had a great story line and being a novella, a very fast moving story line. Sometimes, that's a good thing. We don't always have a load of time to spend enjoying the chase and the beautiful scenery along the way. We have just enough time to jump in there for a couple of hours for some love and jump back out. That is why you will love this novella.

Walk Away with Me gives us wonderful characters who have seen the worst side of love and aren't too sure they want to risk their hearts again. It has great scenery and a quick chase with love at the end. Oh! And it has dogs! So...follow one of the links and find yourself a little bit of love for the afternoon. You'll be glad you did.

Review & Retail Links:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer / Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book with no obligation for a positive review. No compensation - monetary or in kind - has been obtained for this post. Cover art and book description courtesy of the author, publisher, or PR firm. 

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  1. Very fine. The interview is helpful and reads like a how to, in a way, for branching off, for solving the issue of younger readers and new, more sophisticated characters. Good questions. I like too, how you picked up on the pacing. Important distinction and good for potential readers to know.

    I just posted a poem and photo for the ten year anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq. It occurs to me, I should have included a journaling question for readers who also write. I usually do that. Have you? Do you think your readers would find it helpful--or that it would dilute your purposes here? I've read in a few articles about blogging that questions requiring some sort of thought, action, or response, tend to engage the reader. I try to include relevant prompts--it's not just blogging, it's Creativity 101. I must go back and insert a few.

    Thank you for the fine post. Your usual great work. Peace,



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