Tell us a little about this book.The second book in my “Oklahoma Girls’ series is The Husband She Can’t Forget. Carly Joslin is reluctantly reunited with her ex-husband, Luke Sanderson, who arrives at her organic gardening operation to deliver something she has inherited from his late grandmother. Carly also learns that he is going to be using the property next to hers for an oil extraction operation that could threaten her gardens and the life she has built since their painful breakup.
What made you want to write this book?My parents were native Oklahomans and I still have many relatives there so it has a fond place in my heart. The oil business has been big in the state since the 1800’s, but methods of oil extraction are changing now and some have caused environmental damage. I thought it would be interesting to make this part of the conflict between Carly and Luke, who married far too young, only to see their marriage dissolve. I enjoyed creating a story in which two people meet again and find that the person they once knew has changed completely.
Can you share an excerpt?“So, tell me,” Carly said, studying Luke’s solemn face.
“At my aunt and uncle’s barbecue, I mentioned buying property. I bought the property next door.”
“Next door?” Carly frowned. “Next to Tom and Frances? Are you going into the cattle business?”
“No, next door to you.”
“What?” She stared at him, not quite able to take in what he was saying. “You can’t mean the Withers’ place?” She jerked a thumb in that direction. “Why?”
“It has certain…aspects I need.”
“Aspects? You mean rocks? There’re plenty of those next door. But I’ve got news for you—there’s no door, or anything else over there. Not even a shed or a shack where you could a door.”
“Um, I know.”
“Why on earth would you want it?” She rubbed her forehead, trying to make sense of this. “The soil’s so poor and rocky a goat couldn’t survive on it. You can’t grow grass on it to graze cattle. The only thing that place has going for it is the stream that empties onto my land, right below my apple trees, which has long since brought most of the topsoil with it.” She held her hands up, shoulder height. “And if this rain keeps up, I’ll have the rest of the topsoil by July. That’s why Martin Withers couldn’t sell the place after his dad died and the county condemned the house and outbuildings. It’s worthless.”
“Yes, completely, unless…” She paused, trying to remember what someone had mentioned recently about the land. “Except I heard there was an offer from someone who wanted it for—”
“My uncle bought it.”
“Tom? I thought it was purchased by a group of hunters looking for private land to hunt deer and birds.”
“They were interested, but Tom bought it for the same reason and sold it to me.”
Now Carly’s mouth dropped open. None of this made sense. “For hunting? Since when did you become a hunter? You never shot a gun, except at a carnival. You never wanted to kill anything. People change, Luke, but I can’t believe you changed that much.”
Luke shook his head. “I didn’t, Carly. I haven’t. I’m not interested in hunting or in topsoil. I’m not a farmer. I’ve got another project in mind.”
“Another project? What kind? I’m telling you, nothing can grow there. It’s only shale and…”
Eyes wide, her face draining of color, she stared at him. “Is that it? The shale?”
Horrifying thoughts turned over and over in her mind. “For fracturing shale to get out the oil? Fracking? Luke, you can’t do that. You must know about all the problems it’s caused. Besides, it’s never been considered worthwhile in this part of Reston County.”
“I do, but—”
“Earthquakes, polluted water.” She threw her hands wide. “My place is downstream from you. I use well water on my plants. It will ruin my gardens, my apple trees. My livelihood. This is an organic garden, Luke. I’ve worked hard to get it established. Do you have any idea how many tons of topsoil I’ve bought, hauled and spread? It’s taken me years to get this place established. This could ruin me.”
“I know that, Carly. I’m not trying to ruin your land.”
“Oh, it could simply be an unintended consequence? That makes me feel a lot better.”
“Carly, calm down. It’s not like that.”
Panic pushed at her as her mind conjured images of parched crops and blackened fields. Breathing hard, she tried to get her rage and disappointment under control. “If it’s not fracking to get out the natural gas, what is it?”
What’s up next for you?There are two more books in the Oklahoma Girls series. The third book in the series, His Twin Baby Surprise will be available in May 2017.
Patricia Forsythe is the author of twenty-five books for Harlequin, with many more to come. She loves creating stories with interesting characters and happy endings.