Take it away, Jennifer!
Let’s talk names!
Maybe it’s because I was given the most common name of my generation – Jennifer – but I’m obsessed with names. In my 3rd grade science unit, I named my mealworms Genevieve, Colette and Marie-Claire, as if they’d just stepped off the plane from Paris. Now that I’m an author, I spend a ridiculous amount of time figuring out my characters’ names. Since people don’t name themselves, I actually spend time thinking about my heroes’ parents, and why they would choose one name over another. Is it a family name? Something more fanciful? What’s its meaning? What does it represent to the proud new parents?
So … Caleb and Sadie from ALL OF ME. Why? Caleb was easy, and for once I didn’t overthink it. A friend’s daughter sent us a “save the date” magnet for her wedding to a man named Caleb. Every time I opened the fridge, I’d see “Caleb,” and I didn’t get sick of it. I figured that was a good sign for writing a book in which I’d have to see the name hundreds of times.
Sadie was tougher. Her original name was “Rowena” because I had conceived her mother as overly romantic. But her family backstory changed completely, her mother became more of an abandoned depressive, and Rowena no longer made sense. I searched hard for a name that would appeal to a woman who’d had an affair with a salesman, who was about to become a single parent, who worked at Kroger and loved reading about celebrity culture. Sadie popped into my mind from the Beatles song (Sexy Sadie), and right away it felt right.
When I looked it up and discovered it meant “Princess,” I knew it was perfect. Of course Brenda Merritt would look at her daughter as a princess, hoping her cheating out-of-town salesman would feel the same way and be drawn back to Kilby. Before I completely committed to the name Caleb, I looked it up too. My favorite meaning is “whole-hearted.” Could anything be more perfect for the hero of a book titled ALL OF ME?
Caleb and Sadie – it’s destiny!
Are characters’ names important to you when you’re reading a book? Is there a name you’ve always wanted to see but haven’t yet?
Excerpt from ALL OF ME
Caleb made her lose her head, plain and simple.
Sadie rested her forehead against his chest, amazed all over again by the firmness of his toughened muscles. The heat of his body contrasted with the cool water in the most heavenly way. “Maybe I didn’t think this all the way through.”
“Are you telling me a dumb baseball player got the better of a brilliant future law student? Nah.” He bent his head so he could nuzzle her hair. “You smell nice. Like water lilies.”
She smelled hot man, mixed with lake water and sun-baked mesquite. Somehow they’d drifted away from the gravelly edge, so the stench of mud wasn’t as prominent. She felt so dreamy and secure, held tight in Caleb’s arms as they floated aimlessly in the lake. He grinned down at her, the light reflected off the lake water turning his eyes a soft, clear blue. Sun glinted in his hair, spangled with crystal drops of water. He really was a remarkably beautiful man. Everything seemed to still while she soaked in the details of his powerful physique, his rawboned handsomeness, the flash of vulnerability in his eyes.
She could really lose herself in him. Completely and utterly. Never before had she felt anything close to that.
“Dream on,” she told him, and flipped out of his arms. She dove under the surface, letting the slide of water through her hair and across her body wash away the effects of that alarming moment.
She’d always loved to swim, and it took only a few moments to put distance between herself and Caleb. But he wasn’t a professional athlete for nothing, and within moments he was splashing in her wake.
Shrieking with breathless laughter, she flung herself backward, as if onto a watery couch. He grabbed an ankle, and she flipped to her stomach, kicking hard. But it was no use; she felt herself being inexorably pulled toward him, his wonderfully big hands reeling her in.
And then there she was, snuggled against his chest again. It rose and fell with his rapid breaths.
“There, that’s better,” he said with satisfaction, the words rumbling against her ear. “I kinda like this whole fishing thing.”
“No fair, I got distracted,” she protested, turning her body in the circle of his arms so she could see his face. Water streamed from his hair, down his neck to his wide shoulders. His eyelashes clung together, so his eyes looked bluer than ever. “I’d forgotten how much I love swimming in this lake.”
“It’s starting to grow on me too. Or at least something is.”
She giggled, and then, as a grin split his face, started laughing. As he watched her something shifted in his expression. His goofy smile vanished, replaced by an intent, hungry look. His head lowered, eyes glittering. The rest of the world receded, so only his face remained, coming closer and closer to hers, his mouth reaching for her …
Oh wow. He was going to kiss her.
And then he was kissing her. His lips burned against hers, sending pure shock throughout her body. Kisses didn’t feel like that. They didn’t turn your lips to fire, they didn’t liquefy your lungs so you could barely breathe. They didn’t make you dizzy.
She pulled away with a gasp, still in his embrace, their faces close enough so she felt his quickened breathing. Caleb looked just as stunned as she felt, his eyes gone dark and gray as a hurricane. For a long moment the two of them just stared at each other, poised on the edge of the unknown. Water lapped against her hips, and a breath of air kissed her shoulder. Everywhere her body touched Caleb’s, heat seared.
And then they were on each other again. He seemed to consume her, exploring her mouth with long sweeps of his tongue that left sparkling trails of heat in their wake. He tasted so wonderful, like summer days, like fireflies and bicycling down dusty back roads, like every time she’d laid on her back in a meadow and dreamed about the future.
Little whimpers rose from her throat. She pulled her mouth from his, her cheek brushing across his stubbly chin, its roughness sending more shocks through her. His grip loosened and she slid down his body until she stood on the lake bottom, pressed against him from head to toe. The huge bulge in his briefs made her feel a little faint.
“Sweet Jesus,” he whispered as she nibbled on his jaw. She couldn’t help it; she wanted to eat him up. “You’re making me crazy. We can’t do this here.”
“Shh.” She didn’t want to talk. She wanted this all-consuming, crazy conflagration that she’d never even imagined before. Tugging at his shoulders, she rose on tiptoe, brushing her lips against his again. With a heartfelt groan, he gave in.
All of Me
Love Between the Bases # 1
May 26th, 2015
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Jennifer Bernard, the USA Today bestselling author of the Bachelor Firemen series, scores another homerun with a brand-new series about sexy, single baseball players.
Playing for the Kilby Catfish is hotshot pitcher Caleb Hart’s last chance to salvage his career after a major league meltdown. But the day of his opener with the minor league team, Caleb strikes out with the gorgeous woman who is delivering a petition to run the unruly Catfish out of town. Now to stay in the lineup, Caleb will need to score big with the feisty brunette he can’t keep out of his thoughts.
After the nasty lies Sadie Merritt’s rich ex-boyfriend spread about her all over town, she’s lucky to have a job at all. She can’t afford to screw it up by falling for the player who is supposed to be helping her change the image of the fun-loving Catfish. But that’s easier said than done when Caleb’s voice alone is enough to make her pulse race. And when he surprises her with a mind-blowing kiss, she knows there’s no turning back.
Jennifer Bernard is the USA Today bestselling author of the Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriels series. She is a graduate of Harvard and a former news promo producer. The child of academics, she confounded her family by preferring romance novels to … well, any other books. She left big city life for true love in Alaska, where she now lives with her husband and stepdaughters. She’s no stranger to book success, as she also writes erotic novellas under a naughty secret name not to be mentioned at family gatherings.