Sunday, May 25, 2014

What It Takes by Kathryn Ascher (Guest Post/Excerpt)

Please give a warm welcome to contemporary romance author, Kathryn Ascher, who is joining us with her book WHAT IT TAKES. 

What inspired you to write "What It Takes?"

I was flipping through a magazine filled with interviews with cast members of one of my favorite movies at the time, and in one interview an actor was asked if he was dating his co-star, a question he apparently heard a lot. He denied it and added that he thought fans saw things based on the characters and their responses to each other and they (the fans) confused that with reality. I began to wonder if actors themselves ever confused their roles with reality and what that might look like. I started out with the intent of making Patrick that kind of character, and that’s how Kelsey sees him.

What It Takes by Kathryn Ascher 
(Rocky Creek Series, #1)
ISBN 978-1-939371-25-6 (Paperback)
ISBN 978-1-939371-26-3 (eBook)
Fiction/Contemporary Romance
6 x 9, 332 pages
Publication date: May 27, 2014
Goodreads | Amazon | Kindle | B&N
After graduating college, Kelsey Morgan left her small-town Virginia roots to make it in LA. After years slogging in commercials and music videos, her movie career is finally taking off. But she’s still miles behind her current costar, and Hollywood playboy, Patrick Lyons. Kelsey does everything she can to avoid Patrick off-set, hoping to not become fodder for the supermarket tabloids that scour the streets for Patrick, trying to get an exclusive look at him and his alleged woman of the week.
Kelsey has successfully kept Patrick at a distance, and her reputation intact, until her drunkard brother-in-law Richard threatens to ruin everything by selling her darkest secret to the highest bidder. Now the victim of blackmail, Kelsey has nowhere else to turn but to Patrick’s arms. But, can he be trusted? Or will the past destroy them all before she can find out if he’s the hero she needs?



Kelsey Morgan was pregnant.
 She stared at the two blue lines of the test in her hand and looked at
herself in the mirror. She gazed into her own green eyes, brushed a stray lock
of brown hair off her full cheek, tucked it behind her ear, and inhaled deeply.
Her mother would not be happy.
 Kelsey tossed the stick into the trash with the three other used tests, all
positive, and turned to leave the bathroom. The smell of the apple pie baking
made her smile. She was in the middle of fixing Tim’s dinner, a tradition
they’d adopted just after they’d started dating. She and Tim were seniors in
college; they’d been dating for almost three years. At the end of every break,
the weekend before their classes resumed, Kelsey always welcomed him back
with his favorite meal, just as her mother always did for her father when he
returned from his conferences.
 She’d returned to her apartment two days early to prepare for this
dinner. She walked into the kitchen, peaked at the pie to make sure it wasn’t
overcooking, then started washing potatoes. Once they were all clean, she
carried them to the counter so she could slice them before putting them into
a pot of water. As she picked up the knife, she glanced at the pictures taped
to the cabinet. They were all of Tim and her. She grinned as she thought
about the early stages of their relationship.
 They’d met in a literature class during the fall semester of their freshman
year. He started sitting behind her after the second class and by the end of the
second week he was walking her to her Intro to Theater class before rushing
across campus for his Biology class. His witty humor reminded her of her
brother and how much she missed him. Tim’s unruly blond hair and clean
cut look were different from any of the boys she’d known growing up, who
Prologuevi What It Takes
believed jeans, t-shirts, and ball-caps were the highest fashion. He always
knew the right thing to say to make people feel good about themselves,
especially Kelsey.
 He complimented her often, on her clothes, her hairstyle, even on
something as small as her earrings. He was so charming; all the girls loved
him and flirted with him constantly. He may have flirted a little with them,
but he flirted hardest with Kelsey. She’d playfully scold him for his shameless
behavior, but was secretly thrilled that he paid attention to her instead of, in
Kelsey’s opinion, the prettier girls. By the end of the spring semester, they’d
begun dating.
 It hadn’t taken long for them to discover their mutual love for the
outdoors and found themselves outside as much as possible. Whether they
were rollerblading, biking, or simply studying, they preferred to be doing it
outside if the weather was cooperative. They also loved going to the football
games and post-game parties on Saturdays. Tim was her biggest supporter
when it came to her performances in the school’s plays, as well. Whether it
was a small role or one of the leads, it didn’t matter; he was always in the
front row on opening night with a dozen red roses to give her after the
 For their first anniversary, he’d surprised Kelsey by taking her to a sushi
restaurant. She’d been begging him to try it, but he’d always found a reason
to say “no,” and she knew it was because he hadn’t wanted to eat raw fish.
Her mother had always said that the best way to keep a man happy was to let
him have his way, so Kelsey had never pressed the issue. She’d been ecstatic
when he’d pulled into the parking lot and told her he’d try it for her. He had
ordered something cooked from the kitchen but had also tried one piece of
the California roll. They’d made love for the first time that night.
 As they’d settled into their relationship, Kelsey felt as if they got along
the way her parents did, or the way her sister, Janelle, and her husband did.
Things were never hard for them, they almost never argued. Kelsey knew for
sure that, like her parents and her sister, she’d found her mate. Tim was “the
one” for her.
 Kelsey shook her head back to the present and began slicing potatoes.
Tim probably wouldn’t be happy about the pregnancy. But they’d been
planning their future together and had even talked about marriage. She was
majoring in communications with a minor in theater. She really wanted to
go into acting in movies and television, and her choice of studies had been
a battle with her parents. Her mother had insisted that she wouldn’t pay for
Kelsey’s education if she majored in something useless like theater, while her
father, a lawyer who had taught his children the value of a well thought out
argument at a young age, had let her plead her case and agreed to allow her
to minor in it.
 Tim was a hospitality and tourism major and thought they should
manage a ski resort together and put both of their degrees to good use. He’d
told her she could always get into local theater when they settled down, if she
had time. Eventually, they’d start a family.
 It appeared that would be happening sooner than expected.
 She put the pot with the potatoes on the stove to boil and began to fix
the fried chicken. Forty-five minutes later, the meal was ready and Kelsey’s
stomach was in knots. Since she’d decided to wait until dessert to break the
news of the pregnancy to Tim, she hoped for the best. When she greeted
him at the door Tim pulled her against his hard, broad chest and gave her a
passionately warming kiss.
 “I’ve been looking forward to this meal all day.” He grinned and abruptly
kissed her again. “You make the best apple pie. Did you remember the vanilla
ice cream?”
 “Of course,” she said with a laugh.
 His hazel eyes danced with mirth as he tweaked her nose and released
her. “You always take such good care of me.”
 “I try.” She knew how much he loved her cooking, but hearing him say
it always made her feel special. She followed his tall, slightly muscled form
into the dining room. “If you want to grab a seat, we can eat.”
 “Great, I’m starving.”
 Tim sat down and she brought the food in and set it on the table.
They’d been through the routine a hundred times and there was something
comforting in the familiarity of it. As soon as Kelsey sat down, he started
telling her about his month off.
 His parents lived near a ski resort and Tim had grown up on the slopes.
He talked during the entire meal, describing the Blue Square and Black
Diamond trails he’d skied, the new mogul courses that had been added, and viii What It Takes
the cross-country skiing he and his friends had done. Because it meant so
much to him, she had tried skiing once, but hadn’t really enjoyed it. She’d
never done it again and only had a vague idea of the lingo, mostly from
listening to Tim talk about skiing so much. Channeling her mother, she
patiently listened, nodded, and asked the right questions at the right times.
 Finally, when dessert was served, he looked into her eyes and beamed
brightly. Her heart skipped a beat and she almost felt giddy.
 “So how was your break?” he asked.
 She tried to smile around the lump in her throat and folded her hands
on the table in front of her. “I’m pregnant.” Her eyes rounded slightly in
surprise. She hadn’t meant to simply blurt it out like that.
 He laughed out loud and shook his head. “Okay, okay,” he said, still
smiling. “You’ve made your point. I did monopolize the conversation during
dinner and I’m sorry.” He took her hand and kissed the knuckle. “You’ve got
my attention. How was your vacation?”
 Her already weak sense of happiness waned some more. “Tim, I’m
 He laughed again, then actually looked at the expression on her face.
“You’re serious?” he asked, still sounding amused. She nodded and his
laughter stopped. His eyes narrowed slightly as he pursed his lips. “You can
take care of that, can’t you?”
 Her head tilted slightly. “I thought we could take care of it,” she said,
“like a family.”
 “Kelsey,” he said as he pushed his untouched pie away, “why would I
need to go down to the clinic with you? I’ll pay for half, but I’ll give you the
money up front.” He stood and walked to the narrow wall beside the kitchen
 “What?” She could hardly believe what she was hearing. “Go to the
 “For the procedure.” He raised his eyebrows and nodded his head in a
way that stated his meaning should be obvious.
 Kelsey’s heart sank and she started to feel nauseous, and not from
morning sickness.
 “Procedure,” she breathed. “Tim, I can’t do that. You know how I feel
about abortion.”
 “Kelsey, we can’t have a baby now. We’re still in college,” he argued.
 “We’ll have graduated by the time the baby’s born.” Her legs felt weak
and she was glad to still be sitting. He took three steps toward the door.
 “We’ve gotta find jobs and a place to live. We’ve gotta get settled. And
what about going to Hollywood? You can’t take a baby to California,” he said,
his eyes narrowing even more.
 He’d blindsided her with that argument. While he supported her work
on the stage, her dream of acting on the big screen was one that Tim almost
always dismissed. Moving to Hollywood had never been an option for him.
Until now, apparently.
 “Then we’ll stay here and raise it,” she stated. “We’ll have four months
between graduation and the due date, that’s plenty—”
 “No,” he snapped. “Kelsey, we’re not ready for this. I’m not ready to be a
father, not yet, not for a few more years.” He picked up his coat and opened
the door. “I’ve gotta go.” He stepped out and a cool breeze slapped her in the
face as the door closed behind him.
 Numbly, she cleaned up the dinner dishes and put the food in the
refrigerator. She replayed their conversation over and over again in her mind,
trying to figure out where it had gone wrong. She’d expected him to be a
little upset about the pregnancy; she had been. He had a point. They were
still in school and had a lot to do before their baby was born. Although the
abortion suggestion had been a shock, him walking out on her had been a
bigger one.
 When everything was put away, she crawled into her bed and stayed
there for all of the next day.
 Kelsey got to their Monday morning class early and saved him a seat
next to her. Tim came in just as the lecture started and sat at the back of the
room. He wouldn’t look at her and, when class ended, was gone before she
could collect her books.
 Tuesday was much the same. Tim arrived late and sat beside one of
his friends. When the friend saw Kelsey looking at them, he elbowed Tim
and pointed in her direction, but Tim ignored him. At the end of class, he
disappeared before Kelsey stood up.
 On Wednesday, after he’d made a point of ignoring her again, she was
surprised to see Tim approaching her when class was over.x What It Takes
 “Can I come over later?” he asked.
 “Sure,” she said with a smile. “Do you want me to fix something?”
 “No,” he firmly replied, and she knew things weren’t going to go well.
“I’ll be there around four.” He was gone before she could speak.
 When her last class let out at two fifty, she raced home and paced the
living room for the next hour. Tim arrived right on time and came into her
apartment like a stranger. He didn’t even take his coat off.
 “Okay, so I’ve reconsidered,” he said and for a moment her heart floated
with hope. “I’ll pay for the whole procedure.”
 Just as quickly, hope sank.
 “Tim, I’m not getting an abortion,” she said.
 “Damn it, Kelsey,” he snapped. “Why do you have to be so stubborn?” He
paced in front of her. “We’re not ready for this.”
 “We’ll have time to get ready.”
 “Are you trying to make me marry you?” His normally soft hazel eyes
were dark, almost black.
 Ice began to form in her veins. “It’s not like we haven’t talked about it,”
she replied meekly. “We don’t have to get married before the baby—”
 “We’re not having a baby, Kelsey!” his voice boomed.
 She took a step back, speechless.
 “We were safe. We used condoms every time. I even brought them with
me so I’d know you didn’t—”
 “Didn’t what?” Kelsey saw red. “So you’d know I didn’t tamper with
them? Didn’t poke holes in them? They aren’t a hundred percent safe, Tim.
Do you think I did this on purpose?”
 “Didn’t you? You’ve been talking about marriage for a year now.”
 “We’ve been talking about it, Tim. It wasn’t a one-sided conversation. You
were an active part of it.” Her heart raced with anger and hurt as betrayal
started to flex its fingers.
 “I was always saying ‘if,’ Kelsey. You were always saying ‘when.’ There’s a
big difference.”
 She stopped breathing. Was he right? She’d never noticed before.
 “I don’t even know this baby’s mine. Maybe you should find its real daddy
and trap him.”
 Her legs gave out and she plopped onto the couch. “Tim, you are the
baby’s father,” she said quietly, tears pooling in her eyes. “I’ve never been with
anyone else. You know that.”
 “Don’t give me that shit, Kelsey,” he snapped. “You don’t think I believe
it, do you?” Her eyes rounded with pain. “I’ve seen the way other men look at
you.” He paused in his pacing to glare at her. “They flirt with you everywhere
we go. And you . . .” he sneered at her and resumed his pacing, “you priss
around, pretending not to notice as you bat your eyelashes at them.”
 She’d never acted like that and he knew it. Yes, she’d noticed other men
looking at her, but she’d never encouraged them or flirted with them in
return. “Tim, you’re imagining th—”
 “I am not!” he roared as he walked toward her, hatred written on his face.
“You’re a fucking slut.”
 Tears trickled down Kelsey’s cheeks and her body weakened under his
misguided accusations.
 “All of my friends notice it. Hell, you even flirt with them.”
 “Tim,” she sobbed, “no. I’m not like that.”
 “Save it,” he snapped and backed away. “You’re nothing but a whore,
Kelsey. You should do real well in Hollywood. I’m sure you’ll get a lot of
good-paying jobs that way.”
 She bit her lip, stunned into silence.
 “You know, there is one thing I regret.”
 “What’s that?” she asked quietly, feeling defeated and small as she studied
the coffee table.
 “I wish I’d known sooner,” he growled. “Then I could’ve pimped you out
and we both could’ve gotten something out of it.”
 Wide-eyed, she looked up at him, tears streaming, mouth open. How
could he be so cruel? Tim narrowed his eyes one last time before turning and
walking out the door and Kelsey crumpled on the couch.


Kelsey didn’t move from the couch for two days, not until her sister, Janelle,
showed up at her apartment.
 “Kelsey, why haven’t you been answering your phone?” Janelle asked after

About the Author

Born and raised in Virginia, Kathryn Ascher tried her hand at poetry and fiction in high school, but put it all aside when she went to college. After graduating with her degree in communications, she married her college sweetheart and went to work for a local radio station. After her first child was born, she became a stay-at-home mom and began spending her free time crafting and reading.

It wasn’t until after the birth of her third child and a blind book exchange that Kathryn decided to give writing another try. When she picked up her first romance novel, she immediately knew that was the genre for her. She was drawn to the strong lead characters and the quirky secondary characters, the settings, the humor, and most importantly the feelings of falling in love for the first time. She hopes that her readers enjoy these aspects in her writings as well.

The inspiration for Kathryn’s first novel, What It Takes, came during a trip to the grocery store. In the checkout line, she amused herself with a tabloid article about a movie sequel she was looking forward to seeing. She read an interview with one of the actors who, when asked if he was dating his co-star, replied that he thought fans confused the characters with the actors and saw what they wanted to see. Kathryn began to wonder what would happen if the actors themselves got confused about their relationships and feelings—and a book was born.

Kathryn resides with her husband and three children in Roanoke, Virginia.


  1. I love a romance where a pregnancy makes things complicated. Will have to check this one out!

  2. I love a romance where a pregnancy makes things complicated. Will have to check this one out!

  3. This seems like a complicated romance here. Not my type of book but nice expert nonetheless~!


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