#DFRAT: Climbing Heartbreak Hill by Joselyn Vaughn

climbing heartbreak hillProfessional runner, Ryan Grant, blows out his knee training for another attempt at the Boston marathon and the dreaded Heartbreak Hill. Ryan retreats home, not looking for anything more than a fast recovery, but he finds solace in the arms of his tax preparer, Tara Mansfield.

Tara’s cheerleading career ended abruptly and she faces an upward climb beating the stereotype as dumb blonde in her new calling as an accountant. Framed with defrauding the IRS during the last weeks of the tax season, Tara’s tentative confidence is shaken, but Ryan coaches her in en-snaring the true perpetrator. She cheers him on in discovering his identity as a coach rather than an athlete.

With the help of the junkyard king and a mechanical bull, can Tara and Ryan find the courage to climb Heartbreak Hill together?


Tara tapped her foot while Ryan settled in the tank and others lined up behind her for their chance to dunk him. A dollar for three throws at the target. Tara reached for her purse, then changed her mind. She bent and picked up Ryan’s coat. After a quick search of the pockets, she found his wallet. Unfortunately, it was devoid of cash. She flipped it closed, then opened it again to peek behind the credit cards. Ah–‐‑ha! An emergency twenty. She kept cash hidden to use only for an emergency, too. She slid the bill out of the pocket and crushed it in her fist. If she didn’t let off some of this anger and disappointment, it would be an emergency.

She tossed the crumpled bill at the attendant and stepped up to the line.

“How many throws?”

“All of them,” Tara said, holding her hand out for the marred softball. She rubbed her fingers over the crusty leather and stared at Ryan. A golden opportunity lost. She wound up and chucked the ball. It went high and wide of the target. Someone behind her made a remark about throwing like a girl. Ryan gave her a thumbs–‐‑up. If he thought that was a good throw, he had another thing coming. He should think twice about encouraging her. She needed a couple throws to get warmed up. She grabbed the next ball and wrapped her fingers around the seams.

“You should take the job,” she muttered as she let this one fly. It dinged the corner of the target, but not hard enough to trigger the release. The ball ricocheted off the tank, and Ryan almost dunked himself when he flinched.

He might have said “what was that?” but Tara screwed up her mouth and reached for another ball. She had been through enough this week with the stress of tax season, Chuck’s demands, and Ryan’s stupid, stupid obstinacy. “Lead me on, did you?” She whipped the ball at the target. She missed again, this time nailing

the acrylic glass surround with a vicious thunk.

“Somebody’s got some anger issues,” the man behind her said under his breath.

Tara snatched another ball and whirled around on her heels. She shoved the ball under his nose. “Unless you want this ball blocking your next sneeze, you’ll keep your comments to yourself.”

The man stepped back a full yard and put his hands up to protect his ability to shoot germs from his nose.

“Thank you.” Tara pursed her lips and turned back to the tank. She tightened her focus on the red bulls–‐‑eye. This time Ryan was hers. She whipped the ball with a caveman–‐‑like growl.

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1 Comment

  1. Sharlene Wegner

    Great excerpt! I hadn’t heard of this book before. Sounds really good!


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