Rhythm and Bluegrass

Rhythm and Bluegrass

by Molly Harper

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In the second e-novella in Molly Harper’s Bluegrass series of contemporary romances, two people determined to fulfill their own agendas come head to head—and find love in the process.

Kentucky Tourism Commission employee Bonnie Turkle is up Mud Creek without a paddle. When she gets permission from the state historical society to restore McBride’s Music Hall in Mud Creek, Kentucky, to its former glory, she thinks the community will welcome her with open arms. Instead, her plans interfere with a proposal to sell the property to a factory that would bring much-needed jobs to the town.

Even though Bonnie is trying to preserve mayor Will McBride’s family heritage, he is more concerned with the welfare of his people than memories of the past. Will finds her optimistic sentimentality extremely annoying—but that doesn’t stop him from kissing Bonnie senseless.

With an inspection deadline looming and local saboteurs ruining her restoration, Bonnie must find a way to compromise with Will to save McBride’s and the town…while hopefully winning a few more kisses in the process!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781476705934
Publisher: Pocket Star
Publication date: 10/07/2013
Series: Bluegrass Series , #2
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 200
Sales rank: 152,755
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Molly Harper is the author of two popular series of paranormal romance, the Half-Moon Hollow series and the Naked Werewolf series. She also writes the Bluegrass ebook series of contemporary romance. A former humor columnist and newspaper reporter, she lives in Michigan with her family, where she is currently working on the next Southern Eclectic novel. Visit her on the web at MollyHarper.com.

Read an Excerpt

Rhythm and Bluegrass


In Which I Make a Poor First—and Second—Impression

Frantically unpacking my flaming vehicle while it merrily burned on the side of the road was not how I wanted to start my time in Mud Creek.

My dad was one of those “prepared for anything” Boy Scout types who believed you shouldn’t be allowed to drive a car unless you could recite the owner’s manual from memory. Unfortunately, there is no entry in the manual for “what to do when your engine catches fire.”

It had started off as such a nice morning, a drive through the mountains of eastern Kentucky to the far southeastern, almost-Virginia part of the state. I was headed to Mud Creek, home of McBride’s Music Hall, to salvage a treasure trove of priceless musical artifacts before the long-shuttered building was bulldozed to make room for industrial space.

McBride’s was a microcosm of American pop culture history. It was one of the first establishments in Kentucky that allowed interracial dancing. It was a hot spot for blues and country-and-western performers, which was almost unheard of. Bill Monroe played that stage; so did Hank Williams Sr., Little Richard, James Brown, and Ray Charles—musicians I loved so much for their simplicity and honesty. Everybody who was anybody in the music scene in the fifties and sixties cut their teeth at McBride’s. And that time capsule of precious musical history had been sealed off, untouched, for almost fifteen years, waiting for me to sift through the remains. My fingers were practically itching.

Mud Creek was just far enough from the mountains of Appalachia to avoid scary negotiations with curvy, high-altitude roads, but it was still pretty remote. Eastern Kentucky was practically a state all its own. To people like me, raised on the relative “flatlands” of western Kentucky, bluegrass geography was always a bit of a muddle. People seemed to assume the state ended at Louisville. Point of fact, Western Kentucky University was located in south central Kentucky. The westernmost counties—McCracken, Ballard, Fulton, and Trigg—just sort of stuck out from the state’s face like an unfortunate preoperative nose.

As I got closer to Mud Creek, the roads seemed to get progressively rougher, the landscape craggier and more . . . beige. I hadn’t realized that this state, known for green pastures, even had places that could turn various stages of dull brown, but eventually the ground, the vegetation, even the rocky cliffs that seemed to rise up from nowhere and then drop into nothing were all beige. It turned out that looking at earth-toned earth for extended amounts of time was excruciating, so I stopped at a diner for waffles and to add to my collection of truck stop snow globes. Then I stopped at a fruit stand that, as it turned out, sold illegal fireworks. And then, the moment I spotted the battered green MUD CREEK, POPULATION 5,304 sign on the side of Highway 15, something inside my engine hiccupped, rattled, and then ignited in one last extinction burst of effort.

I veered off to the shoulder as smoke rolled out from under my hood in ominous tendrils, pulling flames behind them like streamers. For a moment, all I could do was stare. This was actually happening. My car was on fire. How did that even happen outside of an action movie?

Wait a minute, burning cars led to spectacular explosions in action movies.

I yelped and yanked the wheel too quickly, nearly sending my SUV tumbling into the roadside ditch. The flames were dancing across the bubbling white paint in earnest now, and it took my fingers a few minutes to catch up to my brain’s message of “unbuckle your seat belt and get out of this Hindenburg on wheels!”

To my eternal shame, I was not one of those “good in a crisis” people. It took three tries before I managed to unbelt and jump out. And even then, all I could do was stand on the pavement, wring my hands around the strap of my shoulder bag, and mutter some variation of “Nononono” over and over. I just stood there trying to blow out the roaring remains of my SUV like it was a giant birthday candle.

And then I saw my electric-blue laptop bag through the back window.

“Lola!” I squealed. “My baby!”

I scrambled to open the hatchback and started hauling boxes to the side of the road like a one-woman moving crew. Of course, Lola was stuffed securely behind my seat, behind all of the other equipment, in an impossible-to-reach spot, and I needed my supplies too much to just toss them out. First, I had to carefully unload the digital display boards and my projector. Then the acid-free storage sleeves and boxes. The flames were climbing higher and Lola was still stuck behind a stack of boxes. Grunting, I climbed over the tailgate, wedging myself between the ceiling of the car and the boxes, reaching for Lola’s bag.

This was so my fault. Because I spent so much time on the road, I was allowed to drive my personal vehicle, under certain special requirements, such as regularly scheduled maintenance by the state’s garage staff. Sadie Hutchins, assistant director of marketing at the Kentucky Commission on Tourism—and my direct supervisor—had been telling me for weeks that I had to bring my SUV in for a complete check. But I’d been so busy wrapping up my other projects to prepare for a long-term stay in Mud Creek that I’d sort of skipped it, figuring I’d take the car in for an oil change when I got into town. Sadie’s “I told you so” would likely involve a three-page memo. Signed by the governor.

I vaguely registered the sound of tires crunching over the gravel behind me.

“Y’all right there, ma’am?” a thickly accented voice asked.

I turned around to face the person, who was not being terribly helpful, seeing as I was very obviously not all right at the moment. Good Lord, he was a country music video come to life: red-plaid shirt untucked, jeans frayed and worn at the knees, thick sandy-blond hair mussed by the red baseball cap he was tucking in his back pocket. His eyes were hidden behind silver aviator sunglasses. A thin white scar across his chin underlined his mouth, like he’d suffered an accident just to emphasize those pearly white teeth.

One might think that, living in Kentucky for most of my adult life, I ran into the Backroad Cowboy type often. But I lived in Frankfort, the state capital. The most rural experience I got was visiting cousins in Smithland, where we held reunion picnics in the family cemetery. And on the rare occasion when I encountered the Backroad Cowboy type, he was usually looking past me to the girl not wearing a Jem and the Holograms T-shirt. Therefore, my dating history was chock-full of perfectly passive vegan fellas who would be more useless than I was in this situation.

Mr. Cowboy, on the other hand, seemed tensed to act if I needed him, though his expression was oddly comical. Like he ran across damsels in flaming distress all the time and expected my brand of twitterpated impotence in the face of inferno-esque car failure. I would have found this insulting, but (a) he was right and (b) he was so very pretty.

I would take time to be embarrassed on behalf of my gender later.

Thunderous rumbling from the direction of the engine brought me out of my cowboy ogling. “I’m trying to get my baby out of the car,” I called, my voice choked by the gray fog slowly seeping into the backseat.

“Your baby?” Mr. Cowboy flinched, as if the whole “vehicular inferno” thing had just become significantly less funny, and dashed to the driver’s side. He jerked the back door open and started yanking plastic storage bins and pitching them over his shoulder. I winced at the way he was tossing things haphazardly against the hot pavement.

“Where’s the car seat?” he yelled, throwing boxes marked BEDROOM and KITCHEN in neat block script. “Why the hell would you put so much crap back here with a baby? What the— What is all this?”

“Car seat?” I coughed, waving my hand in front of my face to ward off the smoke. “What are you talking about?” He moved just the right box of files and I wrenched Lola’s bag free.

“Yes!” I cried, clutching the bag to my chest. “My baby!”

My irritated Samaritan looked at me as if I might be insane. I grabbed my suitcase and scooted out of the back of the SUV just as the flames started to creep through the air-conditioning vents. He was waiting for me by the tailgate and helped me to my feet. Together, we dragged my stuff as far away from the car as possible.

“That is not a baby,” the Cowboy growled as I clutched the laptop bag to my chest. He took off the sunglasses, tucking them into his shirt pocket. The piercing blue eyes were not happy with me or my baby. “You scared the piss outta me for a damn computer?”

Oh, right. Most people would construe “my baby” as an actual living child. This would be what my best friend, Kelsey Wade, referred to as a “Bonnie-size abuse of language.” I would say that was unfair, but I had just convinced a man that my nonexistent infant was at risk of serious injury in a car fire.

“If you knew how important Lola was to me, you would understand,” I said as he took the bag from me and scanned me from head to toe in a completely nonsexy, checking-for-boo-boos sort of way.

“Ya named your damn computer,” he scoffed, wiping his sooty hand across his forehead. “And ya named it Lola, to boot. Is there much gas in the tank?”

I shook my head. “Almost empty. I didn’t want to stop when I was so close to town.”

“Don’t ya have a fire extinguisher?”

“Yes, under the front seat,” I told him. “Which is currently on fire.”

“Hmm, that won’t help, will it?” he said, pursing his lips. Why, oh why, did he have to purse his lips like that? He probably had some beautiful girlfriend at home with long blond hair and one of those Southern-girl smiles that could sweeten iced tea from across the room. I’d bet she never got padded bras from her grandmother in her Christmas stocking. I’d bet her high school nickname wasn’t “Fraggle Eyes.”

I really needed to get myself under control. Everything I owned was burning and I was busy seething in resentment over a stranger’s hypothetical girlfriend. Maybe there were hallucinogenic qualities to burning tires?

Mr. Cowboy noticed my irritated expression and said, “Well, I don’t wanna upset ya, but I think you’re gonna have a hard time drivin’ away from this one.”

It took all I had not to laugh. Because laughing would probably lead to hysterical crying, and I didn’t want to scare the nice man. The windows clouded with black film as smoke rolled out of the back gate, boiling up toward a cloudless late-summer sky. And that’s when it hit me. My truck was gone. My phone charger. The Ray Charles biography I’d been reading. The soft, worn-in denim jacket—stolen from a college boyfriend—that I kept slung over the passenger seat. They were all gone. I plopped down on top of one of the plastic bins and stared at the ruined mess of my SUV.

I’d spent the better part of five years driving around in that car, visiting schools, remote towns, obscure corners of the state where my services were needed. I would probably be less upset if my apartment burned down.

Then again, I didn’t really have an apartment. I had a spare room in Kelsey’s apartment. I traveled too much to merit getting my own place. Usually I stayed in one location for a week or two, long enough to alienate the keepers of the local history collections and make friends with the motel’s night clerk. Then I moved on to the next town, the next task, overseeing small historical restorations, creating special exhibits at public libraries or local museums, leading special curriculum sections at schools studying state history.

But this project would be a little different—instead of living in a motel for a few weeks, I would actually get an apartment of my own while I was here, which I was really looking forward to. I’d leased a one-bedroom in a complex called Fernwood Estates. I had visions of a pretty little white building overlooking Main Street, or, if I was lucky, a view of the actual forest, which would be considerably better than the brick wall my window faced back home. I would have a kitchen, a living room, a bathroom I would clean myself. I could pretend I had a home of my own for a while instead of illegally piggybacking on poor Kelsey’s lease.

Apparently my completely spacing out disturbed the Samaritan, who put his large, warm hand on my shoulder and gave it a little shake. “Don’t ya worry. I’ll call Fred and set up a douse or a tow, or whatever needs to be done here. Fred runs the fire department and the wrecker service, which is pretty damned convenient. He’ll fix ya right up.” He pulled a battered silver cell phone from his back pocket and started dialing.

“Thank you,” I said, moving my plastic seat a bit farther from the heat of the burning car, into the scrubby grass just between the shoulder and the shards of rock lining the ditch. “Really. I know I shouldn’t have gone back into the truck for my things, but I need all of this for work. Plus—” I raised Lola’s bag, making him roll his eyes a bit. “Baby.”

“What sorta work do ya do?” he asked, the phone pressed against his ear. His attention wavered as someone picked up on the other end of the line. “Hey Fred, it’s me. I’ve got a pickup for ya, mile marker seven by the population sign. Yeah, you’ll love it. It’s extra crispy.”

“Not funny,” I told him. He held up two fingers to measure “this much” funny. I shook my head, but I was biting my lips to stop a smile from forming.

I continued checking the boxes for damage as he said, “Wait, what?”

All of the teasing mirth drained out of the Samaritan—whose name I was going to have to pick up sometime soon—and he bit out a curse. “How?” He groaned. “Again? No, it doesn’t really matter how much sewage it is. It’s sewage. There’s no sewage scale. We’ve gotta get it stopped up.”

The Cowboy stepped away from me and continued his conversation. I only heard “library” and “panty hose.” Well, that didn’t sound good. I supposed between “burning vehicle” and “ankle-deep sewage,” the burned-plastic smell of smoldering upholstery wasn’t so bad. He turned back to me with an apologetic expression on his face. “Look, I’m sorry to leave ya like this,” he said, “but there’s an emergency, and I’m the only one who can fix it. I really have to go. Would ya rather ride into town with me?”

“No, thanks. From what I understand, there’s raw sewage wherever you’re going.”

His eyes narrowed, even as his full lips quirked. “Sharp ears.”

“I tend to pick up on words like ‘sewage,’” I told him. “I’ll just wait here for Fred. What’s Fred’s last name?”


My mouth fell open. “Really?”

“For at least the next month.”

“Did he lose a bet?” I asked.

He shook his head in mock sadness, a small smile playing on his lips. “Never put your faith or your dignity in the hands of the Cincinnati Reds. You’re sure ya don’t want to come with me?” he asked. I chuckled. “I’ll call Fred later and check on ya. Maybe I can help ya get a rental out here. We don’t have an agency in town, but—” He cursed softly when his cell phone rang again. He checked the screen and groaned. “I’m sorry. I really have to go.”

“Well, thank you,” I said. “I appreciate your attempted baby-saving.”

He opened the driver’s side door of his battered red-and-silver early-model pickup, which was marked with a hand-lettered logo, MUD CREEK HOME REPAIRS. He tossed me a bottle of water, dripping with condensation. “Just stay back from the truck, in case it decides to blow. Drink that. And when Fred shows up, try not to stare at his eye.”

“What about his eye?” I called as the man climbed into his truck. “Hey!”

His sandy head bobbed out of his truck cab. “Yeah?”

“What’s your name?”

“Will, and yours?”


“I’ll catch up with ya soon, Bonnie!” he yelled, grinning as he fired up his engine and pulled onto the highway. “Welcome to Mud Creek!”

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Rhythm and Bluegrass 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read all of molly harpers books. Light enjoyable reads
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
beckybh More than 1 year ago
RHYTHM AND BLUEGRASS is the second book in Molly Harper's BLUEGRASS SERIES. It's an enjoyable and humorous story about Bonnie Turkle, a Kentucky Tourism Commission employee, and Will McBride, mayor of the small, dying community of Mud Creek, KY. Bonnie plans to research and catalog whatever items remain in historic McBride's Music Hall, an important venue for burgeoning blues, bluegrass and country/western groups in the 1950s and 1960s and a place where both whites and blacks intermixed without prejudice. Will's family owns the hall, and though his mom and other residents of Mud Creek step up to help Bonnie with her project, Will is reluctant to encourage any long-term focus on the building. He's been courting the ComfyCheeks Underwear company to build a new plant on the same property and doesn't want anything to hurt what could become a big employer for the financially struggling people of the region. Bonnie and Will's relationship has lots of ups and downs. They first meet when Bonnie's car burns up just as she reaches the welcome sign for Mud Creek. Will stops and helps her get some belongings out of her SUV before everything goes up in flames. She doesn't know what to think about Will, especially when he leaves to deal with a sewage problem in town, so she's surprised when he ends up being the town official she has an appointment with later in the day. Will has a unusual sense of humor, and he and Bonnie get along great until she decides to nominate the music hall for status as a national historic landmark without telling anyone in town. Will is furious when he finds out, because a landmark deseignation for McBride's Music Hall might kill the ComfyCheeks project. And without the influx of new jobs, many of Mud Creek's remaining residents would have to seek jobs elsewhere, putting another nail on the town's sinking coffin. Bonnie jeopardizes all her good feelings and interactions with the townspeople because of the landmark nomination. She knows she's really in trouble after experiencing Will's unhappy reaction and reading the newspaper article slamming both Bonnie and the McBride Music Hall project. Will's angry open letter in the “Letters to the Editor” section states that Bonnie is preventing Mud Creek from getting a factory that would bring over 200 desperately needed jobs to the flailing region. Mud Creek's residents show community support by denying Bonnie services and goods. Now Bonnie has to come up with a solution--and fast--if she has any hope to save her position, the future employment potential of the town, and her relationship with Will. As someone who's been involved in historic preservation, I like that both the benefits and downsides of protecting locally significant sites are woven through the story. I understand Bonnie's desire to preserve the music hall's important history and to share it with others. I also can sympathize with Will's anger and frustration at not being informed about the landmark nomination and his concern that a positive landmark ruling would wind up killing his struggling town. The story is humorous from the first chapter to the last page. Bonnie's temporary living situation is far from the cute apartment she's envisioned, and Mud Creek residents are a good kind of quirky. There's Fred, who runs the fire department and wrecker service; Miss Earlene, the spunky 50-year employee of the Mud Creek Public Library and it's first black head librarian; Joe Bob, the bald, bearded teddy bear of a tow truck driver and builder of the out-of-spare-parts VW bug (“FrankenBug”) he loans to Bonnie; and, Sheriff Jenny Lee Felter, who turns on her cruiser's siren and pulls Bonnie over to just introduce herself. Mud Creek is full of the type of loyal and lively characters I'd want as friends and neighbors. Overall, I loved RHYTHM AND BLUEGRASS. It spoke to me about loyalty and friendship, small town pride in spite of economic concerns, and acceptance no matter who you are. Bonnie and Will's fun relationship and all the Mud Creek residents' antics make this a perfect book for anyone wanting a light-hearted romance with a hearty helping of small town life thrown in. It's the right read for the beach, a welcome snow day, or just anytime at all. If You Like This Book, You May Like --- MY BLUEGRASS BABY by Molly Harper, THE LUCKY HARBOR SERIES and THE ANIMAL MAGNETISM NOVELS by Jill Shavis, SERENDIPITY'S FINEST SERIES by Carly Phillips, THE KOWALSKIS SERIES by Shannon Stacey * Read my other reviews on the Blue Moon Mystery Saloon blog. ** An ARC was provided by Pocket Star eBooks and Edelweiss for an honest review.
HarlequinJunkie_ More than 1 year ago
In Rhythm and Bluegrass (Bluegrass #2) by Molly Harper, Cheerful multimedia art historian Bonnie Turkle is on a mission to save the the amazing artifacts housed within McBride's Music Hall. But her trip to Mud Creek, Kentucky, is riddled with bad luck as soon as she crosses the town line. From vehicle issues to accommodation problems and everything in between, Bonnie's optimism is put to the test. The best part of the trip is when Bonnie meets Will McBride, who is the town's current mayor. They have an instant spark of attraction and they love to tease each other mercilessly. Then they begin to butt heads over his family's Music Hall. Before long, the whole town is in an uproar over Bonnie's plans and the quirky townspeople choose sides. Unfortunately, although Bonnie and Will are barely speaking, their hormones haven't figured that out yet and they have to find a way to compromise in both business and matters of the heart. Rhythm and Bluegrass is a sweet and sassy Contemporary Romance by one of my favorite authors, Molly Harper. This is book two in the Bluegrass series centering on the employees of the Kentucky Commission of Tourism. Specifically on one Miss Bonnie Turkle. I am happy to say that this novel was filled with Molly's signature writing style using sarcasm, witty and extremely comical banter, and A LOT of sexual tension. She is a very quotable author which made it difficult for me to choose what to share with you all! ;) Mud Creek is a quirky town with even quirkier townspeople to meet. And there were of course many references to local Southern lore and traditions, one especially that I confess to looking up online: Burgoo. Who knew??? Bonnie and Will were sweet together and started off as friends with some serious chemistry, then on to frenemies, then back where they started again. Their romance is certainly a slow burn. But given the enormity of the challenge they were facing it seemed right for the situation. Don't worry though. There are some stolen naughty, sexy moments between them that are definitely worth the wait. I highly, highly recommend checking out Rhythm and Bluegrass. Whether or not you are already a fan of Molly Harper's, I think you'll fall in love with Mud Creek and it's offbeat citizens just like I did.
BooksnKisses More than 1 year ago
NUMBER OF STARS: 4 1/4 REVIEW: Any Molly Harper books is a good book.  But let me tell you about my love hate relationship with Mr. Will McBride.   At first I loved Mr. Roadside Cowboy, but as the book went on I started to hate Mr. McBride.  He was a complete and udder asshat to  Bonnie.  I wanted to smack him around on her behalf.   But I will say by the end Will redeemed himself.  I loved this book.  As I said any Molly Harper books is a good book.  I love that her characters are always witty, humorous and just like you and me.  Will & Boonie and a fun couple even if they are at each others throat more often than not.  But really it was all a big case of miscommunication.   If you love Molly’s first book My Bluegrass Baby, you will love Rhythm & Bluegrass.  I can’t wait to see who is next in the Bluegrass series. Disclaimer:  I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. This review is my own opinion and not a paid review. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In_My_Humble_OpinionDA More than 1 year ago
This second book in the Bluegrass series by Molly Harper can be read as a stand-alone. This series is a humorous love affair with the bluegrass state. In this installment Bonnie Turkle, multimedia historian for the Kentucky Commission of Tourism, is dispatched to Mud Creek, a tiny eastern Kentucky town to rescue important artifacts from McBride’s Music Hall. She runs into trouble almost immediately in the person of Will McBride, Mud Creek’s new Mayor and son of the former owners of the Music Hall. Bonnie and Will set sparks off of each other from the start but they need to work together to keep both Mud Creek and the Music Hall history alive.  Molly Harper is on my auto-buy list. She always makes me laugh and this book is no different. Though not as snarky as the Jane Jameson books the humor in the bluegrass books is no less funny. Molly Harper has created a cast of quirky characters so real you feel like you know them.  I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.