Skip to main content

Interview and excerpt - BLUEGRASS BLESSINGS by Allie Pleiter

Captain's Log, Stardate 07.23.2009

Bluegrass Blessings
Allie Pleiter

Everyone in Middleburg, Kentucky lines up for baker Dinah Hopkins’s cinnamon rolls. Everyone except her handsome new landlord, Cameron Rollings. The jaded city man doesn’t like anything about small-town life--from the fresh air to her fresh-baked snickerdoodles. And he clearly considers Dinah as quirky as her eccentric oven. The way to Cameron’s heart is not through his toned stomach. But the Lord led him to Kentucky Corners for a reason. And Dinah plans to help him count his bluegrass blessings.

Excerpt of chapter one:

"You can't do this." Dinah Hopkins glared mercilessly at the oven knobs. "I own you. You work for me and insubordination of any kind will not be permitted. Capiche?"

Her New York mobster impersonation failed to impress, for the pilot light still stared at her with one blue, unblinking eye. For lack of a better solution, she whacked the side of the cold oven with her rolling pin. Whacked. That was a gangster term, right?

"Whacked, as in end of life. As in light this minute or it's the end of my life, buster." Dinah fiddled with another knob or two, which had worked last week to get the fickle thing started, and checked the gas connection. "All's well, you iron beast, you've got gas and flame but what I need is heat. So heat. I can't exactly run a bakery with a microwave. Bakeries have ovens. Nice, obedient, toasty ovens."

The blue unblinking eye mocked her. Okay, let's try a little tenderness. "C'mon, baby, you know you want to. It's a brand new year. You see that dough over there just begging to be sticky buns? You can do that. You're the one who makes it happen. Let's get cooking." Dinah stroked the side of one burner as if she really could tickle an oven under the chin. She straightened up, blew a lock of her bright red hair out of her eyes, and listened to the hideous silence. No ticking sound, no heating metal, no hot oven.

No response. "I'm your master and I said 'heat!'"

"Don't you mean mistress?"

Dinah jumped at the unexpected male voice, spinning around ready to wield her rolling pin upon the intruder. The thing was large enough to be a weapon, that's for sure. She dropped it on her toe once and limped for a week. She pointed it now at the dark stranger standing in her doorway. For a misguided robber dumb enough to enter a business with the lights on at two in the morning, he sure looked calm. And he was barefoot. And what was with the T-shirt and sweatpants? Didn't criminals wear black cat-suits? "Who are you and how did you get in here?"

The man yawned. "Could you put that thing down?" He reached into one pocket.

"Not a chance, buster." Dinah waved the rolling pin around to let him know just how serious she was about breaking a rib or two with it. She lunged for his hand just as he… pulled his glasses out of his pocket and held them out.

"Glasses," he said, fixing the expensive-looking tortoise shell frames onto his face. "Not firearms." Now he looked even less like a criminal. More like an accountant home sick with the flu.

"You've got ten seconds to tell me who you are." Dinah hoped that even in flip-flops, she could outrun him to the police station if he tried anything. Especially after she threw the rolling pin to bruise his trespassing little shins.

He scratched his stubbly chin. He had thick, dark hair. "Do you realize what time it is?"

"Time for you to get out of my bakery before I call the police. I'm sure they know what time it is."

"Sandy said you opened the bakery at six, maybe started baking at four. That was bad enough, but it's two. That's just not acceptable, no matter what you may have done in the past, so let's get that out on the table right now."

Sandy Burnside owned the building next door and hers as well. Oh no. Dinah put down the rolling pin and groaned. Sandy evidently did have a new tenant. A trespassing boor who decided it was okay to order perfect strangers around. "You're Sandy's new tenant? How'd you get in here?"

"Can I reach in my pocket again without the risk of pummeling?" The man did so and drew out a key. That still didn't explain anything. "I thought I heard something strange going on."

"My coming to work is strange?" Great. Not another one of those "the world is my territory and I must save the day" types. Dinah Hopkins was no damsel in distress and she surely didn't take to being treated like one in her own kitchen.

He yawned. "Someone assaulting an appliance in clown clothes at two in the morning is not strange?"

Dinah felt a surge of regret for the purple tank top and red striped pajama pants she currently wore. She always came down from her apartment upstairs—she had a direct stairway in the back—to start the ovens and put the first batch of buns in while she was still in her pajamas. "Some stranger sneaking into my bakery at two in the morning is strange enough. Once more, for the record, who are you?"

"Cameron Rollings. Your new neighbor. I moved in above Mr. MacCarthy's office next door."

"I can't say I care for your version of neighborliness, Mr. Rollings. And do you want to tell me why Sandy chose to hand over my bakery keys to a total stranger?"

He raked his fingers through his unruly hair and straightened up. "Because I'm also your new landlord. I bought this building from Sandy last week while you were on vacation."

"You what?" He winced. She hadn't really thought she yelled that loud given her state of shock. When Sandy had casually mentioned wanting to sell off some of her real estate holdings some weeks back, Dinah had started saving. She couldn't put away much, but in another year, she might be able to make a small downpayment on the space that held her bakery and apartment. She'd never expected Sandy to sell so fast. While she was gone. To this guy. I hate him already. Sorry, Lord, but he stole my bakery. That's not fair.

"I bought this building. I'm staying in Sandy's other apartment, the one above MacCarthy's office, while I build a house on some of the other land I bought from her further out of town. So, I'm your neighbor for just a while but your landlord from here on in." He took a step toward her, adjusting his glasses. Even at this hour and in sweats, he had a well-mannered look about him—something in the precision of his haircut, the elegance of his glasses, the way he carried himself. He looked like the kind of guy who wore a tie to work every day and got his shirts done at the dry cleaner.

Lord, you know how those suit-and-tie types make me break out in hives. Why didn't I talk to Sandy about this before now? Now I'll never own the bakery outright. Not fair! Not fair! The plan was for me to buy the bakery and own my own building!

"I had planned to come down and introduce myself properly," he continued with a hint of a smile. "You know, in the daylight. Like normal people."

"Yeah, we all see how well that plan turned out, don't we? How come Sandy sold to an out-of-towner?"

"It was a sudden thing. Anyway, formal introductions and residency requirements aren't needed to buy property in New York. Is this a Kentucky thing I didn't know about?" He yawned again. "I don't suppose you've got any coffee on?"

Dinah glared at his dodging of the question. "I wasn't planning on company. The bakery coffee machines take half an hour to heat up. My little, fast coffeepot's upstairs. Where I live. Where I go back to get dressed for the day after the oven turns on. When the oven turns on, that is." She spun in a chaotic circle, grabbing a fistful of hair in one hand. "But it's no business of yours how I start my day. Come back at six when we open…. Hey, wait a minute, it is your business. Okay, Mr.… what's your name again?"

"Rollings. Cameron Rollings."

Dinah straightened up. "Mr. Rollings, sir, my oven is broken. That's a landlord thing, isn't it? You own the place, you've gotta fix my oven, right?"

Rollings came over and sat on one of the stainless steel stools that stood next to the work counter. "Under normal circumstances, that'd be true. But your lease with Sandy states that you merely rent the space and all the specialized bakery appliances are your responsibility."

He was right. She'd completely forgotten about that because nothing had ever broken in the nearly year and a half she'd been running the Taste and See Bakery. That didn't really change matters, because as it stood, there wasn't anything she could do to get things baking in time to open today. Why is it the world always goes to pieces my first day back from vacation?

"On the other hand," he said, "if the oven in your apartment breaks, I guess that is my problem."

Her oven. She didhave another oven! Sure, it was about one-third the size, but it was better than nothing. "My kitchen oven works. I could put some of this in there."

"So go put some of these…" He pointed to the tray of dough on the counter with one eyebrow raised.

"Sticky buns."

"Sticky buns in your apartment oven. I suppose I can see if there's anything to be done down here. For the sake of my future sleeping opportunities."

Dinah grabbed one of the two trays of dough, then stopped. "You can't."

He exhaled. "I know I'm not exactly the Maytag repairman…"

"You're barefoot. You can't. Regulations. You've got to have shoes on."

"Fine, I'll go upstairs and…"

Dinah reached down and pulled the fuchsia flip-flops off her feet and handed them to Rollings. "Here, wear these."

He stared at them. Sure, they had polka dots on the soles, but it wasn't like she was asking him to walk down the street in them. Slowly, as if they might inflict pain once applied, he took them from her. "And what are you going to wear?"

"I'm going upstairs to my apartment. I've got thirty-four more pairs up there, so chances are I'll find something."

Cameron found himself in an empty kitchen in the middle of the night, kneeling in front of an iron stove that looked as if it had lived through World War One, in pink flip-flops.

The new year was not off to a good start.

If anyone had told him even two months ago that he'd find himself in this circumstance, he might have called security and had them thrown out of his office.

Until, of course, his boss had called security and had Cameron thrown out of his own office. Funny thing, those bosses. They don't take kindly to being told their companies are corrupt. Not at Landemere Properties where Cameron worked—ahem, used to work—before he was told, in terms persuasive enough to make an employment attorney salivate, that his desk should be emptied and his resignation should be on the boss's desk within the hour.

You know, Lord, when I said that prayer asking what to do about the moral problems I was having with work? I wasn't really asking to leave my job. Or the state.

Cameron was just pondering his new sorry circumstances when Dinah Hopkins returned. In a lime green T-shirt slightly nicer than what she'd had on earlier, jeans and beaded green flip-flops. Maybe the woman really did own three dozen pairs—the greens matched exactly. She brushed her hands on the legs of her jeans. "Did you get it going?"

Other than stare at the iron monstrosity and twiddle a few knobs, Cameron realized he hadn't done anything. He was more of a microwave-frozen food kind of guy—he couldn't even remember the last time he'd turned on the oven in his old apartment. "Nothing doing. The pilot light's on, though."

"Well," she said sitting back on one hip with her arms crossed, "I know that." She paused for a moment, running a finger absentmindedly through a lock of red hair. That couldn't be her real color, could it? Tomato-red like that? Then again, with those freckles, maybe it could. It wasn't like anything else about her was subtle. "Okay, then," she said abruptly, grabbing the remaining tray of sticky buns. "We'll have to use yours, too."


"You. Your oven. Between the two ovens, I might be able to get enough buns and muffins baking to see me through the morning."

"Oh, no."

"Hey, you're up and all."

He reached under his glasses to rub his eyes. "I don't want to be." She parked her hands on her hips. He guessed she thought she was giving him a fierce look, but he'd seen far fiercer any given workday—her "ferocity" was mostly just entertaining. Like he'd just been launched into a bluegrass I Love Lucy episode without his consent. "This oven, as I just said, is not my problem to solve. I was merely trying to be helpful, but you look very resourceful—I'm sure you can get by on your own." He reached down to remove the hideous flip-flops, which didn't even make it halfway down his feet anyway, and handed them back. "I'm going back to bed, Miss Hopkins."

She put her hand out to stop the transfer of footwear. "You know my name?"

Cameron yawned again. "It did come up in the real estate transaction. Pertinent detail and all."

She pushed the flip-flops back toward him. "Well, as I see it, my oven is your problem."

It was becoming a struggle to remain civil about being roused out of bed by a flame-haired, loud-mouthed tornado in the middle of the night. "Not according to my paperwork. And believe me, Miss Hopkins, I read my paperwork." He thrust the pink monstrosities back in her direction.

"Well, if I can't open my bakery, I can't earn money. And if I can't earn money, then I can't pay my rent. So, unlessen you want to start off the year badly, I reckon it is your problem."

The Southern phraseology in her East Coast accent was just absurd. He glared at her. "Exactly what part of New Jersey are you from?"

That stopped her. "Exactly how much do you know about me?"

Exactly too much. And none of it prepared me for this. "I'm going back to bed now."

"By all means. I won't need any supervision from you. I'll just slip in and slip out, moving batches in and out of your oven. You'll never even know I'm there."

Oh, he doubted that. "No."

"Look, do you understand the concept of a bakery? It generally involves baked goods. That means baking. And you know, Mr. I'll-just-show-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-and-scare-the-pants-off-my-new-tenant, my day is off to a really bad start."

Cameron took off his glasses and gave her his most domineering I-am-immovable-on-the-subject look. "And you know, I can't imagine what that feels like."

That set her back a bit. As if she'd just realized most of the civilized world didn't take kindly to rising so painfully early. So early it was actually still late. The pity was just a flash across her features, replaced almost immediately by a sharp scowl. "Well, fine, then. Be like that. Just what kind of heartless beast did Sandy sell to, anyway?"

"Her nephew," he shot back. He hadn't intended to let her know that just yet, but his growing exasperation pulled it out of him. Aunt Sandy told him Dinah could be a handful.

And now, here's me and Allie!

If your heroine made a cake, what would it be like and why?

Well, now, this is an easy question because Dinah is a baker, and she loves to make cakes most of all. Partially because they are such works of art--and she thinks of herself as an artist--and also because they are usually parts of celebrations. She loves anything out of the ordinary, so I imagine she’d dream up some astonishing flavor combinations (this is, after all, a woman who bakes gingerbread hippos). And the frosting? I suspect there’d be gobs and gobs of it. Wow, I’m getting hungry now...

If your hero were a professional athlete, what would he do and why?

Dinah had a stellar basketball career in high school, so she’d definitely go for a hoops career. In Kentucky, basketball is serious business, so that’d be just fine with Dinah.

What’s your favorite scene from the book?

One of my favorite scenes involves our hero, Cameron, creating a scheme to get mayor Howard Epson to buy burnt cookies for a good cause. Cameron’s relationship with Howard was just one surprise after another in this book, which made it great fun to write.

What’s the cutest shoe you ever bought?

That’s not a fair question at the moment, because I’ve been struggling with a nasty case of plantar fasciitis and have had to ditch my entire shoe collection in favor of three very basic shoes that hold my orthotic inserts. Believe me, you have to search long and hard to find cute orthotic shoes, but I have managed to find some near-cute ones from Aravon and NAOT. You have to wonder what God had in mind by having me write a heroine who owns 30-odd pair of flip-flops when I’ve had to trash every single pair of my own...

What’s the knitting project you’re most proud of and why?

I’m proud of many of them, for the skills they represent, but I think I’m most proud of the prayer shawls we make at our church. I’d heard of that ministry while doing some research for MY SO-CALLED LOVE LIFE and the resulting group at our church has been one of the most spiritually amazing things I’ve ever done. A group of women meets monthly to knit shawls, pray over them, and give them out to people in need of comfort or healing. I could tell you the most astounding stories!

You’re off the hotseat! Any parting words?

Only that the next book in the Kentucky Corners series, BLUEGRASS CHRISTMAS, will be out in October of this year.

Camy here: Thanks so much for being here, Allie!

Buy from
Buy from

Popular Posts


Source: via Camy on Pinterest In-N-Out, one of my fav burger joints, makes an appearance in the first chapter of A Dangerous Stage . It's a chain on the West Coast and Hawaii, I'm not sure how far east they have restaurants. They don't freeze any of their food, it's all fresh, including the buns and the french fries. When you order, you can see them use this french fry hand-crank machine to make their fries, it's pretty cool. The specific restaurant in A Dangerous Stage doesn't exist at that location, but there's a couple of them near me and I go there way too often than is good for me, but it's oh-so-yummy!

No Cold Bums toilet seat cover

Captain's Log, Stardate 08.22.2008 I actually wrote out my pattern! I was getting a lot of hits on my infamous toilet seat cover , and I wanted to make a new one with “improvements,” so I paid attention and wrote things down as I made the new one. This was originally based off the Potty Mouth toilet cover , but I altered it to fit over the seat instead of the lid. Yarn: any worsted weight yarn, about 120 yards (this is a really tight number, I used exactly 118 yards. My suggestion is to make sure you have about 130 yards.) I suggest using acrylic yarn because you’re going to be washing this often. Needle: I used US 8, but you can use whatever needle size is recommended by the yarn you’re using. Gauge: Not that important. Mine was 4 sts/1 inch in garter stitch. 6 buttons (I used some leftover shell buttons I had in my stash) tapestry needle Crochet hook (optional) Cover: Using a provisional cast on, cast on 12 stitches. Work in garter st until liner measures

Year of the Dog serial novel

About Year of the Dog : A month or two ago, I remembered an old manuscript I had completed but which hadn’t sold. It was a contemporary romance meant for Zondervan, titled Year of the Dog . The book had gone into the pipeline and I even got another title ( Bad Dog ) and a cover for it, but eventually my editor at the time decided she didn’t want to publish it, for various reasons. She instead requested a romantic suspense, and so I cannibalized some of the characters from Year of the Dog and thrust them into the next book I wrote, which was Protection for Hire . Honestly, I didn’t take a lot from Year of the Dog to put in Protection for Hire , aside from character names and a few relationship ties. I was originally thinking I’d post Year of the Dog as-is on my blog as a free read, but then it occurred to me that I could revamp it into a romantic suspense and change the setting to Hawaii. It would work out perfectly as (yet another) prequel to the Warubozu series and introduc

Sweet & Clean Christmas Romance sale

I’m participating in the Sweet & Clean Christmas Romance sale. Check out all the sweet/clean romance books available and stuff your eBook reader! Sweet & Clean Christmas Romance

99c Squeaky Clean Christmas Romance sale

I’m participating in the 99c Squeaky Clean Christmas Romance sale. Check out all the sweet/clean romance books available and stuff your eBook reader! 99c Squeaky Clean Christmas Romance

Daniel 9:9

Dear Lord, Thank you for being so merciful and forgiving to us no matter what we’ve done or where we’ve been. Thank you for loving us so much, even when we find it hard to love ourselves. Even if we have rejected you, you still reach out to us and want us to come to you for love and comfort and forgiveness. Thank you for your magnificent grace. Amen 主よ、 私たちが何をしようと、どこにいようと、私たちを憐れみ、赦してくださりありがとうございます。私たちが自分自身を愛することが難しいときでさえ、私たちをこんなにも愛してくださってありがとうございます。たとえ私たちがあなたを拒んだとしても、あなたは私たちに手を差し伸べ、愛と慰めと赦しを求めてあなたのもとに来ることを望んでくださいます。あなたの素晴らしい恵みに感謝します。 アーメン

Year of the Dog serial novel, chapter 19

I’m posting a Humorous Christian Romantic Suspense serial novel here on my blog! Year of the Dog is a (second) prequel to my Warubozu Spa Chronicles series. Year of the Dog serial novel by Camy Tang Mari Mutou, a professional dog trainer, is having a bad year. While renovating her new dog kenneling and training facility, she needs to move in with her disapproving family, who have always made her feel inadequate—according to them, a job requiring her to be covered in dog hair and slobber is an embarrassment to the family. She convinces her ex-boyfriend to take her dog for a few months … but discovers that his brother is the irate security expert whose car she accidentally rear-ended a few weeks earlier. Ashwin Keitou has enough problems. His aunt has just shown up on his doorstep, expecting to move in with him, and he can’t say no because he owes her everything—after his mother walked out on them, Auntie Nell took in Ashwin and his brother and raised them in a loving Chri

Clean Romance Deals

I’m participating in the Clean Romance Deals sale. Check out all the sweet/clean romance books available and stuff your eBook reader! Clean Romance Deals

Michael’s Scarf knitting pattern

Michael’s Gray and Brown Scarf I had just written a scene in Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 5: Prisoner where my character Michael gives the heroine a very significant scarf. When looking for a stitch pattern, I found the one used in “#31 Comfort either for a Lady or Gentleman” in The Lady's Assistant , volume 2 , published in 1842 by Mrs. Jane Gaugain, pages 125-126 (click on the link to view and/or download the free PDF of the digitally scanned book). When I did test swatches, it turned out to be a pretty eyelet pattern that looks like branches or vines winding upward. I tried the pattern as a parallelogram scarf and discovered that the pattern has a changeable orientation, looking vertical or diagonal depending on how you looked at it. So I decided to use this pattern, knitted as a parallelogram, as Michael’s scarf. I decided to use a smaller needle and add a slip stitch in the pattern to make the eyelets a bit more close and less lacy. When paired with a brown an

Grace Livingston Hill romances free to read online

I wanted to update my old post on Grace Livingston Hill romances because now there are tons more options for you to be able to read her books for free online! I’m a huge Grace Livingston Hill fan. Granted, not all her books resonate with me, but there are a few that I absolutely love, like The Enchanted Barn and Crimson Roses . And the best part is that she wrote over 100 books and I haven’t yet read them all! When I have time, I like to dive into a new GLH novel. I like the fact that most of them are romances, and I especially appreciate that they all have strong Christian themes. Occasionally the Christian content is a little heavy-handed for my taste, but it’s so interesting to see what the Christian faith was like in the early part of the 20th century. These books are often Cinderella-type stories or A Little Princess (Frances Hodgson Burnett) type stories, which I love. And the best part is that they’re all set in the early 1900s, so the time period is absolutely fasci