Friday, April 14, 2023

Spotlight and Blog Tour of The Last Lap by Christy Hayes

Published March 7, 2023


A man seeking closure after the death of his estranged brother. A woman grieving her sister and best friend. A connection they never saw coming. 

More than the temperature heats up in USA Today Bestselling Author Christy Hayes’ unforgettable page-turning romance about two tortured souls and their collision course with love.

Megan Holloway has learned a few hard truths in her twenty-eight-years. Life isn’t fair. People she loves always leave. 

And she’ll be stuck on Key West running her parents’ gift store and
raising her twelve-year-old niece for the rest of her life.

Thirty-year-old Bryan Westfall has come to Key West to clean out his dead brother’s apartment and search for answers about the woman who died with his estranged older brother. 

Bryan didn’t know the woman had a daughter and he sure didn’t expect her sister to floor him with her beauty and biting brashness.

Bryan’s persistent need to help and Meg’s bumbling business skills create an unlikely union.

The more time they spend together, the more their feelings become too powerful to deny. 

Meg knows Bryan is leaving at the end of the summer and Bryan knows Meg is holding back to spareherself needless heartache. 

When a  hurricane forces them to evacuate, Meg mentally prepares to let Bryan go while Bryan wonders if home is where he came from or is with the woman who stole his heart.


He inched the door open a crack and his heart jammed into his throat. Instead of a beefy henchman, a willowy redhead stood fuming on his doorstep. He swung the door open wide and gawked at Amanda Holloway’s sister, tapping her sandaled foot on the mat.
“Stay away from us.” Her velvet voice quivered with rage. “Do you understand me?”
“Uh …” Bryan couldn’t organize his thoughts into anything resembling words. Seeing her in the store had been like a punch to the gut. Standing inches away on his doorstep where he could count the freckles across her nose and smell the perfume on her skin left him senseless. The woman didn’t need a baseball bat. She wielded a punch with her presence.
“You’ve got nothing to say?”
He extended his hand. “I’m Bryan Westfall. It’s nice to officially meet you.”
“Nice?” She gave his hand a death stare and her tone pitched higher. “You think this is a social call?”
Bryan dropped his hand. “I don’t have a clue what this is.”
“This is a warning.” She aimed a finger in his face. “Do not come near me, my niece, or our store, ever again. I don’t know what you’re doing here, but you’re not going to weasel your way into our lives like your brother did. He did enough damage, thank you very much.”
Whatever evidence Bryan had been searching for landed squarely at his feet with her threat. Corey’s presence in this woman’s life had changed it for the worse. “Listen …”
“I’m sorry for your loss, Meg.”
His simple statement and quiet tone stopped her cold. She straightened her stance and folded her arms across her V-necked white t-shirt, an apostrophe forming between her brows. “What do you want from us? Why are you here?”
Bryan stepped back. “Why don’t you come in and I’ll explain.”
The crevice between her brows deepened and she shook her head. “I don’t think so.”
Of course she didn’t trust him. He was a stranger. His brother had slithered into her sister’s life and torn it to shreds. Meg was the living, breathing, reminder of what happened when people let Corey and his devil-may-care outlook into their orbit. “I’m cleaning out Corey’s apartment. Trying to piece together his last few months.”
“You’re his brother.” It wasn’t so much a statement as an accusation.
“You and your sister were close?”
The sadness in her eyes said as much as her choked agreement. Grief sat just below the surface. One tiny shift was all it took to uncover her pain. “Very close.”
“Corey and I …” How could he explain their complicated relationship? He couldn’t, not without a history lesson she didn’t care to hear. “We had a falling out.”
She snorted. “Of course you did.” She stared past him into the apartment filled with boxes labeled for charity. “That must make this pretty easy for you, huh? Boxing up his stuff, giving it away as if he never existed. You’re probably relieved he’s gone. No more fighting, no more messy feelings about your flesh and blood.”
Shame heated the skin of his neck, giving his voice a dangerous edge. “Nothing about this is easy.”
“My sister and I lived and worked together.” She raised her chin in the air, determined to drive her point home. “We raised her daughter together. Nothing about losing her was easy on any of us. I’m sorry for your loss, Bryan, but you can look for answers elsewhere. We’ve been through enough. The last thing we need is another slick-talking Westfall poking around where he doesn’t belong.”
Would she feel better or worse to know they shared the same impression of Corey? He decided not to find out. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to trouble you.”
“It’s too late for that. Just hear me loud and clear—leave us alone. Pack your stuff and go back where you came from. Whatever Corey was up to before he died doesn’t change the outcome. He’s dead and he dragged Amanda down with him. If you care at all about those of us left behind, you’ll go and never come back.”
She turned to leave, and a panicked surge of impatience had him stepping toward her, had him saying something he should have thought through. “I know you feel—”
She turned back so quickly her hair tangled in her teeth. She pulled the strands free and speared him with an angry scowl. “You don’t have a clue how I feel.”
He didn’t, not really, but neither did she. “I lost my brother, too.”
She closed her mouth and stared at him, the heat coloring her cheeks dimmed.
“Maybe we weren’t close. Maybe I couldn’t have changed the outcome, but you’re not the only one grieving. He may be the villain, but he was my brother. He was a man—a flawed man—with a family who cared. I’m not here to get you all worked up, but I need answers. My family needs answers.”
She watched him with wary, grass-green eyes. “Your answers don’t involve us.”
“Your sister knew him better than anyone.”
She shook her head and the red strands caught fire in the sunlight. “That’s not saying a lot.”
He had no other option but to beg. “Please, Meg. I don’t know where else to turn.”
She stared at him, grasping the strap of the leather bag slung over her shoulder in a chokehold. “Then I guess you’re out of luck.” She pivoted and strode away, eating up ground with her long, slender legs.
Bryan watched the sway of her miniskirt as she stormed off, then closed the door and turned to face Corey’s apartment. He rubbed the ache in his gut. He may have needed answers, but finding them just got a whole lot harder.



On writing:

How did you do research for your book?
The internet is a wonderful resource and has saved a lot of time in researching. Whenever possible, I reach out to people and ask questions. People are very generous and willing to talk when you tell them you are doing research for a book.

Which was the hardest character to write? The easiest?

Meg was the hardest because she had so much on her plate. I’m a mother and I understand the pressure of raising a pre-teen, however Lily wasn’t technically her child and her role switched from supportive aunt to mom without any warning. When you add in her overwhelming grief, that relationship was difficult to write and keep authentic. Dustin was a hard secondary character to write simply because at the time I didn’t know what the issues were with his marriage.

Where do you get inspiration for your stories?

Often snippets from the news or traveling to new locations. Travel and new experiences really seem to wake up the creative side of my brain.

There are many contemporary romance books out there. What makes yours different?
I’m trying to bridge the gap between the ultra-steamy contemporary romance genre and the no-steam sweet romance. In my opinion, the last decade or so has seen a rise in the steam level of romance novels and I don’t think all readers want such graphic content.

What advice would you give budding writers?
The advice I would give all writers is to keep writing, keep learning, read craft books, take classes, go to conferences, and be prepared to do the hard work. Writing isn’t easy and it doesn’t pay well so if you’re looking for money or fame you should look elsewhere.

Your book is set in Key West. Have you ever been there?

Yes, several times. This idea was spawned by a trip my husband and I took with another couple. The guys are big fly fisherman and while they fished the wives shopped and walked around the island.

If you could put yourself as a character in your book, who would you be?
I’d be Meg. Like her, I’m the younger sister of a big personality older sister. It’s a unique dynamic where you idolize your older sister and resent her in equal measure.

Do you have another profession besides writing?
Being a wife and mom are my full-time profession, but my kids are both grown. We have two dogs, a couple horses, and a new brood of chickens, so my second profession is probably animal caretaker.

How long have you been writing?
I was a journalism major in college, but I started writing fiction when my youngest child went to kindergarten almost twenty years ago.

Do you ever get writer’s block? What helps you overcome it?
I’m not a plotter, so I get a little off track in the middle of my stories. The best method I’ve found to overcome the muddy middle is to read a craft book. A good craft book always gets me back on track.

What is your next project?
I’m working on Dustin’s story. He’s a character in The Last Lap whose marriage is in serious trouble.

What genre do you write and why?
I write contemporary romance and women’s fiction as they are the fiction genres I like to read. I don’t have an interest in researching and writing historical romance or the bandwidth to create whole new worlds for fantasy.

What is the last great book you’ve read?
I really enjoyed Kate Clayborn’s Best of Luck, the third book in her Chance of a Lifetime series. It’s not a new book but I really admired the depth of both characters, and her writing is superb.

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?

Whenever someone says the characters or situations are realistic, that to me is the best compliment.

How are you similar to or different from your lead character?
Meg and I are both younger sisters, but the comparison ends there. I’m lucky enough to have met the love of my life in college and I’ve been married for thirty years this November.

If your book were made into a movie, who would star in the leading roles?
Maybe Emma Stone as Meg and Milo Ventimiglia as Bryan. Cliché choices, but they fit. She’s beautiful in an unconventional way and he’s adorable.

What were the biggest rewards and challenges with writing your book?
I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to navigate dating and single parenting when you are solely responsible for raising a child. Allowing Meg take time for herself but also be Lily’s rock was a delicate balance.

In one sentence, what was the road to publishing like?
Long and winding. I had written about three manuscripts before I felt ready to query agents. I would write a book, have it edited, and then query while writing a new book. When I was done with the next book and had it edited, I would then start the cycle over again with the new book. I decided to jump off the hamster wheel of write, edit, query in 2011 when self-publishing was still pretty new. My writing friends were supportive, but they also thought I was crazy. It was the wild west back then.

What is one piece of advice you would give to an aspiring author?
Don’t count on paying your bills as a writer. Unfortunately, the content creators are not paid enough for what they do. My greatest fear is that AI will demolish the industry, especially romance.

Which authors inspired you to write?
Honestly, I read a book and thought I could do better. It took me a long time to get to the point where I could.


On rituals:

Do you snack while writing?
No snacking.

Where do you write?
I typically write while exercising on my incumbent bike or walking at a slow pace on my treadmill. Movement helps get the creative juices flowing. My husband works from home so I write on my laptop away from the sound of his voice so I can concentrate.

Do you write every day?
Most days, yes.

What is your writing schedule?

Whenever I can find the time. I’d be more productive with a set schedule.

Is there a specific ritualistic thing you do during your writing time?
I read back through the last few pages to get my head in the story before moving forward.


Fun stuff:

Favorite travel spot?
When it’s cold in the South, I like to go where it’s warm. I like the US Virgin Islands because it’s an easy flight from Atlanta and the weather is beautiful. When it’s summer and too hot to be outside, I like to go out West, specifically Colorado.

Favorite dessert?
Ice cream. No contest.

If you were stuck on a deserted island, which 3 books would you want with you?
The Bible, a survival book, and maybe an old Nora Roberts or Susan Elizabeth Phillips book.

Any hobbies?
People think we are crazy for all the animals we have. We are down to two dogs, but we usually have three and we take them with us whenever we can. The horses came along about five years ago, and the chickens are brand new. I love caring for animals. They teach us so much about life.

If there is one thing you want readers to remember about you, what would it be?
Writers are normal people who have active imaginations. Our lives are not as exciting as the stories we write, and we write about things that pique our interest. For me, writing is a way to explore new ideas, learn about different professions, and meet new people.

What is something you've learned about yourself during the pandemic?
When it comes down to it, nothing matters but our health. I learned not to trust the “experts” and to listen to my gut.

What TV series are you currently binge watching?
We love the Netflix docuseries about Formula 1 and professional golf.

What is your favorite thing to do in the spring?
I love to go to antique stores, especially with my adult daughter.

What is something that made you laugh recently?
My dogs make me laugh daily. I love watching funny Instagram videos. Our family is always sending funny videos to each another.

What is your go-to breakfast item?
Hot tea.

What is the oldest item of clothing you own?
I still own a pair of rain shoes I’ve had since high school.

Tell us about your longest friendship.
My longest friendship is with my sister and believe it or not, we still like each other. ;)

What is the strangest way you've become friends with someone?
I was the ghostwriter for a faith-based father-son memoir after doing research for a book on athletes injured playing football and stumbled across a CaringBridge page from a family in Iowa. I reached out to the dad after being incredibly moved by the entries and ended up writing their story. We are friends to this day.



Christy Hayes is a USA Today Bestselling author. She grew up along the eastern seaboard and received two degrees from the University of Georgia. 
An avid reader, she writes romanceand women’s fiction. 
Christy and her husband have two grown children and live with a houseful of dogs in the foothills of north Georgia.



When I first started writing The Last Lap, I had a very vague outline in mind—the two main characters, Meg and Bryan, the death of their siblings, Amanda and Corey, and some of the obstacles Meg and Bryan had to overcome to find their happy ever after. As I began writing, I needed to give each of the characters a support system since no one goes through life alone.

Meg had her niece, Lily, and her two older friends, Eva and Barb, owners of the flower shop next to Meg’s gift store, A Day’s Wait. Bryan needed someone in his corner, so I created for him a best friend he’d known since childhood—the brother of his heart since he had such a complicated relationship with the brother of his blood.

Thinking back, I’m not sure why I gave Dustin marriage problems, but it turned out to be a good idea because it allowed Dustin to spend time in Key West with Bryan after his marriage imploded. Dustin stayed in that neat little box until the end of the book.

Having left his thread unfinished, I had to tell Dustin’s story and thus began my current work in progress. Let me tell you, this yet-to-be-named story is a hard slog. First of all, I had no idea what their issues were, who his wife Tegan was as a person, and how they would go about fixing a broken marriage. Fortunately, I’m happily married—going on thirty years this November—so I’d waded into uncharted territory.

One of the best things about being a writer is doing research. I’ve found that people are very generous with their time and talents when you ask for help. I reached out to a marriage counselor who provided invaluable advice and material for therapy. I also connected with someone who works in Tegan’s profession and whose personal life coincidentally mirrored Dustin and Tegan. She offered a wealth of information from both a professional and personal perspective.

While being an author is a sometimes-lonely profession, no one operates in a vacuum. Behind every book are a dozen helpful hidden people who guide authors along the imaginative journey. We couldn’t complete our work without the selfless help of others.

What about you? If someone approached you and asked questions about your life and profession for a book, would you be willing to share? Let me know. I may need you as a source someday ;).


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