May I introduce: Kay Springsteen "The 13 of Hearts"


The 13 of Hearts
by Kay Springsteen

It's such an honour to have Kay Springsteen as my guest today. I've read and loved Kay's "Heart" series, and I cannot wait to read this one as well.

She's one of the wonderful authors who are always willing to help others.

Please help me welcome her here with a big applause!
1 - Tell us how you came up with the story for The 13 of Hearts.

Well, 13 is book #5 in the Heartsight series. I started writing that series as a kind of U.S. Marine version of the TV show Army Wives. Rabbit had a supporting role in the third book of that series, Operation: Christmas Hearts. But the quirky, superstitious marine played so well off the other characters in the book, it soon became clear he would need his own story. I didn't want it to be a story that focused on his PTSD while at the same time that disorder would play a role.  So what better than a damsel in distress in the form of a  young mother on the run to liven up his time in the States?

2 - The book is dedicated to the wonderful Monique O'Connor with the royalties going towards a cancer fund. Tell us a bit more about this wonderful cause.

I knew Monique from before our Astraea Press days. I knew she had lost her own mother to cancer while at a tender age, so it's one of those particular ironies in life that she would pass away with her children so young. Anyone who has read The Keepers might have seen the original cover and noticed how similar to Monique the picture on the cover looked. We all kind of joked about it at the time, but she drew a lot on her own experiences of losing her mother to write that book. Now, Monique had a sense of humor that would actually appreciate the irony here. I have no doubt she hated leaving her children and family at such a critical time in their lives. But the storyteller in her would have put her own particular spin on things and joked that this was some kind of family curse. I loved that girl! Monique and Kristine Cheney were also close. When Monique found out Kristine has breast cancer, she was devastated - it had to have brought up tons of memories. But she dove right in and offered moral support. When I wrote the dedication for The 13 of Hearts, I fully planned to donate a couple of months' royalties to Monique's family. But at the last minute, I felt a strong conviction that Monique wanted that donation to go to Kristine's fight. So with great love for both of these women, I am dedicating the book in part to Monique and offering 100% of my October and November 2014 royalties in her name to aid Kristine in her fight.

3 - As big fans of you and your books, we'd love you to tell us about your next project.
The next project is actually two next projects. I have another installment in the series that began with my Regency, The Toymaker in the pipes - another book using a strong secondary character. And the final book of the Heart Stories, which will be called Heartsong. This one will center around returning USMC vet Greg Fiskar (whom we met in Heartsent and again in Heartfelt and also in The 13 of Hearts - the guy just won't go away). And where the opening book in that series (Heartsight) dealt with Down syndrome and blindness, Heartsong will revolve around deafness. But whose... that's kind of a secret.


Peter "Rabbit" Kincaid wasn't always superstitious but after several deployments with the US Marines, he's picked up a few quirks. His last tour of duty didn't go so well, and now he's back home recovering from injuries and awaiting clearance to get back in the fight. The fight is about to come to him in a different way.

Melinda "Lin" Doyle is a two-time US Marine widow on the run from the fallout of an incident that threatens to separate her from her two children. Making their home in a motel where she works for board and half pay, with her oldest child attending school under an assumed name isn't her idea of being Mother of the Year. Then again, neither is being at the center of a murder investigation.

Rabbit believes everything happens for a reason so when he and the young family cross paths multiple times over the course of a couple of days, he pays attention. Lin would rather the handsome Marine officer take his attention elsewhere before he ruins everything. How can they ever get along when everything they do appears to be at cross purposes?



Kay Springsteen is a romance junkie and a chocolate addict, who makes her home in Virginia near the Blue Ridge Mountains. She can and does write anywhere, and often incorporates little oddities of her everyday life into her stories. Her family has learned the hard way to maintain a low profile in order to stay off her radar, for fear they will find themselves crafted into her latest novel. Kay is a Christian, who is passionate about all life. She has been an outspoken advocate for homeless persons, family preservation, shelter pets, the environment, military and first responder personnel, community outreach, education, and people of all ages who have disabilities.

Kay can often be found taking long hikes in the mountains with one or two of her terrific rescue dogs, but she's just as content to stay home gardening or simply spending time with her wonderful family. You might even find her at Starbucks writing. But if she sees you, watch out! You might just end up in one of her books. She believes in magic and real-life fairy tales, and the romance of life, and knows everyone has a happily ever after waiting out there somewhere. But until you get to it, why not pick up a good book and think about the possibilities? 



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 The stiff September breeze puffed out the hood on the sweatshirt and the guy reached up a hand to push it off his head. Rabbit could have tripped over a grain of sand with shock. It was just a kid — early teens at most. He wasn’t nearly as tall as Rabbit had first judged, and he was skinny. Dark brown hair fell past his ears in bushy curls. His face was the color of paste, as though he spent a lot of time inside. And for as long as he’d been standing in front of the bill changer, he hadn’t managed to so much as scratch the front of the machine.

Not exactly a highly successful criminal.

“How’s it going?” asked Rabbit.

The kid jerked upright and then whirled and pressed his back against the wall, his hands curled into poorly formed fists. Rabbit sprung back, giving the kid lots of space, and held up his hands surrender-style.

“Hey, relax.” He kept his voice low and strove to inject calming tones. The kid looked like a scared jackrabbit, an irony that wasn’t lost on Rabbit. “I was just over there and saw you fighting with the machine. What it do? Eat your dollar or something?”

Surprise flickered in the silver-blue eyes before the kid averted them. “Yeah.”

Rabbit made an exaggerated show of looking around. “I don’t see a car. What were you planning to wash?”

The kid clamped his mouth closed and gave a one-shouldered shrug.

Oh, joy. Why did I decide to confront the kid again? Rabbit rubbed at the tension in the back of his neck. “Okay, I get it. None of my business anyway.” He glanced at the machine, noting that it could change anything from a one to a twenty. He reached into his back pocket and slipped his wallet in two fingers. “A stranger did me a favor once, so how about I do you one now? How much did you lose? Ten? Twenty?”

The kid raised a startled glance, his eyes wide. He closed his mouth quickly and shrugged. “It’s not important,” he mumbled, dropping his eyes. “It was just a buck.”

Rabbit hesitated with his fingers on a twenty. Either the kid was straight up or he was smart enough not to try to score off a stranger. He moved his fingers to separate a ten from the middle of a bunch of ones and extracted it. “Sorry, kid. I don’t have anything smaller. Go ahead and take this.”

The kid shrank against the wall. This time when he looked up at Rabbit, his eyes held a trace of defiance. “No, thanks.” He inched toward the bay.

Rabbit offered an unconcerned shrug as he stuffed the bill into his jacket pocket and took another step back to give the kid some space. His gut told him the boy was in some kind of trouble that had nothing whatsoever to do with the bill changer. His brain reminded him he wasn’t everyone’s superhero.

“Maybe I’ll see you around sometime. Take it easy.” Rabbit gave a sharp nod and turned. He got two paces.


Rabbit halted in mid-step and looked over his shoulder. “Yeah?”

The kid had picked up his backpack and slung it over one shoulder. He kept his arms slightly bent, his hands still curled into ineffectual fists. A muscle worked in his jaw but he looked less angry and more… wary?

“What do I have to do to get the ten?”

“Not a thing,” Rabbit answered, slowly turning the rest of the way around while he tried to gauge the reaction he was seeing. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the crumpled bill.

The kid licked his lips and took a hesitant step forward. “Really? Nothing? You’re not like — a perve or something?”

An electric jolt shocked Rabbit’s awareness. How old was this kid? Old enough to be well aware of the ways the world could go wrong, apparently. “Ah, no.” Rabbit shook his head. “I like my dates female, willing, and close to my age. What about you? Why aren’t you in school?”

“We got a half-day.”

Interesting, since he was the only kid around on an alleged half-day. Rabbit held out the ten. “Yeah? Lucky you.” And if the kid was hooking school, so what? Not your business, man. “Just tell me one thing,” he said as the kid took the bill and skittered sideways.


“You use drugs?”

The kid narrowed his eyes as he pulled himself up to his full height and jutted his chin out. “No. Users are losers.”

Rabbit nodded his approval. “Good. So why’d you change your mind?”

Eyes narrowed and hard, the boy stared at him for a few heartbeats, and Rabbit recognized that he was being sized up. Too bad the kid was such a difficult read. He’d love to know his overall score.

“That’s your second question.”

Rabbit had no power over the urge that pulled one corner of his mouth into a half smile. The kid had definitely bested him there. “Yep, it is. So I guess you don’t have to answer.” He stepped backward. If the kid was ready to end the conversation, Rabbit wouldn’t prolong it. But to his surprise, the kid’s face screwed up with some vague emotion.

“I’m hungry,” he blurted. His hand shook, but he offered the ten back. “I didn’t lose any money in the dollar changer. I was trying to get something out of it.”

So much for not his business. The kid’s admission had just made it exactly that. Rabbit waved off on the fluttering ten and then rubbed his jaw while he considered what to do. Obviously the boy was at least a little savvy about strangers. He’d maintained some distance and he didn’t trust easily. It had taken a lot for him to admit to being hungry, though, and something wasn’t ringing right.

“I’m… Pete,” said Rabbit, still smiling, though he was unsure why. “But most of my friends call me Rabbit.”

The kid snickered. “You’re name’s Pete Rabbit?”




  1. Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog!