Book Spotlight: Heart Soul & Rock ‘N’ Roll by Janet Stafford

Heart Soul & Rock 'N' Roll A Mid-Life Love StoryAbout the Book:

Forty-year-old Lindsay Mitchell is an assistant minister at a church where she’s always been happy. But suddenly she misses her old college rock band. “I just want to rock one more time before I die,” she moans to friends Sue and Patti. When Patti invites her to vacation at Point Pleasant Beach, Lins meets Neil Gardner, front man for the Grim Reapers. The two have musical chemistry. But a whirlwind romance with a broke, agnostic musician who lives over a music store? That just might be more than Lins bargained for.

Book Excerpt:

The human mind is a funny thing. I was going to have dinner and a drink in a public place with a guy named Neil Gardner. We were going to talk music, which I adored. And yet all I could do was think of the many reasons why I should break the date.

“He’s not my type,” I complained over breakfast.

Patti poured herself another cup of coffee. “You’re supposed to have a good time, not marry the guy.”

“I don’t even know if I like him.”

“You have chemistry.” Patti took a sip from her cup.

“That was onstage!”

“Yes, it was. But two people don’t sing together like that without something being there.”

Song-sex again. I mushed my raisin bran down with a spoon. “It was just a performance, not…” I searched for the right words. “Some sort of mutual attraction.”

“I think the lady doth protest too much.”

I shut my mouth and vowed to say nothing further about the matter. I maintained my petulant silence all through the morning. We went to the beach. I slathered sunscreen on my exposed parts, put on a hat, wore my shades, and sat – rather huffily, I must confess – under an umbrella. Eventually, Patti coaxed me into the water. After jumping a few waves with her, my bruised feelings began to fade and I was my old self again. We laughed, swam, sunbathed, and had lunch. In the afternoon we took a nap and afterward walked around town.

However, as seven o’clock inched ever closer, my anxiety returned – especially when Patti suggested that she give me a makeover. Allow me to explain my unease. When we were in college Patti once had offered to make me over and I had agreed. When she was finished I looked just like a hooker.

“Um … maybe you should do my nails instead,” I suggested.

She shrugged and, in a few minutes, returned with a nail file, clippers, and about five different colors of polish. Sitting down, Patti took one of my hands in hers and considered it. “Hmm,” she said, “blue I think.”


“You said you’d let me do your nails, now be quiet.” She set to work. “I don’t know why you don’t polish and shape them.”

“Because I hate long nails and when I use polish, I end up painting my nails and my fingers.”

She smiled to herself. “I think it’s because you still play guitar and you know you’d only chip them up.” Patti plunged my fingertips into a small bowl filled with water. “Your cuticles are a disaster, you know.”

“I know.”

“We need more girly-time sleepovers so we can address these issues.”

I rolled my eyes. “Can Sue come, Mommy?”

“Of course.”

“And her three kids?”


I laughed.

Her brown eyes met mine, “Why are you terrified of this date?”

“I’m not terrified.”

“Really, Lins? Because I googled the word ‘panic’ this morning and a picture of you popped up.”

I sighed. “Since I’ve been a minister, the difficulty level of dating has gone way up.”

“How so?”

“Well, let’s take simple getting to know you chit-chat.” I watched as she pulled my right hand out of the water and dried it gently with a kitchen towel. “One of the first things you usually talk about is what you do for a living. Right?”

“Right.” Patti began to work on my cuticles. “How is that a problem?”

“Because it never goes well. When a guy learns I’m a minister he either runs away or wants to teach me the ways of the world right there on the table.”

“Men are such pigs,” Patti sighed as she began to apply screaming blue polish. “Stop moving your fingers. You’ll mess things up.”

“Let me get this straight,” I said. “Men are pigs so you set me up with one.”

Raising her head, Patti aimed a wicked smile at me. “I could set you up with a woman if you’d like.”

“No, thanks. Not even bi-curious.”

“Too bad. I know some lovely women.” Patti resumed the application of polish. “Well, then I guess you’re stuck with men. If it were me, I’d jump at a chance to go out with our Mr. Gardner.”

Her words conjured up the incongruous image of the perfectly coiffed and clothed Patti with a guy in a faded t-shirt and worn out jeans. “We are talking about the same guy, right?” I asked.

“Yes. I think he’s kind of cute.”

“Cute? He looks like he just rolled out of bed!”

“Well, cute in an unkempt, clumsy way. He’s perfect if you like a beta kind of man.” Once again she looked away from my fingers. “Which I recall that you do. Now no more complaints. I want you to relax and have fun for once.”

“I have fun,” I protested.

“Oh, tons of it – and all of it with church people. Then you complain that you want a change. Well, this is a change, Lins. Embrace it.”

About the Author:

Janet Stafford with dog

Janet Stafford is a Jersey girl, book lover and lifelong scribbler. She readily confesses to being overly-educated, having received a B.A. in Asian Studies from Seton Hall University, as well as a Master of Divinity degree and a Ph.D. in North American Religion and Culture from Drew University. Having answered a call to vocational, but non-ordained ministry, Janet has served six United Methodist Churches, working in spiritual formation, communications, and ministries with children, youth, and families. She also was an adjunct professor for six years, teaching college classes in interdisciplinary studies and world history.

Writing, history, and religion came together for Janet when she authored Saint Maggie, an historical novel set in 1860-61 and based on a research paper written during her Ph.D. studies. She thought the book would be a single novel, but kept hearing readers ask, “What happens next?” In response, Janet created a series that follows the unconventional family from the first book through three other novels and three short stories, all set in the traumatic years of the American Civil War. Janet also ventured into the contemporary romance genre, going closer to home (the church) for her source material. Heart Soul & Rock ’n’ Roll tells the story of 40-year-old Lindsay Mitchell, who led a rock band in college but for the past fifteen years has worked as an assistant minister. Besieged by mid-life crisis, Lins wonders if perhaps she isn’t called to something new. But could that “something new” be a relationship with Neil, a man with a messy life and a bar band called the Grim Reapers?

Interview with Janet Stafford HERE

Buy the Book at Amazon


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