Christmas Tour 2018

christmas decorAuthor and friend Carrie Turansky gave a Christmas tour of her house this week, and I thought it was such a great idea I decided to follow in her Edwardian lace-up ankle boots 🙂 (She writes historical romance in the Edwardian era…in case you didn’t know – but you can find out more here ;-))

Anyway, I have some photos scattered throughout this post but I also did two videos!! Keep in mind, our house is a work-in-progress (renovation tools aplenty), but Christmas decorations are so cheery they’re meant to be shared 🙂

christmas treeMy family and I LOVE Christmas and our tree is a conglomeration of love throughout the years. We don’t really have a rhyme or reason to it – just handmade stuff, things that represent the kids, some anniversary ornaments, etc. I think our tree tells a story of our family.

 

christmasnutcrackersAlso we have some handmade things like table runners and quilts that have been given to us through the years. I love those ‘prelit’ present boxes and try to purchase them during the after Christmas sales.

outhousechristmasDo you see my little nod to my Appalachian culture in my decorations? 🙂 When ya gotta go, ya gotta go 😉 I can’t remember seeing any that looked this cute, btw. And NONE with Christmas trees or smokestacks.

 

wreath2018I LOVE wreaths! I’m not saying I’m great at making them, but I love to try! This is my creation for this year and at night it lights up 🙂 Thankfully it gives off enough winter vibes that I can keep it up past Christmas 🙂

 

christmas nativityWe have our little nativity scene here sitting atop a beautiful handmade table runner given to us by one of our church families in the past. I love how the intricate and beautiful colors.

 

 

And HERE is our study (for hubs and I). It’s also the room with the piano and the fantastic fireplace (which we hope to get working very soon). Stockings hung. Décor at the Christmasstudyready.

Hope you enjoyed the tour!

Keep up on FB – I’ll be having a ‘reading’ time coming up for Christmas -a few various versions of Twas the Night before Christmas.

First one? Pemberley.

Merry Christmas!!

 

Book Review – The Lacemaker

Poetic prose, engaging story, extensive historic details, and powerful characters bring Laura Frantz’s beautiful novel, The Lacemaker, to life…and impress it into the memory of the heart.

I’ve come to expect a lovely read when Laura’s name is attached to the cover of any book, and her newest release (new for me) did not disappoint.

About the Book

The Lace Maker

It is the eve of a new age of freedom in the colonies.
But can a proper English lady dare hope for her own independence?

Lady Elisabeth “Liberty” Lawson has nearly everything a lady of her position could want. Daughter of the British lieutenant governor of the Virginia Colony and a darling of fine society in a rugged land, she is anticipating an advantageous marriage. That her betrothed is a rake and love is lacking is of little consequence–or so she tells herself.

Though her own life seems in order, colonial Williamsburg is a powder keg on the verge of exploding, and her fiancé’s cousin Noble Rynallt carries the flame of revolution in his heart. Those with connections to the British nobility are suspected as spies, and Liberty soon finds herself left with a terrible choice. Will she stay true to her English roots? Or side with Noble and the radical revolutionaries? (from the Publisher)

My Review

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One of the things I enjoy most about the way Laura describes her characters’ relationships is her subtlety. She has a wonderful way of weaving words in a such a turn that the reader knows and feels what is happening between the characters, but she doesn’t necessarily explicitly say. It’s a delicious discovery. The attraction between Noble and Liberty (great names, btw) lingers in between the words of the pages so the discovery is as sweet for the reader as it is for the characters. Their romance is a timid and innocent pursuit which grows from mutual admiration into love.

The Lacemaker has so many delightful elements sprinkled in – humor, tenderness, intrigue, suspense, history, and, of course, MY favorite…. romance. Liberty grows into her name with the dawning of the Revolutionary War. From dependent and resigned to her fate, to independent and willing to risk her life for what is right, she takes the hard knocks the tumultuous times deal her – the dangers, betrayals, and rejections – and blooms into a vibrant woman with as much strength and hope as the blossoming ‘new country’.

Character Templates\THE LACEMAKER/January 2018
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And Noble? Noble doesn’t change a great deal, but that is also what makes him so endearing. An upright, brave, and dashing revolutionary, his gentlemanly ways and tenderness woo the heart of the reader as he woos the heart of Liberty. His protectiveness, gentleness, and desire to do the right thing make him a hero worth remembering – and very worthy of his name.

The Lacemaker is a fabulous combination of Noble intentions and daring Liberty.

This is another wonderful addition to my Laura Frantz library and…Noble might just be up there in my heartwarming heroes list with Red Shirt. That is HIGH praise indeed.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christian Book | Goodreads

About the Author

LauraLaura Frantz is a Christy Award finalist and the ECPA bestselling author of several books, including The Frontiersman’s DaughterCourting Morrow LittleThe Colonel’s LadyThe Mistress of Tall AcreA Moonbow Night, and the Ballantyne Legacy series. She lives and writes in a log cabin in the heart of Kentucky. Learn more at www.laurafrantz.net.

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Book Journeys – Cornwall

A Name UnknownOh PEOPLE!!! I just finished Roseanna White’s first book in her Shadows over England series – A Name Unknown – and I do believe we ALL need to take a trip to Cornwall. (You can read my review here.)

Besides ‘visiting’ Cornwall through Doc Martin, Ladies in Lavender, and the FABULOUS 1995 version of Sense and Sensibility, I haven’t done much research of the area…you know, except the usual DROOL OVER THE CLIFFS!!!!!!

So…I was delighted to get to visit Cornwall through Roseanna’s newest (to me) novel, because…hello! It’s ENGLAND!!!

So what are some sights we can visit in Cornwall? Well, let’s start with the obvious:

CornwallSt. Michael’s Mount – Shrouded in myth, legend, and truth, this ‘island’ can be reached by a causeway (when the tide is right). A medieval castle, with all its history, a village, and gardens, this place is truly a step back in time. The harbor is thought to have provided docking for Phoenician fisherman from as long ago as 2000 years…did anyone think of Paul in his journeys?

From Jack the Giant Killer to pilgrims during the War of the Roses, this island has been a haven, a source of conflict, and…has even carried the magic of romance within its walls. No wonder Rosemary Gresham from A Name Unknown felt the tug and pull of some a beautiful and magical place…and who’s to say if Peter didn’t make a wish or two while he was near the ancient rock of St. Michael’s, known for its romantic qualities 😉

mount-edgcumbe-house-419653_1920.jpgMount Edgecumbe House and Country Park  – Though Peter Holstein’s house was not considered huge, to get the sense of a country home in Cornwall, you can visit the elegant Mount Edgecumbe House. This 18th century home and gardens offers lovely walking tours and beautiful sites. OR if you want something that fits into the late Victorian era – which could very well be near the time Peter’s family built their home in England – try Lanhydrock House and Gardens 😊 I even noted a cottage that could have been a very nice house for a sassy thief I’ve grown to love.

Honestly, there are houses, ruins, castles, and cathedrals to visit GALORE.

bay-540444_1920.jpgThose Drool Worthy Cliffs – For some scenic views to take your breath away, perhaps you could try some cliffs along the South West Coast Path, a beautiful coastal view along St. Ives Bay, or a walk in King Arthur’s footsteps in Tintagel.

I can tell you for sure that the next trip I take to England, I’m going to make sure my visit includes a drive to Cornwall.

And I hope to add another mental trip to Roseanna White’s colorful historical world very soon! A Song Unheard is the next one…with Willa as the featured heroine.

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Review – A Name Unknown

I think I need to find a new time period in which to write because Roseanna White has the edge in Edwardian romance!

I just finished her first book in the Shadows over England series – A Name Unknown – and it was WONDERFUL.

About the Book

A Name UnknownRosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins that helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they concentrate on stealing high-value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. But when Rosemary must determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany, she is in for the challenge of a lifetime. How does one steal a family’s history, their very name?

Peter Holstein, given his family’s German blood, writes his popular series of adventure novels under a pen name. With European politics boiling and his own neighbors suspicious of him, Peter debates whether it might be best to change his name for good. When Rosemary shows up at his door pretending to be a historian and offering to help him trace his family history, his question might be answered.

But as the two work together and Rosemary sees his gracious reaction to his neighbors’ scornful attacks, she wonders if her assignment is going down the wrong path. Is it too late to help him prove that he’s more than his name?

My Review

What do you get when you have a thief for a heroine, a reclusive, stuttering writer for a hero, a dangerous plot that reaches all the way into the beginnings of a world war, AND a God who can work all things out for the good of his kids? (even when his kids try to hide from the world in their country estate houses)? You get Roseanna White’s wonderful story, A Name Unknown.

cornwall-335021_1920.jpgFrom the beginning to the end, the novel held a thread of suspense that underpinned every other scene. Rosemary Gresham endeared herself immediately by being a feisty yet loving woman trying to etch out a better life for herself and her ‘family’ than she’d known as a starving orphan. Though a thief, and a very good one, White creates an immediately love for Rosemary because of her struggle to still try to do what’s right…even in her misconceptions.  Given the opportunity to bring some real money into her family and help her country, Rosemary embarks on a mission to discover whether the reclusive England gentleman, Peter Holstein, is in cahoots with Germany.  She’s good at her job, but nothing prepares her for the Truth she discovers. Life-changing…. soul-changing truth.

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Though speaking words aren’t easy for Peter Holstein, he has an amazing ability to write out his faith and SHOW it through his actions. With a subtle humor, a touch of eccentricity, a tender heart for the plight of others, and an adorable secret job, he easily endears himself to the reader’s, and Rosemary’s, heart. (Despite her best attempts to NOT like him, by the way).

Secondary characters and the suspense plot play a wonderful role in moving this story forward, but the featured heart of this story is the transformation of Peter and Rosemary as a team. Despite their differences, and BECAUSE of their differences, they become so much more together than they could have been apart. Both learn to alter their misperceptions for something more filled with truth and grace than either prejudice or ignorance. Peter grows in his understanding of others outside his sphere (and is WILLING to grow, I might add), but also becomes a stronger, braver man because of Rosemary’s influence, and Rosemary softens her hardened edges because of the gentleness and faith Peter displays in all he does.

Yes, this was a beautiful story. Thank you so much, Roseanna.

About the Author

Roseanna 2018Roseanna M. White is a bestselling, Christy Award nominated author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two kids, editing, designing book covers, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to find their way into her books…to offset her real life, which is blessedly ordinary. You can learn more about her and her stories at www.RoseannaMWhite.com.

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The End of the War – The Thorn Healer Giveaway

I am so excited for this weekend because it marks the 100-year anniversary of the end of World War 1 – a war of devastating casualties and a shift in warfare. Today I wanted to share a little about the third book in my Historical series, The Thorn Healer. This story is near to my heart for several reasons. But few of them are…

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It takes place in my Blue Ridge Mountains in the real mountain town of Hot Springs, NC (only an hour up the road from where I live).

I love the history behind this story. It was so interesting to learn about the German Internment camps in the U.S. during WW1.

I LOVE the hero. August Rheinhold is a beautiful example of Christ’s pursuing love.

About the Book

Jessica Ross’ scars run much deeper than the wounds of a world at war. Determined to escape the ghosts of her past and the German influence on her nightmares, she returns home to the sleepy Appalachian town of Hot Springs, NC, only to find the renowned Mountain Park Hotel has been converted into a ‘prison’ for displaced Germans and, much to Jessica’s dismay, her grandparents have befriended one of them. 

TTH Quote.jpgAugust Reinhold has not only found kinship with Jessica’s grandparents, but as they share their granddaughter’s letters from the Front, he discovers a surprising bond drawing him toward the independent and beautiful woman. Displaced by a war and a painful history, he finds Hot Springs and the intriguing, Jessica Ross, a tempting place to start over. Determined to scale the heights of her bitterness and show her the power of love, August faces more than just Jessica’s resistance, but a more devious design to harm the civilian sailors housed in Hot Springs. 

Will August’s tender pursuit show Jessica the healing and hope she needs, or will bitterness force her into the hands of a ‘true’ enemy waiting to destroy much more than her heart?

If you read this book, what are some of yours?
If you haven’t read it, enter here to get a chance.

Giveaway

Giveaway open 11/10/18 – 11/16/18 11:59pm EST. Please enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Open Internationally. Winner’s choice of print or eBook valid for USA mailing addresses only. International winner will receive an eBook copy. Void where prohibited.

TTH Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

And don’t forget to enter this Multi-Author Giveaway!

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The Great War & Multi-Author Giveaway

I have joined forces with five of my fellow authors who write fiction set during World War I.

To honor the Centennial of the END of The Great War, we six authors have joined forces to offer you one fabulous giveaway of our WWI-based novels.

For information on all the books and giveaway, visit Carrie Turansky’s page HERE.

For a super-fun joint interview, check out the post Michelle Ule put together HERE.

But you can also enter via the form below!

Giveaway

Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

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Small Towns…Big Love

What is it about small towns?

I mean, seriously, Hallmark has basically made an entire network out of small-town stories. And then there are the zillions of books plots that involve either fictional or real-life towns from all over the country…and even the world.

I grew up in a small-town and LOVE writing about them, but I’ve always been interested why there’s this large appeal. Before we talk about some of the reasons I think small-towns are a BIG hit, let’s name a few ‘classic’ small towns:

The set for Bedford Falls (It’s a Wonderful Life), 1946  via life
Bedford Falls – Pinterest

Jan Karon’s Mitford.

Bedford Falls.

Mayberry (one of my favorites because I was raised just outside of it)

Hallmark’s Evergreen

Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford

Meryton in Pride and Prejudice or Highbury in Emma

Middlemarch by George Elliot

And, of course, there’s Agatha Christie, Sarah Addison Allen, LM Montgomery, Robyn Carr, Debbie Macomber, and so many MORE!!!!

So…why are small towns so appealing? (My opinions here)

  1. To steal from the Cheers theme – we wanna go where everybody knows our names- small towns bring a sense of community to them and along with that…a sense of belonging. There’s just something sweet about them, like a perfectly wrapped package for a delightful romance 😊
  2. Quaint – small towns have a charm. There are unique traditions, special buildings, friendly smiles, and welcome folks. (at least, that’s what we see in most of our fictional places 😉…but I’ve found it to be true in a lot of the real-life ones too)
  3. The sun will go on rising and setting whether I fail (in geometry) or not. Rachel Lynde - Anne of Green Gables
    Rachel Lynde – Anne of Green Gables Pinterest

     

    Quirky/unique characters – it’s true, unique characters happen EVERYWHERE, but they seem to be particularly highlighted in small towns. Oh my! There’s the resident sage. Or the local busybody. Or the quirky neighbor.

  4. Scenery – most of our small town (whether in the grand west, on the coast, or in the mountains) bring a view with them. White picket fences, cobblestone streets, lantern-lit walkways, a village nestled at the base of snow-crested mountains
  5. Memorable places to come back and visit again. For some reason, most of these small town settings create an environment of ‘home’ just by the atmosphere. As readers or viewers we step into a world we feel like we ‘know’. There’s a great deal of sweet predictability that appeals to our love that goes back to #1…belonging and home.

Okay, so tell me what you love about small towns? Can you name some books and authors who celebrate the coziness of small towns?

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Let’s Celebrate It’s Release Day!

When You Look at Me is NOW AVAILABLE!!! YAY!!!! Are you ready for a little bit of Release Day FUN???

Amazon | Goodreads

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Head over to Just Read Tours for more giveaways and fun! Make sure you enter the GIVEAWAY but first….a word from Yours Truly:

I can’t believe I have 10….TEN….Books out in the world now. You know, I wouldn’t be here without my READERS! So THANK YOU, my dear readers, for all of the love!

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A little look at the books that brought us to where we are today! You can find out more about each of my stories HERE.

Book TImeline

Don’t forget to grab the Just the Way You Are eBook for FREE! Today is the last day.44052931_10217486303330180_6425239850403758080_o

And…I am kicking off the new year right…with yet ANOTHER book release!!! That’s right…My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge Mountains is coming out January 1st.

My Heart Belongs

Amazon | Goodreads

Giveaway

One winner will receive a print copy of When You Look at Me. Open internationally. If the winner has a mailing address outside the USA, they will receive a digital copy of the book. Giveaway open 10/25/18 – 10/31/18. Void where prohibited.

Don’t forget to enter the Just Read giveaway as well!

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 a Rafflecopter giveaway

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When You Look at Me – Sneak Peek!

It’s almost here! YAY! One week…The Countdown is officially on! I am so excited to give you a little peek at this story. Read on and there is a special surprise for you all!

About the Book

When You Look at MeAn unexpected mother-to-be
A romance-leery composer
And a forgotten melody from the past that holds the keys to their futures

When Julia Jenkins’ great-aunt dies and leaves her a Victorian mansion with decades of secrets, Julia never expects to unearth a World War 2 espionage mystery. Struggling with her own past since an assault left her pregnant, her future as a solo parent leaves her dreams uncertain. The inheritance from her great aunt gives Julia the ability to take a step back into her future, but also sends her into the discovery of a love story she’d never anticipated. As she goes through her aunt’s treasured possessions, Julia uncovers some oddly written piano music with a musical code she can’t decipher on her own. Not to worry, introverted Englishman and composer, Henry Wright, is thrust on the scene by a pair of homespun matchmakers who know the ‘right’ man for Julia’s wounded heart.

Henry arrives in Pleasant Gap with the task of composing the soundtrack for his best mate’s newest film. The Jenkins’ family’s southern welcome and gregarious personalities set his reticent nature on edge, but he’s inexplicably drawn to his gentle and music-loving hostess, Julia. Uncertain how to build a friendship with the wounded woman, and rather hopeless in communicating well through words, the bond of music becomes a bridge between her uncertainty and his awkwardness.

But her broken past and his families’ expectations build a wall much greater than the cultures that separate them. As they work together to solve a musical mystery from the grave, will an unlikely romance from the past inspire their hearts to trust in a God who’s written the perfect melody for their lives?

Sneak Peek

A cacophony of noise greeted Henry before he’d stepped onto the front stoop of Nate and Kay Jenkins’s charming colonial home. The scurry of sounds crashed in contrast to the late spring symphony of birdsong and the hushed brush of the wind through the newly budding trees. He almost asked to linger outside in the spring-chilled air to enjoy the unfamiliar music of nature in the Blue Ridge Mountains instead of spending the next few hours navigating the unpredictable world of social interactions.

His mother berated him for his introversion, labeling him a people-hater, but it wasn’t so. He enjoyed people, especially familiar people—watching them, learning from them, sometimes having a mental chuckle at their antics—but finding words to say, participating in small talk, attempting to appear smart and engaging… He swallowed through his tightening throat. He’d never managed those experiences well, especially in a new place.

Perhaps, Wes would ease the way with his natural friendliness and deflect a large portion of the attention, as he usually did. It proved beneficial during times like these to have an actor as one’s best mate.

He squinted to clear the vision in his swollen eye as Eisley opened the front door of the house. A sudden burst of welcome pushed the volume in the room to a forte, and Henry’s tension took an upsurge. His feet froze in place while he observed. Chaos of people and noise rushed forward, engulfing him. He even took a step back in retreat, but Eisley grabbed his arm and pulled him through the doorway into the massive foray of people. Wes had told him of Eisley’s large close-knit family, even shown him photos on Eisley’s social media page, but words, and even those snaps, failed to give an adequate depiction.

Laughter surged forward in a rush of welcome, bringing with it an immediate sense of hospitality, boisterous hospitality. So many people spoke at once, all in this new Appalachian dialect, he barely knew where to affix his attention.

Oh no, he’d never experienced anything like this.

“Wes, we’re glad to have you back for another visit.” A petite woman with blond and white shoulder-length hair emerged from the throng scattered throughout the vast living area and equally impressive kitchen. Her blue eyes held a striking resemblance to Julia’s. Dark, rich—an unforgettable hue.

He gave the room a brief scan for the younger Jenkins. Julia. The name suited her. The blend of consonants and vowels a gentle melody of sound fitting for the ethereal-like beauty. What was it about her? Some balance of everything right merged in their interactions, even the awkward ones, leaving a strange pang in his chest. Like a battle of nerves, only less nauseating.

“This is my best friend, Henry, whom I’ve told you about. He’s writing the musical score for the movie I’m here to film, and”—Wes shot Henry a grin, which provided a boost of reassurance— “I think he’s hoping for a much-needed holiday from his busy schedule. Henry, this is Kay Jenkins.”

The matriarch of the Jenkins family offered her hand, her smile as inviting as the salty aroma wafting from the kitchen. She certainly didn’t look old enough to be the mother of children his age, let alone seven of them.

“It’s real good to have you, Henry.” Her words soaked in her accent with a calming effect. “Welcome to Pleasant Gap.”

Henry swallowed through his dry throat and attempted to hone his focus on the woman. “A pleasure, Mrs. Jenkins. Thank you.”

“Please, call me Kay.” She offered a quiet smile, almost in apology. “And things are bound to get a little rowdy ‘round here. We can’t have a whole crew of people in one place like this without some noise.”

As if in response to Kay’s words, a squeal split through the conversations. “Oh my goodness!” A young woman with soft honey-colored hair and wide eyes bounded toward him. “Another handsome Englishman!”

“That’s Sophie. Brace yourself. She hugs,” Wes warned right before the young woman took Wes into a hug, complete with another ear-piercing squeal.

“You smell just as a good as the first time we met.” She sighed, lingering at Wes’s shoulder before she turned her sparkling hazel eyes in his direction. “And you must be Henry.”

The embrace transferred from Wes, and Henry steadied himself for the impact. “Mmm, you smell like vanilla.” She closed her eyes, smile wide, and nose sniffing the air near his neck. He stiffened like the Venus de Milo. “That’s such a delightful scent.” Her eyes fairly twinkled. “Like a cupcake.

“Thank you?” Henry wasn’t quite certain whether the unsettled twist in his stomach meant he needed a laugh or an escape plan.

“She’s harmless, really,” Eisley whispered on Henry’s other side. “Every family needs a resident Disney princess, you know?”

And then other people came forward, each adding a new face and name. Henry turned from Eisley to Wes, attempting to interpret the scene but failing to find clarity before the conversation bled into another one. Or more than one. It was difficult to tell when there were four people speaking at the same time…on differing topics.

“I’m Rachel.” A dark-haired woman offered her hand then gestured with her chin. “Looks like Dad already got a hold of you. What happened to your eye?”

Comprehension stuttered. “Pardon?”

“Julia accidentally hit him with the door at the bakery.” Eisley offered an apologetic shrug and lopsided grin. “Henry’s had quite the introduction to our family.”

“And it’s only just begun,” Wes added, his smile giving Henry no comfort.

A burly man, his brown hair and matching moustache framing his stern face, walked forward while wiping his thick palms on his hips. Henry needed no introduction. Wes’s description had been perfect, right down to the intimidating stare.

“Daddy, be nice to Henry, okay?” Sophie linked her arm through her father’s and shot Henry a bedazzled grin. “Julia’s already hit him once.”

“Julia had to hit hi—” Nate Jenkins’s dark brows shot into a furious V, and he targeted his narrowing gaze on Henry. “What did you do to my girl? You good for nothin’ foreigner.” He barreled forward, fists at his sides, and Henry stumbled a step back into the wall. “If you so much as—”

“Whoa, whoa, Dad.” Julia stepped between them, seemingly out of nowhere, her palms on her father’s chest. “You know the stairway door at the bakery? I opened it and Henry was coming up the stairs. The same thing happened to George Pinkerton last month when he stayed at the apartment, remember? The door hit him in the face…and you never came by to fix it.”

“The— What?” His furious gaze darted from Julia’s face to Henry’s. “Door?”

The wall prevented Henry from fleeing the premises altogether. Perhaps accompanying Wes to Appalachia was a bad— possibly life-ending—idea.

“Really, Dad?” Eisley slapped her father on the shoulder. “Did you think we’d let a jerk hang out in the place Julia runs?”

“He’s the best of men, I assure you. True as an arrow.”

Wes placed his hand on Henry’s shoulder, his lips upturned in good-humor, though Henry had difficulty understanding how anything good could come from seeing his life flash before his eyes.

“You…you didn’t have to hit him?” Nate kept his focus on Henry, though his tone slightly softened.

“No, Dad, but maybe now you’ll fix that door?” Julia glanced at Henry and mouthed ‘I’m sorry,’. If he hadn’t understood anything else from the twelve conversations occurring at once around him, those words would’ve been enough. “Like Wes said, Henry is the good sort.”

Her comment pushed through the growing anxiety in his chest and dispersed a sliver of calm. Belonging. Like when they’d discussed music together.

The man’s moustache twitched while he drew in a deep breath, measuring Henry from head to toe. As if he’d made up his mind, he sighed. “Well, I reckon we got more important things to do than to stand around and ogle over another sissy boy visitin’ the family. We got supper and some serious basketball goin’ on.” He shot an eyeroll to the ceiling and murmured as he turned to walk away. “Smells like vanilla. Crazy women.”

© Pepper D. Basham 2018

Surprise!!!

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During release week ONLY…You can get the Kindle book of Just the Way You Are for FREE on Amazon HERE! Enjoy and Happy Reading!!!

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Just the Way You Are – Sneak Peek

With the release of my next book just around the corner, I thought it would be fun to give you a little sneak peek at book 1 of the Pleasant Gap Romance series!

About the Book

Just the Way You AreSingle mom, Eisley Barrett, prefers to keep romance safely between the pages of a book, on the silver screen, or locked within a 400-year-old mystery. But when she leaves her safe Blue Ridge Mountain home to research a family secret in England, an actor with a sordid past tempts her to step outside her fictional world and trust her heart to this reformed British baddy.

Wes Harrison has a past he’s ashamed to confess. Suspicious and cynical, the last thing he needs is an American guest staying with his parents in their quiet cottage, but Eisley Barrett isn’t like anyone he’s ever met. Her authenticity and country charm set his embittered presumptions on their heads and offer him a second chance at love.

When his past threatens the present, will the truth drive her away? Can this unexpected romance have a happily ever after? With some match-making parents, a quirky Appalachian heritage, and love letters from the grave – anything is possible.

From the beautiful Peak District in England to the rolling Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, the Jenkins family discovers that God dreams big for his kids – and second chances are His specialty.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book-A-Million | Add to Goodreads

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Sneak Peek

“Per chance, would you be Eisley Barrett?”

His question clinked into place. She leaned back and really looked at him. She should have known him from his picture, but the whole squishing scene had been way too distracting for little things like recognition. He had one of those distinguished-grandfather appearances: dressed in a suit, salt-and-pepper hair neatly trimmed, with a sliver of moustache to add a sense of renown. Just like she’d expected, except the hair was a bit erratic after his near-concussion.

“Mr. Harrison?”

“Yes, Daniel Harrison. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Eisley.” Her name rolled off his tongue as if James Bond said it himself. Something inside of her melted.

“A pleasure to survive me might be more like it.” She shook her head and groaned. “I’m so sorry about the fall. I knew I shouldn’t have worn heels.”

“Don’t worry yourself, Luv. Accidents do happen. My wife has a habit of stepping on my feet.”

Eisley winced at the memory of her coma-inducing footwork. “I bet she never tackled you in an airport.”

He chuckled. “That wasn’t a typical Appalachian greeting?”

She really shouldn’t smile. After all, she’d nearly suffocated, possibly flattened, a senior citizen, but he was so downright charming it was difficult to maintain a guilty expression.

“Tackling is one of my family’s traditions, but we usually call it hugging. It takes all the fun out if you clue strangers in on the attack.” Eisley sighed. “Come on, Mr. Harrison, let’s get you off the floor and into a chair. At least then, we won’t add trampled to your list of possible injuries.” She helped him to his feet. “And maybe we should pray for your wrist. That’s what I do with my kids, anyway.”

“Have you traveled without your children before?”

“Never more than a night or two, so this is definitely an adjustment.” She placed her hand against her quivering stomach. Every inch of those four thousand miles pressed in on her heart like eating way too much of Aunt Tilley’s Mastermind Meatloaf. She tossed a glance to the outgoing flights display. A fleeting thought to return home inched to mind.

No. She’d made a promise. Uncle Joe. She swallowed down the worry bubble in her throat and guided Mr. Harrison to a chair.

“But the kids are in great hands.” She babbled on as if words would assuage mommy-guilt. “Christmas break’s a week away and my parents are as excited as the kids. With my dad in charge, I’ll be lucky if my seven-year-old isn’t toting a rifle and my daughter isn’t biting off bottle tops with her baby teeth within a week.”

Mr. Harrison’s sudden laugh pricked at Eisley’s smile and curbed the mommy-ache.

“Yeah, it sounds pretty crazy, doesn’t it? But my parents wouldn’t let me turn down Cousin Lizzie’s offer to come do research for Uncle Joe.” She gave her eyebrows a playful wiggle. “And get a good dose of England in the process. The trip was their Christmas gift to me. Single moms need big holidays, they said.”

His kind gaze held hers a moment. “No doubt.”

She settled Mr. Harrison in a chair and detoured her high-octane emotions by gathering her various paraphernalia scattered across the floor. Her kids would be okay. They would still remember her name, and surely her Dad wouldn’t have them chewing tobacco by the time she got home.

She stuffed her items back into her bag and sat down next to Mr. Harrison. “I can’t thank you and Eleanor enough for letting me stay with you while I’m here.”

“It’s the very least we could do for one of our oldest and dearest friends. We were happy to offer our home. With Lizzie’s father’s ill health, it wouldn’t have been suitable for you to stay at Lornegrave.”

“Right.” Lizzie’s emails hinted about her father’s dementia and psychosis, but everything else seemed as much a secret as Eisley’s mysterious ancestor. Oh, this story kept getting better and better, nibbling at Eisley’s lifelong obsession with great romance. Fictional, of course. The less painful kind.

Maybe hidden behind five hundred years of unsolved stories, she could discover what happened to Julia Ramsden, find the name of the man she married, and make her uncle’s dying wish come true in the process. She drew in a deep breath of renewed determination. “It was very sweet of you to come to London for me.”

“We were happy to collect you. We were already in town for our annual Charity Christmas gala. It is Eleanor’s favorite charity and we never miss.” He gave her hand a comforting pat. “Not one wit of trouble.”

She peered around him in search of some elegant British counterpart. “Where is your wife?”

“Ah, yes. Eleanor felt peaked this morning.”

Peaked? “Is she okay?”

His smile crinkled at the corners of his eyes. “I’m certain she’ll be fit as a fiddle for the gala tonight. Social events always encourage her health. She’s not fond of London morning traffic, I’m afraid, but she’s quick to raise money for her cause at any given moment.”

“Sounds like I’m going to really like her.” Eisley shrugged. “As if there was any doubt about that. Do you feel ready to walk after I mauled you? I guess we’re taking the Tube or maybe we can catch a taxi?

“Actually, my son is to drive us. Wes is quite capable. He lives on the West End.” Mr. Harrison nodded toward the doorway. “And here he comes now.”

Eisley followed Mr. Harrison’s gaze across the expanse of the meeting area, past the red bucket chairs and rows of people, and right into the eyes of a Greek god. Her vision zoomed in like a camera, blocking out everything else – sounds, noises, her phobia of Prince Charming look-alikes.

A taller, younger version of Mr. Harrison walked toward them, as if directly from a Google search for swoon-worthy. His gray-blue gaze blazed through her, igniting fireworks in her chest and heat in her cheeks. Unfamiliar sparks burned through years of avoidance and splintered directly into her pulse. The emotion flashed into recognition with a harsh light. She held in a whimper. Attraction?

Lord, really? Are you joking?

She tried to adjust her expression. The last thing she needed was to look like a three-year-old in a candy store. Too much eye candy is bad for a wounded heart. Very bad. It might lead to thoughts of hope—or worse, possibilities.

She stumbled to a stand and bent to help Mr. Harrison from his chair.

“Eisley,” he whispered. “It would be wise not to mention the falling incident to Wes.”

She jerked her gaze to his. “What?”

“Wes.” Mr. Harrison stepped forward and greeted his son. “This is Eisley Barrett. Our guest for the next few weeks.”

Wes’ gaze trailed over her, leaving a splash of warmth on her face and a knot in the pit of her stomach. Calm. Distant. Glacial. The perfect coolant for her overactive imagination.

The dutiful son offered his hand, somewhat reluctantly. “A pleasure, Ms. Barrett.”

His hot-fudge smooth voice swept all words right out of her head and melted any images of icecaps. The perfect combination – fascinating eyes, a British accent, and chocolate. Yep, he was Ghirardelli in human form. She gave her wayward thoughts a mental slap.

Pull yourself together, woman. No man is worth a Marshall-sequel.

She peeled her tongue off the roof of her mouth, took his hand, and pushed all the giddy, junior-high feelings down to her pinkie toe. “It’s nice to meet you.”

A fake smile showed off his perfectly straight teeth. His taciturn expression proved he remained completely unimpressed with what he saw. Ah, the story of her life. Add a mile-high stack of comparisons to her twin brother and it was an instant flashback to high school.

She pulled her pink rolling bag to her side and shrugged off the sting of the disappointment she refused to embrace.

His smoky gaze skimmed down to her luggage. “Your baggage?”

“Pink is easier to find in the baggage check.”

“No doubt.”

Sarcasm? Daggone it, that just made him more attractive. Oh, what a pickle. Why here and now? The hopeless romantic she’d crammed underneath her busy-working-mother mask and three years of hardened resentment scrambled to the surface in full agonizing volume, hands opened wide to the daydream. The timing was horrible. There was nowhere to hide. No family excuses. Thankfully, Mr. Frosty-and-Fabulous curbed her lack of self-control with a solid dose of reality. He looked annoyed, maybe a bit bored, and definitely not carrying on an internal monologue to rival Bridget Jones.

Wes lifted her bags and started toward the doors. “Well, Ms. Barrett, Father’s told me very little about you.” A look passed between the two men, and Eisley stepped back from the glare. “You are from Virginia, yes?”

“Yes, a teeny tiny place in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Not too far from North Carolina and the Smokies. A great place to call home.”

Wes remained stiff as a hardbound bookbinding, but – Hark! Was that a faint light of interest flickering behind his dull expression?

“The Blue Ridge Mountains? North Carolina?” His intense stare flipped to Mr. H.

What about either of those topics could possibly interest a handsome and aloof British guy?

She liked him better as rude and unavailable. Married would be even better. She took a quick glance at his left hand. Bare as the Jenkinses’ table after a meal.

Hope plummeted to the heels of her unsteady shoes and self-control teetered in a frightening direction. No, no, no – she couldn’t afford daydreams with real possibilities. Attraction held empty promises. All hormones – no heart. She’d learned the hard way how different those two were. She would not screw up her life again.

And now a teaser for When You Look at Me….

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