AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER 27TH 2017
Welcome to Honey Ridge, Tennessee, where Southern hospitality and sweet peach tea beckon, and where long-buried secrets lead to some startling realizations
Grayson Blake always has a purpose and never a moment to lose. He’s come home to Honey Ridge to convert a historic gristmill into a restaurant, but his plans crumble like Tennessee clay when the excavation of a skeleton unearths a Civil War mystery and leads him back to a beautiful and familiar stranger.
Once a ballet dancer, now co-owner of the Peach Orchard Inn, Valery Carter harbors pain as deep as the secrets buried beneath the mill. A bright facade can’t erase her regrets any more than a glass of bourbon can restore what she’s lost. But spending time with Grayson offers Valery a chance to let go of her past and imagine a happier future. And with the discovery of hidden messages in aged sheet music, both their hearts begin to open. Bound by attraction, and compelled to resolve an old crime that links the inn and the mill, Grayson and Valery encounter a song of hurt, truth, and hope.
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“We could get arrested,” he called to his brother’s back.
Dev held up a hand but didn’t turn around. “Wouldn’t be the first time.”
Grayson snorted. “Maybe not for you.”
Devlin had been busted the first time right here in Honey Ridge for trespassing at the ripe old age of nine. He’d climbed old lady Pennington’s fence to release a pen full of pedigreed dogs.
“I couldn’t let those puppies suffer, could I?”
If he’d considered the animals in peril Grayson would have gone along with Devlin’s harebrained rescue attempt. “They weren’t suffering.”
“I thought they were.”
True. That was Devlin. If he thought an injustice existed, he was right in the middle of it, usually to his and to Grayson’s detriment. In the case of the puppies, Grayson had warned Devlin that no puppy mill existed on the grand estate of Marybelle Pennington, but his tenderhearted brother had seen an animal rights TV special and could not be deterred. That the boys were nine and eleven could have had something to do with their naïve enthusiasm. Grayson, as Pappy always said, had been born old and wise for the express purpose of looking after his impetuous younger brother. Old and wise meaning stodgy and serious.
Up ahead, Devlin tromped on, shoving aside low-hanging branches and avoiding a thorny vine. Grayson wasn’t so lucky.
The vine slapped his cheek and scraped deep, stinging.
He touched the spot and came away with blood. “I’m wounded. Let’s give up the venture.”
“Don’t wimp out. The end is in sight.”
Smiling now, enjoying, as he always did, the brotherly yin and yang that f lowed between the two of them and made them who they were.
“Hey!” Devlin came to a sudden stop.
“What?” Grayson trotted to catch up, trying not to consider that he’d probably itch half the night.
“I thought I saw someone in that window.”
Grayson peered up at the dirty glass above them on the second floor. “I don’t see anyone. Maybe a trick of the light and shadows.”
“Maybe.” Dev didn’t sound convinced. “The woman at the courthouse said the place was haunted.” He pointed. “Someone thinks so. There’s a bottle tree to capture the haints.”
Grayson peered at the strange apparatus, a collection of cobalt blue bottles inverted on the branches of a dying tree. “Superstitions.”
“Or someone doesn’t want people exploring, and the bottle tree is a kind of no-trespassing warning to scare people off.”
“In which case, you and I should not be here.”
“Sure we should. Come on.” Devlin pushed at a set of tall, heavy, graying doors. They creaked open on rusty hinges to reveal a dark, dank interior. Devlin grinned. “Creepy.”
“You love it.”
“Absolutely. Remember when we were kids and explored this place? Scared the pants off me.”
“That didn’t keep you away.” Or him, for that matter. Where Devlin went, Grayson felt compelled to follow, and more than once they’d both ended up in hot water.
“I like being scared.”
Grayson barked a short laugh. The sound echoed eerily through the dark interior.
“I’m not sure about this, Dev.” He bounced a foot gingerly against the floor. “The mill’s in a lot worse condition now than it was when we were teens. Could be unsafe.”
Devlin, as usual, was full speed ahead and already inside the mill looking around with a rapt expression on his face, the one that said he was seeing the finished product. He had a gift that way, and Grayson had learned to follow his creative lead.
Grayson tapped the walls, smoothed a hand over the ancient lumber. “Aged oak, hard as a rock. We could salvage enough to give the place character and age.”
Devlin spun around. “So, you’re on board?”
“Let’s say I’m softening to the idea.”
Devlin’s teeth f lashed as he pumped his eyebrows. “Want to have a look upstairs and in the basement?”
“If we’re going to get arrested, we might as well get our money’s worth.”
“We won’t get arrested. You taking notes?”
Grayson gave his brother a quelling look. He never left home without the high-tech gear of business. The tablet was in the Jeep, but his smartphone would do. “Do you have to ask?”
Wielding a penlight, Devlin jogged lightly up the stairs as if they weren’t rickety and two hundred years old. “Get a load of this.”
Grayson came up beside him. “Your ghost sleeps in a sleeping bag.”
Follow the Tour
Monday, July 10th: Books and Spoons – excerpt
Tuesday, July 11th: Mama Vicky Says – excerpt
Wednesday, July 12th: The Sassy Bookster – excerpt
Thursday, July 13th: Books a la Mode – excerpt
Friday, July 14th: Reading is My SuperPower – excerpt
Monday, July 17th: Book Reviews and More by Kathy – excerpt
Tuesday, July 18th: Black ‘n Gold Girls Book Spot – excerpt
Wednesday, July 19th: Book Mama Blog – excerpt
Thursday, July 20th: Dwell in Possibility – excerpt
Friday, July 21st: A Chick Who Reads – excerpt
Monday, July 24th: Reading is My SuperPower
Tuesday, July 25th: Reading Reality
Wednesday, July 26th: Written Love Reviews
Thursday, July 27th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Friday, July 28th: Broken Teepee
Monday, July 31st: Rebel Mommy Book Blog
Tuesday, August 1st: Patricia’s Wisdom
Tuesday, August 1st: Let Them Read Books
Wednesday, August 2nd: Buried Under Books
Thursday, August 3rd: Just Commonly
Friday, August 4th: Books & Bindings
Monday, August 7th: The Romance Dish
Tuesday, August 8th: All Roads Lead to the Kitchen
Wednesday, August 9th: A. Holland Reads
Friday, August 11th: From the TBR Pile
Monday, August 14th: Ms. Nose in a Book
Tuesday, August 15th: Becky on Books
Wednesday, August 16th: A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, August 17th: Steph the Bookworm