A couple days ago I introduced you to Kimberly Rose Johnson and her latest release, AN ENCORE FOR ESTELLE. Kimberly was gracious enough to share an excerpt with everyone here today. Check it out!
Estelle Rogers willed her galloping heart to slow. Why had she come back to Oak Knoll, Oregon? It wasn’t like the people here had welcomed her with open arms six years ago.
But that was then. Things were different now. Helen Wood had invited her for a visit
over the summer, and she could never say no to the one woman who’d accepted her in spite of her flaws. Besides, she needed time away to think about her future. Estelle
squared her shoulders, raised a hand, and pressed the doorbell beside the farmhouse door.
The door flung open. “You’re here!” Helen’s smile lit her eyes.
Estelle blinked. Helen looked like a young Mary Tyler Moore—she looked fantastic.
Could this be the same woman she’d grown close to all those years ago? Granted when she’d last seen Helen, she’d been recovering from a stroke, but a different woman stood before her now. The rosy-cheeked brunette looked fifteen years younger than her fifty five years. “You look amazing.”
Helen blushed and waved a hand in front of her face. “Derek sent me on a spa
vacation. You should try one. You’d love it.”
The mention of her one-time boyfriend didn’t affect her like it used to. Helen’s son
was now happily married, and she adored his wife, Kayla. “If I didn’t know better, I’d
say you’re hinting that I need a makeover.”
The older woman shrugged. “Not at all. You look lovely as usual.” She stepped
back, opening the door wider. “Come in. I can’t believe you’re actually here. I was afraid you might change your mind.”
“How silly would I be to do something like that?” If Helen only knew how many
times she had almost cancelled the trip. But she would never reveal that to her dear
Helen looped her arm through Estelle’s. “I prepared lunch for us in the garden.”
“I love your garden. It’s so serene. I’m glad the weather is cooperating today. I
noticed you’ve had a lot of rain lately.”
“We have, but summer doesn’t usually start here until July. Welcome back to
Oregon.” She chuckled. “I remember how much you enjoyed my garden the last time you were here, so I’ve been praying the weather would cooperate.”
Of course she had. Helen was like that—she had no qualms about asking the Lord
for a sunny day.
“You’ll be staying in the guest cottage while you’re here.”
Estelle stilled. “I thought your . . .” What does one call a man who works around the
farm doing odd jobs? “handyman—”
“His name is Blake, and he moved into the barn so you could have the cottage.”
“That was nice of him, but the barn?”
Helen patted her arm. “Now don’t you worry about Blake. He’s a grown man and
can take care of himself. Besides, he and Derek built a nice room out there. He has all the comforts of home.”
Estelle raised a brow. “If you say so.”
“I do.” She guided them through the house and out the French doors that led to the
Estelle caught her breath. Water bubbled from a fountain near the cottage. A light
breeze rustled the leaves on the birch trees overhead. A large vase of multi-colored
flowers sat in the center of a round table covered with a white cloth. “It’s more beautiful than I remember. You’ve added some new features.”
“I’m glad you like it. This space has been a labor of love. I spend as much time as I
am able to out here.” She motioned toward a wooden chair padded with pillows. “Have a seat. I’m so pleased you finally took me up on my offer to take an extended vacation.”
“Me too. Although whether I stay the entire three months you had in mind is up in
the air. If I’m needed in LA, I’ll have to return.” There was no way she could put Jeff off for three months—it wouldn’t be fair to either of them.
“Of course. After all, you’re a woman in constant demand. What with your
restaurant and acting career.”
“I don’t know how in demand I am these days. I gave up acting years ago, and my
restaurant runs smoothly thanks to my executive chef and my fantastic manager. Between those two, the only thing I’m needed for is paying the bills.” She sat up taller. “What’s for lunch?” She wasn’t hungry, but anything was better than talking about her professional life.
Helen’s face lit up as she pulled the cloth off a serving tray. “I prepared a chicken
salad, fresh fruit, and for dessert I made homemade peach ice cream.”
“That sounds delicious.” She allowed Helen to serve her then bowed her head as her
hostess offered a blessing for the food.
“Amen.” Helen placed a cloth napkin in her lap. “I wasn’t sure what you like, but I
remembered you enjoyed this dish when you were last here.”
“You have a good memory, especially considering you’d had a stroke shortly before
I arrived. I’m surprised you remember much about those weeks.”
“I recall pretty much everything. It wasn’t like I had a lot to do to fill my mind.
Having you here helped with my therapy.”
How had she not managed to find the time to visit this sweet woman sooner, and
more important why had she been so nervous? Helen was as kind and genuine in person as she’d been in their weekly correspondence these past six years.
Helen’s face brightened as she looked past Estelle. “Good afternoon, Blake. I’d like
you to meet a friend. She’s the one staying in the cottage.”
Estelle turned to face the man. She sucked in a breath. He had to be over six feet tall. His dark hair had a messy look that she liked. Get it together. He wasn’t the first
ruggedly handsome man she’d ever met. Plus there was Jeff.
He looked down at her with chocolate brown eyes. “It’s nice to meet you. Helen has
told me all about you.”
Estelle shot a look toward Helen. “Don’t believe everything you hear.”
Oooh, I LOVE where this story is going, and I think you will, too.
Amazon buy link:https://www.amazon.com/Encore-Estelle-Melodies-Love-Book-ebook/dp/B071Z3C5SG
If you live in NE Ohio or Western PA, I will be hosting a book club for ENGAGED in Youngstown, OH Tuesday nights, August/September. Contact me for details.
June 2017 New Releases
More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.
Engaged by Julie Arduini — Trish Maxwell returns to Speculator Falls with egg on her face and apologies to make as she tries to determine what’s next, especially when around paramedic Wayne Peterson. (Contemporary Romance from Surrendered Scribe Media)
Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter — When Noah and Josephine Mitchell discover their divorce was never actually finalized, their lives are turned upside down. But when Josephine drives out to Noah’s North Georgia cottage to deliver the corrected papers, they are trapped there during a snowstorm. Things couldn’t get worse…until they are forced out into the storm and must rely on one another to survive. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Zondervan])
An Encore for Estelle by Kimberly Rose Johnson — A former A-list actress seeks to redeem herself in the most unlikely of places—a children’s theater. The writer/director didn’t anticipate a famous actress would ever show interest in his musical much less him. Will their pasts pull them apart or join them together? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
The Cowboy’s Baby Blessing by Deb Kastner — When Ex-soldier Seth Howell suddenly becomes guardian of a two-year-old, he needs Rachel Perez’s help. Though she is gun-shy about relationships, this handsome cowboy and his adorable son break through. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Finding Love by Toni Shiloh — Delaney Jones is putting her life back together after widowhood when in walks Army soldier, Luke Robinson. Luke had a part in the death of Delaney’s husband–will his secrets widen the gulf in their relationship or will he finally find absolution? (Contemporary Romance from Celebrate Lit)
The Copper Box by Suzanne Bratcher — When antiques expert Marty Greenlaw comes to Jerome, Arizona to search for a copper box she believes will unlock the secrets of her past, deadly accidents begin to happen: someone else wants the copper box, someone willing to kill for it. (Cozy Mystery from Mantle Rock Publishing)
Coming Home – A Tiny House Collection by Yvonne Anderson, Michael Ehret, Kimberli S. McKay, Pamela S. Meyers, Ane Mulligan, Chandra Lynn Smith, Linda W. Yezak — Tiny houses are all the rage these days, but what can you do with something so small? Here are seven stories about people chasing their dreams, making fresh starts, finding love, stumbling upon forgiveness, and embarking upon new adventures in tiny houses. (General Contemporary, Independently Published)
Katie’s Quest by Lee Carver — Katie Dennis hopes for fulfillment as a single missionary nurse after the death of her fiancé. She trusts God for a new direction, but she’ll never fall for a pilot again. (General Contemporary, Independently Published)
A Sweetwater River Romance by Misty M. Beller — Rocky Ridge Stage Stop Manager Ezra Reid is put in a difficult situation when two ladies show up on his remote doorstep seeking refuge, one of them being Tori Boyd, the mysterious correspondence partner writing him letters for over a year now. Tori refuses the most proper solution to their circumstance—marriage. But when danger follows, it will take a lot more than luck to ensure Ezra’s heart is the sole casualty. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin — In German-occupied Brussels, a WWI nurse struggles to keep two life-threatening secrets. She’s in league with the British Secret Service, and she’s harboring a wounded British pilot. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])
Seven Brides for Seven Mail-Order Husbands Romance Collection by Susan Page Davis, Susanne Dietze, Darlene Franklin, Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Gina Welborn — Meet seven of Turtle Springs, Kansas’, finest women who are determined to revive their small town after the War Between the States took most of its men. . .and didn’t return them. The ladies decide to advertise for husbands and devise a plan for weeding out the riff raff. But how can they make the best practical choices when their hearts cry out to be loved? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)
The Captain’s Daughter by Jennifer Delamere — When a series of circumstances beyond her control leave Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theater that is presenting the most popular show in London. A talented musician and singer, she feels immediately at home and soon becomes enthralled with the idea of pursuing a career on the stage. A hand injury during a skirmish in India has forced Nate Moran out of the army until he recovers. Filling his time at a stable of horses for hire in London, he has also spent the past two months working nights as a stagehand, filling in for his injured brother. Although he’s glad he can help his family through a tough time, he is counting the days until he can rejoin his regiment. London holds bitter memories for him that he is anxious to escape. But then he meets the beautiful woman who has found a new lease on life in the very place Nate can’t wait to leave behind. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)
Mail Order Sweetheart by Christine Johnson — Singer Fiona O’Keefe must make a wealthy match to support her orphaned niece. Musically talented Sawyer Evans is a self-made, but not wealthy, sawmill-manager. Unwilling to live off his father’s railroad fortune, can Sawyer prove to Fiona he’s the man she needs when she’s already determined to mail-order a rich husband? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Freedom’s Price by Christine Johnson — On a quest to find her mother’s family in Louisiana, Englishwoman Catherine Haynes enlists a dashing Key West man seeking revenge for his own family. When an incredible secret comes to light, she and Tom will face a choice. Can they relinquish their dreams to step forward in faith? (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])
Sutter’s Landing by Betty Thomason Owens — Still reeling from tragic losses, Connie and Annabelle Cross face life with their signature humor and grace, until fresh hope arrives on their doorstep. (Historical Romance from Write Integrity Press)
Hidden Legacy by Lynn Huggins Blackburn — When someone threatens the baby she’s adopting, Caroline Harrison must rely on Detective Jason Drake, the man who once broke her heart, to figure out why. If Jason wants a chance at a future with with Caroline and her son, he’ll first have to help them outrun a hit man. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Weaver’s Needle by Robin Caroll — Pitted against each other to recover a map to the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, two recovery specialists follow the trail to Arizona. But someone doesn’t want them to find the map. . .or the mine. They must work together despite their mistrust and growing attraction, to save themselves. (Romantic Suspense from Barbour Publishing)
Redemption’s Whisper by Kathleen Friesen — Desperate to escape her past, a suicidal young woman flies from Toronto to a Saskatoon pastor’s home, the only people who may be able to help her. If only someone could love her, in spite of all she’s done. On the flight, she meets a young man torn between seeking affirmation in the big city and helping his parents in Saskatoon. Can these two troubled souls gain the peace they need—and in the process, find love? (Women’s Contemporary from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])
All Things Now Living by Rondi Bauer Olson — Her whole life Amy has been taught the people of New Lithisle deserve to die, but when she falls for Daniel, she determines to save him. (Young Adult from Written World Communications)